Document Collection

A History of Greenwood Farm

In 1706 David Meredith asked for a patent for 1500 acres of land. There was no unpatented land of that size left in Tredyffrin so he was given 2 seperate tracts of 1340 and 160 acres1. On receiving the patent he immediately sold the land to David Powell, the deputy surveyor for Chester County, (who probably financed the whole venture)2.

In 1708 David Powell sold 400 acres of the 1340 acres to Lewis Walker together with the 160 acre plot (the remaining 940 acres became the Havard tract)3. Parts of the 160 acres then went through a number of owners including the Rev. William Currie, John Beaver, and James Davis. In 1782 James and his wife Mary sold 100 acres to their son, Dr. John Davis4.

By the 1798 glass tax Dr. John Davis had acquired additonal land and is shown as owning 123 acres together with a log cabin 26’ x 17’; stone barn 60’ x 32’; and stone wagon house 37’ x 17’. On his death in 1816 the tract had become 156½ acres and included a mansion house.

The property is described in a sales advertisement5 as follows:

Late the property of Dr. John Davis, deceased, containing 156 acres, sixty of which are first rate wood land, the remainder arable and in a high state of cultivation. On the premises are erected a large and elegant stone dwelling house, built in modern style, a large stone barn, a stone spring house, a tenant house, and outhouses of every description. On said plantation are a lime kiln and limestone quarries; an apple orchard, wih a variey of other fruit trees. - Said farm possesses every convenience of water, by streams passing through each enclosure, and one immedialey by the door of the dwelling, watering a large proportion of meadow - In short; said property is deficient in no improvement that can add to the comfort or convenience of a farm.

The property was sold on the 26th December 1816 (see sale advertisement) and was purchased by Enoch and Elija Davis, the sons of Dr. John Davis6. The purchase was financed by a mortgage from the administrators of Dr. John Davis' estate. Enoch and Elijah Davis could not keep up with the mortgage payments and the estate was sold in a Sheriff's sale on the 18th October 1819 to Joshua Jones and Joshua Evans7. They sold the farm in the next year to Dr. William Harris8.

In 1833 Dr. William Harris decided to move his business to Philadelphia and he sold the estate. Here is the description:

156½ Acres, 40 of which is woodland, the remainder arable and in a high state of cultivation. The farm is under good fence, and every field is supplied with water, by two brooks, one of which passes through the barn yard. There are on the premises a young bearing apple orchard of well selected fruit, and within an enclosure, near the mansion, a variety of apricot, cherry, pear, peach, green gage, egg plum, pruin, and other fruit trees, in bearing order, as well as a diversity of grape-vines, which afford delicious fruit in their season. There are, moreover a lime kiln, a lime quarry and extensive strata of Marble.

The buildings are a large stone Dwelling house, nearly new, and constructed in modern style, having a wide hall and four rooms on the first floor, six on the second, and five on the third, with a cellar under whole building, in five apartments, a large stone barn, wagon-house, carriage-house, hog-house, sheep-house, and other out buildings. Upon another part of the farm there is a good tenant house, having a kitchen and cellar in the basement story, three rooms on the second and two on the third, a cow-house with stalls for twenty cows, having a hay mow above and a rivulet passing through the cow-yard; and a spring-house over a strong spring of excellent water, which is unaffected either by drought, or rain, and sufficiently large to hold the milk of thirty cows. The above described farm is situate one mile north of the Pennsylvania rail road, 15 miles from Philadelphia, fifteen from West Chester and six from Norristown. - At the road which passes from the Swedesford , through the farm to the Spread Eagle, on the Lancaster turnpike, divides the arable lands, the woodland, the streams of water and the buildings pretty equally, the property will be sold either in two tracts or one as may suit purchasers.

The property was divided and then recombined with an owner of Richard Hecksher in 1883.

Richard Hecksher tract image not found
Extract from Breou’s Atlas, 1883

In 1942 the farm was sold to Radcliffe Morris Urquart. After Urquart died around 1969 the estate was sold to a development company who sub-divided the tract.

Notes and References

  1. Patent A3-270
  2. Chester County deed B-81
  3. deed B-214
  4. deed E2-183
  5. TEHS Document database, doc 411
  6. deed O3-277
  7. Sheriff’s deed 2-160
  8. deed R3-293
  9. A Brief History of Greenwood Farm by J. Randall Cotton