A farmer plowing his field. From the 1794 Lancaster Pennsylvania almanac.
Drake's Corner Creamery. Today the site of the Towamencin Shopping Center on the Allentown Road near the Forty Foot Road.
Through a recent discovery of 4,100 diary entries written by lifelong Towamencin Township resident George Lukens (1768-1849), a Quaker, farmer, schoolmaster, and abolitionist; we are able to learn how Towamencin residents lived and what they experienced in Towamencin Township two hundred years ago. During George Lukens' life in Towamencin, the township was a farming community, and life revolved around the family farm. The Lukens family farm today is the Dock Mennonite Academy campus. The high school administration building was the Lukens' farmhouse.
The first residents to inhabit the land in what we today call Towamencin Township, were people who migrated here from Asia via the Bering Strait thousands of years ago. Today we call them the Lenape. They lived off the land hunting animals for food and clothing. They fished the creeks, and planted corn, squash, and beans. They picked nuts and wild berries. They lived in homes called longhouses and wigwams.
The first people to arrive here from the European continent were the Dutch, British and Germans. When not farming, they involved themselves in cottage industries like carpentry, blacksmith work, tanning, weaving, shoe making, and masonry work. Towamencin Township farmers borrowed their neighbor's horse and wagon and helped each other with projects in the home or on the farm.
In reading the George Lukens diaries, you will see man and beast hard at work in the fields; follow the Lukens to meetings and market, and hear the snort of a horse hauling a heavy load of grist home from the mill.
You will see how much things have changed in Towamencin Township over the past two hundred years and how much things have remained the same.
The tradition of neighbors helping neighbors continues. Towamencin Township residents today help each other with vans or pick up trucks or tools for that special project at home. Churches are still filled each Sunday; neighbors still help their neighbors; children continue to attend neighborhood schools; and the old pathways of dirt and stone now covered with concrete and macadam offer the same important links to our region and beyond.
Enjoy your journey into historic Towamencin Township.
EVER WONDER WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE IN TOWAMENCIN TOWNSHIP, MONTGOMERY
200 YEARS AGO?
The historic Lukens farmhouse, now Dock Academy's administration building.
George Lukens' diary from July 1831..
There are no corrections to George Lukens' spelling or grammar so you can see how American English has evolved in the past 200 years. Many of the words he used, his spelling, and his abbreviations; although incorrect by today's American English standards, were common during his time. You will also see a British English influence in some of his writing..
THE 1807-1837 DIARIES OF GEORGE LUKENS
QUAKER - FARMER - SCHOOLMASTER - ABOLITIONIST
FROM TOWAMENCIN TOWNSHIP, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
George Lukens' diary entries for November 8-16, 1807 are seen below. All of his 4,100 known diaries as well as an extensive history of Towamencin Township are available for downloading in a pdf format from the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Pa. http://mhep.org/museum-store/paper-quill-and-ink/
As a Quaker George Lukens never wrote the day of the week or the month of the year as those words have pagan origins. As was common in English writing during his time, he would often capitalize nouns within a sentence. He rarely used any punctuation marks other than the occasional comma, period or apostrophe. He often spelled words phonetically.
At the end of each diary entry, as I felt it necessary, I added additional commentary in italics; as many of the agricultural terms, archaic words and colloquialisms he used are rarely used today, making his writing sometimes difficult to understand.
The Lukens Diary May 12-21, 1832
Seventh day 12th [Saturday May 12, 1832] I bot groceries & hats for the little boys at 31¼ Cents apiece a side of soal leather at 3$ 50 pd reckning came on to Wm Zorns fed & Sarah Jeanes came along home with us, Henry & Seth had sheared all the sheep that are washed
Sheep were washed in creeks prior to shearing so the wool was clean and rid of some of the lanolin. The Zorns were Quakers from Plymouth Meeting. Sarah Jeanes was George's sister-in-law up from Whitemarsh. Henry is a local hired hand. Seth is George and Esther's son.
First day 13th Seth & Henry were at meeting. I staid at home, Jesse & Margaret Earnhart here. Seth & Henry were up at Wilsons John seems weaker & worse. F. Wampole, pd Seth for hauling stone 1$ 60 C
The Earnharts were friends of the Lukens. Fredrick Wampole was a neighbor and farmer. His farm is where General George Washington and the Continental Army camped from October 8-16, 1777
Second day 14th They at the corn. I fed in the afternoon I was out at getting signers to a remonstrance against slavery
George went about the area asking citizens to sign a petition against slavery.
Third day 15th I was at Gwynedd meeting, this morning Seth with the oxen hauled out Jesse Godshalks mare, as I came from meeting I was overtaken by a shower I stopped at John martins had my dinner, thence home
Jesse's mare died and it needed to be pulled out of the barn to be buried.
Fourth day 16th The boys destroying caterpillars & crows. I was at Earnharts & at Mayburys got 2 Bus mixt grain that was ground I paid 1$ for it, after I came home, they went to plant corn. I at caterpillars. Seth took a log to Godshalks saw mill
Caterpillars eat plant leaves and crows eat seeds, grains and fruits. They are both harmful pests in the agricultural community.
Fifth day 17th I at sowing grass seed on the Oats. Jesse Godshalk brot his wife & child, she to clean the house. Hannah helpd, he got my Male hog, they finished planting corn yesterday. I was at John Wilsons he still weak & poorly
The Wilsons lived in Towamencin.
Sixth day 18th A dull morning. I fed they were at cutting feed, at noon we went to wash sheep had 25 to wash, they got done afore night & we came home
Seventh day 19th I took 7½ Bushels rye to Webers & Stoners mill, thence to A. Zieglers got 9 Bushels cake meal, came on got some of the grist for the cake meal I paid 4/50 came on it rained hard on me, but I had the bran uppermost & the meal was not injured
The bran and cake meal were both under cover in the wagon; thus, they were not ruined by the rain.
First day 20th My companion & I went to Gwynedd meeting thence to Abel’s I staid they came home & after dinner. Sarah Jeanes & Esther came we staid till evening & left Sarah there
George always referred to his wife Esther as his companion. Abel is their first born. He was born in 1807. He lived in North Wales.
Second day 21st I went to Matthias Johnson’s thence to Barndts mill thence to Stoneback thence to Seigfrits, thence home having rid more than 20 miles got Seth ready & started 8 of my sheep 4 of Seth’s & 6 that Seth got of Abel I went on & helped to John Jamisons & Seth went on. I staid had victuals then came on home. Seth & Henry at shearing sheep
Most likely Matthias Johnson of Hatfield Township. Barndt’s mill was located along the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek in Franconia Township near the road to Allentown. Barndt brothers Henry and Frederick operated a sawmill since its opening in 1786. Circa 1796 Henry also built a grist mill nearby. Stoneback’s fulling mill on the Swamp Creek.