Woodlawn Farm- Blue Bell, PA

Another Roberts family, but different people.

This surprised me when researching the history of Whitpain Township. The Woodlawn Plantation/Farm was never featured in the Whitpain... Crossroads in Time. But online, the name appeared in an old book.

Background on the family

They were Welsh. According to the Whitpain... Crossroads in Time book, most of the early setters in the township were Welsh, Swedish, German, and English. That shows evidence that the Roberts family were one of the early settlers of Whitpain.

The earliest settler to come to the New World was Robert Cadwalader in 1697 from Wales.

The farm didn't start with Robert Cadwalader. It actually started with his son John Roberts who married Elizabeth Jones, daughter of a Merion setter. Together, they established the "Woodlawn Plantation," as they would call it. The house was built in 1715. Their son John became the owner of the plantation later in the 18th century, and was married to Jane Hawk. Their youngest son Job is more well-known than their other children.

Job was known as the "Pennsylvania Farmer" and the pioneer of scientific farming. He wrote a book in 1804, and signed it as "Pennsylvania Farmer." Job was a magistrate* for 29 years. He was one of the justices of the peace in 1798 with John Wentz. He might be involved in the Revolutionary War as a militia.

*Magistrate: a civil officer or lay judge who administers the law, especially one who conducts a court that deals with minor offenses and holds preliminary hearings for more serious ones

His daughter Jane married the brother of Joseph Mather who inherited Hope Lodge in Fort Washington: Charles Mather.

What's interesting is that their youngest daughter Susanna was born in the Woodlawn Farm in 1819, but didn't live there for a long time. She resided in Philadelphia with her husband Samuel Jones Levick (1819-1885), who was a minister for the Society of Friends since 1840.

Her husband was part of the anti-slavery movement until slavery was abolished. He frequently attended conferences with President Abraham Lincoln on the subject of emancipation.

Job, and possibly his grandchildren, were featured in the 1850 census of Whitpain Township. His grandson Job R. Mather was a miller and farmer at that time.

A drawn family tree from Welsh settlement of Pennsylvania, Pg 269

Susanna didn't live in the Woodlawn Farm, and it was past on to different people. According to the 1871 map, a man name "William D. Frishmuth" owned this property briefly until selling it to Moncure Robinson, the man who laid out the route of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Main Line.

Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1871, Page 031; G.M. Hopkins & Company, Publisher
Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford; J.D. Scott, Publisher
Such a beautiful mansion!

Based on this picture and the history of the property, it looks like it's originally Georgian from its double-hipped roof, pedimented dormers, dentils overhanging, and uncut irregular rubble stone walls. Right away, its original building is symmetrical. But, it looks like there were additions to the house, including 4 Doric columns, and 2 pilasters supporting the back. Overall, the style of its architecture is mostly Neoclassical.

Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form

Tell me what you think in the comment section below!!


Browning, Charles Henry. Welsh settlement of Pennsylvania. (Philadelphia: W.J. Campbell, 1912), 92, 269, 272, 285.

"Descendants of Robert CADWALADER one of the Roberts families of Gwynedd, Pennsylvania." Gwynedd Meeting. Accessed April 7, 2020. http://www.gwyneddmeeting.org/history/roberts.htm.

Hopkins, G.M. Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Page 031, 1871.

Roberts, Clarence Vernon, and Warren Smedley Ely. Early Friends Families of Upper Bucks, with Some Account of Their Descendants: Historical and Genealogical Information about the Early Settlers in Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1925), 354-355.

"Samuel J. Levick." Samuel J. Levick. Accessed April 7, 2020. http://free-thoughts.org/Levick/Samuel_J._Levick.htm.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford, 1877.

Whitpain Township Bicentennial Commission. Whitpain... Crossroads in Time. (Montgomery County, PA: Whitpain Township Bicentennial Commission, 1977): 26-30.

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