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Whitpain Township

Whitpain Township municipal offices are located at 960 Wenz Road, Blue Bell PA 19422; phone: 610-277-2400.

One of the oldest municipalities in the county, Whitpain Township was established in 1701. Public school students attend the Wissahickon School District.

Richard Whitpaine, a London butcher, purchased a 4500-acre tract of land as part of Penn's Holy Experiment. There is no documentation proving that Richard Whitpaine ever visited his land in America. He sent his 16-year old son, Zechariah, to settle his properties. Zechariah met his bride Sarah Songhurst, on The Welcome. By 1685, Zechariah had established a plantation house along the Wissahickon Creek, near Mount Pleasant. Shortly after, he and Sarah married.

By 1734, Whitpain Township had 24 landowners. It maintained steady growth for more than two centuries, expanding from 771 people in 1800 to 3,063 people in 1950.

In Holme's Map of 1681, Whitpain Township is called Whitpain's Creek. By 1701, when William Penn ordered a survey of all the Townships in the Commonwealth, it appeared in public records as Whitpain's Township.

The borders of Whitpain Township changed dramatically in 1733, when Worcester Township was created, taking away a chunk of land. Today, Whitpain Township is approximately four and a half miles by three miles, or 12.8 square miles (8,640 acres). There are two watersheds in the Township - the Wissahickon Creek, and Stony Creek. Interestingly, the Wissahickon Creek was originally known as Whitpain's Creek. Today it's name, which is Indian, means catfish stream.

Early settlers to Whitpain Township were farmers. Industry came to the region in 1727, when Jacob Yost began a weaving enterprise in Centre Square. Charles Mather built an additional mill in 1804.

Although the Whitpain Township of the 21st Century is home to residents of many religions and nationalities, its earliest settlers were Protestant and Quaker. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Township had two churches: Boehm's Reformed Church (circa 1740), and St. John's Lutheran Church (circa 1769). Zechariah Whitpaine, a Quaker, came to America to escape religious persecution and seek his fortune.

Today, Whitpain Township is a composite of several small communities established before and after the Revolutionary War. They include West Ambler, Centre Square, Blue Bell, Broad Axe, Custer, Franklinville, Washington Square and Belfry.

Centre Square was previously known as The Waggon. Its Waggon Inn was one of the first lodgings located in the Township. Its name was changed to Centre Square, because the land lots were divided into squares.

Until 1840, Blue Bell was known as Pigeontown, because of the presence of large flocks of pigeons in the area. It is believed that Blue Bell was named in honor of the Blue Bell Inn.

Broad Axe derives its name from the Broad Axe Tavern, established in 1681.

Franklinville is situated near the northern portion of the Township. In 1880, it contained an Inn, a store operated by W. Corson, and the country estate and model farm of William Singerly, which is now Normandy Farms.

Whitpain Township has been an independent Township since 1701. However, for a brief period in 1762, Whitpain and Plymouth, by act of the assembly, became one district with one supervisor from each Township. Total dissatisfaction by the populace of both townships dissolved the ill-considered act in 1763.

Whitpain Township earned a place in history during the Revolutionary War, when George Washington and many of his generals spent time in the Township. In fact, Dawesfield, a home on Lewis Lane, is considered the most significant historic site in the Township, because it was Washington's headquarters from October 21 to November 2, 1777.

Source: Township of Whitpain

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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