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Franconia Township


Franconia Township municipal offices are located at 671 Allentown Road, Franconia PA 18924; phone: 215-723-1137.

A Brief History [1]

Franconia Township was originally a part of Salford Township, which was established about 1727. However, in 1731, Franconia, which included areas now occupied by Souderton and the Montgomery County portion of Telford, separated from the original Salford Township. The major reason for the split was that the township had grown too populous for one constable to serve.

The name Franconia signifies " the land of the Franks" and is a name derived from an old German Duchy. On a map prepared in 1682, Franconia is called "The Dutch Township," inferring a predominance of German settlers. Descendants of these original settlers are still found today in large numbers in Franconia and the boroughs of Souderton and Telford, which were a part of Franconia until the 1880's and 1890's.

The first settlers found the valley of the Indian Creek under Indian cultivation and consequently named the stream after them. The Indian Creek valley was perhaps more thickly settled with Indians than any other place in Montgomery County, attested by the vast amount and variety of relics found within the valley. In addition, the northern section of the township was known as "Indianfield," even as late as 1809.

Religious freedom was a major reason for the emigration of people from Europe. The earliest church on record in Franconia was a log church known as Indianfield Lutheran (Little Zion) Church. The log structure was built in 1730. In 1734 there were thirty-four taxables and landholders in Franconia, nearly all German. At that time, there were not more than 175 inhabitants, two grist mills, one tannery, 153 horses, 266 head of cattle and one tavern. By 1882 there were 2,556 inhabitants, seven grist mills, 515 horses, 1,147 cattle and nine taverns.

A large number of the earlier settlers were Mennonite. The Franconia Mennonite Meetinghouse was founded between 1730 and 1750, and is one of the largest Mennonite churches in Pennsylvania. Other churches included the Indian Creek Reformed Church (Christ Church), built of logs in the 1750's. Its founders were immediate descendents of French Huguenots, Hollanders and Palatines. Leidy's Church, built in 1858, had a schoolhouse and graveyard on that site over one hundred years earlier. The schoolhouse was used for public worship until the church was built.

The township villages in 1884 were Franconia Square, near the center, Franconiaville in the southern end of the township, and Souderton and Telford, situated on the line of the railroad in the northeastern portion of the township. Franconia Square (Franconia) and Franconiaville (Elroy) were founded by the opening of hotels, stores, and post offices. Franconia Square was laid out about 1735 on Allentown Road which was one of the main arteries of travel between Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. A hotel was built around 1738 and a post office in 1828.

The North Pennsylvania Railroad was completed in 1857. Telford and Souderton, located on the railroad, surpassed both Franconia Square and Franconiaville in growth and soon thereafter were incorporated as separate boroughs.

Morwood is a small village located in the western part of Franconia Township near the east branch of the Perkiomen Creek. In 1888, the name of the post office was changed from Gehman to Morwood. The first syllable was evidently a tribute to Levi P. Morton, vice president of the United States. The second syllable was in recognition of the woods in the area. Earlington, like Franconia and Elroy, is also on Allentown Road. It is located in the northwestern portion of the township. The name "Earlington" was chosen by a committee of the citizens in 1855.

Community life in Franconia underwent radical changes in the early 1900s as the automobile came into common use and roads and highways were improved. By the 1960s village stores were largely replaced by borough stores, which were now accessible due to the automobile. Suburbanization increased rapidly following World War II. Reliance on the railroad decreased with use of the automobile and truck. Industrial, commercial, and residential development extended outward from Philadelphia. Most early residents in Franconia were farmers. At the beginning of the 20th Century many agricultural businesses were created by these farm families. Some of Franconia's biggest employers currently include these food processors: like MOPAC, Pilgrim's Pride (formally Longacre), and Leidy's. Another long time business establishment in Franconia is Bergey's Automobiles Incorporated.

Today, Franconia is managing its growth, retains much its rural character and culture, and maintains much of its manufacturing/processing core.

  1. Montgomery Township, 2004 Indian Valley Comprehensive Plan, www.montcopa.org.
**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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