William Penn was openhanded in deeding land to Quakers newly arrived in the New World; in 1687 a family of early Pennsylvanians named Shallcross got an enormous tract simply by promising him a minute portion of their annual crop. But there was reason for Penn's generosity to the Shallcrosses. The land was no bargain—it was ten miles northeast of Penn's "greene Country Towne" and in the middle of an Indian-infested wilderness. Neither remoteness nor danger, however, dismayed the Shallcrosses. They built a big stone house—with iron shutters to stop flaming arrows and...

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