NO to re-naming Shannonville to Audubon [Pennsylvania]

October 12, 1899

Letter to the Editor of the Ambler Gazette.

I believe in adhering to the old names when they are appropriate, ancient and honorable.

Shannonville was the home of the Shannons; they owned the most of the village. The late Charles Shannon made provision in his will for the poor of the place and vicinity and although in the early days of the century it was called Hogtown, for nearly 100 years its post office was known as Shannonville. So with Evansburg, named after a famous family who built it. It also was once Hustleton, but certainly for a century it had been Evansburg.

Change of names now will only lead to confusion. Why should The Trappe he changed to Shunk because it was the home of the old governor, or Norristown to Hartranft or to Hancock?

Titles will be tangled, or rather the local history will be bewildered by these unnecessary changes in the names of places. The names adopted during or soon after the Revolution should be retained. They are like family names, sacred and dear to us, and should he revered for the memories which they perpetuate.

Audubon did not reside in Shannonville. There are the families of Shannon, Francis, Walts, Crawford, Wetherill, Walker, Highly, Kulp, Dettra and others of many generations, distinguished in all the walks of life, earnest, pious and noble people as much entitled to have their names perpetuated as any man, however illustrious, who settled a mile or so away on the bank of the Perkiomen to carry on his exploits among the birds, then flee away to other parts never to return.

Valley Forge should not he changed to Washington or Wayne or Stuben, or Antietam to Hartranft because he took the bridge! Men have their enduring monuments in their deeds, and Audubon would not be forgotten nor will his fame be enhanced by christening or changing the name of a postoffice in Lower Providence.

At Shannonville the late W. H. Kemble commenced by keeping a store. Here hundreds of miners came from Engand to work in the copper mines; here some of them married, and the days were when this was a busy place. Mr. Kemble here obtained his wife, Miss Mary Walker, who now as his widow resides near Edge Hill. This breaking of home ties is no trifling movement. Names of places and persons are dear to every true American heart, to every man of every land; as dear as Ashland and Monticello, Marshfield and Auburn, Springfield and Washington. Next will come the names of streets and rivers, boroughs and cities, until the traveler will be lost in confusions, as a man of 50 or 60 years of age today is lost in the maze of new names for old places in Lower Merion township.

A petition with a hundred names was submitted to the postal service, and the name of the town was changed to Audubon. The author's concerns were of course bourne out: a hundred years later not many in Lower Providence Township (Montgomery County, PA) think of the Shannons. But for the names of a couple local roads, not many today think of Francis, Walts, Crawford, Wetherill, Walker, Highly, Kulp, or Dettra either.

Follow this link to view a circa-1950 map of Mill Grove, John James Audubon's home in 1803.

--Mike Szilagyi


Return to Philadelphia Trolley Tracks main page.