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INDIAN QUEEN LANE, GERMANTOWN TURNER-ASHMEAD-HILL-LEE-CRAIGSMITH
ARLTON is situated on the west side
of Indian Queen Lane after crossing Wissahickon Avenue on the outskirts of lower Germantown. It lies upon a portion of a tract of five thousand acres which William Penn
deeded to John and Ann Charlotte Lowther, who sold it in 1731 to Joseph Turner, and he in turn to John Ashmead. It next came into the possession of Mr. Henry Hill, during whose ownership were enacted the most interesting events in its history. This was about 1777, and it then consisted of a large tract of land partly in Roxborough and partly in Penn Township, situated upon an elevated plateau of several hundred acres east of the Schuylkill River, bounded on the north by School House Lane, on the east by a road dividing Germantown and Roxborough Townships known as Township Line Road, and sloping sharply on the west to the river. It extended southward from School House Lane on both sides of Indian Queen Lane, termed in early deeds“ a road leading from Germantown to Schuylkill Falls alias Robert's Ferry,” the house and farm buildings being in Roxborough Township.
Henry Hill, son of Doctor Richard Hill, was born in 1732 on his father's Maryland plantation. He was educated as a merchant and settled in Philadelphia, engaging extensively in the Madeira wine trade, his father having removed to that island in 1739. “ Hill's Ma
deira was widely known as one of the choicest brands in the Philadelphia market. Mr. Hill was justice of the peace in 1772, member of the Carpenters' Hall Conference of the Committee of Safety, 1775, and of the Constitutional Convention of 1776. He was an original member of the First City Troop, commanded a battalion of Associators in 1776, and in 1779 subscribed five thousand pounds to the Pennsylvania Bank, an institution organised for the purchase of provisions for the Continental Army. He was one of the original subscribers to the Bank of North America and a director from 1781 to 1792. From 1780 to 1784 he was a member of the Assembly, and the Executive Council from 1785 to 1788. He was a trustee of the Germantown Academy from 1784 until his death in 1798 and was President of the Board. His town house, which he built, was at the corner of Fourth and Union Streets, now De Lancey. This was in after years the residence of Doctor Philip Syng Physick. He married a daughter of Reese Meredith, whom he survived, and died of yellow fever September 15, 1798, leaving no issue.
It was about Mr. Hill's country house, not then called Carlton, that the Continental Army encamped in 1777 during the first week in August before the Battle of the Brandywine and also for two days in September of that year after the battle. In a letter from Washington to Edward Rutledge, dated Fishkill, October 5, 1778, he says: “In the month of August last year (1777] from the house of Henry Hill, near Germantown, where I was then encamped, I wrote you a long letter.”
Lieutenant James McMichael, of the Pennsylvania Line, writes in his diary of the stir they made in the town:
The largest collection of young ladies I almost ever beheld came to camp. They marched in three columns. The field officers paraded the rest of the officers and detached scouting parties to prevent being surrounded by them. For my part being sent on scout, I at last sighted the ladies and gave them to know that they must repair to headquarters, upon which they accompanied me as prisoners. But on parading them at the Colonel's marquee, they were dismissed after we treated them with a double bowl of Sangaree.
During the first encampment a review of the army was held on August 8, of which the Marquis de Lafayette writes in the third person:
About 11000 men, ill armed and still worse clothed, presented a strange spectacle to the eye of the young Frenchman. Their clothes were parti-coloured and many of them were almost naked; the best clad wore hunting shirts, large gray linen coats, which were much used in Carolina. As to their military tactics it will be sufficient to say that for a regiment ranged in order of battle to move forward on the right of its line it was necessary for the left to make a continued countermarch. They were always arranged in two lines, the smallest men in the first line. No other distinction as to height was ever observed. In spite of these disadvantages the soldiers were fine and officers zealous; virtue stood in place of science, and each day added to experience and discipline.
No doubt the Commander-in-Chief and his officers, Generals Greene, Knox, Stirling, Maxwell, Wayne, Moylan, Stephen, Muhlenberg, Weeden, Morgan, and Nash, were grouped with Mr. Hill and his family on the little knoll upon which the house stood, to watch this review of the Army of the United States, and we may imagine their emotions as they watched the tattered
heroes pass, soon to meet the hail of bullets at Brandywine and the rigours of winter at Valley Forge.
General Washington wrote a long letter to his brother John, dated August 5, 1777, from Mr. Hill's house. He speaks of the long march in the extreme heat and the consequent fatigue and injuries of the men. They remained here encamped until the afternoon of August 8, when, believing that the enemy had abandoned all designs against Philadelphia, orders were given to march back to Coryell's Ferry (New Hope, Pa.]. But on receipt of information that the enemy's fleet had been seen near the Capes of the Delaware they were halted and encamped on the Old York Road near the Neshaminy Creek half a mile above the present village of Hartsville, Bucks County, where they remained until August 23. As we have seen they were again at Mr. Hill's place after the Battle of the Brandywine. Many faces were missing and they must have presented a distressing sight compared with that brave review but a month before.
When the British Army occupied Germantown in 1777 the Hessians formed the left wing and were encamped from the village to the Schuylkill River. At this time their commander, General Knyphausen, had his headquarters at Carlton, so that within a short space of time it was the brilliant scene of the encampments of both armies. What a busy and exciting time for the household of Henry Hill it must have been! We can imagine the pride and pleasure with which he entertained General Washington and his distinguished staff and his subsequent uneasiness when the place was filled with Hessians. There must have been action about the