Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mid-Week Historical Newsbreak -- Merestone Sales Ad

Mixed in amongst the old newspaper clippings of fires, horrid deaths, animal abuses, train wrecks, and
murders (guess what -- there never was a "peaceful good old days") that have been forwarded to or found by me, there are also a fair number of real estate sales ads. Depending on how old they are and how good your knowledge of the area is, for many of them you can determine exactly where the property is that's for sale. If you can, the ad can be an invaluable resource, giving you a heaping portion of information about the property and what it consisted of at the time. The ad seen to the right is is an example of one whose identity was not all that difficult to discern.

The ad comes to us from Philadelphia's Public Ledger, dated December 16, 1844. It tells of the upcoming sale of 216 acres belonging to John M. Beeson of Mill Creek Hundred. The ad lists, among other things, a part stone and part frame mansion house, a 70 x 40 foot three story stone barn, wagon house, spring house, tenant house, corn crib, and other out-buildings. The property also had a "thriving young apple orchard" which also had pear trees, cherry trees, and other fruit. All in all sounds like a nice property, and one I should have written about. Turns out, I did!

The house that John Beeson was trying to sell that December is the home now known as Merestone, on the DE/PA state line on Yeatmans Mill Road north of Corner Ketch. Since (if you recall) much of the historical significance of Merestone is due to its 20th Century restoration by an important architect, this sale ad gives us a nice glimpse into the state of the property in the mid-19th Century.

The John Beeson (1802-1869) of the ad was the son of William Beeson who built the stone barn mentioned, in 1806, and probably the stone section of the house. William's father John had purchased the property from George Evans in 1776. And unless the 1849 map is hopelessly wrong, John M. Beeson was unsuccessful in selling the house in 1844, despite stating that it would be "positively sold". Although to be fair, he didn't say when. Beeson did eventually sell the house to Halliday Hoopes, sometime after 1849 but prior to 1865, when Hoopes sold it to Thomas G. Seal. The house itself was enlarged numerous times over the years, and this ad gives a neat snapshot of what was around it 170 years ago.

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