Hometown Tuesday #37 ~ Lower Merion, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

The Shawnee, Saluda and Delaware Indians were the first settlers in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania long before the coming of Europeans. The Dutch came, not as colonizers, but as traders. In 1633, they established an extensive fur trade with the Indians, and in 1648 bought from them a tract, supposed to have been near Gray’s Ferry, on which a fort, called “Beversrede,” was soon completed.

Then in 1638 the Swedes arrived. Unlike the Dutch, they came prepared to found a colony. Others followed, and in 1643, their settlements were extended to Tinicum island, near the Schuylkill’s mouth, where, under Governor Johan Printz, had built a mansion house, a fort and dwellings, and called the place “New Gothenborg.” The same year, they built a grist mill on Cobb’s creek, and a Meeting House.

They lived here for about 40 years before the arrival of William Penn. Along with Penn came the Quakers and for many years they lived peaceably, side by side. A few Indian names have survived in the geography of the state. One of the purchases of land made by William Penn in 1683 was described as beginning “on ye West side of Manaiunk, called Consohockhan.” Two years later, the Indians conveyed to him all the lands lying between Chester and Pennypack creeks.The compact made between William Penn and the Indians, under the treaty elm at Shackamaxon, ensured peace for more than seventy years.

The countryside was full of deer, fowls, and birds. The waters which were abundant in the area was full of fish. “Hogs” roamed the woods and hunting them brought much needed meat to the tables of the increasing number of newcomers.

When Penn sailed up the Delaware, in 1682, there were probably 1000 Dutch, Swedes, English and Germans settled within the present limits of Pennsylvania. Not long after Penn’s move to Delaware did William Warner, ancestor of the Warner family of Lower Merion and of many other places, built a mansion here. He called his place “Blockley,” which name was afterwards extended to the surrounding township.

In December 1688, John Blackwell became Deputy Governor and disagreements soon occurred between him and Thomas Lloyd, a Welshman, who had been President of Council. In the spring of 1689, Lloyd appeared before Council, to say to object to the town of Lower Merion being incorporated into Chester, County. After much debate the matter was dropped.

Burial Grounds of Thomas and Elizabeth Lloyd

The above mentioned Thomas Lloyd is my 8th Great Grandfather. He was born in 1670 in Cynlas, Merionethshire, Wales, and he emigrated to the Lower Merion Pennsylvania area in 1683. Here he married Elizabeth Williams (1672-1748) on August 8, 1700, at the Radnor Monthly Friends Meeting in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. They had 6 children, 3 sons, and 3 daughters. Thomas continued to serve as the President of the Council until 1720. He was a prosperous farmer. He died in 1741 in Lower Merion, at the age of 71.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Paxtang, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania

hometown tuesdayIn 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his North American land holdings along the North Atlantic Ocean coast to Penn to pay the debts the king had owed to Penn’s father. This land included the present-day states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. William Penn purchased the area known as Paxtang, or “Paxto” from the Lenape Tribe.

In 1729 Paxtang Township of Lancaster County was established. The1024px-Dauphin_county_pennsylvania_townships spelling “Paxtang” is from the original Indian name Peshtank, which meant “standing water”. The word “Paxton” is used today instead of Paxtang. Settling within the township during its colonial period were many German and Scotch-Irish immigrants. They established several farms and settlements throughout the area.

Paxton_massacrePaxtang is the site where Presbyterian Scots-Irish frontiersmen organized the Paxton Boys, a vigilante group that murdered twenty Native Americans in the Conestoga Massacre. On December 14, 1763, more than 50 Paxton Boys rode to the settlement near Millersville, Pennsylvania. They murdered six Natives and burned their cabin. Governor John Penn placed the remaining fourteen Conestogas in protective custody in Lancaster, but the Paxton Boys broke in, killed all fourteen people on December 27, 1763. In January 1764, 140 Natives living peacefully in eastern Pennsylvania fled to Philadelphia for protection. The Paxton Boys marched on Philadelphia in January 1764 with about 250 men. British troops and the Philadelphia militia prevented them from doing more violence.

Paxtang is home to the Old Paxton Church, one of the earliest in the area. It was built in 1740, the church is the oldest Presbyterian Church building in continuous use in Pennsylvania, and the second oldest in the United States. In 1726, the Rev. James Anderson of Donegal, Pennsylvania, became the first regular preacher. The history of the church is interwoven with the history of central colonial Pennsylvania.

In 1732, the congregation was officially organized as a Presbyterian1920px-Harrisburg_PA_Paxtang_ 1 Church by the Presbytery of Donegal, with the Rev. William Bertram as the first installed pastor. The Rev. John Elder, the “Fighting Parson,” became pastor in 1738. He was pastor during the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War and served as a commissioned officer. The present stone sanctuary was erected in 1740, replacing a log meeting house which had previously served as the place of worship. A stone marker south of the sanctuary indicates the site of the log building. A replica of the log meeting house was erected north of the present sanctuary.

Adjacent to the church is a historic cemetery. Here lie the bodies of soldiers of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. People who molded the early religious and political character of America are buried here, including John Harris II, William Maclay, the first United States senator from Pennsylvania, and four of the six commissioners who planned the town of Harrisburg with him in 1785. Ministers, legislators, farmers, teachers, men of affairs, and enslaved African Americans are buried here.

James Forster husband of Elizabeth MooreElizabeth Moore, my 6th Great Aunt, was born in 1735 in Paxtang. She is the fourth of five children born to William Moore (1705-1767) and Mary Wickesham (1706-1763). She married James Forster (1728-1800) who was also born in Paxtang in 1757. They had 8 children, 4 sons, and 4 daughters. James served in the Revolutionary War as a member of the Liberty Company of Londonderry and a Frontiersman in 1775. Elizabeth died in 1805 at the age of 70.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ New Castle, Delaware

hometown tuesdayNew Castle Delaware was originally named Fort Casimir. It was founded in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, who was sent to provide the Dutch with the command of all river traffic. Because of its strategic location, ownership of the settlement was constantly changing. The flags of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain have all flown over New Castle.

Settled by Swedes in 1638, it has been called by no less than six names as Swedes,clapboard housing new castle Dutch or English took possession: Grape Vine Point, Sandhuken, Fort Casimir, Fort Trinity, New Amstel, and New Castle. This last being given by Sir Robert Carr when the British conquered the Dutch here in 1664. Most houses in New Amsterdam in 1664 were of wood with roofs thatched with the local reeds and they used clapboard siding. The houses were one story with a garret. Almost all buildings had their gable-end facing the street. The siding was generally horizontal clapboards.

leblanc_headerThe three counties which make up the state of Delaware were added to William Penn’s lands in America. In 1682, Penn came ashore at New Castle and took possession, but these counties, which were already well established, became dissatisfied with his rule. Proceeding to the Court House he was presented with “Turf and Twig, Water and Soyle” in token of his Proprietorship. The Court House in New Castle is the oldest one in the United States, and it is located in the center of a 12-mile circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware. It was the scene of many famous trials. In the Courtroom, there are two pillars on which the hands of criminals were placed while being branded with hot irons. The Common Farms, given under a Charter from William Penn in 1701 for use of inhabitants of New Castle, consisted of 1000 acres of fine farmland that adjoined town. In 1704, when he granted them a separate legislature, New Castle became the colonial capital of Delaware. The lively town also briefly served as the first state capital and continued as the county seat until the 1880s.

New Castle’s location made it an ideal transfer point for trips up and down the coast. logo delawareAs a result, New Castle was a thriving community throughout the 1700s and early 1800s. The courts and general assembly also attracted various judges, lawyers, and government officials who built handsome houses, many of which still remain.

William Dyer, my 7th great-grandfather, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 7, 1663. He married Joanna Chard on March 22, 1687. He moved to New Castle, Delaware after the marriage where they had 2 sons, John and Joseph. Joanna died in 1711 and William then married Mary Whitman on April 17, 1712. There were no children born to this union. William died in January 1714 at the age of 51. It is not known where he is buried as the Quakers that ruled this community did not believe in placing headstones or markers on graves.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.