Samuel Powel 1738-1793
On November 13, 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, the young mayor of Philadelphia, Samuel Powel and his wife Elizabeth Willing paid 1676 pounds sterling to her kinsmen Thomas Willing and Tench Francis for 96 acres on the West bank of the Schuylkill. The elaborate parchment deed now at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania conveyed “eighty acres and a half or thereabouts of fast land and sixteen and a half of marsh land or less” with “Buildings and Improvements, Ways, Woods, Waters, Water Courses and all Appurtenances whatsoever.” The boundaries ran from “a maple tree standing near a spring on the southern side of a small run of water… to a poplar… to a post on the Road leading from Philadelphia to Lancaster, “thence deviously to the “River Schuylkill and along said River… to a stake at corner of Willing and Francis lands.” Roughly in modem terms it lay between the river and 34th Street, Lancaster Avenue and possibly Hamilton Street.
Powel owned 150 acres in Whitemarsh, 50 in Passyunk, 200 in Roxbury and a beautiful town house on South Third Street. Yet it was to these lands above the Schuylkill, the future site of a mansion comparable to Belmont, Mt. Pleasant or Woodlands he gave the name Powelton.
Samuel Powel, son of a prosperous Philadelphia merchant, graduated in 1759 from the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania). He accompanied the president, William Smith, on a fund-raising expedition to England; and with his friend John Morgan, before Morgan returned to Philadelphia in 1764 to found the first medical school in the Colonies, toured universities in France, Switzerland and Italy.