Growden Mansion, Andalusia Estate, Want to learn more about the history of beautiful Bensalem? Contact the Bensalem Historical Society at 215-639-6575. The BHS are always looking for new members, become a part of a great group!
Bensalem Township, an area of 21 square miles, is the buffer township between Philadelphia on the West and the rest of Bucks County on the East and Northeast. Through it pass four of the most important arteries of transportation in the United States --- Interstate 95, U.S. Route No. 13 (Bristol Pike), U.S. Route No. 1 (the Lincoln Highway) and the Eastern Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
There have been many discussions and controversies about the derivation of the name "Bensalem. As far back as 1692 a portion of the name "Salem" appeared in provincial records in connection with surveys and grants of land and some time between that year and 1701 the prefix "Ben" was added. There have also been discussions about the meaning of the name. One historian suggested that the name meant "hill of peace" or "peaceful mount", while others maintained that it meant "son of peace". The last mentioned interpretation seems the most logical, as Joseph Growden, who came to America from the Country of Cornwall in England around 1692 and received a grant of five thousand or more acres of land in Bensalem Township from William Penn, called his vast estate the "Manor of Bensalem", probably in honor of William Penn, a "son of peace".
The Dutch, the Swedes and the English, as a study of the names of the early residents will show settled Bensalem Township. Among the Dutch were such names as Van Bandit, Van der Grift, Van Kirk and Van Artsdalen. These names, in this new country under the English became Vansant, Vandergrift or Vandegrift, Vankirk and Vanartsdalen-and if you look, you will find these names in local phone books. Among the English names that show up in the old records of Bensalem Township are Allen, Baldwin, Williams, Gibbs, Reed and many others. With the heavy influx of new residents during the late 1950's and 1960's there was an infiltration of names whose bearers come from or they are descendants of people who came from almost every state of the Union, in every city, town, township and county of this country of ours.
The Township was not incorporated within its boundaries; it consists of a group of communities, each with its own identity and community life, including churches, schools, fire companies and other community activities, joined together in one large municipal body called a township.
Bristol Pike, which runs parallel with the Delaware River in the southern part of the Township, was also known as "The Kings Highway", was the first road cut through Bucks County by order of the Provincial Council and a number of the milestones are still standing.
After exiting Philadelphia on the Pike, you enter Andalusia and traveling further comes what was previously named "Cornwells Heights", which for a number of years, had it's own post office named Maud and its Pennsylvania Railroad named Cornwells. Later, the name of the post office was changed to Cornwells, and still later, about 1912, a development of homes was called Cornwells. That name was used for the entire township until March 19, 1979, when the post office changed to "Bensalem", which it remains today.
Bensalem Historical Society
In the Fall of 2007, after 30 years of renting spaces and not having a place to call home and display all the interesting artifacts and publications on Bensalem's rich heritage, the Bensalem Historical Society moved into their new location on Knights Road on the grounds of Bensalem's Beautiful Central Park.
Church of the Redeemer
Church of the Redeemer, 1063 Bristol Pike (also known as "Kings Highway") in colonial times. Established 1860. Magnificent architecture and stained glass windows adorn this community treasure.
Growden Mansion pre-renovation/ Growden Mansion is one of the more famous historic sites in the community, dating back to 1752, and where Benjamon Franklin, visited his friend Joseph Growden and tested his kite to discover electricity (so the story goes...) You can see the bullet holes to this day in the outbuilding where the "red coats" fire shots to get gain entrance to retrieve confidential documents belonging to Benjamin Franklin.
The past is present as you step through the grand red doors of Dr. Charles King's library. Opened to the public in 1888, the King Library was a dwelling for all who thursted for knowledge. Its stately position on "King's Highway" makes this building a centerpiece in our community.
Bensalem in the 50's