Dolington, Past and Present

This paper was first read at the Dolington school-houe, in the interest of the library, December 30, 1881, by Barclay Eyre, from information gathered from Samuel Buckman, Benjamin P. Burroughs, Robert M. Croasdale and from other sources.

by Barclay Eyre, Dolington, PA
(Doylestown Meeting, January 21, 1928)

PREVIOUS to 1800, "Dolinton," as it was then called, boasted of but three houses. The first, a log house, built by Peter Dolin, stood upon the site now occupied by the store owned by P.A. Leland, and kept by Robert L. Balderston. A portion of the old log house still remains, as part of the present building. The second, a frame house, on the site of H.C. Hellings" residence, was thought to have been built by Dolin also, but occupied by Benjamin Canby. The third house, the one now used as a hotel, was built by William Jackson, in 1800, and used as a store for about 28 years. Oliver Hough kept store there for a number of years. The fourth house, or shanty, was built soon after this, on the opposite side of the road from Dennis Hogan's residence. It was known as the "Black Horse," and was occupied several years by James and Patty Cullens, who sold cakes and beer, for a living. About this time a tannery was established near Joseph Lambert's residence. It was run by Joseph Lownes. Another house was built just north of this, in which lived Paul Judge, as eccentric school-master. He married Peter Dolin's daughter.

During the next thirty years "Dolinton" made rapid progress in many respects. It stretched itself out upon the three high-ways leading from Dolin's corner, until it reached almost its present limits. the Post Office, formerly called "Lower Makefield," was changed to "Dolington" in 1827. Whether the "g" was inserted by accident, or for the purpose of adding dignity to the title, is not known.

About this time, William Taylor, better designated to the present generation as Robert Eastburn's grandfather, built the store now occupied by Robert Balderston (Dolin's), and for several years, with his sons, conducted a flourishing business there. he died in 1831, (and his four sons died near the same time), leaving a widow and two daughters, who sold out to William Evans, and removed to Newtown.

The tailoring business of John Headley was very flourishing about 1830 to 1835. he occupied the house now owned by Charles Janney, and employed eight or ten hands. The coach and wagon factory of Oliver P. Ely and James Briggs, established in 1833, also did an extensive business. They were succeeded by the present occupant, Isaac Randall. The smithing establishment of Seth Davis, on the corner now owned by Frederic Griscom, gave the town more ring than all the rest, he having three or four apprentices all the time.

In my boyhood days, the old wheelwright shop across the way, on the H.C. Hellings property, was run by John R. Bitting, who late removed to Doylestown. he was at one time our village Postmaster and kept the Post Office in the lean-to adjoining the dwelling. the mails, at that time, were brought from Philadelphia by stage coach.

The period embraced in the first forty years of the present century, appears to have been one of great mental activity and business enterprise for this small community. Dolington, in those days, was a business and literary center of no mean importance. People came from the surrounding country, many miles to patronize its various industries. The enterprising spirit of its inhabitants was shown by a meeting held at Trump 7 Saterthwaite's store, in 1836, to "take steps toward improving the sidewalks." A committee for the purpose was appointed, and the farmers of the neighborhood hauled the gravel.

In the Fall of 1833 the far-famed Dolington lyceum was first organized in the old school-house near Friends' Meeting. Could those old walls now re-echo the words that once thrilled many a heart, how eagerly would we turn a listening ear. It was there the young ideas of our grandfathers, our fathers, and many of the present generation, were "taught how to shoot," both under the teacher's rod, and beneath the burning eloquence of many a hotly contest debate.

The old school-house, belonging to Makefield Meeting of Friends, was built about 1830, under the supervision of Samuel Buckman and Jesse Lloyd. The one which it replaced was a log building, and had been in use as a school-house, probably seventy years. Previous to 1850, the school was conducted under the care of the Preparative Meeting, the last committee in charge being Samuel Buckman, Jonathan Paxson, Preston Eyre and Samuel C. Cadwallader. During their term of service the school was turned over to the school board of the township, and became a public school, with Isaac Randall as director.

In 1859 the new school-house at Dolington was built, and first used for school purposes that Fall, with Annie E. Phillips as teacher of the primary grades, on the first floor, and Sarah M. Fell as teacher of the older pupils, on the second floor, the writer being one of these.

In the "old school-house" the intelligent citizens of the community were wont to meet for the promotion of all public enterprises. There, on the 16th of march, 1816, a "respectable number of persons assembled for the purpose of consulting on the practicability of establishing a library." At an adjourned meeting held 9th of 5th month, 18186, the committee previously appointed, reported having obtained subscriptions to 31 shares at $5 each. They thereupon adopted a constitution a elected the following officer: Directors - Charles Buckman, Thomas Betts, Benjamin Taylor, Jr., Abram Slack, Jr., and Jonathan Paxson; Treasurer - Charles Cadwallader; Secretary7 - Mahlon K. Taylor.

If the original members, one is still living, Samuel Buckman, now of Newtown township. Several others have died within a few years, whose names are familiar to us: Jonathan Paxson, Mahlon K. Taylor, Thomas Betts, Robert Longshore, Benjamin Taylor, Benjamin Beans, William Cadwallader, and Richard Janney.

Among those who bought shares early in the history of the library, we notice the name of Joseph H. Yardley, Esq., in 1820; Seneca Beans and Mahlon K. Knowles, in 1824; Benjamin Burroughs, in 1828, and Robert S. Trego, and Charles B. Hill, about the same time. Josiah B. Slack's name appears some years later.

Of those who are still members of the Library company, the name of William Lloyd appears as Secretary and Director in 1837; and Samuel C. Cadwallader in 1840.

When first established, the library was kept in a room over the store of Oliver or Phebe Hough, now the hotel property. In 1829, it was moved to a room in the second story of William Taylor's store (now Robert Balderston's), where it remained, with the exception of two years, 1839 and 1840 (when it was kept over the old school-house), till 1858, when the present library building was erected, and the books removed thereto in Benjamin Lloyd's market-wagon, the writer of this paper assisting in the moving. In 1838 the tailor shop of Charles Howell was built by the Directors of the library, at a cost of $65, but, for some unexplained reason, was never used by the library.

ADDENDUM, 1904-During the Summer and Fall of 1904, the books of Makefield Library were disposed of, Philadelphia parties purchasing those of value for $60. the balance were sold at public sale, together with the building, furniture and sundries, amounting in all to about $115. One hundred dollars of this was placed in trust with the Bucks County trust Company, the income thereof to be paid annually to the teacher in charge of Dolington public school, on certificate attested by the local Director, said income to be used in the purchase of books for the Dolington public school library.

Page last updated: January 20, 2017



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