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New Hanover Township


New Hanover Township municipal offices are located at 2943 North Charlotte St, Gilbertsville PA 19525; phone: 610-323-1008.

Numerous small hamlets and villages were founded during the early development of New Hanover, including Swamp (first township seat), Fagleysville, New Hanover Square, and Pleasant Run. See the accompanying historic map of New Hanover. The village of New Hanover, also known as Swamp or Swamp Churches, is located approximately sixteen miles northwest of Norristown. By 1832, it contained two churches, a post office, a tannery, two taverns, two stores, and eight dwelling units. The history of this settlement dates back to 1758. The creation of the village can be attributed to the location of the "Lutheran Dutch" and "Dutch Church", and the "Yelyer's Mill."

The first people to inhabit the Upper Perkiomen Valley were the Lenni Lenape Indian tribes. These people were described by William Penn as tall, strong, and sagacious. Because the first settlers lived in peace and harmony with the Indians for many years, William Penn could easily "buy" the Upper Perkiomen area from the native inhabitants in 1684, which became known as Penn's Woods.

The early seventeenth century witnessed the Reformation in Europe in the Thirty Years' War, which ultimately led to persecutions of the Protestants. These events stimulated the migration of the Brethren (Dunkers), Lutherans, members of the Reformed Church, Schwenkfelders, Mennonites, and other "peace" sects to the New World and to Penn's Woods.

Historical events, which strongly influenced the present land use matters of New Hanover date back to this early migration when the Township was part of Hanover Township. This latter community was a section of the Frankfort Land Development Company holdings that encompassed present day Upper Hanover Township, New Hanover Township, Pottsgrove Township, and Pottstown Borough. The German settlers account for the name of the community, a derivation from the Hanover King.

In the early eighteenth century, another name was attached to this area. It was called "Falckner's Swamp" after Daniel Falckner who was an attorney for the Frankfort Land Company. In 1700, through a series of protests and arguments, Daniel Falckner managed to gain complete control of the Frankfort lands.

Although at the time he was accused of inefficiencies by his associates, Falckner stands out as a predominant figure in the area.

The Frankfort Land Company remained in Falckner's hands until 1708 when he was forced by financial difficulties to turn over the lands to John Sprogell. The transaction alarmed many of the settlers in the area. Shortly thereafter, Sprogell announced that many of the titles of the first settlers were not legal and he proceeded to have them ousted. The settlers engaged the aid of Pastorius, an agent of the Frankfort Company who went to Philadelphia to investigate, only to find that Sprogell had enlisted the services of the only four lawyers then practicing in Pennsylvania. A fraud was revealed, but Sprogell managed to keep control of 22,000 acres of the richest farming country in Montgomery County, for which he paid a low price of $1,333. Many of the settlers were forced to buy back land from Sprogell that they had already settled on.

By 1727, German settlers flocked to Pennsylvania. Those who settled in New Hanover were forced to pay exorbitant prices which Sprogell asked for his holdings. One of those was Henry Antes who first settled in Philadelphia and then moved to New Hanover. He built the first grist mill at Bethlehem in 1743. His son, Fredrick Antes, was an iron founder and he cast the first four-pounder guns for the Revolutionary Army. He was one of the members elected from the county to author the New Constitution of Pennsylvania in 1776. At that time the area was part of Philadelphia County. Montgomery became a separate county in 1784.

Source: Township of New Hanover

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