Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd

By Howard M. Jenkins

Second Edition


Chapter 17. Early Settlers in Montgomery

[ed. Note, 2001, this chapter is about Montgomery township, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania]

The first settlers in Montgomery were, like those in Gwynedd, immigrants from Wales, and their arrival followed hard upon that of the company who bought Turner's tract. The Montgomery lands had been held by a number of speculative purchasers, none of whom had made a settlement. Among these were William Stanley, an Englishman, who had a warrant from Penn, so early as 1683, for 5000 acres; Richard Pierce, whose warrant was for 500 acres; and Thomas Fairman, the Philadelphia surveyor, who had title for a large tract. In March, 1699, Alexander Edwards purchased of Fairman 1100 acres and probably moved to it soon thereafter. He was a Welshman, and had lived in Radnor, Chester (now Delaware) county, where in 1692, his daughters Bridget and Jane had respectively married, under the oversight of Haverford monthly meeting, Griffith Miles and James James, both "of Radnor".

Alexander Edwards was certainly one of the first settlers, and probably the very earliest in Montgomery. He died in 1712, and described himself in his will as "of Montgomery", showing that the township had been created before that time. It was his son Alexander Edwards, jun., who married Gwen Foulke, dau. of Edward. He (A.E. jr.), in 1707, bought 200 acres of his father, and at once sold half of theis to David Hugh Griffith. This tract included the Gordon or Rynear property, on the Horsham Road.

Theophilus Williams, who married Grace Foulke, Edward's daughter, was also an early settler, and the place where he lived at the upper end of the township, adjoining the Hatfield line, is shown by the description of the road laid out from there, downward, through the township.

James Shattuck, who may or may not have been an actual resident, received in 1708 a patent for 250 acres, it being surveyed to him in right of Richard Pierce. This he sold in 1711 to William Morgan, who in 1723 sold part of it to Joseph Ambler. The latter was the first of the name in Montgomery, and the ancestor of a large family. His tract included the farm, recently the estate of Edward Ambler, fronting on the Horsham road, above the State road.

John Bartholomew, whose name frequently appears in the road records (chap. XVI), bought, in 1716, 150 acres of Margaret Pugh, situated where the hamlet of Montgomery Square now is. John is said to have been a weaver, as well as a farmer, and he established, it is believed, the first hotel at that place, --probably near the close of his life. He was the son of George Bartholomew, who at one time owned the famous Blue Anchor tavern in Philadelphia, and who is said to have been a descendant of the Barthelemi family, of France. From a deed recorded in Philadelphia, it appears that John moved Montgomery from Bucks county. He owned two farms, a house and lot in the city, and a number of slaves. Among his grandchildren were Col. Edward Bartholomew, of Philadelphia county, and Capt. Benjamin Bartholomew, of Chester county, both of whom were members of the Constitutional Convention of 1776, and bore a distinguished part in the Revolutionary War. He died October 30, 1756, at an advanced age (71), leaving a widow, Mary, and eleven children. Seward, in his Journal, mentions that the celebrated preacher George Whitefield spent one night at the house of John Bartholomew, of Montgomery, after preaching in the neighborhood, and was kindly entertained by his family.

Jenkin Evans, an early settler in Montgomery, who came from Wales, purchased 108 acres of Thomas Shute, in December 1717. This tract lay in the north corner of the township, adjoining the Hatfield line, and between the road to Perkasie (now the Bethlehem Pike) and the county line. He may have been a brother to David Evans, who bought a large tract of land in Hatfield about the same time, and who was (through his daughter Rachel, his only child, who married Peter Evans), the ancestor of a numerous family in Hatfield and Montgomery. Jenkin Evans conveyed to the Baptist congregation, in 1731, an acre off the corner of his farm for their church and burying ground. His son, or grandson, Jenkin Evans, jun. , removed into New Britain, bought the Butler grist mill on Neshaminy (where the village of Chalfont is now), and was some time a member of the Legislature from Bucks county. [see note below]

Among the very earliest settlers in Montgomery was Thomas Lewis, a native of Wales, who in 1701 bought 484 acres in the south corner of the township from Thomas Fairman. He was, no doubt, a Friend. He died in the summer of 1723, leaving 280 acres of his farm to his son George, 150 acres to his son Richard, and 50 to a grandson, Thomas. George Lewis married, in 1708, Jane Roberts, and was a prominent member of Gwynedd meeting. The memorial of him by the monthly meeting says "he was a native of Wales, of a peaceable and inoffensive life and conversation. He was an elder thirty years, even to his death, which was on the 9th of 12th month, 1752, in the 72d year of his age." He left but one child, Elizabeth, who married, in 1728, Isaac Jones, of whom some details will be given below.

Richard Lewis appears to have had, besides his son Thomas who got the 50 acres of land, other children, including Edward and Mary. Thomas married, in 1734, Hannah Morgan, daughter of Edward, jun.

Isaac Jones came to Montgomery while quite a young man. He was the son of David and Katherine Jones, who came from Wales in 1699, and settled at Merion. Isaac was born 7th mo. 5, 1708, and married 1728, Elizabeth Lewis, daughter of George, she being eighteen and he twenty. Notwithstanding this early marriage, they "lived happily together" for seventy years. Old George Lewis, it is said, made an agreement with them a few years before his death, by which he gave them a life right in his real estate, in return for food and clothes, a room in his house, the use of a riding-horse, and two barrels of cider a year. He reserved the right to cook for himself, if he preferred, in which case they were to pay him 12 pounds a year, in lieu of the "diet".

Isaac Jones had purchased, in 1746, some land of Thomas Lewis, jr. On this he built, in 1765, a large brick house, which stood for more than a century. In it, in 1798, he died, past the age of ninety, and his wife, surviving two years, attained an equal age. Their son Isaac married Gainor Ambler, and this couple also died in the old house, after a married life of nearly seventy years, --Isaac, in 1840, aged 93, and Gainor, June 20, 1847, in her 92d year. Isaac's sister Ruth, who had lived there all her life, died in the same house, at the age of 88; and Mary Roberts, daughter of Eldad, who made her home with the Joneses, died there also, in 1859, aged nearly 93. This house, which was pulled down some years ago, stood in the extreme south corner of the township, on a cross road from the turnpike to the Horsham road.

Of John Jones, carpenter, who settled in Montgomery about 1710, taking up about 300 acres, part of which must have been Alexander Edward's purchase, adjoining Gwynedd, some special genealogical details will be given later. He was an active and useful citizen, prominent for many years in the business affairs of the township.

A return was made, in 1734, to Governor Thomas Penn, of the names of the freeholders in the several townships of Philadelphia, "with the quantity of land they respectively hold therein, according to the uncertain returns of the constables."a This list for Montgomery township shows twenty-nine names, as follows:

Joseph Naylor, 189 Acres

Robert Thomas, 200 Acres

John Starky, 200 Acres

Joseph Ambler, 90 Acres

John Bartholomew, 300 Acres

Joseph Eaton, 150 Acres

William Williams, 200 Acres

William Morgan, 100 Acres

Samuel Thomas, 100 Acres

John Williams, 100 Acres

Joseph Bate, 200 Acres

Thos. Bartholomew, 30 Acres

Griffith Hugh, 100 Acres

John Jones, carp'r, 300 Acres

John Roberts, 90 Acres

Garret Peters, 150 Acres

Moses Peters, 150 Acres

Rowland Roberts, 100 Acres

Francis Dawes, 100 Acres

Thomas Williams, 100 Acres

William Story, 100 Acres

Richard Lewis, 150 Acres

Isaac Jones, 100 Acres

John Robert, 200 Acres

James David, 100 Acres

David Evans, 100 Acres

Isaac James, 200 Acres

Jenkin Evans, 50 Acres

Jenkin Jones, --

Isaac James, who is named as holding 200 acres of land, was one of an important and numerous family, who settled early in Montgomery and New Britain [Bucks Co., PA]. John James, his father, came from Pembrokeshire, Wales, in 1711, and bought land in Montgomery. When the Baptist congregation was organized, in 1719, he, his wife, Sarah, and their three sons, William, Thomas, and Josiah, were five of the ten constituent members. John and his two elder sons bought 1000 acres of "the Hudson tract", in new Britain, in 1720, and probably removed there at that time.

[2001 editor's Note on Montgomery Baptist Church: From a booklet entitled "Old Montgomery 1969", in an article on church history from Nellie Gilkeson a story of the founding of this church is given. Since, this is the second oldest meeting in the Gwynedd/Montgomery area and also settled by Welsh, I thought it might be of some interest:

"In searching our records for the facts concerning the organization of the church we find a concise account written by a former pastor, the Reverend E. R. Clemens. Mr. Clemens has taken his writing from the original record book.

The first Baptists who came to settle amid these crude conditions were John Evans and Sarah, his wife, who came from Carmartenshire, South Wales, in 1710. They had been members of a Baptist church there, of which James James was minister. In 1711, John James and Elizabeth, his wife, members of a church in Pembrokeshire, of which John Jenkins was pastor, settled in Montgomery. When Abel Morgan, the famous preacher of Pennypack and Philadelphia, learned of the arrival of his fellow countrymen, he visited the new immigrants, and preached at the house of John Evans. He continued to visit the neighborhood as often as occasion permitted, and baptized a number of persons. These believers having increased to ten persons in 1719, it was moved to them either to join with some neighboring church, as that of Pennypack being the nighest [ed. I believe Southampton was running by this time], or to be settled in a church by themselves, upon which they consulted and concluded, by reason of distance of place and diversity of language, they understanding very little English, to be rather a church by themselves. This conclusion met with the approval of Abel Morgan, who himself being a native of Wales, was the most able and trusted of all the brethren in these parts. He was the first preacher to these few Baptists in Montgomery, and as far as this is concerned, may be said to be the founder of the church.

John Evans gave an acre of ground upon which to build a church, so in 1720 a rough log meeting house was erected and served as the first church until the year 1731. Then a building of stone, forty-two by twenty-four feet, with a gallery, was erected. In 1860, the third church was erected at a cost of three thousand four hundred and fifty dollars on the site of the old meeting-house...

In 1725 the total membership numbered sixty-two and the Reverend Benjamin Griffith became the first pastor..."

A similar history of this church is given by H.M. Jenkins in the next chapter.

The 1850 Montgomery township Federal Census is on-line.

Bean's History of Montgomery County has a chapter on Montgomery township.

Montgomery Township Militia List, 1786

This list acts as a census of sorts (JQ)

Return of the White Male Inhabitants of Montgomery Township capable of bearing arms, April 15, 1786. Sam'l Hines, Captain

Captain Samuel Hines

Lieut. George Weaver

Ens. Thomas Wilson

Drummer: Edward Hoxworth

Fifer: John Hoxworth

Thomas Harry Joel Evans
Thomas Drake Jenkin Evans
Thomas Layman Joseph Hubs
Thomas Bates Isaiah Mullin
John Brown Israel Mullin
John Lewis Isaac Jones
John Kooken (Kuchen) Henry Johnston
John Harry Christopher Wells
John Donnally George Sutch
John Drake David Bruner
John Pugh Richard Lewis
John Evans Henry Kooken
John Server William Burk
John Johnston Henry Martin
John Hartsel Archibald Campbell
John Roberts, Ca'd William Fry
John Miller Theophilus Williams
John Ambler, Jr. Henry Bartleson
John Thomas, Jr. Edward Pennington
James White Robert Gordon
Joseph Connard Robert Parks
Joseph Roberts Henry Karr
Joseph Ambler Absalom Thomas
Jacob Johnston Morton Kelly
Abraham Fretz Abraham Harman
John Chism Zebulon Heston
Jacob Stoneburner Robert MacMullin
James Hammer (Hamer) Peter Evans, Esq.
Joseph Bates William Thomas
James Melligan Ezra Thomas
Jacob Bruner Enoch Fry
Joseph Tompkins Daniel Thomas
Alexander Moore Abner Dickeson
William Drake Thomas Smith
Abel Williams Thomas Toy
Zachariah Clawson Thomas Owens
Abraham Hoofman George Drake
Daniel Sutch Charles Humphreys
Daniel Jones Jacob Brown
Edward Ambler William Wells
Cad. Roberts Joseph Heston
Henry Moore Abner Hughs
Richard Moore George Gordon
Enos Evans David Harman
David Jones James Hampton
Alexander Scott

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