Furlong, Pennsylvania

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

Village, partly in Buckingham and partly in Doylestown Townships at the intersection of Old York Road (Route 155) and Newtown Road. This village furnishes what probably is Bucks County’s most curious instance of change in place names. The first known mention of the place by name is found in an entry in John Dyer’s Diary, 11 mo. 2, 1804: “Thos. Carver, Innkeeper at Baretown, died this day about 11 o’clock, suddenly.” Dyer may have misspelled the name, as it likely was Beartown. In the vernacular of backwoodsmen of pioneer days the word “bear” was often pronounced “bar.” Hence on old maps the place is marked Barville (not Bartown, as one might have expected), and Barville persisted on maps down to 1852, although meantime the village’s name had actually changed twice. In Henry S. Tanner’s New American Atlas (1825) the name is Barrville. Barnes’ New County Map of Pennsylvania (1852) presents the name as Garville, manifestly a misspelling. The land on which Furlong stands is a part of Israel Pemberton’s “Manor of Mayleigh,” another of those mysterious manors about which so little as yet is known. Dr. John Watson bought 373 acres of this manor from Pemberton in 1757, including the sites of the inn and of the store, on opposite sides of Old York Road, and this and other manor tracts passed down through the Watson family for three generations until after the Revolutionary War. The part of the Furlong tract comprising the inn site was inherited by the Doctor’s granddaughter, Sarah Watson, whose husband, Joseph R. Jenks, disposed of it to Thomas Carver, a blacksmith who turned innkeeper, owned 104 acres of land thereabouts and probably was the first landlord. Thomas Carver‘s ancestor was John Carver, who came over in 1682 from Hertfordshire, England, with three brothers, William, Joseph and Jacob. After Thomas’ death, already mentioned, his administrators, Joseph and Jesse Ely, sold the inn to Colonel Elisha Wilkinson, who was soon to be elected High Sheriff of Bucks and later destined to become the sporting boniface of General Greene Inn at Buckingham. Colonel Wilkinson christened the Beartown Inn “The Green Tree,” and, it is said, commissioned a sign painter to paint a new sign to accord with the new name. The artist, it seems, was not strong on drawing trees. When the new sign was elevated to its place atop the high post, the villagers viewed it with wonder and amazement. One of them remarked that if the figure on the sign-board represented a tree, then all trees created by Dame Nature surely must be something else. Another wag suggested that, with a generous stretch of imagination, it might pass as a shrub, and thus the hamlet soon ironically became known as “The Bush,” a name heard often even today. However, the village and its inn were generally known as the Green Tree until Colonel Wilkinson left in 1811, and in 1831 the place is so marked on A. W. Kennedy’s map of Bucks County. Even as late as 1855 Green Tree Tavern is named in a road draft pertaining to that locality. A post office was established at the Green Tree in June, 1832, and the name was changed to Bushington, the gradation from “The Bush” to Bushington being an easy matter. Henry Carver, the new postmaster, resigned within two years and was succeeded by William D. Ruckman, Esq. Because of the similarity of the name Bushington to that of another post office in the State, the Post Office Department, while John Foster was postmaster, called for a new name. Mr. Foster went to Doylestown to consult over the matter with his friend, John G. Randall, postmaster at the county seat. In the course of the conversation Mr. Foster happened to use the word “furlong.” “Furlong! There’s your name,” said Mr. Randall. And the Post Office Department sanctioned it.


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

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