Coppernose Hill in Pennsylvania

How did Coppernose Hill in Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about Coppernose Hill in Pennsylvania, the people who settled on it, and the industry rising around it.

A steep and conspicuous hill in Solebury Township on Delaware River between Lumberville and Lumberton. A small and nameless spring stream, a mile in length, flows through a deep ravine on the southeast side and finds outlet to the river through a culvert carrying it under the Delaware Division Canal. The hill is composed of a hard red sandstone, of little utility, covered with shallow soil that sustains a scant and scrubby vegetable growth. The summit affords fine views of the river country. The reddish color of the rock, a reputed find of copper ore years ago and a one-time abundance of copperhead snakes have all been advanced as reasons for the origin of the name Coppernose. Historian William J. Buck1 quotes from a letter written by Samuel Preston in 1826, wherein the name is said to have been given to the hill by William Satterthwaite, an educated but eccentric English school teacher.2 If there is an iota of truth in tradition, Satterthwaite was excusable in coining an adamant name. The story of Satterthwaite begins with his school in England. He is reputed to have offered a storm-stayed girl pupil the shelter of his school house until morning. The evening was long enough for courtship and marriage. The imprudence of their step dawning upon them next day, they sat sail for Pennsylvania. They settled in Bucks County, where Satterthwaite resumed teaching. It was probably sometime before 1745 that they arrived at Coppernose, where they built a house at the foot of the hill. Satterthwaite lived to repent of his hasty marriage, as his wife turned out to be ill-tempered and extravagant, keeping him poor, and even attempted to poison him. From his house he built a road on the north side of the hill to the summit to reach a field he was cultivating. While so engaged, the tradition runs, he was bitten on the arm by a copperhead snake. He became so ill that his nurse, James Pellar, and Surveyor John Watson dispatched his friend Paul Preston to Nockamixon for the Indian doctor, Nutimus. After the medicine man’s roots and herbs had effected a cure, Satterthwaite sought to reform his wife’s extravagant and wayward tendencies by writing some lines on “The Indian Queen,” but the lesson of simplicity and faithfulness he sought to impress by his poem was wasted on his spouse, as she soon afterwards eloped. During his marital troubles he found a friend in Chief Justice Jeremiah Langhorne, who aided him in many ways. After his patron’s death he composed “An Elegy on Jeremiah Langhorne.” His poems, written in Homeric style, had sufficient merit to be reviewed in Joshua Francis Fisher’s work on the early poets of Pennsylvania. It was Satterthwaite who gave the copy of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy to Paul Preston for translation into English. The translation was printed on Asher Miner’s press in Doylestown in 1808. In his old age Satterthwaite was induced by Lawrence Growden to remove to Langhorne Park, where he spent his last days. Coppernose was immortalized in verse, not by Satterthwaite, but by a later Solebury poet, probably Cyrus Livezey.

When I wish to seek retirement, and listlessly repose,
‘Tis then I climb my favorite hill, dear, dear Old Coppernose.

How oft I’ve gazed with fond delight upon the stream that flows
So peacefully around thy base, dear ancient Coppernose.

And there I’ve seen the setting sun, the day in glory close,
And watched the stars as one by one they lighted Coppernose.

May the summer rains fall lightly, as well as winter snows,
Upon thy crest and wooded sides, old favorite Coppernose.


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

  1. The Cuttalossa and Its Historical Associations, by William J. Buck, 1873. []
  2. This man should not be confounded with another William Satterthwaite, who came here in 1733 from Rook-How, England, and settled on a Lower Makefield Township farm that remained in possession of the family for several generations. []

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