History and Historical District

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1 pdf Souderton Historic District CRGIS Report 2018 50 KB
2 pdf Souderton Historic District Map 2010 777 KB

THE HISTORY OF SOUDERTON BOROUGH

The borough has grown a hundred-fold since it was chartered in 1887. In 2015 there were a about 6,800 residents and 2,100 homes in Souderton Borough. When Souderton residents started the incorporation process in 1887, 600 people lived in the borough. By 1910, 1,875 people lived here. Souderton Borough’s population had doubled to 4,000 by 1930.

Historical Society

If you have a story or interesting idea for a future Newsletter, please write sthistoricalsociety@gmail.com or speak with any member of the Leadership team: Brent Bernd, Cory Alderfer, Ron Alderfer, John Derstine, Jeff Gross, Brad Price, Craig Silsbee, Wendy Leshinskie, or Dan Yocum. Connect with us on Facebook @SoudertonTelfordHistory. Additional information about Souderton’s history is well documented and available for review at the Indian Valley Public Library.

Souderton’s Historical District

Souderton does have a historical district for the properties that are included in this district please click on the links for the Souderton-Historical-District-Maps and the Souderton Historic District CRGIS Report 2018.  Please note: If these links don’t open please click on the attachments listed at the bottom of the post.

The History of Souderton Borough and Telford Borough

Follow the paragraphs have Souderton Borough and Telford Borough’s history in the words of the families who lived here. Enjoy their stories and the historic photos of where they lived and worked next to the modern day photos of those same locations. Additionally there are more historical photos may be found on the front page of the website under the historical slider.

Souderton History

In 1852, Henry O. Souder convinced the Philadelphia, Easton, and Water Gap Railroad to lay their rails right through this quiet section of Franconia Township. By 1857, when it was finally opened in this area, it was owned by the North Pennsylvania Railroad, and in 1879 it became the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. This railway would grant easy access to Philadelphia, with a station at Main and Broad streets. The former Liberty Bell Trolley Company tracks also ran along Main Street up to Perkasie and beyond in the 1950’s.

The Borough’s bank, Univest Corp. of PA, started before the Borough in 1876, remains a sparkling testament to the borough’s success through the years. The bank’s corporate headquarters remain in the heart of Souderton.

history

Throughout its history Souderton has been home to visionary entrepreneurs. The growth of the Borough was spurred on in large part by men who enticed railroad owners to change plans and bring the North Pennsylvania Railroad through town. Souderton prospered as a vibrant town supporting the outlying farms with supplies and entertainment and bringing industry to the area. Through the generations of families who pursued their dreams here, Souderton has been home to the largest and grandest store between Philadelphia and New York, hotels, lumberyards, cigar factories, textile mills, restaurants, billiard halls, bowling alleys and theaters. Friendly competition helped the town to grow as residents recognized the opportunities presented by each new era and responded with an eagerness to improve the lives of their families and their community.

Still retaining many of the buildings constructed during this booming era, Souderton with its hill and hollow is like no other place in Montgomery County. Pride of place and that same eagerness to improve the lives of our families and our community continues to spur the growth of our town as a gathering place for dining, arts and entertainment.

From their own words

Please continue reading to learn more from the colorful characters who carved a thriving town out of farmland and whose vision inspires our own for the future. The following paragraphs are taken from the 125 anniversary trolley ride.

“Herman K. Godshall’s flashy son-in-law”
100 N Main Street

My name is Mary Preister and I have been Herman K. Godshall’s housekeeper for many years now. I don’t like to boast, but I think that Mr. Godshall is a very influential man and really helped this town grow in so many ways.

He moved here as a young man in his 40s, after Henry O. Souder built this home out of the left over stones from the railroad embankment in 1860. Mr. Godshall started a hay baling business on South Front St. then, and built a feed mill in 1864 on Main Street. Why you can see the half he built if you look across Main at the Olde Mill Apartments. It’s the right hand portion of the building. Just between you and me, Mr. Godshall wasn’t too thrilled with his flashy new son-in-law Aaron Frick, who managed his mill, and he gladly sold the mill to the Moyer brothers in 1869. Mr. Godshall also sold his hay baling operation to those same Moyers at that time and turned to other community pursuits.

He became the director of the Harleysville and Souder’s Turnpike (now Main Street) and in 1876 when the new bank was formed 11 years before there even was a town, Mr. Godshall served on the Board of Directors for a few years. It was difficult for him, being a Mennonite in business at that time, since courts were used for collecting debts, so he resigned from the bank and turned to a less worldly pursuit.

He had been a song leader at the Franconia Mennonite meeting and was one of the people interested in building a Mennonite church right here in town. It was in 1879 when the dream was realized and the Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse was dedicated on Christmas Day of that year. By 1880, Mr. Godshall became the Superintendent of the German Sunday School in that church.

I like to believe that this town moved along at such a wonderful and rapid pace due in part to Herman K. Godshall.

“Water Street? Possum Lane?” 103 N Main Street

My name is Henry O. Souder. I was born here, in Welshtown, in 1807, in a stone house off Water Street. Well, you call it East Chestnut Street today, but it was originally named Water since the headwaters of the Skippack Creek start here and run behind my little house, even crossing under Main St. And yes, I said Welshtown. The first white settlers to this area were Welsh who owned, but barely settled here. Back in 1840 there were only about 20 houses in the area now known as Souderton, and in the winter I could maybe see 10 of them and smoke from the chimneys of some of the rest. Today, Souderton is the largest town in all of Franconia Township.

I built this stone house for my bride, Hannah Hunsberger after we married in 1834 and 8 of our 10 children lived here. Yes, that was a lot of people for this small building, but we spent a lot of time outdoors. I had 8 acres that we farmed, but like all farmers in our area I also had a trade. I was a carpenter. See that stone house across Possum Lane? (That’s what we used to call Main St.) Before I built that house in 1860, my saw mill for cutting roofing and ceiling lathes was located there. And those condominiums caddy corner from us? That’s where my lumber yard was. I started all of that around 1843 and had 6 sons to help me. Running a lumber business was tough back then. Just imagine…my lumber would float down the Delaware Canal to Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania where I had to retrieve it by horse or oxen team or pay to have someone else haul it to Franconia. That was about 20 miles on unpaved roads. If it rained you could get stuck in the mud. Once the mud dried, the roads were horribly rutted. Is it any wonder that we also started a spoke and wheel factory, too?

In 1852 I heard that the Philadelphia, Easton, and Water Gap Railroad was surveying to lay track in Bucks County. I offered them the free use of my land in exchange for diverting the railroad right here! This opened up whole new business opportunities for me, my family, and the rest of the community.

“The area ministers had to rotate between churches.”
105 W. Chestnut Street

Ah, it sure was a dream-come true to finally have a church in town. There were lots of churches all around and we, being from a very religious Protestant community, all belonged to one of them. Most people were either of the Lutheran, Reformed, or Mennonite faiths but the people who first settled this section of what later became Souderton, were mostly Mennonites, so it made sense that a Mennonite meetinghouse was the first to be built in our growing town. Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse. Now this church really had no official congregation for over a decade.

It initially was only built as a convenience for the people in town who were members of the Franconia and Rockhill congregations and in the beginning, meetings were only held once every three weeks on Sunday afternoons, as the area ministers had to rotate between churches. The first minister, who was chosen by lot in 1914, was Jacob M. Moyer, one of the owners of the Moyer and Son feed business.

Oh, but how Souderton Mennonite Church has grown! The first meetinghouse, eventually with an addition, was replaced by the second meetinghouse in 1915, and that was added onto, and added onto, and today the Souderton Mennonite Church continues in its original goal of spiritual growth, community outreach, and world-wide service.

Chestnut & Wile

In 1875 Franconia Township built my school right here on the corner where this parking lot is now. Since so many people were moving into this area we really needed a school right in town. Before that we used to walk pretty far to get to either Rosenberger’s or Five Points schools, but now I could sleep in a little longer, still get my farm chores done, and make it to school just as the bell was ringing and before Ol’ Mr. Wile would close the school doors. Whew!

Even though our fathers were starting businesses in town, they were all still farmers and you wouldn’t know by looking today, but this whole area was filled with farmland and barns even in 1875.

But slowly, that farmland was being sold and more houses and businesses were built, so by 1880 our little one room brick schoolhouse was torn down and a two story school was built in its place. I’m glad that back then school only lasted for 5 months of the year. And did you know that most kids quit school after eighth grade? School wasn’t as much fun back then and our only ‘field trips’ were the ones we walked through every day to get to class. (laughs) By 1892 the school was added onto with two more rooms and then four rooms were added in 1902. And every grade from elementary through high school was held here until the first high school was built in 1911 across the street where that playground is now. Our town just grew and grew and in 1967 this school closed after larger elementary schools had been built in town.

“Souderton wasn’t named for Henry O. Souder after all”

30 West Chestnut Street

I’m William Hunsberger Souder, son of Henry O. and Hannah. I bought my father’s saw mill and lumber yard in 1868 and moved it to this site in 1872.

Most people think that Souderton was named for my father, Henry O. Souder. I’m glad people think that because he brought the railroad here, built several houses, started a few businesses of his own, was involved in the community, and helped all my brothers and brothers-in-law and one cousin start successful businesses of our own. But in truth it really wasn’t named for him at all. The lumber office for our business was once located on Main St. where the large Univest bank building offices are today (you’ll be seeing them soon). When the railroad came through in 1857, at first there was no ticket office and waiting room. I worked for my father at that time and being good with figures, I handled all the ticket sales from the lumber office. While the train stop was first known as Franconia Station, by 1860 it was called Souders. Since we all knew one another people would just say, “I’m heading over to Souders” not “I’m going over to Franconia Station.” If the ticket office had been in the S. D. Hunsberger and Brother general store, then I guess you would be taking a tour of Hunsberger Pennsylvania today. In 1863, the railroad officially named our stop Souderton so as not to be confused with the village of Soudersburg in Lancaster County. I think secretly my father was glad that our town was called Souderton.

20 West Chestnut Street

Today, it seems so strange for people to think about walking across the street to go to work, but back when the town had its beginnings we all lived very close to where we worked. My house was on Main Street right next to Herman Godshall’s house. My apprentice lived with us and so did my clerks. Not only that, but my house was a twin and my brother-in-law, Henry H. Souder, who was also my business partner, lived in the other half.

My name is Henry F. Hemsing and we built the Hemsing and Souder planing mill here in 1871. We started operating with horse power but within one year we switched to a steam engine to run the machinery for cutting the raw lumber. We had quite an operation going as the logs would first be rough cut in Henry’s brother William Souder’s saw mill next door. We would then refine those rough boards into finished lumber. Henry Souder sold his interest to me in 1880 and I continued successfully for many years, finally moving the operation to East Chestnut Street in 1892, then operating as Hemsing and Son when Will joined me. I would never have been able to have been so successful if it hadn’t been for my father-in-law, Henry O. Souder, who started us in this business.

“It certainly was hard to resist those fried oysters”

12 N. Main Street

Our family certainly has had deep roots in this community. Who would have thought that when we bought the feed mill and hay baling business from Herman K. Godshall, this endeavor would eventually have involved so many generations of our family?

This was a farming community and farmers from Franconia certainly needed our feed for their livestock. The right half of the mill was built in 1864 by Herman Godshall and if you look near the roof peak on the right you will see that very date, faint though it is. The date on the left side reads 1882 which is when we built the addition and added the grist mill. We started as Moyer and Brother. That was me, Christian Moyer, and my brother, Jonas. Jonas was involved for a while, but he went off to develop other businesses. That’s when our brother Enos joined me. As my wife Susanna and I had no children of our own, I turned over my share of the business in 1903 to Enos’ son John, and they began operating as Moyer and Son. After John died, another son of Enos’, Jacob, joined the family business, juggling his company responsibilities with his duties as the first minister of the Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse.

We had a railroad siding here just for us and when we bought a coal and feed operation at Reliance we had one there, too. If it hadn’t been for the railroad we would not have prospered the way we did.

Souderton was growing so rapidly and it was certainly an exciting time to be in on the ground floor of the beginnings of a new town. Why we even rented space in our basement for a grocery store and lunch counter as early as 1875. It certainly was hard to resist those fried oysters when the smell would waft up from below every day.

“The Union National Bank was pretty fancy with doo dads up near the roof.”

24 North Main Street

Little did they know back in 1875 that the bank that the growing town of Souderton needed, would not only continue to this day, but would become their largest business and employer. They elected me, Isaac Gerhart, a neutral party from neighboring Telford, to be their first bank president. When I say neutral, I mean that things in Souderton didn’t always run as smoothly or as jovially as one would like to imagine when one looks nostalgically back into the past. Well, you know how it is. Get one person and you get one opinion. Get two and now you have two opinions, and so on. Well, this wonderful institution had its start with a safe in an empty room in Henry O. Souder’s house at the corner of Main and West Broad, now a parking lot for this very institution, when the Union National Bank was granted a charter in 1876. After quite a bit of haggling as to where the permanent structure was to be built it was finally decided upon this very spot on Main Street. It was built in 1877 by a company called Hemsing and Souder. That would be Henry Hemsing, married to Henry O. Souder’s daughter, Mary, and Henry H. Souder, Henry O’s son. Did anyone ever mention to you that there were a lot of people related to each other in town?

Oh, this current building doesn’t look anything like it did back when it was first built. It was pretty fancy with doodads up near the roof and it was smaller, too. In 1909 the building was given these noble Corinthian columns and this much larger porch and expanded out the back to keep up with our growing communities’ needs.

“Sparks from the smoke stacks of the steam trains caught our
newly constructed wooden buildings on fire.”

Front Street

In 1852, Henry O. Souder convinced the Philadelphia, Easton, and Water Gap Railroad to lay their rails right through this quiet section of Franconia Township. By 1857, when it was finally opened in this area, it was owned by the North Pennsylvania Railroad, and in 1879 it became the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.

It was loud. It was dirty. Sparks from the smoke stacks of the steam trains caught our newly constructed wooden buildings on fire. And accidents? Why, one day in June of 1887 William Souder’s horses, hauling a wagon load of lumber, collided with William’s brother Edmund’s coal office, when the danger signal blew. And why did it blow? Because their father, Henry O. Souder, happened to be walking the tracks below the crossing. He barely escaped in time. Henry Hemsing, one-time senior owner of Hemsing and Sons planing mill wasn’t so lucky. Some of our older residents, like Henry, became confused and wandered onto the tracks. Little children were hard to watch constantly. Horses got spooked and our new automobiles just sometimes stalled when you least expected it. We had so many accidents and deaths, that by 1893 John P. Benner had been hired as a day watchman at the Broad Street crossing.

The first train station was erected in 1865 on the south east side of the tracks from where the current station is located. It was removed in 1928 when the new building and freight station were opened, which you can see to your right.

The railroad, while creating a town, also cut that town in half. I think it’s high time you met some of the Hunsberger’s from the other side of the tracks.

“You’ve heard about the tension between the Souders and the Hunsbergers”

East Broad and  Front Street

My name is Jonathan Hunsberger and my cousin Hannah is married to Henry O. Souder. The new train brought many visitors to our neck of the woods. Once only a farming community, now freight and passenger trains brought us so many opportunities. In 1858, even during a depression, and only one year after the train came through, I built a restaurant on the corner of East Broad and the newly laid out North Front Street, next to my son Samuel’s feed store.

I just had a feeling that there was a real business opportunity here. Two years later, Frank Zepp, the restaurant’s proprietor was granted a hotel license and the establishment was eventually named Hotel Souderton. Can you imagine in three years time going from a farming community to being a place to eat, sleep, and conduct business? By 1881, my son William D. Hunsberger became the owner, and after he built his hall out back, things really took off.

Now you’ve heard a little about some tension between the Souders and Hunsbergers, but this was really just about business, and it wasn’t as serious as a feud or anything. It’s not like we each stayed on our own sides of the track. My William only stayed in the hotel business for a year when he sold the 18 room hotel with its large brick hall and stable room for 75 horses to William B. Slifer, Henry O. Souder’s son-in-law, married to Henry’s younger daughter, Katie. Katie’s brother, Edmund Souder, who owned the hardware store, lived right down the street from our hotel. He converted a cigar factory into a house. This was before he built his home on East Broad Street.

It’s just that things were moving at such a rapid pace, and we all just wanted to put this village on the map that occasionally, maybe-things became a little competitive!

“The cattle got loose and were running down Main Street”

Liberty Hall

In 1881 William D. Hunsberger built a 2 story brick stable and hall, which he named Liberty Hall, at the rear of his hotel property on East Broad Street. There were weekly horse, pig, or cattle sales conducted here for about 25 years. Once, the cattle got loose and were running down Main Street. That was so much fun! Most people had fences around their properties just for things like this. They didn’t want loose cattle or chickens walking into their houses. You see, this still was farm country after all. I’d love to see the look on mother’s face if she happened upon a cow sitting in her parlor, drinking from her best china cup!

When Mr. William H. Freed bought Hotel Souderton and Liberty Hall in 1885, the hall became known as Freed’s Hall. Did you know they put in an ice skating rink on the first floor for several winters? My father and his friends liked the pool hall here, but mother certainly didn’t. There were theatrical productions, singing groups and orchestras that performed. The tight-rope walker that once came was thrilling, and we all were amazed at the Talking Machine exhibition that was held here. We weren’t the little stick-in-the mud village that you probably thought we were. Nope, Souderton was really becoming the place to be.

“In 1886, he built the tallest, most impressive building in Souderton, complete with an elevator.”

120 East Broad Street

My name is Ulysses Hunsberger and when my father, William D. Hunsberger sold the hotel and Liberty Hall in 1885 it was because he had some big plans brewing. We Soudertonians used to call neighboring Telford, Clapboardville, since there were so many wooden buildings hastily erected at the start of the building boom. Souderton certainly had its share, like Edmund Souder’s hardware store, temporarily owned by Benjamin C. Barndt. Father felt it was high time that Souderton started showing a little class. In 1886, he built the tallest, most impressive building in Souderton, complete with an elevator. Even Freed’s Hall didn’t have the third story added until later. Since Father owned a quarry that was located on Water Street (now East Chestnut) he built the entire building out of that quarried stone. Not only that, but this imposing building once had an even more imposing tower right on top. We had many visitors climbing that tower just for a chance to see for miles. When we smelled smoke or heard that there was a fire, we could climb up to determine the location. As a matter of fact, when the town installed fire hydrants, a stream of water was directed at the tower, and when it cleared the top, we knew that there was no place in town that wasn’t safe.

Ours was the most commanding building in town and it was built as a hardware store to boot. A little competition is good for business, and both the Souder’s and Hunsberger’s hardware stores prospered. In 1889, father sold the store to my brothers John and William, and I began operating a grocery store here, too.

“He was Souderton’s first Mayor, or Burgess as it was called”

114 E. Broad Street

My husband, William D. Hunsberger built our beautiful home in the 1860s. I imagine by your standards it’s rather quaint, but back then it wasn’t just another farm house. No, this was a house right on the edge of what was destined to be a town! It was once noted by our newspaper editor that I had the most fetching flower garden in town. Now, I don’t like to sound too proud, but I just wanted our growing village to stand out and be beautiful.

Oh, it was exciting watching this town grow. Our side of the tracks had once been part of a Hunsberger family farm and now my husband, his brothers and his father started building houses and businesses on that land, so that my family now became my neighbors. It was wonderful to have so many of them close by. After my husband died in 1891, I continued for a time to live here right in the thick of things with my youngest child, Katie.

My husband had been an extraordinary man. He was determined to help make this a progressive place to live. Early on he felt that education was very important and he held the position of Franconia school director both in 1874 and 1877. I’m proud to say that he was Souderton’s first Mayor, or Burgess as it was called, back in 1888.

William sure was involved in a lot of businesses, too. He opened up a cigar factory on East Broad Street in 1883. You already heard about the Hotel Souderton and Liberty Hall, not to mention the hardware store that he built. He established a lumber yard in 1885, and in the early days there was also the general store. Eww! My grandsons used to catch snakes down in his quarry. But I digress! Between walking to the stores, churches, and restaurants in Souderton, and of course catching the train into Philadelphia, we had access to practically anything we could possibly want!

“There were rivalries between the Souders and Hunsbergers at times”

102 East Broad Street

Henry O. Souder wasn’t the only one busy with establishing businesses for his sons. My father, Jonathan Hunsberger did the same for my brothers John, William, Christian, and me, Samuel. See back before this time, large farms were divided from fathers to sons. But by the mid 1800s after so many divisions, there just wasn’t enough land to pass down, or new land to be bought, so the industrial age came along at just the right time. The Souders had owned a lot of land on the other side of the tracks and my father owned land on this side. I guess that’s what makes our town and story a little unique from other places.

On East Broad Street, almost within a stones throw of Souder and Bergey’s general store, my brother William built a general store that same year, 1860, right on this site. He sold it to Milton Zendt in 1870, but we bought it back in 1885, operating as S. D. Hunsberger and Brother; that was Will and me. Even though our town was small, it was growing rapidly, and there was plenty of business for both general stores, each of us having our own following, I guess you could say. Oh, but don’t get me wrong. There were rivalries between the Souders and Hunsbergers at times. Only once did it get a little ugly. When the first bank building was erected, we wanted it built on our side of the tracks and were even willing to give the land for free, but the Souder side of the tracks supporters won out. Well we, along with 100 other subscribers, pulled out. We were that angry.

Sometimes men thrive on competition, and it really began with Henry O. Souder way back in 1857 when the railroad was first laid. There was a small piece of our property that ended up on the Souder side of the tracks. Unbeknownst to my father, Henry convinced the railroad to buy it, where a siding for his lumber yard was then laid. This gave old Hen a business advantage that we just had not anticipated. Ah, but in the end we were family, after all. Henry’s sons just happened to be our second cousins.

Souderton Independent Building

The Souderton Independent newspaper has been the voice of our community since 1878. Once written in the German language, it quickly switched to English to match our growing progressive community. This was the third home for the newspaper, the last being held in rooms in Liberty Hall. Mr. William F. Goettler was the editor of the paper and was very conscientious in reporting the news around the world, in the U.S., and Pennsylvania. Very often this was the only way we first learned about news, and what was recorded was often the topic of conversation at the stores in town.

One thing he reported on was the friction between the conservative Franconia Township residents and us villagers. Every year when election time rolled around, the villages of Souderton and Telford wanted to elect a school director. We wanted to change the school year from 5 to 6 months. But the conservative township farmers worked hard to elect officials that would not give us any representation. By 1887 some of us were tired of the control shown by the rest of the township and petitioned for Souderton to become a borough and gain control of the Chestnut Street School. This was one time when the Hunsbergers and Souders were on the same side and later that year the original lines were drawn for the borough of Souderton.

Oh, but editor Goettler certainly had a light side to him, too. He admonished the men to paint their houses and fix their fences, and he liked to tease us ladies. He commented on things like our hoop skirts or whether or not we should wear our hair with bangs. He said, “If nice young ladies wish to fix up their heads so as to resemble a frisky mooley heifer, it’s no funeral of ours.” But my personal favorite was when someone actually left their dentures on East Broad Street. Can you imagine? Mr. Goettler didn’t mince words. He reported that the person who left them needed to retrieve them at the Independent office and bring enough money to pay for the ad.

Samuel D. Hunsberger

Let me tell you a little more of my story. In 1855, during the planning stages of the railroad, S. D. Hunsberger & Bros. (Samuel, Will, Christian and John) opened a feed store on North Front Street next to where Hotel Souderton was later built. By 1864 we built a new brick building on the site of what is now the train station on West Broad Street.

We had quite an enterprise going here by 1883. We had added a hay house, a coal yard, and a grist mill. What an operation! The partnership with my brothers dissolved in 1892 as they went on to other business pursuits and I continued the operation alone.

Now here comes the interesting part. For years the editor of our newspaper, William Goettler had been urging people to start a volunteer fire company, but no one seemed to be interested or didn’t have the time. One afternoon a spark from a passing locomotive set the roof of my hay house and chopping mill on fire. If the town had a fire ladder the fire could have been extinguished with a couple buckets of water. By the time we found a ladder long enough, the fire had spread and I lost both buildings. The next week, the town decided to purchase two hand trucks. Not only that, but Souderton was almost finished installing water mains and fire hydrants. Talk about poor timing.

Eventually the property was sold to the North Penn Railroad Co and in 1927 this station was erected.

We certainly hope you enjoyed the reminiscing of all us old timers. It’s always nice to talk with somebody new. Come back again and see us real soon. Have a good day now.

Telford History

You might think being located in two counties that Telford would have a split personality. This has not been the situation since Telford, Bucks County and West Telford, Montgomery County merged into one borough in 1935. You might also ponder that with three churches on Main Street and one on Third Street that Telford has lots of squabbles about religion. Actually, there is a remarkable degree of cooperation and support between the churches. You might consider that with few retail businesses people would be happy to leave this town for more activity, entertainment and opportunitities.

But Telford, with a population of about 5000, defies usual stereotypes and is home to some of the most community- minded, generous, and caring people who love living in a small walkable town where people still smile and say, “Hi” to one another when they pass on the sidewalk.

We invite you to open some pages and see the history that has created this small town community with families who are happy to be living right here.

33 N Main Street

If you want to know a bit about Telford, I guess I might be the person to ask. I once read in our local newspaper, the Souderton Independent that Telford was “one of Montgomery County’s liveliest boroughs,” and I have to modestly admit that I was probably involved in most of those activities in one way or another over the years.

You will find my name on the 1886 petition requesting that Telford, Bucks County be incorporated into a borough formed from Rockhill Township. Although a member of the Indian Creek Reformed Church, I also became the Sunday School Superintendent at the Union Chapel on County Line Road in 1886. I was a staunch supporter of the movement to build a new Reformed Church in town, so you will find my name on the Trinity building committee in 1897 and a member of the new church in 1901. The church was built before we even had a congregation to worship there!

I helped to organize the County Line Turnpike Company in 1874, which was responsible for improving, and maintaining that road; the Telford Improvement Company, which built the cigar factory in the late 1890s, and was occupied by Theobald and Oppenheimer; the Telford Volunteer Fire Company after the Moses Shelly fire in 1903; the Citizens Building and Loan in 1905; and the Telford Chamber of Commerce in 1928.

I was the first President of the newly formed Telford National Bank in 1908 and remained in that position for 20 years, never missing a board meeting. The bank’s formation is another story. I was the first constable and a Justice of the Peace for 38 years doing most of the legal work in town, such as notarizing wills and deeds and settling estates. All of this was in addition to my work as a school teacher at Fluck’s School and later in Telford’s first school at Washington Avenue and State Road in Bucks County.

Being the descendant of Johann Jacob Leidy, who came to America to practice his Protestant faith, I’ve been very aware of the privileges and freedoms available to me. I joined such fraternal organizations as Telford’s Wallawatoola Tribe Red Men, whose motto is: “Freedom, Friendship, Charity;” the Knights of the Golden Eagles with principles such as “Fidelity, Valor, and Honor;”the Masonic Order of Freemasonry at MacCalla Lodge in Souderton for my personal search for Truth and Light, friendship and support; and Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Sellersville, whose values in life are “Friendship, Love and Truth”.

As you can see I’ve helped to lay the foundation for our community and am proud to have been a part in making it happen. By the way, you are standing in front my house. It looks quite different than when I lived here. It was a home then– not a Funeral Home!

“a salary of $400 a year for me, which was less than that paid to both the cashier and the teller!” ~Edwin Leidy

100 Penn Avenue

Since I was the first President of this bank and held that position for 20 years, I’ll tell you the story of how Telford got its bank. Remember me? I’m Edwin C. Leidy. It just so happened that in 1908 a few citizens, Nathaniel E. Wampole, Charles H. Price, Sr., and Harry Z. Wampole decided a well should be dug to provide water to the six new houses built by Wampole over on Poplar Street. You probably know that street as West Broad Street today.

The Telford Water Company was organized in 1908 to build this well and it was estimated that a $5,000 loan would be required to get the project done. The Company applied to Souderton National Bank for the money and the application was denied.

That refusal got some of us thinking that Telford needed its own bank to handle our local matters. The bank was chartered, the building completed and opened for business by December of 1908. On that first day of business $17,822.25 in deposits were made!

But returning to the story about the well; the hand dug well was 30′ deep with a 40′ high tower topped by a wooden tank with a holding capacity of 15,000 gallons of water. The stone removed from the digging was used to build the house at 176 West Broad Street. This well ran dry after hooking up the County Line Hotel, so an artesian well was created by digging the old well to a depth of 90′. The new well now had a flow of 100 gallons of water a minute.

On a side note; lest you think I was in this for the money, in 1914, the Board of Directors approved a salary of $400 a year for me, which was less than that paid to both the cashier and the teller!

122 Penn Avenue

I love watching the train go by. I get excited seeing the men work the hand pumper for fires, too. But I’ll never forget May 27, 1903. This was the day when sparks and hot coal from the train set Moses Shelly’s business and lots of other houses and buildings on fire and the pumper couldn’t do anything about it. Of course, I wasn’t there when it started. I was in bed at 10:00pm when it happened, but the noise and commotion and the shouting soon got me up and going!

The fire was so big and hot that nothing could stop it. The only thing the hand pumper could do was put out small fires at the edges. There were people everywhere– trying to wake up neighbors and get them out of their houses, fighting the fire as best they could with hoses and buckets, getting the horses and livestock out of barns and stables. It was terrible and I will admit, I was never as scared as I was that night.

The next morning, I could see more clearly what the fire had done. There were black empty spaces where Moses Shelly’s feed store, grinding mill, cider press, stable, ice house, part of the lumber yard and two lumber sheds, hog pens, and stock piles with lots of coal, hay, and lumber had stood. The County Line Hotel shed, livery and stockyard were gone, and the side of the building was blistered, but the hotel still stood. Three frame houses were burned out and the wheelwright and blacksmith shops, too. All I could do was stand and look in shocked amazement.

That same morning a railroad crew came out to fix the rails that had buckled by the heat. By the time they were done and the next train came through, it took only nine hours to get everything going again. You should have seen the crowds that came to Telford on the train to see what had happened. Telford was quite a tourist destination for a couple of days after the fire.

Well, we all learned a lesson that night. Town Council got right on with it and picked Wallace Wolf to get things organized and the Telford Fire Company was started in earnest. The next year, we had begun building the fire house right here where you are standing. We got some better equipment to handle any future fires.

After seeing the fire that night, I plan to be a fire fighter when I get a little bigger and stronger, so I can help when something like this happens again. Fire can be a terrible thing.

126 Penn Avenue

Welcome to Telford Square! It looks quite a bit different from when I owned and operated the Telford Hotel just across the way. You would never even suspect that a hotel had once been here, but in its heyday, my hotel was the place to be in town.

My name, by the way, is John M. Kuhn, hotelier extraordinaire. Between the horse races with Texas ponies brought in by rail, horse and cow sales, horse and buggy rentals, and rooms for let by travelers and cigar-making boarders, something was always happening here. I’ll get to the social organizations in a moment.

I admit I encouraged those cow jockeys to bring in their livestock for sale. I knew it would bring in prospective buyers, who would need to stay in my rooms for a few nights! Speaking of rooms for let, with the large number of travelers here at any given time needing room and board; I had the largest dining room and washing facilities in town to handle the demands. Had you heard that I used a St. Bernard on a treadmill to power the washing machine for the hotel’s laundry? That’s really true!

I had a livery in the back for horse and buggy rentals, as I said, and to stable the lodgers’ own horse or carriage. Of course those horses needed grooming and feeding, so I hired a hostler to care for it all. We even had valet service, because the horse or horse and carriage were usually at the front door when our guests were ready to depart.

Out back with the livery were also the cow barn and stock yard, which were needed for those livestock sales I mentioned. I had quite an enterprise going here!

That livery had a second floor hall, which was used for those social groups I mentioned. We had public meetings, singing groups, fairs, parties, and a Debating Society. I had room for it all. Gosh darn, but those were the days!

132 Penn Avenue

Jonathan Wolf, the town’s best builder, constructed this structure in 1900. You know where Mr. Wolf’s mill was over at 179 on Poplar Street, don’t you? This was a fine three-story building with as much activity as the hotel next door, but a bit more refined activity, if you get my drift.

The first floor had a Dry Goods and Clothing store, always needed in a thriving town. I, myself shopped here regularly for food staples. My Johann always liked the biscuits I made with the raisins and apple butter, I just didn’t have the time to make. And apple butter was so good on my biscuits! I was sorry to see Mr. Blank close the doors to move away to Pennsburg to open a shop there.

The second story was the Club Room for the Stag Club. You know young men always need a place to meet so they stay out of mischief. Our son was a member there for a number of years when he turned 16. Although I’ve never seen it myself, I understand it contained pool tables, piano, a card room, and other entertainment. I prefer to think of this entertainment as being our Telford Coronet Band!

The third floor was the Lodge Hall for those secret fraternal organizations like the Wallawatoola Tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men and the Knights of Golden Eagles. Now mind you, I only heard rumors as to what goes on at lodge meetings, but I was told that the Red Men are descended from the Sons of Liberty, America’s first fraternal organization. Why the Sons were founded before the Revolutionary War to fight for America’s independence! It’s rumored that some of the men in the Boston Tea Party were members of the Sons of Liberty. I believe the Red Men organized their group using the democratic practices of the Iroquois Nation and Native American customs, traditions, ceremonies and words during the meetings. It was a sight to see all these Indians going to Menlo Park for their annual Reunion with the music, speeches, foot races, and baseball game. Some of those Indians acted quite fierce at times.

The other organization using the Lodge Hall was the Knights of the Golden Eagles. Again, I just heard it rumored the Knights were founded in Baltimore in 1873 and base their notions on being Knights on the Crusades. Have you ever heard such a thing! The Lodge Hall is called a Castle and the members go through initiations like they are Pilgrims, Knights, and Crusaders where they learn: valor, courage and fidelity, religion, charity, temperance, hospitality, and courtesy and honor. Seems like any of these knights might be good marriage material, doesn’t it?

Oh, in case you are wondering, I deliberately didn’t give you my name for fear that you would think me proud, boastful or a gossip! God forbid you should think such a thing, but there you are. People get such funny notions sometimes.

110-115 N. Third Street

Lester N. Freed is my name. How are you? You’ve seen those cigar factories over along Main Street in Souderton. Well, Telford had one too, right next to the railroad tracks on Franconia Avenue,Third Street today. At its peak, Theobald and Oppenheimer was the biggest employer in our little town. There were three floors filled with people taking in the tobacco, sorting the leaves by sizes (the biggest ones were used for the outer wrapping.), cutting the leaves to take out the veins, rolling the cigars, trimming the ends, packaging them in the cigar boxes and then getting the boxes ready for train delivery.

After the war, the cigar industry became automated and factories moved down south. Down there they were closer to most of the tobacco fields and cheaper labor was to be had. Fortunately for us, textile companies moved into the buildings left empty by the cigar factories. That was when Sackman Brothers came to Telford.

Before the textile factories, most of the sewing was done by women in their homes. A man would come by the house and drop off the fabric. The shirt pieces would then either be hand sewn or sewed on the sewing machine, if they had one. In a week or two the man would return to pick-up the finished shirts, pay the women for them and leave more fabric. In this way the women made a little extra household money.

At its height from the 1920s to 1950s, Sackman Brothers employed over 200 people. There were jobs for people to trace the patterns, cut the fabric, thread the machines, sew the pieces together, sew in the labels, press the finished product, and then check it, bundle a number of pieces, and package them together.

Sackman’s was known for the play suits it made. You call them costumes today. As with any industry, Sackman’s had to continually change its product line to stay in business. So we first made play suits of comic book characters and the movie idols of the day like Superman, Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon and the Ming Dynasty complete with the Flash jet propulsion backpack and Ming ray gun, as well as Halloween costumes, rain suits, and baseball, football, and majorette uniforms.

Next came the Cowboy and Indian play suits of Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Davy Crockett, and others. The outfits came complete with pants, shirt, and vest all decorated with studs and felt, fur or leather. The cowboy chaps were made from hides imported from Russia, which were sent to the factory in dog poop. The hides were attached to a bar in a large tower. The bar was hauled to the top and shaken to get all the poop off the hides, which was then given to the local farmers as imported manure for their fields. All this dirty work went on in the basement and fortunately I never had to go down there.

After that came the making of shirts and blouses. I remember there was one blouse known as Pennies From Heaven, which my brother designed. Pennies were surrounded by metal circles with a hook and these were the buttons for the blouse. After that we were fortunate to get a contract to make undershorts and shirts for the Navy during the war and that kept us going in the hard times.

When the textile industry left town, Fashion Bug used the building as a clothing outlet. Later, Tupperware used it as a distribution center. When Tupperware left, the building sat vacant and a plan to convert it into apartments failed. For years, the building suffered from neglect and decay and was finally torn down and Nobel Oaks was built in its place.

I guess with the technology games children play today, the play suits aren’t missed, but I sure had fun with the Flash Gordon play suit my brother brought home!

North Pennsylvania Railroad

Hello, there. Come on in and get comfortable by the pot-belly stove. My name is Richard Moyer and I was the first station agent of the North Pennsylvania Railroad here in “Hendrick’s Blacksmith Shop”. In case you are not “up” on your local history, railroad construction was finished here in 1857 and connected Philadelphia with Bethlehem. (This was known as the Bethlehem Spur.)

Train riding in our day wasn’t like in the 21st Century. Sparks would fly through the open windows and burn holes in your clothes. Along with the sparks came the black smoke from the engine stacks.

Most times, men passengers were smoking their big cigars, a natural thing to do. And the sounds of the creaking springs and hinges, and the noise of the rails made talking fairly hard to do. But oh, it was exciting to see the train come down the tracks!

About 10 years later, local people paid to have a station built. When it was done, the railroad called this stop Telford, after a Scottish Civil engineer, so what had once been known as County Line, now became Telford. Oh, there really wasn’t much of a town here though, before the railroad came through. In fact, we only had a few houses and a blacksmith shop. But after the railroad came, things started to pick up.

That same year, Jacob N. Souder, a man of vision to be sure, started building the first hotel here, the County Line Hotel. You can see it from here if you look north along the County Line. It had bake and wash houses, a livery, and large hall out back. The Evangelicals started holding services in the William Bergey Hall every other Sunday evening starting in 1893 when they were first organized. They continued to meet there until 1896 when their building over on Hamlin Avenue was completed and dedicated. But the Hall also held Telford Chamber of Commerce banquets, singing schools, fairs, and other public gatherings and meetings. The livery provided horse and carriage rentals and noon feeding and grooming for the horses of people passing through. On the second floor were rooms for rent for travelers and businessmen. The County Line Hotel was the local meeting place for salesmen and businessmen in town. Businessmen would come into the bar and people would meet up with them to pay their bills. After the bill paying, the businessmen always bought a beer for their customers. That’s a fine way to do business, in my way of thinking.

But, I was talking about our town growing; did you know that at one time our little town was the largest milk shipping town on this route? The Milk Train came through at 6:30 every morning to take 2,000 quarts of our fine, fresh farm milk down to Berks Street in Philadelphia for the folks in the city.

That reminds me, I think it’s about time for my lunch. Thanks for stopping by. I’d be happy to sell you a ticket anytime you want to take a ride to the big city.

120 North Main Street

I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Warren Fenstermacher. My brother, Frank and I were responsible for building this unique structure in 1905. It was conveniently located diagonally across the railroad tracks from my home, the large, beautiful, old Victorian house over there at 49 North Main Street.

When we opened for business, Frank had his barbershop in the front and Jacob Kratz used the side entrance of the building for his meat store. The upstairs had a large room used for public gatherings and meetings and was the original home to the Stag Club until it moved over to the Telford Hotel.

The Stag Club was quite popular with the young men until World War I broke out, then most of the town’s young men went off to war. When they returned, they generally got married and were no longer young stags.

From 1868 to 1871 we also housed the post office in this building until Alexander Sellers became the postmaster and moved it over to his establishment at the Telford Hotel. But the post office came back here again after the meat store closed in the 1940s and while Ernest Wolf was the postmaster. The post office stayed here until the new building was completed on Penn Avenue and Harold Hedrick, Sr. was the postmaster.

The barber shop closed in the early 1970s and was converted into the Towne Restaurant by Donald Moyer and continues to operate as a restaurant today.

I’m glad to see the Fenstermacher Building has withstood the test of time and is still a meeting place for people to discuss the things happening in town. Whether in a store, shop, hotel or saloon, the people of Telford have always liked to gather to share the events in their lives.

217 North Main Street

Hello, Miss. How are you doing today? What a fine day. Do you need help finding something? As you can see we have the groceries over here, the hardware supplies are over on that side, and the delicatessen is in the rear. Can I get you anything?

The dry goods are upstairs. Tell me what you need and how much and I’ll get my brother to bring it down for you. What? I’ll have to check our inventory on the third floor to see if I have any left. Do you mind waiting for a minute over here by the pot belly stove while I get our boy to run up there?

Hello Harold! How are you? Come to pay your mother’s bill, have you? Well, thank you. Here is your receipt. Be sure to thank her and your father for me, too, will you? And here is a Nickel Hershey bar for you for bringing me the money. Now, be sure you share it with your brothers and sisters. There is plenty of chocolate in that big bar to go around. Good- bye.

Good to see you, Enos. I have your order right here. Is there anything else the Missus needs before you leave? Do you want to pay for it now or wait until next Friday? Need any help getting your order loaded? Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next week.

Well, boys have you decided on the kind of penny candy you want? How much do you have to spend? My particular favorite is the gumdrops, but then the taffy does last longer. Well, if it’s hard candy you want we have rock candy over here. Take your time. I know it’s a big decision. No hurry.

It’s a busy life owning and running Gerhart’s Store here on Main Street. There’s always something to do: wait on customers, stock the shelves (though I do have help with that) check the inventory, order more goods, go over the books, and pay the farmers for their goods after checking the quality and amount. My brothers and I take pride in offering quality goods here at our store and we stand behind our products and our service. You can shop with confidence here with us. Come back again, won’t you? By the way, my name is Isaac Gerhart and these are my brothers, Howard and Abraham.

104 E Broad Street

I am a bit of a local historian. As such, I took it upon myself to write and paint the bits and pieces of Telford history as I remember them or as my father related to me. Having lived in the later part of the 20th Century, my information may be a bit more contemporary, but no less important than what has been relayed to you by the actual people themselves. My name is Charles H. Price, Jr.

The Gerhart building, constructed about 1908 had always been a textile factory. It began as a shirt factory, then the building passed through a number of owners until Godshall and Koffel took over the business in the 1920s. Gone was the shirt factory. Now the sewers specialized in producing men’s trousers for the New York market. This factory was similar to Sackman Brothers in that there were cutters, sewers, pressers, and shippers and all the other laborers needed to keep everyone busy. From the sewers, the pants went to the pressers to open the inseams and then the finished trousers were checked, bundled once more and shipped back to New York.

Swagger Pants Factory took over after Godshall and Koffel. This operation differed from the Godshall and Koffel work, in that all the trousers fabric came from New York already cut. All that remained to be done was the sewing of the inseams, pockets, waistbands, zipper flaps and zippers, pressing the finished trousers, quality control, packaging, and shipping them back to New York. After Swagger closed down, the Cocker-Weber Brush Company bought the building in 1985 and continues to operate from this building today.

Telford School Houses

Charles Price, Jr. here, Telford Historian. Looking around town, it is fairly obvious where the remaining two Telford schools are located although neither of them continue to serve in that capacity today. The first school located within the Telford boundaries was built in 1872 and continued as a school until 1904. It was situated on the corner of Church and Washington Avenues in Bucks County and has since been demolished.

The first school in West Telford was built in 1876 on Poplar Street.

The growing number of students in West Telford required two building additions, but finally the entire structure was razed and a new school building was constructed on the same location in 1903. Classes continued to be held there until this building was torn down in October 1971. Outstanding memories from this school include May Day and the graduation ceremonies. May Day was a great day with no classes. The morning was filled with monologues, poetry recitation contests and singing. The afternoon field day events included many athletic running and jumping competitions. At the end of the day ribbons were awarded for first, second and third place winners. With so many events during the entire day and the three place prizes almost every student went home with some kind of recognition.

Graduation was another day of no classes. The morning was again the time for speeches, monologues, recitations, and singing. After the awards and recognitions were given, the classes went outside on the front steps of the school building to have the class photographs taken. It was also the day in which the graduating students prepared themselves to leave the neighborhood school and venture into the high school in Souderton. For some earlier students, however, this would be the last formal education they would receive. The Jane Apartments now occupy the lot on which that school had stood.

This building on Lincoln Avenue was another school built in 1904 and provided classrooms for 1st through 8th grades into the early 1930s. When both Telford Boroughs consolidated, then 1st and 2nd grades were on the first floor and the teacher was Miss Ada Godshall. On the second floor, Mr. Clarence Holsoppe was both the 3rd and 4th grades’ teacher and the principal of the school. Many an unruly offender, usually boys, stayed after school to have knuckles rapped with Mr. Holsoppe’s ruler. Here students first learned to read the Dick and Jane stories, do simple arithmetic, explored the United States in geography class, and learned whether or not they had any artistic ability during art time. After this school was closed in the 1960s, the building became the home of the first Telford Library, which began with the help of the Souderton-Telford Rotary Club in 1964.

The last Telford elementary school was built in 1961 at its present location at 100 East Church Avenue. In preparation for the big move to the new school, the students participated in a book walk carrying their textbooks to the new school in the last week of classes at the old West Broad Street school. That gave the students a look at their new school and built the excitement for returning in September for the next school year. The wonderful thing about this school besides being brand new was that it had a cafeteria. None of the other Telford schools had such a space, since the children previously walked home for lunch every school day.

In 1979, the Souderton Area School Board closed the last Telford elementary school. The students living north of the railroad tracks were bussed to Franconia Elementary School on Route 113, while those living south of the tracks went to E. Merton Crouthamel Elementary School on School Lane in Souderton. The Church Avenue school then became the home to the Indian Valley Public Library, because the library in the Lincoln Avenue school house was at its capacity.

Although the library is a wonderful place and it is an honor to have it in our community, I lament the day we lost our school. I think in a small way we lost our sense of community and the connectedness that comes from interacting with our neighbors and sharing our children’s lives at school events.

101 South Main Street

Good Morning and Welcome to Trinity Church! My name is Reverend Jacob Kehm and I was the pastor of Indian Creek Church on Cowpath Road in Franconia Township. When the Union Chapel was completed in 1876 I accepted the responsibility to conduct the worship service for the Reformed people of Telford in addition to my role as pastor at Indian Creek.

Things went on like this for a few years when in 1897 thirteen Reformed men met to discuss the possibility of constructing their own building. These influential men: Isaac G. Gerhart, Edwin C. Leidy, Jeremiah H. Hunsberger, William H. Moyer, George H. Hartzell, J. Howard Gerhart, A. Paul Gerhart, Samuel Rase, George W. Reed, William H. Gerhart, Moses R. Shelly, Charles D. Pennypacker and James H. Gerhart voted unanimously to begin a church that same summer and within one month had solicited $2,206 in pledges.

Isaac Gerhart sold the lot at Main and Hamlin Streets for $500 for the location of the building and later donated that same amount back to the church. The building progressed with committees and organizations being formed until the Sunday School was formally opened on January 2, 1898 with 100 people in attendance and a total of $2.00 in the offering plate. As of this date, however, there were no members to worship in this new Telford Reformed Church, so a committee was appointed to solicit new members.

78 people petitioned the Tohickon Classis, Eastern Synod to become a congregation in 1899. It took time to organize the congregation, elect and install the consistory and adopt the by-laws, but finally the first Communion was offered to 71 people on May 14, 1899. Although I had initially accepted the role of supply pastor of this new church, the Lord and I were with these people every step of the way in guiding and directing their endeavors to the successful conclusion of a new Reformed Church in Telford where it still stands today much as it looked in 1899.

295 South Main Street

Good Morning and Welcome to Trinity Church! My name is Reverend Jacob Kehm and I was the pastor of Indian Creek Church on Cowpath Road in Franconia Township. When the Union Chapel was completed in 1876 I accepted the responsibility to conduct the worship service for the Reformed people of Telford in addition to my role as pastor at Indian Creek.

Things went on like this for a few years when in 1897 thirteen Reformed men met to discuss the possibility of constructing their own building. These influential men: Isaac G. Gerhart, Edwin C. Leidy, Jeremiah H. Hunsberger, William H. Moyer, George H. Hartzell, J. Howard Gerhart, A. Paul Gerhart, Samuel Rase, George W. Reed, William H. Gerhart, Moses R. Shelly, Charles D. Pennypacker and James H. Gerhart voted unanimously to begin a church that same summer and within one month had solicited $2,206 in pledges.

Isaac Gerhart sold the lot at Main and Hamlin Streets for $500 for the location of the building and later donated that same amount back to the church. The building progressed with committees and organizations being formed until the Sunday School was formally opened on January 2, 1898 with 100 people in attendance and a total of $2.00 in the offering plate. As of this date, however, there were no members to worship in this new Telford Reformed Church, so a committee was appointed to solicit new members.

78 people petitioned the Tohickon Classis, Eastern Synod to become a congregation in 1899. It took time to organize the congregation, elect and install the consistory and adopt the by-laws, but finally the first Communion was offered to 71 people on May 14, 1899. Although I had initially accepted the role of supply pastor of this new church, the Lord and I were with these people every step of the way in guiding and directing their endeavors to the successful conclusion of a new Reformed Church in Telford where it still stands today much as it looked in 1899.

107 West Lincoln Avenue

It’s Charles Price again. You heard about the beginnings of the Evangelical Church, they call themselves United Methodists today, and the Reformed Church in Telford, so it’s time you learned about the Lutherans, as well.

The first church in town was predominantly an interdenominational Sunday school built in 1876. It was also a place where children could give recitals and Sunday school programs and various local preachers could come and offer services on alternative Sundays. In 1880 its enrollment was 150 people.

This Union Chapel, as it was then called was sold in 1905 due to declining attendance as a result of the completed worship buildings by the Evangelical and Reformed congregations. St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of West Telford was organized in 1905 as an offshoot of the Little Zion Lutheran Church at Indianfield. The congregation purchased the Union Chapel, but soon found it too small for their needs, so the Chapel was demolished and their own house of worship built on that same spot and completed in 1908.

In 1979, the congregation again found the building too small to fit the needs of this growing church. As a result, the parsonage and church building on the corner of Lincoln and Main were demolished and the new sanctuary and Fellowship Hall were built in its place and dedicated in 1980.

Enos C. Bean

Good day to you! My name is Enos C. Bean and I was a teacher in the Telford schools for 25 years. In addition to that, I was also the Justice of the Peace here in West Telford, just as Edwin Leidy was over in Telford. We did much the same work: writing wills, settling estates, and notarizing documents. I lived in town at the corner of Poplar and Third Streets at number 262 in that big white house.

I’m taking it upon myself to bring you up-to-date on some of the happenings in Telford since the turn of the 20th Century. This seems to be about the time period everybody’s been talking about. I want to make sure you understand that there were two Telfords when the towns were first incorporated. I’m sure you know by now that County Line divided this area into two counties– Bucks and Montgomery. If you were listening carefully you might remember that Telford, Bucks County was incorporated in 1886. Since the state did not permit a town to be situated in two counties at that time, the part of town in Franconia Township in Montgomery County took the name of West Telford in 1897 when it was incorporated.

Now you might think there was competition between the two towns, but I can’t say that was true. We had men on both sides of County Line who worked together for the good of the community in the bank, savings and loan, the fire and water companies, fraternal organizations, and of course, the churches. Telford always had good, community minded people helping one another in any way they could.

It wasn’t until the state permitted one town to be located in two counties, that our two Telfords took that opportunity to finally unite into one town in 1935, which they had already been in spirit all these years.

There has been a lot of talk about the railroad and how its coming to this area really helped the economy. But times changed and those industries left town and people became more mobile with the coming of the automobile to Telford. Dr. John K. Hedrick, a homeopathic doctor, had the first car in town, a 2-seated, 2-cylinder 1908 Maxwell. It was the talk of the town! Dr. Hedrick’s two sons, Harold and Raymond went on to own the Hedrick Brothers Chevrolet dealership on Third Street. Herbert W. Kuhn had a Buick and Oldsmobile dealership on Pennsylvania Avenue where the Wolf Building was located. There was plenty of opportunity for a person to buy an automobile if they had the money and the inclination.

As businesses and industries moved out, buildings were torn down to make way for newer and better places of employment or residences. It was a sad time to see some of those old buildings come down and the memories they held go along with them. It’s a fine thing to see people today taking an interest in our older buildings, fixing them up and sometimes using them for something new.

Yes, times and people change, but somehow Telford remains home not just to the Germans who originally settled here, but also to our new neighbors of Asian, Hispanic, African descent.

Autobiography of Ruth (Betty) Yerger

In 1933 Ruth Elizabeth (Betty) Yerger (Gegan), 1918 – 2010, wrote a school essay entitled “Autobiography of Ruth Yerger”. The writing in parentheses, with italics, are additions contributed by Betty’s son Jim Gegan as told to Cory J. Alderfer.

My mother Ruth (Betty) – 1918-2010 – pretty much spent her entire life on Main St Souderton until 2004 when a combination of stroke-related dementia and osteoporosis made it mandatory to enter Lutheran Home at Telford. She stayed there till her death in 2010. That calculates to about 85 years on Main St. My mother never drove a car and worked at 129 Main St and lived at 207 Main St and would walk the Main St hill several times daily. She graduated from Souderton High School in 1936, went to Rudemar Beauty School in Philadelphia and graduated from it in 1937. During this period of train commuting she met my father Chester Gegan on the train in 1936. My father at the time was commuting to Temple University from Perkasie PA and they would save seats for each other on the train. She then began her career as a hairdresser with my Grandmother Adella Yerger upon graduation from beauty school in 1937. She and my father married in May 1941. Then World War II began, my father was drafted into the U S Navy. My brother Jerry was born in 1944 while my father was in the Navy and I was born in 1947. In 1948 my parents bought the Kline’s home at 207 Main St. and lived there until 2004. My father passed away in 1996. My mother only worked part-time from 1945 to 1959. (Remember…no one knew what a day care center was at the time and women stayed home to raise their children. During this time she would work primarily Friday nights and Saturdays so that my father would be home to take care of us kids. In the 1950s my Grandmother retired from hairdressing and opened the Tiny Tot Shop at 129 Main St. The beauty shop was still in business and was run by my Aunt Pearl Rutherford. My mother at this time worked in both the Beauty Shop and the Tiny Tot Shop. These businesses continued until 1979 when my grandmother sold the properties and moved to Peter Becker Home. She passed away in 1985.)

Chapter 1 – Ancestors

About my ancestors I do not know very much. I cannot trace them any farther back than my great grandparents. My ancestors on both mother and father’s sides were of German descents. (The Yerger’s came from Germany in the 1700’s and settled in New Hanover Twp.- suburbs of Pottstown, Pa.) My great grandmother on my mother’s side was a German. She came to this country with her parents at the age of four. They were farmers. (My grandmother, Betty’s mother, was Adella Smith Kratz. The Kratz farm was located where the A. M. Kulp Elementary School is located on Cowpath Road, Hatfield Twp. The old farmhouse stands today at the corner of Line Lexington Road and Cowpath Road.)

My grandparents on my mother’s side are also farmers. (George B. Kratz 4/1867 – 3/1930 and Katie Kern Smith b. 4/1868) In grandfather’s younger day he had a very large farm and also a market route. He also held the position as tax collector for several years. Today he lives mostly retired. (Of my Grandmother’s siblings, My Uncle George Kratz would be the best known to the Souderton Area. He worked as a presser at Goldsmith’s on Washington Ave. his entire life. He was the youngest brother of my grandmother and was the last to leave the family homestead mentioned in the previous paragraph. Then he built the 2 cape cods on the family homestead farm land next to A.M. Kulp Elementary. My Aunt Kathryn married Chester Knipe who became the long time mayor of Hatfield. He was mayor till he died. Uncle Chet and Aunt Kathryn also ran the Hatfield Hotel across from the Hatfield Home for the Aged.)

My mother (Adella) had four brothers and three sisters. Three of these died while very young. As they had a large farm mother had to help with the outside work because she had been healthy. Her two sisters, who were sickly, helped grandmother with the house work. Like all children mother often tells of the many fights they had together. When the weather was nice mother and the other children went to a nearby country school. She went for about eight years, and then stopped school and went to work in a factory. Mother as well as the other brothers and sisters had the chance to go to a college or business school. In those days it was not considered very necessary to go to school, therefore she did not go. One sister went to Lansdale Business School but because of poor health was forced to stop. She died soon after.

My father’s parents were Germans. My grandfather’s main occupation was a music merchant. He was also proprietor of several hotels. He organized and conducted several bands and orchestras. He died, when I was two years old, from gall stones. I do not remember very much about him but that he was very fond of me. When he was about I always got what I desired. He was a very kind and jolly old man. (George Ellsworth Yerger b. 3/1866 and Lizzie (Kulp) Yerger b. 8/1864 lived at 32 Hillside Ave. Souderton. Prior to that they owned the County Line Hotel in Telford, sold that and opened a music store on Hillside Ave. Then when George died, my grandfather, A. Paul Yerger moved the music store to 129 Main St. Souderton (c. 1920-1935). A parking lot has since replaced this building)

My father (A. Paul Yerger b. 611/1895) was the only son. Like children, when the only one in the family, was very much spoiled. He got or did whatever he desired. He did not take an interest in school and often played “hooky” and went fishing instead. He, like mother, had the chance of farther education, but did not take an interest in school and did not take the chance. After his fathers death he continued the business as music merchant. He also was an oil burner agent and owned a large creamery (in Niantic, Pa).

My mother and father were both of Reformed religion. (Zwingli – at the time on Main St., Souderton)

Chapter 2 – Childhood

I was born in a block house, on the 30th of August 1918, at the home of my grandparents. (George and Lizzie Yerger at 32 Hillside Ave. Souderton) I do not recall many happenings during my first three years, but like most children was continually getting into mischief when I started to walk. All drawers and closets had to be tied shut when I was around.

One incident I plainly recall was the time I wanted to play barber. My playmate was a very naughty boy, who was a year older than me. We got along very nice together. When his mother locked him on the porch he climbed over the fence, crossed the street, and came to play with me. We found an old scissors in the back yard, which someone had left lay when trimming grass. He picked up the scissors and carried an old bench from the cellar porch to what had once been a chicken pen. I ran to the house to get a towel in the meanwhile. When I returned I found my playmate sitting on the bench waiting for his hair cut. I pinned the towel around his neck and started to cut his hair. I cut and cut until there was hardly anymore left to cut. Then he decided he wanted to cut my hair. Just as he was ready to begin, my aunt discovered us. (Pearl Ziegler – mother of Leon Ziegler who founded North Penn Beverage. Pearl worked at Goldsmith’s on Washington Ave. her entire adult life and died just as the factory was being closed in 1974.) He was sent home and I was put to bed. (The irony is that my mother Ruth (Betty) became a hairdresser in Souderton in 1937 and had a career till 1972 with her sister Pearl Rutherford and her Mother Adella Yerger at 129 Main St Souderton! It was called Yerger Beauty Shop. My grandmother started it in 1933 and was one of only 2 hairdressers in Souderton at the time.)

A few weeks after this incident occurred my parents and I moved to (207) Main Street. There my playmate was Doris Hendricks. We played very happily together as well as often fighting together. One evening we found a cigar box in the yard and decided to be carpenters. She ran in the house to get the hammer and tacks. When she returned we both wanted to use the hammer first. She won so I left her use it first but it was so tiresome to sit and watch, so I again asked to use the hammer. She refused so I tried to grab it from her, but she hit me on the head with the hammer so hard that I ran home crying. We were both punished by being sent to bed immediately after supper. (I don’t remember whom Doris Hendricks married but she and her husband owned the motel on the way to New Hope – Rt. 202. Doris lived at 139 Main St. Souderton – now torn down.) When I was six years old I had a birthday party to which many of my little friends were invited. I received many nice gifts. The evening was spent in playing games. I also recall attending many birthday parties of my friends.

Chapter Three – School Days (Summit Street Elementary School)

In the first grade I recall sitting in back of LeRoy Funk. One morning he happened to be drawing and I having nothing to do decided to watch him. I leaned over in my chair and before I knew it I was on the floor as the chairs lifted very easy. I was a very timid and bashful little girl in the first grade. I was in the B class.

In the second grade I was promoted to the A class. I liked my teacher very much. I also had a bad habit that year. It was that of singing and whistling to my self. The boy in front of me always hearing me raised his hand to tell the teacher I was singing. As it happened I had a large soap eraser and every time he was about to tell on me I broke off a piece of it and gave it to him. After a while I had no eraser.

In the third grade Mollie (Mollie Dietz from Hillside Ave. Mollie was killed in the 1938 trolley accident just below Souderton.), Doris (Doris Hendricks from 139 Main St.), and I occupied the last seats in the first three rows. Mollie and “Tommie” Dillon were always giggling and made everyone else laugh. “Tommie” always took off his necktie and took it in his mouth. That of course started everything. Whatever the teacher said you could always find us giggling.

In fourth grade we had three different teachers. They were Mrs. Yoder, Miss Ziegler, and Miss Shutz. She always sat down to assign the next day’s lessons. Well one day she missed the chair and sat on the floor. Every one in the room laughed very loud and especially Joel Weidman. (Joel Weidman became a well known plumber in Souderton – his sister still resides in Souderton – Her name is Cleta Eisenhauer) He left out a big yell and the teacher sure scolded him. Not many of us liked her very much.

In fifth grade I was rather naughty. This was my most important year. I had a very bad habit of sliding down in my seat when things didn’t suit me. Mollie also had the same habit. One day Mollie and I were cross so of course we both slid down in our seats and the teacher called us “crazy old ladies”. Stanley Greaser also butchered flies that year. He caught them and chopped their heads off with a ruler. He made everyone laugh so his seat was moved up front of the teacher’s desk. (Stanley Greaser – lived on Green St., I believe. He owned rental properties – one of which was on Main St. in the 200 block – 2 doors below the Dental Offices at Main and Church – died about 10 – 15 years ago – in the late ’90’s) I also remember the day the teacher came after me with a ruler about a half inch thick. Many other things happened which would fill a book if I wrote them.

In sixth grade my desk was directly in front of the teacher’s desk. I recall the smack in the face for pouting when I was told to stay in for arithmetic. I received several smacks that year and had to write about twenty spelling words each 150 times because I talked so much.

Chapter 4 – Vacations

During my vacations too many things happened to be recalled. During my first few years I recall playing with a gang of girls in a play house. We collected all the old shoes and dresses from the young girls. We wore these clothes and played “big girls”.

I also recall taking many trips with my parents. We motored to places such as Niagara Falls, Bushkill Falls, Canada, Pocono Mountains, Delaware Water Gap, Harrisburg, Atlantic City, and many other cities along the coast. I do not recall in what year these were made.

When I was eight years old my parents built a bungalow. Here all my vacations were spent until I was fourteen years old. (This bungalow was in Byram NJ. When my mother was 13, her father “disappeared” – common during the Depression. This is why vacations were halted. The bungalow had to be rented out for money.) It was at this bungalow that I learned to swim. It was a habit of mine to hang on the back of the boats, but not so very far out. One morning the boat went out so far that I could not touch bottom anymore. The only thing to do was for me to kick and move my arms until I reached shore. It was in this way that I learned to swim. As I before forgot to mention the bungalow was built in Byram, New Jersey, along the well known Delaware River. (Several well known families in Souderton built vacation bungalows in Byram NJ – Alderfer’s, Frederick’s, Souder’s, Yerger’s, Freed’s, Hunsberger’s, Drissel and Diehl, Zendt’s, Faust’s and Holly’s. The south end of town was known as ‘Little Souderton’ while the north end was referred to as ‘Little Doylestown’. These vacation homes started rather primitively with out-houses and no electricity.)

Another happening I recall was my first “ducking”. I was sitting in the water near shore when a boy of about fifteen came sneaking up in back of me and pushed my head under water. I sure was cross at him. Every time I saw him coming I would run away and hide until he had gone by. This incident happened when I was eight or nine years old.

The following summers for six years were all spent in much the same way. My playmates at this place were Naomi Faust and Helen Drissel. When not swimming our time was spent in rowing the boat, paddling the canoe, motor boating, hiking to the town across the river (Pt. Pleasant, Pa.), playing crocket, and many other things. (Naomi Faust married Woodrow Rittenhouse – Rittenhouse Jewelry Store) (Helen Drissel married Clarence (Bud) Nace. The Drissel’s were part owner of the Drissel and Diehl Bakery on Main St.)

Another incident was the time I learned to paddle the canoe. My father and I went out in the canoe. I took the front end and my father took the rear end because he had to steer the canoe. Everything went along nicely until we were ready to turn around. I got my paddle caught under the canoe and we almost upset. After that my father would not let me paddle the canoe anymore.

About this time I met a very good pal, Mary Nickel. Mary spends her week ends at the same place. We had many good times together and especially in the water when we went swimming. (Mary Nickel was the daughter of the Nickels who were originally from Quakertown. Since George Nickel and George Zendt ran Peoples National Bank on Main St. in Souderton, the bank was fondly nicknamed The 6 Cent Bank after Nickel and Zendt.)

My first canal boat ride was another interesting incident, but the ride was not at all long enough to suit me. The ride was from one lock to the other and the locks were close together. (Mrs. Ada Souder, wife of Walter Souder, owner of the cigar box factory on Green St. took her daughter Betty (Frese), my Aunt Kay).

My Christmas vacations were spent in helping mother and going sledding.(Wassmuth) and my mother Betty on the canal boat ride.)

Another happening was my first shopping trip to Philadelphia. It was just before Christmas and my grandmother (Lizzie Kulp Yerger) took me to toy land. As most children I became rather restless towards the end of the day. The crowd moved rather slow so to hurry it up a little I kicked the lady in front of me. I can still see the expression on her face when she turned around.   Many other interesting things took place during my vacations but I do not recall them at present.

This concludes the Autobiography of Ruth (Betty) Yerger.