Date: MONDAY, April 13, 1987 Page: B01 Edition: SECOND
A GUIDE TO VILLAGE HISTORIES
by HAL MARCOVITZ, The Morning Call
Pleasant Valley was once known as Schuckenhausen, named after a place in southern Germany. There was at one time a village in Springfield Township named Gruversville, established by a group of dissenters from a nearby church. But the church eventually lost all its members, and now Gruversville isn't even a dot on the map anymore.
Ottsville was at one time known as Red Hill. Smithtown was - no surprise - named after a family of Smiths. Does anybody remember when Mumbauersville was a center of production in the cigar industry?
Those facts and many more are contained in a new guidebook published by the Bucks County Planning Commission. The 122-page book, titled ''The Villages of Bucks County,'' contains histories and photographs of the 111 villages in the county, many of which have managed to retain their character over the centuries. Others have not. Many of Bucks County's villages remain in name only, having been swallowed up by the development in and around them.
Their stories haven't been forgotten. Here are some of the more interesting tales contained in the guidebook:
Keystone Point in Hilltown Township received its name in 1921, after a group of residents proud to be Pennsylvanians wanted to show their link with the state. The village is along Old Bethlehem Pike and was known in its day for the large brick houses built by its residents. Somewhere over the years, though, Keystone Point was assimilated into its surroundings and, the guidebook notes, ''many people probably do not realize they are passing through Keystone Point.''
That's not the case with Spinnerstown in Milford Township, founded in 1850 by the Spinner family, owners of the village tavern and store.
''A picturesque village, Spinnerstown seems to have changed little since the 1800s,'' the guidebook says. ''The store and the Spinnerstown Hotel remain in operation at the center of the community. The residences are older frame houses and have been well maintained through the years. The farms, open fields and woods surrounding Spinnerstown help to define the village boundary while providing a scenic view for residents and visitors of Spinnerstown.''
California, at the intersection of Cherry and California roads in Richland Township, was established in 1849 by hotel owner Frederick Wolf, who apparently had contracted gold dust fever. He named his inn the California Hotel after the gold rush that was taking place out West.
Uhlerstown, on the banks of the Delaware River in Tinicum Township, was at one time known as Mexico. Although the town was eventually named after boat builder Michael Uhler, the guidebook says the reason that some unknown canalman in the 1830s was inspired to call the village Mexico remains a mystery today.
Smithtown, another river community in Tinicum Township, grew around the farm implements business of Joseph and Robert Smith. The Smiths, by the way, once sold a plow to Thomas Jefferson.
There are a lot of theories for how Gallows Hill in Springfield Township came across its name, but the one that stands out most is the story of how residents of the tiny village at Route 412 and Stony Garden Road one day came across a dead man hanging by a rope from a chestnut tree. ''Although this is a rather morbid explanation, it has not been proven wrong,'' the guidebook says.
Revere had a lot of names over the years - such as Sorrel Horse, Kintners Tavern and Rufes Corner - but in 1894 citizens decided to honor Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere by naming their Nockamixon Township village after him.
Ferndale, also in Nockamixon Township, was at one time known as Rum Corner because of a popular distillery operated there.
Finland, in Milford Township, was not named in honor of the European country, as some of us may have assumed. It was once known as Fineland, which at some point over the years was shortened to Finland. Fineland, the guidebook notes, was a resort town known as ''The Poconos of Philadelphia.''
Applebachsville in Haycock Township grew out of an estate owned by an ''eccentric New York sea captain.'' The guidebook points out that ''the captain built a large mansion on the tract in the hopes that a life of clean country living would reform his son's drunken habits.'' The plan apparently failed, though, because the son eventually sold the land along Old Bethlehem Road in 1847 to Paul and Henry Applebach.
Posted by Ivana Erney 1/16/2001