How did Burn Bridle Hill and Burn Bridle Forest in Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about Burn Bridle Hill and Burn Bridle Forest in Pennsylvania, the people who settled on it, and the industry rising around it.
Acknowledgment is due Mrs. A. E. P. Darrow, of Altadena, California, a native of Bucks County and daughter of the late Wilson Pearson, for the following interesting story of this romantic part of Solebury Township:
“Many people have asked how Burn Bridle Hill and Forest, in Solebury Township, got that name, and maybe I had better tell what I know about it. In my young days several stories were afloat as to how the name came about, but I have never been able to prove any of them absolutely, although I bothered all the older residents, living near, about it. One story was that the Indian name for the Hill sounded so much like ‘Burn Bridle’ that the whites just dubbed it that. Another story said a tragedy happened there in the early days of the settlers that gave it the name. Still another account said that, when the English were encamped at the foot of the hill and Washington crossed the Delaware at New Hope, the English fled, and before going burned their bridles and saddles to keep the Americans from getting them, and ever after it was called Burn Bridle Hill and Forest. The last explanation is doubtful, as my grandfather was born close to the hill, and he said it was called Burn Bridle long before the Revolution was thought of. Most of the old people I asked said the same thing. Father said the English did burn some trash there, but they took their horses (and some that did not belong to them) with them, so they would take their bridles too. The English took horses and cattle whenever they wanted them and had a chance. That is why the Pearsons and neighbors hid the best of their stock in the Forest over next to Forrest Crooks’ property, and the Indians helped watch them. Before the timber was cut from the top of the Hill, there were funny echoes. if you shouted the echoes would come back to you from every direction and no one could tell where you were. So, if the cattle bawled, no one who didn’t know could tell from which direction the bawl really came. That is why they chose that place to hide them from British and Tory foragers. That same Forest ran on across the Ruckman property almost to Lahaska, and that end of it was known as ‘The Barrens.’ I never could find out where that name came from either. Burn Bridle Forest used to run up to the Upper York Road across the Josephine Brown and Forrest Crook properties. I remember when a little strip of it still stood along the York Road, till father cut it off. The Scarboroughs owned all the Forest and land at one time, and tradition says it was the Indians who persuaded John Scarborough to sell his Langhorne farm and come to Solebury. John Scarborough took their advice in many things. When his father left him here to go back to England, he told John to be good to the Indians and honest with them, and he was. They liked him and he liked them. John was a boy of fifteen when he came to this country, but he is said to have had an uncommonly good schooling for a boy of his age before he came over and was a very level-headed man, like all the early Scarboroughs. There was a ghost story in connection with the hill, too. It ran thus: A very savage wolf roamed the hill and forest and no one had succeeded in killing it. It killed some Indian children. Then a lot of Indians went after it and finally rounded it up and killed it near where the road from Forrest Crooks’ meadow joins the main road through the forest. Ever after the ghost of the wolf was said to haunt that locality. Father said when he was a boy there were still some people afraid to go through there at night. Our family have lived there now for five generations and never a ghost in sight, so I guess it has been ‘laid.’ In early days an Indian trail led from the spring on the Fitting farm at the end of Josephine Brown’s lane to the spring in the meadow below Mrs. Brown’s house, and just below there it branched, one trail winding around the foot of the hill and on to the Great Spring at Aquetong, while the other branch went over the top of the hill and ended at a spring in the meadow just below Forrest Crooks’ house. It was on this branch over the hill that George Haworth and Samuel Pickering courted John Scarborough’s two eldest daughters during long walks and talks. I never saw the trail in its original condition, as father cut the timber off there just before I was born, some eighty years ago. Father said it was an ideal ‘Lovers Lane,’ with the big old chestnut trees interlacing their branches over head and the huckleberry and wild honeysuckle bushes covering the ground both sides. George Haworth and Sarah Scarborough were the ancestors of former President Herbert Hoover and Hoover harks back to those early Scarboroughs very much. They were a fine people. They were said to have an almost uncanny ability to help others to help themselves, and it is from them Hoover got his ability at relief work.”
Lenape Indians stayed in Solebury Township long after the tribe moved westward. They liked the treatment they received from the white residents. We know the names of very few who remained, but if a record had been made of their names, doubtless it would have amounted to a considerable number. Those who tarried on or near Burn Bridle Hill were allowed to wander at will through the forest, and they rarely violated the privileges granted them and did surprisingly small damage to property. “Peg” Tuckemony, who made baskets and trinkets for the whites, was one of the last of her race in the county. Though she lived as late as 1828 in Buckingham Township, she made her home in summers in a hut in the dooryard of the present Forrest Crooks property. Many traditions about her were handed down in families of old settlers. In going back and forth between Solebury and Buckingham, as she frequently did, she spurned the roads and traveled the old Indian path along Burn Bridle Hill, through the Barrens on the Buckman premises and across the road near Lahaska into Buckingham Meeting House woods. Perhaps the last Indian in Solebury was a maiden who married a black named Gibbs. Their son, Mahlon, was brought up by Moses Eastburn, who sent him to school, and gave him a good education. Tall and erect, he is said to have had many Indian traits. His descendants still live in the county.
Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.