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Moon-Williamson House - Fallsington Historic District - Fallsington, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 40° 11.207 W 074° 49.105
18T E 515457 N 4448504
Quick Description: An early settler's log house built in the 1760's (possibly 1685). It is one of the oldest in the state still standing on its original site. Constructed on the plan of early Swedish settlers, with the characteristic corner fireplace.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 8/19/2009 8:31:07 PM
Waymark Code: WM71PA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 2

Long Description:
About the Historic District

Fallsington is an authentic 300-year-old quaker settlement. This village pre-dates other Friends historic districts by at least 50 years. Little known, and underrepresented in history books, it is one of the best existing examples of authentic pre-colonial life in America. There is a decent history of this village found in a nice book called The Buried Past: an Archaeological History of Philadelphia By John L. Cotter, Daniel G. Roberts, Michael Parrington. It can be found on Google Books which can be found HERE (page 363-367). One last interesting note, looking at Google Earth, it is clear to see this village, via Main Street, was at one time connected to the Lincoln Highway.

About the Contributing Structure

This house was built of hand-hewn, dovetailed logs with mortar chinking. A subsequent frame addition was added by cabinetmaker Samuel Moon, who was locally famous for his Windsor-style chairs. This home has changed hands many times and was eventually purchased in 1884 by Mary A. Williamson who resided there during the summer months. Upon her death it was bequeathed to the Episcopal Archdiocese. It was acquired by Historic Fallsington, Inc. in 1967 and restored. The two large sycamore trees in the yard are said to be "bride and groom trees" planted in honor of early occupants.

Near the sidewalk, there is an interpretive which explains the history of this house. It reads:

"Quaker Samuel Moon resided here in the late 1700s and early 1800s. As a well known carpenter, he was particularly skilled in making Windsor chairs. This celebrated and prized antique originally served a functional role in public buildings and taverns. The chair requires no screws or nails, with the distinctive stick legs and spindle backs driven into the plank seating. The Windsor chairs of Samuel Moon continue to live on in the museum and private collections of southeastern Pennsylvania." The sign was placed by Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor sponsored by Historic Fallsington, Inc.

In the aforementioned book, The Buried Past: an Archaeological History of Philadelphia, there are two terrific narratives:

First Narrative - "The Moon-Williamson House is a rare specimen of the log dwellings built by early settlers in the Delaware Valley. As communities developed and farmers and craftsmen prospered, most log cabins gave way to stone houses..." (p. 366)

Second Narrative - "In 1986, Kardas and Larrabee conducted limited archaeological investigations at the Moon-Williamson House. A series of archaeological trenches and smaller shovel tests places on all four sides of the house revealed partially intact yard deposit dating to the late eighteenth century, as well as a nineteenth-century flagstone walkway and a twentieth century brick wall" (Kardas and Larrabee 1986: 45, 51-52).

"Nearly all recovered artifacts dated to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They were not sparse, averaging more than 11 per square foot of excavated area, reflective, no doubt, of the intense use of the farm dwelling early on its history" (Kardas and Larrabee 1986: 39, 52).

"As is common at such historic properties, most of the artifacts were ceramic and glass fragments, with a few clay pipe fragments and nails also found. A brass ring and stamped copper buckle, both dating to the late eighteenth century, and two stone projectiles points, both dating to the Archaic period, rounded out the Moon-Williamson artifact collection." (p. 368)

Anyone interested in learning about Quaker influences in Colonial America are advised strongly to come here. I visited this site with my friends Dennis and Jeff to log a virtual cache and were rewarded with some wonderful sites and history.

District Nomination Form Narrative

In 1971, the Village of Fallsington was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This nationally-registered historic district takes its name from nearby "Falls of the Delaware." Immediately surrounding the historic district is a neighborhood of residences of various ages, circa 1700's to 1990's. This old Swedish house is one of four crucial contributing structure to the historic district. It is a wonder it does not have its own listing. The following comprehensive text is excerpted from the original district nomination form submitted to the Department of Interior in 1971.

"Moon-Williamson House, a log cabin of Swedish type, currently being restored [finished]. Mr. G Edwin Brumbaugh, architect for the restoration, says: "It is possible to say that this structure is one of the most important, and we feel, one of the earliest pioneer cabins surviving in Pennsylvania ... this house could have been built in 1685...Structural features, especially original finish, could date from late seventeenth or very early eighteenth century ... We have searched for Swedish seventeenth century Delaware Valley log houses of comparable quality in vain. Two are still standing, both re-erections, with many changes, and no scholarly restoration...The result (of the restoration) will give you a unique and very valuable record, largely original, of the region's first type of construction."

Two former inhabitants are noteworthy: Samuel Moon, descendent of one of the early settlers, owned the house from 1769 to 1803. He was a well-known Windsor chair maker. (It was local custom for the father of the bride to give the new couple two Moon chairs).

Miss Mary Williamson bought the house just after the Civil War. She came to Fallsington only in the summers from Philadelphia. (She was a descendent of Dunck Williams(on) who operated the famous "Dunk's Ferry" in the seventeenth century). She brought with her orphaned girls for two-week holidays - the beginning of the Girls' Friendly Society. For them, as well as the community, she had the Episcopal Church built across the street.


There is also some brief text in the introduction of the nomination form:
"The oldest house, now being restored, is a late seventeenth century log cabin which shows definite signs of the early Swedish settlers. However, the Swedes never effected a permanent settlement in this area."

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Fallsington Historic District

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

Yardley Avenue Fallsington, PA 19054

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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