We continue with the history of the Kneedler Hotel, which once stood on the old Allentown Road near the intersection of Sumneytown Pike and Church Road in Upper Gwynedd Township.
The widow of John Beaver, who purchased the property from the sheriff in 1763, had not enough money to pay for it, but gave a mortgage to Peter Turner, of Philadelphia, for 570 pounds. Magdalena later married Jacob Heisler. So it was that the Heislers became the owners of the old tavern property. Her marriage to Heisler probably took place about 1764 or 1765, but her life with her second husband was destined to be short. Her own death took place in January 1769. In that year her two children, who were then of age, granted a release of their rights in the estate to Heisler.
George Heisler, the successor to Beaver, was a German, though being in public business and surrounded by Quaker neighbors, he doubtless spoke English also. He farmed their lands during the Revolution, or dealt out liquors behind the bar to local customers, or passing travelers on horseback or on foot. With these he talked of the march of armies or the forays of plundering parties who came near his premises. He came here to stay, his occupancy of the property continuing from 1765 until 1821, the long period of 56 years, or until his death. He lived to the good old age of 82 years and seven months, having been born February 22, 1739. At the time of his marriage to the widow Beaver he was about 26 years of age, while his wife was probably ten years older. He did not long remain a widower after 1769. A short time afterwards we find a new wife, Margaret, signing his legal papers, and later by a third wife, Barbara, her successor.
Every one has noticed the large stone house just south of the cross roads at Gwynedd. This is quite old, having the style of the dwellings erected over a century ago. To this was once attached ten acres, reaching up to the cross roads, and upon which is a modern brick house at the corner. It is curious that this ten acre lot was detached in the time of the Revolution.
In 1777 he sold to his brother-in-law, Martin Hoffman, for 66 pounds. There was no dwelling there then, nothing but forest. In 1778 Hoffman sold it to his brother-in-law John Beaver. By the date of 1785 the latter was living in Lehigh county, and then sold his right to the square piece of ten rods on each side [0.6 acres] back to Heisler again, who disposed of it to Henry Neaval. The Neavals were celebrated weavers and carried on their business for a long time.
The death of the elder Jacob Heisler took place September 22nd, 1821. In his will he appointed his son Jacob and his son-in-law his executors. He seems to have borne a particular antipathy to the fees of executors, for he made a provision that these three should only receive fifty dollars for their services. His son Jacob received the tavern and farm of 134 acres.
The second Jacob Heisler remained in possession for nineteen years. At the time of his father’s death he was a man of middle age, having been born in 1773. His death took place March 29th, 1845 in his seventy-second year. In 1840 he had transferred the farm and hotel to his son-in-law Henry Kneedler, who had married Margaret Heisler.
Thus the hotel changed hands a second time as a result of marriage. Henry Kneedler gave title for 151 acres and the hotel in 1887 to his son, Jacob Kneedler, a resident of North Wales for many, many years. In 1908 Kneedler built a new house in the borough [later the site of the Daub Hardware store, in 2023 North Wales Running Company] which became his residence.
The last transfer prior to 1910 was in 1898 by Jacob Kneedler to Arnold Becker then of North Wales, who bought the hotel and 28 acres for $5000. Arnold Becker was the father of Abram Becker, now of Lansdale. The old Kneedlers Hotel ceased to be a public house early in 1910 after an existence as such for about a century and a half.
Next week we will travel eastward on the Sumneytown pike and discuss the old Dickinson farmstead.
This post is sourced from a column entitled Early North Wales: Its History and Its People penned by long-time North Wales resident historian Leon T. Lewis. The article appeared in its original form in the July 14, 1959 issue of the North Penn Reporter.