This Sunday will mark an important anniversary for Perkasie residents – the day Perkasie officially became a village with its own post office.
On July 25, 1871, the United States Postmaster General John Creswell named Joseph A. Hendricks as the local postmaster for the new office in Hendricks’ general store near the Landis Ridge train tunnel.
Hendricks had acquired the land and several buildings formerly owned by a local real estate investor, Samuel M. Hager. In 1856, Hager tried to start a new village at the location of current-day Perkasie, but he failed within a few years. Just before 1871, Hendricks and a few friends bought Hager’s former property and divided the land into building lots sold at attractive prices.
In May 1866, a “firm from Philadelphia” bought Hager’s former store and turned it into a mill that made stockings. But not much more was heard from that business. Part of the reason for the development’s failure in the 1860s was apparent animosity between investors and the North Pennsylvania Railroad’s president, Franklin Comley. Another rumored reason was that Comley was upset that his name was used for the settlement without his permission.
Perkasie Village took off that year when regular train service became available. It grew from 68 residents in the 1870s to 300 residents by 1880, just after Bucks County recognized Perkasie as a borough in May 1879.
Andrew Jackson Croman, a bricklayer who was involved with the Landis Ridge railroad tunnel project and much construction in Perkasie Borough, told the Perkasie Central News in 1908 about how Hendricks and his friends convinced railroad president Franklin Comley to allow regular service at the Perkasie depot location in 1871.
“Comley was far from being flattered by having his name attached to the colony in those early days. He not only refused a station but also declined to stop trains,” Croman said. For Christmas, Hendricks and who Croman called “the boys”—the Moyer brothers (Joseph and Henry), Mahlon Myers and Tilghman Angeny— sent Comley a gift basket with “turkeys, rabbits, cider, apples, pumpkins, and walnuts.”
Hersey’s Business Directory and Gazetteer of Bucks County, published in 1871, mentioned the earliest buildings in the “lately established” village of Perkasie, which contained “a store, several shops and from 15 to 20 dwelling houses. It was named for the old Manor of Perkasie of which Rockhill, in the early part of the county’s history, it was a part.”
J.D. Scott’s 1876 Atlas of Bucks County depicted Perkasie’s village with a developed neighborhood close to the train depot and general store. Joseph G. Moyer’s coal yard and John Harr’s hotel were the other prominent buildings in town. Hendricks and Joseph Moyer had also built Perkasie’s first row homes across from the railroad by 1876 and the town’s center was Main Street (currently Chestnut Street in Perkasie). In addition to Hendricks’ store and coal and lumber yard, Perkasie had a sash factory and a handful of shops. The village’s school on Main Street was one of its most prominent features. The school also hosted early church services.
Shortly after 1876, Perkasie residents sought borough status since Sellersville had petitioned the county successfully in 1874 to leave Rockhill Township to form its own government. Nearly 70 Perkasie residents petitioned the county in April 1878 for borough status, but the decision was delayed by a year.
On May 10, 1879, Bucks County granted borough status to Perkasie and its 307 residents. Voters elected Joseph A. Hendricks as Burgess and Joseph G. Moyer as Borough Council president. Perkasie Borough now had a government, with its own laws and its own school board, as it entered the 1880s. In less than a decade, Hendricks and his partners had rescued Samuel Hager’s ghost town. Little did they know that the cigar trade would bring bigger changes to Perkasie.
Note: The above post is taken from “An American Hometown: Perkasie’s Inspiring Story of Survival and Growth from 1683 to 1945,” available online at www.perkasiebook.com and at the Treasure Trove (Hendricks’ former store) and Chimayo Gallery (Perkasie’s former post office) in Perkasie Borough.