Montgomery County history. Former blacksmith shop, built in 1701, home was part of the original Bird-in-Hand settlement. Change the orientation of the home by switching the existing front of the home to the back. This property design change is logical, and creates a quaint environment.
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.
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.