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Displaying items by tag: Shannonville

Wednesday, 11 October 2023 19:54

The Weikel Family and Shannonville

Our guest blogger, George Detwiler, is back with another story from the Audubon area:

George

This home at the corner of Pawlings Road and Lark Lane was part of a large farm owned by Aaron Weikel in the early 19th century. When we moved into our home on Owl Road in 1953, the barn for the home was still partially standing (where the firehouse is now) and served as a playground for the kids in the neighborhood. A dirt lane extended in back of the homes on Lark Lane and Owl Road to a spot that served as their dump. Well into the 1970s at least, my neighbor would occasionally dig up old bottles and other items when he was planting flowers at the back of their yard.

One of the many interesting features of this property was a concrete slab about 6 feet square that sat between the home and barn. I have read in old newspaper accounts of early Shannonville that the property included a ventilation shaft for the Perkiomen mines an this may have been the location of this shaft.

The Weikels were one of the leading families in Shannonville back in the early 19th century. Aaron was a schoolteacher at the Beech Tree School (the second in Shannonville). He also conducted a singing school with Thomas Highley. Weikel even led the choir at Lower Providence Presbyterian Church, led a debate society, dabbled in real estate, was the town's postmaster, and was a courthouse official at various times.

Shannonville

1870s Atlas at HSMC

In 1869, he and John Williams bought the 14 small stone miners' cottages that sat along Egypt Road and covered about two acres of land for $1,200. That was about the same time that the mines were shutting down and it probably seemed like a good deal. A year later, Williams sold his interest in the homes to Weikel for about $350.00. He must have retained a small portion of the land, though, since it was his donation of land that allowed the little white Chapel to be built along Egypt Road neat the intersection that was named after him.

Weikel also was the purchaser of some of the last Shannon land in Shannonville. In 1891 he purchased the Shannonville store and post office at the corner of Pawlings and Egypt Roads (now the site of Ebru Coffee) and the 1/2 acre of land it sat on for $1,800. Prior to owning this I am fairly certain that he ran a store out of his home that competed with the Shannon store. He later transferred the Shannon store to his son, Horace.

In 1883, Weikel was elected the Recorder of Deeds for a three year term. He died at the age of 69 in 1903. His wife survived him until 1926, dying at the age of 88. Her estate held on to the property (I believe) until its eventual sale and development by George Custer into the housing development I grew up in (Lark Lane, Owl Road, Pheasant Road and Sparrow Road).

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 31 August 2023 18:33

Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys

We have a guest blogger for this latest post. HSMC Board member and volunteer, George Detwiler, writes about Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys:

One of the more colorful characters associated with the history of Betzwood and the  Shannonville/Audubon area was William Levi "Buck" Taylor. Buck was born on November 15, 1857 in Texas. His grandfather was one of those killed at the Alamo. Buck was orphaned at a young age when his father died fighting in the Civil War and his mother died shortly thereafter. He and his brother, Bax, became cowhands while still in their teens, running herds of cattle throughout the West where he was regarded as the best bronco buster in the country. Buck eventually signed on to Buffalo Bill Cody's Ranch in Nebraska.

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Photo Credit: Source -Buffalo Bill Online Archive MS6 William F. Cody Collection Rights- McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West

I also learned Buck and Bax's sister, Mary, was also quite the cowhand. She mixed right in there with Buck, Bax, and the other cowboys and was considered an excellent rider, roper, and cattle handler. Sort of the Calamity Jane type.

When Buffalo Bill Cody formed his Wild West Show, Buck was asked to join. His tall size led him to be cast as General Custer in their reenactments of the Battle of Little Bighorn, also sometimes referred to as "Custer's Last Stand." Several dime novels were written with him as the main character. His fame became so great at the time he was known as "The King of the Cowboys."

Buck Taylor March 18 1953 TH

Times Herald, March 18, 1953, HSMC Microfilm Collection

In the 1890s, middle aged and retired from "show business," Buck settled in the East and was made Superintendent of the Betzwood Stock Farm in Betzwood, PA. This was a phenomenally successful horse breeding farm owned and run by wealthy beer brewer John Betz. 

After Betz' death, Taylor manged Stephens farm on Port Kennedy Road. He lived in the house that was used as the headquarters of Gen. Vernaum, commander of the Rhode Island troops, during the Valley Forge encampment during the Revolutionary War. Buck died on April 28, 1924. He is buried in the cemetery behind the Valley Forge Chapel.      

Published in Found in Collection