A Jones Family History
the first three hundred years (1700-2000)

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"White Chimneys", The Gapp Plantation, The Gap, Pennsylvania
An Historical Landmark with a direct connection from the current day back to 1712 and our immigration ancestors, Francis and Rachel Jones and their sons, Samuel, Henry and Francis II

Sometime between their arrival in 1711 to Philadelphia and 1712, Francis and Rachel Jones and their eldest son Samuel and his wife and daughter, their second son Henry, and their third son Francis II, purchased land and settled in a section of land located on the Minquas Trail between Philadelphia and what later became Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  The area was called The Gap, Gapp Plantation, or Gap Inn. It was famous as the “gap in the hills” where William Penn met and made his first treaty with local Indian leaders in 1698.  It was only generations later that the main structure came to be called White Chimneys.

 

The Jones family built, among other structures, a stone cabin, a soap making concern, an inn and a travelers’ way station for wagons plus a tavern serving the surrounding area.  They prospered at this location for more than a decade, during which time both Henry and Francis II married and started families. (There have been no records found regarding the youngest son Jonas at this location.)

 

It could be said that The Gap was where this Quaker Jones family put down their first roots in the new Province of Pennsylvania, and there’s every indication that they expected to remain there.  However, either personal tragedy or forces of history conspired to uproot them from The Gap after only two decades.


We know that during this period the parents, Francis and Rachel Jones, both died. Samuel and Hannah removed in 1721 from Chester Monthly Meeting to Concord MM; in 1725 to New Garden MM, and in 1728 to Sadsbury MM.  In 1729 Samuel was appointed Justice for what had just become Lancaster County PA[1].  Henry had moved earlier to the Jerseys where he married Loveday Archer, who died after only a year leaving him with an infant son. He acquired more land and became a prosperous farmer in his own right and some years later married a wealthy widow, Eleanor Lindley.



It appears that Francis II and his family (now 9 children, including a step-daughter from his wife’s previous marriage) were left to run the tavern and inn.  In March 1739, Francis II died at the early age of 49, leaving to his wife and young children property listed in his will as Gapp Plantation, 250 acres plus rights to 50 acres at Gap Spring, and another 300 acres on a branch of the Pequoa River plus rights to 50 acres “on the West Side of the mountain”.  His will states that he was an “Innholder” and that he was living on the Gapp Plantation at the time of his death.

 

Quaker records show that his widow, Jane, was married again the same year to a prosperous farmer in Burlington County (New Jersey) and had yet another child.  

 

The Loss of Gapp Plantation

Historical accounts of the inn and tavern at The Gap and the structure that - after many additions and rebuildings - became known as White Chimneys was “lost in 1729 (sic) by the Jones family”.  I surmise that they may have lost the lease rights in 1739 (not 1729) to the tavern site itself when Francis II’s widow Jane moved with her children to Burlington County, but perhaps retained much of the farmlands since her later will listed substantial property to leave to her children. 

 

Lease and land frauds and legal disputes over ownership of land in Old Chester County and throughout the Pennsylvania land grants were very common at the time, and it may be that Francis’ death before his children came of age caused them to lose this valuable property.  If the family lost this property in 1739 as a result of a legal battle over conflicting land rights then that loss probably rankled for many years. 

 

White Chimneys Regained

In 1732, Samuel and Hannah Lloyd Jones’ eldest daughter Mary (1712-1766) married Lawrence Richardson (1708-1748), and in the following generation their eldest daughter Faithful Richardson (1736-1792) married Henry Slaymaker (1734-1785) in 1754 .  Henry Slaymaker was a landowner and storekeeper who also practiced law in the Piquea Valley. He later became a Justice of the Peace and finally a Judge.

 

Henry and Faithful had grown up together; Faithful in her grandparent’s cabin on the highroad at The Gap PA and Henry in a cabin nearby where his family owned the Slaymaker Tavern.  Both families had prospered and became prominent in both the Quaker religious community (New Garden, Leacock, Sadsbury Monthly Meetings) and in civil affairs (Grandfather Samuel had also became a Judge in Sadsbury Township).

 

In 1779, Henry and Faithful Slaymaker purchased back the Gap Inn/Plantation property that had originally been settled by her immigration ancestors Francis and Rachel Jones and their sons, Samuel, Francis and Henry in 1712, which was no doubt of great satisfaction to the Jones descendants.

 

Henry and Faithful’s son Amon Slaymaker (1755-1837) took over the property, by then called White Chimneys, and ran an inn, store and tollgate on what became America’s first East-West turnpike (between Philadelphia and Lancaster).  It was a favored stop on the highroad for many important people, including General Layafette in 1777, the year he spent with General Washington at Valley Forge.

 

White Chimneys stayed in the Slaymaker family until 2008, with the eighth generation of Slaymakers still living on the property as late as 1967[1].

Somewhere on the property, it is claimed, is the original stone cabin built by the Quaker Jones Family.


[1] Immigration of the Irish Quakers 1682-1750, Myers, pp 120, 128, 162.  http://www.sadsburyfriendsmeeting.org/history/

[2] LIFE Magazine article, August 25, 1967. http://whitechimneys.com/history/

 

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