The manors of Western Berks January 1943
If you have traveled along the route 422 westward you have noted the name Plumpton Manor painted upon the farm buildings of Leonard Ruth Farm, east of Robesonia. It was not a mere whim which directed this choice of a name for a farmstead. Back in 1733 this farm was a part of a land grant made to John Page and designated as the Manor of Plumpton. The original tract extended far west and north of the present Ruth farm, including 5,165 acres, embracing the present site of Robesonia and Womelsdorf, and extending northward into North Heidelberg Township. A part of this land was originally granted to Letitia Penn, Mrs Aubrey, a daughter of William Penn. This will explain the signature of Letitia Penn on some of the ancient deeds in Berks.
Adjoining Plumpton Manor on the east lay William Allen’s grant of 2,794 acres, including the present big spring farm and some of the land belonging to the Pennsylvania Hospital for the chronic insane near Wernersville. During the war for Independence Allen was a Tory and his Berks holdings were confiscated.
Fell’s Manor better known as Maria Fell’s land adjoined Plumpton Manor on the West, beginning at the Tulpehocken Creek at Reith’s Church and extending three miles in length to Host post office. The tract contained ten thousand acres, extending westward deep into present day Lebanon County. The old patent speaks of Mardin Sharvas Run. Obviously they mean Zerbe’s Creek. Mention is also made of Hans Moore’s Run, but we have failed to identify this one.
Richard Penn’s Manor on the Swatara, popularly known as Andohlheo Manor centers about Rehresburg. The village is slightly east of the center of the original grant. In Conrad Weiser’s letters he speaks of Tolheo, probably a corruption of Andolheo, or even more likely the original Indian term which early German settlers converted into An-Dolheo meaning A-Tohlheo. The village of Rehresburg was the last outpost of white settlers in 1737. Penn’s Manor included 5,000 acres and extended north to the Blue Mountain.
Fream’s Manor or Thomas Fream’s land adjoined Penn’s Manor. It included 1,000 acres and was surveyed in ten warrants of 100 acres each.
Archival Notes: The term manor as referenced in the article refers to tracts of lands. The absentee proprietors did not actively modify, or use these lands. Squatters, such as the Palatines from the Schoharie region moved into these lands in violation of treaties with the indigenous people. This tension which began to arise with the earliest Tulpehocken settlers in 1723 came to a head during the French and Indian War. At the time Berks County was part of the western frontier of the colony. The natives resentful of the treaty violators, seized the opportunity to raid along the frontier in hopes of driving out colonists, or stemming the tide of western expansion.
The Wernersville White Oak is one of the few if not only living eye witnesses to the events mentioned in this article.