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HISTORY LIVES

Crazy Tom and Castle Valley

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In the first half of the 1700s, Thomas Meredith Jr. lived on his father’s land, which included a steep hill along the Neshaminy Creek in an area known then as Barton’s Ford. Thomas wandered about telling endless stories of castles, barons and enchantments to all who would listen; and soon he became known as “Crazy Tom.”
Thomas conceived the idea of building a castle on top of the hill overlooking the Neshaminy. He carried stones up the steep slopes, felled trees and hauled them up to the site, and built a thick-walled circle as high as he could reach. An old manuscript, found many years later and attributed to Thomas, told of his vision.
“An old native woman is under an enchantment and she is really a beautiful damsel. You alone must collect stone and timber and bring them to the top of your hill. ... When you think your castle perfect, speak to her.”
Sadly, he adds “I have built my castle only to tear it down when it seemed not perfect in her eyes. As yet the woman does not understand me. I will try again if I can find the strength for I find myself growing weaker.” Thomas passed away in 1768.

In 1835 the ford was replaced with a covered bridge, the longest in the county, which connected both ends of Almshouse Road (until it was replaced in 1930).
The stones and timber Thomas had gathered and hauled were used in construction of the bridge, and the name of the small village was changed to Castle Valley, as Crazy Tom had always called it.
Source: Bucks County Traveler December 1955


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