Watercolor Painting of the Farmhouse at Palmer Farm
Palmer Farm Village was built between 1989 and 1994 on farmland that can trace its roots back almost 350 years to the early settlers from Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. Prior to the arrival of those settlers, the property Palmer Farm Village now occupies was inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape People.
In the late 1660’s in England, William Penn, an educated young gentleman who was disillusioned with the great disparities in class and wealth in British and European societies, became enamored with the teachings of human equality of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He became a street preacher and advocate for human rights and found himself imprisoned, with his fellow Quakers, for rebellion against the King and the Church of England.
This was to the dismay of William Penn’s father who was an honored Admiral in the British Navy. King Charles II owed the Admiral a significant debt but the Admiral died before the King could repay it. King Charles repaid the debt by granting Admiral Penn's son, William, 45,000 square miles in North America along the Delaware River to be settled as a British colony. William Penn wanted to name this new land “Sylvania,” Latin for “Woods,” but King Charles II insisted the land be named in honor of Penn’s father, so it became the “Province of Pennsylvania.”
Because Quakers were being persecuted, imprisoned, and unfairly taxed, William Penn saw this as an opportunity to create a great new city unlike any in Europe, where people were governed by their peers and free to worship as they chose. Penn encouraged his fellow Quakers to move to this new province. William Penn arrived in 1681 to survey his new property. William Yardley arrived with his family in 1682, purchased 500 acres from Penn and established his homestead on what is now called Dolington Road about a mile from the current-day town of Yardley.
Thomas Janney, III, Yardley’s brother-in-law (their wives were sisters, Jane and Margery Heath) arrived with his family in 1683. Janney purchased 250 acres and established his homestead “near the Falls of Delaware.” Later Janney acquired over 1,000 acres and his property extended west to Core Creek and north to Newtown. This includes the property that is now our Palmer Farm Village.
When Thomas Janney died in 1697, his will left to his second son, Thomas ,IV, 800 acres “whereupon he hath begun a plantation.” That land includes what is now Palmer Farm Village. Thomas IV’s daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Thomas Pugh (from another local Quaker family), inherited the land in 1722. They sold it to Joseph Kirkbride in 1735, whose son, John, inherited the property. It is likely that John and his wife, Margery, in c. 1753 built the brick portion of the farmhouse that is still standing today in Palmer Farm Village. Brick houses were rare in the 1700’s and this farmhouse was likely built using bricks that had been brought across the Atlantic as ballast in ships that returned heavy-laden with goods from America.
In 1758, Daniel Palmer, their Quaker neighbor, who owned adjacent property in Edgewood, purchased the land and house from Margery Kirkbride after her husband’s death. The succession of ownership is not clear from records currently available. The documents mention Daniel Palmer’s brother, Amos, and Daniel’s sons, Daniel, Jr., and Joshua. Amos Palmer died in 1770 and his will mentions the brick farmhouse. It appears that in 1771, Abner Palmer inherited the property from his grandfather, Daniel.
In 1786, Abner sold the property to John Knight and the advertisement for the property mentions the two-story brick house. It is estimated that the stone house addition of two and a half stories was built c. 1810, with a “stone/rubble-filled” one and a half story frame shed-roofed kitchen. In 1870 the brick house was mentioned in the Newtown Enterprise as being on the farm of Barclay Knight. Deeds for land in this area around that time also mention James and Patrick Gregg. The Knight family owned the property until the early 1900’s when it was sold to the Satterthwaite family who added the porches to the farmhouse.
When local historical society offices reopen after the current pandemic, we hope to clarify and complete this portion of the history of the Palmer Farm Village property.
In 1987, Realen Homes, formerly Reality Engineering Company, of Berwyn, PA, bought 47 acres from Edward Guzikowski, who was born and raised in Yardley and who owned property on both sides of Township Line Road from Yardley/Langhorne Road down to the railroad tracks. Ed Guzikowski was a farmer and lived in an old farmhouse in the area that is now the Brookstone community. He grew rye, oats, and wheat in the property that is now Palmer Farm Village and rented the farmhouse. He also raised thoroughbred horses and boarded other people’s horses. To make room for Brookstone the farmhouse where Ed lived was burned down by the Lower Makefield Fire Department as a training exercise. The historic farmhouse buildings were preserved, restored and renovated as the centerpiece of Palmer Farm Village. In 1992 the Kirkbride-Palmer House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.