Gallows Run, Pennsylvania

How did Gallows Run in Pennsylvania get its name? This page provides a brief history about Gallows Run in Pennsylvania, the people who settled around it, and the industry rising around it.

In early documents, this stream is sometimes called Gallows Hill Run. It has many rivulet tributaries in Nockamixon and Springfield Townships. The main stream rises in Springfield, near Stony Point Schoolhouse on Bursonville Road but soon enters Nockamixon and winds around the northwest base of Gallows Hill, where it is joined by another tributary having its source in Durham Township. It then flows eastwardly and northeastwardly through Nockamixon to a point midway between Ferndale and Kintnersville, where it joins a stream that originates at Revere and follows Route 611 through Ferndale. At this point of junction, the creek flows in a northerly direction along Route 611 to Kintnersville, where it bears towards the east for a half mile and then empties into the Delaware River opposite Laughreys Island. The scenery along its course, especially throughout the ravine from Ferndale to Kintnersville, is surpassed in beauty nowhere throughout the entire Delaware Valley. On a plan of Nockamixon Township in Noll’s Atlas of Bucks County (1891), p. 108, this stream is named Kintnersville Creek from Revere to its mouth at the Delaware, and Gallows Run is marked as though it were a tributary to Kintnersville Creek. The name Kintnersville Creek is not sanctioned by other maps, including those of the Geological Survey. A deed for Durham Iron Works property, dated February 10, 1727, contains the name “Pereletakon Creek” for this stream. It may be safely assumed that Pereletakon is a corruption of an Indian name, changed to such an extent that its full meaning cannot now be determined. In the Lenni Lenape tongue, there is no such stem as Perel or Perele, but Indian derivation is apparent in the suffix takon, which probably should be hikan or hikon, meaning “tidal water,” according to Dr. Brinton. William J. Buck was the first writer to attempt an explanation of the name “Gallows.”1 He says it originated from the finding of the dead body of a man, supposed to have been a suicide, suspended from a limb of a chestnut tree by the roadside on Gallows Hill. Librarian Warren S. Ely (The Bucks County Historical Society) argued that this explanation hardly accounted for the name Gallows. He claimed to have found current in that community twenty years ago a more amusing and less gruesome tradition, to the effect that Edward Marshall, the Indian Purchase walker of 1737, broke his “gallowses” in jumping across the run. Substituting another improvised device to support his trousers, he left his broken “gallowses” hanging on a tree at the brookside, hence the name Gallows Run.

Since Marshall, in his deposition of 1757, refers to the point where he left Durham as Gallows Hill, it might be assumed that the name antedated the Walk, but it must be remembered, Mr. Ely said, that the deposition was taken twenty years after the Walk, when the name had become firmly attached to the place. Mr. Ely seems to have been mistaken in this assumption. That Edward Marshall knew the name at the time of the walk is indicated by mention of Gallows Hill in the Ware survey of 1738. Furthermore, in the will of Bartholomew Longstreth, of Warminster Township, dated March 17, 1746,((Abstracts of Wills in the Register’s Office at Doylestown, Pa., 1685-1793, Vol. I, P. 54-55, in the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society.)) is found this annotation, “indentures between myself and Joseph Robinson of Rockhill, June 5, 1741, whereby I sold him 250 acres on Gallows Hill Run in Bucks County.” This was only four years after the Walk. Joseph E. Sandford, Brooklyn, N.Y., suggests that, inasmuch as Joseph Galloway in 1773 was interested in land tracts in Durham Township, “it may be probable that Gallows Run is the short for `Galloways Run,’ or a playful variant or corruption.” Interesting, but the stream had its name long before Galloway’s activity in Durham.

Archaeologically, Gallows Run has special distinction. Near its mouth, in the southeastern part of Durham Township and possibly extending across the township line into Nockamixon, was located the Indian village usually called Pechoqueolin, one of the largest of such sites in the county. If this spelling of the Indian name is correct, it becomes difficult to define its meaning. Henry (Matthew S.), in his Indian Names, translates Poahoqualin as “at a gap through the mountains.” This would be appropriate as a name for the village site, but to associate the two Indian names as different forms of the same word, in the light of the evidence at hand, would be pure conjecture. In a paper read before The Bucks County Historical Society, July 27, 1886, John A. Ruth, of Durham, to whom belongs the credit of discovering this village site, says:

“It extends along the river several hundred yards and from fifty to one hundred yards back. Its extent can be traced by the numerous broken cobblestones and chips of quartz and jasper which are thickly strewn over the surface and imbedded in the soil. Many of the cobblestones bear marks of fire. The chips of quartz and jasper are marks left by the ancient arrowmaker. They are an unerring guide to the archaeologist. Where they are abundant, he is almost sure to find arrowheads and other implements. Many fine relics have been found among the refuse of this aboriginal village. They exhibit all degrees of workmanship, from the rude ‘turtleback’ to the finest chipped spear-points and arrowheads. The most abundant relic is the arrowhead, of which several hundred specimens have been collected. Many of them show by their excellent workmanship that they were made by a people who had reached a high degree of skill in the stone art. Stonehammers, sinkers, plummets, scrapers, and spear points are plentiful. The last named are generally broken. Among the rarer implements are polishing-stones, grooved-axes, celts, knives, pestles, hoes, drills or perforators, ceremonial hatchets, and amulets. Fragments of pottery are plentiful. It is made of a mixture of clay, pounded quartz and shells, and is of rude manufacture. Some fragments are well preserved, while others are crumbling and have the appearance of great age. Some pieces are rudely ornamented and sometimes perforated in order to suspend the vessel by means of a string.”


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

  1. 88. The Lenape and Their Legends, by Daniel G. Brinton 1885 ed., p. too. History of Bucks County, by William Buck, 1855, pp. 94, 95. []

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