Lower Salford Township
Lower Salford Township municipal offices are located at 379 Main Street, Harleysville PA 19438; phone: 215-256-8087.
The earliest recorded history of Lower Salford Township goes as far back as the Colonial Period. The first recorded settlement in Lower Salford began around 1717. Nearly 3,000 acres was granted to David Powell, an early surveyor. Mr. Powell did not intend to settle on this land, rather they acquired the land for speculative purposes.
By 1727, considerable settlement had occurred in the Township of Salford, part of which is today known as Lower Salford. In March of 1741, The Court of Quarter Sessions divided the original Salford area into the Townships of Lower Salford, Upper Salford, and Marlborough. Later in 1892, Salford Township was organized from the northern portion of Upper Salford Township.
In Lower Salford itself, many of the original settlers were of Germanic descent and members of the "plain sects." The "Schwenkfelders," a religious sect, settled prominently in the Eastern portion of Lower Salford. The first meeting house was built by the Mennonite's by 1728.
Church and mill served as a focus for the community, and a network of roads and trails connected the churches with the rest of the community. The old Manatawney Trail was adapted into a road which was converted into Sumneytown Pike in 1847. Sumneytown Pike became the main artery that linked the Indian Valley with Philadelphia. During the colonial period the many inns and taverns served as administrative posts for the Sumneytown Pike corridor.
In 1875, the Township had three hotels, four general stores, three jewelers, three feed stores, one hardware store, one shoe store, one confectioner and one sewing machine dealer. By 1860, 1,828 people resided in Lower Salford Township creating demand for these goods.
The villages of Lower Salford came to be known by name in a rather simple way. Harleysville came into name because the landlord of the Klein Tavern was Samuel Harley. The Klein Tavern was at the junction of many roads within Lower Salford. The other focal point in Lower Salford was the village of Lederach. Although Lederach was more populated during the colonial period, Harleysville eventually became more populated as the road network grew in the 19th century. Vernfield was named for a son of founder Abraham Nyce.
Manufacturing in Lower Salford began as early as 1726 when Garrett Clemens built the first mill in the Township along the East Branch of the Perkiomen. By the 1880's, textile manufacturing concentrated in Harleysville with two garment factories.
It is essential to recognize Lower Salford's history to understand its future formation. Settled primarily by the plain sects, it has enjoyed a rural life for much of its history. Although industry provided goods for local needs, manufacturing in Lower Salford never could compete with other manufacturing centers to the east because of poor railroad circulation. Consequently, commercial services were modest and geared towards agricultural products. The township now stands in the pattern of residential growth and must plan to accommodate this growth in an efficient manner.