The mystery of Perkasie’s long-lost newspaper

The Perkasie Central News, founded in 1881, played an important role in the Upper Bucks region’s early development. But it wasn’t Perkasie first newspaper. Its smaller rival, the Banner, had a brief but controversial existence.

A Perkasie Banner story in a Washington newspaper, 1881

On May 1, 1879, the Philadelphia Times reported that the village of Perkasie had its first newspaper. The Banner was printed “half in English and half in German.” The publisher was “an aged German printer,” Charles Kolbe.

While Kolbe was born in Germany, he served in the Ringgold Regiment from Doylestown, for three years during the Civil War, and he lived in Doylestown until the time of his death. Kolbe also worked at the Doylestown Empress und Reformed, a German-language newspaper, in 1866.

In the 1880 census, the Banner was listed as the only newspaper north of Doylestown in Bucks County with at least some of its pages printed in English. That year, the Banner claimed its circulation was under 500 newspapers per week. It was published on Saturdays and printed in a room over Abraham Benner’s stable (the current location of Perkasie’s Borough Hall). The four-page weekly paper cost $1.00 for an annual subscription.

The Fascinating Career of Gilbert L. Thompson

Perkasie residents and visitors passing by Rams Pint House can’t help but notice the words “Thompson 1922” on the building’s façade. The story behind the “Thompson” in question is an interesting tale indeed.

Gilbert L. Thompson was a man of many talents who led an interesting life before he came to Perkasie in March 1901. Thompson’s Hardware was a vital store in a borough that was booming during the cigar-making era. But Thompson arrived in town just ahead of a disastrous investment in Lansdale, and his business survived for almost three decades in Perkasie.

Thompson’s Store 1929

Looking Back: Perkasie’s bitter fight over Sunday movies

I was doing research today at the Mercer Museum’s library and came across an election certificate from November 1947. It was that piece of paper that played a crucial role in two of the most-contentious elections in Perkasie Borough history.

Perkasie’s Plaza Theater in the 1940s

How Perkasie Got Its Own Roebling-Style Bridge

Tucked away in Perkasie’s Lenape Park is one of Bucks County’s treasures, a footbridge inspired by the classic designs of John A. Roebling’s Sons & Co. How the two-span suspension bridge came to be involved Perkasie Borough Council, the federal government, and the design skills of a WPA engineer in based in New Britain, Pa.

In-Person Memories of Old Perkasie

In February 1954, the Perkasie News-Herald published interviews with Borough residents who were alive in 1879, for the upcoming Perkasie Borough 75th anniversary celebration. Each person remembered Perkasie in its Victorian era. And most grew up in Bridgetown or Benjamin, before it became part of Perkasie in 1899. Here are highlights from those interviews.

J.G. Moyer Building on left

Feb. 18, 1954: Elmer K. Moyer

The Klan’s Brief Stay in the Perkasie Region

On a recent visit to Perkasie’s Treasure Trove, I found a seemingly innocent paper weight with a link to one of Perkasie’s more controversial stories: the brief presence of the Ku Klux Klan’s regional headquarters on Fifth Street.

The day that Perkasie’s Menlo Park officially opened

On May 30, 1892, Perkasie’s new amusement park, Menlo Park, officially opened to the public. Today, its only remaining attraction is the historic Perkasie Carousel. But Menlo Park, in some form, has been a part of Perkasie’s culture since the Victorian era.

The true meaning of Perkasie’s Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) traditions

The occasion of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was once called, is nearly as old as Perkasie Borough itself. While the holiday as evolved over time, its importance remains with us as a solemn reminder of the price paid for our freedoms.

On May 28, 2022, the 130th Memorial Day parade and service will take place in Perkasie, with the Borough taking a lead role in the event. In past even-numbered years, Perkasie Borough supported the Hartzell-Crouthamel Post #280 of the American Legion. In odd-numbered years, Sellersville Borough and American Legion Post #255 leads the parade program. That tradition started in 1950. 

Informal ceremonies to honor the war dead started regionally in America toward the end of the Civil War. Initially called Decoration Day, people made sure the graves of Union and Confederate participants were decorated with flowers on May 30th each year. That was the most-observed date for Memorial Day until 1971, when a federal act moved the federal holiday to the last Monday in May. (Not all states observed the date change and there is still some controversy about it.)

1898parade0006

This 1899 photo is likely the annual Decoration Day parade, based on newspaper accounts

Hats off to Perkasie’s Mrs. Johnson

A question came up recently about one of Perkasie’s first businesswomen, and whatever became of Mrs. W. K. Johnson – the Borough’s first French milliner.

It took a little digital detective work to track down Perkasie’s trendsetter of Victorian fashion, but thanks to the Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com websites, we know a lot more about the women’s hat business in Perkasie when hats and bonnets were a big deal in the Borough.

Introduction To Wooden Treasures, the Story of Bucks County’s Covered Bridges

Here is a special preview of my new book “Wooden Treasures: The Story of Bucks County’s Covered Bridges.” The book is about 222 pages long and includes more than 240 images and drawings, with many published publicly for the first time. For more information about the book “Wooden Treasures,”  go to coveredbridgebook.com.

Introduction

Dr. Anderson M. Scruggs liked to send poems to the New York Times, which featured reader submissions during the 1930s. Dentistry was Scruggs’ paid profession and he taught it at Atlanta Southern Dental College in Georgia. However, Scruggs loved writing poetry about rural life based on his childhood experiences in West Point, Georgia, a small railroad town on the Chattahoochee River.

Horace King and his family built many of the covered bridges on the Chattahoochee. King was a former slave who gained his freedom from money received from his master and bridge-building partner, John Godwin. King used a bridge design patented by New England architect Ithiel Town, which King adapted for use not only over the Chattahoochee River, but throughout Georgia and Alabama. King and his four sons designed and built more than 100 covered bridges in the South. By 1932, many of King’s covered bridges were disappearing as Georgia’s state highway department demolished them and built steel replacements better suited for motor vehicles. That didn’t stop Anderson from questioning why this was happening to King’s bridges in rural Georgia.