Linconia-Concord Park

Bensalem Twp, Bucks County, PA

HomeWhats NewSite IndexContactSearch

Linconia Park and its later neighbor, Concord Park, play an important role in the history of suburban neighborhood development. See historical sketch, below, for information on its significance. Homes were built beginning circa 1923. Median lot size is 0.25 acres. Median interior living space is approximately 1,400 sqft.

Historic Sketch [1]

Linconia came into being as a result of the dreams of Frank K. Brown, a caucasian farmer from the Neshaminy Falls area. Mr. Brown saw the need for black people to own land away from the city, where they could enjoy a country atmosphere. He succeeded in purchasing a farm, along with eighty acres of land which became Linconia in 1923. The name was selected by Mr. Brown because of the proximity of Old Lincoln Highway. He named the streets in the new community and designated some of the land as a park.

Many residents in the township did not welcome a minority community and much was done to intimidate the early residents. The Ku Klux Klan was active in the area at that time and one of the first overt demonstrations of disapproval was a cross burning. Banks and local lending institutions refused loans for building purposes. Determined black people put shacks on their land, hoping to get the necessary money eventually to build substantial homes. Some stuck it out, many became discouraged and returned to the city, and others died trying to realize their dreams.

George Bussey, a carpenter, was able to get materials and start building his home. Ernest Gordon was able to obtain a loan to build his own home and a few others. It was an uphill struggle.

To add to the burden of being refused mortgage money, the community of Linconia received second-class treatment in services, compared to other sections of the township. Linconia still had mud roads and as late as the 1930's there were homes with no electricity. Most homes had outside toilets; those homes with inside plumbing were promptly reassessed and taxes were increased. Children in Linconia walked to school to the little building which can be seen yet on Old Lincoln Highway, just north of the turnpike.

One of the first residents of the area was Mrs. Bessie Deavers, who purchased her home in July 1923 and had the first Agreement of Sale and Deed issued. Elsie Lewis (formerly Mrs. Scott) lived with Mrs. Deavers and later became secretary to Frank Brown. The two ladies often recalled how they walked two miles each day to the Trevose station to take a train to their jobs in the city. About 1927 public transportation began operating on Roosevelt Boulevard, with a stop at City Line.

During those difficult early years, the depression set further obstacles in the path of those trying to build lives in Linconia. Many people lost their property, but the community survived. This is a testimonial to the stamina of people who will not be turned aside.

More people came to settle there during and following the war years. They were of as sturdy a stock as the earlier settlers and blended into the community. But life was still difficult. There was no burning of fiery crosses, but other subtle methods were put into practice. It was just as impossible to get a mortgage as it had been in the past.

Through the great kindness of such men as Tony Hawkins, Lawrence Rabb Sr., and Ernest Gordon, many were able to build their homes on their week-to-week salaries. C. Burnley White, of the Simon Lumber Company, gave help and special considerations with building materials. And then their was the Rev. Bessie Wheeler and the Linconia Tabernacle. It seemed as if the main pulse and lifeline of the community was in and around this church.

A new community, Concord Park, came into being as a dream of Morris Milgram, a developer. His dream was called, "America's first community designed for integration." There was talk of a "perfect" society in Bucks County. Eleanor Roosevelt in her "My Day" column in the New York Post called the father of Concord Park, "a vital and energetic human being." Life magazine was more cautious. Editors dispatched a team of reporters and photographers to capture the spirit of the original home buyers, but decided not to publish the story, reportedly because the news might disturb southern readers. The year was 1954 and there were 139 new ranch houses in Concord Park.

Fifteen years later there were for-sale signs on the Concord Park lawns; black and white families needed to move on to bigger homes. The homes there were built on slabs with no basements, so it was impossible to add a second story as families grew. The question of who stayed and who moved depended on the size of the family and age of children

The residents knew they had to stick together. They believed that the county and township had denied them such standard services as a kindergarten and a library. Forces from without pulled Concord Park and Linconia closer together, as forced integration and the rise of the black power movement had its effect on the country.

The community met challenges and produced some interesting firsts, such as Peace Corps members, a small library housed in homes of volunteers, a Wonderland Puppet Theatre, and members on the township's school board.

In 1969 the Linconia Men's Association and Concord Park Civic Association joined to become the Lin-Park Civic Association, with this purpose: "To serve the social needs of the community, foster civic improvements, and encourage civic pride."

Marjorie S. Hadley, corresponding secretary of the association, who furnished material for this section, concludes with these words: "Looking back, we can see that Lin-Park came a long way. Down through the years many times we learned to make bricks from straw. But always, God walked with us. When we look at our present generation of young men and women, we cannot help but feel that it was worth the fight. But we can't stop now because the next generation is at the doorstep."

  1. Traveling Through Bensalem: 1692-1984, Historical Society of Bensalem Township, 1984

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Buckfield Terrace • Buffalo Avenue • Carter Road • Cedar Lane • Concord Drive • Garfield Lane • Grove Lane • Kay Avenue • Linconia Avenue • Master Avenue • Paris Avenue • Somerton Road • Warren Avenue

HomeWhats NewSite IndexContact
PrivacyDisclaimer • © 1997-2004, The Gombach Group