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Horsham Preservation & Historical Association

...the Future of Horsham's Past

History Roads

Roads in Horsham

The following is taken from Craven's History of Horsham

Horsham is one of the original townships laid out, but not named, on the first published map of William Penn’s settlement in Pennsylvania. This map, commonly known as Holme’s map was printed during the year 1687 by Penn’s London land office.

photo of Thomas Holmes Map of Pennsylvania

Holme used a simple method of blocking out land in the east end of Montgomery and Bucks Counties. He ran parallel lines northwestward from the Delaware River at intervals of one and one-half miles; each alternate line established a division line between townships. The intervening lines formed median or base lines within the townships, from which individual grants of land were measured.

Horsham, therefore, forms a somewhat irregular parallelogram, with an average width of slightly more than three miles. The average length is somewhat more than five and one-half miles, and the total area is about 10,750 acres, or a little less than 17 square miles.

Through highways were projected along each of the parallel lines on Holmes map. When actually laid out, these highways occasionally deviated from the straight lines of the survey, due to irregularities of terrain. In a general way, most of the southeast-northwest roads in the eastern end of Montgomery County and the adjacent section of Bucks County follow the old survey lines laid down more than 250 years ago. Township Line Road or Cottman Avenue, Susquehanna Road, Welsh Road, Horsham Road, County Line Road, Street Road, and Bristol Road all follow closely the base lines found on Holme’s map.

The first road in Horsham Township was an Indian trail connecting the Delaware and Schuylkill valleys that crossed the county line a short distance south of the entrance of Park Road and continued westward in the general direction of Ambler. As late as 1722, it was considered of sufficient importance to be made the terminus of one of Governor Keith’s roads to his plantation. (???)

photo of Roads-to-Graeme-Park-Davis-Grove-Babylon

Next came the lower portion of the Welsh Road, long known as the Pemmapecka Road; Pemmapecka, being the original Indian name of the Pennypack Creek. Welsh Road was confirmed in 1712, but was already used by Gwynedd settlers as a route to the Pennypack grist mill in Moreland Township.

In 1719, the Horsham and Byberry Meetings were connected by Byberry Road. It ran from the Horsham Meeting Road to the line of Hatboro Pike, thence to Hatboro and out Byberry Avenue. Its purpose was to afford a means of communication between the two meetings.

Three years later, Sir William Keith opened two roads to his plantation; one extended along the county line (following the Indian trail mentioned above), the other, Governor Road, became the present Easton Road from Willow Grove to the Davis Grove Road, where it followed the line of the latter for forty rods and then turned northward to the county line.

photo of Governor Rd Mile Marker showing 18 M to P

In 1723, Norristown Road was laid out from Welsh Road to the Horsham Meetinghouse, having already been opened from North Wales to Welsh Road. For many years it was known as the North Wales Road. Deeds of the period around 1800 refer to it as the Swedesford Road. The Horsham Road was laid out in 1735, from Montgomeryville to Norristown Road. This came to be known as Horsham Road about 1800, although it was first called the Montgomery Road. Its excellence as a public highway during the first years may be judged from the statement in a deed of 1748, that one corner of the property was marked by “a Black Oak standing in the middle of the road from Horsham to Montgomery.” During the early years of this century, Horsham Road was commonly known as Cowpath Road, and still retains this name at Montgomeryville in Montgomery Township.

In 1735, the Kenderdines opened Davis Grove Road as a private lane through their property to give access to their mill. Ten years later, it was made a public road and extended to the village of Davis Grove. The road has a stone base and was the first to have macadam in the area.

Limekiln Pike was dedicated in 1737. Its present course was laid out in 1855, when the road was moved about one-fourth mile to the west at the upper end of the township. The petition for Park Road is without date, but the accompanying draught is dated 1750. Moreland Avenue was laid out in 1758, and Township Line Road in 1770. Other roads, Babylon Road in particular, are known to have been in use about the same time, but most of them were not dedicated until a later date.

The private roads were maintained by the landowners who lived along them. The township had to assume the responsibility for the repair of all the public highways with the exception of Limekiln Pike, Hatboro Pike, and Easton Road, which were operated by the turnpike companies.

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Thomas Holmes Map of Pennsylvania
A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pensilvania in America, Divided Into Countyes, Townships and Lotts...." (published circa 1687) by Thomas Holmes for William Penn
photo of Thomas Holmes Map of Pennsylvania
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Davis Grove Babylon Road Pitcairn
detail of map Roads to Graeme Park (1924-45?) showing village of Davis Grove at intersection of Privet and Governor Rds - now part of WGNAS
photo of Roads-to-Graeme-Park-Davis-Grove-Babylon
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Governor Rd Mile Marker
Stone marker on Governor Road near 1735 barn ruins carved with “18 M to P’, which probably indicates 18 miles to Philadelphia from that point. May be an early mail delivery marker
photo of Governor Rd Mile Marker showing 18 M to P
Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
The Future of Horsham's Past
900 Governors Rd | Horsham, PA USA 19044
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