The Good Deed

Please join the Durham Historical Society as it welcomes Dave Bretz providing a hands on workshop entitled The Good Deed. The workshop will be presented on June 24th at the Durham Mill from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A suggested donation of $10.00 would be appreciated.

Deeds are a valuable source of history. Whether we are performing genealogy or researching a particular building or property, deeds provide valuable information by telling us who lived where and when. Please join David Bretz, a licensed surveyor, as he provides valuable insight into deeds and how to use them in historical research. While we may have a general understanding of a deed many questions still abound. Dave will seek to answer these questions by examining how to understand, research and plot deeds. By understanding deeds, we can better interpret them in layman’s terms. By researching deeds, we can connect people with land at a specific time. Research further allows us to join subsequent deeds in chronological order. Known as “chain of title”, this collection of deeds provides a full history on a tract of land which can be traced back to its origins from William Penn. Dave will discuss how to locate deeds in County records as well how to research historic land documents at the State Archives. By plotting deeds, we can determine the shape of a parcel of land which helps us to find its geographic location upon the ground.

This will be a unique hands-on presentation\workshop for attendees and will provide step by step instruction on how to plot deeds. Dave will provide attendees all the tools needed along with personal instruction on how to plot deeds. Your participation is greatly encouraged. A rich history can be developed by connecting the dots of people with land and the good deed allows us to do this. Please consider joining us for this unique opportunity to understand and plot deeds.

Expert Talk on Historical Preservation

Please join the Durham Historical Society as they present the next lecture in their series on local history. Our area is blessed with many fine examples of historic structures, both of significance and of general interest. The fact that this area was and still is a farming area means that there are a lot of interesting farming structures that have stood the test of time. Studying these and documenting farm houses, barns and outbuildings is a worthwhile effort and we are fortunate to have as a presenter someone who has spent a great deal of her time in doing just that.

Carla Cielo will bring a wealth of experience to Durham on Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 p.m., when she presents a program covering the dating of barns in the area.  Ms. Cielo has a Masters degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree from Drexel University. She has over 25 years of experience in historic preservation consulting and was the leading expert on Holland Township’s barn survey, where she documented over 125 barns, 75 houses and 75 outbuildings. She is currently conducting research for a book on farm outbuildings. Her presentation will center on what her team was able to learn from dating a collection of barns using a variety of methods including dendrochronology (tree ring dating).


At Durham Mill, September 25, 2pm

Please join David Bretz and Jim Hill as they give a presentation on early surveying in Pennsylvania. David Bretz, a professional land surveyor, will give his presentation, “Colonial Corners” that will discuss William Penn’s land distribution system and its effects on early European settlement here in the Upper Bucks County region as Penn partitioned the land and sold it into private ownership. Bretz will “follow in the footsteps of the original surveyor” as he retraces the first property lines of Provincial Pennsylvania to recover original property corners that were set some 250 years ago. Original land documents will also be reviewed to gain insight on how and why the land was first settled. Jim Hill, an avid collector of antique measuring devices shared parts of his collection in the exhibit “Magnificent Measures”that was on display last summer at the Mercer Museum. Jim will be bringing along some rare and truly unique pieces of survey equipment that date to the 18th and early 19th century. This is a great opportunity to not only learn about the original settlement of the Durham area but to also see up close some truly unique and historic survey equipment, some of which has never been displayed before.

Light refreshments will be served. The presentation is free although contributions would be welcomed.