Hartsville, Pennsylvania

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

Village on the line between Warminster and Warwick Townships at the intersection of Old York Road (Route 155) and Bristol Road. From the records of the Post Office Department in Washington, it appears the post office was established on May 7, 1817, with Joseph Carr as the first postmaster. It is generally conceded that Hartsville was named for Colonel William Hart, the second son of James Hart, of Plumstead Township. Colonel Hart, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who had been the landlord of the hotel at Plumsteadville, moved to Hartsville late in the eighteenth century and established an inn there known as The Sign of the Heart. He was active in public affairs, serving as Register of Wills in 1807 and County Commissioner in 1809, and died on January 2, 1831, at the age of 84, as shown by his tombstone in the graveyard of Neshaminy Presbyterian Church. Historian William J. Buck suggests it may have been “owing to his influence that a representation of a heart was placed in the stone bridge just beyond the York road in 1793 when he was about 46 years of age.”

For some time before the Revolution, the village was known as Cross Roads and later as Harts Cross Roads. Another vernacular name was Warwick Cross Roads. Washington and his officers, while encamped in the vicinity in 1777, generally dated their letters from Hartsville, and General John Lacey did the same the following year. The old Presbyterian Church was founded in 1710. The first house to the left of the covered bridge over Little Neshaminy is the Moland house of 1763, leased by General Washington in the summer of 1777. “It was here,” historians say, “that Lafayette, riding out on horseback, received his commission from Washington.” A tablet has been placed on the west end of the Moland house by The Bucks County Historical Society to mark this event. Washington’s troops, numbering 18,000, encamped nearby. It was at this camp on Little Neshaminy that the flag which Congress adopted on June 14, 1777, is reputed to have been first carried by the Continental Army.

John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, made his first model in Cobe Scout’s log wheelwright shop near Hartsville and gave it its first trial on a small stream in Joseph Longstreth’s meadow, Davisville. Daniel Longstreth, of Warminster, in a sketch of John Fitch written in 1844, says that the inventor had successfully established himself in business as a silversmith and gunsmith at Trenton by the time of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. When the British came to Trenton in 1776, he was employing twenty hands making firearms, swords, bayonets, etc., for the Continental army. He was obliged to abandon his business then and fled across the Delaware River to the house of John Mitchell at Attleboro. He sought security later in a less frequented place and passed on to Charles Garrison’s and Cobe Scout’s, and taught Cobe the art of silversmithing and possibly gunmaking.

Reading Howell, surveyor and mapmaker, whose township map of Pennsylvania, published in 1792, is regarded as a classic of cartography, resided at that time and for several years thereafter near Hartsville. The last survivor of the Revolutionary army in Bucks County, Gideon Prior, died in Hartsville on February 14, 1854. He was a native of Connecticut, born on August 5, 1764. He was with Rochambeau’s troops in Rhode Island when but sixteen years of age, was at the siege of Yorktown, and witnessed the surrender of the British army by Lord Cornwallis on October 19, 1781. After the war, he was a student at Dartmouth College, then started for South Carolina, but on his way tarried awhile in Bucks County, liked Hartsville, settled there, and stayed to the end of his days.

A memorable event in the history of Hartsville was a visit which the 104th Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of General W. W. H. Davis, made to the village in 1861 before going to the front. Whittingham J. Livezey, of Doylestown, one of the officers of the regiment, revisited the place forty-three years later and thus records his impressions: “I turned my head and beheld the large field where the citizens of the surrounding country had gazed upon a scene which they never have observed since and will never see repeated. On the 17th of October, 1861, while the 104th Regiment was encamped at Doylestown, they marched to Hartsville 1000 strong, and it was upon this very identical field upon which I was gazing that the reception took place. I could see again the men in their bright, clean uniforms, the long lines of guns stacked and glistening in the sunshine, the eleven tables forty feet in length loaded with luxuries and substantials, such as roast beef, veal, mutton, chickens, pigs, and boiled ham by the hundredweight, and bread, pies, and cakes by the wagonload. I stood for some time in deep meditation, thinking how many hundreds there were upon that beautiful autumn day, young men in the bloom of life, who partook of their last substantial meal of that description. Their bones are mouldering today in the soil of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida.”


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

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