Uwchlan Township municipal offices are located at 715 N. Ship Road, Exton PA 19341; phone: 610-363-9450.
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Land Above the Valley
Urchlan Township's Lionville Historic District [†] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Lionville Shortly after 1700, Welsh families from Merion, Radnor, Tredyffrin-Eastown and Caln, as well as new immigrants, began to migrate northward to the rolling ground above the North Valley Hills. The name Uwchlan, a Welsh term for "land above the Valley" was given to this gently undulating plain at the headwaters of the Pickering Creek. The landscape gradually became dotted with fertile farms. They were supported by a hamlet which grew around a crossing point of early trails and roads.
Before the Welsh farmers came, Indian trails traversed this wooded terrain, the most notable being the eastern part of the Allegheny Path. This trail, considered the oldest road in the province, connected Philadelphia with the hinderland. Its course ran from Philadelphia to Paoli, northwest to Morgantown and past Conrad Weiser's at Reading. It ended at Carlisle beyond Harris' Ferry on the Susquehanna. Because the Harris Ferry area was known as Paxtang, the trail was frequently called the Paxtang Trail and later the Paxtang Road. There was also an east/west trail from the Pickering Creek joining the Perkiomen Valley with the Lancaster settlements and a north/south trail from the Moravian settlements in the Lehigh Valley to Christiana, Delaware.
Among the families who took up land in Uwchlan were Pugh, Griffiths, Cadwalader, Evans, Johns, Thomas, and Phipps. Some settled on the land, others came to Pennsylvania in 1686 from Montgomeryshire, Wales, such as David Lloyd. In time, he rose to be Attorney General of the Province, eloquent and fiery Speaker of the Assembly, and eventually Chief Justice of Penn's land. Lloyd acquired extensive landholdings by astutely watching the Land Office in Philadelphia for dangling Warrants and defaulted Patents. In 1702 his father-in-law, Joseph Growden, assigned to him 1,000 acres of a 5,000 acre Warrant in Uwchlan. The next year, Lloyd purchased 666 2.3 acres adjacent, from Philadelphia widow Elizabeth Webb. Eventually he accumulated nearly 5,000 acres in the township. Lloyd divided his land into tracts. About 1712, he began settling parts thereof, often to settlers already living on the land. Early Uwchlan deeds refer to the Welsh Line as it ran along the southern edge of certain parcels.
John Cadwalader purchased 250 acres from Lloyd. Although the deed is dated 1715, the minutes of the Chester Monthly Meeting note that the Uwchlan Quakers met in the Cadwalader's home as early as 1712, showing Cadwalader to be a resident before he held title. Since he sold his 250 acres same year, it would appear he was legalizing what had been his de facto property. Before doing so, however, he arranged for the Uwchaln Quakers to buy one acre on the southwest corner of his land for a Friends Meeting House and burial ground.
Prior to this time, the Uwchlan Friends had been petitioning for a Preparatory Meeting rather than an Indulged Meeting since the Goshen Meeting was so far away. Uwchlan became a Preparatory Meeting in 1716, but the first Meeting House was not built until 1737. It was made of logs and replaced by the present stone structure in 1756.
In 1833, William Trimble bought 59 acres from John Gordon and proceeded to divide it into parcels, particularly the part with frontage on the King's Road. Between 1820 and 1870, virtually all of the village of Lionville (as it is seen today) was built. Two general stores came into existence plus Mordecai Lee's small shop. A wool felt hat factory appeared which sold beyond the local trade. Two Oyster Saloons were popular. In 1823 Vickers established a famous pottery works. Its products were delivered all over the county in blue and white wagons. A fine cabinetmaking family named Hartman set up a business across from the Wagonseller's house. Their advertisements emphasized all kinds of fashionable furniture "including Windsor chairs." They were also the coffinmakers for the area. They delivered in a simple, one-horse hearse. A later coffinmaker used a fancier carriage with a two-horse draw.
The village also had a watchmaker, a tinsmith, a harnessmaker and saddler, two physicians, a Pilgrim Lodge, I.O.O.F., a matuamaker (millinery), several dressmakers, and a tailor in each store. Expectations were rising! For a time it was thought that the main branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad was going to come through the highland instead of the valley. When this did not occur, the surrounding farms and townspeople settled into a less exciting, but comfortable way of life.
Towards the middle of the century, the Lutherans became a strong influence in the community and in 1852 built St. Pauls Church when Mordecai Lee sold them an acre of ground. In these years, mail arrived on Wednesday. It came by a one-horse wagon out the Lancaster Turnpike to Oakland (Whitford) from which it was then sent up Thomas' Road to Lionville and north. Lionville residents, at their own expense, employed a person to carry the mail on Saturday. Then came a stage line from West Chester to Reading (Dunwoody Brothers) making three round mail trips per week. By 1876, Lionville asked for daily mail and was granted twice-daily mail.
The village was also a tattersall with its fenced fields and pens for holding cattle. Cows, steers, oxen for farm and other work, horses and sheep were corralled and sold from the Red Lion barns. Drovers, with herds of cattle half to three-quarters of a mile long, not closely driven, were frequently seen coming from Berks and counties westward. Travelling circuses came through the village once or twice a summer, leading their animals on ropes. A local resident remembers being told of the time a circus owner had insufficient money to pay his bill at the tavern. He left his lion tied to a hitching post on the green until he could 'settle-up.' It is also recalled that Harry Graham, the butcher who lived in the Hawley-Klimpke House kept a pet bear. The rear door carried claw marks made when the bear was hungry or wanted attention.