CHAPTERLVIII - Part I: Horsham Township : Bean's 1884 History of Montgomery
The Lukens family of this township, as in Towamencin, has been a noted one.Peter, one of the sons of Jan Luken, the German immigrant, was born at Germantown in 1696, and how soon he settled in Horsham is not exactly known, but it was before 1734, when he is mentioned as residing on a tract
here of seventy-five acres.The following year the Horsham road is mentioned as having been laid out from his house up into the centre of Montgomery Township.He had a son, Abraham, who is represented as "a gentleman of a philosophic turn of mind," who left here numerous posterity.In the list of Horsham for 1776 we find rated William Lukens for 293 acres,
a saw-mill, and nine children in family;
Joseph Lukens, 178 acres
John Lukens, 150 acres
Abraham Lukens, 120 acres; and as single men
Jonathan, David, Peter and Seneca Lukens.
Few families have done more to encourage literature and promote a love for knowledge among the people during the colonial period of Pennsylvania.Peter and John Lukens were among the founders of the Union Library, at Hatboro', in 1755, and furnished to the same no less then eight members prior to 1776.Jonathan, Levi and Samuel L. Lukens were the active promoters and incorporators of Horsham Library in 1808.The saw-mill of William Lukens was erected in 1740, was rebuilt in 1844, and is now owned
by James Iredell.John Lukens was a collector of taxes in Horsham in 1742.
John Lukens, the mathematician and philosopher, was the son of Peter, and when a young man served his time with Nicholas Scull as a chain-carrier and practical surveyor.In 1774 he sold his farm a short distance southwest of
Horshamville, to William Lukens, at the gate of which, by the road-side, he planted two white-pine trees when a young man, which grew upwards of three feet in diameter and to an extraordinary height.One blew down in a storm
about 1850, and the other survived thirty years later.They are yet well remembered by the writer, who could not pass that way without gazing in admiration at their tall and noble trunks, associated as they were with the
memories of over a century.We learn from the records that John Lukens was one of the active founders of the Hatboro' Library, July 19, 1755, and November 6,1756, was elected one of its directors and continued for several years; was authorized by them in 1757 to purchase books to the extent of ten pounds.He was appointed by the American Philosophical Society to assist David Rittenhouse to observe the transit of Venus, in June 1769, and of Mercury, in November, 1776.On the death of Nicholas Scull, the surveyor-general, he was commissioned, December 8, 1761, to fill the place, and continued in the position until his death, in the fall of 1789, -the long period of almost twenty-eight years, from the colonial period to the
establishment of the State government.He was appointed one of the four commissioners to run the boundary line between Pennsylvania and Virginia in 1784-85.Barton, in his "Life of Rittenhouse," calls him "the ingenious
astronomical observer, Mr. Lukens."His farm is now owned by Charles Dager, Jr.
Seneca Lukens, who was the grandson of Peter, was a prominent man in the township, and an ingenious clockmaker by profession, who was taxed in 1805 for two hundred and thirty-one acres.It was at his house that the celebrated Mrs. Ferguson made her last home, from near the close of the last century until her death, in February, 1801.His farm was located about half a mile above Horshamville, on the west side of the turnpike, and is now the estate of Chalkley Kenderdine.His will is dated February 8, 1829,
and he died in the following fall, appointing his wife, Sarah, and his son Joseph executors.His surviving children were:
Isaiah died in 1846, aged sixty-seven years; Moses, 1852, aged seventy-one; Joseph, 1875, aged ninety; Tabitha (widow of John Kirk), 1882, ninety-two, and Martha B. (widow of Samuel Shoemaker), the last of the family, December 2,1883, in her ninety-second year.All except the first were well-known to the writer, and in talents decidedly above mediocrity, possessing force of character and excellent business qualifications.
Isaiah Lukens, the son of Seneca, was born August 24, 1779, in Horsham, where he received but a common English education, but by subsequent diligent study he acquired a profound knowledge of the sciences.He learned clock-making from his father, and the excellency of the workmanship of his high-standing clocks, spreading far beyond the circle of his neighborhood, formed the basis of his future reputation.He made the clock of Loller Academy, Hatboro', in 1812, and the large clock in the State-House steeple in 1839, for which he received five thousand dollars.In early youth his mechanical skill exhibited itself in constructing wind-mills for pumping water, and air-guns of improved construction, besides other ingenious applicances.While a young man he made a voyage to Europe, spending some time in England, France and Germany, in visiting the greatest objects of interest, particularly those involving a high degree of mechanical knowledge.He finally settled in Philadelphia, and became a member of its several literary and scientific institutions, and was one of the founders and a vice-president of the Franklin Institute.He died in the city November 12, 1864, in age the youngest of the family.