Scenic charm and historical lore combine to make the Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill region one of the most attractive in the country. The cleft through the hills, known as Rebel Hill and Widow's Hill, in which Gulph Road was one of the first highways opened west of the Schuylkill out of the City of Philadelphia. Because of the physical surroundings the name "gulph," the old for of the present g-u-l-f, was given to the locality by the pioneer settlers. "G-u-l-p-h" meant not only an arm of the sea but also a depression in the earth, a chasm or abyss. The English poets, Pope and Spencer, used g-u-l-p-h in their poems, but it is now obsolete.
Hill, the hill to the west, traditionally received its name
from the fact that in Revolutionary times, the residents hereabouts
espoused the American cause so vehemently that those who upheld
the Mother Country called the locality Rebel Hill. Widow's
Hill, the hill to the west, received its name, as we are told,
when after the Civil War, many of the women were deserted
by their soldier husbands who may have found the charms of
the Dixie Belles too enticing and remained in the south.
cases you will find that origin of the names of many an American
town and village was based on the name of the tavern located
in its midst or perhaps the original dwelling in the locality.
Gulph Mills was originally called Bird-in-Hand for the old
Inn or tavern located on the site of 977 Trinity Lane. The
original well and spring house are still standing. The Inn
was built about 1740, and it originally was a log building.
However, a large stone structure was subsequently built around
Ninety-One Trinity Lane is the site of the original Bird-in-Hand
general store, and Post Office. Records show that the Post
Office was officially changes to Gulph Mills in 1830. In the
early days mail was delivered twice a week, and the recipient
paid for the stamp. It is believed that sometime prior to
the Revolutionary War it was unofficially renamed Gulph Mills
because of the number of mills along the Gulph Creek. The
flour mill which furnished flour and corn meal to the soldiers
at Gulph Mills and Valley Forge was built in 1747. a small
toy mill was near the flour mill. Children's toys were made
there. The foundations may still be seen opposite the Hanging
Rock spring. A sawmill operated near the flour mill.
of the mills was the McFarland Mill which was one of the largest
woolen mills in the country. The Balmoral Mill located on
Balligomingo Road was also a woolen mill. the McFarland Mill
dam has disappeared from the community, but the Balmoral dam
remains a little upstream from Jones Road Bridge. A short
distance form Balmoral was the Tinkler and Townsend Mill,
also a woolen mill. It is interesting to know that some mothers
took their babies to the mill where a room was furnished for
the care of the babies while the mothers worked. This mill
was later an ice plant, then a brewery. It should also be
noted that there were large iron ore quarries where Rebel
Hill and Matsonford Road meet.
Lane, the home of Isaac Hughes from 1769 to 1782, later became
the home of George Nugent. The records tell us that George
Nugent, a prosperous merchant, enlarged the home and built
the Collegiate Institute for his children and those of his
neighbors. The walls of the school were two and one-half feet
thick. The school was a success. About 1840 it became the
home of the Academy of Natural Sciences and was also used
as a meeting place for the Upper Merion Lyceum. The Institute
was vacant for many years and burned January 18, 1932.
Lane, 1000 Boxwood court, the date 1758 was found on the fireback
of an old fireplace.
School, adjoining Poplar Lane, was built in 1870. It was a
two room school and the Lyceum met there for several years.
be noted from a date stone on the bridge that crosses Gulph
Creek at Trinity Lane, that it was built by Montgomery County,
Upper Merion Township, 1789, in the second year of the Federal
Union. Each year the flower boxes on the bridge are planted
and maintained by the Civic Association.
that crosses the creek at Arden Road was, for many years,
called "Lover's Bridge". The road leads to the section
of the village which was called "Widow Hill."
do not tell just where Washington's headquarters were as some
of his letters were dated "Headquarters Gulph Mill,"
others "near the gulph" and one to the Board of
War was dated "Headquarters Gulph Creek, 14th December,
1777," It is thought the Headquarters were the Hughs
home at the Walnut Grove Farm now a part of the Gulph Mills
Lafayette's Headquarters was at the site where the Mary MacFarland
Cutler's home stood. The Mary Cutler home was torn down to
build the Gulph Mills approach to the Expressway. Part of
the landscaping of the home can be observed today.
Burr was the home of Jonathan Sturgis, now the Picket Post
Restaurant. General Nathaniel Green was at the Zimmerman Supplee
home, 184 Holstein Road. General Sterling, who had charge
of the outpost at Gulph Mills, spent the winter at the home
of Jon Rees on Rebel Hill.
form the usual routine of any army at rest, the incidents
connected with the encampment at Gulph Mills are few. When
the Army lay at Valley Forge, however, the Gulph was an important
post. Colonel Aaron Burr was eventually made commander of
Picket Post. On several occasions, enemy soldiers were captured
nearby and made prisoners.
of winter quarters at Valley Forge was apparently not decided
upon until December 17th. This uncertainty accounts for the
lengthened period of the encampment at the Gulph, and it may
not be too much to say that in all probability this locality
was also taken into consideration as possible winter quarters.
In any event, at ten o'clock on Friday morning, December 19,
the army marched from the Gulph to Valley forge.
is clear form the foregoing that the Gulph Mills and Rebel
Hill area is historic soil. Here have passed and repassed
the suffering band of heroes, soldiers of the Revolution,
men whose names are history itself whose deeds are a cherished
inheritance: Washington, Greene, Knox, Lafayette, Sterling
and Wayne. Our village was the threshold to Valley Forge,
and the story of that winter, a story of endurance, forbearance
and patriotism which will never grow old, had its beginning
here at the six day's encampment in Gulph Mills.
facts drawn form an article on Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill
by M. Regina Steiteler Supplee.)