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Established June 2, 1997
by citizens for citizens
March 16, 1998
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August 13, 1997
A beautiful part of southeastern Pennsylvania
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In the beginning...
At age 38 in 1682, William Penn arrived in the New World with high ideals and well thought-out ideas on what he planned to do with the 45,000 square miles granted to him by Charles II (in lieu of a debt owed his deceased father). In the countryside he set out to control the pattern of settlement in hopes of creating a landscape of agricultural villages set in the middle of small rural townships. The purpose of a township, Penn said, was
"for the more convenient bringing up of youth...so that neighbors may help one another...and that they may accustom their children to do the same."
The name, Charlestown, honors Charles Pickering, the friend to whom William Penn granted 5,383 acres along the creek where Pickering and his friend John Tinker, believed (mistakenly) that they had found silver. The two men dug a cave into the side of "Tinker Hill", thus creating the first non-Indian residence in the township. Drowned on a voyage back to England before 1700, Pickering willed his land to sixteen friends. The acreage was combined with that of John Grey and of Penn's sister, Margaret Lawther, to become Charlestown Township in the first official survey of 1738. This included both Schuylkill Township and the Borough of Phoenixville, areas removed from Charlestown before 1850.
Charlestown Village (our National Register village which includes segments of Charlestown Road, Church Road and Pickering Dam Road) was originally a 340 acre tract acquired by miller Job Harvey from the Pickering heirs in 1724. His mill became the nucleus of the developing village, which at first was called Upper Egypt and later Hardscrabble, officially becoming Charlestown in 1840. A map of the village, c. 1883, is shown at the left. While there is no post office in Charlestown today, note the caption "Pickering P.O.".
The 1799 tax record listed 140 houses and 19 mills in Charlestown, including those currently in Schuylkill. Some of the property lines and many of the sturdy houses and barns are still in place today. On Charlestown Road, across from the Charlestown Playschool, sits the 1743 Presbyterian Cemetery (see entrance at left and plaque below).
Revolutionary War soldiers, including their senior surgeon and physician, Dr. Samual Kennedy - victims of the 1777 winter at Valley Forge, are buried here.
(The above is just a taste of what is to come in our presentation of the early days in Charlestown Township. The text is excerpted from the Charlestown Historical Society's "Welcome to Charlestown" document provided to new residents of Charlestown Township.)
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