Founders and Hulmeville

Beechwood Tree

No study of Beechwood Cemetery in Bensalem would be complete without an understanding of how the village of Hulmeville, just across the Neshaminy Creek, fits into its history. The founders of Beechwood Cemetery had close ties to the little village. Originally known as Milford Mills to denote early mills erected on the lower Neshaminy about 1720, the place was eventually renamed in honor of John Hulme who purchased the land there in 1795. John Hulme of English ancestry married Rebecca Milnor of Fallsington on the fifth month 30th day 1770. Each of their sons established a business in the emerging town which attracted others to do the same and the place became a thriving center for early manufacturing and mercantile endeavors in the county. Within fifteen years the site grew to include several types of mills, stores, workshops, dwellings, and a bridge across the Neshaminy to connect it with the township of Bensalem. Hulmeville's location at the intersection of the road which connects Trenton to Philadelphia, with the one running from Newtown to Bristol, created an opportunity for many early travelers to pass through.


In 1809 Mr. Hulme said, “'When I purchased the site of this village fourteen years ago, there was only one dwelling house upon it, now there are thirty, besides workshops and a valuable set of mills, and a stone bridge over the Neshaminy. Here I have established a numerous family. I might have educated one of my sons as a lawyer, or set up one as a merchant, but I have not property enough to give them all such advantages, and I wished to make them equal, attached to each other, and useful members of society. One of them is a coach-maker; one a farmer; another a miller; another a storekeeper, and another a tanner — all masters of their respective employments, and they all assist each other."

John Hulme served as the first president of the Farmers’ Bank of Bucks County which was established in a stone building near the mills in 1814. He was also elected to the legislature and prior to his death in 1817, was considered a highly respected man in the county.
Farmers Bank Note

Beechwood’s founders had roots and close ties to Hulmeville and to the Hulme family.

Joseph Canby

The Beechwood Cemetery Company was established on March 24, 1868 by Joseph Canby, Edmund G. Harrison, Samuel H. Harrison, John Johnson, and Jesse G. Webster. The new corporation purchased sixteen acres from Canby for $4,000 on January 1, 1869. Joseph Canby served as Beechwood's first President.

        In memory of Joseph Canby who was one of the originators of Beechwood Cemetery and its first President. This monument is erected as a tribute to his memory and work. Born 8th mo 22nd day 1810. Died 8th mo 11th day 1875.  
        Joseph Canby  
George Harrison
From “The History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania: from the discovery of the Delaware to the present time.” Volume 3, 1876, by William Watts Hart Davis:

Mary Hulme, eldest daughter of John and Rebecca (Milnor) Hulme, married Joshua Cary Canby, son of Thomas Canby, and their son, Joseph, married, first, Margaret Paxson, and second, Margery Paxson, sisters, and daughters of John and Sarah Paxson. Their only living descendant is Joseph Canby, of Bensalem, near Hulmeville.

Rebecca Hulme, youngest daughter of John and Rebecca (Milnor) Hulme, married George Harrison, son of Captain John Harrison, of the Revolutionary army. Their children were: John Hulme, Mary, who married James Hayes ; Robert Henry, Samuel Hulme, who married Jennet Joyce; Edmund G., who married Fannie Trump.

Samuel Hulme Harrison’s children are: John Henry, a veteran of the Civil war; Mary, who married Jesse H. Knight; George, editor of Delaware Advance, in Hulmeville; Jennet R.; S. Hulme, farmer near Hulmeville; William Kennedy, farmer near Hulmeville, and Edmund, the youngest son.

Edmund G. Harrison, youngest son of George and Rebecca Hulme Harrison, married Fannie Trump. Their children are: Charles T., who married Laura Curtis. He is in the good roads division of the U. S. Agricultural Department; William E., who married Margaret Wilson, and resides in Asbury Park ; Mary Rebecca, who married Dr. E. Huntsman ; Alice and Frances, who reside in Hulmeville, and T. Herbert, who is studying in Europe.
George Harrison (1780-1852) was the father of two of Beechwood's founders, Samuel H. and Edmund G. Harrison. George was the first cashier in the Farmers Bank of Bucks County serving from 1814-1823. He was also one of the first three trustees and principal subscribers for the Grace Episcopal Church at its origination in 1831.
From Davis we learned that two of the founders, Samuel H. and Edmund G. Harrison were brothers and because their mother Rebecca Hulme was the sister of Mary, they were also Joseph Canby's first cousins.
  E G Harrison
Edmund G. Harrison
  Samuel Hulme Harrison
Edmund G. Harrison
Photo of E. G. Harrison taken in Bristol about 1870
After Joseph Canby passed away in 1875, Jesse G. Webster succeeded him as President of the cemetery company. Jesse was a well known auctioneer in Bucks and adjacent counties.

From J. H. Battle’s “History of Bucks County” published in 1887:
JESSE G. WEBSTER, auctioneer and farmer, P.O. Hulmeville, was born in Abington township, Montgomery county, June 26, 1806, and is a son of David and Elizabeth (Gilbert) Webster, who were of English descent and members of the Society of Friends. The latter was a daughter of Benjamin Gilbert, who together with his family was taken prisoner by the Indians. Their house was burned and the family carried away, being in captivity several years. Mr. Webster’s mother was adopted by one of the chiefs, to serve him as a waiter. Their release was finally obtained by the British government, by paying a ransom. The father, Benjamin Gilbert, died in Canada.

Jesse G. Webster was reared in Montgomery county and attended school there. His father was a teacher in early life, but later was a farmer and a cooper. Jesse G. is the youngest and only surviving member of a family of seven children, six of whom grew to maturity. He came to Bucks county in 1825, and has followed farming since 1830. Since 1850 his main business has been auctioneering. February 24, 1830, he married Sarah, daughter of Terrell Williams, of Frankford, Philadelphia county. She is of English descent, her parents being members of the Society of Friends. They were the parents of six children, three of whom are now living: Isabella, who is the widow of William Hillbourn, resides with her three children, John, William, and Emma, with her father; Hugh and Milton, who is in business in Philadelphia. Mr. Webster is a republican politically, and served fifteen years as justice of the peace in Hulmeville, the same length of time as school director. He has also served one term as county commissioner of Bucks county. He has lived a life worthy of emulation, and has reared a respectable family.
Jesse G. Webster
Jesse G. Webster
From Battle we also learned about the fifth and final founder, John Johnson:

JOHN JOHNSON, merchant, P.O. Hulmeville, was born in Bensalem township, Bucks county, January 11, 1830, and is a son of Clark and Rachel (Grim) Johnson. His father, who was a native of Bucks county, and a prominent farmer, was highly respected for his many excellent qualities. He was an old time democrat, and served as county commissioner. He died in 1871, aged 84 years. His wife was Miss Rachel Grim, who was a native of Delaware county, Pa., and of English origin. She was a member of the Society of Friends. Their family consisted of four children, of whom John was the youngest. He attended school in Bensalem township, and chose farming as his occupation, carrying it on successfully until 1860, when he came to Hulmeville and embarked in the mercantile business. Being well known and respected, he soon established a good trade. He is attentive to the wants of his patrons, and to this his success may be largely attributed. He takes an active interest in the affairs of Hulmeville, and is the owner of valuable real estate in the borough. His store is a stone structure, and would do credit to a much larger place than Hulmeville. He is the owner of the Odd Fellows’ hall and the public hall there. In politics he is a democrat, and has served as inspector of elections and as burgess of Hulmeville. In 1885 he was elected county commissioner, which office he still holds. Mr. Johnson is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and of the Knights of Pythias. In 1855 he married Martha Ann, daughter of Garrett V. and Martha A. (Sisom) Scott. They are the parents of three children: Wilmer H., who is a prominent merchant in Muscatine, Iowa, and has served as county clerk there; Harry W. and Gertrude J. Mrs. Johnson was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. She is deceased.
      John Johnson  
John Johnson was buried with both of his wives and surrounded by several other family members including his father Clark.
John Johnson
Hulmeville 1876

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