of Historic Gulph Mills
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
/ 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.