The Speaker's House


The Speaker's House

The Speaker's House is a historical museum located in Trappe, PA that preserves the home of Frederick August Muhlenberg, the First and Third Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

History of the Muhlenberg House

Overview of the Muhlenberg House: From 1764-1781

The first settlers in the Trappe region were German immigrants John Joseph Schrack (1712-1772) and his wife Eva Rosina Lang Schrack (1688-1756). It was there, in 1717, that they constructed a log cabin. Historical evidence now suggests that they were actually the original founders of the Trappe village. Schrack and his wife had five children during their stay in Trappe. The children included twins Maria Sabin and Anna Maria; a son, Christian; a daughter, Elizabeth Schrack; and John Jacob II. John Jacob Schrack I purchased convert|250|acre|km2 of the borough area at its south end [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 4] .

Because of his position within the German Lutheran Church, he ran "the Trap" a tavern in the area, and the name that ultimately the area would adopt as its own official name. During 1742, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, a minister, arrived in the Trappe and from 1750-1755, John Jacob II constructed the house that, in 1776, Henry Muhlenberg acquired. Because his mother was a widow, John Joseph Schrack remained in the family house to take care of her. While he did this, he also maintained the operation of the family tavern. In 1738, John Joseph married New Englander Silence (1712-1777) and together they had 7 children, 2 of which were boys and 5 of which were girls. Their claim on the house ended on February 24 1772, when John Joseph and Silence sold their house to James Diemer for 725 pounds [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 5] .

As mentioned above, James Diemer, Esq., purchased the convert|89.25|acre|m2 from John and Silence Schrack on 21 February of 1772. Prior to that, Diemer was married to Elizabeth Currie on December 5 1759 in Philadelphia in Swedes' Church (Gloria Dei). A James Diemer lived in Reading, was a Justice of the Peace before the American Revolution occured, and served as a judge in Berks County from 1791 to 1819 until he died in 1820 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 5] . Historians have never been able to clearly establish whether the James Diemer of Reading and the owner of the Muhlenberg House described above were one and the same. However, it is plausible that a resident of Reading could have become acquainted with the property whilst he travelled back and forth from Philadelphia. If the James Diemer of Reading was indeed the owner of the house, it is likely he purchased it under the guise of an investment and intended to rent it out to tenants, rather than for him and his family to live in themselves. The Diemer's residency in the house expired on 6th November 1775 when convert|89.25|acre|m2 of it was purchased by Michael Connor, a Philadelphian, for the sum of 905 pounds. Connor's occupation at the time was as a merchant, and he married on 9 January 1774 to Marry Cottringer (or possibly Gatringer). Because Henry Muhlenberg' diary made certain references to the Connors as his Neighbors, it is very likely that they lived in the historic house [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 5] .

On 1 March 1777 John Patton (1745-1804) purchased the property from Michael and Mary Connor for the amount of 1,500 pounds. He then proceeded to marry Jane Davis (1752-1832) on 7 March 1777. In the deed, Connor is described by occupation as being a merchant. John Patton, a native of Ireland came in 1745 to Philadelphia [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 5] . In March of 1776 Patton joined the Continental Army as a Major in the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment. On 11 January 1777 he was then promoted to the rank of Colonel and commanded 1 of 16 Additional Regiments under the command of General George Washington. However, he left the military in November of 1777. It seemed that he bought the house as a place where his wife could reside in security while he was serving in the army. In a letter written by Peter Muhlenberg in 1799, he described the house where the Swaines were currently living, "as the house below him where Col. Patton had lived. John and Jane had 11 or 12 children; the oldest, Benjamin, possibly was born while they were living in the Muhlenberg House." John Patton gave up the property on September 1778 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 6] .

The next purchaser of the property was Isaac Connely (1747-1823) who bought it on September 4 1778 for 2350 pounds and then he would sell it again 22 days later to John Reed, making a profit of 60 pounds on the transaction. John Reed is described as an Innkeeper on his September 26 1778 deed of his purchase of the convert|89.25|acre|m2|sing=on property [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 6] . John Reed (1723-1790) moved with his wife Dorothy and family to Trappe in 1774, where he became a farmer, and owner of a tavern and of the local grist mill in Providence Township. He was mentioned at least 100 times in the journal of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg; H. M. Muhlenberg usually referred to him as Neighbor Ried. Over the years from 1776 to 1783, Reed provided H. M. Muhlenberg with a horse and wagon for haulage, and sold him firewood, beef, veal, salt, pork, rye and oats. In May 1781, Henry Muhlenberg approached Reed about a doctor who had been considering settling in Trappe. Reed offered the doctor 2 large rooms in his big house, half of the cellar, adequate firewood, and fodder for his horse at 20 pounds sliver money a year. The house in question may have been the Frederick Muhlenberg House, as the doctor did not rent the house offered, and Reed agreed to sell the Frederick Muhlenberg House 5 months later [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 6] .

Frederick Augustus Conrad (Frederick) Muhlenberg (1781-1791)

Frederick Muhlenberg (1750-1901) was one of 11 children of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787) and his wife Anna Maria Weiser (1727-1802). Henry Muhlenberg, a German immigrant at the age of 32, was head of the Lutheran church in America for more than 40 years and was a leader in the German American community. Frederick who was educated in Germany would eventually become the first and third Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and the first person to sign the Bill of Rights [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 7] . Frederick married Anna Catherine Schaeffer (1750-1835) on October 15 1771. Their marriage produced 7 children; Henry William; Maria; Elisabeth; Margaret; Ann Catherine; Frederick; and John Peter David. Frederick was sent to Germany and he then returned when he was 23 years old after becoming ordained into the ministry. He became an assistant to his brother-in-law, Rev. Christopher Emmanuel Schulze in Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania. Frederick and Catherine moved to New York City in 1773 when Frederick answered a call to a German Lutheran church known as Christ or Swamp Church. The family then lived in Philadelphia briefly before leaving for Trappe, the home of Frederick's parents, on August 16th, where Frederick assisted his father with pastoral duties [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 7] .

Frederick and Catherine then moved to New Hanover within the same year, where they were living with 3 children, a maid, a nurse; brother Henry Ernst and his wife and child; and sister Mary Swaine and her husband Francis. In 1779, at 29 years old, Frederick decided to resign from the ministry and enter political life [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 7] . He was supported in his political ambitions by his father in law, but his own father was distraught by his decision to leave the ministry. In 1779 he was appointed as a delegate to the Continental Congress to fulfill the term of Edward Biddle, where he served until 1780. In 1780, he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly, and at the opening session on November 3 1780 he was chosen as Speaker of the Assembly [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 7] .

It was following this entry into public life, on December 19 1781, that Frederick Muhlenbergy purchased the stone house next door to his father's house for 800 pounds. This was done so that the house would serve as a home for him and his family. It was a safe and settled location, close to extended family, where he could leave his wife and children during the long absences necessitated by his new career. Frederick purchased the property with his business partner Christopher Wegman. Frederick purchased an additional 5 3/4 acres from Jacob and Elisabeth Miller on May 5 1783. On March 18 1785, Christopher Wegman and his wife Margaret sold their half of the property to Frederick for 450 pounds [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 7-8] .

Frederick was elected a second time to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1781 and 1782, and again elected Speaker. Frederick was elected President of the Council of Censors for Philadelphia County in 1783, and Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds for the newly formed Montgomery County in September 1784. His house in Trappe became the setting for local business, such as real estate sales [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 8] . In addition to his political career, Frederick was developing a mercantile business in the 1780s. He and his business partner Christopher Wegman, under the name Muhlenberg & Wegman, operated a store in Second Street between Arch and Race. Frederick also operated a store on his property in Trappe. Following the death of his father-in-law in 1787, Frederick became involved with sugar refining. He formed a partnership with Jacob Lawersyler that lasted until 1800, when the firm failed [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 9] .

The pinnacle of Frederick's political career came in 1789, when he was elected to the House of Representatives in the First United States Congress. As Speaker, Frederick was paid twice the salary of the other Congressmen, but was expected to undertake a certain amount of entertaining. As a result of his position as Speaker, in September of 1789, Frederick Muhlenberg became the first signer of the Bill of Rights [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 9] . It was during the third session of the First Congress, beginning December 6 1790 and running until March, 1791, three months after the Congress moved to Philadelphia, that Frederick Muhlenberg sold his house in Trappe. Perhaps he decided that since he would from that point onward be based in Philadelphia, he no longer needed a seat in Trappe and could bring his family to live in Philadelphia on a permanent basis [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 9-10] .

While Frederick Muhlenberg owned the house in Trappe he became the President of the Pennsylvania Convention and helped to ratify the new federal constitution in 1787. He was also a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, then called the University of the State of Pennsylvania, from 1779 until 1786; from 1780 to 1783, as Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, he was an ex officio trustee; in other years, he was elected to the position. In December, 1790 he was elected president of the German Society of Pennsylvania and served until 1797 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 10] .

After he left Trappe, Frederick's political career continued to thrive. He was elected to the Second United States Congress in 1791; the Third in 1793, when he was again elected Speaker of the House of Representatives; and the Fourth in 1795. During the Fourth Congress, Muhlenberg was chairman of the Committee to the Whole and presided over the debate regarding an appropriation to support the provisions of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, an agreement favored by the Federalists but opposed by the Jeffersonians. As chairman, Muhlenberg provided the deciding vote that appropriated the funds, though he later sided with the Jeffersonians. His vote was extremely unpopular with many of his constituents, and made his own brother-in-law, Bernhard Schaeffer, so enraged that he stabbed Muhlenberg [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 10] .

Muhlenberg did not run for the Fifth Congress, and in 1800, Governor Thomas McKean appointed him Receiver General of the Pennsylvania Land Office. The Muhlenbergs moved to Lancaster, the seat of state government, where Frederick died of a stroke on June 4 1801 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 10] .

Post Frederick Muhlenberg

On February 28 1791, Frederick Muhlenberg sold his house and lot, as well as the adjacent tract of land, to his sister and brother-in-law Mary and Francis Swaine. The Swains may have been living in the Muhlenberg house and managing the farm and store as early as 1790. The Swaines had four children, all of whom died young. All four of the children spent part or all of their brief lives in the house [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 10] .

For the 1798 Direct Tax, the house was assessed at 800 dollars and the property, at 1,380 dollars. The two story 30 by convert|25|ft|m|sing=on stone dwelling had a total square footage of 1,500. Four outbuildings were assessed, including a stone kitchen convert|20|ft|m by convert|15|ft|m, a stone store room, also convert|20|ft|m by convert|15|ft|m, and a stone store, convert|20|ft|m by convert|30|ft|m. The stone barn was convert|30|ft|m by convert|40|ft|m [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 11] .

Francis's brother-in-law Peter Muhlenberg wrote a letter, possibly to Taverner Beale, on January 4 1799 about how he still lived at the Trapp in the house that his father had lived in. He mentioned that Mr. Swaine lived in the first house below him where Col. Patten lived. He kept a store and was a magistrate [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 11] .

The property was sold on November 24 1803 to Charles Albrecht of Philadelphia. The sale included 3 tracts of land: the 50 acre and the 5 3/4 quarter acre tracts Swaine had purchased from Muhlenberg, and the 11 acres and 9 perches purched from Magargel (on the 1803 deed the Magargel tract was measured at 10 acres 89 perches) [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 11] .

The 19th Century Muhlenberg House

The Early 19th Century

Charles Albrecht (1759 or 1760- 1848) was the first owner at the beginning of the 19th century. He is listed on the property deed as a musical instrument maker, and it turns out the he was one of the first piano makers in America. Charles Albrecht was born in Germany and he came to Philadelphia in 1787. He then married Maria Fuchs. In a 1797 deed Maria Fuchs, anglicized to mary Fox, is identified as the widow of John Fox who was remarried to Charles Albrecht. On February 15 1798, Charles became a naturalized citizen [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 11] . We aren't certain about why he moved to Trappe in 1803, though it is apparent that he did move into the house he purchased from the Swains, i.e the Frederick Muhlenberg house. He is listed in the Philadelphia directories from 1791 through 1802, and again after 1809, but is absent from the directories for 1805 through 1808, coinciding with his ownership of the property in Trappe. He is also listed on the annual tax rolls for Montgomery County as an instrument maker. This suggests that he continued to carry on his trade while living in Trappe [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 11] .

The building used by the Muhlenbergs, while they had been living there as a store, may have been converted into a workshop for the manufactory of pianos during his tenure. Charles and his wife Mary sold the property of 66 acres, 49 perches to Abraham Gotwals, Esquire, of Upper Providence Township on April 1 1808 for 1,750 dollars [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 12] .

Abraham Gotwals (1764-18??) was the son of German born John Adam Gotwals (1719-1795), who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1739 on the ship Samuel. Abraham married Magdalena Detweiler (1764-1830) in 1785; both were natives of Montgomery County. They had 12 children in the 20 years following their marriage. The family appears in the Upper Providence roll in the 1810 census with a household of 11 people: three under ten, three between ten and fifteen, and three between sixteen and twenty five, in addition to the two parents who were then both forty six [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 12] .

On April 29 1811, Abraham and Magdalena sold the property of 66 acres and 49 perches to Sarah Bartleson for 5,600 dollars. On the deed, Abraham was identified as a resident of Perkiomen, indicating that the family had already moved; they may have moved to live with or be close to relatives, since Magdalena came from nearby Skippack [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 12] .

Dr. William Johnson (1785-1831) was the son of Henry Johnson (1764-1811). He married Sarah Bartleson (1790-1838), on June 11 1811, 43 days after she purchased the house and shortly after his father's death on May 23rd. When Sarah bought the farm, according to the deed, the 5,600 dollar fee for the 66 acres, 49 perches was paid for by Israel Bartleson. This was probably her grandfather. In 1820, the household consisted of William and Sarah, the three children, all then under 10 years old, and one male aged between 16 and 26 years old, probably a farm hand. Ten years later, there was one male between ten and fifteen (son William), one male between 40 and 50 (Dr. Johnson), one male between 50 and 60 (identity unknown), one female between 10 and 15 (daughter Sarah), one female between 15 and 20 (daughter Mary), two females between 40 and 50 (Sarah, and an unknown woman) and one female between 60 and 70 (identity unknown) [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 13] .

The Frederick Muhlenberg House, or some part of it, was rented to a David Williams, who owed Sarah Johnson rent at the time of her death. It is evident from records obtained that this was at the same house from David Williams' appearance in the 1840 census, who had been the next door neighbor of Dr. William Johnson in the 1840 census [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 13] .

Henry A. Hunsicker remembered a one story wing attached to the east side of the house, fronting the turnpike, which was used for store purposes, and which was at one time occupied by Felty Fitzgerald, who sold watermelons and trucks. It is possible that Sarah Johnson rented the store after the death of her husband. It is possible that the store had been used as Dr. Johnson's office when he was a practicing physician [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 13] .

Valentine "Felty" Fitzgerald was born in 1795 and married a woman named Magdalena. They had four children, Valentine, Sophia, David, and an unnamed child who was born August 31 1827 and died two weeks later. The three youngest children were baptized at Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe. In 1820, his household consisted of himself, his wife (between 16 and 26), an unknown female over the age of 45, and two children, a boy and a girl, both under 10. In 1830, the household consisted of himself, a female between 20 and 30, and two boys, one between 5 and 10, and one between 10 and 15. In 1860, when he was 65, he was boarding with the Jacob Markley family and working as a day laborer [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 13] .

When Dr. William Johnson died in 1831, his widow was allowed to claim about 88 dollars in household goods, with the remaining 221 dollars in possessions, which included furniture as well as surgical instruments, medical books and a "Shower Bath," being sold to satisfy creditors. When their daughter Sarah died just 10 years later, at the age of 25, she was possessed of a piano, furniture, silverware, jewelry and other items valued at 595 dollars, in addition to a dower fund [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 14] .

Records do not indicate where the dower fund originated from, but it may have been provided for Sarah Bartleson Johnson by her grandfather Israel Bartleson, who also paid for the farm in 1811. Though Sarah Johnson left the farm to her grandmother in the will she wrote on July 4 1840, 5 months later, on December 18 1840, she sold 36 acres and 53 perches, which included the Frederick Muhlenberg House, to her uncle Wright Bringhurst [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 14] .

Wright Bringhurst divided the Frederick Muhlenberg property into two equal tracts. The tract of 16 acres and 52 perches containing the house was sold on December 27 1841 to his uncle Enos Lewis, brother of his mother Mary Lewis Bringhurst. The other tract of 16 acres and 106 1/2 perches was sold on February 24 1845 to George Hagy [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 15] .

Enos Lewis married Margaret Dewees, but they had no children. Enos Lewis purchased from the other portion of the Frederick Muhlenberg farm that Wright Bringhurst had subdivided, from George Hagy, reuniting the farm in March 1849. In 1850, Enos, 68 years old, and Margaret, 50 years old, were living in the Frederick Muhlenberg House with three other people: Ann Hess, aged 17; Susanna Clemmens, a mulatto girl aged 12; and Joshua Davis, a black laborer aged 40. On April 2 1855, Enos and Margaret Lewis sold both tracts of land to Samuel Townsend of Philadelphia. The Lewises built a house on the corner lot east of Bringhurst's Manion, fronting the Reading Turnpike, apparently selling the farm [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 15] .

1850-1900

Samuel Townsend (1817-1860), a 38 year old Philadelphia businessman, burst upon the Trappe real estate scene in the spring of 1855. He had started buying up farms a month prior: 32 acres from Enos Lewis on April 2nd; an unspecified tract from Eleanor Shupe on April 2nd; 5 tracts totaling 49 acres from John Heneks on April 3rd; 81 acres from John Todd on April 19th; convert|160|acre|km2 from Abraham Hunsicker on April 27th; and 57 acres from Edward Evans and D. Morgan Casselberry [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 16] .

In the latter part of 1854 or 1855 Samuel put his brother Thomas on his farm near the Trappe in Montgomery County so that he could work it. There is no way to know if Thomas was living in the Frederick Muhlenberg house during his stay in Trappe, though "near the Trappe" may indicate that it was on another of the Townsend farms. Samuel and Thomas had difficulty before Thomas left the farm. Thomas had refused to leave the farm unless Samuel would secure him according to promises made to him prior to this. Thomas had nothing to live on excepting three ground rents [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 16-17] .

After his divroce and remarriage, Townsend spent much of his time in Trappe; he occupied a property east of the Frederick Muhlenberg House purchased at auction on February 15 1864 by James Hamer, M.D., for 10,532.80 dollars. There is a possibility that Samuel's wife Ann occupied the Frederick Muhlenberg House at times when she was in Trappe, though by March, 1860 the house had been sold to Henry Shuler [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 17] .

Henry Shuler (1817-1864) purchased the property from Samuel and Christiana Townsend on March 17 1860, and moved into the house with his family. Less than four years later, on May 3 1864, Henry died, and his family was sent into disarray without its breadwinner. Six years later, during the 1870 census, Elizabeth Shuler, Henry's mother, was boarding with another family in Trappe, and Shuler's wife Maria was renting a house. She owned no real estate, though her personal property was valued at 5,100 dollars. The increase in the family's personal property most likely resulted from the sale of the Frederick Muhlneberg House. The house was sold by order of the Mongomery County Orphan's Court. Dr. Lewis Royer bought the property at auction on September 20 1867 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 18] .

Lewis Royer was already living on the Frederick Muhlenberg property when he purchased it at auction orderd by the Orphan's Court on September 20 1867. He had been there for at least four months, but how much longer he may have been living there is not currently known. It was Lewis Royer who dramatically remodeled the 18th century farmhouse; he added the rear section, transformed the front and center sections into a Second Empire residence, demolished the store on the east side of the front section, possibly demolished a wing on the west side, and built the one story addition on the west side as a doctor's office on the foundations of an earlier wing. On April 10 1884, Royer sold the house, with all the property except for four small lots totaling a little over two acres that had been sold previously to Aaron D. Wagner. However, in 1890, he bought back the Frederick Muhlenberg property, then made up of 30 acres 40 perhces, and owned it for the rest of his life [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 19-20] .

Andrew Heyser Detwiler (1863-1933) purchased the property, then totaling 29 acres and 92 and 22/100 perches, from the estate of Lewis Royer on March 31 1908. In October of 1924, he sold the farm [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 20] .

On October 2 1924, Henry W. Mathieu and Percy W. Mathieu purchased the property from A. Heyser Detwiler, and less than four weeks later on October 28 1924, they sold the house and convert|10.77|acre|m2 to Ursinus College [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 21] .

Ursinus College (1924-1944)

Ursinus College purchased the house and ten acres to alleviate a campus housing shortage. This new building had been christened Highland Hall. It was situated along a little elevation along Main Street, about 8 minutes walking distance from the campus. It appears that students were housed in the building even before its purchase from A. Heyser Detwiler, as the 1924-25 college catalog described it as a dormitory for men that provided every comfort and convenience and which accommodated 28 students [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 21] .

At the time of purchase, improvements were made to convert the residence to a dormitory for 26 to 28 freshmen boys, as well as quarters for a houseman and caretaker. A new convert|100|ft|m|sing=on artesian well was drilled and fitted with a pump, additional bathing and toilet facilities were installed, and clothes closets were constructed in several rooms. A new Freed Heater was also installed to supply steam heat [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 21] .

By the fall of 1925, the house had become the Ursinus College Athletic Club, a dormitory and training club for the male varsity players. It was during its six years as the Athletic Club that the house had its highest profile while in the ownership of the college. It became the site of the annual football banquest in December 1929. Its use as the Athletic Club lasted until the end of the 1930-31 school year. By 1930, athletics were being consolidated on the main campus, and the Ursinus College Bulletin noted that the Athletic Club property in Trappe couldn't be run to meet expenses. In the fall of 1931, athletes were once again living on the main campus [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 21] .

The Frederick Muhlenberg House was converted back into a private residence for Russell Conwell Johnson (1894-1950), Ursinus College's recently hired first athletic director, and his family: wife Mary Siez and son Donald. Russell "Jing" Johnson was an Ursinus alumnus, an honors graduate in chemistry with the class of 1916, and was also a star of the baseball team. The Johnsons appear to have lived in the Frederick Muhlenberg House for about six years (1931-1937), but Russell Johnson cointued coaching for Ursinus through 1941, when he joined the war effort as a training officer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He died in 1950 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 21-22] .

While being used as residence hall by Ursinus College in 1932, the college valued Highland Hall at 22,294.05 dollars. The barn had been demolished, this probably explains why the outbuildings had depreciated to a value of 13,363.63 dollars. Faced once again with the problem of more students than dormitory beds, Ursinus College pressed Highland Hall into service for student housing for the 1937-1938 school year [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 22] . The next year the college announced that though 17 men still lived at Highland Hall, it was intending to sell the property because of its age, its remoteness from the campus, and the excessive cost of upkeep and operation. However, the next year, still using the building as a men's dorm, the college undertook extensive alterations to the house. The front porch and a portion of the side porch were completely removed and were replaced with a flagstone terrace, and a cornice was erected around 2 sides of the building at the 2nd floor level, which harmonized with the 3rd story mansard effect. The one story frame addation at the rear of the building was removed and appropriate architectural treatments of both the front and rear entraces were provided. The interior was completely renovated during the summer, all the old wallpaper was moved, the walls and ceilings were covered with a light enamel paint, and the woodwork and floors were repaired and repainted. Highland became one of the most attractive of the men's dorms [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 22] .

In the summer of 1942, the building was converted into a women's residence hall. To make the hall more attractive to upper class women, the tution and board bill was 50.00 dollars less than the regular fee for women. The dormitory underwent necessary painting, papering and repair and could accommodate 17 girls. This experiment lasted only 2 years and on July 13 1944, the college sold the property, which had been unsatisfactory as a residence hall because of its remoteness from the campus, to Andrew and Myrtle Rihl. Ursinus had previously sold convert|7|acre|m2 to the Collegeville-Trappe School District for erection of a new high school in 1938; the property sold to the Rihls contained convert|2.826|acre|m2 [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 22] .

Andrew Hoover Rihl, who, with his wife Myrtle, purchased the Frederick Muhlenberg House from Ursinus College, spent almost his entire working life as a salesman and inspector for the Keystone Blue Paper Co., a leader in the development of the process of blueprinting [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 22] .

1950-21st Century

Henry L. Haas (1908-1994) bought the house with convert|1.9819|acre|m2 on July 6 1950. Henry's first wife, Anna, died after they bought the property, and he remarried a woman named Lenore. The Haas family occupied the entire house for many years. In the 1990s, they converted the 2nd and 3rd floors to rental apartments, and lived on the 1st floor [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 22-23] .

The Frederick Muhlenberg House in the 21st Century and the Creation of Save the Speaker's House

In 1999, a national drugstore cahin expressed interest in the Frederck Muhlenberg property; their plans were to demolish the house and build a store. The community rallied to save the home of Trappe's most illustrious citizen, forming Save the Speaker's House, Inc. The organization was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in September, 2001 and subsequently succeeded in purchasing the property on April 1 2004. In 2005, Save the Speaker's House, Inc. obtained a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that provided the group with funds for researching the property and operating the organization [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 23] .

In late 2005, Save the Speaker's House, Inc. hired the nationally-renowned historic preservation firm Watson & Henry Associates of Bridgeton, N.J. to prepare a Historic Structure Report (HSR) on the Frederick Muhlenberg House. The purpose of the HSR was to document the house and make recommendations for its preservation and restoration. This was the first major step towards the restoration of the house and it was a very exciting achievement for the organization. The HSR included a study of the house's construction and modifications over time, as well as an assessment of the building's structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systmes. Scientific analysis of paint, wood, plaster, and mortar samples was used to help with the study. The report would provide recommendations for restoration and ongoing preservation of the house with the goal of operating it as a historic house museum interpreting Frederick Muhlenberg's political accomplishments and family life [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 1. Spring 2007. Page 4] .

The Sigma Pi fraternity of Ursinus College assisted the Speaker's House with a much needed fall clean-up project, organized by the fraternity's social chair, Stever Ordog. The men removed trash and debris from the garage, did general yard clean-up, and removed modern cabinets and appliances from the house to allow architectural teams to continue their investigations. In the previous spring, about 2 dozen fraternity members spent an afternoon cleaning trash and debris out of the house [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 1. Spring 2007. Page 4] . Preliminary archaeology was conducted in May of 2006 by The Millbrook Society, a Hatboro-based non-profit organization. 9 test pits were excavated. These pits were in strategically located areas likely to yield high artifact deposits. The initial survey uncovered over 1,200 artifacts and located the remains of a former cellar entrance, bake oven foundation, and a stone-lined well. Among the most significant of the artifacts found were fragments of a white salt-glzed stoneware dinner plate that was made in the UK c.1760-1780. This type of ceramic would have been a fashionable dish at the time and which would most likely have graced Frederick Muhlenberg's everyday dining table. More achaeology projects are being planned to locate the foundations of missing outbuildings, and to learn more about Frederick Muhlenberg family's household. As of 2006, the Frederick Muhlenberg property became the first in the Borough of Trappe to be registered as an official state archaeological site [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 1. Spring 2007. Page 5] . Another project conducted by Kise, Straw and Kolodner of Philadelphia did an archaeological survey of the site. Remains of a general store to the east of the house was uncovered [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 2. Fall 2007. Page5]

In 2006, with the support of a grant from the Montgomery County Green Fields/Green Towns Open Space Program, the mortgage was paid off and the property was placed under a conservation easement to ensure that it be permanently preserved as open space [Watson, Penelope S. and Henry, Michael C. Historic Structure Report for the Frederick Muhlenberg House 151 West Main Street Trappe, Pennsylvania. Volume 1 of II. Watson & Henry Associates. December 2007. Page 23] .

Volunteers of Save the Speaker's House have researched and are continuing to research the history of the Frederick Muhlenberg property and its owners by means of newspapers, diaries, tax and estate records, maps, photographs, deeds, and family correspondence [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 1. Spring 2007. Page 6] .

In the fall of 2007, tree-ring analysis, or dendrochronology began. Samples that were extracted were sent to the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University, where they were carefully examined to compare them with known dated samples. The study revealed that the timbers for the main house were felled in 1763-64 and that it would have been ready for occupancy late in 1764. This came as a surprise as for many years it was believed that the house was made in 1745 by Johannes Ried (John Reed). These findings now indicate that it was instead built by John Joseph Shrack who owned the property until 1772 [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 2. Fall 2007. Page 3] .

The Frederick Muhlenberg House has so far had one Open House which was a success and there are now plans underway to open the house regularly for pre-restoration tours to educate the public. Many history major interns from Ursinus College have participated in assisting the Save the Speaker's House through a variety of different activities [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 2. Fall 2007. Page 4] .

The mission of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. is to restore, preserve, and interpret the home of Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, first and third Speaker of the U.S. House, and to promote an understanding of leadership and American history and culture through research and educational programming [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 1, Number 1. Spring 2007. Page 2.] . The first and current director of the Speaker's House is Ms. Allison Weiss of Philadelphia, PA. The website of the Speaker's House is: http://www.speakershouse.org/.

Within 2008, Save the Speaker's House, Inc. officially changed its name to The Speaker's House, an indication that the property was no longer in danger of demolition or commercial development. A Muhlenberg descendant donated a portrait of Frederick Muhlenberg to The Speaker's House. The portrait is a 19th century copy of an original portrait painted in 1790 by Joseph Wright, now owned by the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait is presently on loan to Ursinus College and will soon by displayed in its Myrin Library. The portrait will be included in a project to commemorate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 1910 Muhlenberg Album, a book which includes photographs of family heirlooms [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 2008. Page 1] . The Historic Structure Report (HSR) on the Frederick Muhlenberg House was completed in December 2007 and now provides a thorough documention of the house's complex history and change over time, as well as an analysis of its existing conditions [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 2008. Page 4] . Through the assistance of former State Representative Raymond Bunt, Jr., The Speaker's House was awarded a 15,000 dollar grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to help fund restoration work on the house. The grant will be used to remove the stucco from the facade of the building, which was applied sometime after 1925, and repair and repoint the masonry. The pent roofs, constructed by Ursinus College when the house was being remodeled for a dormitory, will also be removed. When the stucco is removed, visitors will be able to see the beautiful historic masonry once more [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 2008. Page 6] . On April 12th, the installation of a Pennsylvania Historical Marker on the grounds of the Speaker's House took place. The marker will commemorate Frederick Muhlenberg's residency at 151 W. Main Street [Minardi, Lisa. The Speaker's Gazette: A periodic publication of Save the Speaker's House, Inc. featuring news and articles of interest. Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 2008. Page 7] .

Thus far, the history of Frederick Muhlenberg's house and the activities of the Speaker's House have found acclaim in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Mercury, and the Valley Item.

ee also

Frederick Muhlenberg

References


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