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Lower Makefield Historical Society collection of oral histories, house histories, and scrapbooks


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."


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

This collection on the local history of Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania includes oral history interviews, house histories, and scrapbooks. Some of the oral histories are on audiocassette tapes and some have been transcribed. There are house histories on VHS tapes as well as written house histories. Both the oral and house histories are usually accompanied by contextualizing documentation, such as written release forms, photographs, and photocopies of related primary-source documents. There are also scrapbooks on local history topics.

The following oral histories are on audiocassette tapes, recorded by Karen Steil: Paul and Bill Sterling (2-23-98); Charles Ronaldo (11-9-97); Louis Lang (12-29-97); Parthenia Carabelli (1-24-98); Helen Newman (1-25-98); John Mach; Mary Hoffmeister -- 81 years (12-8-97); C. Kenneth Slack (3-9-98); and Samuel M. Snipes (3-10-98). There are transcripts of interviews with Parthenia Moore Carabelli and Marcus Mancilus Moore.

There are also two volumes compiled by the Lower Makefield Township Historical Commission in 2009 that include transcripts of oral history interviews as well as copies of related primary source documents and photographs, and narrative histories of local buildings and families. The oral history interviewees are: Christopher James Bennett, Geraldine Carver Bray, Paul Czytajlo, Duane D. Doan Jr., Robert V. Dolton, Joseph Carl Eberhart, Beverly Minges Fleming, Sandra Guzikowski, Richard George Hahn and Eleanor Lewis Hahn, Louis Lang, Marie McGowan, Sara D'Aversa Puca, Daniel Quill, Charles E. Ronaldo, Margaret (Moy) Heacock Shoen, Richard C. Skinner, Samuel Moon Snipes, David Joseph Steil, Bill and Paul Sterling, Sam Stewart (with Ken Stewart and Cindy Steward McMahon), Mary Ann and Philip Nathan Tigar, Elsie W. Wright, Ruth Osmond Wright and Sharon Lynn Kimmel, and Agnes Cora Wallace (Sue VanOrden).

Two additional scrapbooks compiled by the Lower Makefield Historical Commission include photocopied newspaper articles, circa 1980-2000, on the following topics: Tomlinson store Warran Farringer house Stapler Tenant schoolhouse Schoolmaster's house Thackery house Palmer farmhouse Balderson farmhouse Richard Hough house Slate Hill Burying Ground Will-o-the-Wisp Edgewood Village Stapler farmhouse Octagonal schoolhouse Floral Vale Peake-Valliga house Mansion house farm Lower Makefield tricentennial Yardley tricentennial Yardley House tours Research Land preservation Ordinance Master plan Pennsbury schools Lower Makefield Bucks County Fire company

This collection also includes house histories on VHS for the following sites: Elm Lowne/Ashton Farm Kirkbride- Palmer/Hildebrand Grey Nuns Academy/ Irwin/Fireplace (1-10-90) Raab/Jones/Grey Stones, Fleming "Roylar", Durham; Slack, Humphrey Journey's End -- Edgewood, Scammell's Corner, "Deeds" Broadway -- Stonedate -- Barn Pegs; Street Signs, Cut Nails Napoleon Schoolmaster House, Belledin Farm, Vargo Farm, The Homestead, Wheat, Corn, River, Friends Meeting House, William Penn, Carpenter Twin Arches (Herdman), "Old Shade-Edgewood" (Millers), The ruins of the Octagon Schoolhouse, Roelof Hotel, Big Oak Schoolhouse (exterior only) Balderson -- Lloyd -- Before restoration, Nuzzolo, Octagon SH, Wycombe "Crosswind" -- Robertson/ Sparks, Flowers/Freniers/Patterson Lane Barn "Carved Post"/Grey Stones Hoke Farm, Islan, Exterior of Scammell's Corner

Folders of accompanying paper documentation exist for the following sites: Balderston Homestead, Boxwood Farm, Biles Corner, Edgewood, Edgewood Village, and Historic Barn Project.

There is also a 1997 report, "Historic Structures Survey/Determination of Eligibility Report for the I-95 and PA Route 332 Ramp Improvements Project (1997)."

A large quantity of documentation exists for the historic Schoolmaster's House, which was formerly owned by the Lower Makefield Historical Society. Materials relating to the property are as follows: Stapler Assessments/Taxes; Stapler Drawings; Stapler-Heinz Architect; Stapler Miscellaneous; Stapler Photographs (1 of 2); Stapler Photographs (2 of 2); Stapler Plot Plan; Stapler History of Land Ownership; Stapler Zoning Appeal; Stapler Request for Exempt Status; Stapler House Guest Book; Stapler Sale; and Stapler Color Prints (Oversize).

Finally, of special interest is a World War II 60th Anniversary Memory Book compiled by the Lower Makefield Historical Society in 2005. It includes narrative memories of local veterans, with photocopies of wartime photographs and correspondence (and some originals). A transcript of diary entries from World War II veteran Lt. Scott Scammell II is also included in the collection.

Materials collected by the Lower Makefield Historical Society from various sources over time.

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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