One Time In Bucks County . . .

Bucks County Bits

Like “the merchant leaving his counter, the bookkeepper his desk, the blacksmith his forge & the carpenter his bench”, Capt. William Wynkoop  of Johnsville (Warminster) & Newtown, left his crops in the field & “mustered in his simple dress, for wrongs to seek a stern redress, to right those wrongs, come weal, come woe, to perish or o’ercome the foe”.

From: Thaddeus Kinderdine, & from “The Confederate Spy” by R.H. Crozier.

Wynkoop residence

The Atlantic Shad spawns every Spring in the Delaware & Schuylkill Rivers. The Delaware becomes fresh water above Morrisville, so Shad caught further up are particularly tasty. Near starvation, Washington’s troops were scavenging for snails & mussels when millions of fish appeared before them. Sated, the men went on to fight in Valley Forge & Washington declared the Shad his favorite fish. Did the Shad change the course of history?

Fishing for Shad

Everyone in the ’30s knew the Cat & Fiddle Restaurant in Tinicum Township because of the giant coffee pot on the chimney. But if you were lucky, you might have seen the owners,  Joseph & Carrie Aaron riding a unicycle high above the road on their tightrope. They were the former trapeze artists known as Diavolo.

Cat & Fiddle Restaurant

Bucks County Quakers frowned upon horseracing, mainly because of the gambling associated with it, but William Penn liked to race his horse Tamerlane. So they, like many others, would go to America’s first race course on Sassafras Street in Philadelphia to compete on the long, straight road. Sassafras Street was later renamed as Race Street.

Catch the Kentucky Derby this week.

Another Tamerlane

Joseph Valachi of La Cosa Nostra wanted to testify against the Mafia, but feared he would be killed. Gerald Shur of Warminster came up with the idea to protect criminals after they testify – the US Federal Witness Protection program. He processed each witness personally & none who have followed the rules have been attacked. Coincidentally Shur entered the program himself after a threat. He didn’t like it.

Joseph Valachi

When Charles Hicks died, his slave County Cornwall was sold & the money was inherited by his son Edward Hicks of Langhorne & Newtown. Edward, following Quaker principles, was uncomfortable keeping the money, so he offered it to “Corn” to purchase his own freedom. Corn did, and spent the rest of his life in Hulmeville working at a mill. Corn got his physical freedom, & Edward got his spiritual freedom.

Saturday is Edward Hicks Day in Langhorne Boro.

Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks

Paul Rick & his son built the chicken house on their farm in 1950, only to see it destroyed by an intentional flood that created Lake Nockamixon. Rebuilt now on Durham Road, Rick’s Egg Farm’s Leghorn chickens still produce enough eggs to keep the Easter Bunny happy.

Paul Rick Egg Farm

With just six houses in the 1800s, Babytown (Warminster Township) was known for having 32 babies at one time.

Fifty years later, a visitor was disappointed to find only one baby, though it was making enough noise to make up for all the others.

Babytown Houses

A supply of pork was stolen from Vredens-Hof (Abode of Peaceful Rest), Judge Henry Wynkoop’s home. The thief, a mason, left a trail of pig blood leading right to his house, where he was quickly arrested. He then became the first resident of the new Newtown jail, which he had helped to build.

Judge Henry Wynkoop

In 1912, Knickerbacker Davis & Walter Tryon formed the Bucks County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, & began riding around on a motorcycle investigating reports of cruelty.

The first shelter was built in 1930. In 1973, the SPCA saved 1,800 Green Stamps to get a 2-way radio for their new ambulance.

In 2019 they rescued 141 cats from just one house, & found a new home for inseparable best friends, Waffles & Hemingway, a horse & a goose.

Knickerbacker Davis & Walter Tryon

In 1784, local celebrity Ben Franklin wrote “An Economical Project”, jokingly pointing out that if people started their day at sunrise, rather than the more common noon, there would be a great savings  in the money spent on candles. This system would work for six months each year.

William Willet repeated the proposal in 1904, more seriously, but people felt that changing the clocks would be “lying”.

William Willet

Quaker Susan Hayhurst of Middletown Township taught at several country schools before attending & graduating from the Woman’s Medical College as a physician in 1857. At age 63, she graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, becoming the first female pharmacist in the U.S. She kept practising for 33 more years.

Susan Hayhurst

                        George vs Abe

George ‘s family was rich, Abe’s was poor.

George was a good archer, swimmer, wrestler, fencer & pool shark. Abe was a professional wrestler.

George invented a 15 sided barn & a new plow. Abe was the only president to get a patent (for inflatable chambers to lift boats).

George powdered his natural hair. Abe was the first president with a beard.

George loved to drink (too much). Abe never touched alcohol.

George spent a great deal of time in Bucks County. Abe, very little.

When Sabrick Sollers died in 1834, Basil Dorsey was promised his freedom. Sollers’ son, however, asked for $350 for his release. Presented with the money, Sollers raised the price to $500. Dorsey & his family escaped to Bensalem. Later recaptured, they fought in court, with Dorsey declaring his freedom, & Sollers now asking for $1000. The Judge asked Sollers to prove that slavery was legal in Maryland, Sollers showed the “Laws of Maryland” as proof. The judge declared that it was not a certified copy & dismissed the case.

Basil Dorsey Headstone

James Logan fell for Ann Shippen while she was living at Pennsbury Manor, but her father had other thoughts. He wanted her to marry Thomas Story, who had better prospects. The two suitors fought publicly (verbally, as they were Quakers). In the end, Ann married Thomas in 1706. She died four years later. The two men never  resumed their friendship.

Thomas Story
James Logan

In 1832, the Briggs, Bosley, Fraizer & Mount families raised $25 to buy land to build the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Bensalem. Little did they know that famed abolitionist Robert Purvis (of Phila. & Bristol) would use their church as part of the Underground Railroad to help some 9000 fugitive slaves to freedom. The Bensalem AME Church is still an active congregation today.

Bensalem AME Church
Robert Purvis

Robin Tiesler operated Piper Hill Ski Slope 

in Pipersville, the only ski slope in Bucks County. He would pile a “pimple” of snow at the top of the small hill to create a starting mound. Robin also invented the Tiesler Ski Binding, to attach the boot & ski to each other. The lodge is now the Cactus Grill.

Anne Allen at Piper Ski School
Ski Lodge

In 1692, eight municipalities were named in Bucks County:   Pennsbury, Buckingham, Middletown, Salem, Newtown, Makefield, South Hampton and…

The last name was left for William Penn to choose. He took so long, locals started calling it “that township near the falls”. Falls Township.

William Penn

In 1685, John Tatham (alias Gray) & Joseph Growden, bought neighboring plots of land in Bensalem from William Penn. A silver mine was found on the border between the two, & law suits were filed. The properties were surveyed repeatedly, each moving the property line as suited their owner. The battle lasted for years, & the silver was never mined. Is it still there?

Growden Property Map

Bucks County Drive-In opened in Doylestown in 1954 showing “Knights of the Round Table”. They closed in 1998 with a double feature “Wayne’s World” & “Grease”. In 1956 the screen was blown down in a storm. The movie showing that night was “The Rains of Ranchipur”.

It is tradition to eat turkey for Christmas dinner because turkeys scratch the ground backwards, pushing back the old year.  Pork is eaten on New Year’s Eve because pigs dig forward towards the upcoming year.

 

Have a happy & healthy 2022.

Irish immigrants to the Colonies brought with them their Winter tradition: A single lit candle in the window if they had some food to spare. A stranger passing by would know he was welcome to stop in for a friendly meal.

Welcome Friend

Standish Forde Hansell was a bit quirky, & very eccentric. He built the Penguin Flyer Restaurant on Route 13 in Bensalem in the 1940s. It looked like a train coming out of a tunnel. He also dug Dinosaur Lake on his family farm. It had an island with two 8″ tall cement dinosaurs, & a giant snake wrapped around a tree. It is now part of Bensalem Country Club.

Dinosaur Lake

Cadet Booz had his throat destroyed by hot sauce during a hazing incident at West Point Academy. He was dismissed, & later died from starvation. Other cadets refused to testify against their drill instructors at the military trial held in Bristol. All but one… Cadet Douglas MacArthur told the truth, helping get the instructors convicted.

MacArthur

On a chilly day in 1889, gypsies traveled down Doylestown-Centreville Pike & stopped at Rebecca Swain’s house. A naked 2 year old was taken in & clothed. A mile down the road, the child was again naked, & again clothed by local women. By the time they reached Mechanicsville, the child probably had a full wardrobe.

From Bucks County Panorama Magazine

Mechanicsville Farm
Mechanicsville Mill

Ed & Laura Taifer operatedEd’s Diner in Doylestown for about 40 years. They started in a one room building, eventually expanding to a stainless steel diner. Thanksgiving there was special. The feast included roast turkey, filling, two vegetables & a roll, for just 60 cents! And don’t forget the hot apple dumplings with vanilla custard for dessert.

Ed's Diner

Pen Ryn Mansion (Bensalem) has a closet with a hole in the door for the owner to stick his head through. A servant, inside the closet, would powder his wig, thus keeping his clothes clean. Rancid pomades were used to keep the powder on. Perfumes were sprayed to hide the odor.

In 1777, a woman in Bristol woke to find a mouse trapped in her hair. Both screamed so much, the police were called. People took to napping with a mouse trap next to their heads.

 

Powdering a wig

In the late 1800s, Barnum & Bailey combined their circuses. During the winter, some of the animals enjoyed a vacation in Bucks County. They came by train to New Jersey, then were crossed over the Delaware River bridge by local kids to three farms in New Hope, Stover Mills & Plumstead.

Elephants, & horses, & camels, oh my!

Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus Parade
P.T. Barnum

Mary Anne had to explain to her boss why she was late for work – again. It was the Yardley Ducks. 

J.C. McCormick had a duck farm on Dolington Road in Yardley. Some ducks were released & set up home in Lake Afton. Over a hundred years later, their descendants like to stroll across Main Street, stop, preen, then continue on – all during rush hour, regardless of the traffic. Yardley residents learn to “Brake for Ducks”.

Yardley Duck Farm
Peking Ducks

The Pemberton Mansion (now the Bolton Mansion) in Bristol Township may be the most haunted building in Bucks County. One former resident fought in the Civil War on the side of the South, against his father’s wishes. Upon his return, his father refused to forgive him. He was so distraught, he hung himself. His love interest, Mary, was so upset she hung herself as well. Both have been seen in the mansion, along with a little girl & a ghost cat.

Bolton Mansion
The Pembertons

An elderly woman sits in her attic room at the Pineapple Hill Inn in New Hope, waking guests with the whirring noise from her spinning wheel.

Footsteps of the owner, John Scott, can be heard coming up the spiral staircase. He then wakes the female guests with a light kiss on the cheek.

Both have been dead since the early 1800s.

Pineapple Hill Inn
The Bedroom

FIRST IN BRISTOL

Public Road – King’s Highway 1686

County Seat & Courthouse – 1705

House of Correction – 1722

Post Office – Postmaster Jos. Clun – 1790

Successful use of artificial respiration – Dr. Henry Desborough – 1810

Telephone Exchange – 1883

Non-roving Physician – Dr. James DeNormandie – 1800s

Marriage by Proxy – Narciss of Spain – 1816

Successful Operation of a Steamboat – John Fitch – 1787

The 45th Historic Bristol Day

is Sat, October 16.

John Fitch Steamboat
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Angelo Sarino went to Trenton to look for work. He walked both ways across the railroad bridge. On the way home to Morrisville, a train came, so Angelo laid down on the tracks, & miraculously, the train rode over him, leaving him unharmed. He got up, lost his footing, & fell to his death.

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Martin Johnson Heade was considered one of the most interesting & varied painters of the 19th century. He grew up in Lumberville, his parents owning the building that later became the Lumberville General Store.

At 18, he took lessons from Edward & Thomas Hicks, who was just 14 at the time. Heade was known for his incredible flowers & hummingbirds, as well as landscapes, portraits & still lifes.

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 The 1923 Boy Week Celebration in Doylestown ended with 12 year old Curtis Lyons being crowned the marble champion, & Eugene Gardy’s dog “Mutt” voted the “best plain dog in the show”.

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   Tony Russo is Bristol’s very own Doo Wop singer. He grew up in the Borough & “learned to sing in the train tunnels & on street corners”. He performed with the Street Corner Five, Destination, Nostalgia, Danny & The Juniors & the Duprees.

This weekend is the Doo Wop festival. Do you think they’ll play the Bristol Stomp?

Tony
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                Mary Ann Wiley

of Skunk Hollow, Bucks County asked for a divorce in 1780 because of her husband’s love for the “Devil’s Dealing”. He could think of nothing but playing cards for money. He was a good player, with some games lasting a week. As soon as Samuel won, he would ride his horse to the next town to challenge their best player. The divorce was granted.

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It was a Saturday in 1956 & yet the kids were happily going to school. Walt Disney was there for the dedication of the elementary school named for him in Tullytown. He created murals & animation cells for the walls, & the students got to name the rooms – Capt. Hook for the principal, Mermaid Lagoon for the girl’s room, Never Never Land for the boiler room.

Disney himself only made it to 9th grade, after being told he was dumb, & should stop drawing & telling stories.

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In 1705, the Bucks County seat was in Bristol. The new courthouse had a gallows & a whipping post. Drunks were placed in the stocks for public humiliation. One swear word brought 5 days at hard labor, with just bread & water. Poverty was a crime. Public assistance required a red or blue “P” on your right shoulder. Arson, rape & witchcraft were punishable by death. Twenty lashes were frequent, regardless of sex.

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Dr. George Fox, surgeon & owner of Harriman Hospital, also had a practice on Radcliffe Street in Bristol. Mark Swift had been a patient of his, & later had the opportunity to move into that house where Dr. Fox saw patients. While doing work on the house, he found medical papers stuffed in the walls. They were records of his own appendectomy surgery.

Dr. Fox House
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When Howard Sine opened his 5 & 10 cent store in Quakertown in 1912, he probably never thought it would be run by the 5th generation of his family today. They still serve breakfast & lunch at the soda fountain counter, while hundreds of model planes & trains circle overhead. Take a step back in time; say “Hi” to the regulars, have some Scrapple, & enjoy that Rootbeer Float at Sine’s 5 and 10.

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Sines 5 and 10

Bert Jervis, Jr.’s 1st experience in theatre was at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, as a set builder & all around assistant. He worked with Rob Reiner, who had the job of raising the curtain & turning off the mill’s waterwheel (so the actors could be heard on the stage). He was the only one strong enough.

Bert later changed his name to Burt Ward, & became known as Robin, Boy Wonder, sidekick to Batman.

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“Daisy”, a Labrador Retriever, is a “Courthouse Comfort Dog”, and a good listener. She comforts witnesses & victims at Doylestown Court House while they wait to testify.

“Dallas”, a German Shepherd, is the “George Clooney of the dog world”, says her breeder, Maryellen Kish of Upper Bucks. Dallas is one of less than 12 dogs to win 100 Best of Shows.

“Bowie”, a Belgian Malinois, won on the “America’s Top Dog” show with his partner, Bensalem Police Officer Robert Schwarting.

Kenneth Kauffman (West Rockhill) was a judge for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the 2nd oldest sporting event in the U.S. (after the Kentucky Derby). His Sealyham Terriers, loved by celebrities, are an endangered breed, partly because of their need for extensive grooming.

I think Digger Dogs (Bristol) could do the job. Donna, our hearts ache.

Hitchcock & his Sealyham
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Belgian Malinois