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Borough of Jenkintown records


Held at: Old York Road Historical Society [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Old York Road 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

"The Borough of Jenkintown was incorporated on December 8, 1874 when approximately 248 acres was taken from Abington Township. Today, the Borough is approximately .6 of a square mile and is home to 4,500 residents according to the most recent census...

"Originally part of William Penn’s 1683 land grants, the earliest records referring to Jenkintown date to a 1693 land sale showing Jenkintown Road as a boundary. A 1711 petition for a new road indicated a wish to start at the Delaware River and follow the “most direct and convenient course to Stephen Jenkins on the West side of his house.” This new road, Old York Road, followed the line of a Native American path through the forest. It was a few years before it ran as a clear lane and many more before it would become the major artery it is today.

"The name “Jenkins Town” on Nicolas Scull’s 1758 map and the abbreviated “Jenkins’ found on William Scull’s 1770 map had become “Jenkintown” long before the borough received its charter. William Jenkins, believed to have emigrated from Wales about 1686, was a member of Abington Friends Meeting in 1698 and an overseer of the roads in 1704. His son, Stephen Jenkins, owned land in the area and built a large home in the area called Vernon. The cluster of houses near West Avenue and York Road, “Jenkins Town” on Scull’s map of 1759 included a home built about 1725 on land of Phineas Jenkins, a son of Stephen Jenkins, after whom the town was eventually named.

"In 1779 a license was issued by the Court of Quarter Sessions to one Sarah Jenkins, authorizing her to keep a Public House. This was one of several taverns in the area. For travelers making tedious journeys on Washington Lane, Old York Rd. or Jenkintown Rd., this cluster of taverns was a welcome sight after long hours in the saddle or on a bone shattering wagon ride over the bad roads at a pace not much faster than a man could walk. Jenkintown came to be a place of rest, refreshment and companionship. For the traveler Jenkintown meant hospitality and ease. For area residents it was the crossroads to which travelers brought the latest news of what happened in other colonies.

"A regular line of stage coaches left the Tiger Hotel at 4th and Vine Street in Philadelphia early each morning, stopping at Rising Sun, Branchtown, Shoemakertown, Jenkintown, Abington and Willow Grove; the several hotels being booking offices for passengers. One line ran three times a week between Philadelphia and Doylestown. Jenkintown had abundant accommodations for the travelling public, with its two hotels and stabling for sixty horses.

"By 1840 Jenkintown was a small village of about forty buildings, located mostly on the turnpike or stage road, with many of the fronts encroaching on the roadbed. The village had the ever present blacksmith shop, with its accompanying wheelwright shop; two stores, one of which was also the post office, a tailor shop doing considerable business; a tanner; a small library and a literary society. There was no railroad until July 7, 1857, at which time the North Penn Railroad was opened to travel.

"Growth continued throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. Churches in Jenkintown were established in the following order: Episcopal Church of Our Savior (July, 1857), Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (August, 1857), Jenkintown United Methodist Church (Sept. 1867) , Grace Presbyterian Church (July 1869), Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown (May 1880). Each church got their start in the Lyceum building founded in 1803, which later became the Jenkintown Library. It is the oldest library in continuous service in this area, and the third oldest library in the county.

"As it looked in 1880 the town included the Jenkintown National Bank, two building associations, two stove stores, three drugstores, six merchandise stores, and undertaker-cabinet maker who also sold furniture, and one store each for notions, tobacco, shoes, and confectionery. The school was a three room dwelling previously run by Abington Township. Two volunteer fire companies, the Pioneer Fire Company #1 organized in 1884 and the Independent Fire Company #2 organized in 1889 soon became a central part of the township.

"Today the Borough is a mostly residential community that is separated into East and West by the Business District that runs along the York Road (Route 611) corridor. Jenkintown consists of a traditional small town mix of detached single-family homes, duplexes, and row homes. Discretely located throughout this area are several multi-family apartment buildings. At the center of this residential area are the Jenkintown Elementary School and the Jenkintown High School."

Bibliography Jenkintown Community Alliance. "Jenkintown History." Accessed August 6, 2012.

The Borough of Jenkintown records consist of three groups. The first is account books, the second is correspondence and other documents of the Sewer Committee, 1909-1915, and the third is the Borough “yearbooks,” 1925-1954, 1957, and other miscellaneous records.

The account books are: Accounts, 1896-1910; Ledgers, 1910-1954 (4 volumes); Cashbooks, 1927-1952 (3 volumes); Bonded Account, 1896-1921; Indemnity Account, 1905-1913; Auditors Book, 1885-1909; Tax books, 1881, 1928; check stub book, Jenkintown Borough Sewer District to Borough of Jenkintown, 1928-1949; check stub book, Jenkintown Borough Sewer District rent discount adjustments, 1929-1940.

Under pressure from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Borough of Jenkintown moved toward the construction of a sewer system, overseen by the Sewer Committee. After awarding initial planning contracts to the Borough engineer, the Committee hired Alexander Potter to provide preliminary estimates and, subsequently, in a contested bidding process, selected Potter as the engineer to build the system. Eventually the plans were dropped, and in 1926 the Borough authorized a sewer to connect into the Cheltenham system.

The Sewer Committee records, 1909-1915 (100 items), include correspondence with attorney Jeremiah B. Larzelere, Jr., Alexander Potter, Commissioner of Department of Health of Pennsylvania Samuel G. Dixon and others. In addition to questions of laying and financing, there is material relating to Rodman Wanamaker’s legal action over sewage running through his property and project applications and the dispute over Potter’s appointment instead of Albright and Mebus. Chairmen of the Sewer Committee were Warren H. Prentzel and Harry E. Depuy.

The Borough of Jenkintown “yearbooks,” 1925-1954, 1957, consist of annual notebooks listing Borough officials, standing committees, annual budget, ordinances relating to taxes and appropriations, auditor’s report, and sewer districts financial reports. There are also a book of ordinances (indexed), 1916-1941 and an index of ordinances, compiled in 1905.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR), using data provided by the Old York Road Historical Society. The HCI-PSAR project 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 done in the HCI-PSAR project.

Old York Road Historical Society
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Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by the Old York Road Historical Society.
This preliminary finding aid was created by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) using data provided by the Old York Road Historical Society. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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