|The 1813 William Morgan House|
The story begins, not surprisingly, with William Morgan, who purchased 235 acres of land north of Corner Ketch in 1797. The National Register of Historic Places (to which it was added in 1987 as part of a group of MCH sites) nomination form states that Morgan bought the land from an agent of the Penn family, although it seems a bit late for that to me. In any case, I've not been able to find very much definitive information about William Morgan. He probably came from Pennsylvania, since later on his daughter is listed as having been born there in 1777. There is a William Morgan, Revolutionary War veteran, buried in the Pencader Cemetery in Glasgow, but I don't know if this is the same person (the death date of 1833 is about right).
For the first 16 years of their residency at the site, Morgan and his family lived in a log house (possibly built by Morgan himself) and had a log barn. It's an interesting window into their priorities to see that it was the barn, not the house, that was first upgraded from log to stone. In 1809, commemorated by a datestone in its west gable, Morgan erected a large stone barn on the east side of the road. The NRHP form has many more details, but architecturally speaking, the Morgan Barn seems to be somewhat of a transitional structure. It's one of the oldest dated stone barns in the area, and has features both of the older, 18th Century barns, as well as later 19th Century ones. The wooden additions, a straw shed and a combination corn crib-wagon shed, were added later in the 19th Century as dairy farming came to dominate the area.
|Morgan Barn, built 1809|
William Morgan lived on his farm until his death in about 1833, at which point the property went to his daughter, Mary Morgan. Presumably by this point Morgan was a widower and either had no other living children, or at least had none in the area. Mary lived in the home until 1857 when, at the age of 80, she sold it to Milton Michener, a Quaker farmer from Londonderry Township, Chester County.
Michener, who was about 30 when he purchased the farm with his wife Esther, only occupied the house for about ten years. The small Quaker headstones for Milton and Esther that lie up the road at the Mill Creek Meeting House are tricky to read, but it looks as if they may have died in 1867 and 1868. They also had a daughter, Anna, born in 1862, but I haven't been able to find what became of her. By the time of the next record I have of the property, an 1881 map, it's shown as being owned by Samuel Eastburn. The post on the Eastburn Store has a little background on the two Samuel Eastburns, but my assumption is that the house was purchased by the older Samuel Eastburn (1818-1906) after Michener's death, and used as a rental property. Samuel himself resided in his father's old house on the south side of Paper Mill Road.
Although I can't confirm it for sure, Eastburn descendant Donna Peters recalls being told that her Great-Great Grandfather, Oliver Wilson Eastburn lived in the house. This sounds probable for two reasons (besides the fact that I have no reason to doubt her): 1) Oliver W. Eastburn was Samuel's nephew, and the Eastburns seemed to always be a pretty close-knit family, and 2) census data does show that Oliver resided in the area. Of course the census pages then didn't have addresses, so it's difficult to nail down exact locations.
Oliver remained in the house until the early 1920's, at which time he moved to Upper Darby, PA. (His first wife, Sarah, had died in 1917, and he remarried in 1921.) Oliver had obviously purchased the property outright at some point, because he then sold it to the Dempsey family, possibly to George R. Dempsey. The house and barn remain in the Dempsey family to this day. This means that in almost 215 years, the property has only been owned by four families, and one of those was for only about a decade. It's not surprising then, that the stone house and barn erected by William Morgan two centuries ago are still in the wonderful shape they are today.
Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
- On the 1850 census, Mary Morgan is shown to be living with three women - Jane, Margaret, and Sarah Hollan (at least that's what it looks like). They are probably sisters, as they are 19, 34, and 27 years of age. I don't know who they are, but would guess they are relatives of some sort.
- The Micheners also had a son named Lewis who died at nine months old, possibly in 1861.