One Time In Bucks County . . .

Bucks County Bits

In 1692, eight municipalities were named in Bucks County:   Pennsbury, Buckingham, Middletown, Salem, Newtown, Makefield, South Hampton and…

The last name was left for William Penn to choose. He took so long, locals started calling it “that township near the falls”. Falls Township.

William Penn

In 1685, John Tatham (alias Gray) & Joseph Growden, bought neighboring plots of land in Bensalem from William Penn. A silver mine was found on the border between the two, & law suits were filed. The properties were surveyed repeatedly, each moving the property line as suited their owner. The battle lasted for years, & the silver was never mined. Is it still there?

Growden Property Map

Bucks County Drive-In opened in Doylestown in 1954 showing “Knights of the Round Table”. They closed in 1998 with double feature “Wayne’s World” & “Grease”. In 1956 the screen was blown down in a storm. The movie showing that night was “The Rains of Ranchipur”.





It is tradition to eat turkey for Christmas dinner because turkeys scratch the ground backwards, pushing back the old year.  Pork is eaten on New Year’s Eve because pigs dig forward towards the upcoming year.


Have a happy & healthy 2022.

Irish immigrants to the Colonies brought with them their Winter tradition: A single lit candle in the window if they had some food to spare. A stranger passing by would know he was welcome to stop in for a friendly meal.

Welcome Friend

Standish Forde Hansell was a bit quirky, & very eccentric. He built the Penguin Flyer Restaurant on Route 13 in Bensalem in the 1940s. It looked like a train coming out of a tunnel. He also dug Dinosaur Lake on his family farm. It had an island with two 8″ tall cement dinosaurs, & a giant snake wrapped around a tree. It is now part of Bensalem Country Club.

Dinosaur Lake

Cadet Booz had his throat destroyed by hot sauce during a hazing incident at West Point Academy. He was dismissed, & later died from starvation. Other cadets refused to testify against their drill instructors at the military trial held in Bristol. All but one… Cadet Douglas MacArthur told the truth, helping get the instructors convicted.


On a chilly day in 1889, gypsies traveled down Doylestown-Centreville Pike & stopped at Rebecca Swain’s house. A naked 2 year old was taken in & clothed. A mile down the road, the child was again naked, & again clothed by local women. By the time they reached Mechanicsville, the child probably had a full wardrobe.

From Bucks County Panorama Magazine

Mechanicsville Farm
Mechanicsville Mill

                          Ed & Laura Taifer operated Ed’s Diner in Doylestown for about 40 years. They started in a one room building, eventually expanding to a stainless steel diner. Thanksgiving there was special. The feast included roast turkey, filling, two vegetables & a roll, for just 60 cents! And don’t forget the hot apple dumplings with vanilla custard for dessert.

Ed's Diner

Pen Ryn Mansion (Bensalem) has a closet with a hole in the door for the owner to stick his head through. A servant, inside the closet, would powder his wig, thus keeping his clothes clean. Rancid pomades were used to keep the powder on. Perfumes were sprayed to hide the odor.

In 1777, a woman in Bristol woke to find a mouse trapped in her hair. Both screamed so much, the police were called. People took to napping with a mouse trap next to their heads.


Powdering a wig

In the late 1800s, Barnum & Bailey combined their circuses. During the winter, some of the animals enjoyed a vacation in Bucks County. They came by train to New Jersey, then were crossed over the Delaware River bridge by local kids to three farms in New Hope, Stover Mills & Plumstead.

Elephants, & horses, & camels, oh my!

Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus Parade
P.T. Barnum

Mary Anne had to explain to her boss why she was late for work – again. It was the Yardley Ducks. 

J.C. McCormick had a duck farm on Dolington Road in Yardley. Some ducks were released & set up home in Lake Afton. Over a hundred years later, their descendants like to stroll across Main Street, stop, preen, then continue on – all during rush hour, regardless of the traffic. Yardley residents learn to “Brake for Ducks”.

Yardley Duck Farm
Peking Ducks

The Pemberton Mansion (now the Bolton Mansion) in Bristol Township may be the most haunted building in Bucks County. One former resident fought in the Civil War on the side of the South, against his father’s wishes. Upon his return, his father refused to forgive him. He was so distraught, he hung himself. His love interest, Mary, was so upset she hung herself as well. Both have been seen in the mansion, along with a little girl & a ghost cat.

Bolton Mansion
The Pembertons

An elderly woman sits in her attic room at the Pineapple Hill Inn in New Hope, waking guests with the whirring noise from her spinning wheel.

Footsteps of the owner, John Scott, can be heard coming up the spiral staircase. He then wakes the female guests with a light kiss on the cheek.

Both have been dead since the early 1800s.

Pineapple Hill Inn
The Bedroom


Public Road – King’s Highway 1686

County Seat & Courthouse – 1705

House of Correction – 1722

Post Office – Postmaster Jos. Clun – 1790

Successful use of artificial respiration – Dr. Henry Desborough – 1810

Telephone Exchange – 1883

Non-roving Physician – Dr. James DeNormandie – 1800s

Marriage by Proxy – Narciss of Spain – 1816

Successful Operation of a Steamboat – John Fitch – 1787

The 45th Historic Bristol Day

is Sat, October 16.

John Fitch Steamboat
Add Your Heading Text Here

Angelo Sarino went to Trenton to look for work. He walked both ways across the railroad bridge. On the way home to Morrisville, a train came, so Angelo laid down on the tracks, & miraculously, the train rode over him, leaving him unharmed. He got up, lost his footing, & fell to his death.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Martin Johnson Heade was considered one of the most interesting & varied painters of the 19th century. He grew up in Lumberville, his parents owning the building that later became the Lumberville General Store.

At 18, he took lessons from Edward & Thomas Hicks, who was just 14 at the time. Heade was known for his incredible flowers & hummingbirds, as well as landscapes, portraits & still lifes.

Add Your Heading Text Here



 The 1923 Boy Week Celebration in Doylestown ended with 12 year old Curtis Lyons being crowned the marble champion, & Eugene Gardy’s dog “Mutt” voted the “best plain dog in the show”.

Add Your Heading Text Here

   Tony Russo is Bristol’s very own Doo Wop singer. He grew up in the Borough & “learned to sing in the train tunnels & on street corners”. He performed with the Street Corner Five, Destination, Nostalgia, Danny & The Juniors & the Duprees.

This weekend is the Doo Wop festival. Do you think they’ll play the Bristol Stomp?

Add Your Heading Text Here

                Mary Ann Wiley

of Skunk Hollow, Bucks County asked for a divorce in 1780 because of her husband’s love for the “Devil’s Dealing”. He could think of nothing but playing cards for money. He was a good player, with some games lasting a week. As soon as Samuel won, he would ride his horse to the next town to challenge their best player. The divorce was granted.

Add Your Heading Text Here

It was a Saturday in 1956 & yet the kids were happily going to school. Walt Disney was there for the dedication of the elementary school named for him in Tullytown. He created murals & animation cells for the walls, & the students got to name the rooms – Capt. Hook for the principal, Mermaid Lagoon for the girl’s room, Never Never Land for the boiler room.

Disney himself only made it to 9th grade, after being told he was dumb, & should stop drawing & telling stories.

Add Your Heading Text Here

In 1705, the Bucks County seat was in Bristol. The new courthouse had a gallows & a whipping post. Drunks were placed in the stocks for public humiliation. One swear word brought 5 days at hard labor, with just bread & water. Poverty was a crime. Public assistance required a red or blue “P” on your right shoulder. Arson, rape & witchcraft were punishable by death. Twenty lashes were frequent, regardless of sex.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Dr. George Fox, surgeon & owner of Harriman Hospital, also had a practice on Radcliffe Street in Bristol. Mark Swift had been a patient of his, & later had the opportunity to move into that house where Dr. Fox saw patients. While doing work on the house, he found medical papers stuffed in the walls. They were records of his own appendectomy surgery.

Dr. Fox House
Add Your Heading Text Here

When Howard Sine opened his 5 & 10 cent store in Quakertown in 1912, he probably never thought it would be run by the 5th generation of his family today. They still serve breakfast & lunch at the soda fountain counter, while hundreds of model planes & trains circle overhead. Take a step back in time; say “Hi” to the regulars, have some Scrapple, & enjoy that Rootbeer Float at Sine’s 5 and 10.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Sines 5 and 10

Bert Jervis, Jr.’s 1st experience in theatre was at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, as a set builder & all around assistant. He worked with Rob Reiner, who had the job of raising the curtain & turning off the mill’s waterwheel (so the actors could be heard on the stage). He was the only one strong enough.

Bert later changed his name to Burt Ward, & became known as Robin, Boy Wonder, sidekick to Batman.

Add Your Heading Text Here

“Daisy”, a Labrador Retriever, is a “Courthouse Comfort Dog”, and a good listener. She comforts witnesses & victims at Doylestown Court House while they wait to testify.

“Dallas”, a German Shepherd, is the “George Clooney of the dog world”, says her breeder, Maryellen Kish of Upper Bucks. Dallas is one of less than 12 dogs to win 100 Best of Shows.

“Bowie”, a Belgian Malinois, won on the “America’s Top Dog” show with his partner, Bensalem Police Officer Robert Schwarting.

Kenneth Kauffman (West Rockhill) was a judge for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the 2nd oldest sporting event in the U.S. (after the Kentucky Derby). His Sealyham Terriers, loved by celebrities, are an endangered breed, partly because of their need for extensive grooming.

I think Digger Dogs (Bristol) could do the job. Donna, our hearts ache.

Hitchcock & his Sealyham
Add Your Heading Text Here
Belgian Malinois

From his home in an old turkey coop in Solebury Township, Abbie Hoffman tried to change the world. As an activist & Flower Power Child, & one of the infamous Chicago Seven, he was arrested while rioting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Facing arrest for dealing cocaine, he had plastic surgery & hid for 7 years. Later, joining Del-Aware, Unlimited, he fought the construction of Peco’s Point Pleasant Pump Station. 
He also played a lot of pool at Apple Jack’s Bar & made a mean gefilte fish from scratch.

Henry Below worked as a porcelain engineer for Stangl Pottery in Trenton , but left in 1950, starting a company with his wife & son in Falls Township. Pennsbury Pottery was known for its Amish & American patterns, & the elusive one-of-a-kind Walt Disney plate, presented to its namesake when he came to help dedicate the Walt Disney Elementary School in Levittown. Henry & Lee passed away, & the factory caught fire in 1971 destroying all of the molds, forever stopping production.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Three men who signed the Declaration of Independence lived in Bucks County, two in the same house! Thomas Barclay sold his house (in what is now) Morrisville to Robert Morris. These two men practically financed the Revolutionary War themselves. Morris sold the house to George Clymer. Both Morris & Clymer were signers.

George Taylor, also a signer, worked at Durham Furnace & Durham Iron Works, living nearby.


Gene Nichols began his photography career in the US Army, then opened a camera shop on Mill Street in Bristol. To boost sales, he also sold Warner’s Candies & Steiff Toys. At a toy show, he met a man who also sold swimming pools. Gene then opened an ice cream stand at the intersection of Rt. 413 & Durham Road, & it later morphed into Nichols Pools. The giant whale sign let you know you were there.

Photo: Jerry Kline with Santa at Nichols Camera Shop, 1950.

Santa Pictures at Nichols

Jeremiah Langhorne, having no descendants, left a will (1742) that allowed his slaves to remain on & rent his property, until their death. Each family had its own home. They created a village called Guinea, & later another called Tombuctoo (near Styer Farm). As free blacks, they were permitted to vote (for a while), & created the Society of Free Colored Methodists of Attleboro & the AME Church. Descendants of these freed slaves still live in this area today.

In 1897, an Oregon Pine & a Michigan Spruce were shipped to Philadelphia, then left to season in the Delaware River for 7 years. They were then drawn through the streets by horse & buggy to Doylestown to become the tallest flag pole in the U.S., at 176′ tall, 33 1/2″ wide, & weighing 7 tons.

                       Flag Day is June 14th

Mae Krier fell in love with the B-17 bomber. At 17, she became a “Rosie the Riveter”, literally adding numerous rivets to the “Flying Fortress”  that helped the U.S. on D-Day (June 6). When Hitler said American women were soft & spoiled, Mae says the Rosies went to work with a vengeance. “We showed him.” She signed her name to the 5,000th B-17 & finally got a ride in one some 70 years later. From her home in Levittown Mae creates Rosie the Riveter masks & bandannas to fight this new war.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Mae Krier

More than 10,000 military lives have been saved by heroic War Dogs, performing duties such as scout, sentry, tracker, search & rescue, explosive detection, water patrol…& friend. Bristol Township has erected a memorial sculpture to those dogs from Pennsylvania. The sculpture was created by Bristol’s own Joseph Pavone.

Add Your Heading Text Here
add Your Heading Text Here

Treasure Island Scout Reservation was the longest continuously operating camp in the   U.S. (1913). It consisted of two islands in the Delaware River; Treasure Island on the New Jersey side & Marshall, or Eagle Island in Point Pleasant. The Order of the Arrow was founded here, an elite national honor society reinforcing scout law & oath, & recognizing leadership & camping skills.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Archie Darrah’s barn was on fire! Neighbors used hoses & buckets, but the barn was lost. As a result, the Hartsville Fire Company was formed in 1924. The first truck was a Ford Model T Chemical Truck. To report a fire, a call was made to the DeCoursey family who lived next to the “fire station” (part of a carriage house), to the Hartsville Hotel, or to the post office across the street. Someone would run to the station to ring the bell, then wait for the firemen to show up to give them the location of the fire.

When Sidney Popkin opened his shoe store on Mill Street in Bristol Borough, it was just one more exciting thing in his busy life. A graduate of Bristol High School, he worked for the Bristol Boro Recreation Board, Bristol Fish & Game Protection Association, Bristol Boro Marine Authority & Special Police, Bristol Boro School Board, & was in the Coast Guard Auxilliary. All this (and more) after having been one of only 8 survivors of a plane crash in Boston Harbor.

Champion racehorse, Messenger, came to Bristol Township in 1780. He sired almost 1,000 foals, eventually leading to Seabiscuit, Seattle Slew, Man O’War, Secretariat, & Bucks County’s own Uncle Milty & Smarty Jones. Messenger is in the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame, & had a military gun salute at his funeral.

Levittown’s Plans:

No slums to fret about, no conspicuous wealth to envy. Quiet spacious beauty, gently curving streets uncluttered by cars. Sliding bamboo screens instead of doors. Levittown Civic Association to foster a common identity. Welcome Wagon to help city folk transition to Suburbia. Homeowner’s Guide (aka Rule Book)… No hanging laundry on Sunday, no man-made fences, lawn & tree care instructions because city dwellers don’t know about horticulture. Open floor plan so the housewife could do chores, while still interacting with the family. Many appliances to save the girls 3 hours every day, taking the drudgery out of housekeeping.

William Hentz & Co. built a rollerskating rink  on Hamilton Street in Doylestown in 1885. A horse, dragging a large stone behind it, was used to polish the floor. The horse wore padded bags over it’s hooves to prevent damage from it’s metal shoes. Business wasn’t very good, so the rink was used for bicycling, as a school, and later, as a National Guard drill facility.

The Arctic Food Center’s “Dream Store” opened in 1946 in Cross Keys (Doylestown). It sold ONLY self-service frozen foods, and dairy products. With pink walls and a giant polar bear sign greeting you at the entrance, it later became a Thriftway, owned by H. Clayton Stauffer.

Doylestown resident Jimmie Foxx, aka Double XX & The Beast, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951. He played for the Philadelphia A’s, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs & the Philadelphia Phillies.  With a record of 534 home runs, a .325 batting average, 3 MVPs & 1,921 RBIs, he later coached the Fort Wayne Daisies & was immortalized by Tom Hanks in the movie “A League of Their Own”.

The Cold Spring Baptist Church, started & ministered by the Reverend Thomas Dungan in 1684, was the first Baptist Church in Pennsylvania. It was located in Cold Spring, Bristol Township (now Edgely). The Reverend’s daughter, Rebecca, married Edward Doyle, and moved to what is now Doylestown.

John Knoell & Son made wood products, specializing in small tables, defense contracts, & boxes for Franklin Mint coins. The company, located in New Britain Borough, had a patent for a display case for collectible plates, & John’s wife Gretchen was well known for her quality custom picture frames.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

In 1854, the “spirits” told Daniel Taylor to buy property by Pidgeon’s Swamp in Bristol Township & dig a well 101′ 6″ deep to find medicinal water. He did, & found mineral rich water similar to that at the Bristol Baths. He bottled “Mystic Waters from David’s Well” & opened the Healing Institute at David’s Well, treating ‘kidney disease, dyspepsia, nervousness, liver complaints & general debility’. Unfortunately, the carbonate of magnesia, a natural laxative, provided unwanted side effects.

In 1911, a five legged, six hooved calf was born on the property.

Chez Odette (the building) moved 2 blocks further up the road in New Hope. Originally the River House (1784), the cabaret, tavern & restaurant was operated by Odette Laure Clotilde Quignarde, a famous violinist, singer, stage & screen actress (South Pacific), member of the Ziegfeld Follies & vaudeville performer. The restaurant was also known as the place Jessica Savitch & Martin Fischbein drowned in the canal after eating dinner.

It will now be part of a luxury hotel.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

Frederick Douglass, the famous orator, author, abolitionist & ex-slave was the 1st African American nominated as Vice-President of the United States. He was also the most photographed person of the 19th century, though he never smiled for the camera.

He came to Bucks County, speaking at Newtown Hall (now Newtown Theatre), promoting the enlistment of African Americans during the Civil War.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

The Great Migration brought many free blacks to their new homes in Bristol Terrace. There they were picked up daily by truck, driven to work at the Godfrey-Kirk House (now Boone Farm) in Langhorne, then returned home at the end of the day. The farm house still stands, about to become the new permanent home of the African American Museum of Bucks County.

Add Your Heading Text Here

In 1816, Narciss, daughter of Spanish Ambassador Don Luis de Otis y Gonzalez-Vara Lopez y Gomez was ready to marry her true love, a Spanish army officer. Unfortunately, he was called to duty back in Europe… but the wedding was held anyway. Narciss’ father stood in as proxy for the groom, in Bristol. The officer’s sister stood in for the bride, in Spain. They said their vows at the same time. Once reunited, they lived happily ever after.

True love conquers all!

In 1871, a group of men gathered at Poet’s Rock in Cuttaloosa Valley to form a poet’s society. They wrote & recited original poems, sitting in the woods listening to birds singing & the creek babbling. The rock, made of quartz, looked like a flat topped, moss covered tree stump.

The poets included Thaddeus Kinderdine & John Whittier.

“Where Cuttaloosa’s waters roll murmuring on their way, ‘twixt hazel clumps and elders, ‘neath old trees mossed and gray…” TK

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

Father Bede (John) Tatham fled to America after leaving his post as a Benedictine Monk, possibly with church money. Penn sold him land in Bensalem, though he didn’t trust him; he was Catholic. Tatham, constantly in court sueing someone, was suspected of poisoning a land surveyor while trying to get his property lines changed. He died a rich man.

Erik Larson’s first newspaper job was at the Bucks County Courier Times. He wrote about “murder, witches, environmental poisons & other equally unpleasant things”. When passed over for a promotion, he quit, leading to a job at the Wall Street Journal & a series of non-fiction books with true stories from history so fantastic that you’ll be convinced they’re made up. His books include “Devil in the White City” (serial murders at the Chicago World’s Fair), “In the Garden of Beasts” (Nazi Germany), “Lethal Passage” (high school shootings), & “Dead Wake” (Lusitania sinking). You could say the Courier created his career.

Mount Gilead African Methodist Church was established on Buckingham Mountain by 15 free & escaped slaves. It was the last stop on the underground railroad before New Jersey.

Escaped 6’10” slave Benjamin “Big Ben” Jones was recaptured on the mountain, beaten & imprisoned, but could not be sold because of his injuries. A group of local Quakers raised $700 & bought his freedom. He remained in Buckingham Township, free at last.

The film “The North Star” is loosely based on him.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Strange Pennsylvania Laws…

No more than 16 women can live in a house at one time, or it is considered a brothel. Men can have 120.

You may not sleep outside on a refrigerator.

It is illegal to catch a fish with your hands, but your mouth is okay.

No singing in the bathtub.

No sweeping dirt under the rug.

No wearing make-up in Morrisville without a permit.

No juggling in front of an airplane.

New Year’s Day was on March 25th until 1751, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. The day meant attending church & visiting family & friends for punch & New Year’s Cake. Eating pork symbolized moving forward.

Mummers (meaning the personification of satire & mockery), strolled the streets begging, “Here we stand before your door, like we did the year before. Give us whiskey, give us gin, open the door & let us in.”

Bucks County’s only Mummers group, the Uptown String Band, was formed in 1937 in Penndel.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of Peace on Earth, good-will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head

There’s no Peace on Earth, I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of Peace on Earth, good-will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With Peace on Earth, good-will to men.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1865

Add Your Heading Text Here

Silkworms took over Bucks County in the 1830s. Samuel Whitmarsh advertised fast growing Mulberry Trees to feed silkworms. The worms would make cocoons which were harvested for silk thread. There were Mulberry Plantations, cocooneries & worms all over Bucks, including a two story building near George School in Newtown, and in Bristol, on Washington & Mulberry Streets.

Blight killed many of the trees, & the craze faded away.

Letitia Betts grew up on a farm in Solebury. Her father had forbidden pet cats, but one yellow kitten was dear to her heart. When Mr. Betts discovered it, he ordered the children to kill the cat. Heartbroken, they took it to the woods to be hung from a branch. At the last moment, the “Witch of the Woods” caught them and rescued the cat. Letitia later befriended the scary witch, discovering that she was really  a nice old lady living alone in a cabin. The Betts children “adopted” her as their grandma, as they had none of their own.

During WWII, Hitler planned to hit several U.S. targets at the same time, including Bensalem’s Penna. Salt Manufacturing Co. The factory was secretly making Cryolite, used to produce lightweight aluminum for airplane frames. Crews from two U-Boat subs came ashore with explosives, only to be foiled when one spoke in German, triggering a Coast Guard sentry to report them. All of the men were captured.

The factory site is now the Waterside Townhouses.

Add Your Heading Text Here

There is a funnel shaped basin of water that the Lenape called “Holy Cong” & white men called “Conkey Hole”. The peculiar thing about this hole is that when an Indian shot a deer, it disappeared under the water, only to reappear three miles away at Ingham Spring in Solebury. There are vast subterranean channels, & it is so deep, the bottom has not yet been found.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

Sugan Road was named for the sugan sacks farmers used to transport grain to the Heath Grist Mill, the 1st in Solebury Township (1707). Sugan is a hand braided rope made of straw. Farmers harvested the grain, then braided the remaining stalks to make bags, wasting nothing,

Stone Stuctures
Add Your Heading Text Here

Bristol’s Civil War Hero, Capt. Henry Clay Beatty, loved the truth & duty to country. He led the Montgomery Guards in the Seven Days Battles & the Battle of White Oak Swamp, where he was shot in the leg. Refusing medical treatment, he continued to lead. Also shot at the Battle of Bull’s Run, & still refusing treatment, he later had his arm amputated. Going home on a steamboat, Beatty said he was feeling better, & then died. He is buried in St. James Cemetary.

A body was found by the Neshaminy Creek in Bensalem.

Ferryman Derrick Jonson was suspected of the murder when a large quantity of blood was found on his bedroom wall, streaming down onto the floorboards, soaking the straw in the bed. Although circumstantial, Jonson was convicted and hanged, becoming the first criminal executed by the State of Pennsylvania.

1856 Intelligencer post:

All persons who trespassed on the premises of the Society of Friends of Plumstead, disfiguring some of the graves, opening others, disinterring several corpses and taking them away without consent…are hereby requested to come forward and render satisfaction.

Put ’em back!

In 1696, Dr. John Bowman went to sea to capture pirate Capt. Kidd. Instead, he joined him. When Kidd was eventually arrested, Bowman built a cabin in Upper Makefield at the foot of a hill, now named for him. He asked to be buried at the top of Bowman’s Hill, “as that would be as near Heaven as he ever expected to get”.

There have been an unusual amount of lightning strikes near where he was buried, as well as on the tower, as if “Heaven was trying to purify the Earth”.

Or is it trying to find the buried treasure?

Bowman's Tower
Add Your Heading Text Here

The Tate House at George School in Newtown was owned by surgeon James Tate during the Revolutionary War times. To practise his art, James dug up a Hessian soldier’s grave & dissected the body in the basement of the house. When finished, he re-buried the body parts in a hole in the basement floor. For years, walking over the spot with a lit candle would cause it to blow out. It remained lit if you walked around the grave.

Charles Beaumont operated a paper mill on his farm in Solebury Township, & also bred Brazilian Ducks. His sons, Andrew & Horatio, created a zoo with local animals (buffalo, raccoons, deer, etc.). This later became the Beaumont Deer Farm & Fish Hatchery. For 25 cents people could see the Shad, Brook Trout, Terrapin Turtles, deer & elk.

Creek WaterFalls
Add Your Heading Text Here

From 1890-1982, Robertson Art Tile Company was one of the top ceramic tile makers in the U.S. Their tiles were used in subways in Philly & Boston, & in almost all of the Levittown homes. They were known as the “King of White Wall Tile”. And now they are commemorated by a historic marker at Route 1 & South Pennsylvania Avenue in Morrisville.

Relief Tile Work
Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, along with Ritchie Valens & “The Big Bopper” (J.P. Richardson). The movie “The Buddy Holly Story” was written in Bucks County by Bob Gittler (Doylestown). The songs were composed by Joseph Renzetti (Erwinna) & the film was produced by  Fred Bauer (Carversville).

Happy Birthday Buddy! (September 7th)

Oscar Hammerstein thought a rainbow over Highland Farm in Doylestown was a good sign. He was right. He bought the property & proceeded to create The Sound of Music, The King & I, Carousel, Oklahoma & South Pacific. “Ockie”, as he was known, won 2 Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony, & is still the only person named Oscar to win an Oscar award.

The farm inspired him to write “O What a Beautiful Morning” & “The corn is high as an elephant’s eye”.

Add Your Heading Text Here
Add Your Heading Text Here

Beginning in 1962, Jan & Stan Berenstain & their son, Mike, wrote over 400 stories about the Berenstain Bears, a family of bears who handled everyday situations that many families face. They also wrote many other books, as well as cartoons. Much of the writing was done while living in Solebury Township.

Celebrate National Teddy Bear Day on September 9th!

Gaspare & Anna Bono operated Bono’s Store on Jefferson Avenue in Bristol for about 70 years. People especially liked the snails, artichokes & freshly killed chickens. If money was tight for some, sales were written down on a brown paper bag, or recorded in  “the book” until they could pay. Instant credit!

The whole family worked in the store, & their granddaughter grew up to be the Borough Tax Collector.

Numbers on page
Dates and Numbers on page

The Durham Mill & Furnace smelted local iron ore into pig & bar iron & sent it down the Delaware River to be made into pots, stoves & similar items.

During the Revolutionary War, George Taylor leased the furnace from Joseph Galloway, a Tory. Ironically, Taylor produced cannon balls & ammo for the Continental Army, helping to end British rule.

Baseballs for the  Perkasie Junior Legion (1940s) had 324 stitches, all hand sewn by the Hubbert family. A ball that went into the brook in left field was still in play. If it rolled into the woods in right field it was a double, & if it hit a tree, it was a home run.

Baseball Team Photo
Add Your Heading Text Here

Charles King, physician and school district director, inherited his extensive family home library. Over the years, he added to it, & decided to leave the collection to the Church of the Redeemer, creating the first public library in Bensalem (1882). He also left an endowment which helps keep the King Library going today with over 2000 books.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Charles Stewart, first post master in Doylestown (1802), carried letters he was delivering in the crown of his high top beaver hat.

“Folks are always looking down on Rosenberg, as well as looking up to him”, said Sports Illustrated of Allen Rosenberg, a 5’1″, 100 lb Olympic Rowing Coach who lived in Bucks County. Rosenberg’s teams won 2 gold, 2 silver & 1 bronze medal at the 1964 & 1976 Olympics.

The Summer Olympic Games should have begun this week.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Capt. Jonathan Cone ran steamboats along the Delaware River. A ride from Bristol to Philadelphia on the Columbia was .25 cents & included a full orchestra, a piano player, luxury seating, a serenade from Mr. Summerfield, a blind Bristolian, & often a moonlight cruise.

Other boats included the Burlington, the Thomas A Morgan

& the John Warner.

Add Your Heading Text Here

On July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilon in Weehawking, NJ. Burr & Thomas Jefferson were tied in the presidential election & Hamilton said of Burr, he was a “dangerous man who ought not be trusted with the reins of the government”. Burr took offense. After their duel, Burr, being charged with murder, escaped across the Delaware to Bristol, the Satterthwaite Farm in Falls Township, & what is now the Aaron Burr House in New Hope. The charges were later dropped.

The  DAG (Doylestown Agricultural Works)made machinery powered by horses (horsepowers) & other farm equipment. Later, they produced decorative wrought iron pieces & the bronze gates that surround the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also may have produced the first automobile made in Pennsylvania (Winslow Carraige Co.).

Brick Building
Temperance House Hotel, Ivyland
Add Your Heading Text Here

A flag designed by Betsy Ross was presented to General George Washington at his Revolutionary War encampment at Moland House (Washington Headquarters Farm) in Warminster in 1777. This is the first known incidence of the American Flag being flown.

To make money from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, Edwin Lacey decided to build a hotel in Warminster Township so people could stay in the country when they visited. To go with The Temperance House Hotel, Lacey planned an entire village. Streets were named for friends and famous people (Lincoln, Twining, Wilson, Gough, Chase). The town was named Ivyland, after the beautiful, glossy ivy plants that were found all over town. He envisioned houses all covered in this ivy. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the difference between English Ivy and Poison Ivy.

Temperance House
Temperance House Hotel, Ivyland
Add Your Heading Text Here

Bedminster Township is made of many small villages with interesting names. Elephant, consisting of two houses and one hotel, is named for the Elephant Hotel with a white elephant on its sign.

Owlsburg, not known for having many owls, was named because the people who lived there were very wise.

Two 12 year old boys playing with matches started a fire that destroyed down town Perkasie in 1988. A fire ball jumped across Seventh Street.  Millions of gallons of water were used by 50 fire companies drawing water from the Perkiomen Creek & temporary pools.

Temperance House Hotel, Ivyland
Add Your Heading Text Here

On June 23, 1979, truckers blocked the Five Points intersection in Levittown to protest high fuel prices. Soon, a crowd of over 2000 set cars on fire, attacked police, destroyed a market and damaged a post office. President Carter  asked, “Is this the shape of the future? Is this the kind of country we have become? Is this what it is going to be like from now on?”

Don’t mess with Eva Piper. She was in the Piper Tavern, ironing, when the Doan Gang attacked. She broke one man’s arm with her iron, and she chased another one away with her husband’s sword (Continental Army Colonel George Piper). The tavern is still located in Pipersville (both named after him).

Henry Ford made cars, not carpets. He couldn’t get his looms to work, so he sold them to the Langhorne Carpet Company in Penndel. The manufacturer has since placed carpets in the White House, Ford’s home, embassies, churches, and sold through Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck. Still in the original building, it is considered the finest and longest continuously operating carpet mill in the U. S.

During the Revolutionary War, more soldiers died of disease than battle wounds. Many are buried at the Thompson-Neely House in Washington Crossing. Smallpox, with its 14 day incubation period, killed millions. George Washington ordered his troops to be inoculated by making a small cut in the skin and inserting some Smallpox in the cut. The patient would then develop immunity. Many local governments feared the practice, but it proved to work, and helped win the war.

May Day (May 1st) is believed to be the anniversary of the Peace Treaty between William Penn & Chief Tammany. The Chief, highly expected by all, was full of virtue, hospitality, wisdom, charity, & every “good & noble qualification that a human could possess”.

He is buried in Bucks County, & Tamanend Middle School & Tamanend Park (Lower Southampton) are named for him.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Haven’t been to a tonsorial parlor lately? Egyptians used oyster shells & flint. Fortunately, today we have scissors & razors. In the past, barbers were highly respected & doubled as dentists, surgeons & even priests. Harvey Baum of Sellersville was well liked as a barber & a cigar maker.

A simple haircut would be nice right now.

The red & white on a barber pole is thought to represent blood & bandages.

When the Beartown Inn became the Greentree Inn, a new sign was needed. The “trees” on it looked more like bushes, and residents jokingly began calling the town Bushington. A nearby town had a similar name, so the Post Office required a new one. The Postmaster had a casual conversation about a furlong, and Voila! The town of Furlong was born.

A furlong was the length of field a team of oxen could pull a plough before resting, approximately 660 feet.

in 1784, Landreth Seed Co started Bloomsdale Farm in Edgely. They introduced over 1200 species of trees to the U.S., the first white potato and the first tomato. They provided seed to every president from Washington to FDR. They also created the first agricultural journal in the U.S. and the PA Hoticultural Society.

It’s planting time!

Milk consumption generally went down in summer, so in 1922, Groff’s Dairy in Bristol allowed Francis O’Boyle to make ice cream with the leftovers. Eventually, O’Boyle’s opened their own restaurant and had 32 ice cream trucks on the road. Their first truck had previously been a local ambulance.

Ice cream is a lifesaver.

In 1914, Charles Stromfels & Clarence Winters caught an 8 1/2′ long, 320 lb fish in the Delaware River. In the 20s & 60s, Bull Sharks were seen. More recently, a baby seal was spotted near Falls Township, a 12ft Beluga Whale near Morrisville, a Manatee between Bordentown & Falls, as well as “Waldo the Wrong Way” Right Whale swimming in the Delaware.

So far, no Loch Ness Monster.

St. Francis School got the first ever phone number in Bensalem – 100. Mary Stuhltrager  ran the phone service, working from home. Her job included wake up calls to farmers, reporting what was playing at the theatre, “forwarding” calls by tracking down someone at a neighbor’s house, and saving lives.  She talked to someone all night long to keep her awake after taking too much medication.

The CWS (Cornwells Exchange) ended in 1956 when the seven digit self-service system began. Call a friend!

Otto Rohm & Otto Haas created Oropon, a chemical to cure animal hides for fur and leather. It was the first product in their Bristol Township  plant in 1917. Previously, hides were soaked in fermented manure, dog excrement & pigeon droppings. Oropon is made from pig pancreas – a little less smelly.

They also invented Plexiglas for military aircraft.

Add Your Heading Text Here

In 1943, over 500 Bucks County students were released from school to help with the asparagus harvest. They were paid 40 cents an hour, working mainly on the King Farm in the Morrisville/Tullytown area, which later became the U.S. Steel Plant.

Eat your veggies. 

The Delaware Canal operated from 1832-1931. It had 23 locks, ran for 60 miles from Easton to Bristol, was 60′ wide, 5″ deep & had an elevation drop of 165″. Drivers blew a conch shell horn to warn the locktenders they were approaching. The Grundy Clock Tower marked the approach of the final bit of the 2 day ride ending at the staging area, which is now the Bristol Municipal Parking Lot.

Canal’s End

Even though his father fought with the Union Navy, Grayson Stratton couldn’t even get a job with Bucks County newspapers because of his skin color. Finally, Wanamaker’s Store hired him as an elevator operator, honored to transport Mr. Wanamaker himself to his top floor office. Grayson was asked to join the store band, playing the sax, and a career was born. He played with the Sid Stratton Orchestra &  Sid Stratton & the Four Horseman. The band was featured in the silent film “Scar of Shame”, now playing at the County Theatre in Doylestown.

In Bensalem, Sara & Robert Logan created “Sarobia“, a Sanctuary for Human Beings, Birds & Animals. It was a haven for cats, to please the Goddess Bastet, had an Alice in Wonderland themed sculpture garden, and an artist’s commune. They wore white cotton, neither eating nor wearing anything from animals. Their land was left to the State of Pennsylvania to be preserved for wildlife, especially birds. It is now Neshaminy State Park & Playmasters Theatre.

William & Daisy Meyers arrived in Dogwood in 1957, the first black family in Levittown. This led to weeks of racial attacks so violent the Bristol Township Police, County Sheriff & Pa State Police couldn’t control it. Streets were closed, meetings were held, committees were formed & crosses were burned. The rioting finally died down after an officer was attacked. The Meyers lived with continued harassment until moving out four years later.

February is Black History Month

When the Schuykill Fishing Co moved from Philadelphia to Eddington, Bucks County in 1888, they actually brought their building with them. It was dismantled, each piece numbered, then reassembled next to what was known as the Clock House. After reconstruction, however, there was a piece left over. No one could figure out where it belonged.

Robert Green of Carversville was the fashion director for Playboy for 20 years. He was known for his wild parties, colorful ties and wavy, silver hair. He could be seen around town in a yellow Rolls Royce driven by his chauffeur, Roy.

There are 16 bridges that cross the Delaware from Bucks County. Just one, the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge (aka the Lumberville Foot Bridge) is designated for pedestrians only. It crosses from Lumberville to Bull’s Island. Originally made of wood in 1856, it was rebuilt as a suspension bridge by Roebling & Son in 1947.

There are 2 railroad bridges, 2 suspension bridges and 1 vertical lift bridge.

Here’s to a new month, a new year, and a new decade. Let’s make this one the best ever.

William Penn founded Bucks County with the hope that its inhabitants would live as the Society of Friends do; with Peace, Simplicity, Integrity, Equality, and Caring for the community and the World. 

 Welcome Friend Peace

George Fell was standing on a Delaware River bridge when the Flood of 1841 destroyed it. He clung to a piece of driftwood, floating down the river until being rescued in Yardley.

The Flood of 1955 pushed the Upper Black Eddy Post Office down River Road and into the Delaware.

At her kitchen table, Joyce Byers  made Christmas carolers from tissue paper, wire & clay. People kept asking her to make more, & soon she had a production company in Chalfont (Byers Choice), making over 500,000 pieces a year. There is a Christmas Museum, a cobblestone street to stroll on, & a trip to the North Pole & Santa’s Workshop. You can even watch the figures being made from the Observation Deck. Fun for all, & all free

Walter Sobusiak (Bristol Township) was on guard in Pearl Harbor. When his shift ended, his replacement never arrived, leaving Walter on duty for several days. His barracks and mess hall had been bombed, killing 200.

Radford Ferland (Newtown Township) was named for the USS Radford, the ship that rescued his father from the water five days after the USS Helena was sunk.

Remember Pearl Harbor

Edward Hicks, born in Attleboro (Langhorne), was a Quaker minister and painter of signs and stage coaches. His talent lay in art, which conflicted with Quaker beliefs. He gave up the ministry to paint Bible themed works, including over 60 versions of “The Peaceable Kingdom”. The painting was meant to illustrate that there are no physical barriers among the world’s inhabitants and they should all live and work together in peace.

After retiring from the Dallas Cowboys, “Dandy” Don Meredith purchased the Central Bucks Broadcasting Company and helped run WBUX radio station. He lived on a horse farm in Bedminster Township and frequented the Elephant Hotel.

In just 15 months starting in 1918, one third of the world population got infected with the “Spanish Flu”. Millions died as it spread through the military (WWI). An Elks Home and a local boarding house were converted to hospitals. A 16 year old Bristol Courier carrier was the first to die in Bucks County, and it was illegal to spit on the ground.

Two hundred and sixty years ago,  William Rodman came home and stuck his riding switch into the ground near a stream at what is now Libertae in Bensalem. It rooted and grew to become one of the largest Buttonwood trees east of the Rockies. With a hollow base and a circumference of 30 feet, the entire grounds crew could stand inside of it.

Unfortunately, it dropped its last leaf in 2012.

If you see a woman in a gown hitchhiking near Manor Lake in Tullytown, beware! She may be Gertrude Spring, AKA Midnight Mary, who died when the car she was riding in went into the lake. She is known to get into passing cars, dripping wet. She is buried in the St. James Cemetary in Bristol.

Lit by the full moon, a figure dressed in black, wearing a tri-cornerd hat, a mask and a cape was seen galloping on a black horse across the bridge between Jamison and Hartsville. It was the Mysterious Phantom Rider of Dark Hollow.  Feared as a devil, he was shot by Goethe Norwood. Later, it was discovered that he had killed his own son, Nathan, who had been trying to impress a girl. Some say the Phantom can still be seen crossing the old bridge over the Neshaminy Creek.

The Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville is haunted. As the story goes, a woman caught her husband in bed with another woman. She shot them, and then herself. She can still be seen occasionally in the hotel holding a pearl handled revolver. The scent of lavendar follows her.

To stimulate business growth in Bristol Boro, the Bristol Improvement Co. was formed in 1876. Industry boomed. We got the Keystone, Star, Wallpaper, Bristol Carpet (Leedom), Bristol Woolen, Livingston, Bristol Rolling, Bristol Worsted & Pierce & Williams Sash Mills, as well as the Patent Leather Co, Corona Leather, Bristol Forge, Bristol Foundry, Keystone Forge & Standard Cast Iron Pipe. Today, we revitalize again with Raising The Bar & the Bristol Boro Business Association.

The Village of Ferndale used to be called Rum Corner, after the rum distillery that attracted travelers riding the electric trolley on the Old Easton Road. Rum was cheap, made from local ingredients and served either hot or cold. The distillery is long gone, but the old hotel still thrives as the Ferndale Inn.

In 1959 Bristolians flocked to Auto Boys Department Store three nights a week to see RCA demonstrate color TV. Two years later, Walt Disney featured “The Wonderful World of Color”, prompting people to buy this modern marvel. The first patent for a color TV was issued in 1904.

Stovertown (Tohickon), the first village in Bedminster Township, is buried under Lake Nockamixon. Pennsylvania decided to build a state park within 25 miles of every resident, so they demolished the town and flooded the area. It took six months to fill the lake and destroyed 290 properties, including a school, post office, several mills, a blacksmith, quarry, creamery, general store, and most importantly, homes. The only thing left under the lake is a stone bridge.

Until Vincenzo LaRosa founded his LaRosa and Sons Macaroni Company in 1914, pasta was sold bulk to stores. He was one of the first to create individual packages for direct sales to the consumer. The company makes over 40 varieties of pasta in its plant in Warminster.

Poet and teacher Alexander Wilson taught briefly at the no longer existing Milestown School in Bristol Township in the late 1700s, where he fell madly and secretly in love with a married woman. To protect them both, he quit his job and moved to Philadelphia, where he was inspired to begin drawing detailed images of all the birds of North America. His “American Ornithology” preceded Audubon’s works. Five birds and and entire species of Warblers are named for him. 

W. Atlee Burpee started a mail order livestock company in 1876. When his customers requested seed and feed for the animals, he quickly learned it was easier to ship seeds than live animals. He bought Fordhook Farms in Doylestown & used selective breeding & hybridization techniques to make his plants better. Burpee soon became the largest seed company in the world, because “Burpee Seeds Grow”.

In 1689, Otter and Adams Hollow Creeks were dammed to create a pond to power local mills. The spring water was brown from iron and tasted like spoiled eggs. Later, Dr. Benjamin Rush said bathing in the water could cure over 15 ills, and “The Baths” became a resort spa, featuring a hotel, a racetrack & a bathing beach. The pond is now  Silver Lake (Nature Center) and the original spring is buried under Lower Bucks Hospital.

When  Benjamin Parry moved to Coryell’s Ferry, he bought the Hope Flour Mill. After expanding and rebuilding, he renamed it the New Hope Flour Mill, thus changing the name of the town. His mill in New Hope is now the home of the Bucks County Playhouse.

At one time, Bucks County was the cigar capital of the country, with more than a million pounds of tobacco harvested annually, and about 85 cigar making plants, mainly around Perkasie and Sellersville. An average person could roll 300 cigars a day, but a machine did 6500. We were known for the 5 cent Cinco, better known as the Stinko.

Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger performed in over 200 movies, TV shows and fairs. He was very good, but he sometimes needed a stand-in. Enter Gold Zephyr, a “yellow” or Palomino raised on King’s Orchard in Richland Township. He could dance and perform tricks like Trigger, and looked just like him, only shorter. Roy called him Trigger, Jr. Although he became famous, he came back to Bucks County to visit and cheer up his old owner who was ill in Grandview Hospital.

Playwright George Kaufman named his Holicong farm Cherchez La Farm and hosted many celebrity guests Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx and Moss Hart. Kaufman helped John Steinbeck while writing “Of Mice and Men”, & Steinbeck later came up with the idea for “The Grapes of Wrath” on a road trip west. The property is now Barley Sheaf Farm, named for a Native American story of a barley sheaf floating underground three miles on a magic spring on the property.

Due to bad weather, Capt. Zebulon Pike never made it all the way to the summit of El Capitan in Colorado, but it was still renamed for him – Pike’s Peak. After spending some of his childhood in Bucks County in Cutaloosa, he joined the U.S. Army and led two expeditions through the new Louisiana Territory. On the second expediton, he “accidently” crossed into Mexico, was captured and later released by the Spanish. He was killed later by falling rocks after an explosion at the Battle of York in the War of 1812.

During the Revolutionary War, the British attacked Philadelphia, the new government seat. Continental Congress sent the State House Bell to Allentown for safekeeping. On the way, it was hidden overnight behind Evan Foulke’s house in Quakertown which is now Liberty Hall. Forty-three years later, abolitionists, noticing the engraving on it “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”, began calling it the Liberty Bell.

At 17, Michael Dougherty  joined the 13th PA Calvary to fight with the Union during the Civil War. He fought in many battles and was eventually captured and imprisoned along with 127 others from his unit. By the time of his release, he was the sole survivor. On his way home to Bristol, the ship he was on exploded, killing 1100 men. He survived. He later was awarded the Medal of Honor, married and had 12 children. The Bristol Ancient Order of Hibernians is named for him and he has a monument at the Bristol Canal Lagoon.

When RCA was contracted by the U.S. government in 1959 to build Tiros ( Television & Infra-red Observation Satellite), one of the first satellites used to forecast weather, it turned to Newtown Boro’s  Lavelle Aircraft to do the actual construction. Lavelle became a trusted aerospace contractor, later building six Tiros satellites, Telstar and Ranger VII, as well as Apollo 13’s air cleaning canisters and vital parts of the Lunar Excursion Module.

“Drive down Route 1 and turn left at the airplane.” That’s how we used to give directions in Penndel when Flannery’s Restaurant was there. For 30 years, a Lockheed Super G Constellation airplane “flew” over the restaurant. Owner Jim Flannery was a WWII Air Force pilot. He purchased and converted the plane into a cocktail lounge when he took over from his mother. After many successful years, the restaurant changed to Amelia’s in the ’80s, and the Airplane Family Diner in the ’90s, before closing and sitting idle. Then Amoco bought the property and donated the plane to the Air Mobility Museum in Dover, De.

In the 1700s, rivers were the main mode of transportation. Unfortunately, it was difficult to travel against the current, so John Fitch, while living in Warminster, created a steam powered boat that could easily travel upstream – at an unprecedented 3 mph. For years he struggled to get a patent and financial backing. He gave an impressive live demonstration on the Delaware, and finally won a patent…at the same time as James Rumsey. This infuriated Fitch, who moved to Kentucky and later committed suicide. Ten years later, Robert Fulton  became famous for his steamboat invention.

Buffalo Bill Cody, known for his Wild West show, was also an army scout, namesake of the Buffalo Bills football team, a freemason, and a Pony Express Rider. His show’s winter quarters were right here in Bucks County, in a building that later became Levittown’s first post office (on Route 13). His nickname came from killing over 4000 buffalo in 18 months, to supply meat to railroad workers.

The  Newtown Theatre began as a town hall, then a church for traveling ministers, then a performance hall, and now, what is most likely the oldest operating movie theatre in the U.S. Originally built in 1831, movies were first played in 1906. More recently, it played M. Night Shyamalan’s movie “Signs”, which was partially filmed in Newtown, and getting back to its roots, silent films accompanied by live music.

An octagonal shaped building stands at the corner of Second Street Pike and Swamp Road in Wrightstown Township affectionately known as The Eight Square. It was a privately owned schoolhouse built in 1802 by Quakers. The eight sides allowed for multiple windows to provide light, though they were built high on the walls, so students wouldn’t be distracted by what could be seen outside. A stove was positioned in the center of the room to evenly provide heat. Once one of over 100 of its type in the Delaware Valley, it is now the last of its kind in Bucks County. The shape is often called “ink bottle”.

Benjamin Franklin believed that lightning had an electrical charge and that “drawing electric fire from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron” could be a means of protecting houses from fire caused by it. He experimented by flying a kite attached to a string with a metal key on the end. The kite had a metal rod on top to attract the lightning. During a storm, he stood on a hill on the property of Growden Mansion, home of his friend Joseph Galloway, overlooking what is now Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem. Electricity flowed down the string to the key and was captured in a Leyden Jar. Placing his hand near the key transferred the charge to his body, showing that the charge could be redirected. This led to his invention of lightning rods.

Route 13 was originally a Native American path. Once paved, it became known as the Kings Highway (after King Charles II). It was run as a private turnpike, starting in Fayetteville, NC and terminating in Morrisville, Pa. It is the oldest road in continuous use in the U.S. Old Route 13 ran through Bristol to Pond, Farragut and Radcliffe, then Main in Tullytown and Fallsington Avenue. It became a public highway in 1926 when the U.S. Highway System was created. It was briefly called the Queens Highway during the reign of Queen Anne.

In the 1700s, Bristol was known as a Market Town. People came from all over to shop and have fun. Fairs were held on Market Street in May and October that lasted several days. Many came to buy, sell and celebrate, which they did in excess. In 1773 Council decreed that the fairs were useless, as they created “debauchery, idleness and drunkenness”.

Lassie, star of TV and movies, got his start right here in Bucks County. The original story was written by Eric Knight who lived with his dog Toots on Springhouse Farm in Springfield Township. Lassie, a female, was played by Pal, a male Rough Collie. The show earned two Emmys. Future Lassies were all played by males, who were all direct descendants of Pal (Lassie Jr, Spook, Baby, Mire and Hey Hey). The show ran for 19 seasons (1954-1973). Toots is buried on his family farm.

During The Revolutionary war, Abraham Doan joined his handsome and athletic cousins Moses, Aaron, Levi, Mahlon and Joseph in the infamous Doan Gang. Originally from Perkasie, they became renowned throughout the colonies as spies for the British, horse thieves, robbers and possibly even murderers. The Government labeled them traitors. The gang stole money from the tax collectors and robbed the Bucks County Treasury in Newtown. It is rumoured that the money is still buried somewhere in Wrightstown. When the war was over, they kept up their life of crime, triggering a massive manhunt. Moses was killed, Mahlon and Joseph escaped prison and made their way to Canada, Aaron was eventually pardoned and exiled to Canada, and Levi and Abraham were hanged. Many stories are told about the gang, most of which are probably not true, but keep looking for that stolen money!

In the winter of 1776, General Washington asked Dr. William Shippen, Surgeon General, to create a military hospital for the men suffering from disease, hunger and battle injuries. This was done at Four Lanes End (now Langhorne Boro), which was the crossroads between stagecoach lines. The Isaac Hicks house on Maple Avenue was used, and subsequently, about 166 soldiers who died there were buried in mass graves behind it. A recent archeological dig fond remnants of the graves, and the area is now designated a National Historic Place.

In 1961, a group called “The Brooktones” were recording in a studio when their manager came in all excited about a new dance he saw kids doing at the Goodwill Hose Fire Company No. 3 in Bristol, Pa. They stomped their feet so hard he was worried the floor would cave in. The group sat down and wrote a song to go with this new dance. They called it the Goodwill Stomp. Their manager changed the group’s name to The Deauvilles, after a hotel in Miami Beach, and they shortened it to The Dovells, because they thought it sounded better. Then they changed the name of the song to the Bristol Stomp, got a spot on American Bandstand, and history was made.

Over 338 years ago that Samuel Clift received a grant for land along the Delaware River. As part of his grant agreement, he was to maintain a ferry service to Burlington and an inn for visitors to stay and eat. This was the beginning of Bristol Borough. Since then, Bristol has been known for its woolen and textile mills, war ship and seaplane manufacturing, seed company, leather and wallpaper mills, radio and cast iron factories, and, of course, the infamous Bristol Stomp.

Pearl S. Buck was an author, humanitarian, adoption advocate, and women’s rights supporter. Having grown up in China as Sai Zhenzhu (Precious Pearl), she fought for the rights of mixed race and Asian people, especially women and children. Her outspokenness eventually got her banned from China. She then spent many years at Green Hill Farm in Dublin, PA, now the  Pearl Buck House. Ms. Buck won a Nobel Prize for Literature and a Pulitzer Prize for her book “The Good Earth”.

The Dorrance Family built a home at 715 Radcliffe Street in Bristol. In 1876, Arthur Dorrance became president of the Campbell’s Soup Company, keeping it in the family until at least 1940. While at a Cornell football game, a company executive was so impressed with the team jerseys that he decided to use their colors (red and white) on his soup cans. In 1904, the “Campbell Kids” were born for an advertising campaign, and in 1990, Campbell’s produced their 20 billionth can of tomato soup.

President Lincoln was in Bristol Boro at least twice. Once in 1861 on his way to be inaugurated. Once as a train carried his body home in 1865 after his assassination. He was the first president to have a beard. He was 6’4″ tall. George Washington visited Bristol a few times, most notably during the Revolutionary War. Did he stay at the King George II? He was 6’2″ tall. Neither had middle names.

The First Association of Spiritualists of Philadelphia created a summer resort area in Parkland to “spread the philosophy and religion of spiritualism”. Up to 10,000 people a day would come for the carnival rides, sports, picnics, boating on the Neshaminy, and, of course, seances, hypnotism and a chance to speak with spirits from the beyond.