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New Hope Historical Society local history collection


Held at: New Hope Historical Society [Contact Us]45 South Main Street, P.O. Box 41, New Hope, PA, 18938

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the New Hope Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"New Hope, Pennsylvania lies on rolling hills that climb from the west bank of the Delaware River about thirty-five miles north of Philadelphia. Originally the land of the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans, it became a part of Penn's Woods in the seventeenth century. A thousand acres of land covering present day New Hope were given to William Penn by King Charles II of England as payment of a debt owed to Penn's father. Robert Heath obtained the land from Penn's brother-in-law and settled here around 1700. He established the first of many mills to come.

"John Wells purchased part of the land from Heath's family and established a ferry service here in 1722 to accommodate travelers on the Old York Road which stretched from Philadelphia to New York City. New Hope was the half way point of the journey.

"A few years later the Logan Inn, originally the Ferry Tavern was built, serving as a way station for weary travelers after a hard day's ride in either coach or saddle.

"The town's first name was Well's Ferry after John Wells, the first Ferry operator. Then a generation later it became Canby's Ferry, named for Benjamin Canby who purchased the Ferry from Wells. Some years later the town became known as Coryell's Ferry. It was named after the operator of the Ferry, John Coryell.

"It was not far from here that, on the blustery night of December 25, 1776, George Washington and his men were piloted across the Delaware River by the men of Marblehead, surprising the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. Then in June, 1778 Washington led nearly 10,000 troops through Coryell's Ferry on his way from Valley Forge to the Battle of Monmouth.

"The Delaware Canal opened in 1832 providing an economic outlet for Bucks County. It brought growth and prosperity to the area. By the time of the American Civil War nearly 3,000 boats traveled on the canal each year. Although the railroads hastened the demise of the canal operations, it was still used commercially until 1931. Today, one may still enjoy a leisurely ride down the canal powered as in the old days by a brace of mules which walk the old tree-covered tow path that runs parallel to the canal.

"After receiving its name from three ferry operators in three successive generations, New Hope was finally incorporated in 1837. And it came about in an unfortunate way. Benjamin Parry, who is considered by many to be the "father of New Hope" because he was a driving force that brought New Hope to the pinnacle of its economic success in the late 1700's and early 1800's, purchased the mill that was located on what is now the south side of the Bucks County Playhouse. He expanded the flour mill operations to include a flax mill and saw mill.

"Then, with his partners, including Samuel Ingham, a three-term congressman and eventually the treasurer of the United States under Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Parry led the group that built the first bridge to New Jersey from New Hope, established the first New Hope bank and helped to finance the construction of the Delaware Canal through town.

"Parry's mills burned to the ground in 1790 [causing severe] economic hardship for the area. Undaunted he rebuilt the mills in about one year, naming them "New Hope Mills". Following the disaster and the renaming of the mills, the town became known as New Hope."


Quoted text from: New Hope Historical Society. "New Hope History." Accessed February 21, 2013.

The largest portion of this collection is subject files organized into four series: Businesses, Organizations, Profiles (personal/family), and Topics (covered bridges, ferry, gay issues, modernists, etc.). The subject files consist largely of newspaper clippings, ephemera, and scattered photographs and original documents such as receipts and letterhead.

The collection contains a sizeable amount of materials pertaining to the New Hope-Solebury School District (especially the high school), such as a 1958 photograph album of the senior class trip, other photographs, and ephemera.

Various oversize documents, including maps and broadsides, are stored separately.

Finally, this collection features miscellaneous original documents, such as deeds, marriage certificates, legal documents, letters, and diaries. There are also ten volumes of New Hope Borough tax records, circa 1860-1890.

Materials collected at various times from various sources by the New Hope Historical Society.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact New Hope Historical Society directly for more information.

New Hope Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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