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Falls Supervisors Help Save County History

With an eye on helping to save Bucks County’s history for future generations, the Falls Township Board of Supervisors contributed $5,000 to the county’s Adopt a Book record of deed preservation project.

Recorder of Deeds Robin Robinson attended the Supervisors meeting in December and shared with the governing body that many of the county’s 1,400 deed books were falling apart and rotten from age, poor care and failure to keep the books in climatized storage.

Robinson, who has been in her position since January 2018, discovered the dilapidated books soon after beginning her term.

“The history of our county was on the floor of the warehouse,” Robinson said of the shock she felt in finding the books scattered about and in such poor condition.

She soon launched the Adopt a Book program and has since raised almost $14,000 to cover the repair of about 200 books. To date, Falls Township has contributed the most to the preservation program.

“These books belong to the people of Bucks County and the people of the United States,” Robinson said of their importance. “Maybe we’ll spark some child’s interest in history.”

In February, Robinson attended the Falls Supervisors meeting to show off the freshly bound two-volume Book 1, which resulted from the township’s generous contribution. The deed books have records dating back to 1684, she said.

“I picked these books because there’s a lot of Falls information in there,” she said. “I’ve been taking the books all around the county. Everyone is so excited and grateful to Falls Township.”

Supervisor Chairman Bob Harvie said it was a shame that the deed books had “fallen into embarrassing states of disrepair,” but said the Supervisors were happy to help preserve local history.

“This is the history of the county,” Harvie said. “It’s the history of the Commonwealth.”

The county’s records of deeds are online from 1980 to present. However, anyone researching genealogy, or a deed record prior to 1980 would need to refer to the books.

Some of the pre-Civil War records listed the buying of slaves.

“Quakers would buy slaves and set them free,” Robinson said. “They would record the sale and freeing the slaves in our books.”

Books with those records are on loan to the Pearl S. Buck House for the next year, she said.

The two newly repaired volumes of Book 1 are on loan to Falls Township for the next month. Falls residents are invited to come to the municipal building, 188 Lincoln Highway in Fairless Hills, to review the documents.

The archival polyester sleeve over the books allows them to be touched without causing harm, Robinson said. The books also have UVI protection for light. If properly cared for, Robinson said the books are expected to stay in good condition for 500 years.

Robinson is taking the books on a tour of sorts of Bucks County. The deed books will be at the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library, 680 Radcliffe St., in Bristol from April through May; at the Bucks County Visitor Center, 3207 Street Road, Bensalem from May 12 through June 15; and at Mercer Museum, 84 S. Pine St., Doylestown on June 27. Books will be kept in the storage unit in the former sheriff’s department, which is locked and climate-controlled, Robinson said.

Robinson applied for four grants to help cover book repair costs and is accepting contributions to cover further preservation efforts. She has spoken to local community groups and organizations about the preservation process and the importance of the history in the deed books. To learn more or arrange for Robinson to speak to your organization, call her assistant, Jacqueline Alexander at 215-348-6209.

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