Broad Axe, Pennsylvania

How did Broad Axe, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Broad Axe, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.

The following advertisement in the Pennsylvania Correspondent of March 24, 1810, started an inquiry which brought to light a forgotten tavern and perhaps a bygone hamlet:

“JAMES DUNLAP is carrying on the hat business, in Buckingham, about two miles from Doylestown, at the intersection of the Road leading to Van Horns Tavern, and the Road leading to Painters Ferry, where he has on hand a general assortment of Fashionable Hats.”

Pennsylvania Correspondent, March 24, 1810

The connection between the name Dunlap and men’s hats is obvious, even today, but it remained for John H. Ruckman, Buckingham Township, whose attention was called to the advertisement, to discover that James Dunlap, besides being a hatter, was at the same time landlord of the long forgotten old Broad Axe Inn, which at one time thrived on the identical site in Buckingham Township named in the advertisement. Van Horns Tavern was (later) the General Greene Inn in Buckingham. The road to Buckingham turned off to the right in front of Dunlap’s buildings and extended on past Church’s School House, over the hill back of Spring Valley, called Burnt House Hill, and connected with Buckingham Pike east of the Morrison place. The road to Painters Ferry, at the mouth of Cuttalossa Creek, is now known as Mechanicsville Road. The last landlord of the Broad Axe of whom there is record was Seneca Fell, whose license was renewed in 1829. The old tavern building is still standing, but a change in the course of the road has removed the intersection of the two roads to some distance from that point. Tradition says there was once a cluster of houses around the Broad Axe, but, if that is correct, they have long since disappeared.


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

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