Durham Township, Pennsylvania

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

In the extreme northeast corner of the county, bounded northwest by Northampton County, northeast by Delaware River, southeast by Nockamixon Township and southwest by Springfield Township. It was established as a township in 1775, although before that date it had a quasi-organization, within practically the same boundary lines, and was known as The Durham Tract. The name, in all probability, was taken from the county and capital city of ancient Durham in England. It is quite probable also that the name, which occurs in deeds for Durham property as early as 1727, was suggested by Jeremiah Langhorne, who was interested in the same transfers of property. Owing to the iron deposits in the Durham hills, the township was settled much earlier than adjoining townships. There is evidence to show that it was settled as early as 1698, when the first forge was erected. It was not, however, until 1727 that a blast furnace was erected. This was located in the village of Durham, power being derived from Durham Creek. The operation of this blast furnace terminated in 1789, and the property then lay dormant until 1848, when two new furnaces, adapted to the use of anthracite coal, were built near the river Delaware and near the mouth of Durham Creek. In 1876 a new modern blast furnace was erected on the site of the 1848 furnace. This large furnace was demolished in 1912. These anthracite plants could be seen from the River Road (Route 611). It was on the river bank at the mouth of Durham Creek where Robert Durham built the first Durham boat. These boats were used to transport the product of Durham furnace, consisting of pig iron, stoves and bar iron, to Philadelphia and other places. During the Revolutionary War shot and shell were made in large quantities at Durham charcoal furnace. In fact, it was the very first to make shipments to the Continental army at Philadelphia. The Durham Furnace Company, organized in 1727, owned the entire township of Durham (6,410 acres, 123 perches) and in addition some adjoining tracts in Springfield and Williams Townships. In 1773 the partnership was dissolved and the property divided into 44 tracts, four of which, covering the iron works property, were allotted to Joseph Galloway and his wife, Grace Growdon. The original manuscript of the sheriff’s inquisition in this case, dated October t5, 1772, a huge parchment document, containing a draft of the tract and the signatures of all the parties thereto, is now in the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society, presented by Dr. B. F. Fackenthal, Jr., of Riegelsville, Pa. Durham Township was the birthplace of General Daniel Morgan, the hero of the battle of Cowpens in South Carolina (January 17, 1781). George Taylor, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was a lessee of Durham furnace and lived in Durham when he affixed his signature to that immortal document. The site of the famous Indian jasper quarry, from which the Lenni Lenapes obtained material for their arrow heads, is on the southeastern slope of Rattlesnake Hill, in this township, a little more than a mile southwest of Monroe.

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

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