A Brief History of Quakertown
The town of Quakertown was officially organized in 1855. It has seen many visitors and undergone much transformation from its early days as a wilderness to its era of farmland surrounding manufacturing centers to its present mix of suburbia and tranquil countryside.
The area had many names in its early years including "Great Swamp,""Great Meadow,""Flatland and "Richland." The final name became prominent, most likely because of the fertile soil that was an attraction for the farming settlers.
The first land grant was obtained from William Penn in 1701 by English and Welsh speculators. On February 14, 1703 "the Great Swamp" was surveyed. Large tracks of land were called townships. Although the land had previously been purchased, it wasn't until 1712 that John Ball and his father-in-law John Lester actually moved into the township known as Richland, a wilderness at the time.
They moved north from the Welsh Quaker track near Gwynedd, Montgomery County, because it was becoming crowded. The people who followed them until 1720 were mainly Quakers. In 1720 the town had 12 dwellings, two stores, three taverns and a simple Quaker Meeting House.
From 1720 to 1750, German settlers started moving to the area. In 1750, the Quakers established the Richland Meeting House. It also accommodated residents of Springfield, Haycock, Milford, and Rockhill townships, since the nearest place of worship was 20 miles away at Gwynedd Meeting.
When a post office was established in 1803, it used the name "Quakertown," in recognition of the meeting house and early Quaker settlers. When the town was incorporated into a borough in 1855, the name became official. At the time, the town stretched from Main street to 9th street.
If you lived in Quakertown about 100 years ago, you almost certainly would have worked with your hands. Maybe you would have rolled cigars, molded iron stoves, made saddles, repaired shoes or driven a delivery wagon. In 1905, Quakertown was very much a workingman's town set in the countryside.
Fifty years after its 1855 incorporation, the borough had grown to about 3,400 residents and become a major commercial and employment center in Upper Bucks County. A 1905 borough directory lists 930 male residents over 21 years old and their occupations. The directory doesn't include women, but photographs from the era show women working in factories and other jobs.
If you are interested in learning more about the town's history, we suggest you contact the Quakertown Historical Society located here at 26 Main Street (215) 536-3298 or obtain a copy of two recent books "Images of America: Quakertown" by Carolyn E. Potser, John T. Pilecki and Nancy Walp Bosworth (printed 2002, reprinted 2003) or Fries's Rebellion by Paul Douglas Newman (printed 2004).
The Bucks County Visitor's Bureau is also available through www.bccvb.org or by calling (215) 639-0300.
In addition, the James A. Michener branch of the Bucks County Free Library, named for the esteemed local author and located at 401 W. Mill Street, is also an excellent source of local information. Call (215) 536-3306 or use the links from our site.