Durham, Pennsylvania

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

Village in the central northern part of Durham Township. It is a very old mining settlement, very much changed in modern times. One of the miners’ houses of 1727, a small square stone structure, is still standing and occupied as a dwelling. The old Durham furnace, also a stone structure, was converted into a grist mill in 1812. It has been running continuously ever since. Today it is operated by Harvey K. Riegel, who grinds the raw material for the graham products of a nationally known corporation of cracker and biscuit bakers. Near the village is Mine Hill, from which the iron ore was obtained for the first furnace. On Reading Howell’s map of a part of the Delaware Valley, dated 1792, is the word “Backhouse,” which is presumed to refer to the village of Durham. Richard Backhouse was prominently connected with the Durham Iron Works in its early days. The village was sometimes called Longtown and Steckels. Newspaper accounts of the big fire on the night of April 16, 1890, which destroyed the flouring mill operated by John Cressman, with a loss of $12,000, give the place the name of Longtown. It has been impossible to ascertain exactly when a post office was established there. In a published list 1)Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania, Vol. 10, p. 82. of Bucks County post offices for 1832 Durham is named, with Thomas Long as postmaster. It may have been a post office some years before that date. The village has a picturesque setting between enclosing hills of the deep valley of Durham Creek.

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

Footnotes:   [ + ]

1.Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania, Vol. 10, p. 82.

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