For this research project, we worked with three brothers who wanted to present their parents with a unique anniversary gift. The clients have lived in the home for decades, making improvements while keeping the home's history in mind. The brothers had some information and few stories about the house, but they wanted to have the full picture and to see if some of the stories they had heard were grounded in fact. All of our projects are unique, with unique folklore that goes with old properties. In this case, a large (5 story!) barn on the property had been badly damaged by time and weather and had to be demolished. The clients thought the barn had been built in the 1920s, but asked if we could find any information about it. They had also been told by the previous owner that a Civil War Colonel had lived in the home....
We uncovered the long history of the home and property, including its connection with three generations of a clockmaking family, several military connections, and a remarkably detailed account of the barn. We were also able to clarify the Civil War Colonel story (spoiler alert: an Army Colonel did live there, but he was a veteran of WWII, not the Civil War).
The following is taken from the project narrative - the facts and details that tell the story of the home. The earliest days of the property are always the most interesting, so we have included most of that detail here. Other portions of the narrative have been summarized.
A stone home in Bedminster Township, Pennsylvania has stood among the rolling hills of Bucks County for over 200 years. The history of the home and property are a testament to the fortitude and craft of the families who called it home. Bedminster lies in the middle of Bucks County, one of the original three counties in Pennsylvania. The first settlers, Scotch-Irish and German immigrants who settled the area in 1720 were likely drawn to the local creeks and woods that supplied the materials to construct the first structures. Bedminster was incorporated in 1742 from Plumstead Township.
The story of this farm begins, as most land in Pennsylvania began, with a conveyance of acreage from William Penn and his land company to a settler. Pioneers desiring land in Pennsylvania applied to Penn’s land offices for a Warrant for the desired acreage and location. The Warrant application would then prompt a Survey of the acreage. The Patent conveyed the final legal ownership for the property.
Anthony Haines (1738 to 1754)
The land at current day Bucks Road and Sweet Briar Road was first owned by Anthony Haines, who applied for a Warrant in October of 1738.
Anthony Haines applied for 200 acres, but the resulting Survey returned 273 acres in “Perkisy Mannor” available to Haines.
A map of connected surveys shows Anthony Haines’ property patented to him in June of 1754. The Patent Index supports this final conveyance.
Anthony Haines’ full name was John George Anthony Haines. He was born in Germany in 1715, making him a young man of 23 years when he applied for land in Pennsylvania. He married Susanna Appolinia Weisel (1722-1783) in 1739, a year after the Warrant date. It is not clear if Anthony and Appolonia, as she was called, lived on the property, or simply owned the acreage. Anthony and Applonia had two children: Jacob Haynes 1747-1820 and Elizabeth Haines Adams 1756-1854.
The Haines sold the land to John Worman in August 1754, the same year the final Patent was issued to Anthony Haines. Anthony died in Bedminster, Bucks County in 1791.
John Worman (1754 to 1760)
John Worman was born in 1698 in Switzerland and arrived in the United States in 1738. He died in 1768 and is likely buried at Tohickon Cemetery with some of his children. His daughter Anna (1728-1757) was married to John Heany. John Heany was born in 1725 in Guttemburg, Germany as Johannes Hoenig. John Worman had sold the 273 acres he purchased from Anthony Haines to John Heany (his son-in-law) in December 1760. John Heany retained ownership of the land for only 6 months, selling the property to George Bergstresser in May 1761. The deed documenting this transfer notes John Heany’s wife as Catherina. John’s wife, Anna Worman Heany, had died in 1757 – it is feasible that John had remarried between 1757 and the sale of the land in 1761.
Johann George Bergstresser (1761 to 1774)
Johann George Bergstresser (also Bergstrasser) was born 15 December 1717 in Malchen, Germany to Johann Georg and Anna Margaretha (nee Loos). He is known as “The Immigrant”, arriving in Philadelphia on September 10, 1731. According to a published family history, George did not have a “license for the transportation”. He and other passengers who apparently took the voyage without paying for it were ordered before the Court and “declared that their intentions were to settle and live peaceably in this Province”. George took an Oath of Allegiance, signing as Johann Gorg Bergstosser. According to the recorded ship’s manifest, George had travelled from Germany to Rotterdam to Philadelphia alone at the age of about 14.
George made his way to Bucks County and purchased his first parcel of land, a 100 acre tract in Rockhill Township in 1738/39. George would have been 21 years old in 1738, and apparently had done very well for himself in the 14 years since his arrival in America. He continued to acquire land in Rockhill Township through 1749/50. His first marriage was to a woman named Veronica. Six children were born this union: Valentine, Veronica, Mary Ann, John Jacob, John, and John Philip. Veronica died sometime before 1766 and George remarried to Elizabeth Heany, daughter of Jacob and Catherine Heany. Elizabeth was the sister of John Heany, the man who had sold our subject property to George Bergstresser in 1761. George and Elizabeth had one son, John George. George died without a will on 12 July 1771. He and most of his family are buried at Tohickon Cemetery in Bedminster Township.
An inventory of George’s estate and accounts was taken and the farm was divided among his seven children. It is noted in the estate records that George is listed as being from Rockhill Township. It is likely that George’s residence was in Rockhill and that his holdings in Bedminster Township, including our subject property were undeveloped land.
A series of deeds between 1773 and 1779 recorded the complicated transfer of the divided interests of George Bergstresser’s Bedminster property between his children, finally transferring ownership to son John. The deeds describe the tract of land as containing “one hundred and forty acres and seventy two perches of land…it being part and residue of two hundred and seventy three acres and three quarters of an acre” originally conveyed by the Penns.
The land was sold out of the Bergstresser family in portions. The Bergstresser heirs had sold part interest in their father’s property to Jacob Sallade first in 1774 for 279 pounds, and finally in 1779 for 216 pounds. The Bergstresser land Jacob Sallade purchased was adjacent to the farm where Jacob was raised.
Jacob Solliday (1774 and 1779 to 1813)
The Salade family in Bucks County were preeminent clockmakers. The progenitor in America was Frederich Salade, who was an “armour in the German army serving under Frederick the Great."
As was the case with many immigrants, surnames were often changed or misspelled upon arrival in America, to the consternation of historical researchers and genealogists.
“The same criminal carelessness in the spelling of the surname that has produced such sad results has been evident among the descendants of Frederich Salade, may of the family now spelling the name S-o-l-i-d-a-y, so disfigured that the old French form with its accented final letter e is no longer recognizable. By the sound only can its French origin be detected by a keen observer.”
Most documents associated with the Salade family’s time on our subject acreage use variations of Solliday, therefore, we will use this spelling, despite its lack of authenticity, for simplicity when referring to the family.
Frederich, Solliday, who was of Huguenot descent, arrived in Philadelphia from Rotterdam in 1751 and migrated to Bucks County. He settled in Bedmister in 1740 having purchased land near Deep Run Mennonite Church from William
Allen. Frederich and his wife, Maria Barbara (nee Weisel), were among the earliest members of Tohickon Reformed Church. Their first child born in America was Jacob, on January 22, 1748. Jacob Solliday learned his skill as a clockmaker from his father and purchased the Bergstrasser property beginning in 1774, when he was 26 years old and newly married to Barbara Loux. Barbara was born in 1754 and lived on the farm adjacent to the Sollidays. Jacob endeavored in farming, but he was renowned for his case clocks. Jacob and Barbara Solliday likely built the first home on the Bedminster acreage.
They had ten children:
Catherine Solliday Fulmer 1774-1843
John Solliday 1776-1856
Jacob Solliday 1779-1827
Elizabeth Solliday 1782-1782
Peter Solliday 1783-1858
Samuel Solliday 1789-
Anna “Nancy” Barbara Solliday Gerhart 1793-1871
Frederick Solliday 1795-1803
Mary Magdalena Solliday Barndt Schleifer 1797-1881
Jacob is enumerated in the 1782 Tax rolls on his 139 acres with 2 horses, 4 head of cattle. The value of the property is given at 174 pounds, 10 shilling. He is also taxed 10 shilling, 3 pence for his Trade.
A date stone on the 2 story stone middle section of our subject home reads 1782, indicating Jacob Sallade likely built the original stone home.
Jacob’s father Frederick had built his stone home nearby twenty years prior. The homes built by father and son show similarities in construction and style.
Frederich Solliday house, circa 1762 as it appeared in 1999.
Jacob Solliday house, circa 1782, as it appeared in 1999.
Jacob is found again in the 1798 US Tax rolls as the owner of a 2 story stone dwelling house measuring 22’ x 18’, with outbuildings consisting of a one story log kitchen measuring 22’ x 20’, and an adjoining one story clock making shop measuring 14’ x 12’.
The Solliday family as a whole is first found in the 1800 US Census. This Census list household members by status of free or slave, race, sex and age. Jacob, whose last name is transcribed by the Census taker as “Sallady”, lists his household as containing all free white persons of the following ages:
one male under 10 – likely Frederick (b. 1795)
one male 16 to 25 – likely Peter (b. 1783)
one male 26 to 44 – likely John (b. 1776)
three females under 10 – likely Anna “Nancy” (b. 1793), Mary (b. 1797), and another unknown female
one female 10 to 15 - unknown
and one female 26 to 44 – likely Catherine (b. 1774)
Jacob worked at his craft until around 1807. By the 1810 US Federal Census, Jacob is in his early sixties. His surname is recorded in this enumeration as “Salady”. Members of the household now include:
2 males age 16 to 25 – likely Peter and Samuel
1 male over 45 – likely Jacob himself
one female age 10 to 15 – likely Mary
two females age 16 to 25 – likely Anna “Nancy”, and Peter’s wife Magdalena
one female over 45 – likely Barbara, Jacob’s wife
In 1813, Jacob and Barbara sold their property, now consisting of 146 acres, 140 perches to their second eldest son Peter for 2643 pounds, 15 shilling. Jacob and Barbara moved from Bedminster to Milford township. Jacob died just two years later in 1815, and Barbara died in 1829. They are buried in Tohickon Cemetery with their children, Jacob’s siblings and parents.
Peter Loux Solliday (1813 to 1857)
Peter Solliday was born September 24, 1783 and married Magdalena Godshalk, who lived on the neighboring farm, in 1805. Peter and his wife had lived with Peter’s parents until the property was legally transferred to Peter in 1813. Peter continued his father and grandfather’s clockmaking craft while also tending to the farm. Peter and Magdalena had five children:
Jacob Godshalk Solliday (1806-1885)
Catharine Solliday Weisel (1807 – 1891)
Barbara Solliday Gerhart (1809 – 1888)
Anna Solliday Ochs (1814 – 1869)
Peter Godshalk Solliday, (1823 - 1893)
Peter and his family are recorded in the 1820 US Federal Census under “Solliday”.
Their household consists of free white persons with ages of:
one male 10 to 15 – likely Jacob (b. 1806)
one male 16 to 25 – likely one of Peter’s brothers
one male 26 to 44 – likely Peter himself
2 females under 10 – likely Barbara (b. 1809) and Anna (b. 1814)
one female 10 to 15 – likely Catherine (b. 1807)
one female 26 to 44 – likely Magdalena, Peter’s wife
The 1830 Census
One male age 5 to 9, one male 20 to 29, one male 40 to 49, one male 70 to 79, one female 10 to 14, one female 15 to 19, one female 40 to 49 and one female 60 to 69.
One male 10 to 14, one male 20 to 29, one male 50 to 59, one male 70 to 79, one female 20 to 29, one female 50 to 59, and one female 70 to 79.
The Tax Enumeration of 1849 shows Peter Solliday’s farm occupied by his son Jacob G. Solliday. The tax is based on 149 acres at $28 per acre. One horse and one head of cattle are enumerated, and it appears a mortgage of $1430 exists on the property. A curious note also appears in this tax document – a $400 judgement. No additional information about this judgement was found.
The 1850 Census finds Peter and Magdalena in their mid-sixties. The Census shows two families living at dwelling number 33: Peter and Magdalena with their son Peter G. Solliday, age 26. Peter, Sr. lists his occupation as a farmer, while Peter G. is listed as watchmaker. The other family in the household is that of Jacob G. Solliday and his wife Mary and their 8 children. Jacob also lists his occupation as watchmaker.
Peter Solliday, Sr. sold his farm, home, and clockshop to his son Peter Godshalk Solliday for $4158.75 via a deed dated 18 July 1857.
The earliest history of our subject home is entwined with the story of the craft of clockmaking. It is worthwhile to pause here to reflect on this trade as “a clock links the past with the present more intimately than almost anything that has come down from former generations and can almost be classed as a living thing”xxviii. Pendulum clocks were introduced in Germany in the late 1600s, a time that coincided with William Penn’s acquisition of his “Penn’s Woods” in America. As colonization of Pennsylvania blossomed in the 1700s, craftsmen from Europe were counted among the settlers, making the Philadelphia a rich source of industry. An essay on early Pennsylvania clockmakers ready by Fred C. Sweinhart before the Historical Society of Montgomery County in April 1941 notes “it has been reliably estimated that in this period (by 1774), Pennsylvania had 300 clockmakers. It is estimated that average clockmaker made four or five clocks a year”xxix. Pennsylvania clocks all followed a similar pattern, with most parts commonly imported from Europe, and were either 30-hour or 8-hour clocks. Again, as summarized by Sweinhart:
“The 30-hour clocks are run by one weight, attached to a pulley on an endless chain. Raising the weight every twenty-four to thirty hours provides the motive power. The eight day clocks have two weights on cords (originally cat-gut) and pulleys, one weight runs the clock and one the strike. Raising the weights every seven or eight days provides the motive power. The eight day clocks are very often equipped with a moon. In early days this was undoubtedly a great convenience, as many activities were timed by phases of the moon”. Pictured is a circa 1760 Pennsylvania walnut tall case clock having a flat top bonnet enclosing a 30-hour pewter and brass faced works signed "Jacob Salade"
Clock cases were considered a separate craft from the timepiece mechanisms they housed. Clock cabinets were a opportunity for the maker to showcase his skills in moulding, mortising, dovetailing, turning, mitering, inlaying and carving. Clocks and their cases were sold in the 1700s to early 1800s for less than $50, a reasonable fortune in those days. Clockmakers, including the generations of Sollidays, were also farmers.
They practiced their craft in winter in small shops usually on their farms. Yankee, or shelf clocks, were introduced around 1825 and were sold door to door in Pennsylvania out of wagons for under $20. The proliferation of less expensive and “ready made” shelf clocks lead to the demise of the tall clock craft in Pennsylvania by 1850. A Solliday clock in the current home.
A Solliday clock in the current home.
Peter Godshalk Solliday (1857 to 1881)
Peter Godshalk Solliday was the youngest child of Peter Loux Solliday and Magdalena Godshalk Solliday; he was born in 1823.
Peter G. Solliday married Anna Stauffer (also Stover) (1831-1903). Five children were born to their union:
Hannah Solliday Stover (1853-1936)
Franklin Solliday (1854-1872)
Peter Stover Solliday (1856-1925)
William Henry Solliday (1860-1936)
Emma Jane Solliday Lewis (1862-1942)
Tax rolls for 1857 show Peter’s taxable possessions, including 2 horses, and seven cattle. The column for annual income is blank, and his tax is based solely on the value of his livestock.
It appears Peter G. did not pursue his family’s craft, as he is enumerated in the 1860 Census as a farmer. Given the collapse of the tall clock market in Pennsylvania, it is understandable that the Solliday clockmaking lineage ended in the mid-1800s. Peter and Anna have four children in 1860: Hannay, age 8; Franklin, age 6; Peter, age 3; William Henry, age 2 months. A domestic servant named Sussana Kaiser, age 32 and a farm laborer named John Gagerwalter, age 20 are also living with the Solliday family. Peter’s real estate is valued at $5000, and his personal property is $1500.
Tax records from 1860 provide more detail about the value of the Solliday land. Peter is taxed on 103 acres at a value of $28 per acre. Comparing the value per acre with his neighbors, Peter appears to be in the mid range, indicating his land is neither the best nor the worst in the area.
Peter and Anna have welcomed two more daughters by 1870. The 1870 US Federal Census shows Peter farming property valued at $8000 with personal property valued at $2000. Hannah, Franklin, Peter, and William Henry are listed with their new sisters Emma, age 8, and Anna, age 1. Mary Slatter, age 39 is their domestic servant.
A Map of Bedminster drawn in 1876 shows Peter G. Solliday on 103 acres near the Hagersville Post Office.
By 1880, the Solliday household is decreasing. The Census that year finds a 56 year old Peter G. with Anna and their sons Peter and William helping on the farm. Daughter Anna Lizzie is 11.
Property valuation was not part of the 1880 Census, but it is apparent that Peter is experiencing financial losses. It’s conceivable that Peter’s advancing age prohibited him from fully engaging in farm labor. His sons Peter and William were 23 and 20, respectively, in 1880, and they may have left home to start their own families shortly after the Census was taken. This would have left Peter alone to run the farm. A Deed of Assignment dated 6 March 1880 between Peter G. and Anna and John A. Soux (Loux) notes that “owing to sundry losses and misfortunes is at present unable to discharge his just debts and liabilities and is willing to assign all his property for the benefit of his creditors.
The public sale of Peter and Anna’s property was announced in The Bucks County Intelligencer with a sale date of November 11, 1880. The advertisement is for the sale of 105 acres, 132 perches of land, of which 22 acres are timber, 10 are meadow, with remaining as farmable land. The structures in 1880 are a large 2 story stone house, two one-story kitchens, a large stone-cellar barn, two wagon houses, and outbuildings. An apple orchard and wells at the house and barn along with springs are described.
Crops and Peter and Anna’s personal property were included in the sale, indicating a seemingly desperate need for funds.
The farm, which had belonged to three generations of the Solliday family beginning in 1774, was sold at a public venue to Abraham F. Myers for $7513.50. The legal transfer of the property was recorded in a Deed dated March 11, 1881.
Abraham Fretz Myers (1881 to 1908)
Abraham Fretz Myers was born to Joseph F. and Barbara (Fretz) Myers on October 12, 1842. He lived in nearby Plumstead Township and married Susanna High (b. 1849) in 1871. Based on the date of birth of Abraham and Susanna’s second child, Susanna was pregnant when they moved into the Bedminster property in the Spring of 1881. Their daughter Josephine Myers was born in September 1881. Josephine joined her older sister, Clara who had been born in 1877. The Myers were members of the New Mennonite Church. Susanna died in 1885, at the age of 34, just four years after moving to the farm in Bedminster.
“MYERS. - On the 13th of October, in the Health Institute in Reading, Pa., of consumption, Susanna Meyers, aged 34 years, 1 month and 6 days. Funeral services by Allen Fretz and Jacob Meyer.
"She leaves a mourning husband here,
Two infant children dear, Who feel the loss and parting pain, But loss for them is her eternal gain. - S. GODSCHALK.”
Clara Myers was 8 and her sister Josephine was 4 when their mother died.
Several newspaper articles from Perkasie’s Central News provide a glimpse of Abraham’s life. It appears he was the unfortunate victim of fraud, and battled injuries.
A 1891 Map of Bedminster indicates the location of the house, but not the owner’s name.
Original records discovered at the Bucks County Historical Society provide rare details about Abraham’s life and indicate he was meticulous with record keeping. A Brief of Title was prepared for Abraham in March 1886 for the purpose of showing clear title to the property to enable Abraham to secure insurance. The Brief traces the Deeds for the property from Myers back to Penn. This document, hand-written in beautiful script, contains sketches of the property boundaries and addresses change to the total acreage from 139 acres, 72 perches described in the Bergstresser deed to 146 acres, 140 perches reflected in the transfer from Jacob Solliday to Peter G. Soliday as a “clerical error” in which a distance of bearings was written as “eight” perches instead of “eighty” perches.
Original insurance policy documents found in the Archives of The Bucks County Historical Society are fascinating in their detail. A policy with The Bucks County Mutual Insurance Company dated April 3, 1882 lists the buildings insured, their value, and the amount for which they are insured. The entirety of the buildings and cattle are valued at $5700, with an insured value of $4275.
Note that the barn and its contents are together valued more than the house and attached structures. The premium and initiation fee for this policy was $.50, and the signature of John A. Loux appears as the Secretary attesting to the policy. This is the same John Loux who sold the Solliday farm at auction to Myers.
Abraham took second policy in 1891 with the White Hall Mutual Fire Insurance Association. He paid a policy premium of $2.11 to insure the barn and outbuildings for $3168.75.
A frame barn stabling underneath 70ft long by 58ft wide slate roof $2850.00
A frame wagon house attached 42ft long by 35ft wide slate roof
A frame corn crib 30ft long by 16ft wide slate roof 187.50
A frame wind mill pump 40ft high by 14ft square 130.25
This policy reflects an increased value of the barn, from $1600 in 1886 to $2850 in 1891. Aside from noting the dimensions of the structures, the 1891 policy states the barn and outbuildings were roofed in slate. We also see a reference to a wind mill pump for the first time.
Abraham’s daughter Clara married W. Elmer Savacool, they resided in Perkasie. Abraham had remarried after Susanna’s death to a widow named Caroline Line (nee Michener). Caroline died in 1895. Clara’s sister Josephine remained on the farm as a helper to her father. The Solliday farm, which had seemed like a busy center of family and trade in the 1800s, appeared to be a much quieter home by 1900. The Censusl that year shows Abraham and daughter Josephine with a boarder named Reed Sine. One wonders if “Sine” might instead be “Line” and that Reed was a relative of Abraham’s second wife.
A third insurance policy was drafted in 1905, this time with the Tohickon Detective and Horse Insurance Company, who insured against stolen horses, mules and secured coverage in the event of deat