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Happy to Be Here: Network of history surrounds us

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Over more than 40 years, Dee Rosenwald organized day trips for the New Hope Historical Society, most recently with Mayor Laurence Keller as her guide partner.

After Dee’s death, the tours have continued as the Dee Rosenwald Memorial Coach Tours, to destinations as diverse as the Tenement Museum in Manhattan, the Bayonne, N.J., waterfront, Annapolis, Md., and this spring, Winterthur Gardens and Museum just south of the Pennsylvania border in Delaware. It was the childhood home of Henry Francis DuPont, a horticulturist and collector of art and American antiques, about 90,000 objects.

Roy Ziegler, author of local histories and a major guide for seasonal tours of New Hope and Lambertville, organized the tour that took place June 14 and he managed to include some Bucks County connections.

Two sites were related to New Hope’s history. One was Winterthur itself, the other, the Wawa corporate headquarters in Delaware County – both tied together by family relationships.

In 1958, when residents discovered that the stone Parry Barn was proposed for demolition to make room for a gas station, they formed the New Hope Historical Society. The society spearheaded a campaign to waylay the wrecking ball and it has held its protective hand over the borough ever since.

In 1966, the society acquired the home of Benjamin Parry, the “father of New Hope,” from Margaret Dorothy Parry Lang. Five generations of Parrys had lived in the history-filled house.

“A customized feature of the tour will be a private lecture for Historical Society guests about Mary Fitz Randolph, an ancestor of Rachel Randolph Parry, daughter-in-law of New Hope’s Benjamin Parry,” Ziegler said at the start of the tour. “The museum curator will display a sampler made by Mary Fitz Randolph in 1716. It is believed to be the oldest existing sampler in New Jersey history.” Mary, daughter of Edward Fitz Randolph, was born in Piscataway, N.J., at a time when part of a girl’s education was creation of a sampler showing the alphabet, numbers and mastery of stitches.

And then, there’s the connection to Wawa. Our bus took us to Delaware via Baltimore Pike (U.S. 1) and past the Wawa Dairy complex, including the original dairy, the corporate headquarters and manufacturing and distribution facilities. It’s a huge complex, encompassing thousands of acres on both sides of the highway, supporting a chain of more than 950 convenience retail stores (over 750 offering gasoline).

George Wood, nephew of Rachel Randolph Parry, built the original Wawa Dairy in 1902. “George Wood’s mother, Julianna Randolph Wood, was the oldest sister of Rachel Randolph Parry,” Ziegler said. “The Wood family often dined at the Parry Mansion in New Hope with the Parry family.”

The Wood family’s connection to New Hope could have inspired a plan to build the dairy’s home in Limeport, a village north of New Hope, in Solebury Township. According to livingplaces.com, “It was a shipping station near a pipeline pumping station for the Atlantic Richfield Company between Philips Mill and Center Bridge on the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal and on River Road (Route 326) [today, Route 32].” In the late 19th century a large limestone quarry and several kilns were operated at Limeport.

“An ample, well-built wharf was much used by other shippers besides limeburners,” the website says, referring to “Place Names in Bucks County” by George McReynolds, published by the Bucks County Historical Society.

At the turn of the 20th century Limeport was already an industrial site with the river access an advantage for shipping, but the Wawa founders scrapped the plan and opted for the southern Pennsylvania acreage instead, thus aiding in preserving for Bucks County the scenic River Road that exists today.

And the New Hope Historical Society, like so many of its kind in Bucks County, continues to record the stories, many of them accidental events that framed the communities that exist today.

bridget@buckscountyherald.com


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