News Flash

Park and Recreation

Posted on: May 20, 2021

Barker Park Expansion

West Goshen Parks and Rec (1)

West Goshen Township recently purchased a 1-acre property at 321 Westtown Way, adjacent to the existing Township’s Barker Park.  Mr. Kenneth and Mrs. Joanne Barker approached the Township to purchase the property as an addition to the existing Barker Park.  The $10,000 purchase price was funded through the Township’s Open Space Fee Fund. 

The Township Board of Supervisors thanks Mr. and Mrs. Barker for the offer to sell the property, as the sale expands Barker Park.  The property is at the confluence of two small creeks and is adjacent to the Township Sewer Authority’s Westtown Waste Pump Station.  This property acquisition will allow the Township to explore restoration of the two creeks to improve stormwater quality.

The following historical narrative was provided to the Township by Mr. Barker and provides an interesting insight into a part of West Goshen Township’s past.  Again, many thanks to the Barker family. 

“The Barker Park land was originally part of a large farm (about 200 acres) owned by the Forsythe family. John Forsythe (1754-1840) was born in Ireland and emigrated to America in 1773. After a brief stay in Philadelphia he moved to Nantmeal in Chester County where he lived with a family named Kirk and was employed as a teacher. The Kirks were Quakers; and, John Forsythe was admitted to membership in the Society of Friends in January of 1776. Later that year he moved to Birmingham Township where he lived with a family named Mateer on their farm. He taught at the little schoolhouse near the Birmingham Meetinghouse. He was living there during the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. He bought the Mateer farm from Thomas Mateer near the end of the Revolution. He was one of first teachers at Westtown School.

John Forsythe resigned his teaching position at Westtown in 1801 and purchased the 200-acre farm in West Goshen, adjoining the Westtown School property, in 1806. He put his son John (1783-1870) in charge of the farm. Young John lived there his entire life; and the farm passed down to his son Truman (1823-1900) and then to his son George (1863-1959). The original stone farmhouse still stands on the left-hand side of a long lane that comes off Westtown Road just west of Falcon Lane.  There’s a large stone barn on the right-hand side of the lane that has fallen into disrepair.

My mother, Margaret Dewees, was born in Ohio in 1910. She was the 5th of 8 children. In January of 1918 her father died as the result of an accident while felling a tree, leaving my grandmother a widow with 7 children and an 8th due in 3 weeks. My grandmother refused to break up her family, even though several families offered to adopt some of the children. She eventually remarried; but, in 1922 George Forsythe and his wife offered to take in some of the children and provide them with a home and an education at Westtown. He and his wife were childless; and, they could use some help with housekeeping and farm work. That’s how my mother came to live on the property. She married my father in 1931; and, they began renting the house on Westtown Way from George Forsythe in 1932. My father also had ties to Westtown School. His mother was born there (my great grandfather, Edwin Thorpe, was Dean of Boys at the time).

By the time I was born in 1943, George Forsythe had sold the original farmhouse and built a new house that sits atop the hill to the east of Barker Park, adjoining East Goshen Township.

His wife died in 1929; and, he married my mother’s oldest sister in 1939. My mother’s brother, Thomas, built the house that sits on the little hill just to the right of the second lane off Westtown Way, east of Barker Park. He was one of the first children to come to the farm from Ohio. If you follow that lane to the top you reach George Forsythe’s new house (a Sears, Roebuck house). My sister built the house that looks out on Barker Park, accessed from the first lane off Westtown Way to the right of Barker Park.

My parents lived in the Westtown Way house until my father retired in 1975. At that point they sold about 10 acres to the Township (Barker Park). My wife and I purchased the house and remaining acre from my parents and moved there in 1976. We continued to live there until 2005.”

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