"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One of the only Revolutionary War Burial Sites in Existence

As much as I wanted to create with my hands today, it was just too darn gorgeous outside to not take advantage of it! Hopping in the car, camera in one hand and Nicolai in the other, I set out to take some pictures to share with you. If you like history, especially concerning the Revolutionary time period, have I got a good story for you!

In order to get my facts straight before blogging about this, I contacted my friend Joy, who knows everything about anything in this community. Thank you, Joy, for all the information!

So starts our story. In the little town of Langhorne, sits one of the only Revolutionary burial sites in existence for such a large amount of soldiers. During those times, when soldiers were fatally wounded, where they fell was where they were buried, if they were lucky enough to be buried at all.

Here is the Richardson House. Long ago, a little girl lived with her family in this house. During the war, her family was forced to live in the attic so the generals would have a place to stay. Men like George Washington, himself, spent time in this house.

A glimpse inside. How I would love a fireplace that big!

Across from the Richard House sat "Hicks' Tannery" (pictured below, which is now a coffee shop). Isaac Hicks was a Loyalist and ran against the Revolutionaries. When Washington and his men came into town, they ran him off his property and turned this building into a military hospital.

As the little girl sat in her attic, she would watch Revolutionary soldiers being brought in and out of the hospital. "They would stack up the bodies like cord wood on the sled," she later told her great-nephew, "until they got three-four high and then bury them at the edge of town." Realizing the historical significance of these events, the great-nephew wrote her stories in his diary.

Years later, in 1992, some land developers wanted to build a parking lot on the burial site. At this point, it was only town legend that a grave yard existed and the townsfolk fought to keep it in tact. As these things go, legend was not good enough, and unless it could be proven, a parking lot would be made. As luck would have it, they found the diary of the great-nephew, detailing what his great-aunt had witnessed. This was fought by the developers as "here-say" and again, it had to be proven.

The townsfolk were given just four days to prove that a military burial site existed somewhere in that area. On the fourth and final day of excavating, they were rewarded for their efforts. While digging, they found rows of rose-head nails (used during that time period) in patterns, indicating where the coffins were buried. Core samples were also taken, which proved to be decomposed wood, nails, and bits of bone. Unfortunately, no clothing was discovered because Revolutionary soldiers were usually buried naked in order to save clothes for the soldiers still fighting. Because the soldiers were buried in a swampy area, it became common for the townsfolk to have to rebury them each year after the coffins became unearthed. It's no wonder only nails and core samples were found during excavation!

Today, thanks to the residents of Langhorne, the integrity of this grave yard was saved and a monumental piece of our country's past is forever preserved.

Langhorne was established in 1680 and was originally known as "Four Lanes End." This was the major through-way for those wanting to travel from Philadelphia to New York City. People would take a stagecoach early in the morning from Philadelphia and arrive at The Langhorne Inn (circa 1704), which is pictured below, by nightfall. They would be given fresh horses and stayed the night. In the morning, they would eat breakfast here and finish their journey.

Bucks County is so rich in history, you can see how it inspires me to create time-worn folk art. I'll have to visit "Washington's Crossing" sometime soon to show you where George Washington crossed the Delaware!


  1. Thank you Jill and please thank Joy too! Very inspiring - and just in time for a painting I hope to start next week. What a cute little traveling companion you have there, Jill!

  2. Thanks Lisa! I can't wait to see your new painting!