Somerton - The Way it Was

A little before 1720, the village of Smithfield grew on the western edge of Byberry Township. Only about 10 buildings big, it included a store, a tavern and the blacksmith.

Between 1862 and 1876, due to the influence of a local judge and land holder named Sommers, the village name was changed to Somerton. By this time, there was a public school, a church, hotels, a doctor, and an undertaker. The village had grown to 35 buildings.

There are still a few reminders of what was. The building on Maple Avenue near the Somerton train station was a store from the late 1800s until the mid-1980s. A home built in 1714 at Trevose Road and Kelvin Avenue may have served as an Indian Trading Post. Schools stood near the same site as the Watson Comly School. These included the Smithfield and the Patrick Henry School. The first Watson Comly School was built in 1892 and used until 1928 until the move to the current site.

St. Christopher and St. Andrews-in-the-Field  both began in Taylor's barn on the corner of Byberry Road and Bustleton Pike. Byberry Friends Meeting was founded by the Quakers in 1683. The Baptists met at Pennypack Meeting House on Krewstown Road as early as 1688 and the Methodists began meeting in 1834 in an old school building on Trevose Road.

Bustleton Pike was built in 1697. It became known as the Philadelphia-Newtown Highway and ran to the Buck Hotel and later, all the way to Churchville in Bucks County. 1870 brought the Reading Line, though unfortunately the 1870 Victorian station is gone, unceremoniously torn down in 1992.

(Our information was taken from Historical Northeast Philadelphia: Stories and Memories, Chapter Two, written by Pat Worthington Stopper. Later we hope to include a history of the earlier inhabitants of this part of the country, the Lenni Lenape and Delaware Indians.)

Return to home page


Web Master: