My name is Mary Preister and I have been Herman K. Godshall's housekeeper for many years now. I don't like to boast, but I think that Mr. Godshall is a very influential man and really helped this town grow in so many ways.
He moved here as a young man in his 40s, after Henry O. Souder built this home out of the left over stones from the railroad embankment in 1860. Mr. Godshall started a hay baling business on South Front St. then, and built a feed mill in 1864 on Main Street. Why you can see the half he built if you look across Main at the Olde Mill Apartments. It's the right hand portion of the building. Just between you and me, Mr. Godshall wasn't too thrilled with his flashy new son-in-law Aaron Frick, who managed his mill, and he gladly sold the mill to the Moyer brothers in 1869. Mr. Godshall also sold his hay baling operation to those same Moyers at that time and turned to other community pursuits.
He became the director of the Harleysville and Souder's Turnpike (now Main Street) and in 1876 when the new bank was formed 11 years before there even was a town, Mr. Godshall served on the Board of Directors for a few years. It was difficult for him, being a Mennonite in business at that time, since courts were used for collecting debts, so he resigned from the bank and turned to a less worldly pursuit.
He had been a song leader at the Franconia Mennonite meeting and was one of the people interested in building a Mennonite church right here in town. It was in 1879 when the dream was realized and the Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse was dedicated on Christmas Day of that year. By 1880, Mr. Godshall became the Superintendent of the German Sunday School in that church.
I like to believe that this town moved along at such a wonderful and rapid pace due in part to Herman K. Godshall.
Since I was the first President of this bank and held that position for 20 years, I'll tell you the story of how Telford got its bank. Remember me? I'm Edwin C. Leidy. It just so happened that in 1908 a few citizens, Nathaniel E. Wampole, Charles H. Price, Sr., and Harry Z. Wampole decided a well should be dug to provide water to the six new houses built by Wampole over on Poplar Street. You probably know that street as West Broad Street today.
The Telford Water Company was organized in 1908 to build this well and it was estimated that a $5,000 loan would be required to get the project done. The Company applied to Souderton National Bank for the money and the application was denied.
That refusal got some of us thinking that Telford needed its own bank to handle our local matters. The bank was chartered, the building completed and opened for business by December of 1908. On that first day of business $17,822.25 in deposits were made!
But returning to the story about the well; the hand dug well was 30' deep with a 40' high tower topped by a wooden tank with a holding capacity of 15,000 gallons of water. The stone removed from the digging was used to build the house at 176 West Broad Street. This well ran dry after hooking up the County Line Hotel, so an artesian well was created by digging the old well to a depth of 90'. The new well now had a flow of 100 gallons of water a minute.
On a side note; lest you think I was in this for the money, in 1914, the Board of Directors approved a salary of $400 a year for me, which was less than that paid to both the cashier and the teller!
Good Morning and Welcome to Trinity Church! My name is Reverend Jacob Kehm and I was the pastor of Indian Creek Church on Cowpath Road in Franconia Township. When the Union Chapel was completed in 1876 I accepted the responsibility to conduct the worship service for the Reformed people of Telford in addition to my role as pastor at Indian Creek.
Things went on like this for a few years when in 1897 thirteen Reformed men met to discuss the possibility of constructing their own building. These influential men: Isaac G. Gerhart, Edwin C. Leidy, Jeremiah H. Hunsberger, William H. Moyer, George H. Hartzell, J. Howard Gerhart, A. Paul Gerhart, Samuel Rase, George W. Reed, William H. Gerhart, Moses R. Shelly, Charles D. Pennypacker and James H. Gerhart voted unanimously to begin a church that same summer and within one month had solicited $2,206 in pledges.
Isaac Gerhart sold the lot at Main and Hamlin Streets for $500 for the location of the building and later donated that same amount back to the church. The building progressed with committees and organizations being formed until the Sunday School was formally opened on January 2, 1898 with 100 people in attendance and a total of $2.00 in the offering plate. As of this date, however, there were no members to worship in this new Telford Reformed Church, so a committee was appointed to solicit new members.
78 people petitioned the Tohickon Classis, Eastern Synod to become a congregation in 1899. It took time to organize the congregation, elect and install the consistory and adopt the by-laws, but finally the first Communion was offered to 71 people on May 14, 1899. Although I had initially accepted the role of supply pastor of this new church, the Lord and I were with these people every step of the way in guiding and directing their endeavors to the successful conclusion of a new Reformed Church in Telford where it still stands today much as it looked in 1899.
Henry O. Souder wasn't the only one busy with establishing businesses for his sons. My father, Jonathan Hunsberger did the same for my brothers John, William, Christian, and me, Samuel. See back before this time, large farms were divided from fathers to sons. But by the mid 1800s after so many divisions, there just wasn't enough land to pass down, or new land to be bought, so the industrial age came along at just the right time. The Souders had owned a lot of land on the other side of the tracks and my father owned land on this side. I guess that's what makes our town and story a little unique from other places.
On East Broad Street, almost within a stones throw of Souder and Bergey's general store, my brother William built a general store that same year, 1860, right on this site. He sold it to Milton Zendt in 1870, but we bought it back in 1885, operating as S. D. Hunsberger and Brother; that was Will and me. Even though our town was small, it was growing rapidly, and there was plenty of business for both general stores, each of us having our own following, I guess you could say. Oh, but don't get me wrong. There were rivalries between the Souders and Hunsbergers at times. Only once did it get a little ugly. When the first bank building was erected, we wanted it built on our side of the tracks and were even willing to give the land for free, but the Souder side of the tracks supporters won out. Well we, along with 100 other subscribers, pulled out. We were that angry.
Sometimes men thrive on competition, and it really began with Henry O. Souder way back in 1857 when the railroad was first laid. There was a small piece of our property that ended up on the Souder side of the tracks. Unbeknownst to my father, Henry convinced the railroad to buy it, where a siding for his lumber yard was then laid. This gave old Hen a business advantage that we just had not anticipated. Ah, but in the end we were family, after all. Henry's sons just happened to be our second cousins.
Ah, it sure was a dream-come true to finally have a church in town. There were lots of churches all around and we, being from a very religious Protestant community, all belonged to one of them. Most people were either of the Lutheran, Reformed, or Mennonite faiths but the people who first settled this section of what later became Souderton, were mostly Mennonites, so it made sense that a Mennonite meetinghouse was the first to be built in our growing town. Souderton Mennonite Meetinghouse. Now this church really had no official congregation for over a decade.
It initially was only built as a convenience for the people in town who were members of the Franconia and Rockhill congregations and in the beginning, meetings were only held once every three weeks on Sunday afternoons, as the area ministers had to rotate between churches. The first minister, who was chosen by lot in 1914, was Jacob M. Moyer, one of the owners of the Moyer and Son feed business.
Oh, but how Souderton Mennonite Church has grown! The first meetinghouse, eventually with an addition, was replaced by the second meetinghouse in 1915, and that was added onto, and added onto, and today the Souderton Mennonite Church continues in its original goal of spiritual growth, community outreach, and world-wide service.
My name is Henry O. Souder. I was born here, in Welshtown, in 1807, in a stone house off Water Street. Well, you call it East Chestnut Street today, but it was originally named Water since the headwaters of the Skippack Creek start here and run behind my little house, even crossing under Main St. And yes, I said Welshtown. The first white settlers to this area were Welsh who owned, but barely settled here. Back in 1840 there were only about 20 houses in the area now known as Souderton, and in the winter I could maybe see 10 of them and smoke from the chimneys of some of the rest. Today, Souderton is the largest town in all of Franconia Township.
I built this stone house for my bride, Hannah Hunsberger after we married in 1834 and 8 of our 10 children lived here. Yes, that was a lot of people for this small building, but we spent a lot of time outdoors. I had 8 acres that we farmed, but like all farmers in our area I also had a trade. I was a carpenter. See that stone house across Possum Lane? (That's what we used to call Main St.) Before I built that house in 1860, my saw mill for cutting roofing and ceiling lathes was located there. And those condominiums caddy corner from us? That's where my lumber yard was. I started all of that around 1843 and had 6 sons to help me. Running a lumber business was tough back then. Just imagine...my lumber would float down the Delaware Canal to Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania where I had to retrieve it by horse or oxen team or pay to have someone else haul it to Franconia. That was about 20 miles on unpaved roads. If it rained you could get stuck in the mud. Once the mud dried, the roads were horribly rutted. Is it any wonder that we also started a spoke and wheel factory, too?
In 1852 I heard that the Philadelphia, Easton, and Water Gap Railroad was surveying to lay track in Bucks County. I offered them the free use of my land in exchange for diverting the railroad right here! This opened up whole new business opportunities for me, my family, and the rest of the community.
It's Charles Price again. You heard about the beginnings of the Evangelical Church, they call themselves United Methodists today, and the Reformed Church in Telford, so it's time you learned about the Lutherans, as well.
The first church in town was predominantly an interdenominational Sunday school built in 1876. It was also a place where children could give recitals and Sunday school programs and various local preachers could come and offer services on alternative Sundays. In 1880 its enrollment was 150 people.
This Union Chapel, as it was then called was sold in 1905 due to declining attendance as a result of the completed worship buildings by the Evangelical and Reformed congregations. St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of West Telford was organized in 1905 as an offshoot of the Little Zion Lutheran Church at Indianfield. The congregation purchased the Union Chapel, but soon found it too small for their needs, so the Chapel was demolished and their own house of worship built on that same spot and completed in 1908.
In 1979, the congregation again found the building too small to fit the needs of this growing church. As a result, the parsonage and church building on the corner of Lincoln and Main were demolished and the new sanctuary and Fellowship Hall were built in its place and dedicated in 1980.
I am a bit of a local historian. As such, I took it upon myself to write and paint the bits and pieces of Telford history as I remember them or as my father related to me. Having lived in the later part of the 20th Century, my information may be a bit more contemporary, but no less important than what has been relayed to you by the actual people themselves. My name is Charles H. Price, Jr.
The Gerhart building, constructed about 1908 had always been a textile factory. It began as a shirt factory, then the building passed through a number of owners until Godshall and Koffel took over the business in the 1920s. Gone was the shirt factory. Now the sewers specialized in producing men's trousers for the New York market. This factory was similar to Sackman Brothers in that there were cutters, sewers, pressers, and shippers and all the other laborers needed to keep everyone busy. From the sewers, the pants went to the pressers to open the inseams and then the finished trousers were checked, bundled once more and shipped back to New York.
Swagger Pants Factory took over after Godshall and Koffel. This operation differed from the Godshall and Koffel work, in that all the trousers fabric came from New York already cut. All that remained to be done was the sewing of the inseams, pockets, waistbands, zipper flaps and zippers, pressing the finished trousers, quality control, packaging, and shipping them back to New York. After Swagger closed down, the Cocker-Weber Brush Company bought the building in 1985 and continues to operate from this building today.
Lester N. Freed is my name. How are you? You've seen those cigar factories over along Main Street in Souderton. Well, Telford had one too, right next to the railroad tracks on Franconia Avenue,Third Street today. At its peak, Theobald and Oppenheimer was the biggest employer in our little town. There were three floors filled with people taking in the tobacco, sorting the leaves by sizes (the biggest ones were used for the outer wrapping.), cutting the leaves to take out the veins, rolling the cigars, trimming the ends, packaging them in the cigar boxes and then getting the boxes ready for train delivery.
After the war, the cigar industry became automated and factories moved down south. Down there they were closer to most of the tobacco fields and cheaper labor was to be had. Fortunately for us, textile companies moved into the buildings left empty by the cigar factories. That was when Sackman Brothers came to Telford.
Before the textile factories, most of the sewing was done by women in their homes. A man would come by the house and drop off the fabric. The shirt pieces would then either be hand sewn or sewed on the sewing machine, if they had one. In a week or two the man would return to pick-up the finished shirts, pay the women for them and leave more fabric. In this way the women made a little extra household money.
At its height from the 1920s to 1950s, Sackman Brothers employed over 200 people. There were jobs for people to trace the patterns, cut the fabric, thread the machines, sew the pieces together, sew in the labels, press the finished product, and then check it, bundle a number of pieces, and package them together.
Sackman's was known for the play suits it made. You call them costumes today. As with any industry, Sackman's had to continually change its product line to stay in business. So we first made play suits of comic book characters and the movie idols of the day like Superman, Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon and the Ming Dynasty complete with the Flash jet propulsion backpack and Ming ray gun, as well as Halloween costumes, rain suits, and baseball, football, and majorette uniforms.
Next came the Cowboy and Indian play suits of Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Davy Crockett, and others. The outfits came complete with pants, shirt, and vest all decorated with studs and felt, fur or leather. The cowboy chaps were made from hides imported from Russia, which were sent to the factory in dog poop. The hides were attached to a bar in a large tower. The bar was hauled to the top and shaken to get all the poop off the hides, which was then given to the local farmers as imported manure for their fields. All this dirty work went on in the basement and fortunately I never had to go down there.
After that came the making of shirts and blouses. I remember there was one blouse known as Pennies From Heaven, which my brother designed. Pennies were surrounded by metal circles with a hook and these were the buttons for the blouse. After that we were fortunate to get a contract to make undershorts and shirts for the Navy during the war and that kept us going in the hard times.
When the textile industry left town, Fashion Bug used the building as a clothing outlet. Later, Tupperware used it as a distribution center. When Tupperware left, the building sat vacant and a plan to convert it into apartments failed. For years, the building suffered from neglect and decay and was finally torn down and Nobel Oaks was built in its place.
I guess with the technology games children play today, the play suits aren't missed, but I sure had fun with the Flash Gordon play suit my brother brought home!
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