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Ralph N. Thompson subject files on Lower Makefield Township


Held at: Lower Makefield Historical Society [Contact Us]P.O. Box 228, Yardley, PA, 19067

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Lower Makefield Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Yardley family, friends of William Penn, were among the first English settlers who lived in the area later known as Makefield in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They and other Quaker families began to settle the area in 1682.

"The Township of Makefield was founded in 1692 when Bucks County appointed a grand jury to divide the county into townships. The original five townships were: Bensalem, Bristol, Falls, Makefield and Middletown. Richard Hough [who married into the Yardley family] is credited with naming Makefield Township. He was a provincial councilor and may have chosen the name Makefield as an Americanization of the name "Macclesfield," his native home in Cheshire, England. In 1737, a realignment of Makefield boundaries divided it into Upper and Lower Makefield."

Lower Makefield Township remained largely rural for the next couple centuries. "In the 18th century the farms averaged about 150 acres and the farmers harvested wheat, corn, rye, oats, hay, and some flax... In the 19th century agriculture practices changed. Wheat, corn and hay were still the principal field crops, but urban growth fostered a dairy revolution on Pennsylvania farms. Lower Makefield farms became "specialized" in crops for the urban market, producing exotic vegetables, flowers, prize horses, other livestock and milk.

"These activities fostered minor commercial activities that concentrated at important crossroads" and led to the development of bustling villages such as Edgewood Village, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. "In the 19th century, a minor tourism industry developed that allowed local farmers to supplement their incomes by taking in boarders. First by stage and horse traffic, then after 1876, by the nearby Reading railroad, city dwellers arrived to vacation in the healthful farm air.

"As transportation and communications networks extended from Trenton and Philadelphia into suburban Bucks County areas in the 20th century, Lower Makefield farms turned into suburban housing developments for workers at nearby industries. This trend became particularly intense after the arrival of U.S. Steel's Fairless Works and the expansion of Route 1 corridor south of the Township. Interstate 95 bisected the Township in the 1970s, and Lower Makefield's central location in the Washington, D.C. to New York City corridor made the development of residential housing the Township's principal economic activity in the waning decades of the century."

Ralph N. Thompson served as president of the Lower Makefield Historical Society during the 1990s. While he was president, Thompson conducted and compiled a significant amount of research on local historic houses, families, and other local history topics. He was also pivotal in getting Slate Hill Cemetery, likely the oldest cemetery in Bucks County, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Quoted text from: The Township of Lower Makefield, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. "History of Lower Makefield Township." Accessed September 3, 2013.

This collection consists of nine binders of research and writings compiled by Ralph N. Thompson on the history of Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Six volumes are on houses and families, with some other local history topics. These volumes include photocopied original documents such as deeds, photographs, and ephemera, as well as short narrative histories written by Thompson on local history topics. The subjects are as follows: Elias Anderson house Joshua Anderson house Ashton/Field house Balderston/Lloyd house Berm Bank house Dr. Benjamin Collins house Crosswinds Dolington Manor Edgewood Farm (John Brown house) Edgewood Village (Brumbaugh report) Edgewood Village Elliot Grant Ferry house Five Mile Woods Floral Vale Farm John Palmer, Sr. House (aka The Homestead, Journey's End) James Force House Homestead Acres Charles Hough Henry Hough house Thomas Janney Grant, Edgewood Farm, Locust Grove, F28M Kirkbride/Palmer House Lakeside Yardley family Benjamin Linton House Margerum/Watson House Daniel Palmer House (aka Edgewood) David Palmer House Mark Palmer's Boarding House John Palmer, Jr. House (aka Willow Bend) Thomas Janney Grant, Edgewood Farm, Locust Grove, F28M John Palmer House ("The Homestead") John Palmer House ("Willow Bend") Joseph Palmer House Joshua Palmer House William Palmer House ("Foxwood Farm") Pleasant Valley Farm Pownall Grant Prospect Farm Shady Brook Farm Silver Lake Simcock/Stapler House Scammells Corner Schoolmaster's House, Mirror Lake Farm, Willow-o-Wisp Sutphin Farm Octagon Schoolhouse Stillwell Farm, Stillwell House, and Pickering House Stonedale house Stradling family Twin Arches Isaiah Vansant Vansant/Buckman house Venables family Warner/Buckman House Matthias Wiesner house Ship "Welcome" Winder family Robert Yardley House Yardley trolley

There are two volumes of photocopied deeds, surveys, and wills for Lower Makefield Township, 1684-1800. The volumes are organized into: tax lists, research worksheets, wills, maps and surveys, and deeds (organized by deed book, #1-98).

Lastly, there is one volume on Slate Hill Cemetery and supporting documents for its application for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This binder includes correspondence, a narrative history of the cemetery, the application for the National Register, and a grave index and map (photocopies).

Left to the Lower Makefield Historical Society by former Society president Ralph N. Thompson.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Lower Makefield Historical Society directly for more information.

Lower Makefield Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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