Cuttalossa Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Romance, tradition and historical fact have always been inextricably entwined around the word “Cuttalossa.” The Creek by that name is wholly in Solebury Township. Not more than three miles from its source in two springs on the Street Road in western Solebury it empties into the River Delaware at Lumberton. The word “Cuttalossa,” the form in which it is used today, is a corruption of the Lenni Lenape Gattalosso or Quatalossi1 which was the name of an Indian village in this valley. Perhaps no place name in Bucks County has so many variants. In a deed dated 1702 for land in Solebury it is “Quatielassie.” In the very same year it is spelled elsewhere “Quetyelassy.” Later it appears as “Scuttlelaushe” and again, in a lease from James Hamilton to John Wilson of Solebury, as “Quotylossey.” In a poem which he wrote on Rural Beauty in 1805, Dr. John Watson calls it “Cuttelausse.” Reading Howell on his manuscript “Draught or Map of Delaware River,” 1792, marks the creek “Cuttelassey.” Historian William J. Buck always spelled the word “Cuttelossa.” The pathetic story of an Indian girl named “Quattie” having become “lostta” along the creek banks, to the great distress of her mother, an alleged incident long accepted as the origin of the name Cuttalossa, may safely be allowed to repose peacefully in the nursery with other bedtime stories. One hundred and fifty years ago the lower part of Cuttalossa Creek flowed through primeval forest. An old road a-down the valley kept well up on high ground, crossing the stream but once. The present road, one of the most beautiful drives in the county, is on an entirely different course, following the stream closely and crossing it five times. The volume of water in the creek in the last century was sufficient to run several mills, and the valley was a hive of industrial life.

The Armitage mill, the only remaining one on the stream, was built in 1752 by Samuel Armitage, who in 1738 came to this country from Wakefield, England. This old stone mill became an early rival of the famous Heath mill of 1706 a few miles to the southeast on Aquetong Creek. Its last miller Amos Armitage, a direct descendant of the immigrant, turned the water on the huge old overshot wheel for the last time in 1929. The mill was bought from Mr. Armitage in 1937 by the Ansley family and is now in hands that will preserve it from desecration. Delight Ansley, a daughter of this family, one-time librarian in Columbia University and the American Indian Museum, has an admiration for Indian pottery and a talent for reproducing it. After resigning from her library duties she decided to spend all of her time on pottery work in this old mill. “A few repairs transformed it into a studio and work shop.. . . The building was in very good condition. . . . Miss Ansley has left untouched the old machinery and wooden gears. On the outside, still intact, is the picturesque waterwheel, which adds immensely to the charm of the work shop. She installed a kiln and does her own firing. Although she has a potter’s wheel and uses it to some extent, she prefers shaping her pieces by hand in the Indian fashion.2 So, after centuries of suspension, an aboriginal art returns to the site of the Indian village of Quatalossi. Another old mill at the mouth of the Cuttalossa is referred to elsewhere in the paragraph on Lumberton. In 1849 John E. Kenderdine, at one time owner of the Lumberton mill, built a saw mill higher up the creek at a place he called Laurelton because of the abundance of the beautiful shrub, rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum). Still farther up the stream was a saw mill operated by Charles P. Large and Isaac Closson. They cut the ties used in building the Doylestown Branch of the North Pennsylvania Railroad in 1856 and George Dudbridge’s ox teams hauled them to Doylestown. This mill was turned into a handle factory before the flood of 1885, which wrecked it and the mill dam, and they were never rebuilt.

The Cuttalossa spring was almost as famous as the valley itself, for here in the gay ’90’s driving parties, picnic parties and all sorts of wayfarers paused to refresh themselves with a drink from the fountain. The water of a perpetual spring was piped from the hill to the roadside at the entrance to the wooded portion of the valley. Here was built a flagstone trough, flanked by concave walls, with a column and stone steps on either side, bearing the inscription, “Cuttalossa Fountain, erected 1873, by Admirers of the Beautiful.” Funds to build the fountain were raised in Doylestown and elsewhere. This beautiful fountain had been preceded by a roadside watering trough erected many years before by John E. Kenderdine. On the opposite side of the road, beneath a cluster of willow trees, was a marble basin, four feet square, and from a pipe connected with the spring a spray three feet high, shaped like a wheat sheaf, arose from the basin. The fountain was cared for by the Armitage people for a number of years, but finally vandals destroyed much of its beauty, and it became neglected and fell into ruins. In recent years a number of people of distinction have found homes within the seclusion of this valley. One of the first to discover its residential charms was Daniel Garber, long identified with the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and painter of the large canvas, “Whittier Home in Solebury,” which hangs on the south wall of the assembly hall of The Bucks County Historical Society building. Most of the old homes of first settlers in the valley and its immediate vicinity are now owned by people who have been attracted thereto by the natural beauty of that part of the Delaware Valley.

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

  1. Dr. Amandus Johnson in Geographia Americae, 1925, p. 231. []
  2. From a story on Delight Ansley’s Unique Pottery, by Maynard Clark, in The Bucks County Times, May 2, 1940. []

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