William Biddle House at Mt. Hope, N.J.
by Owen Picton
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This is an account of my search for the William Biddle home of Mt Hope, NJ. William Biddle came to America from England in about 1681. I have a book: "Notes on the Genealogy of the Biddle Family" together with "Abstracts of Some Early Deeds" by Henry D. Biddle and privately printed in Philadelphia in 1895 by W.S.Forthescue & Co. You can view a copy by someone else of the Biddle book online and it has an 1890 picture of the Biddle home on page 11 and states that the William Biddle home is located at Mount Hope (Kinkora), NJ. My Grandmother Martha (Mattie) Biddle is listed on page 39, as person number 218 in this Biddle book and her father Henry Biddle is listed on page 38, as person number 116 in this Biddle book.
I made the search in about 1980 for this William Biddle House, that I saw shown in this book. My family and I (2 sons and wife, Dianne) drove across the bridge from Philadelphia and stopped at the first restaurant. I asked where Kinkora was. I showed the waitress a picture of the house. The waitress would not tell me but said another would. I ask her why and she said it was not a nice place. The other waitress said it was 3 stop lights down the road. I went 3 stop lights down the road and there was a nice motel and a restaurant. We then noticed a frighting dark thunder cloud appearing over head. It was about 5 PM so we stopped and asked for a room for the night. The clerk said it was not a place I would not want my family to stay. Then I saw all these women around and realized it may be a good place. We drove into the next town as the bad thunderstorm hit and stayed at the next town.
The next morning I came back and drove by the motel. I noticed a sign across the road which said William Biddle settled here in about 1682. I turned off the highway near the sign onto a road which went to a house that was the same as the picture in my book.
The house is located on a Delaware river bluff with a railroad track running between the house and the river. One could look across the river and see William Penn's house. I felt the house was in a good location that could easily be defended. Out in the river was an island that used to be called Biddle Island. Now the power company owns it. They had started to build an atomic power plant but had stopped. They had created a huge ugly hill of dirt on the island and left. Near the house along the river was an abandoned factory and a large vacant weedy asphalt parking lot.
The house was in bad shape but people lived in it. The basement door had fallen off it hinges. The family who lived there owned the house. They said the rooms all used to have fireplaces and they had removed all of the fireplaces. I walked over and looked in the basement doorway. There was still a very large fireplace in the basement and they asked me what it was. In the basement I could see the lumber was all cut in a different dimension than we use now. It appeared that there were no nails but just wooden pegs holding the house together.
I talked to them for a while and they said they owned the graveyard near the house which looked like a weed patch to me. I think it was the Biddle graveyard. They asked me about possible tunnels and admitted doing some digging near the sidewalk. I felt they may have dug all the graves up and gone through them for valuables but this was only an impression.
I went to the library in town and they gave me the name of a local lady who was a Biddle descendent. I called her and she apologized that the original Biddle house was in such bad condition but she did not know what to do to improve the situation. I think that I may still have the phone number of the lady somewhere.
Next, we stopped at a Historical Society Library in Philadelphia to find more information on my Biddle ancestors. This was before the time when copy machines were readily available, at least at that instant. Then, I also stopped where my Biddle ancestors had lived in western Pennsylvania and had a similar experience. Another a long story.
The following is a little more information.
Coming to America on the English or Colonial merchant ship called " Henry & Ann", William and Sarah Biddle built this two story
frame house on a bluff overlooking the Delaware River in view of
Biddle's Island. They called their new home Mount Hope. One can
look across the Delaware River and see William Penn's home in
Pennsylvania. Times were not always easy. They had a dispute
with William Penn over the ownership of Biddle Island but our
Recently in 2016, I talked to a Biddle descendant who had visited the location not very long ago. The Biddle house has been demolished and the Biddle cemetery was all that remains. I think he said the land including the cemetery was for sale as commercial property. He was concerned that the Biddle cemetery will be just bulldozed in. He wished that someone would move the Biddle graves to a local Quaker House and felt there may even be Indians and slaves buried here. He also mentioned that he attended in October of 1981, the 300th Biddle reunion and then he visited the Biddle House after attending the Biddle Reunion.
The Library of Congress has pictures and a detailed layout of the
William Biddle House built in 1684.
then go to search and search for the 3 words: william biddle house
One of the addresses found will be for the house (you may have to play around with this to find it).