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Gulph Mills
Civic Assoc.

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

Local History

Scenic charm and historical lore combine to make the Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill region one of the most attractive in the country. The cleft through the hills, known as Rebel Hill and Widow's Hill, in which Gulph Road was one of the first highways opened west of the Schuylkill out of the City of Philadelphia. Because of the physical surroundings the name "gulph," the old for of the present g-u-l-f, was given to the locality by the pioneer settlers. "G-u-l-p-h" meant not only an arm of the sea but also a depression in the earth, a chasm or abyss. The English poets, Pope and Spencer, used g-u-l-p-h in their poems, but it is now obsolete.

Rebel Hill, the hill to the west, traditionally received its name from the fact that in Revolutionary times, the residents hereabouts espoused the American cause so vehemently that those who upheld the Mother Country called the locality Rebel Hill. Widow's Hill, the hill to the west, received its name, as we are told, when after the Civil War, many of the women were deserted by their soldier husbands who may have found the charms of the Dixie Belles too enticing and remained in the south.

In many cases you will find that origin of the names of many an American town and village was based on the name of the tavern located in its midst or perhaps the original dwelling in the locality. Gulph Mills was originally called Bird-in-Hand for the old Inn or tavern located on the site of 977 Trinity Lane. The original well and spring house are still standing. The Inn was built about 1740, and it originally was a log building. However, a large stone structure was subsequently built around it.

Nine hundred Ninety-One Trinity Lane is the site of the original Bird-in-Hand general store, and Post Office. Records show that the Post Office was officially changes to Gulph Mills in 1830. In the early days mail was delivered twice a week, and the recipient paid for the stamp. It is believed that sometime prior to the Revolutionary War it was unofficially renamed Gulph Mills because of the number of mills along the Gulph Creek. The flour mill which furnished flour and corn meal to the soldiers at Gulph Mills and Valley Forge was built in 1747. a small toy mill was near the flour mill. Children's toys were made there. The foundations may still be seen opposite the Hanging Rock spring. A sawmill operated near the flour mill.

The largest of the mills was the McFarland Mill which was one of the largest woolen mills in the country. The Balmoral Mill located on Balligomingo Road was also a woolen mill. the McFarland Mill dam has disappeared from the community, but the Balmoral dam remains a little upstream from Jones Road Bridge. A short distance form Balmoral was the Tinkler and Townsend Mill, also a woolen mill. It is interesting to know that some mothers took their babies to the mill where a room was furnished for the care of the babies while the mothers worked. This mill was later an ice plant, then a brewery. It should also be noted that there were large iron ore quarries where Rebel Hill and Matsonford Road meet.

Poplar Lane, the home of Isaac Hughes from 1769 to 1782, later became the home of George Nugent. The records tell us that George Nugent, a prosperous merchant, enlarged the home and built the Collegiate Institute for his children and those of his neighbors. The walls of the school were two and one-half feet thick. The school was a success. About 1840 it became the home of the Academy of Natural Sciences and was also used as a meeting place for the Upper Merion Lyceum. The Institute was vacant for many years and burned January 18, 1932.

At Poplar Lane, 1000 Boxwood court, the date 1758 was found on the fireback of an old fireplace.

The Bird-in-Hand School, adjoining Poplar Lane, was built in 1870. It was a two room school and the Lyceum met there for several years.

It can be noted from a date stone on the bridge that crosses Gulph Creek at Trinity Lane, that it was built by Montgomery County, Upper Merion Township, 1789, in the second year of the Federal Union. Each year the flower boxes on the bridge are planted and maintained by the Civic Association.

The bridge that crosses the creek at Arden Road was, for many years, called "Lover's Bridge". The road leads to the section of the village which was called "Widow Hill."

Records do not tell just where Washington's headquarters were as some of his letters were dated "Headquarters Gulph Mill," others "near the gulph" and one to the Board of War was dated "Headquarters Gulph Creek, 14th December, 1777," It is thought the Headquarters were the Hughs home at the Walnut Grove Farm now a part of the Gulph Mills golf course.

General Lafayette's Headquarters was at the site where the Mary MacFarland Cutler's home stood. The Mary Cutler home was torn down to build the Gulph Mills approach to the Expressway. Part of the landscaping of the home can be observed today.

Aaron Burr was the home of Jonathan Sturgis, now the Picket Post Restaurant. General Nathaniel Green was at the Zimmerman Supplee home, 184 Holstein Road. General Sterling, who had charge of the outpost at Gulph Mills, spent the winter at the home of Jon Rees on Rebel Hill.

Apart form the usual routine of any army at rest, the incidents connected with the encampment at Gulph Mills are few. When the Army lay at Valley Forge, however, the Gulph was an important post. Colonel Aaron Burr was eventually made commander of Picket Post. On several occasions, enemy soldiers were captured nearby and made prisoners.

The establishment of winter quarters at Valley Forge was apparently not decided upon until December 17th. This uncertainty accounts for the lengthened period of the encampment at the Gulph, and it may not be too much to say that in all probability this locality was also taken into consideration as possible winter quarters. In any event, at ten o'clock on Friday morning, December 19, the army marched from the Gulph to Valley forge.

It is clear form the foregoing that the Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill area is historic soil. Here have passed and repassed the suffering band of heroes, soldiers of the Revolution, men whose names are history itself whose deeds are a cherished inheritance: Washington, Greene, Knox, Lafayette, Sterling and Wayne. Our village was the threshold to Valley Forge, and the story of that winter, a story of endurance, forbearance and patriotism which will never grow old, had its beginning here at the six day's encampment in Gulph Mills.

(Historical facts drawn form an article on Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill
by M. Regina Steiteler Supplee.)


Meeting and
Events Schedule

During 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 email messages and 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

Highlights of Historic Gulph Mills
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. More...

Hanging Rock
In 1997, the U.S. Department of the Interior put Hanging rock on the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing it for the symbolic significance it had acquired. More...

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