Museum Lends a Helping Hand
EDITOR'S NOTE: The purpose of this blog post is to provide insight into some of the daily, behind-the-scenes workings of the Spring-Ford Area Historical Society.
Many in the area are unacquainted with the historical society and the farm house museum that sits at 526 Main Street in Royersford. We frequently receive visitors who are stopping in for the first time, and who exclaim, "I had no idea that this museum was here!" Serving as the official "attic" of the area, the Spring-Ford Area Historical Society preserves and interprets local history by telling its story through artifacts and other items in our collection. Every week, we are contacted by historians, researchers, and others who are just plain interested in the history of Spring City, Royersford, or the surrounding area. Such was the case on April 17.
Jill Ruch, an author with a special interest in the village of Shelly Station, contacted us through our website. Shelly Station was on the Bethlehem Branch of the Philadelphia to Bethlehem line on the North Pennsylvania RR. Shelly Station was a little village begun when railroad service started in 1857. Passenger service implemented in 1882 continued its growth. In addition to the railroad station it soon boasted a post office, general store, hotel, foundry, hosiery mill, furniture plant, granite works, cigar factories, machine shops, and a coal, lumber, flour, and feed store. Shelly Station endured for 72 years, and Ruch has attempted to perpetuate the memory of the village with a book and a periodic newsletter. Today, the area known as Shelly, uses the same zip code as Quakertown, PA
The reason for Jill Ruch's contact was the discovery of a March 29, 1909 letter written to the Buckwalter Stove Company by H. R. Stauffer, the proprietor of the Shelly Hotel. Stauffer was inquiring if the stove company had received his check in the amount of $27.07 for a "Range." Stauffer indicated that he was concerned that that payment "might have gone astray," even though another notation on the correspondence indicates that he had only just mailed the check on March 23. Ruch contacted us to see if we might be able to tell what kind of range would have sold for approximately $27 in 1909 and perhaps what its dimensions were. The current owners of the Shelly Hotel have a nook in the current kitchen that has always been a mystery. Ruch thought that perhaps the Buckwalter stove may have been positioned in this space.
With the help of president emeritus, Bill Brunner, we were able to send Jill lots of information on the Buckwalter Stove Company. Jill had discovered a 1910 advertisement for a Classic Canopy Range that sold for $27.50. We also did some searching of period stove catalogs that we have in our collection. In a 1907 catalog, we discovered that there were literally dozens of models of "Canopy" ranges that were produced by Buckwalter. Determining which model was purchased by Mr. Stauffer would be next to impossible.
On May 1, Jill Ruch and her husband, made the trip from Easton, PA to visit our museum. They were greeted by board member and volunteer host, Sandi Van Buren, who introduced them to our research library and gave them a tour of the museum, focusing, of course, on our extensive stove collection. In addition to models manufactured by Buckwalter, we have more than 30 other stoves made by foundries that operated in both Spring City and Royersford. Jill was able to find an example of a Buckwalter Canopy Range in our collection that would have fit in the hotel's nook, without the "upgrade" of the stove's top shelf unit. Click on the link below for more information and Jill Ruch's account of her research in the latest edition of her newsletter, The Untold Stories of Shelly Station, Issue 5, published with her permission. For more information about Jill Ruch and her book, Shelly Station - A Bustling Little Village, keep reading.
JILL RUCH - Jill Ruch's family the Kemmerers, were once part of the village of Shelly in Richland Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They arrived June of 1964 when Jay and Doris Kemmerer purchased the Shelly Hotel. It wasn’t until Jill moved away and began researching her family’s history that she realized how amazing Shelly was. She was also disappointed to discover how little was written about the village, which officially became "a dot on the map" when the federal post office opened on March 18, 1879. Shelly needed its story told, so Jill decided to publish her findings. Shelly Station - A Bustling Little Village is about its evolution and includes many stories with photographs.
Jill relates, "The most intriguing story, personally, was when I discovered that Shelly was a vacation destination, most often for Philadelphians as passenger travel was instituted in 1882. Jokingly, imagine the joy I felt to learn I lived in, what some would consider, paradise." Ruch is excited about a current project. "Fast-forwarding to 2022, the once bustling village will be rediscovered as I have been working with the Application Mountain Club on signage for the village trail. This signage will be along the former railroad tracks, now known as the Upper Bucks Rail Trail. Because I shared the history of my childhood hometown, outdoor enthusiasts and historians will soon learn about Shelly Station - A Bustling Little Village."
Information on the book, Shelly Station - A Bustling Little Village:
The village of Shelly, more commonly known as Shelly Station in its heyday, is nestled in the northwestern corner of Richland Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The longer name was suitable since Shelly was one of the freight stops on the North Pennsylvania Railroad. Not so long ago, Shelly had a post office, railroad station, general store, hotel, coal, lumber, flour and feed store, foundry, hosiery mill, furniture plant, granite works, cigar factories, machine shops and more. Hitch up your horse and c’mon inside! Books are still available. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at ShellyStation.