TOWNSHIPS: MARLBOROUGH - MONTGOMERY - MORELAND - NEW HANOVER - UPPER HANOVER - NORRITON - PERKIOMEN.
Marlborough- This is one of the northwestern townships in Montgomery county, is bounded by Bucks county
on the northeast, south and east by Upper Saiford, southwest by Frederick and the borough of Green Lane, and northwest
by Upper Hanover township. It is three by five miles in extent, and contains about one hundred and fifty square
miles. It was reduced in 1875 by the incorporating of the borough of Green Lane, which took from Its territory
one hundred and fifty-four acres. The Perkiomen flows along its southwest boundary, and East Swamp creek in the
eastern portion, Also Ridge Valley creek is an important stream in its class This township was named for the Duke
of Marlborough, noted for his military career in about 1706, and who died in 1722. The township was organized in
1745, and the first settlement known to have been made was by Thomas Mayberry, who bought a tract of land in 1730,
containing about twelve hundred acres. He erected a forge there, the location being near or exactly at the present
site of the borough of Green Lane. According to government reports, the population at different periods has been
as follows: In 1800, it was 645; in 1830, was 952; in 1850, it was 1,174; In 1870, 1,303; in 1880, 1,212; 1890
was 1,151; in 1900 It was 1,129; in 1910, 1,195; and in 1920 it was 1,514.
The Sumneytown and Spring House Turnpike Company was incorporated In 1845 and opened its highway in 1848 through
this township. The Perkiomen turnpike passes through the southwestern part of its territory from Green Lane to
Perkiomenville. The Green Lane and Goshenhoppen, and the Sumneytown and Gerrysville pikes also pass over the township.
The early forges and powder mills, also oil mills, erected on the Perkiomen and its tributaries, and the large
amount of freighting necessary in conducting them, induced the people to construct hard roads.
There are three villages - Hoppenville, Sumneytown and Marlborough. Sumneytown is the largest of the three, and
was named for Isaac Sumney, who In August, 1763, purchased one hundred and sixty acres in Marlborough township,
which included a part of the present site of the village. This is a very ancient settlement for this county; history
mentions it, and speaks of Dorn's Inn as located at the forks of the road. Dorn later conducted a regular hotel,
and the large stone building was standing not many years ago. A map of the county in 1792 is the earliest we find
the name Sumneytown. A post office was established there prior to 1827. In 1832 it is shown by a gazetteer that
the place had at that date a tavern, two stores, and twelve dwellings. In 1870 the place had not improved greatly,
although it then had a sugar factory, a gristmill, machine shop, and numerous stores. Here was launched the first
German newspaper in Montgomery county, it being founded in April, 1821, by Samuel Royer, and called "Der Advocat"
(see Press chapter). It was here that John Dast built the first powder mill in this section, near East Swamp creek,
about 1780. The business flourished until 1858, when eleven powder mills were running at one time in this township,
making twenty tons of powder daily. At that same time seven linseed oil mills were in operation here. Some of the
finest teams of both mules and horses ever seen in the State used to draw these two necessary products to the cities,
Much powder was then used in blasting rock and timber, but as the railroads were completed and the great giant
trees all leveled to mother earth, a decline was felt in the powder market. But other industries later came in
to take the place of the two mentioned, and all along down the passing years the village has kept pace with her
neighboring villages in carrying on a profitable business in other productions.
Hoppenville is located in both Marlborough and Upper Hanover townships. It has never grown to any considerable
extent, but always had numerous small stores and shops. A hotel and a post office usually give color for a store
or two, and here this constitutes a village and is so placed on county maps. The same can truthfully be said concerning
the other village named, Marlboroughville; although it takes sixteen letters to spell the name, the place has never
grown much more than its sister village. A post office and a few local interests tell the story of serving a happy,
prosperous and contented people for generations.
Of the pioneer milling interests of this township, it may be stated that several of the earliest mills in this
part of the county were on the Perkiomen, within Marlborough township-a gristmill by Samuel Shuler in 1742, the
first; and in 1825 a large brick fulling-mill by George Poley was installed and operated until 1860. Here woolen
goods were made in large quantities for many years.
Montgomery- This, a namesake of the county of which it is one of the townships, is of regular
form, nearly square, and is bounded on the northeast by Bucks county, southwest by Gwynedd, southeast by Horsham,
northwest by Hatfield, and on the west by the borough of Lanadale. Its area is 7,170 acres. Its surface is elevated
and slightly rolling. It is drained by the Wissahickon, which has Its source near Montgomeryville. This township
was organized as a separate government, from other parts of the county, soon after 1700, The earliest survey effected
here was in September, 1684, by Thomas Fairman, for William Stanley, of the 2,500 acres purchased from William
Penn. John Evans and wife settled in or very near this township in 1710, and a year later John James and wife.
There are numerous documents to show the nationality of the pioneer settlers in this township. Of the twenty-eight
names ot the property list in 1735, three-fourths denote a Welsh origin, and probably not a single German; but
changes were wrought out, for in 1880 it was found that one-half of the land owners of this township were German.
In 1800 this township had a population of 546; in 1840 it was 1,009; in 1880 it had decreased to 876; in 1900 it
was only 724, and in 1920 was placed at 787. This has been considered rather singular. Its territory has not been
encroached upon by making other boroughs or townships from any of its domain, railroads have been built all around
its location, and yet it has actually been losing population for many decades. But financially it has been gaining
steadily. In 1880 the average per capita taxable was $3,212, making it ninth in rank in wealth in the entire county.
Only two villages have existed within this township. Montgomeryville, the largest collection of houses, in the
early eighties contained one store, one hotel, and twenty-seven dwellings. Gordon in his "State Gazeteer"
said in 1832 that this place had then ten houses, two taverns, and two stores. A post office was established In
1851, which in the autumn of 1869 was removed to Montgomery Square. With the flight of years, with advancement
on every hand, but slight improvement or growth has taken place in this village.
Montgomery Square, the other village of the township, is but little different from its neighbor. It has its few
stores, shops, post office, public school and churches. A post office was established in 1827 in the township,
and has been on wheels much since then. It was first moved three-quarters of a mile to Montgomeryville, and in
1869 brought back to its present location. A Methodist Episcopal church was erected here in 1842. (See Church chapter
in this work.) The palmy days of this burg were back when taverns were fashionable, and the carriage was known,
but not the swift whirling automobile. If one had the true history of all country Inns in this northern part of
the county, including those of marked note in this township, he would certainly possess a wonderful volume, if
all or even a half of the truth could be detailed. But these things have all changed, and will never again return
Before leaving this township's history, the writer would fail of a duty not to record something concerning the
birthplace of the Illustrious Hancock, of Civil War fame, for It was right here in Montgomery township. The following
is from the pen of William J. Buck, one of the authentic writers of Montgomery county history, and was written
by him in i884:
There is in the lower part of Montgomery Square, on the east side of the pike, a two-story stone schoolhouse, with
a dwelling attached (which was enlarged In 1876), that possesses an interest. The late Benjamin F. Hancock, Esq.,
of Norristown, kept school in it during his married life with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward and Mary Hoxworth,
of Hatfield township, and while residing in the dwelling part his twin sons, Winfield Scott and Hilary, were born,
February 14, 1824, the former being now Major General Hancock, of the United States Army, and late Democratic candidate
for the Presidency. In the Spring of the following year the father removed from here to Norristown, where he soon
after entered on the study of the law, to which he was admitted to practice in September, 1828. in the list of
1734, Arnold Hancock is taxed for one hundred acres in Perkiomen township, and William Hancock, in Moreland, for
a house and lot of one acre. Among the pupils attending here were Samuel Medary, a native of the vicinity, afterwards
Governor of Ohio, and Samuel Aaron, subsequently of Norristown. [It should be added that at his death his body
was brought back to his native county and now lies buried in the Norristown Cemetery.]
Moreland- This township is in the extreme northeastern portion of the county. It is bounded
on the north by Hatboro, on the northeast by Bucks county, on the southeast by Philadelphia, southwest by Abington,
and northwest by Horsham and Upper Dublin township. It is three by six miles in size, and contains an area of 10,960
acres. Its territory was reduced in 1871 by the incorporation of Hatboro to the extent of five hundred acres. The
largest stream flowing In the township is the Pennypack, the meanderings of which are about six miles, and its
waters have for scores of years turned the mill-wheels for numerous mills, including four large flouring mills.
It receives eleven tributaries within iys fall through this township. Pennypack creek has the distinction of forming
the boundary line of four distinct purchases of lands made with the Indians by William Penn or his immediate agents.
At Willow Grove the natural scenery is fine. Here, too, are found mineral deposits, the Iron ore, fire-clay, kaolin,
quartz, and feldspar. Also black-lead (graphite) has been known to abound here, and was worked some a century and
more ago. There are numerous turnpikes in the township, including the Cheltenham and Willow Grove, finished In
1804; the Doylestown, in 1840; the Middle road, in 1848, which leads to the "Sorrell Horse," and the
Warminster in 1850. The Northeast Pennsylvania railroad has two miles of main trackage In the township, with stations
at Willow Grove, Heaton, Fulmore, and Bonair. The Newton railway has three miles of track with stations at Huntingdon
Valley and Yerksvllle. Census returns give the population as follows: In 7790, It was 1,824; In 1830, it was 2,044;
In 1880, 1,746; In 7920 It was given as 2,729. this is practically an agricultural district, and the villages are
The name Moreland was chosen by William Penn In respect for a physician of London, England, named Nicholas More;
he was president of the Free Society of Traders, and the first chief justice of Pennsylvania, who arrived here
In 1682. In 1734 Moreland township had seventyone taxables, of which number forty-three were landowners. In 1794
Thomas Longstroth built a paper mill near the center of this township. In the assessment list of 1785 mention is
made of 343 horses, 373 cattle, four bound servants, nineteen negro slaves, fourteen riding chairs, three family
wagons, one phaeton, ten gristmills, three sawmills, one fulling mill, one oil mill, two tanneries, and one distillery.
Willow Grove is situated at the junction of the Doylestown and York road, thirteen miles north of Philadelphia.
In 1711 the York road was laid out from Philadelphia to this point. The stream flowing through here in 1722 was
known as Round Meadow run, over which a bridge had been constructed. A hotel here advertised "good stabling
for a hundred horses," showing what travel was expected over that route. "The Red Lion" was a noted
hotel there. At Rex's tavern was a line spring heavily charged with mineral, and later it became a fortune to its
Philadelphia owners. A summer resort was there many years.
Huntingdon Valley, another village, is situated on the Middle road, near Pennypack creek, a short distance from
the Ablngton line. Forty years and more ago it had its various business places, Its churches, lodges, schools,
a railway station, two hotels, a post office, and was a well organized village. On the completion of the railroad
from here to New York,. in 1876, the station was named Bethayres, a contraction of Elizabeth Ayers, who was born
here and mother of one of the directors of the railroad.
Yerkesville is situated not far from the center of the township, near Terwood run, and has also been known as Blaker's
Corner. Richard E. Yerkes carried on a cotton factory business here in 1850. To-day there is no more actual business
transacted than there was a century ago. The manufacture of paper has been one of profit at various periods in
A venerable-looking milestone stood as late as 1850 on the eastern bank of the roadside, about forty yards up the
hill from the present bridge, having cut on It "15 M. to P." It came away in making the turnpike and
An interesting sight was witnessed on this hilt on the morning of the 23rd of August, I777, being no less than
the crossing of General Washington and his army, accompanied by a lengthy baggage and artillery train. They had
just broken up their encampment at the CrossRoads, near the present Hartsville, six miles from here, where they
had been the previous two weeks waiting to hear of the landing of the British. They were now marching to Philadelphia,
and from thence towards the enemy, whom they finally encountered on the field of Brandywine.
The "Montgomery County Society for the recovery of stolen horses and bringing thieves to justice," originated
in this township and the adjoining parts of Horsham and Upper Dublin in 1799. From an early period they have held
their annual meetings chiefly at the Willow Grove. The officers in 1856 were, Joshua Y. Jones, president; T. Elwood
Comly, secretary; and William Hallowell, treasurer; the society consisting of forty-five members.
New Hanover- This township is bounded on the northeast by Upper Hanover, south by Limerick,
east by Frederick, north and northwest by Douglas and southwest by Pottsgrove township. Its at . is about 12,900
acres, the fourth in size of alt in the county. Its streams include the Deep creek, Swamp creek, and their several
branches. The water5 of Swamp creek have for generations turned many a waterwheet in propelling the saw and gristmills,
as well as small factories.
The name of this township, Hanover, is derived from Hanover, a capital and kingdom of Germany. That was the home
of many Lutherans who came to America and settled in the township now being considered, and they very naturally
named the township after some geographical name in the Fatherland. But at one time others styled this locality
"Falkner's Swamp," after Daniel Falkner, an agent of the Frankfort Land Company. But certain it is that
from 1734 it was known generally as New Hanover. At first it embraced all of its present territory, as well as
Upper Hanover of to-day, also Douglas, and Pottsgrove and borough of Pottstown. In 1741 the domain was divided
into the first three townships, which then contained only two hundred and forty-two taxables. The number of landowners
was one hundred and thirteen.
Henry Antes, among the sturdy band who first invaded this part of Montgomery county, came from Hanover, Germany,
before 7726, settled in Philadelphia, then moved to this township. He was a useful man and very ingenious. He built
the first gristmill at Bethlehem, in 7743. He died in this township in 1755. His son, Frederick Antes, was an iron
founder, and cast the first four-pounder guns for the Revolutionary army. On account of the British, he removed
to Northumberland county, where he became presiding judge, and in 1784 a member of the Assembly. His wife was the
daughter of Governor Snyder.
The population of the township has been as follows: In 1800 It was 1,505; in 1880 it was 1,905; in 1900 it was
1,611, and in 1920 placed at only 1,305. The first church was built about 1720, it being the Reformed church. New
Hanover became a separate election district in 1827. In 1785, when the first county assessment was made, there
were in this township four taverns, five gristmills, two sawmills, three tanneries, and one slave. In 1792 there
were two hundred and sixty-one landowners. Of the churches and schools, separate general chapters in this work
will treat, in common with all others in the county. It may here be said that it is claimed the first Lutheran
congregation ever assembled In the United States was in this township about 1703.
That the pioneers of this part of Montgomery county looked well to the care and comfort of those less fortunate
in possessing worldly goods, the following Item is inserted in this as a perpetual record to be placed to their
credit, so long as the printed page shall be in evidence: "The overseers of the poor are ordered, by a number
of the inhabitants of New Hanover, to furnish Frantz Epple, with a linsey jacket, a pair of new trousers, a new
shirt, a pair of new stockings, a pair of new shoes and a linsey underjacket. (Signed) John Richards, John Brooke,
Benj. Markley, Cassimer Missimer, Andrew Smith. March 20. 1784 A. D." Other instances similar occur in the
records down as late as 1807.
The villages of New Hanover are Swamp (long the township seat), Fagleysville, New Hanover Square, and Pleasant
Run. Fagleysville appears to have been settled very early. It is located on the turnpike, two miles south of New
Hanover. It is mentioned by historian Schull as having an inn here in 1758, called "The Rose." Like most
of the inland townships, the villages here are quite small and are not productive of many highly interesting events
of later years, and but little does this generation care for the incidents of the long ago, before steam and electricity
had invaded the haunts of busy men.
Upper Hanover- This civil township has had three boroughs carved from its territory - Greenlane,
Pennsburg, and Red Hill. The township proper was formerly a part of New Hanover. It is situated in the extreme
northwestern part of the county, bounded on the north by Lehigh county, northwest by Berks county, and east by
Bucks county, south by New Hanover and Frederick townships, and southeast by Marlborough, west by Douglas township.
It is four and a half by five and a half miles in size, containing about twenty-three square miles. Its streams
are the Perkiornen, flowing seven miles through the township in its meanderings, and which at one time propelled
by waterwheels five gristmills and four sawmills, Hosensack, another stream, is a tributary to the first named.
Other creeks are West Branch and Macoby, the last named in the east part of the township. Ever since 1850 the highway
improvements in this township have been excellent, and are well preserved to-day. The Perkiomen railroad has a
trackage of about five miles in this township, and its stations include Welkers, Hanover, Pennsburg, Palm and Hosensack.
The first gristmill on the Upper Perkiomen was without doubt constructed in 1738. The machinery was brought from
beyond the Atlantic and carted over bridle paths to the wildness of this township from Philadelphia.
The population at various census enumeration periods by the Federal government has been as follows: In 1800 it
was 738; in 1880 was 2,418; in 1900 was 1,997, and in 1920 it was reduced to 1,386. These figures, however, did
not include the boroughs found in the main township.
Of the villages within New Hanover township, Pennsburg is treated in the chapters on borough history elsewhere
in this history. Palm Station, located on the Goshenhoppen and Green Lane turnpike, about three miles northwest
of East Greenville, is a sprightly village where all retail business is carried on such as the surrounding farming
community demands. Kleinville was named for two brothers who owned a number. of farms in the vicinity, in the northeastern
part of the township. What was formerly known as Hillegassville, finally divided into upper and lower villages,
was established by the various members of the Hillegass family, but now the name, as denoting a village, is not
on the county maps, but instead, the borough of Red Hill is found, the same being a railway station. This particular
part of the place was commenced in 1836 by Jacob A. Hillegass, who there built a large store. See other chapters
on Boroughs for Red Hill and Greenville boroughs.
Norriton- The part of the county in which Norristown is situated is within an old tract
of 7,842 acres of land, ordered surveyed by William Penn, the order reading, "to lay out a tract of land on
the canoabie part of Schuylkill." This tract was designated the "Manor of Williamstadt." It was
to be a princely gift to his son, and lay directly opposite a similar manor surveyed and laid out on the south
side of the river for his daughter, Letitia Penn. A patent was granted October 2, 1704, conveying to William Penn,
Jr., the manor or tract above described. Five days after the son came into possession of this great estate, he
parted with It to Isaac Norris and William Trent, merchants in Philadelphia. Eight years later, Norris acquired
the whole property. The cost to the two purchasers was £850 sterling, a mere nothing as to what its value
was even at the time it was sold by young Penn. The ancient manor of Williamstadt remained intact until 1730, when
in usual form, the civil township of Norriton was created as decreed by the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia
county. The original area was considerably cut down by the incorporation of the borough of Norristown in 1812,
which contained five hundred and twenty acres, and in 1853 was extended to take in fifteen hundred additionaL acres.
At the time the manor was changed into a township, there were twenty landowners and tenants. Up to the-time Montgomery
county was set off from Philadelphia county, 1784, the history of this people is obscured by the fact that it was
not in close touch with Philadelphia, and roads were not yet provided. It is, however, known that the township
took its name from the Norris family, the head of which was Isaac Norris, a large owner of land and a man of much
influence in the country of William Penn. He was chosen eighteen times, as speaker of the Assembly, being first
elected in 1713. Thus was Norriton township brought into public record. It remained as first organized until 1904,
when East and West Norriton townships were made out of the territory first known as "Norriton."
At the time the township was created, there were twenty landowners; 181 horses, 269 horned cattle; fourteen negro
slaves, two riding chairs. There were two gristmllls, four sawmills, one tannery, six taverns, and the usual number
of small shops and trading places. The population of the original Norriton township was, in 1810, 1,386; in 1820
1,098; in 1830, 1,139; in 1840 1,411; 1850, 1,594; in 1880, it was only 1,360 and in 1920, is given by the Federal
census as 1,375, in both East and West Norriton townships. The history of the borough of Norristown is so completely
interwoven with that of the two civil townships that the reader is referred to the borough history for much that
might be looked for in this connection.
The first post office here was established at Jeffersonville, January 1, 1829. Mails were then received by stage
lines running over the old Ridge pike rom Philadelphia to Reading, thence on to Pittsburgh. Later post offices
were established in Penn Square and Norritonvihle. Later tile office at Penn Square was changed to Hartranft Station.
The first general election in the township was held at the public house in Jeffersonville, October, 1852. The free
common school system went into operation here in 1838-39. (See Educational chapter; for church history also see
general chapters on Churches.)
Perkiomen- This is one of the central townships of Montgomery county, and was bounded at
one time, north by Upper and Lower Salford, east by Towamencin, south by Lower Providence, southeast by Worcester,
west by Upper Providence, and north by Frederick and Limerick townships. Its extent was about three and one-quarter
miles by six miles, and, contained an area of 11,400 acres. Unlike many parts of this county, there are few springs
found bubbling forth from the wayside, cheering the heart of the passerby, who looks for the "springhouse"
in vain while in this township, However, there are a number of good sized streams flowing hither and yon. One is
Perkiomen creek, on the banks of which have many years been saw and gristmills, until such mills were no longer
a utility-the farmer buys his bread, and the timber is all hacked clown and used up. The name Perkiomen is of Indian
origin, and its meaning somewhat clouded. But these boundaries have materially changed with passing years. It is
now numbered among the least in extent of almost any township within the county. It is triangular, southeast of
the Perkiomen creek, extending between and connecting the boroughs of Schwenksville, Trappe and Collegeville. Upper
Providence is at its south, and Limerick and Frederick at its west. Its acreage is small. Greatersford and Iron
Bridge are the only hamlets. The population in 1800 was 781; in 1900, 1,082; in 1920, 1,024.
The Revolutionary history of this vicinity is very interesting, and to it a brief reference will be made. The battle
of Brandywine was fought September 11, 1777, and resulted disastrously to the Americans. On the 23rd Washington
arrived near the present Pottstown, while the day before the British crossed below Valley Forge to this side of
the Schuylkill, proceeding leisurely on their march to Philadelphia. The American army came from near Pottsgrove
into this township on the afternoon of September 26th, and encamped on the hills of both sides of the Perkiomen.
Washington made his headquarters at the house of Henry Keely, about three-quarters of a mile southwest of Pennypacker's
Mill, using, however, "Camp Perkioming," as well as the latter name, in his orders to designate the vicinity.