Document Collection

The Sugartown Road

First Ramble

tarting from the Inn some pleasant morning after breakfast, a short drive on Devon Avenue (formerly the Eagle or Sugartown Road) brings us to a crossroad where just back of an old and wide-spreading oak may be seen an ancient stone farm house nestling at the base of a steep hill.

There is nothing to indicate that the history of this house is different from its fellows, yet a skirmish took place here during the Revolutionary War the effects of which were important to history, for it was on this occasion that Capt. Henry Lee, of Bland’s, Va., regiment earned his first promotion. Capt. Lee became known to history as “Light Horse Harry” and was the father of Gen. Robert E. Lee, of confederate fame.

A picket guard was established at this old house in 1777 - 78 to prevent supplies being sent to Philadelphia, then occupied by the British. Early on the morning of January 17th Capt. Lee and eleven men of his command, were surrounded here by a British force of some 200 troopers under Tarleton; so well did they defend the place that the British withdrew, leaving four dead, who were buried by the victors in the field forming the northwest corner of the road leading to Berwyn.

It was in this clearing near by, that a block house was built in the earliest days of our Province as a defense against the Indians - this, tradition tells us was also used by the Welsh, for church purposes as early as 1685, and here many of their dead were buried prior to the building of the Radnor Church some thirty years later.

Leaving this historic corner we drive half a mile to the next road, and there turning to the left a few minutes brings us to the Leopard. In olden times this was a well-known tavern stand, and at the outbreak of the Revolution was kept by Caleb Perry, an ardent patriot, who became Lieutenant Colonel of Atlee’s Battalion of Musketry, and was killed at the Battle of Long Island, August 26th, 1776, being the first Pennsylvanian of note to lose his life in the cause of American liberty.

A few rods to south is the parsonage of the Rev. David Jones, which still retains some of its old time features. So great was the feeling of the British against “Old Davy Jones, the fighting parson of Wayne’s Brigade,” that Gen. Howe sent a special detachment to pillage his plantation and capture the preacher, who barely escaped, while his home was sacked.

A drive of little over half a mile on the Paoli Road brings us to the birth place and homestead of Gen. Anthony Wayne, standing as it was built in 1724 - 65, and a well preserved specimen of colonial architecture of the better class. On the page of engravings preceding is a good illustration of the exterior as well as of the parlor, or “General’s Room” to the right of the spacious hall, kept now in the same condition as it was put by Col. Isaac Wayne in 1824 for the reception of General Lafayette.

Another mile brings us to the Lancaster Turnpike at Paoli, now the terminus of the local or Paoli trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad. This place takes its name from the Gen. Paoli, a notes Inn during colonial and turnpike days, and here may still be seen the office where tolls were collected for the transportation of canal boats on wheels, on the state railroad from Philadelphia to Columbia. It was this old Inn which gave its name to the Paoli Massacre, on the night of September 20th 1777, which took place about one and a half miles further west, a short distance above Malvern.

On this battlefield may be seen two monuments; a small marble pyramid, erected in 1817, which is rapidly being chipped away by relic hunters; and a tall granite shaft unveiled at the Centennial celebration, Sept. 20th, 1877.