1717 Sumneytown Pike, Gwynedd PA 19436, Lower Gwynedd township, Montgomery County



Jenkin Jenkin came from Wales to this country around 1729 at the approximate age of 60 (born in Wales in 1659).  His wife was born in 1690.  He bought 350 acres of land in Hatfield.  He died in 1745 at the age of 86 years, and she died in 1764 at the age of 74 years.  Their son John Jenkins was born in 1719 in Wales, married Sarah Hawkesworth and had eight children.  He was the progenitor of the Jenkins family in this country.  He died in 1803 or 1804.  His son, Edward (Howard M. Jenkins’ great grandfather) was born in 1758 and died in 1829.  He married Sarah Foulke (born 1764, died 1828), whose ancestors, Edward and Eleanor Foulke came from Wales in 1698 and settled at Gwynedd.  Edward and Sarah lived in Gwynedd and had six children, among them Charles F. Jenkins (Howard’s grandfather) who was born in 1793 and died at Gwynedd in 1867.  Charles F. Jenkins married Mary Lancaster who was a descendant of Thomas Lancaster, a well known Quaker minister at Richland Meeting.  Charles was trained in the mercantile business in his father’s store at Gwynedd, then worked in Philadelphia near Christ Church for twelve years.  When his father died in 1830, he returned to his father’s store in Gwynedd. Their son, Algernon S. Jenkins (Howard’s father) was born in Gwynedd had a farm nearby and died there in 1890 (in a fall in his barn).  His gravestone is in the Gwynedd Friends Meeting burial grounds (marked born 11/27/1816, died 7/9/1890).  He was an esteemed business man and justice of the peace, interested in promoting the common welfare.  He married Anna Maria Thomas and had one child, Howard Malcolm Jenkins born on March 30, 1842. 

Howard M. Jenkins was an author, journalist and leader in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends.  Elwood Roberts in his “Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania” (1904) wrote: “Plain and practical in his ideas, he knew how to solve the puzzling problems that arose, and his counsel was certain to be safe in the great majority of cases”.  He was educated at the Foulke Boarding School in Gwynedd and assisted his father on the farm and in his business.  When the opportunity arose in 1861 he joined his brother-in-law in purchasing the Norristown Republican.  In three years it was merged into the Herald and Free Press.  He later went to Wilmington, Delaware  and established the Daily Commercial.  In 1879 he moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania and became editor-in-chief of the Friends Intelligencer, which position he held until his death. He is the author of Historical Collection of Gwynedd, a township history found elsewhere on this web site.

On March 16, 1865, Howard married Mary Anna Atkinson, who was born on December 5th,  1843 and died on January 6, 1940.  Her parents were active in Upper Dublin (PA) Friends Meeting.  She  was descended from Quaker settlers who left Lancaster Monthly Meeting in England for Pennsylvania in 1699.  (The parents reportedly died at sea leaving three children aged 12, 10 and 8).  Howard and Mary Anna Jenkins had seven children:  Charles Francis born 1865; Anna M. born 1867; Thomas Atkinson born 1868; Edward Atkinson born 1870; Algernon S. born 1874, died 1878; Florence born 1876; and Arthur Hugh born 1880.

Charles Francis was the grandfather of Foulkeways resident Phyllis Jenkins Biddle who remembers visiting him at “Avalon” in her childhood. 

 While in West Chester in 1884, Howard Jenkins purchased the Friends’ Journal which was soon united with the Friends’ Intelligencer.  He remained editor-in-chief of this paper until his death. 

 On August 20, 1885, Howard M. Jenkins bought 9 3/4 acres of land from Jacob Acuff who had a house on the State Road (202) just north of the Meeting property.  The deed does not mention any buildings on the property which was situated along the Sumneytown and Springhouse Toll Road (Sumneytown Pike) between the Gwynedd Meeting House on the east and W. Jenkins land on the west.  Howard Jenkins’ father, Algernon S. Jenkins wished his only child to live near him in his older years.  He built the house for his son who named it “Avalon”.  The six-bedroom house faces the Meeting House and has an “A” in the leaded glass design over the lovely front door, sheltered by a full porch on the east side of the house.  On the date stone at the roof peak facing Sumneytown Pike is carved “1885”.  The house is described as a “plain Victorian” country house with eclectic features, influenced by Quaker simplicity.

 Howard, Mary Anna and their family of six surviving children moved into the house in 1886.  In 1893 Howard prepared a pamphlet “The Religious Views of the Society of Friends” for the Friends’ session of the Religious Parliament connected with the World’s Fair at Chicago.   He also wrote “Historical Collections of Gwynedd” about his native township, and “Family of William Penn”.  He was working on the three-volume “Pennsylvania, Colonial and Federal” at the time of his death in 1902.  He was very active in the work of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends and was influencial in the Society of Friends in this country and in England. 

 In 1898 there were two celebrations in two days at Gwynedd Meeting. The first on Monday, May 30th saw about 300 people commemorating the arrival in Gwynedd two hundred years earlier of the Edward and Eleanor Foulke family.  On the following day about 700 people marked the bicentennial of Gwynedd’s settlement in 1698. There were papers read, poems recited (one in Welsh) and speeches given.  Lunch was served in a large tent.  The final event was the adoption of a resolution honoring Howard Jenkins, recognizing that the idea for the celebration and its success were largely due to him.

 Howard promoted the plan for a summer settlement of Friends at Buck Hill Falls in the Pocono Mountains.  The inn, surrounded by cottages of Friends and friendly people, was opened in 1901.  On October 11, 1902 Howard Jenkins was showing the beauty of the falls to his friend, Isaac H. Clothier, when a misstep on a temporary plank bridge over a narrow chasm sent him into the waters swirling below  and he drowned.  His funeral at the Gwynedd Meeting House four days later was attended by many leading Friends.  There were many tributes in newspapers as well.  He was associated with many historical, educational ,  literary and Friends organizations and philanthropic and humanitarian movements.  When a representation to Congress or the President was to be made by the Yearly Meeting or as coming from the Society of Friends, he could be relied upon to present the subject in the most effective way.  Both he and his wife Mary Anna are buried in the Upper Dublin Friends Meeting burial ground, Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania.




When Howard Jenkins’ wife, Mary Anna died in 1940,  their unmarried daughter, Florence, then 64 years old, was still living in the “Avalon” house.  She sold the house and land in 1941 to B. Harold Gross and his wife, Gladys Gross.  (Some old gas lighting fixtures still remained in the house at that time.)  Mrs. Gross was a registered nurse, a rarity in those days.  She and her husband ran a nursing home in the house, called “Gwynedd Rest Haven”.  There were ten or eleven infirm or confused residents who mostly stayed in their rooms as there was no elevator. 

Laura Foulke, the mother of Gwynedd Meeting’s life long member Thomas Foulke lived there in her last years. 

The Gross’daughter, Bernita Gross Stanwood remembers a good relationship with Gwynedd Meeting.  As a child she walked across the Meeting property to pick up the family’s mail at the post office.  She says that her parents informed the Meeting that the 1857 School House, which had been sold by Gwynedd Meeting to a neighbor many years before, was up for sale.  The old school house was subsequently bought by a Meeting member, repaired and given to the Meeting.  Bernita  Stanwood recalls that her father, B. Harold Gross, had a lovely formal garden on the grounds as well as specimen trees and a wrought iron fence bordering the back driveway.  The driveway was constructed of white stone.  From 1960-1965 Mrs. Stanwood and her husband and children lived in the house with her sister Janet Gross, and her brother Leonard Gross.  At that time a door from the small “dressing room” (next to the master bedroom on the second floor) opened into the second floor hallway.  From the stair landing Mrs. Stanwood was able to see through the door and window and across the yard to the Gwynedd Meeting House.  The interior woodwork is mostly chestnut, a wood which is now impossible to obtain.  The wide staircase is oak.  In 1965 the Stanwood family moved to Malvern.  Bernita’s sister and brother remained in the house until 1976 when “Avalon” was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Fogel.



 Mr. Fogel was a psychiatrist who used the original kitchen room, paneled and carpeted, as a counselling room or office.  After his death, his wife, Joy, took in boarders.  She had many animals in the barn and yard.  It is said that a pot bellied pig lived in the house for a time.  Mrs. Fogel sold the house and approximately seven acres of land to Gwynedd Friends Meeting in April, 2001.



Bernita Stanwood describes the original, attractive laundry room addition at the side of the house farthest from Sumneytown Pike.  Next to it was a lovely little porch.  There was a rain water cistern under the floor of the laundry room, with a hand pump inside the room.  After Mrs. Stanwood’s parents,  B. Harold and Gladys Gross bought the house from Florence Jenkins in 1941, they made the laundry room into a kitchen, keeping the nice cabinetry which existed.   The former kitchen was put to other use. 

  In 1965 Mrs. Stanwood updated the kitchen in the addition and made the porch area into a small bathroom with entry from the kitchen.  She also extended the dining room through an area that had been a closet.  This made access to the kitchen addition from the dining room.  The second floor bedroom above the dining room was also extended.  Joy Fogel and husband bought the property in 1976, removed the kitchen addition and in 1977 built a new, larger kitchen addition which remains. 



The country house called “Avalon”, built in 1885, in a “Plain Victorian” style is constructed of

light tan Montgomery County sandstone.  There are dormer windows on the third floor, the center dormer being quite large.  This dormer is centered above a full length porch facing Gwynedd Friends Meeting.  The large entrance door is on this porch and welcomes visitors with a leaded glass “A” for “Avalon” in the window design above the door.  The entrance and porch look toward Gwynedd Friends Meeting where both father, Algernon S. Jenkins and son, Howard M. Jenkins were active Quakers. 

Interesting features of the original kitchen were a dumb waiter which operated between the cool basement and the kitchen, and a pass-through window near the dumb waiter where dishes could be put on a shelf behind a door which opened to the dining room.

From the entrance door, the center hallway passes a large living room on the left with wide pocket doors and a Chestnut wood framed fireplace.  On the right is a lovely dining room with similar fireplace and red and black tile design on the hearth.  The center hallway parallels the staircase and exits by a large door to several steps and flagstone path to the driveway on that side of the house.  The central staircase of oak leads from the front entrance hallway to a landing with leaded glass windows,  and on up to the second and third floors. 

On the second floor there are three bedrooms with large or grouped windows, with wooden slatted shutters on some.  The master bedroom has an adjacent dressing room.  Next to the master bedroom, at the end of the hall is the second floor bathroom. Across the hall is a small bedroom which is next to a servants’ inclosed staircase which parallels the main staircase and leads from the second floor down to the original kitchen.  On the third floor there are three bedrooms, one large and two small, all with sloping ceilings.  There is a small bathroom at the end of the hall.  There are hardwood floors throughout the house with the exception of the bathrooms and the original kitchen room, now carpeted and used as a den. 

Information from:


The Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania  by Elwood Roberts, 1904,  p.38 to 42.

Fair Land Gwynedd by Phil Johnson Ruth, 1991  p.106 to p.108.  Maps p.82 & p.110.

Phone interviews:

Phyllis Jenkins Biddle of Foulkeways Retirement Community, Gwynedd, PA

H. Mather Lippincott, architect, Jenkins descendant of Quadrangle Retirement Community, Haverford, PA

and Bernita Gross Stanwood of Malvern, Pennsylvania.


Written by Janet H. Henderson, 501 W. Prospect Avenue, North Wales, PA 19454    2/21/04


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