On Sunday, October 14, a beautiful autumn day, two tours were held at the cemetery. With the help of the Chestnut Hill Historic Society and the Springfield Township Historic Society, the groups were treated to an informative presentation about the history of the site. Jerry Heebner, editor of The Schwenfeldian magazine, led the tour beginning with some background about the Schwenkfelder emigration and settlement in the area. He also spoke about how the property developed and provided an entertaining outline of the families buried there. Jack Yeakel concluded the tour with some stories about the Yeakel family’s experience during the British occupation of Chestnut Hill. It’s a thrill to see so many people taking an interest in the cemetery and the history it represents. Hopefully, these were the first of many. Stay tuned.
If you would like to learn more, please come to the First Presbyterian Church in Flourtown, November 8th at 7:30. The program will feature presentations by Jefferson M. Moak, Senior Archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration, and David Contosta, Professor of History at Chestnut Hill College. Moak’s talk, “Chestnut Hill and Springfield Township: 18th Century Land Development and Architecture” will include original land partitions, an introduction to 18th century roads, and examples of 18th century architecture. Contosta’s presentation, “Millers and Mystics”, will explore the history of the Whissahickon Valley as both an early industrial powerhouse and home of a Pietist sect known as the “Hermits of the Whissahickon”. The talks are open to the public at no charge and will be moderated by Miles Orvell, Professor of English and American Studies at Temple University.
Come join us for an intimate tour of the cemetery on Sunday October 14. Times are 1:30 and 3:30. Jerry Heebner, editor of The Schwenkfeldian magazine, will talk about the history of the site and those buried there. Jack Yeakel will talk about the Yeakels during the Revolutionary War. Due to the fragile condition of the cemetery, tours are limited to 20 people. The tours are presented by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society and the Springfield Township Historical Society. Tours are free for members ($15.00 non-members). To make a reservation, please call Audrey Simpson at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society 215-247-0417 x103
On Saturday, September 8th volunteers, led by Jack Yeakel, gathered at the cemetery to deal with a collapsed portion of the stone wall. A 30 foot section of the wall came down in 2011, toppling into the graveyard. Using wheelbarrows, buckets and elbow grease, the crew moved several tons of debris to an area outside of the graveyard. The salvaged stone will be used for future wall repair. The volunteers also collected fallen branches, pulled weeds and picked up litter. Thank you to all those who braved the heat, your effort made the cemetery safer and cleaner for our up-coming tours. A round of applause for all those involved:
Gina Yeakel Boll
Alex Van Haute
“what should we do next?”
It’s hot out here!
Nice job everyone!
Back in March, I was researching some gravestones at the cemetery, and suddenly I was not alone. Some people were walking up the path. In all of my many visits to the place, I’ve never seen anyone there. That’s when I met Jerry Heebner and Liz Jarvis. Jerry is a historian; assigned by the Schwenkfelder Church to clean up the cemetery. Liz is Curator/Archivist for the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. By coincidence they were meeting at the cemetery the same time I was there! Jerry and Liz were meeting to discuss some upcoming tours of the cemetery sponsored by the CHHS. After much discussion about the history of the cemetery, we began to talk about the condition of the place. We noted some of the issues that needed to be addressed and decided that we all should meet to explore a course of action.
We have met several times since then. We have consulted with a cemetery conservationist, masonry expert, arborist, and other professionals. The Schwenkfelder Church has sent out crews to clear out the area for better access. Tours of the cemetery and lectures are being scheduled for the fall. We are developing a preservation plan to serve as a framework for decision-making and fundraising. Anyone interested in helping out is welcome to contact Jack Yeakel via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It can be tricky to find the Yeakel Cemetery. It is not visible from any roadway and is completely surrounded by private property. The original deeds make provisions for a twelve-foot wide easement, for means of access, from the cemetery to Stenton Ave. (roughly 200 yards away). Currently this land is heavily overgrown. Generally,the easement is located immediately north of the driveway and parking area at 8833 Stenton Ave. and runs parallel to the driveway, down the hill, and up the other side. Be cautious.
My name is Jack Yeakel. I am 42 years old and live in Flourtown PA with my wife and two daughters. I am creating this website to raise awareness for the Yeakel Cemetery.
I first heard about the cemetery while researching my family history. Some family members heard about the cemetery but didn’t know exactly where it was. I discovered its location and first visited the site around 1990. Access was very difficult. I had to bushwack through roughly a hundred yards of dense overgrowth and cross a small stream.
Through the years, in my spare time, I’ve researched the history of the site and have visited many times. Sometimes taking photos. I’ve talked about the cemetery to just about everyone I know and surprisingly few people are even aware this historic place exists. I hope that you will look at the other pages on this site and check back often as I plan on updating this site frequently.