In 1975, with plans for the nation’s Bicentennial kindling an interest in local history, a group of Worcester residents met to
discuss the township’s participation in the planned Bicentennial activities, as well as how to preserve the township's rich
historic heritage. These residents were aware that Worcester Township, still a largely rural township in the midst of suburban
development, preserved the aura of an earlier, simpler time. Voter registration rolls showed a significant representation of
the same surnames that appeared on the 1790 census.
The first meeting of the Worcester Historical Society was held in May 1975 at Farmers Union Hall. Officers and directors
were elected, and committees were formed to prepare bylaws, handle fund-raising, and make plans for the Bicentennial.
Priority was given to petitioning the federal government for recognition as an official Bicentennial community.
In due course, the Bicentennial flag was presented to officials of the township and WHS. The flag was flown at
Worcester Elementary School, in the village of Center Point, which is also roughly in the center of the township.
A committee of dedicated women began designing a quilt to commemorate the Bicentennial in Worcester. The 36 squares of the
quilt depict scenes from the life and history of the township. Quilting was done by the women of the Schwenkfelder Church.
The quilt was planned to be raffled off as a fund-raiser, but when it was completed, it was the general consensus that this
irreplaceable piece of folk art should remain in Worcester. It was formally presented to the Worcester Historical Society
and is now displayed in Farmers Union Hall. Its squares depict the five historic churches of Worcester, two early schoolhouses,
two country stores, seven homes, and other scenes and activities unique to our township. The quilt made its public debut at the
society's Bicentennial Ball, invitations for which had been hand-delivered to every residence in Worcester by couriers
in colonial costume, many on horseback.
Several special projects of long-range interest were undertaken in the early days of the society. Trees that were 200
years of age or older were identified and recorded. A map showing the locations of these trees can be found in
A History of Worcester Township, and an updated map and powerpoint presentation of ancient trees in Worcester
is available on this website.
The society's most ambitious project was a documentation of the history of Worcester Township, including many of the
historic homes in the township. The 556-page volume was published in 1978 and is now in its third printing. It remains the
definitive reference on life in the township from pre-colonial times to the year of the Bicentennial.
A group of residents who were concerned over the disappearance of local historic landmarks formed The Friends of the
Worcester Historical Society and purchased the Evangelical Congregational Church building (known as the Dutchie Church)
on Valley Forge Road south of Center Point. Ownership of the church was transferred to WHS in 1984. For many years, WHS
members decorated the church for Christmas in the colonial tradition and hosted a Holiday Open House in December.
A key element of the society's mission is to preserve artifacts and memories that depict the history of life in Worcester
Township. The founding members began this effort in 1978. Each item that the society received from donors was carefully
documented, including information about how it was used. Today, this documentation gives us valuable insight into life
in Worcester in earlier days. Eventually the collection outgrew its original location and was moved to Farmers Union Hall,
which is owned by Worcester Township and leased to the society. The collection is now in the process of being cataloged
and many new exhibits are planned to better showcase various aspects of life in Worcester Township from post-colonial
days to the recent past.
This summary is based on information contained in A History of Worcester Township, which is
available from the Worcester Historical Society.
Bicentennial quilt made by members of the Worcester Historical Society, 1976
Top row, left to right:
Second row, left to right:
- The Story of the Quilt -- Smokie Hoagland
- Cedars Country Store -- Faith Dibble
Sometime around 1830, a store was added to the old stone farmhouse on the Skippack Pike, in what was then known as Cedar Hill. The store has been in continuous operation ever since. Owned by a number of families, it has been a neighborhood center for local farmers and their families.
It has been a United States Post Office since 1882, and in 1959 Robert Dibble purchased and restored the store to its mid-1800s appearance.
- Farmers Union Hall -- Janet Horracks
In the late 1800s, the Farmers Union of Montgomery County constructed a building to serve as its headquarters.
The upper story was frame and served as a meeting place for the local populace. The stone first floor contained stable
space for 40 horses. One of the chief services the Union provided for its members was the purchase of farm supplies at wholesale
rates. The Union also organized the first telephone company in the county. In the early 1900s, the high school classes
were conducted in the area that today houses the local post office.
- Center Point Hotel -- Lorraine Shiery
The hotel located at the intersection of Valley Forge Road and Skippack Pike served a number of needs of the community during the mid-1800s. It was used as place for the local citizens until the Farmers Union Hall was built. At one time, cows were sold at the rear of the property. In recent years, the Worcester volunteer Fire Company frequently held meetings at the hotel. The fire engine was housed here until the hotel was demolished in the late 1960s.
- Allebach's Store --Emily Allebach
When Center Point General Store closed in 1967, it had served the community for 140 years. It became known as "Allebach’s Store"
when Harold Allebach purchased it in 1927. The original building was built in 1827 and served as a home and Post Office.
Approximately 10 merchants have occupied the store, each adding another line of merchandise until all the personal needs of a
family and items for the home could be purchased as well as gasoline for the car.
- The Bicentennial Symbol -- Bessie Barnett, Smokie Hoagland
Third row, left to right:
- Wentz Church -- Margaret Dawson
In 1720, Wentz Church was established by pioneers from Palatine in Germany. In 1725, the first church was built in Lower Salford.
In 1760, the ground was donated by Jacob Wentz and John LeFever and the Worcester church was built. A larger building was erected in
1851 and the present church was built in 1878.
- Worcester School-- Jean Dodsworth
The Worcester School #5, or Anders School, is located on Shearer Road. In 1879 the present building was erected on the same
location as the previous school and a basement was added. The school was sold at public sale in 1916 and has been occupied by
the John Dodsworth family since 1959.
- The Wogglebug -- Anne Heebner
On July 20, 1907, the first trolley car left Norristown and traveled seven miles to Center Point. It was affectionately known as the
"Wogglebug." In 1908 the line was extended to Wentz church and then to Skippack and finally reached Harleysville in 1912.
The service was discontinued in 1925.
- Peter Wentz, Jr. House -- Smokie Hoagland
In 1758 Peter Wentz, Jr., built this nine-room house which was to become the headquarters of General Washington before and
after the Battle of Germantown. The house had a summer and a winter kitchen, a stove room, a living room, and five bedrooms.
On a stone near the open arch appears the German House Blessing and translates: "Jesus come into my house, Never to leave again;
Come with thy blessed favor And bring peace to my soul." The homestead was placed on the National Register of Historical
Places on May 22, 1973. In 1969, Montgomery County purchased the property and has undertaken the restoration of the
house and surroundings. On June 19, 1976, it was opened to the public.
- Worcester School No.2 -- Mary Jane Rees
In 1885, a one-room school was built in the Township of Worcester on Water Street. It was called the
"Roberts School" after the former property owner, but was often referred to as the "Water Street School." The school was in
service until it was sold at public auction in 1916. It served as a single dwelling until fire gutted it in 1968.
Jay and Mary Jane Rees purchased it in 1969 and began the process of renovating the interior. The exterior still
has the charm of the old school house, including the bell tower and scroll wood trim on the front porch. The old
oak tree shades the building now as it did when school was in progress.
- Bethel Hill United Methodist Church --Jean McClure, Ida Jenson
In October 1770, a log and stone chapel, located on the corner of Bethel Road and Skippack Pike, was dedicated and was used as a hospital by the American Army after the Battle of Germantown. The adjoining graveyard was used as a place of interment for Continental soldiers. The church became a Methodist congregation in 1784 and the chapel was used by the congregation until 1845 when the present building was constructed. A Sunday School was organized and a parsonage was constructed in 1860. The present front of the church, along with a separate building to house the Sunday School, was added in the early 1900s.
Fourth row, left to right:
- The Charter Oak -- Marie Heyser
In 1726 Henry Rittenhouse, ancestor of Joseph Heebner, purchased a plot of ground at the corner of Mill and Quarry Roads in the
vicinity of Fairview Village. It is at this corner that the Great Oak stands. It is referred to in old deeds as the
"Charter Oak" and is approximately 300 years old.
- Peter Wentz House Kitchen -- Debbie Barker
This square depicts the walk-in kitchen fireplace of the Peter Wentz Sr. house.
- Bridge over the Zacharias--Betty Chambers
The three-arch stone bridge crosses the Zacharias Creek near what is today known as Shearer Road. Before the bridge was built,
the stream was forded on wooden slabs, at great difficulty. Betty Chambers, whose father was a bridge builder, appliquéd
and embroidered the little boy on the bridge.
- Zacharias Creek--Shirley Fagan
The Zacharias Creek is a prominent stream in Worcester Township. It has a course of about four miles across the northern angle,
in which distance it propelled three grist mills and a saw mill. It is possible that the singular name given the creek has been
taken from Zacharias Whitpan, an early resident of adjoining Whitpain Township. It is said that Zacharias lost his horses and
went to find them. They were located along the stream, and ever after the stream was called "The Zacharias."
- Spring House --Betty Howarth
The spring house was formerly located on Jackass Lane on what was part of the original Wentz tract. It was one of the farm
buildings of the Stong family manor, some of which date back to 1718. In 1970, it was removed stone by stone and reconstructed
in the woods on the Howarth property on Greenbrier Drive in Worcester.
- Spring House at Willison Smith Farm -- Betty Smith
The three-story spring house is one of the few remaining buildings of the original farm of 112 acres located on Hollow Road.
A spring still runs under the stones near the door. To the left of the door is a fireplace once used to smoke meat and a
ladder still leads to a sleeping loft. In the spring, the slope above the spring house is abloom with wild tulips that
were brought from Europe in colonial times. The J. Willison Smith family has occupied the farm since 1940.
Fifth row, left to right:
- Adam Van Fossen House--Betsy Plummer
This house on Mill road was built by Adam Van Fossen in 1763. When the Lawrence Plummers brought the house in 1959,
11 owners had preceded them. It is said to be haunted by a female ghost who died in childbirth. The house was a
two-room tenant house and was not modernized or enlarged until 1941.
- Kriebel Mill -- Susan Callnin
TheKriebel Mill stood on the banks of Zacharias Run, immediately above the intersectin of Kriebel Mill Road and Green Hill Road.
This grist mill was one of the most prominent institutions in Worcester and one of the oldest mill sites in Montgomery County.
In the late 1700s it was owned by Jacob Wentz and in the early 1800s by Abraham Kriebel and his brother Samuel.
The huge undershot wheel was located underneath the building. Water was directed to it from the mill pond through a
tunnel under the road. The mill itself was demolished in recent times, but the foundations are still intact in the
basement of the summer house belonging to the present owner, Edward M. Markel.
- Farmers Union Horse Parade -- Elsie Plummer
The Farmers' Union Horse Company for the Recovery of Stolen Horses and Detecting the Thieves is an organization that
provided insurance for farmers. Members pooled their resources to protect themselves. If a horse was stolen and not recovered,
the owner was compensated by the company. The local group was organized in 1834 and still meets in Fairview Village.
It sponsors a parade and Horse Show on the first Saturday in June, and rain or shine, the show starts early in the morning,
breaks for a parade at noon, and then continues until dark. The parade forms at Methacton High School with horses and
pony-drawn carts, carriages, wagons, plus riders on horseback, individuals, and groups and moves to the Fairgrounds in
the village past gaily decorated homes.
- Washington’s Encampment -- Dorothy Aker
The scene depicts Washington and some of the soldiers that camped in Worcester Township before and after the Battle of Germantown
in 1777. Washington established his headquarters at the Peter Wentz, Jr., house in October 1777, and during his stay,
the soldiers camped in the woodland to the northeast. Two soldiers were buried at the rear of the barn.
Many musket and cannon balls, rusty farm spades, and other relics found in recent times testify to the prsence
of the army in the vicinity.
- The Wishing Well -- Tiernie Callnin
The wishing well stands in a field at the intersection of Fisher and Wentz Church Roads. There is an exact twin near the
Schwenkfelder church on Valley Forge Road. The wells are made of native field stone and are in excellent condition.
They are not old; probably they were built in the early 1900s.
- Melchior Wagnor House -- Marilyn Gabel
The Melchior Wagnor house is located at the corner of Dell and Water Street Roads. The history of the house goes back to 1733.
A dozen owners occupied the house before John and Marilyn Gabel purchased the property in 1974.
Last row, left to right:
- Methacton Mennonite Church -- Dorris Cloud
The first Methacton Mennonite Church, located at the corner of Quarry Hall and Mill Roads, was a colonial structure of stone.
During the Revolutionary War it was used as a military hospital. A second building replaced the first in 1806 and the present
building was re-erected in 1873.
- Peter Wentz, Sr., House -- Rosalie Smith
Peter Wentz, Sr., built this house of red sandstone in 1744. His initials appear in one corner of the house which originally
contained two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. The house was doubled in size in the late 1700s. When Oliver and
Rosalie Smith purchased the property in 1957, the house had had only six owners. The funeral door can be seen on the second
floor in this scene, and in the 14th square [of this quilt] one of the several large fireplaces found in the house is shown.
- Off to the Creamery -- Carol Rothenberger Snyder
Daily farming, years ago, was the primary industry of the Township of Worcester. Any landowner with nine or ten
acres would own a cow for his own use. One of the dairy farmer's tasks was delivering his milk to the Center
Point Creamery located on Valley Forge Road either by horse-drawn cart of by sleigh, depending upon the weather.
To a young child, it was a special treat to ride along with Dad to the creamery.
- Merrybrook Farm -- Ruth Myers
Paul Custer owned 150 acres in the vicinity of Merrybrook Rroad in 1784 when Montgomery County was established.
He built a grist mill on the property in 1795. His son, John Custer, sold 23 acres and 90 perches of land in
1810 and this is apparently the area that "Merrybrook Farms" occupies today. Ruth and Allen Myers purchased the property in 1958.
- Kriebel Farm -- Marie Kriebel
- Jacob Albright Church -- Doris Weed
The Worcester Church was built in 1845 by a congregation of "Albrecht's Luete" or Albright's People. The denomination adhered
to a form of Methodism as taught by evangelist Jacob Albright. Services were held in the church on Valley Forge
Road south of Center Point until 1961. An interesting detail of the church is the underground area hidden under
a trap door in the front of the church. The exit leads to the back toward the cemetery and the woods.
Although it cannot be documented, local historians agree that this was part of the Underground Railroad
since the church is located on a known escape route for slaves. The church is now the property of the Worcester Historical Society.
- Fraktur -- Lettie Schultz
The fraktur design was copied from an original painting done by Job S. Kriebel. He was born July 27, 1838, and died
March 17, 1920. Mr. Kriebel was a farmer whose hobby was painting horses, flowers, and frakturs for his friends and
family. A number of these excellent examples of the Pennsylvania German art are owned by his family.
Lettie Schultz interpreted Mr. Kriebel's painting and used the two calico prints that appear in each square throughout the quilt.
- Central Schwenkfelder Church -- Smokie Hoagland
The Schwenkfelders who immigrated to Philadelphia in 1734 are spiritual descendants of
Casper Schwenkfeld. The congregation originally worshipped in private homes, later
in three meeting houses in Salford, Towamencin, and Worcester. In 1951, a new church on Valley Forge Road was
completed, consolidating worship services formerly conducted in the meeting houses.
- The Markley House-- Gloria Markley
The actual age of the house is not known. In 1859, Abraham Hendricks purchased 41 acres at the corner of Germantown Pike and
Church Road, with a three-story stone house, a frame barn, and an orchard. The house was built to serve as a hotel
but never was used for that purpose. The property was sold first to Loos, then to James Hoffman, and finally purchased
by William G. Markley in 1878. Ownership was passed from Horace to W. Earl and finally to William E. Markley,
who resides in the house today. The Markley children are the fifth generation to live in the house.
- Morgan Tannery -- Sandy Gabel Plummer
Morgan Tannery had had a dozen owners when Andrew Morgan bought the farm and tannery in 1841. The house he built is the kitchen of the present home. When Morgan and his son discontinued the operation of a tannery on the property in 1891, the stone from the building was crushed and used to repair Germantown Pike. Samuel and Elaine Gabel owned the property from 1951 to 1966. Their daughter designed the scene of the house in which she grew up.
- Mile Marker on Germantown Pike -- Mary Scott
It is said that on a clear day, you can se Billy Penn's hat on City Hall in Philadelphia from the hill on Germantown
Pike in Fairview Village where the mileage marker is located. Similar markers made of stone can be found marking miles on
both Germantown and Skippack Pikes.
- Township Map -- Smokie Hoagland
This is Worcester Township as it appeared in 1734 indicating the various landowners.