|Old Red Lion Road|
Postal Code: 19114
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Old Red Lion Road, which skirts the edge of Crestmont Farms from Knights Road to Bristol Pike, can be a spooky place to walk or ride a bike even if you don't know you're traveling on what was once part of Hart's Burial Ground.
John Hart arrived in this country about the same time as William Penn. The commonwealth's founder deeded Hart 1,000 acres. The Quaker minister settled on 500 acres in what was known as Byberry Township.
The township, thought to include the land along the Poquessing Creek to the Delaware River, was settled by the Walton brothers in 1675 and named in honor of their native town, Bibury, near Bristol in England. It was incorporated into the city of Philadelphia in 1854.
Some of the earliest Society of Friends meetings were held at Hart's home close to the Poquessing Creek and near the spot where in 1730 Phillip Amos would petition the court to keep a public house - the old Red Lion Inn on Bristol Pike.
According to Joseph C. Martindale's A History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland, "...a lot of about one acre, a few yards northward of Hart's house, on the rising ground, was set apart as a place of interment for Friends and others."
Burials began on the site in the 1680s and continued through the 1840s.
Among the early settlers buried there are relatives of Dr. Benjamin Rush.
Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the father of American psychiatry, wrote about a visit to the graveyard in an 1812 letter to his friend John Adams.
"On my way home I stopped to view a family graveyard in which were buried three and a part of four successive generations, all of whom were the descendants of Captain John Rush who, with six sons and three daughters, followed William Penn to Pennsylvania in 1683...
"... While standing and considering the repository of the dead, there holding my kindred dust, my thoughts ran wild, and my ancestors seemed to stand before me in the homespun dresses, and to say what means this gentleman, by thus intruding upon our repose?; and I seemed to say dear and venerable friends, be not disturbed. I am one who inherits your blood and name, and come here to do homage to your Christian and moral virtues..."
Hart moved from the property in about 1695 to 500 acres Penn had also deeded him in Warminster.
In 1786, Hart's son transferred cemetery ownership to Byberry Township.
"I give and devise to the overseers of the poor in the township of Byberry, in the county of Philadelphia, who shall be such at the time of my decease, and to their successors, forever, a certain burying ground lot of one acre of land, which was conveyed to me by my grandfather, deceased, the same to be occupied as a burying ground forever."
Part of the Hart Burial Ground was plowed under when the roads for the Crestmont Farms development were improved.
What remains of the cemetery lies between a white fence and stone wall on raised rambled ground that has been untended for decades and without easy access, because the road cut off its once likely gentle slope.
What was referred to as "God's little acre" in the 1800s, looks more like a woody mess these days.
Although stones are not visible at the site, there are records of about 30 people buried on the site and there are maps clearly designating the site as a burial ground.
In 1971, the stones for Crispin Collett and Elizabeth Baker were found. The stones are not visible today.
By Diane Prokop, Northeast Times Staff Writer