|A clearer, if less colorful, view of Nicholas Springer's House|
The 2-1/2 story, three-bay, fieldstone house may have been built in 1762-63 by William Eynon, according to Joseph Lake in his Hockessin: A Pictorial History. [The frame section on the right was a 20th Century addition.] Nicholas Springer was single when he moved into the house, but in 1772 he married, and he and wife Elizabeth soon began a family. They would ultimately have eight children, although as was sadly common for the time, not all would attain adulthood. Two of the sons -- George (1779-1835) and Stephen (1785-1842) -- would carry on the Springer name in the area. (Another son, Nicholas, would move away, while two others died young.) Two of the daughters have appeared (if not by name) in other posts -- Hannah (1776-1838), who married Robert Walker and lived off of today's Skyline Drive; and Elizabeth (1789-1835), who wed Alexander Guthrie.
Although Nicholas probably spent most of the final 26 years of his life on his farm, he did have at least one brief period away from it. According to research done by his descendant Richard Morrison (Rich is also a frequent commenter here, and a great resource), Nicholas Springer was also a Revolutionary War soldier, taking the Oath of Allegiance on June 9, 1778. Before his passing in 1792 and interment at White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Nicholas, through purchases in 1773 and 1785, increased his original 43 acres to almost 150. That he died in 1792 is not in question, since on his grave marker it's literally etched in stone. Several sources (including the property's entry in the MCH Ag Buildings group nomination for the National Register of Historic Places) state that Nicholas died about 1800, but I believe this is because the property may not have been settled until then. [Possibly because Nicholas, Jr., the oldest surviving son, turned 18 that year?]
The exact chain of occupancy is a little blurry, but here is what I think might have happened. Upon Nicholas' death in 1792, the family remained in the old house. Sometime between 1800 and 1810, Nicholas, Jr. moved away from the area (he had a son born in Lancaster County, PA in 1810). The eldest son to remain, George, probably married his wife Esther (Johnson) about 1800. It couldn't have been too much later, as their eighth child (of 13!) was born in late 1814. George and Esther may have started out in the family home, but soon moved to a new house nearby -- but we'll get to that in the next post.
|c.1820 Springer-Yeatman Barn|
After his brothers moved out, this left Stephen Springer as the "man of the house". Stephen married Margaret Huston in 1813, and in the same year bought from his mother a 20 acre tract that may have included the old family home. Also still standing on the property today is a bi-level stone barn, said to date from about 1820, although it could be a few years older. In either case, the timeline would suggest it was built by Stephen Springer, before he moved his family a few miles south. When exactly he moved is not clear, but census information does suggest a range. In 1820 he's clearly still on the family farm. But in both 1830 and 1840 he's listed near Mary Mendenhall, which I'm pretty certain shows he's already down at his new home south of Mendenhall Mill Road (to be discussed in the next post). This seems to indicate that Stephen moved out of the house sometime in the 1820's, prior to selling his father's old home to Thomas Yeatman in 1837. Presumably in the interim the farm was either leased out or occupied by another family member.
By the time Nicholas Springer was done buying up land in the 1780's, his holdings on the east side of Limestone Road stretched from the Pennsylvania line all the way down to Valley Road. A number of early 19th Century transactions and divisions broke it up some within the family, and Stephen's sale of the northern section in 1837 reduced it some. The middle part of the 1800's saw four new Springer houses come into existence (or at least into the family), two each by each of the generations. Two houses stood on what was Nicholas' land (although one no longer does), and two are a little further south -- the original two I started researching. We'll look at all those in the next post.
The Springers of Northern Mill Creek Hundred -- Part 2
Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
- As I tried to note in the post, the various sources are not all in agreement about the timeline and other facts relating to the Springer-Yeatman House. I've laid out what I think is the most likely narrative. The discrepancies between sources are almost certainly due to misreading of deeds, and confusion of lots. Either that, or some of the primary source documents (deeds, tax assessments) are incorrect in listing what was present, as far as whether a house or barn was stone or log. As always, I'm as happy to be proven wrong as to be proven right.