The Doan gang were the scourge of Bucks County in the late 1700s.
The Doans were five brothers: Moses, Joseph Jr, Levi, Mahlon and Aaron, and their cousin Abraham. From a Quaker family, they were loyalists during the Revolutionary War. They were also renown horse thieves. The Doans would steal horses from residents of Bucks County and sell them on to the Red Coats in Philadelphia and Baltimore during the Revolutionary War. It was said they stole over 200 horses. Sometimes they would steal horses just for the sport of it. They would take a neighbor’s horse and then return it, only to take it again just to show that they could.
The Doans were tall, athletic and reported to be good looking. One time Joseph Doan pretended to be a visiting dignitary, Lord Rawdon from England. He stayed with a prominent Philadelphia family and helped himself to money and their silverware during his stay. After he left he sent them a message inquiring how they enjoyed their visit with Lord Rawdon.
Apart from stealing horses, the gang also robbed the Newtown Treasury of 1307 pounds. It was never found. Locals say that it may be hidden in one of several caves in Plumstead, Holicong and Solebury that the gang used as hideouts from the law.
There is also a story that Moses Doan came very close to changing the course of the Revolutionary War. He was said to have noticed that George Washington’s troops had left their camp on Bowman’s Hill and were heading across the Delaware. He rode to Trenton and tried to pass a note to Colonel Rahl of the British army. Unfortunately for the British, Colonel Rahl pocketed the note that told of Washington’s approach and never read it. And with that one of the greatest Colonial victories of the war was achieved.
Three of the six Doan members met tragic ends. Moses, the oldest of the group was shot in an attack led by Colonel Hart. The others managed to escape. Moses’ body is buried in a field in an unmarked grave in Fisherville. No one knows the exact location. Several years later Abraham and Levi were captured and stood trial in Philadelphia. They were hung on Smiths Island. They are buried outside the cemetery wall near the Plumstead Friends Meetinghouse.
If you want to see the graves go to the left side of the back wall and lean over very slowly. You don’t want to sneak up on a Doan alive or dead. The other three Doans escaped. Aaron and Joseph went to Canada. And Mahlon escaped from jail in Baltimore by cutting at his ankles to slip from his shackles. It is possible he sailed to England with other loyalists.
Know Before You Go
The cemetery is behind the meetinghouse. Their services are held every Sunday at 9:30 am so be respectful if visiting during this time. There is a sliding wooden latch on the back of the cemetery gates.