The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia

By John L. Cotter; Daniel G. Roberts et al. | Go to book overview

9

Montgomery County

HARRITON: WITNESS TO NATIONAL AND PERSONAL FRUSTRATION

GRAEME PARK: FROM MALT HOUSE TO GEORGIAN MANSION

HOPE LODGE: OF LEGENDS AND UNCERTAIN ORIGINS

THE PETER WENTZ FARMSTEAD: GERMANIC INFLUENCE IN THE DELAWARE VALLEY

THE HIGHLANDS: SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN FORT WASHINGTON

Montgomery County, itself the result of a revolution of sorts, came into being at the end of the Revolutionary War. In 1782 farmers in the western reaches of Philadelphia County, fired by the spirit of independence then abroad and availing themselves of their new political voice, began agitating for the creation of a separate county. At the head of their list of grievances was paying taxes for benefits disproportionately bestowed on Philadelphia city dwellers, but they also objected to having less than their fair share of representation on the governing councils of Philadelphia County. Moreover, for many of them the county seat in Philadelphia was simply too far away. On September 10, 1784, after considerable bickering over boundaries, the state assembly voted to create Montgomery County along the boundary lines shown in Figure 9.1. By 1790 the new county had a total of twenty-eight townships, including Lower Merion.

Lower Merion Township was originally part of the Welsh Tract, or "Barony," a parcel of 40,000 acres that William Penn granted to a group of Welsh Quakers in the early 1680s. When the boundaries of the three original counties were established in 1683, the Welsh Tract was divided between Chester County and the part of Philadelphia County that ultimately became Montgomery County. Merion Township wound up in Philadelphia County; Haverford and Radnor Townships, also part of the Welsh Tract, went to Chester County. Whereas most settlers gravitated toward places already settled by the early Swedes, Dutch, and English, the Welsh Quakers, because of their determination to live as a group and Penn's granting of that wish with the Welsh Tract, found themselves plunging into the

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