Carversville, Pennsylvania

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

Village in northwest Solebury Township at the intersection of Carversville Road and the road leading from Doylestown to Lumberville. Paunaucussing Creek flows through the village. Miss Mary S. Paxson, of Doylestown, who has collected much historical material on Carversville and the Paunaucussing valley, says the first few pioneer white settlers called the place Indian Village. The origin of this name, of course, is apparent without further explanation. On or near the site of Carversville the Indians had a camp or village site, which they called Paunakussing or Punkussing, but the white settlers did not adopt this name. From about I800 to 1833 the name was Milton, which, in all likelihood, is a contraction of the word “Milltown.” From 1833 to the present time the name has been Carversville. When a post office was established March 27, 1833, with Thomas Carver as first postmaster, the name was changed from Milton to Carversville, more likely in honor of the Carver family than of the postmaster himself, for the Carvers had not only been early settlers, but. some of them were people of intellectual attainments far beyond the average. The post office was abandoned March 31, 1935, and mail was supplied by Doylestown rural delivery, but on November 1, 1939, the office was restored, with Henry Wendte as postmaster.

When Carversville was known as Milton

Early mention of Milton is found in Asher Miner’s Pennsylvania Correspondent. In the second number of his paper, July 18, 1804, Miner announces that “papers will be left for subscribers at Israel Child’s shop, Milton.” The place of delivery is changed in the next issue of the paper to Carver’s smith shop, Milton. In the issue for August 1, 1804, Mahlon Carver, of Milton, advertises, “For Sale, A quantity of RORAM HATS, of various prices, made of the best materials, on reasonable terms, for Cash or Produce.” Roram hats came into vogue some time after the Revolution and were in the full flush of popularity about the time of Merchant Carver’s advertisement. They were a substitute for the more expensive beaver high hat. Alice Morse Earle says “Roram was the first step towards an imitation of the old and well-beloved beaver hat. Roram was a wool or felt, with a facing of long beaver fur felted in. It was in a sense a false beaver. Beaver was growing scarce, and imitations were sure to be made.” The roram hat went out of use between 1848 and 1850. 1)Two Centuries of Costume in America, vol 2, p 578, By Alice Morse Earle, N. Y., Macmillan Co., 1903. In the days when it was Milton, Carversville seems to have had its share of industries. In a letter (April 7, 1940) to the compiler of this volume, C. M. James, of Philadelphia, says: “Here (meaning Carversville) is an old mill, with a remarkably long straight mill race.” A woolen factory, in charge of a firm or company known as the Milton Woolen Manufactory, was started in or near the village June 20, 1811. William Bennet was president of the concern and Jesse Ely and Nathaniel Saxton directors. This may have been the Fleecy Dale factory. Gordon’s Gazetteer of Pennsylvania, 1832, says the village in that year had six or eight houses, a tavern, store and grist mill. This was just before the village name was changed.

Carversville Early Church

The Carversville Christian Church, organized in 1838, was one of the first of that denomination established in eastern Pennsylvania. The first pastor, Rev. William Lauer, preached every Sunday and worked at the shoemaker’s bench on weekdays. After a few years he was succeeded by his son, James D. Lauer. In 1859 and 1860 Rev. F. R. S. Hunsicker, principal of Excelsior Normal Institute, which had just been established, was invited to occupy the pulpit on alternate Sundays with the pastor. This arrangement did not last long. Some dissension arose and a part of the congregation seceded and built another church building quite near the first. The Christian Church recovered slowly from this setback. In 1866 the old building was demolished and a new two-story edifice with belfry and steeple took its place. Since that year a number of pastors have served the church for varying periods. The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1870 by Dr. Hunsicker, whose pastorate continued until December 31, 1883.

The Excelsior Normal Institute

The Excelsior Normal Institute, one of the best schools of its day in the county, brought much celebrity to the village. People of the neighborhood had been sending their children to higher grade schools at considerable distances from home, when a chance remark of Mrs. Elizabeth Stover, wife of Isaac Stover, “Why don’t we build a school of our own and keep our children at home,” took root in the community, in the course of a short time a number of subscriptions were obtained, and a stock company was formed, to whom Daniel M. Smyser, President Judge of the Bucks County Courts, granted a charter December 15, 1858. The petitioners were Lukens Thomas, Samuel A. Fitman, Isaac Stover, Morris L. Fell, William M. Evans, George B. Fell and Charles Holcomb. A tract of land on a slope north of the Paunaucussing, commanding a fine view of surrounding country, was purchased and a large building suitable for the education of both boys and girls was built at a cost of $to,000, most of which was subscribed by residents of the vicinity. The school was dedicated October 8, 1859, and on October 17 the Excelsior Normal Institute began its career under bright prospects, with a faculty of eight and a student roster of 93. From the first semi-annual catalogue 2)Probably the only copy extant, presented to the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society October 7, 1939, by Henry H. Funk, Springtown, Pa. some interesting facts may be gleaned. The president of the board of managers was Dr. Isaiah Michener, Buckingham; secretary, Rev. F. R. S. Hunsicker, Carversville; treasurer, William B. Evans, Carversville, and the rest of the board the same as the petitioners for the charter with the addition of Eleazer C. Shaw. The departments of instruction were: Preparatory, to enter any class at college; Normal, certificate of qualification at the end of the two-year course; Ornamental, music, thawing, painting, fancy work and embroidery; Primary, in three divisions. The charges were: Board, quarter of eleven weeks, $26; tuition, $6, $8 and $9 per quarter. Students were required to furnish their own lights and were charged $1.25 per quarter for fuel and use of stove. Extra charges per quarter were: Ancient and modern languages, $3; instrumental music, $8; drawing and water color painting, $5; oil painting, landscape and portrait, $10; wax fruit, $2; wax flowers, $4; needlework, zephyr, worsted and embroidery, $2; pellis work, $3. Some of the regulations are interesting; the government, “mild, but inflexibly firm”; religious character of school, non-sectarian; each student required to wear slippers about the house, “so as to make no unnecessary noise”; loud talking, whistling or unnecessary noise, not to be indulged; never leave the premises without permission, and when walking for exercise should be accompanied by one of the teachers; “it is expected that the Ladies and Gentlemen will treat each other with civility, but no conversation must take place in the halls or recitation rooms; no students attending this Institution will walk or ride with a person of the opposite sex, except in cases of necessity, and then only by permission from a regular teacher; no permission will be given for parties or excursions composed of both sexes.” The faculty the first year comprised Rev. F. R. S. Hunsicker, principal and professor of the science of education and art of teaching; teachers, William W. Fell, elocution, literature, Latin; William T. Seal, higher mathematics and penmanship; Henry W. Stover, single and double entry bookkeeping; Miss Lizzie Benjamina Hunsicker, A. B., instrumental music, drawing, painting, fancy work; Miss Mary R. Hampton, mental and practical arithmetic, geography; Miss Sallie E. Fell and Miss Carrie C. Paxson, assistants in mathematics. Among its students who afterwards became prominent in county and state affairs were Judge D. Newlin Fell, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; President Judge Henry W. Scott, of Northampton County; Professor S. S. Overholt, some years its principal and County Superintendent; Judge David J. Pancoast, Camden, N. J.; County Superintendents Hugh B. Eastburn and William H. Slotter, and many others. The Institute ran the precarious gamut of successes and failures incident to such schools of that time. It was well patronized until 1871. William M. Evans leased the property from the board of managers July 24, 1865, but surrendered the lease November 27, 1867, when Dr. Hunsicker, former principal purchased the property. Through some misunderstanding, Dr. Hunsicker did not take title and retired in 1871. William M. Evans bought the property in 1874, and for two years it remained idle. Mr. Evans made an attempt to revive the school in 1876 with Dr. M. E. Schiebner, a brilliant student of languages, as principal, but the attendance of pupils did not warrant its continuance and it became wholly extinct in 1877. So far as can be ascertained the principals after Dr. Hunsicker were William T. Seal, later principal of Bellevue Institute, Attleboro; S. S. Overholt, Henry 0. Harris, afterwards a member of the Bucks County Bar; G. Passmore Betts, J. G. Fish, S. N. Walker, Dr. Martin E. Schiebner, later principal of Doylestown Seminary, and S. B. Carr. The known teachers, in addition to those already mentioned, were Dr. A. M. Dickie, Rose Budd (Carr), Robert Alexander, W. P. M. Todd, Haretta Walton, D. Newlin Fell, Dr. D. W. T. White, S. Eva Bolton, Ursula Cushman and Fannie Whitaker. The Baconian Literary Society, organized the year the Institute opened, became a popular forum for discussion of weighty questions of the day. The last function in which the Institute figured was a reunion of the teachers and students on the school grounds on Saturday, September 11, 1909, the fiftieth anniversary of the school’s opening. The arrangements were in charge of a committee comprising Hugh B. Eastburn, William H. Robinson and Dr. Joseph B. Walter. It was a gala occasion that brought together 600 people, many of them former students. At a meeting in the afternoon impromptu speeches were made by Mr. Eastburn, Dr. Hunsicker, Mr. Seal, Mr. Harris, Dr. White, Judge Fell, Dr. Isaiah Michener, Judge Scott and several former teachers. In a prepared address Dr. Walter reviewed the history of the school. He said that he had found, in searching for material for his address, that more than woo young people had attended the school, of whom he had traced 735, and of that number 471 were living at that time.

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

Footnotes:   [ + ]

1.Two Centuries of Costume in America, vol 2, p 578, By Alice Morse Earle, N. Y., Macmillan Co., 1903.
2.Probably the only copy extant, presented to the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society October 7, 1939, by Henry H. Funk, Springtown, Pa.

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