Popular and Important Figures
Information Provided by Craven Hall
John Fitch (1743-1798)
Originally from Windsor, Connecticut, John Fitch would cover thousands and thousands of miles of our beautiful countryside just by walking in the early years of our country, being everything from a silversmith, to a land surveyor, a Lt. in the NJ Militia, and most notably: an inventor. It was in Warminster that John Fitch would build his first Steamboat model (shown above) & test it on the Davisville Pond (at the corner of Davisville & Street Rd. in Southampton in 1785. Within 5 years, Fitch would have the first true commercial steamboat company, which operated on the Delaware River. He would cover 3,000 miles between Philadelphia, Bristol, & Trenton offering free beer, rum, & sausages to his passengers; it is important to note that this was 17 years before Robert Fulton (who is largely credited for the invention) had his steamboat on the Hudson River. Fitch worked tirelessly to try to make his steamboat company larger, successful, & more popular by meeting with founding fathers such as Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, & even got a patent from Thomas Jefferson in 1791, who also gave 3 other men a patent for "the steamboat" on the same day. Fitch would travel across the ocean in 1793 to France in an attempt to get support & backing only to find himself there while the French Revolution was occurring. He was able to secure a patent there, but not wanting to get involved in another revolution, Fitch fled back to the U.S. & would end up back in Kentucky where he had planned to sell off the land he had surveyed over a decade before. Unable to do so, Fitch would die penniless just a few years later. He never stopped inventing, though, & history is starting to remember the man who, although troubled, was a technological genius. It's amazing to think what he would have been able to accomplish if only he had sufficient, steady funding.
Want to find out more about John Fitch?
Click on the link below & feel free to come see his Steamboat Museum for yourself every 2nd Sunday of the month on the grounds of Craven Hall.
Before Jonathan Edwards delivered his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”; before George Whitefield preached to thousands in the open air on our colonial shores, William Tennent, “an old grey-headed disciple and soldier of Jesus Christ,” lit a revival fire that spread west into Ohio and south through Virginia and into North Carolina. This Presbyterian minister and educator helped father the Great Awakening in the American Colonies, which produced the spiritual strength of faith to win our liberty during the Revolution.
In 1735 William Tennent purchased a 100 acre plantation in Warminster. On this property he built a log cabin school for the training of Presbyterian ministers, whose graduates spread the revival message. This roughhewn building dubbed The College by his many critics, who thought nothing good could come of it, gave birth to 63 colleges and universities. Princeton is the first direct offshoot. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission credits the Log College as the first college in the state.
For more information visit the William Tennent House Association on their website