Hatfield Township is a cozy suburb located in the northern section of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Hatfield Township boasts an ever-growing business community, an impressive parks system, a gamut of year round community recreation programs, and a history dating back to the early 1700's.
History on Other Sites
Hatfield Township’s fertile lands first drew Native Americans from the Lenni Lenape tribe to the area near the Neshaminy Creek. Bethlehem Road (or the King’s Highway), the area’s first road, connected Philadelphia with the Lehigh Valley and opened our region to European settlement in the early 1700s.
The Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County confirmed Hatfield Township on March 9, 1730. Foklore suggests that the township was named for Welsh immigrant John Hatfield, but it is more likely named after a village in Hertfordshire, England.
By the end of the 1700s, more than 500 people lived in the area, mostly Mennonite, Quaker, and Welsh farmers. The last encampment of the Lenni Lenape had been abandoned in 1777 when the tribe moved west.
The township boomed in the mid-19th century with the construction of the railroad, which brought settlers to the area and allowed farmers to take their products to the city easily. In the late 1800s, Hatfield Township lost 300 acres with the incorporation of Lansdale and Hatfield Boroughs. A change from a Second Class to a First Class Township and the swearing in of the first Hatfield Township Board of Commissioners in 1957 prevented further annexations by neighboring boroughs.
In 1885, the Hatfield Township Packing Company was established. It is now the site of Hatfield Quality Meats where they make, among other things, perfect Easter and Christmas hams, and grill-ready hot dogs. In 1946 the Clemens family of Mainland purchased the Hatfield Township Packing Company plant on Funks Road.
In 1925, William Rosenberger established Rosenberger's Dairy, now famous not only for its dairy products but for their sensational salads and sandwiches. In 1953 M.H. Zeigler & Sons built a cider mill on North Broad Street and today you can still get their fabulous apple products on that same street.
History of Villages
There are two villages, Colmar and Line Lexington, that are incorporated with Hatfield Township.
Roads and settlers penetrated Hatfield Township about the same time, with most early roads laid out in almost grid fashion, running either parallel or perpendicular to the county line. One important exception is Bethlehem Pike, a road from Philadelphia to Bethlehem, which crosses the southeast corner of the township on an angle. The Bethlehem Pike was constructed from 1714 to 1745, passing through Hatfield Township in the mid-1730s. The first stage line began to make trips between Philadelphia and Bethlehem in 1768. Hotels, taverns, and soon, villages were established along the route to serve travelers. One such village was Line Lexington.
Line Lexington Village
Line Lexington Village was established where Bethlehem Pike meets County Line Road. Only a small part of this village actually lies in Hatfield, with the rest located Hilltown and New Britain Townships. The village was known as Middletown, since it was approximately halfway on the route between Philadelphia and Bethlehem. In the early 1800s, a village hat maker chose the name of the Revolutionary War battle of Lexington as his trademark and also gave the name to the village, adding “Line” to show that the village straddled the line between Bucks and Montgomery County. Line Lexington consisted of twelve houses in 1850 and grew to fifty houses by 1896. The village continues to be known as Line Lexington.
The railroad also created new villages and added new place names to the map of Hatfield Township. The North Pennsylvania Railroad Company line from Philadelphia to Bethlehem was built through the township in 1856, with the Lansdale-Doylestown branch being constructed that same year. A railroad station was built where the Doylestown branch crossed Bethlehem Pike, and was named Line Lexington (even though it was closer to the village of Trewigtown). As a village grew around the Line Lexington Station, it needed its own name to avoid confusion with the village of Line Lexington, one and a half miles away. In January 1871, a post office, called Jenkins, was established in the village. In June 1871, the post office was renamed Ainsworth, perhaps after a hotel owner. But two weeks later, both the post office and the train station were renamed Colmar. By 1896, Colmar consisted of some 20 dwellings built on both sides of the railroad, and the Bethlehem Turnpike. The business enterprises at that time included a creamery, Hartzell's store, Henry Smith's Hotel, I. H. Rosenberger's feed house and hay press, Coar's blacksmith shop, Kooker's wheel-wright, and other shops.
The Other Villages of Hatfield
Several more villages were established in the township in the 1800s. In addition to Colmar and Line Lexington, there was also Hatfield Square (at Trewigtown Road and Bethlehem Pike), Hockertown (renamed Unionville), Orvilla, Upper Hatfield, and Lower Hatfield. The villages of Line Lexington and Colmar remain because they grew to such a size that made it practical to establish a Post Office there. (Their residents apparently never saw the need, however, to establish their own government.)
The villages of Hatfield Square, Unionville, and Orvilla are all but forgotten, except to some old timers and history buffs. The population of the villages of Upper Hatfield and Lower Hatfield (later known as Hatfield and South Hatfield) also grew in the middle of Hatfield Township, and a good number of commercial businesses were established there.
Hatfield Borough Formed in 1898
A time came when the residents of Hatfield and South Hatfield wanted the township to install more streetlights along its roads—there were only 8 oil lamps illuminating the streets at that time. The idea was not looked upon favorably by most of the Hatfield Township taxpayers, however, many of them being farmers. So the villagers petitioned the Montgomery County Court and on Monday, June 27, 1898, Judge Aaron Swartz affixed his signature to a decree, incorporating the towns of Hatfield and South Hatfield into a borough, under the name and style of "The Borough of Hatfield." (It wasn't until February 1903 that seventeen additional oil lamps were installed along the Borough streets.)