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Gulph Mills
Civic Assoc.

P.O. Box 60364
King of Prussia, PA 19406

Highlights of Historic Gulph Mills

1. Walnut Grove Farm
2. Poplar Lane
3. Bird-in-Hand School
4. Farm House
A. Barn
5. Blacksmith

6. Farm House
7. Bird-in-Hand Post Office
& General Store
8. Wheelwright
9-12. Millworkers Houses
13,14. Mill

Click map for larger image


Walnut Grove Farm -- the land, part of a grant form William Penn in 1684, was purchased by John Hughes c. 1769 who built the original house on Swedeland Road and farmed the tract, mined the limestone and built Poplar Lane for his son Isaac Hughes. Isaac Hughes built and resided in a larger home after his father's death, which is now part of Gulph Mills Golf Club.

Popular Lane -- built by John Hughes in 1758 for his son Lt. Col. Isaac Hughes, was added onto in 1861 by the Lowerys and the pillared section put on in 1824 by George Nugent whose son had a woolen mill at Gulph Creek. The property was named "Ballygamingo" in 1820 by Bethel Morris, after his home in Wales

Bird-in-Hand School House -- the land was deeded in 1811 to Richard Roberts with permission to build a dam in Gulph Creek. In 1870 one acre was sold to Upper Merion School district for the Bird-in-Hand Public School and around 1931 Judge Fred Smilie converted it to a private residence.

Farm House and Barn -- Built by Zimmerman Supplee in 1735, it was the headquarters of General Nathaniel Greene during the Revolutionary War. About the time of enlarging the house in the 1850's the first bathroom with indoor plumbing in Gulph Mills was installed. The barn, where Washington's horse was believed to have been tethered, was converted to a residence in the 1930's. It was repaired after a fire in 1996.

Blacksmith Shop -- built c. 1701, it was part of the original Bird-in-Hand settlement and a vital part of the way of life. The Shop serviced wagons and horses of voyagers at the Bird-in-Hand Inn located on the road to Lancaster.

Gulph Pointe -- originally built c. 1725 as a farm house. It had 2 front doors and 2 parlors, commonly found in early Welsh Quaker houses, to separate men from women. Its location and vintage definitely indicate it as an integral part of the village.

Bird-in-Hand Post Office & General Store -- was built c. 1750 and 1790 was the Bird-in-Hand Post Office until 1830 when it became Gulph Mills Post Office -- then the first Post Office in Upper Merion. Isaac Mullen ran the store and was Post Master until 1923. The Post Office and Village had the name from the Bird-in-Hand Inn next door which was destroyed by fire leaving only the well and spring house to see.

Wheelwright/ Carriage Shop -- built in 1700's, the land was part of the McFarland tract - mansion, dam and mill - that was razed in 1950 when the Expressway was built. The shop gradually deteriorated to a garage before conversion to a residence in 1931. It is located on Gulph Creek where it passes under a 200 year-old bridge on the road to the west.

Millworker's Houses -- five of 26 homes (17 buildings) along Gulph Creek on Ballygo Road that were built between 1750 - 1850 for workers at the nearby textile mills. The community of Ballygo was part of the Welsh Barony, a grant from William Penn in 1682, with several mills, dams and even a Post Office in 1832. At least one of the houses had black paint on the porch trim for Lincoln's assassination, and artifacts have been found in the gardens along the creek and under floors. Most of the homes are twin and even and outhouse was put on both sides of the property line. The lake formed by the one remaining dam, Balmoral, was used only recently for swimming, fishing and skating and today is a haven for wild geese, etc. Balygo road, though paved, is essentially the same as when laid out before 1713 over a wagon trail.

Mill, Mill Race & Dam -- the mill building dates to the mid 1700's and although it's early uses are unknown, by 1850 it was a woolen mill. About 1892 it was converted to a brewery producing fine beer due to the high quality of the local grain and water, and many of the bottles have been found along the creek. Much of the mill complex is evident today from the ruins and the large building now adapted to a residence.

Bird-in-Hand / Gulph Mills has a truly rich heritage dating from 1600's that has been virtually unknown and ignored since the turn of the 20th century. William Penn (Welsh Quaker) made a grant in 1682 of a vast acreage to the Welsh in America that became the "Welsh Barony" with the first settlers in 1696. This tract was divided into 2 sections - the Upper section was a major part of Mount Joy Manor, Penn's grant to his daughter, Letitia, while the land across the Schuylkill River between Widow's and Rebel Hills became Gulph Mills. The Lower section was granted to John Pennington (Merion, Goshen and Haverford Townships) where Welsh Quakers purchased 40,000 acres and have left their imprint with Welsh names and meeting houses still in use today.

Gulph Mills, prior to 1830 known as Bird-in-Hand, was the beginning of the Hundred-Mile Woods to Harrisburg and beyond on Old Lancaster Pike - the original Indian Path / Wagon Trail/ road from Philadelphia to Lancaster. Roads in Gulph Mills were laid out prior to 1713 on wagon trails and Gulph Road is the second oldest in the township. It went from Valley Forge through King of Prussia (Reesville) and Gulph Mills (past the 400 year old Washington Oak that died in 1990,on down to Lower Merion where Penn's Milestones are still standing.

The Hughes, Holstein and Henderson families, early Welsh settlers in the Gulph, built the first Common School on land given by Roberts which has been restored by the King of Prussia Historical Society. There was another school of DeKalb Pike that became successively Stewart Fund Hall and the Upper Merion Township building (recently razed).

The first Swedish settler was Nils Matson in 1656 whose descendent Jon Matson settled on a grant along the Schuylkill in 1714, ran a ferry and gave his name to Matsonford Road. On this road, near, near Old Gulph road, was a school that was used by the Lyceum for meetings in the 1850's and is still being used today as a Day care School next to the Gulph United Church. It was Matsons Ford that Washington's Army used first on December 12th, 1777 before crossing at Swedesford and camping at the Gulph from December 13-19th.

Along Gulph Creek there were: 4 bridges - Upper Gulph Road, arden road, Trinity Lane and Jones Road; several dams of which the Balmoral (along Ballygo Road) is the sole survivor; and 5 mills with the ruins at the lower and of Ballygo Road the only evidence of their existence. Even though the dam, grist mill and mill house at Upper Gulph Road are gone, the old barn,one of the oldest in Pennsylvania and in constant use for 243 years, still stands in spite of developers' excavating and earth moving up to its walls having endangered its future.

The natural resources of this area provided livelihoods and occupations for the early settlers - waterways gave power for mills producing grain, paper, textiles, toys, a slaughterhouse and a brewery. Not only do many of the buildings and roadways of the early settlers remain in use but many of their descendants continue to live in the same locality enjoying its natural beauty.

Meeting and
Events Schedule

Annual Meeting

February 2, 2008
at 2:30PM Location: PNI-800 River Road, Conshohocken, PA 19128.
Community update, Elections, Wine and Refreshments ...
And Special
Guest Speaker: Michael Caldwell, Superintendent of Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Bring you neighbors and find out what is happening in your back yard! Open to
all members of the GMCA.

Garden Party Set for Saturday, June 9th 2007
Our famous party will be held RAIN or SHINE! Location: The home of Marie Laney Dahm and Don Dahm, 191 Gulph Hills Road, Gulph Mills,Radnor, PA 19087, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. All members of the GMCA are welcome.

During the course of the year,
the Board of the GMCA meets and acts upon affairs and township actions which may affect our area.
The Board often distributes emergency flyers
to inform local residents of townshop meetings and actions which may effect local neighborhoods in the GMCA area.

Full Meeting

Directory distributed to residents of the Gulph Mills Assoc. area and local advertisers


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