Heritage Day: Young Historians Essay Contest
Scott Vierick, Lina Sorg, Rebecca Sherwood and Jenny Uehling — High School essay contest winners.
"Young Historians Essay Contest" winners from Springfield Township High School and Springfield Township Middle School received awards at Heritage Day at the Black Horse Inn on September 28th, 2008.
Under the leadership of Mrs. Peggy Zehner from the high school and Mrs. Linda Hammond from the middle school, students submitted essays and short stories for the "Young Historians Essay Contest".
We appreciate the enthusiasm and hard work of all the teachers and students who were involved in this exciting project. The works were all based on what did happen, or what could have happened, in our local history. So many creative, wonderful stories were entered that our panel of five judges had a very difficult time in choosing the best.
Below are the names of the winning entries. You can scroll down to read them, or click on a specific entry.
We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
On This Page:
|FIRST PRIZE High School||"Spying History" by Jenny Uehling|
|SECOND PRIZE High School||"Having Faith" by Lina Sorg|
|THIRD PRIZE High School||"One Day to Last a Lifetime" by Rebecca Sherwood (unavailable)|
|MERIT AWARD High School||"Black Horse Inn Story" by Scott Vierick|
|FIRST PRIZE Middle School||"Journal Entry - June 4, 1848" by Aaron Caplan|
|SECOND PRIZE Middle School||"Journal Entry - January 18, 1848" by Michaela Fallon|
|THIRD PRIZE Middle School||"Journal Entry - December 5, 1848" by Kelli Bray|
|MERIT AWARD Middle School||"Journal of a Stage Coach Traveler" by Billy Sorg|
by Jenny Uehling
October 2nd, 1777
The scarlet, orange, gold, and brown leaves crunched noisily under my feet as I guided Charlie to the stables. He looked gorgeous today, as he always did. The late-afternoon sun rays made his already smooth black coat absolutely glow, and I inwardly reflected on how lucky I was to have acquired such a beautiful horse.
"Deb? Are you alright?" Lost in my thoughts, I had already reached the stables.
"Oh...oh, yes...yes, I'm fine," I stuttered and half-mumbled to myself. I had completely forgotten where I was for a moment. "Thank you, Tom." With one last stroke on the neck, I reluctantly handed the confused-looking stable boy, Thomas, Charlie's bridle. I gave my head a little shake, then groaned. "Sorry. I'm a little tired. I guess I'll see you later tonight." I was exhausted, but I hadn't forgotten the reason I had been gone since before dawn this morning. Of course, how could I possibly forget? General Washington was depending on me.
As I walked back in the direction I'd come, a cool breeze ruffled the leaves of the nearby oak trees, and they danced together in an indiscernible pattern as they freed themselves from the confines of their branches and fell around me. I sighed as I reached the heavy wooden front door of the Sampson and the Lion Inn (Black Horse Inn — Donations and Information), then reached up and pulled it open. Inside, the room was warm and dark and smelled of burning candles, drying herbs, and baking bread. I breathed in the rich aromas, relaxing. The Sampson and the Lion had been my residence for the past three years, and I was beginning to feel more and more as if it were really my home. I hurried to the kitchen to perform my evening duties.
My memories of the day consumed my mental concentration. Early this morning, I had set off to deliver General Howe and his aides their daily meal. Of all the spies General Washington has, I may be the one that the British would least expect. I am slight, pale-faced and thin, with little visible tenacity, strength, or courage. I doubt that General Howe would ever expect me to be anything but what I claim to be — a secret Loyalist who sympathizes with the British cause and who supplies the generals with the finest baked bread, freshly caught fish, squash, pumpkin, and delicious dried apples (Phipps). For the past few days, I had carefully wormed my way into the centerfolds of the British command in Germantown with sweet words, strong Loyalist support, and delicious food. The British could simply not resist my scrumptious cooking. Molly, the second kitchen maid and my best friend, has secretly had a laugh about that one. Our cooking, the delicacy of the British army!
Every day, I would pass through the British lines with the special permissive signature General Howe had given me to deliver their food. If I was lucky, I would catch a few bits and pieces of information from the generals' conversations. And today, I had caught a very important piece of information indeed.
By mid-afternoon, I had reached Washington's encampment, which was quite far away, "along Perkiomen Creek between Pennypacker's Mills and Trappe" (Trussell 1). I informed him of everything I had heard that day — combined with British and Hessian forces, General Howe had estimated they had 8,000 total soldiers. Earlier this week, I had also delivered Washington the locations of the forces — they occupied three routes that they thought he might choose to attack by. Washington had been excited to hear this. He estimated that his 11,000 soldiers, though "ill-trained and underfed" (Trussell 1), should be able to defeat the British forces if the men's morale remained high. Maybe then the men would be able to retake the capital of Philadelphia, gain the French's support, and finish the war with a smashing American victory.
Washington's forces were planning to begin their march to Germantown the next day. According to Washington's plans, they would pass the Sampson and the Lion late tomorrow evening or early the next morning, directly on their way to battle. I couldn't wait.
October 3rd, 1777
The day passed excruciatingly slowly. When Molly told me that Thomas had been boasting that he was going to join Washington tonight, I had been provided one moment of "comic relief." I knew Thomas would never do such a thing. He was too smart to do that.
Dinner passed even more slowly; the guests were impatient, and by the time most of them had gone to bed, I felt as if my head was going to pop right off and bounce across the floor. Very much later that evening, I emerged from the heavy wooden front door of the inn and, exhausted, slumped in the seat beside Molly to wait.
And then we heard them — far away, like the distant sound of a river. Washington's army was finally coming. At first, it was hard to decipher anything, but as the proud soldiers got closer and closer, I was able to pick out certain small details — tri-corn hats, boots, bayonets, eager eyes — and then the full bodies of men. I made out Washington almost immediately, riding majestically atop his horse. His tall, victorious stance made him look like the true war hero that he was, and I smiled and half-waved in his direction as he swiftly rode past.
Then, I began to make out the men. They were an odd assortment, as I had often observed on my trips to the encampment. Of course, they looked rather tired, ragged, and worn, but I discerned something in their eyes that made me inhale sharply with wonder. Deeply embedded among the soldiers, I saw a strong will to fight, a will to win, and will to bring to this country what it desired the most — liberty. As if etched in stone, their eyes echoed the strong words that Thomas Jefferson had penned more than a year ago — "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." That, indeed, was what they were fighting for.
My revelation was cut short when I heard the sound of footsteps behind me, and then a young boy panting. I gasped in surprise when I turned around to see Tom, complete with bayonet and traveling bag. I had completely misjudged his fervor and determination to fight in this war. "Tom, what are you doing? You can't go," I whispered desperately, pleading. "This is ridiculous. Molly, tell him he can't..." I stopped short when I saw Molly gaping at the soldiers. She was in an entirely different world, not in her right mind. She would be no help.
"Oh, relax, Debbie, I'll be fine. Here, if you're really that worried..." his sentence trailed off as he handed me the golden ring that had always adorned his finger, the one that he had received from his father when only a young child. "Hold onto this for me. For safekeeping, you know." He blushed. "I promise you, I will come back someday so you can return it." And in one fluid motion, he slipped the ring onto my finger and disappeared into the night.
"Tom!" I cried futilely, ridiculously. "Tom, you better get right back here or I'll scream!" My voice was too loud, and several men turned to stare at me as they passed. The truth was overwhelming. He was gone. I angrily wiped the tears away as the parade of courage in front of me morphed into what seemed to be a parade of rash soldiers headed to their deaths.
Tom never returned to retrieve his ring. We heard news a few days later of the British victory at the Battle of Germantown, and in December, our worst misgivings were confirmed. Early in the month, a hobbling old veteran entered the inn. He seemed to recognize our descriptions of Tom. When we asked him about the stable boy, he grimaced, and it looked as if tears were beginning to well up in his eyes. "Lost him," he explained. "Boy like him shouldn't've been out there fighting. It was...it was painful to watch." The man's tears had now spilled over, and I watched as his, Molly's, and mine dripped onto the wooden table before us.
I decided that it would only be suitable to bury Tom's ring, since it seemed that they had never properly marked the grave of his actual body. One day in late March, I made my way outside to the stables and dug a small hole in the thawing ground, where I placed the golden ring. After replacing the dirt, I found a small rock and, after about an hour of work, etched Tom's name into the hard stone. I placed it on top of the makeshift memorial.
Spring was fast approaching. The days were getting longer, and the yellow crocuses blooming beside the stables filled me with a sense of hope. Though Tom's name had simply been added to the thousands of other American casualties, I knew that he had not died in vain. He had died fighting for a home that we all loved. I wiped one final tear from my eye and sighed deeply. Signs of hope were blossoming everywhere. Washington's army was rumored to be stronger. I was filled with a confidence like no other. We would win this war, I was certain of it. And Tom and I had taken a part in the coming victory, though Tom had paid for the victory with his life. Spring meant rebirth. I was sure that a majestic new country was soon to be born.
- "Black Horse Inn — Donations and Information." Springfield Township Historical Society. 15 Sept. 2008.
- "Black Horse Inn Timeline (1741-present)." USHistory.org. 2008. Independence Hall Association. 14 Sept. 2008.
- "Brief History of the Black Horse Inn." USHistory.org. 2008. Independence Hall Association. 14 Sept. 2008.
- Phipps, Frances. Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1972.
- Trussell, John B. B. "The Battle of Germantown." Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 1974.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 15 Sept. 2008.
- Slavicek, Louise Chipley. Women of the American Revolution. Farmington Hills: Lucent Books, 2003.
- "The Battle of Germantown 1777." British Battles. 2007. 16 Sept. 2008.
by Lina Sorg
October 3rd, 1777
My breath came in cold puffs in the brisk autumn air as I hurried towards the entrance to the Black Horse Inn, known to some as Sampson and the Lion (Black Horse Inn). Pulling the heavy wooden door open, I practically threw myself into the building, the door closing behind me with a bang. Removing my hat, I tentatively stepped up to the counter, which was occupied mostly by men, drinking ale and trading stories of their woes. I recognized farmers, stagecoach drivers, travelers, and soldiers, amongst others (Black Horse Inn). Sitting down hesitantly on a bar stool, I gained the attention of the bartender, who approached me.
"Can I help you, ma'am?" he asked quizzically, surprised to see a woman alone at the Inn.
"Ben, don't you remember me?" I queried urgently.
"Abigail, Abigail Williams, is that you? My gosh, I didn't even recognize you. How are you? Have you heard from James recently?" His myriad of questions stunned me for a second, matched by his eager expression. James' name, as when always mentioned, took my breath away, even though we had been married for about two years now. And seeing Ben Anderson — a familiar face — consoled me. Ben was a dear friend of my husband. Due to an eye injury in his youth, he remained at his post of bartender at the Black Horse Inn, exchanging and gathering stories of the ongoing war.
"I'm fine." I replied weakly.
"You look pale," he responded worriedly, and began ladling out a bowl of hearty beef stew, passing it across the counter to me.
"Thank you," I murmured softly. Then I began to talk. "Running the farm without James is difficult. My neighbors pitch in every now and then, but they have enough to do with their own property. It's difficult, because I have been boycotting British goods in support of the Americans. When I have a few spare minutes, I sew uniforms for soldiers. I have been trying to keep up with the incidents of the war, but it has been tricky getting my hands on accurate political newspapers. (Furbee, Mary R). And I miss James so much every day." I wiped away a tear forming at the corner of my eye — I had promised James I would be strong. "I know I shouldn't have left the farm, but my neighbors will be able to look after it for a day or two, and I was so desperate for news of what is going on...I haven't gotten any letters from James recently. The last one I received was in March. I'm worried that something has happened to him."
A man sitting at the other end of the bar stood and started towards us.
"Your husband is in the war, you say? Maybe I've heard of him. My name is Charles Frasier, and I serve as a soldier for General Washington. I haven't been here long, and will only be staying until my arm wound has healed, but it is a great place to hear the latest news of the war, seeing as it is one of the most centrally located inns on this highway system from Philadelphia to Bethlehem" (Brief History). Sitting down on the vacant stool next to me, he stared at me expectantly, his eyes wary and gentle.
"My husband's name is James, James Williams. He went off to fight in early June, 1776, under the command of General Washington. I haven't heard from him since March, and I don't know where he is, or what he has been doing." Charles' face broke into a wide smile.
"I do know James, very well, actually. We were comrades in the Battle of Brandywine, on the 11th of September, when the British captured Philadelphia (British Battles). That's when I was injured. He is a great guy, and a great fighter; he helped me to safety after I was shot. I owe my life to him." Tears gathered once again in my eyes, and I smiled to myself.
Suddenly, a man threw open the heavy door to the inn with a bang, and, pausing to catch his breath, hollered: "General George Washington is marching past! He has thousands of troops with him, and according to word-of-mouth, they are heading up to Germantown, hoping to surprise the British, who are camped out there!" (British Battles). The excited man hurried back outside, and joined the group of people already flocking the streets, eager to get a glimpse of their outstanding leader, the famous Washington.
"That's Patrick Davis. He stops by here all the time en route to Bethlehem!" chimed Ben. "Imagine, maybe Washington will stop here and have a drink, trade stories with some of us!" And he too ran for the door.
Suddenly, I was quaking with fear. Would James be in the crowd? Donning my shawl, I hurried to the ever-growing crowd lining the muddy streets, striding over to Ben, Charles, and Patrick. Soon they approached, Washington leading the way. There were cheers and shouts from the crowd, and he saluted us as he rode by. Then the soldiers began marching past. I anxiously scanned the throng of men for James, and by Ben's tight expression, I knew he was doing the same. Then suddenly, Ben grabbed my arm, and pointed toward someone in the middle of the pack.
"Look, Abigail, look, there he is! There's James!"
But my eyes had already spotted him, and I felt my face flush with color from the adrenaline running through my veins.
"James, James!" Ben called jubilantly. "Over here." I could barely hear him over the din, but then James' head turned toward us, and we locked eyes. I offered a small smile, and he returned it, saluting me. He made his way to the edge of the pack, and grabbed my hand as he passed, grasping my fingers tightly. As our hands parted, I began to cry again; tears of happiness at seeing him, and tears of sadness, because he was leaving me once more. I stood and watched as the soldiers disappeared into the distance. Then, like the rest of the crowd, I headed back to the Black Horse Inn, with Ben by my side.
"He'll be alright, Abigail," Ben said softly. I knew he was trying to console me. "I sure hope so," I whispered.
October 9th, 1777
During the late afternoon quite a few days after my visit to the Black Horse Inn, I was outside farming, bringing in the last of the season's crops. As I leaned tiredly against my hoe, I saw a figure approaching in the distance. As he neared, hunched over against the cold, I realized that it was Ben from the Black Horse Inn. He slowed to a stop in front of me.
"Hello Ben," I said, flashing him a tired grin. He gazed at me warily.
"I don't know how to tell you this, Abigail. I just got word from a soldier returning from the Battle of Germantown who knew James personally. Abigail, we lost. Somehow, the British found out about the surprise attack, and were ready and waiting. The Americans lost 1,000 soldiers, and the British only 500 (British Battles). Countless were injured, and James was one of them."
I gasped, but waited for him to continue.
"It was bad, Abigail, very bad. He...he had to have his arm amputated up to the elbow, they had to stop the infection from spreading." He looked at me, silently begging me to understand. Tears overflowed from my eyes, blurring my vision, but I rapidly blinked them away. "However," Ben continued, "he is being treated by a top doctor, a personal comrade of General Washington. When he is deemed well enough, which should be in about a month, he will be transported back via stagecoach to the Black Horse Inn, then we will make the day's trip out here, returning him to you." He hesitated again, and I quickly reassured him.
"We'll be fine, you know," I whispered softly, not even sure if he heard.
But Ben gave the first genuine smile since he arrived. "Well, you certainly are brave." His voice softened, "It's wonderful that you can be so independent and educated during this time of war. You truly are a Daughter of Liberty." (Furbee, Mary R.). With that, he clasped my hand for the briefest moment, and headed back down the lane. I watched his shape disappear on the horizon. Then I sighed to myself. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. My dear James was returning to me, but at a horrible price. Still, I told myself, he was safe. He would be back, and we could be together. And, at least his sacrifice was made for the love of his country, for patriotism. Thinking of the wonderful years to come that we would spend side by side, I smiled a little, and returned to my work.
- "The Battle of Germantown 1777." BritishBattles.com. 2007. 16 Sept. 2008
- "Battles of the American Revolution." The American Revolution. 2001-2007. 17 Sept. 2008
- "Black Horse Inn — Donations and Information." Springfield Township Historical Society. 17 Sept. 2008
- "Brief History of the Black Horse Inn." The Black Horse Inn. 2001-2008. Independence Hall Association. 16 Sept. 2008
- Furbee, Mary R. "Daughters of Liberty." Introduction. Women of the American Revolution. History Makers. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1999. 8-12.
Black Horse Inn Story
by Scott Vierick
October 1777, outskirts of Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Private Benjamin Townshed Morrison was awakened once again by the sound of the drummer beating out a steady beat. "God save the King," Ben groaned to his fellow soldiers. "Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get a chance to fight for the King myself, just like my Grandfather did at Culloden." Ben and his fellow regulars had only just arrived in the New World a week ago, and the only fighting they had seen was a few rebels at the edge of the forest who disappeared after one firing one round. Ben didn't like this fact, he wanted to fight by facing these rebels across an open field and firing, just like his grandfather had done in Scotland.
"Come on, you lot, time for morning parade," barked the Drill Sergeant. Benjamin sighed, today would be like all the other days, endless marching and drills. The only thing ever that seemed to change was the look of anxiety on General Howe's face. Ben could never understand the General's concern and fear over the rebel's movements (Marston). Why should he have anything to fear, the British army was the finest in the world.
"He's clearly a coward," Private Matthew Truesmith replied when Ben asked him about it. "We'd have won the war by now had Howe had any backbone."
"I'll thank you not to refer to our commander in chief in that manner," Sergeant Sam Weisserman retorted, "In case you haven't noticed, in every single battle that General Howe's commanded our army has driven the colonists off the field."
"Exactly," said Matthew, "At the rate we've been winning battles the army should have triumphantly returned to England with George Washington's head on a pike, months ago. The problem is that General Howe gets Cold Feet after ever battle, why..." His voice trailed off as he realized that General Howe was standing behind him.
"Standard Punishment, 1000 lashes" (Stewart 29), said Howe. Ben sighed, if Matt had been smart he would have stopped talking a while ago.
"Another day serving the British Empire, another day in occupied Philadelphia, another day without a fight," Ben groaned as he drifted of to sleep.
The next morning Ben was awakened to the sounds of cannons blazing and the cries of men and horses. "A battle" he yelled out loud, "finally it's my chance to fight." Colonel Scanlonson was barking out orders for the regiment to form up, Ben quickly grabbed his musket, and fell into formation between Sam and Matthew.
"Huzzah" said Matt, "They say that if I fight well today, they will suspend my punishment, and all will be forgiven."
It wasn't long before they reached the battlefield in Germantown. The heavy fog that had blanketed the battlefield at the beginning of the day was beginning to fade (Morrissey 1777), allowing the soldiers to take in the sights of men lying all over the ground, missing arms and legs, blood pouring from their wounds, and crying out the names of their loved ones as they died. A wounded man struggled towards them. "It's over" he cried, "Washington won, we're finished, it's over."
"The British army never loses" Colonel Scanlonson shouted, "come on men, for king, for country, forward." The regiment gave a loud cheer and fired their muskets. "Reload, reload," yelled Colonel Scanlonson, "Come on you lot, a good solider can fire 15 shots in 3 minutes" (Stewart 38). The soldiers let forth great volley, and then rushed the enemy, bayonets fixed.
"Come on Matthew, soon you'll receive not only a reprieve from punishment but a promotion as well," Ben said laughing. When Matt didn't answer Ben turned around and saw Matt lying in a pool of blood, nine yards back. This deeply disturbed Ben, who couldn't believe that he had failed to notice the death of his good friend. However, he quickly put that thought out of his mind as his regiment slammed into the rebels and he was forced to engage in a fight to the death with a young soldier wearing a blue sash across his uniform.
The battle of Germantown ended in an English victory. The Americans early success had given way to confusion in the fog, and so they retreated to fight another day. (Marston). Ben didn't care though, Matthew and many of his other friends had been killed and Colonel Scanlonson had met his end while attempting to reinforce the Chew house. Near the end of the battle, the English had received word that an American officer had stopped in at an inn about 10 miles away from Philadelphia (ushistory.org) as the rebels were marching down Bethlehem Pike, and had left valuable military secrets there in his coat pocket. Since Ben had performed so well in the battle, he, along with Sergeant Weisserman, would sneak down to the inn and steal the documents. Ben was eager to accept the assignment as he no longer saw the Americans simply as enemies, but as animals and, he, himself as the butcher at the slaughterhouse.
"Here's the place," said Weisserman, as they arrived at the building, "The Black Horse Inn." The two quietly entered the inn and ordered drinks, all the while keeping a sharp lookout for a coat that would belong to an American officer. Sergeant Weisserman began inquiring about the inn's business with the innkeeper, who seemed to be buying their disguises.
"Yep," the man said "Business has been good. In fact, the other day the entire Continental Army matched right by my doorstep. For the most part we only get farmers and stagecoach traffic, never any armies" (US history.org).
"Did any of the soldiers stop by the inn?" asked Weisserman. At this point Ben, attempting to drink away his sadness and indulge his anger, was on his fourth drink and his focus drifted to one of the tables where a girl was serving a group of men.
"Oh, I miss my brother; he went off and joined the army. I saw him march by the other day, I did," the girl sighed.
"What did your brother look like?" Ben inquired, now feeling overconfident and brutish from the drinks.
"He was tall, brown hair, and he wore a blue sash across his uniform," she replied.
"Ha," Ben laughed, "I killed your brother, stabbed him with a bayonet." He then stood up, and proclaimed. "All right, as a member of the English army, I order you to tell me where that rebel officer left his coat, or me and my friend here will burn your Black Horse Inn to the ground." Suddenly, Ben caught some movement out of the corner of his eye; a man wearing a blue uniform had been trying to sneak away, but now raised his hands high above his head. Angrily, Ben asked, "Who are you, speak now or I shoot.
I am Major Robert Vierscott, Continental Army," the man replied, smiling, "and I have already dealt with the coat and now all that remains of the orders you are no doubt seeking are tiny, burnt pieces of ash."
"Well, Major" Ben replied. "I'm going to do to you what my grandfather told me he did to the rebels at Culloden (Battlefield Britain Episode 7). Isn't that right Sergeant?" He said, turning to Weisserman who was pointing his weapon at the innkeeper. But as Ben did this he suddenly remembered another thing his grandfather told him. This was a lesson about how war changes a man's very soul, corrupting and destroying it. And as he turned to see the serving girl slip two pistols into the officer's raised hands, he remembered something else his grandfather taught him. If war doesn't destroy a man alcohol will.
- Marston, Daniel Patrick. "Philadelphia Campaign: American Revolution." United States at War: Understanding Conflict and Society. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 16 Sep. 2008.
- Morrissey, Brendon. The American Revolution. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2001.
- Smith, George. "A Brief History of the Black Horse Inn." US History.org. 17 Sept. 2008.
- Stewart, Gail. Life of a soldier in Washington's army. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2003.
Journal Entry — June 4, 1848
by Aaron Caplan
June 4, 1848
Today I arrived at the very elegant Black Horse Inn, which is located at 1432 Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. Man, the ten-mile ride from Philadelphia was brutal, especially with all of the body heat in our stagecoach! It had to be at least 95 degrees in that little horse carrier. I also despised the fact that the seats were rock hard and very uncomfortable. I was so tired, that halfway through the ride I decided I was going to try to sleep sitting down. Unfortunately, that didn't work and I remained awake for the rest of the trip. My dad told me the stagecoaches started running to here from the city in 1763, and by 1820, there were nine stagecoaches that ran from Philadelphia each day. He also told me this was the first stop on the line that eventually ended all the way up in the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
We were taking a day trip in the summer and my family and I were picking up some of our aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents along the way. The stagecoach was starting to get very crowded and hot as time passed, but I knew that when I saw the sign for Chestnut Hill, we were getting close to our destination. Finally, when we got there I quickly made my way through the maze of family members in the front of the stagecoach.
The Black Horse Inn was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. When we got there, a very kind man named Samuel Roeder, who was the owner and caretaker, greeted us. He showed us our rooms, and I was very thankful to be in such a nice town outside of the city. I noticed on the wall an old picture of a man standing in front of the Black Horse Inn. "Mr. Roeder, who is the man in this picture?" I asked. He said that it was Abraham Wakerly, the man who built the inn way back in 1744. He also told me that from 1798 to 1814 the inn was owned be Wendle Weant. He operated the inn during that time and renamed it the Sampson & The Lion. Mr. Roeder said, "The inn changed owners many times between 1814 and 1846, and Jacob Meninger constructed a large addition in the back of the structure in 1832." I was very surprised when he told me about the amazing history of this wonderful inn.
At about 10:00 at night, I was walking upstairs when I heard a loud bang and footsteps echoing on the floor of another room. I walked over to where the sound had come from and I didn't see anyone except a smashed glass plate adjacent to a wooden table. Maybe it was the ghost of Reynor Tenson, who purchased the land that the inn was built on. He was Springfield's first land speculator. Or maybe it could have been the daughter of William Penn, who originally owned the property that the inn sits on. It's very possible that ghosts haunt this historical inn!
Riding in a stagecoach and staying at the Black Horse Inn in Flourtown was an educational and exciting experience. I am thankful that Mr. Roeder taught me about the history of this beautiful inn. Staying there was an awesome experience and I hope to come back again someday. I love the little town of Flourtown and I am hoping that my children and great grandchildren will be able to live there and learn as much about the history of the Black Horse Inn as I have today!
"Journal Entry — January 18, 1848"
by Michaela Fallon
January 18, 1848
I just left for Bethlehem with Ma and Margaret, my sister. We are taking a long, black stagecoach to visit my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Paul. Aunt Sarah has just had a baby girl named Cara. We are going to see Cara for the first time.
The stagecoach has sixteen people riding in it. During the summer that would have been really stuffy and hot, but now it kept us a bit warm. We started driving and...BANG! We hit a bump! There are a lot of bumps on the road. I'm starting to get bored. "When do we stop?" I ask Ma.
"Not for twelve miles," she says. Twelve miles! That could take hours I thought. "Where are we stopping?" I ask Margaret.
She replies, "At the Black Horse Inn!"
The Black Horse Inn, I recognized that name I thought to myself.
The woman next to me turns and says, "That's right. The Black Horse Inn is the first stop from Philadelphia to Bethlehem." She continues to tell me about the Black Horse Inn. I find out that it was once called "Sampson and the Lion." It was the first of eight inns on the great road or Bethlehem Pike.
I look out the window. "Look Margaret! Another stagecoach! How many are there?"
"There are nine other stage lines," she replies. I ask more questions and find out that the inns are called Black Horse Inn, Eagle, Evening Rest, Ottinger's, Wagon & Horse, Klines, Mason's and the Green Tree.
I also learn that the Black Horse Inn is in Flourtown, Springfield Township. Oh! Spingfield Township! Just two years before, in 1846, Springfield Township had become a separate election district. Now I know where I had heard of the Black Horse Inn before, the first election had been held there.
I put my head on Margaret's shoulder. I think back to when I was boarding the stagecoach and how excited I was. Now it was not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. I was cold and hungry and looking forward to being able to stretch my legs. We have been on the stagecoach for hours. Margaret shakes my shoulder. I stop staring at my feet and look up. There it is! The Black Horse Inn! On one end it has three stories. It also has a stable for the horses. We hurry inside, out of the cold. The inside looks wonderful compared to the stagecoach. It feels good to have space after being crammed into the stagecoach, but not nearly as good as being able to stretch our legs and warm ourselves by the fireplace. We walk around getting feeling back into our legs until the horses are switched and the stagecoach is ready. We bundle up and board the stagcoach once again. I look back at the Black Horse Inn sadly knowing we would not stop for a very long time.
"Journal Entry — December 5, 1848"
by Kelli Bray
Today is the 5th day of December in the year 1848. My family and I are traveling to Bethlehem from Philadelphia. I know it will be a long journey. My two children, my husband and myself have never traveled this far before. The children are excited to be traveling by stagecoach. We will be visiting family in Bethlehem. We will board the stagecoach soon and I believe we stop in a small town about 10 miles from here.
We arrived in Flourtown in late afternoon. The weather today was windy, snowy and very cold. The stagecoach driver said the trip took longer than usual because of the weather. The four horses were exhausted. There were five other people traveling with us.
As we traveled the road the ride was bumpy and rough. We bounced around. The children did not mind it. The wind was howling and it was very cold in the stagecoach. We had blankets covering us. The snow seemed to be falling faster and the road was dangerous. I felt scared that we would run off the road.
By the time we arrived at the Black Horse Inn everyone was glad to be safe. We left the stagecoach; the driver took the team of horses to the stables. Once inside the inn there were people sitting around large wood tables eating and drinking tea. Some were drinking beer. It was nice to be welcomed by the friendly people. The big stone kitchen was busy cooking food for the arriving guests.
We planned to eat and rest and then get back on the stagecoach to the next stop. Because the weather became worse we decided to stay at the inn until the next day. The children were excited because there were other children staying at the inn. After we ate a wonderful meal of stew, the children played with the other children. The adults gathered around the fireplace chatting with each other.
When it was time to go to bed, the innkeeper took us to our room on the second floor. The innkeeper made us feel at home. He brought blankets to help us keep warm. He told us what time we needed to be ready to board the next stagecoach in the morning. The winds howled all night. We all had a hard time getting to sleep.
The next morning as we woke up we could smell the breakfast being prepared. We washed up in the basin and packed up. At breakfast everything was delicious. The children wanted to stay another night but we had to move on to get to Bethlehem.
The stagecoach was outside the inn and waiting for its passengers. The sun was shining but it still was very cold. We were the only passengers getting on the stagecoach this time. As we departed, I thought maybe on our return trip we could stop at the Black Horse Inn.
"Journal of a Stage Coach Traveler"
by Billy Sorg
While on my travels to the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem, we stopped at The BLack Horse Inn, located in a small town outside of Philadelphia called Flourtown. I had a nice meal of salt pork and October Ale for dinner and then had a good talk with a local, as I recall his name was Abraham Yeakle. He told me that I should stay back a couple more days until the snowy condition passes up. He did invite me to his estate tomorrow, if I would like to go. He suggested I visit the Eagle Tavern, which is a little up the Pike, to get some of their roast turkey, which he claims is delicious.
The coach I took here was a little uncomfortable due to the hard oak seats and the rocky road conditions. The door also kept rattling throughout the whole trip. The horses luckily didn't need to rest or become rowdy in the cold conditions. The last thing I needed was to stop in the cold weeather. I hear the coaches are nicer for the rest of the trip though. It must really be harsh if you are traveling further than Bethlehem to a place like Allentown or even Scranton.
I fancy the room that I rented for the night even though I do wish it were warmer and the drip by the window is quite a pain. We have supposedly not traveled far from Philadelphia, even though it feels like it has been forever. I took a little walk before dinner and watched the children play in the field next door. On my walk, I ran into a man who claims to live in the old Ottinger house at the top of Southern Hill. He did inquire about the news in Philadelphia. The people must not have access to the greatest news here if they don't visit the local taverns. I did take notice that the people here are extremely friendly.
When I returned, there seemed to be a rabble in the tavern about who would get the next coach out before the storm came. Mr. Yeakle soon settled the argument with a game of dice. The tavern keeper then informed me that my room was ready so I could unpack. Tomorrow I plan to take Mr. Yeakle's invite, the more I think about it. Hopefully, I can learn more about what lies ahead on the road and any other suggestions he has for me.