Aquetong Spring in Pennsylvania

How did Aquetong Spring, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Aquetong Spring, Pennsylvania.

Classed as one of the natural “wonders” of southeastern Pennsylvania, this spring is near the center of Solebury Township on a byway branching from York Road (Route 202) two and a half miles from New Hope. It is quite close to York Road and also near the middle of what was long known as the Loganian Lands, a tract of nearly boo acres granted by William Penn to James Logan, his secretary, on November 1, 1701. When white settlers came to Solebury the Indians had a name for the spring which the whites corrupted into Aquetong. Some difficulty has been experienced in determining the exact form of the Indian word, but it probably was Achewe-tong or Achewe-tank, 1)Dr. Amandus Johnson in Geographia Americae, 1925, p. 200. achewe meaning bush or bushy and –tonk, –tank, at; hence, “at the place in the bushes,” or, more freely, “at the spring among the bushes.” The Indians had a large settlement there in 1690 and for some years later, and doubtless Achewe-tong was also the name for their village. It was known as Aquetong Spring in 1747, when Jonathan Ingham, son of Jonas Ingham, who had come with his son from New England to Solebury some years before that date, bought the spring tract from James Logan. Jonathan’s youngest son, Dr. Jonathan Ingham, became a famous physician and during the prevalence of yellow fever in 1793 did heroic service in the infected districts of Philadelphia, was taken ill himself with the disease and died in Clinton, N. J., while on his way to Schooleys Mountain Springs, in the curative properties of whose waters he had abiding faith. During the ownership of Dr. Ingham the spring became popularly known as Ingham Spring. Dr. Ingham’s distinguished son, Samuel D., Secretary of the Treasury in President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet, inherited the spring tract when he became of age. 2)Samuel D. Ingham had the chronic failing of many great men. His handwriting was desperately bad. Rev. Joseph Mathias, in a letter from Hilltown under date of February 7, 1814, to William H. Rowland, a member of the Legislature sitting at Harrisburg, says: “This writing is extremely bad, but I think not worse than a letter I received yesterday from S. D. Ingham. I have attempted to read it and failed-resumed, and failed-resumed, and have at length succeeded at most of it a few words. I shall lay it by till I learn Greek, Chinese, or something else.” It remained in possession of the family for 113 years. In some Bucks County deeds and other old documents the spring is referred to as “the Great Spring,” and thus it has shared three names (Aquetong, Ingham and Great) down through the years to the present, again known by its first name. Samuel D. Ingham, when at home addressed his letters from “Great Spring.” Dr. John Watson, writing in 1804, says:

“A very large spring rises in Solebury, called by the natives Aquetong, and by the white people Inghams, or the Great Spring. The water flows out in a cove or hollow, the stones on the southeast being a solid red shale, while those on the northwest are limestone. It is remarkably clear and cold in summer, and rarely freezes in winter. The quantity is supposed sufficient, with 18 or 20 feet fall, to turn two grist mills uniformly throughout the year; and there are five good sites for millworks on the stream to where it falls into the Delaware at New Hope, or Coryells Ferry, a distance of about 3 miles. It is employed at the present time for one paper mill, one fulling mill, two merchant mills, four saw mills and an oil mill.”

Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1826, Vol. 1, Part 2, pp. 282, 283.

Aside from the natural beauty of its environment, the spring has distinction for the great volume of its flow. Amasa Ely, an engineer of the Water Department of Philadelphia, after making careful tests some years ago, estimated the daily discharge at 3,00o,000 gallons. The crystal clear water boils up from the bottom of a partly shaded pool, from which it has exit over a spillway into a gully that carries it a short distance into a lake several acres in extent. This lake was formed many years ago by an artificial dyke constructed to impound the spring water for mill power purposes. A theory has been advanced that the spring is an outlet for a vast subterranean cavern or perhaps a series of connected caverns. Dr. Walter M. Benner 3)The Flora of Bucks County, by Walter M. Benner, 1938, p. 11. describes it as “a fissure spring flowing from a definite fault in the surrounding Shenandoah limestone and the Brunswick shale near by.” It has often been said that in some way it is connected with the curious natural formation popularly known as Konkey Hole, three miles away in Buckingham Township near Holicong. The Indians, who were very fond of the country around the spring, had fantastic legends, relating to it. One was that a party of young hunters, pursuing a deer, drove it into Konkey Hole, and the animal in the course of half an hour emerged at Aquetong Spring, alive and even uninjured-a pretty good tale for young hunters to carry back to the old chief as an excuse for poor marksmanship.

Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.

Footnotes:   [ + ]

1.Dr. Amandus Johnson in Geographia Americae, 1925, p. 200.
2.Samuel D. Ingham had the chronic failing of many great men. His handwriting was desperately bad. Rev. Joseph Mathias, in a letter from Hilltown under date of February 7, 1814, to William H. Rowland, a member of the Legislature sitting at Harrisburg, says: “This writing is extremely bad, but I think not worse than a letter I received yesterday from S. D. Ingham. I have attempted to read it and failed-resumed, and failed-resumed, and have at length succeeded at most of it a few words. I shall lay it by till I learn Greek, Chinese, or something else.”
3.The Flora of Bucks County, by Walter M. Benner, 1938, p. 11.

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