Doylestown Township, Pennsylvania

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

Doylestown Township is bounded northwest by New Britain Township, northeast by Plumstead and Buckingham Townships, southeast by Buckingham and Warwick Townships and southwest by Warrington Township, New Britain Borough and Township. The first attempt to organize this township was made at February Term of Court, 1814, when a petition, numerously signed, was presented to the “Honorable Bird Wilson, Esquire, and his Associate Judges of the Court of Quarter Sessions, held at Doylestown.” None of the county histories mentions this petition, the original of which is in the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society. It sets forth that “The Petition of the Subscribers, inhabitants of Doylestown and its vicinity respectfully sheweth that they reside on the extremity of Buckingham, Warwick, New Britain and Plumstead Townships, and that it would be to the interest and advantage of your petitioners to have a New Township made out of the above named Townships, making the Court House the center of the township or nearly so. Your Petitioners there upon pray the Court to appoint three men to lay off a township agreeably to law, to be called Doylestown.” The signers are: A. Chapman, Nathaniel Shewell, J. Y. Shaw, Enoch Harvey, John L. Dick, William Watts, W. W. Hart, Wm. McIlhenney, Matthew Hare, Isaac B. Medary, Septimus Evans, Asa Cary, J. McIntosh, Chas. Meredith, Isaac Hall, Jno. McIntosh, Asher Miner, Wm. Magill, J. A. Thompson, John Dennison, Robert Barclay, John Williams, Morgan N. Thomas, John W. Doyle, William Thomas, Daniel McIntosh, William Huntsman, Gooden G. Hall, David Carver, Samuel Stokes, John Heath, B. Morris, Conrad Sherrer, John Fitzinger, Isaac Lane, Andrew Dennison, Dr. H. Meredith. For an unknown reason this petition was not granted. Another petition, similarly worded, was presented at September Term, 1817. William Long, Samuel Abernathly and John Ruckman were appointed to lay out the new township, but the draft they submitted was declared defective and their report was not confirmed by the Court. At the August Term, 1818, the same petition was again presented. Thomas G. Kennedy, Thomas Yardley and Thomas Story were appointed commissioners and their report was confirmed by the Court March 4, 1819. In this report no part of Plumstead was taken, as contemplated in the first petition. New Britain Township contributed 5,350 acres, Buckingham 1,185 acres and Warwick 3,515 acres. The whole village of Doylestown, not yet a borough, was included, of course. The southeast boundary began in the middle of the stone arch bridge at Bridge Point (Edison), thence passed up Neshaminy Creek to Deep Ford and along the Deep Ford Road to Bristol Road, thus leaving to Warwick the County Almshouse, which was added to Doylestown Township by subsequent extension of the boundary line. At the first election for township officers, held Friday, March 19, 1819, 199 votes were cast. Three candidates were in the field, for Constable, John D. James winning with 89 votes, Isaac Benner receiving 58 and Stephen Brock 58. Other officers chosen were: Supervisors, Joshua Riale and John Mann; Settlers (Auditors), Abraham Geil, Timothy Smith and Moses Dunlap; Town Clerk, Benjamin Morris, Jr. When it was established by Dr. Benjamin Smith in 1867, Doylestown Seminary, a preparatory school of high standing, was in Doylestown Township. It occupied the two squares now bounded by West Court, Lafayette, Ashland and West Streets. The main building, a huge stone structure, was erected in 18691870. The east wing, in which were the kitchen, dining room and girl pupils’ and women teachers’ dormitories, was built later. Dr. Smith was succeeded as principal in 1876 by Rev. M. L. Hoffard. The following year Prof. M. E. Scheibner took charge, In 1880 Augustus C. Winters became owner and principal. Winters sold it to Dr. John Gosman, from whom it was purchased by Frank Hart, when, after a precarious career of over twenty years, it ceased to be an institution of learning. Dr. Gosman moved his school into the borough. For a number of years Mr. and Mrs. Howard W. Atkinson leased the seminary premises, renamed it. Oakland and established a summer resort. Later, Mr. Hart, desiring to convert the grounds into a residential section, tore down all the old buildings, and now old-time Oakland is one of the most attractive parts of Doylestown Borough. Several small settlements in the township close to the borough were known by distinctive names. Of these the largest was Rittersville, lying to the southwest of the borough and separated from it by the Doylestown Seminary tract. It was named for John Ritter, an army sutler in the Civil War, who bought a property there in 1865. He was a large, stout man, jovial, popular and shrewd in business. He was reputed to have owned nearly all the settlement and was everywhere known as the “Mayor of Rittersville.” Politicians courted his support. He followed the sutler business, putting up his portable eating stand at all the big public sales, but enjoying his richest harvests at the old Doylestown Fair, where his receipts ran into the hundreds of dollars per day. About 1890 he went to Philadelphia, where, it is said, he died a very rich man. With the passing of its Mayor, Rittersville faded out of the picture. Practically all of the dilapidated houses have vanished and attractive modern dwellings now occupy the same sites. Southwark was another well defined settlement, south of Ashland Street and west of Green, bordering west on Rittersville. Great building changes occurred in this section through the enterprise of Frank L. Worthington, and the name Southwark was supplanted by Worthingtonville. but, when the borough boundaries were extended to take in that territory, both names were dropped. Wrangletown was the name of a settlement of indefinite limits on Limekiln Road. Nothing remains of Wrangletown today and its name is forgotten. Germany was a name given to the North Main Street section of Doylestown before it became a borough. Most of Germany fell within the borough lines in 1838, but the name continued in common use for nearly a century thereafter. Doylestown Agricultural and Mechanics’ Institute, founded in 1865, started its autumn fairs October 3-5 of that year on the large tract of land southwest of Doylestown, on which William Beek held his exhibition in 1856. The first officers were Dr. Isaiah Michener president, Nathan P. Brower recording secretary and James B. Lambert corresponding secretary. The first fair was a great success, warranting the construction of permanent buildings and a fine half-mile racing track. The grounds were also purchased. After many successful years interest in the project waned for various reasons and after the fair of September 22-25, 1891, the corporation was dissolved and the grounds were sold on November 28, 1892, for $19,000. The purchaser, Robert Steel, established thereon his Cedar Park Stock Farm. The stockholders realized about per share.

The first experimental piece of improved road building in Bucks County was laid down in Doylestown Township in the year 1900 on what is now Route 202 between Vauxtown and the Doylestown Borough line. The construction was the type known as Telford, the work being done under the superintendence of Edmund G. Harrison, of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. An event that created much interest in the township at the time was the establishment of Fordhook Farm by W. Atlee Burpee on the old Patterson property about a mile south of Doylestown. This is one of several farms owned by W. Atlee Burpee & Co. and is known as their “trial farm,” where seeds and plants arc tested under natural growing conditions. One of several additions to their Doylestown Township areas is the colorful Burpee Flower Garden, covering many acres of ground south of the Doylestown Borough line on Route 611.

See also: Doylestown Borough, Pennsylvania

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

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