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February 2001

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The Hugh Foulke House

Originally published in the Foulke Family Herald, November 1993

It appears suddenly out of nowhere, and unless you are paying close attention, you might even miss it.  The home of Hugh Foulke, second son of Edward and Eleanor, sits peacefully along the California Road just outside of Quakertown, PA.

Walking around the property, one gets a real sense of history.  It is not very hard to picture early American colonists going about their daily routines or soldiers crossing the fields.

The original dwelling which housed Hugh, his wife Ann, and their eleven children consisted of only the single-room log cabin.  The structure is about 30 feet by 20 feet, typical of early colonial times when settlers' main objective was to get the farmland established and producing food.  Close examination of the construction reveals hand-hewn logs.  The mortar was made of mud and straw.  The roof overhang is supported by the braces used for the loft floor.  The loft was used as sleeping quarters.

Inside, the cabin still boasts the original walk-in fireplace, random-width flooring (probably added later) and a very narrow staircase leading to the loft.

The only original outbuilding still standing is the bake-oven, constructed of stone.  There was a springhouse and barn, but both were torn down, more for safety than anything since they had fallen into disrepair.  The stone foundations are still partially intact, so it is easy to find where they were located.

The term "original" has been used a lot, but is very hard to convert to actual dates.  Usually, it is easy to document when the land was acquired, but buildings are not so easy.  Just because the land was purchased in 1740 does not mean you can date a home based on that information.  People then, as now, built and tore down structures as they saw fit.  Hugh Foulke's home is no exception to the rule and the more documentation I find, the more clouded the issue becomes.

We know that Hugh and Ann (Williams) were married in 1713.  We know he moved to Quakertown shortly thereafter.  He requested a grant of 200 acres in the first month of 1732, but was already living on the land for which the warrant was requested.  The actual Warrant of Survey is dated March 22, 1733-4, and the land patent for 313 acres was granted on January 10, 1740.

Officially he owned the land as of 1740, but all other records indicate he was living there prior to 1732.  This was customary in the formative years of the colonies.  Most landowners established their homes and followed through with legalities later on.  It is safe to assume that the cabin is circa 1730, based on construction and records, but it could be older.  Unless a diary of the missing 19 years (1713-1732) appears, we will likely never know for sure.

The stone portion was added later (date unknown as of this writing) and within the last decade another log cabin was added at the opposite end of the stone structure.  This log addition was purchased in upstate Pennsylvania, disassembled, moved and then reassembled at its present location.

Of the 313 acres purchased in 1740 (or whenever), only 11 remain, but the property is stunning.  The house is barely visible from the road, hidden by evergreens and an assortment of deciduous trees.  A long driveway takes you past a small wooded lot containing two oak trees estimated to be at about 300 years old and quite possible the largest trees in existence in Penn's woods.  There is a small pasture which houses sheep and a large pond graced with weeping willows.

The present owners graciously host a tour of the house and property and they admit that even though they purchased it as a temporary residence, they have fallen in love with the charm and are intrigued with the history surrounding them.  One piece of folklore they've heard is that the colonists who were transporting the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to Allentown during the Revolutionary War, stopped at this property to rest and water their horses.  The bell was being moved to protect it from the British who planned on melting it down for cannon balls.

Another story she shared was that Mrs. Foulke (presumably another generation, but possibly Hugh's wife) was baking when some soldiers appeared on the property.  They meant no harm and were only hungry.  The frightened Mrs. Foulke gladly parted with her day's worth of fresh baked goods.

None of these stories can be documented historically, but these are fun and add some personal attachments to the history and founding of our country.

In addition to the history and the beauty of the homestead, the occupant informed us that she has reason to believe Hugh haunts the old log cabin.  Resting on a deep window sill is a picture of her father.  For reasons they cannot explain (and they have checked everything), this picture will suddenly topple over.  Keep in mind that Hugh was a Quaker, and thus a conscientious objector.  The owner's picture of her father is one of him in his soldier's uniform.  If it is not Hugh, maybe it's the woman who spent all day baking only to turn it over to the soldiers!

Copyright © 1993 Foulke Family Association.

Section last updated February 01, 2001
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