How did Gardenville, Pennsylvania get its name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Gardenville, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.
Gardenville is a village located in the central southern part of Plumstead Township. The village’s tavern was widely known as the Sign of the Plough. It was probably built shortly after the Durham Road was extended from Fentons Corner to Tohickon Creek in 1732. The Sign of the Plough was commonly used in both America and England and was sometimes accompanied by inscriptions. One inscription that has been preserved conveyed the following wholesome advice:
“He who by the plough would thrive,
Himself must either hold or drive.”
Durham Road (Route 656) crosses Ferry Road (Route 920) at Gardenville, and in earlier times, this intersection of two main highways was a center of travel of considerable importance. Thomas Browne, a Quaker immigrant from England, was one of the very first settlers of Plumstead when it was a wilderness unbroken by human habitations or roads. Some of Browne’s descendants lived near Gardenville, and from them, the place received its first name of Brownsville around 1800 and later. Its tavern was once managed by a popular innkeeper named Charles Price, and during his reign as boniface, the village itself was often called Prices Tavern. The Gotwals were many years successful storekeepers there, and in some old account books and manuscripts, the family name of the storekeeper is used to designate the village itself. Daniel Gotwals was the owner of the store and postmaster in 1870 and for some years thereafter.
When the post office was established on February 27, 1857, with John Schaffer as the first postmaster, it became necessary to choose a new name. According to a local story, a German woman (possibly Mrs. Schaffer) cultivated a large flower and vegetable garden at that time, which became famous in the neighborhood for the variety, size, and beauty of its flowering plants. While the villagers were discussing names for the new post office, an admirer of the flower garden said, “Why not ‘Gardenville?'” This name was promptly accepted by the Post Office Department.
Gardenville has one curiosity of vegetable growth that Mrs. Schaffer’s garden lacked. A white oak on the farm formerly owned by Amos M. Tindall, east of the village, is perhaps the most unusual specimen of tree growth in the county. It stands in an open field near the Ferry Road and in full view of travelers on that highway. Whether it is one tree or two trees united like Siamese twins is a question hard to answer. Except at the base and again a few feet above, there are two perfect trunks. The peculiar formation is apparently natural, and the tree has been in that form as long as the oldest inhabitant can remember. This famous oak is about 50 feet in height. It probably once stood in a white oak forest and was spared the axe because it was a freak. Some years ago, the tree was reduced about five feet in height and was otherwise maimed by a sleet storm. Its base is six feet and seven inches in circumference. The distance from the ground to the ligament that joins the two trunks is five feet and seven inches, and at the point of conjunction, the tree is seven feet and ten inches in circumference. The ligament is 17 inches in length, and it measures three feet and nine inches around its narrowest point. The oval-shaped opening between the base and the ligament was not produced by disease or insects.
Plumstead Friends held meetings at the house of Thomas Browne from 1727 until 1730 when they occupied a log meeting house they built that year just west of Gardenville on the Ferry Road. The present stone meeting house was built on the same site in 1750, though the date stone is marked 1752.
Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.