Searching an Old House’s History:
The Sittig House in Shawnee
As presented to the Shawnee Preservation Society annual meeting May 1, 2017
553 River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA
(corner of Hollow Road)
To follow are the images presented along with text to approximate the oral presentation. The order is reverse chronological, following the direction of the search for this information. At the end of this document is a forward chronoligical trace of the land ownership, complete with all references.
Since 2012 Pete and Linda Sauvigne have owned this old house. The red frame house was supposedly built in 1810 and the stone building in 1740. Local legend says that the stone structure was the gunpowder store for the village during the French and Indian War. That is not likely since the garrisoned Fort DuPuy was ½ mile away. The waterfall was the source of power for a grist mill for many years.
|Gwen and Bill Caldwell owned the house for 12 years beginning in 2000. They operated an art studio and B&B.|
The Sittig family owned the house for almost 60 years beginning in 1941. Egdar was a famed international musician. Together with Charlotte they dealt in antiques from home and the “Shawna Shop” across from the General Store.
They performed a major restoration of the stone house in the early 1940’s and connected it with the frame house. Previously they had been separate structures, sometimes with a covered walkway between.
Charlotte was key in organizing resistance to the Highway Department’s plans to replace the Shawnee Creek’s Old Iron Bridge with a stark concrete span complete with 8” concrete curbing through the entire intersection. This would alter the historic charm of the heart of the village. In the end, the bridge was faced with stome, and recess stone curbing was used modeled after Colonial Williamsburg, VA.
For simliicity the house property is referred to as Sittig’s throughout this document. The village is called Shawnee, not Smithfield, Lower Smithfield, Bushtown, or DuPui’s
Beginning in 1938, James and Belle O'Gorman owned the house(s) for 3 years.
Starting in 1919, William and Hattie Treible owned the property for 19 years. They operated a store in the frame house and her occupation stated in the 1930 census was “cigar store merchant”.
There was a dye house attached uphill of the stone house, which processed cloth. Creek water was used in the operation, and the dye house was gone in by1935.
From 1911 to 1919 the property was owned by Harry Hibbit. A second small tract (0.17 acres) is also in the Hibbit deed being a strip of land in front of Worthington Hall, which was built in 1904.
Shawnee changed greatly in the years 1900-1915. In 1903 there was a devastating flood, and about the same time the long-standing grist mill was torn down. C.C. Worthington bought much land and built the Buckwood Inn, expanded Fort DePuy, built the “Post Office” building, etc. Minisink Avenue was subdivided for home building.
Sketched into the following Sanborn Insurance map is the approximate flow of the main stream of Shawnee Creek, plus the head race, which was built on the hillside to carry elevated water to the Grist Mill. By 1912 a small water-powered generator (labeled I.E.P., Independent Energy Provider) provided power to the Worthington Mower Company .
Above is the first Sanborn map of Shawnee, dated 1912. Prior to then there was little property in Shawnee that needed insurance. Local Sanborn maps from 1885 are available for major properties such as the Kittatinny House, the Paper Mill, downtown Stroudsburg, etc.
The old mill and the building presently on that site can be compared in the following 2 pictures. Notice the relationship to the Old Iron Bridge. The mill extends to almost the middle of the present road.
The mill had existed for about 170 years, although likely smaller in the early days. Shawnee Falls is mostly natural but was raised by 2-3 feet before 1900, undoubtedly to increase power to the mill. Total head: 18 feet, variable flow.
The Wilson family were on the property from 1847 untill 1911. Sarah Wilson and her sister Libby Fenner lived in the frame house in 1910, while the family of David Nye lived in the stone house. A great trove of information from this period is contained in the book When the Days Were Not Long Enough, by Frank Labar. This book is still available.
The map on the left is from this book, and shows a Wilson barn on the site of Worthington Hall.
The map on the right includes the Wilson enterprises shortly after the Shawnee General Store opened (shown as Labar and Heller’s). The Wilsons had refitted the grist mill and were major landowners in Shawnee.
This survey is from the 1865 deed from John Sherrerd, of Belvedere, to the Wilsons. It was discovered with title search methods from the Sittig deed.
It was difficult to trace the origin of the Sittig property from this 93 acres. The recital section of the deed referenced 13 different tracts, with vague descriptions. Although most surveys are precise in direction and distances, there were few mentions of anything recognizable today. Structures were usually not mentioned unless of major significance, such as the Shawnee Church, or the grist mill. Typical landmarks were as: from a stone… to an elm tree… to a fence post… to a stump by the river bank, etc. It was often easy to identify the shape, but not the location of a tract.
After tracing some incorrect tracts, it became apparent that the following tract included the Sittig correct land:
However, there are clearly ERRORS
in the survey. The outline of a property cannot have crossing lines. Data was checked on multiple deeds and found with the same errors.
Below is approximately what the tract looked like, with the house(s) on the corner on the right.
The preceding tract was part of the 93 acres that the Wilsons bought in 1865. From 1852 to 1865 it was owned by John Sherrerd, of Belvedere, NJ. The Wilsons were living on the land during this period, maybe as tenants. Perhaps Mr. Sherrerd was acting on the Wilsons’ behalf accumulating land in Shawnee.
The Wilsons originally purchased this tract from John Reichard in 1847, before deeding it to Sherrerd in 1852. John Reichard was a large brewer from Wilkes-Barre.
Reichard purchased this and other lands in 1841 at a sheriff’s sale at the property of Geroge V. Bush, Innkeeper in Shawnee. This sale was the result of court proceedings to settle the estate of Philip Shrawder, who had died in 1820, some 21 years earlier. Shrawder died with many lands, no direct descendants and a complicated will with multiple contingencies. The deed from the sheriff’s sale did not include a recital section, where deeds usually indicate how the land had been acquired. The property was described as: “2 ½ acres designated by said Philip Shrawder, deceased, in his last will and testament as his New house, store house and barn and the lots whereon they stand”. This land included a one acre tract containing the barn (now the Shawnee Playhouse) and 1 ½ acre tract containing the Sittig property.
Multiple references describe that Captain Philip Shrawder built the frame house in 1810, ten years before his death. Curiously, during the following ceremony the Shrawder family did not know that his house still stood, nor had the author yet traced ownership to Shrawder.
Around Shrawder’s time, tracing the Sittig land ownership involved more wills than deeds. Shrawder left some lands to minors contingent upon them surviving to the age of majority. He also tried to encourage German family to resettle on his land in the new country that he fought to create. Contingencies in his will required these family members still live here 20 years after his death before obtaining title. 21 years later it was settled in court.
Philip’s wife Rachel died in 1805 and bequeathed to Philip several properties under the condition that he continue to reside for 4 more years in the house that they had shared. That house was on 75 acres somewhere other than the Sittig land. After 5 years, Philip built the frame house that he wanted on the Sittig site.
Rachel was the widow of Benjamin Van Campen. Benjamin died in 1789 and left her many lands with a vague description. He also gave her all of his “moveable estate” with one condition: that several of his 9 slaves be freed upon reaching 28 years of age.
Shawnee Presbyterian Church Cemetery 2017
Prior to Establishment of Monroe County in 1836 Shawnee was in Northampton County. A broad search was made of the deeds in Easton in the late 1700’s, looking for familiar names such as Shrawder or Van Campen. The following survey was found in a deed which facilitated further discovery:
1784 Sale by Benjamin Van Campen to his
brother John Van Campen
This deed was found with clear descriptions: It included the grist mill, the bridge on the west side of mill creek, and the mill race. This land certainly adjoins the Sittig property.
Further looking revealed that up until 1784 the brothers John and Benjamin Van Campen had jointly held a tract containing the grist mill. In that year they split the lot, with John taking the grist mill and Benjamin taking the eastern part up to Hollow Road and including the Sittig property.
The deed to Benjamin contained the exact same survey information as in the 1847 and 1852 deeds, including errors. Shown to the left is the ADJUSTED survey.
Van Campen Brothers Split Jointly Held Tract
In 1766 John and Benjamin received a deed of gift for the larger grist mill lot from their father Abraham Van Campen. Abraham was one of the earliest settlers of the Lower Minisink. He settled in Pahaquarry, in Hunterdon County, West Jersey about 5 miles upstream of Shawnee. He built the oldest home still standing in what is now Warren County, New Jersey. He was among the many Dutch settlers that settled the continuous valley extending south from the Hudson River at Esopus, New Netherland, now called Kingston, New York.
In 1754 Abraham Van Campen purchased 54 acres, including the grist mill and a dwelling house from the Daniel, Samuel and Nicholas DuPui and their wives Elizabeth, Jane and Winkie, respectively. Nicholas was the father of Samuel and Daniel. Nicholas’ sister Susanna was married to Abraham Van Campen in Kingston, and several DuPui-Van Campen intermarriages came later. In 1752, three of the parties of this deed left their initials in the foundation of the Dutch Reformed Church or “Old Stone Church” in Shawnee. That part of the foundation still exists in the Shawnee Presbyterian Church.
In 1755 the French and Indian War began and the DuPui home was garrisoned as one of the frontier forts under orders of Benjamin Franklin. A square stockade was built around it and swivel guns mounted on the four corners.
Daniel DuPui owned this 54 acre tract for just one year beginning in 1753.
Prior to 1753 the land was owned by Nicholas DuPui, the first permanent settler of Shawnee.
Nicholas DuPuy’s 1727 purchase from the Indians was not recognized by the government of Pennsylvania and he was forced to buy the land again.
In 1733 he bought several tracts containing about 640 acres from William Allen. He first leased these lands, then purchased them as recorded in Doylestown, Bucks County. Northampton County was formed in 1752.
William Allen was a wealthy Philadelphia land speculator. He was once the mayor of Philadelphia and chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He founded Allentown.
Allen purchased 10,000 acres in 1728 from the grandson of Willian Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
William Penn, the founder, left each of his 3 grandchildren 10,000 acres when he died in 1717.
The founder was granted 45,000 square miles by King Charles II in 1681 to settle a debt that he had owed to Admiral William Penn, the founder’s father.
Although the land ownership is clear, it is uncertain who built the stone house. It has been used as both a dwelling and a storehouse. It may be the dwelling house mentioned in the 1754 deed to Abraham Van Campen. It was very likely associated with the nearby grist mill. An early mill may have been located closer to the waterfall and the stone house. By 1784 the long mill race existed.
One theory is that Aaron DuPui ran his store from the stone house. It would be a great site for a store. Aaron was a son of Nicholas who operated a store in Shawnee as early as 1743. The store ledger survived, but not the location. Much of the store register is for mill products, although many various items are shown including linen, combs, bridles, rum, tools, barrels, tar, shingles, sheep, etc. Also listed are lead, shot and gunpowder. This could have sourced the legend that the building was the gunpowder store for the village.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the grist mill. Nicholas built his log home log home in 1725, before his permanent relocation to Shawnee with his family in 1727. The grist mill came next so that he could process his crop. It stood long before the large stone house that became Fort DuPuy.
Nicholas’ land purchases in 1733 were for farming. This was almost entirely tillable lowlands near the river and on islands. The tract of land around present day Shawnee Village includes only such lowlands, except for a small extension up Shawnee Creek above the waterfall, to provide power for his mill.
One of several tracts deeded to N. DuPui by Wm. Allen including the islands of Manwalamink and “Great Shawna up against Shawna Town”.
Shawna Town was on the lower end of Great Shawna Island, now Prices Landing , Rivers’ Edge Park and an archaeological site.
FORWARD CHRONOLOGICAL LAND OWNERSHIP TRACE & REFERENCES
553 River Road, Shawnee on Delaware PA:
3/4/1681 King Charles II grants to William Penn 45,000 square miles west of New Jersey and north of Maryland.
7/30/1718 William Penn, the founder, dies and wills 10,000 acres to each of his grandchildren, including Wm. Penn 3rd.
9/18/1727 Indians owners sell 3000 acres to Nicholas DuPui. “From Peter Kettle to Peghoquery” This purchase from Indians was not recognized by Pennsylvania government
8/29/1728 William Penn (grandson of the founder) sells to William Allen 10,000 acres. Philadelphia Deed Book F Vol. 5 Page 92.
9/26/1733 William Allen sells multiple tracts to Nicholas DuPui including 86 acres along the river and extending up to the grist mill site. Second tract in Bucks County Deed Book B Volume 2 Page 91.
10/24/1753 Nicholas DuPui sells to Daniel DuPui 2 tracts the 2nd one being where the grist mill stands and containing 40 acres. (later corrected as 54 acres) Northampton Book A Vol 1 P 142 recorded 11/15/1758
4/29/1754 Daniel & Elizabeth DuPui, Nicholas & Winkie DuPui, Samuel & Jane DuPui conveyed to Abraham Van Campen 54 acres of land including the grist mill and dwelling house. The deed reports a survey error in 1733 deed and that the 1753 deed ”40 acres” was actually 54 acres. Northampton County Book A Vol 1 page 136 recorded 11/15/1758
10/25/1766 Abraham Van Campen, Esquire of Walpack, West New Jersey gifts to sons John and Benjamin Van Campen 2.5 acre mill lot. Northampton County deed book B1 page 203.
11/13/1784 The brothers John and Benjamin Van Campen divide the mill lot that they jointly own. John grants to Benjamin a 1.5 acre lot where the stone house stands, and Benjamin grants to John the remaining 1 acre, including the grist mill. Now John will run the mill and Benjamin gets the house lot. Northampton County deed book H1 page 38.
11/26/1789 Benjamin Van Campen dies leaving all lands to widow Rachel. Will recorded Oct 27, 1789 Northampton County page 59.
2/19/1793 Capt. Philip Shrawder marries widow Rachel Van Campen.
9/29/1805 Rachel dies and leaves the house lot and other lands to Philip Shrawder. Will recorded Northampton County 11/11/1805 page 221
1810 Capt. Philip Shrawder builds frame house. Stone storehouse pre-existed. Local legend says it dates to 1740 and was once the gunpowder store for the village.
3/17/1820 Philip Shrawder dies with no descendants and a complicated will with many lands, annuities, a trust and contingencies about German family relocating to the US and a local child living to maturity. Will mentions "new house, store house and barn". Will recorded Northampton county 3/28/1820, page 574
9/11/1841 After proceedings in Court of Common Pleas, sheriff sells lots containing Shrawder's "new house, stone house and barn" (2.5 acres) to John Reichard. The barn was standing about 1900 in the site of the Shawnee Playhouse. The house was red. The barn stands on 1 acre, but not the 1 acre lot that contains the mill. It is just coincidence that prior to 1784 the original mill lot was 2.5 acres. Monroe County deed book 2 p.234
6/10/1847 John Reichard and wife sell 2.5 acres to Charles R. and Joseph V. Wilson. Now shown as 2 lots, first lot northwest of River Road containing the houses, second lot southeast containing the barn. The house lot description exactly matches the 1784 deed from John to Benjamin Van Campen. Monroe County deed book 4 p.28
12/18/1852 Charles R. & Joseph V. Wilson sell many lots to John M. Sherrerd. The 2 lots containing 2.5 acres are near the top of page 17 following the words: "The Sixth thereof". Monroe County deed book 6 p.15
4/1/1865 John Sherrerd sells back to Elizabeth Wilson (widow of Joseph) and Charles R. Wilson. Lands have been combined into one tract totaling 93 acres. The land extends to the river and up Strunk Hill (Mosiers Knob) road. Monroe County deed book 13 p.46
11/23/1911 Sarah H. Wilson estate sells to Harry Hibbit. Tract 1 is the lot containing the houses and 0.78 acres including the road corner, extending near but not into the creek. Tract 2, 0.17 acres is near Worthington Hall. Monroe County deed book 70 p.395
11/26/1919 Harry Hibbitt and wife sell to William V. Treible and wife. Same tracts as 1911 sale. Monroe County deed book 81 p.475
6/10/1938 Hattie Treible sells to James O'Gorman and wife. Tract 1 only, 0.78 acres Monroe County deed book 129 p.406
4/9/1941 James O'Gorman and wife sell to Edgar H. Sittig and wife. Same lot but resurvey shows slightly less extension into the roads and the area measures 0.69 Acres. Monroe Co deed book 6 p.91
2/29/2000 Estate of Charlotte Sittig sells to William L. & Gwendolyn E. Caldwell. Now includes a narrow tract extending the back yard to the middle of the creek, totaling 0.86 acres. Monroe Co deed book 2076 p.106
3/23/2012 William and Gwendolyn Caldwell sell to Peter C. and Linda A. Sauvigne same 0.86 Acres. Monroe County deed book 2400 p.1817
June 6, 2017