The manuscript map is drawn in ink with boundaries highlighted with watercolor in shades of brown, green and yellow. There are numerous small illustrations showing the locations of houses and wooded areas, depicted as rows of small green trees. Pointing hands indicate the directions of the roads to Bustleton and to Byberry. The locations of surveying stones are also noted. A stream running through the properties is indicated. There is a yellow and blue compass rose lower left.
The map shows the area where the Bristol Pike (also known as Frankford Road then, and as Frankford Avenue or U.S. Route 13 today), the road to Bustleton (probably present day Willits Road), and the road to the nearby Byberry Township (probably present day Academy Road) converged. In the late 18th century, this settlement was known as Pennepack or Pennipack after the stream that ran through the area. The map concentrates on five tracts of varying acreage, including a 12-acre tract which the title notes was “sold to” John Chapman and 25 acres, 46 perches “exclusive of a lane one perch abides by Jonathan Enoch.” Thus, it can be presumed that the map was made shortly after the sale of the 12-acre tract to Chapman. Property owners outside the four main tracts are noted: William Bell, Thomas Ingels, the “late Josiah Matlacks,” John Gartland, Lawrence Lewis, Joseph Kirkner, John Holme, Jr. and the Lower Dublin Academy. The Bristol Turnpike forms the far right border of the map.
At the time the manuscript map was created, Lower Dublin Township, at 9,500 acres, was the largest township in Philadelphia County, its three major villages being Fox Chase, Bustleton and Holmesburg. The closest village to the area portrayed on the map is Holmesburg, nine miles from downtown Philadelphia. Among the families connected with property appearing on the map, the Holme, Lewis and Enoch families were all descended from early settlers of Pennsylvania. Other property owners on the map appear in public records during the 1780s: “Josiah Matlack, of the township of Lower Dublin, in the county of Philadelphia,” named on the map as “the late Josiah Matlacks” appears in the Minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania as having paid a fine of ten pounds on August 13, 1789. Thomas Ingels of Lower Dublin Township appears in the 1785 marriage registry of Pennsylvania.
The various people and places noted on the map are consistent with it having been produced in the 1810s. The most salient of these relate to the history of the Lower Dublin Academy, established in 1796 (shown on the map) and the purchase by John W. Chapman of his 12-acre tract of land adjacent to the Academy in 1810. The academy was built on land that was part of a grant given by William Penn to Thomas Holme, who had served as his Surveyor-General and helped lay out the original survey of Philadelphia and draft its first map in 1683. Holme’s will provided for the establishment of a school which was incorporated as Lower Dublin Academy around 1796. In 1802, a new, enlarged school building was completed, and the following year, John W. Chapman, a British immigrant, became the principal, residing in the old schoolhouse adjoining the Academy. In 1810, “he resigned his position as Principal and purchased the adjoining property, Pennypack Hall, and built a large addition to the [old school]house for a boarding school, where he resided until 1822, when he was again elected Principal of the Academy, and remained there until the time of his death, in 1831” (Blakiston, p. 217). Another account states that Chapman purchased the land “in the early 19th century” from Joseph Kirkner; his name appears on the map as a property owner bordering Chapman’s lot (Willits, p. 251). As indicated above, inasmuch as the title of the map shows general land ownership, but states that it is “Also of a Tract of Land Sold to John Chapman Containing 12 acres,” it can be presumed that the map was created shortly after this event, which was in 1810.
This manuscript map can be correlated with a small section of the 1819 John Melish Map of Philadelphia County that shows Lower Dublin Township and the intersection of the roads to “Bustle Town” and Byberry between the 9- and 10-mile markers of Frankford Road/Bristol Pike traveling northeast from downtown Philadelphia. Melish produced the first official state map of Pennsylvania, authorized by the state legislature and based on meticulous county surveys. The Philadelphia County map was part of that project and one of the few published as a separate county map. The Lower Dublin Academy is marked on Melish’s map (as “Academy”) in the same location it appears on this manuscript map. The name Holme also appears on the Melish map: “The Holmes notation further up old Academy Road is for John Holme, Junior (1770-1825), son of Enoch Holme and nephew of Holmesburg’s namesake, John Holme. An early Trustee of Lower Dublin Academy, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1819” (Holmesburg Civic Association). Likewise, in the manuscript map, a plot of land next to the academy bears the name John Holme Jr., though much of the property is not shown in the section selected for inclusion in the map.
Full title: A draught of a tract of Land Situated in Lower Dublin Township Philadelphia County containing as follows 25 acres, 46 perches; 63 acres, 36 perches; 5 acres, 49 perches; 52 acres, 78 perches=146 acres 49 perches. Also of a Tract of Land Sold to John Chapman Containing 12 acres.
“1819 Lower Dublin Township.” Holmesburg Civic Association. http://www.holmesburg.com/history/1819-60hbg.pdf (1 March 2012).
“A Brief History of Lower Dublin Academy.” The Friends of the Lower Dublin Academy. http://lowerdublinacademy.org/ (1 March 2012).
Blakiston, Mary. A Few Facts and Traditions about the Lower Dublin Township. Philadelphia: The City History Society of Philadelphia, 1906. p. 217 http://books.google.com/books?id=didRAAAAYAAJ (2 March 2012).
Hazard, Samuel, ed. Minutes of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, Vol. 16. Harrisburg, PA: Theo Fenn & Co., 1853. p. 132. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=YhoLAAAAIAAJ (1 March 2012).
Keller, Luther R. Baptismal and Marriage Records…Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1752-1786. Heritage Books, 1906. p. 140. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=ko9IB9uya80C&dq (1 March 2012).
“Map of Philadelphia County by John Melish.” Historic Map Works. 2012. http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/1609016/APSdigobj3536/Philadelphia+1819+Philadelphia+County/Pennsylvania/ (1 March 2012).
Moore, Fred. “The Evolution of Holmesburg.” Holmesburg Civic Association. August 2010. http://www.holmesburg.com/history/hbgevolves.pdf (1 March 2012).
Ristow, Walter W. American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985. pp. 110-115.
Willits, I. Pearson. The Pennepacknin Lower Dublin Township.nPhiladelphia: The City History Society of Philadelphia, 1911. p. 251. Online at Philly H2O. http://www.phillyh2o.org/backpages/pennypack1911.htm (2 March 2012).