Local Preservation

An eyewitness to Perkasie’s most-iconic photograph

Early on a September 1917 morning, a group of young men marched off to World War I in a scene that lives on today in one of Perkasie’s iconic photos. Recently discovered records of that day shed new light on that emotional event.

The Mercer Museum’s library contains the records of Local Draft Board Division 3, kept by Perkasie resident Mahlon Keller. In this brief file, Keller described the scene as local young men from the Perkasie area were escorted down Seventh Street to the Reading train depot. The Perkasie Central News also reported the event on the morning of September 19, 1917. It went to press later that day.

A controversial visitor sets up shop in Perkasie

In July 1929, James E. Sanders rolled into Perkasie to start a new factory that made miniature model ships. About nine months later, Sanders left town for good – and his mysterious past soon became common knowledge.

Introduction to “An American Hometown”

You can read the introduction to “An American Hometown” for free. To order the book online, go to www.perkasiebook.com, and Shopify will safely and securely print your book and ship it to you.

Introduction

On a winter day in December 2019, more than 5,000 people gathered in front of a community Christmas tree to watch Santa Claus arrive in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, on a borough-owned electric-service bucket truck. The crowd cheered as Santa climbed in the bucket to the tree’s top and it roared after Santa hit a switch to light the tree—continuing a tradition dating back more than 100 years.

The American House

To those unfamiliar with Perkasie, the borough is 35 miles north of Philadelphia, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It has about 8,500 residents. Perkasie Borough was born in the Victorian age, about 30 years before the Christmas tree lighting became a big deal for its residents. Before then, a handful of farmers and their livestock inhabited the area after the Europeans arrived in the 1680s.

New Perkasie History Book Debuts February 15

The first new book in quite a while about Perkasie’s history will be released next month, and here are the details.

An American HometownI have been threatening to write such a book for the past few years since starting my Preserving Perkasie blog. The book, called “An American Hometown,” combines three past historical projects with about six months of new research.

“An American Hometown” is the first fully documented history of Perkasie Borough from William Penn’s time until August 1945. The project combines background from several past Perkasie histories with primary sources, such as county records, newspapers, census data, and personal accounts.

Our WPA Wonder: Lake Lenape Park

Today, some people may take for granted the 122-acre Lake Lenape Park that connects Perkasie and Sellersville Boroughs via the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. However, the park almost did not come to pass until local leaders joined with federal and county officials in 1935 to create a gift to “the children of the future,” as one leader called it.

Roebling Bridges 1940

The Park’s Roebling bridges in the early 1940s

Perkasie’s Civil War heroes at Gettysburg

Lost in the remembrances over the July 4th weekend was another event that defines our freedoms today – the anniversary of the epic battle at Gettysburg. Several founders of the Perkasie’s Grand Army of the Republic (or G.A.R.) post were probably on that battlefield, and there is one brief eyewitness account from them.

The confrontation at Gettysburg concluded on July 4, 1863 when General Robert E. Lee withdrew his Army of Northern Virginia from town. During fighting from July 1 to July 3, combined casualties were estimated at over 45,000, with nearly 8,000 deaths of Union and Confederate soldiers. It was the deadliest battle of the Civil War and effectively ended the chances of a Confederate victory in the Civil War.

The Wheatfield at Gettysburg, 1903.

“A Monster is Stalking the Town”: The 1918 Flu and the Pennridge Region

In late September 1918, the Pennridge region was deeply involved in the effort to end World War I. Little did people know the Spanish flu epidemic had arrived in their own backyard, starting perhaps the toughest five-month period in our local history.

Today, the 1918-1919 global influenza pandemic is getting new attention as America deals with the COVID-19 outbreak. To be sure, the coronavirus situation deserves public scrutiny and preparedness. But any comparison to the Spanish flu epidemic should be made with great caution.

In partisan times, almost everyone is talking about the Rockhill Quarry

There is one topic dominating local talk in the Pennridge region this winter, and it is not the upcoming presidential election. The fight over an old quarry containing naturally occurring asbestos is the talk of our region, and its 45,000 residents.

Mention the name “Rockhill Quarry” in East Rockhill Township at the grocery store, your church, a local restaurant, or on social media, and you will surely get a response. And the Rockhill Quarry is indeed old. The Perkasie Central News archives show granite was discovered there in 1888. By 1890, early quarry operators were “getting out blocks for building purposes and road paving,” at a time when few roads were paved. The General Crushed Stone Company began operations there in 1903, providing materials for “macadamizing, cement work and building purposes.”

rockhill quarry 1973

The quarry in 1973. Source: PA Power Library

Benjamin: Bucks County’s lost borough

In 1895, the residents of the upcoming Upper Bucks County village of Benjamin lost a court fight to form their own borough. Today, the region known as South Perkasie retains much of the history from that era.

BenjaminIn

In 1899, Perkasie and Benjamin residents rejoiced at the news of their merger.

Benjamin’s hotel, two mills, a general store and one of its churches still stand as do more than dozen of its houses. Its former turnpike is Walnut Street (Route 152). Its covered bridge was moved in 1958, however.

Looking Back: The original Mood’s Covered Bridge

This month, Bucks County begins another set of repairs on Mood’s Covered Bridge in East Rockhill Township just outside Perkasie. It is the second covered bridge at that location, replacing one that lost in a 2004 fire.

The repairs are part of a $2.5 million project to update all seven covered bridges owned by Bucks County.

Mood's Bridge in the 1950s

Mood’s Bridge in the 1950s. Photo by John C. Sinclair