History of Roslyn, Pennsylvania​
  
          Roslyn is bordered by Willow Grove and Crestmont, Ardsley and Glenside, Upper Dublin Township and the town of Abington.  It was originally called Hillside because of the main topographic feature of Edge Hill.  The Roslyn Station was called Hillside Station, and this name appeared in 1872, even though there was no name for the area at this time.  The name Hillside Station seems to have remained until about 1910, when maps then designated it as Roslyn Station.
 
          Roslyn means "vale of roses".  The name seems appropriate because of the town's connection with rose growing.  A commercial rose grower had established greenhouses in the area in 1883.  Other commercial rose growers came to the area in 1898 and in the early 1900's.  "Also, many homes were said to have been known for their lovely rose gardens."[1]
 
          In 1684, William Penn sold 500 acres of land to Israel Hobbs, and in that same year, Nicholas Moore (after whom Moreland Township was named) bought 9,815 acres of land, comprising all of Moreland Township and parts of adjoining townships.  In Abington this area included land south of Welsh (now Moreland) Road and was what actually Roslyn is today.  In 1690, Moore sold all of the acreage in Abington Township to surveyor Thomas Holme.
 
          Susquehanna Road was one of five roads laid out parallel to the five main highways of Philadelphia.  The main highways were called the King's Highways, and the parallel roads crossed three of the King's Highways almost at right angles.  These parallel roads were located in the eastern part of what now is Montgomery and Philadelphia counties and the lower part of Bucks County.
 
          Susquehanna Road is sometime called Susquehanna Street and, in Abington Township, Susquehanna Avenue.  Thomas Holme originally planned to locate the center of Philadelphia where Holmesburg now is.  From that point on the Delaware he planned a direct highway which he called Susquehanna Street Road, to the Susquehanna River.  This direct route was to be without angles or curves all the way between the two rivers.[2]
 
          But the site for Philadelphia was changed.  Penn had already granted Swedish holdings in this newly selected area and asked the Swedes to move so that the city could be built.  They were given token land farther back for their trouble. This prevented starting the Susquehanna Street Road right at the Delaware.
 
          The road was laid through Abington and Upper Dublin and a part of Lower Gwynedd Townships, but it was too impractical to extend it to the Susquehanna River.  If the road had reached its goal it would have been 92 miles long and would have touched the Susquehanna River just above where the town of Catawissa now stands.
 
          Incidentally, an apparent redundancy in the name of Susquehanna Street Road (and Street Road, which Holme also planned) may be explained.  "Road" meant a path for horse and rider, while "Street" (from "stratum") implied a surface or scraped roadbed."[3]
        
          Susquehanna Road, which was laid out in its initial stages by Thomas Holme, now crosses the Township east to west.  The road begins a mile eastward from Huntingdon Pike.  In 1892, the Susquehanna Road was deflected to join Washington Lane and pass under the railroad by an underpass.[4] The road then goes straight on to Rydal.  Following along into central Abington Township, the straight line has a "...northward divergence around a hill below Old York Road, known as Vinegar Hill."[5]
          
          Tradition says that long ago "...a wagon loaded with barrels of vinegar was going over this hill when a barrel slid out of the back of the wagon and broke on the road, a flood of vinegar flowing down the hill."[6] In 1830 traces of gold were supposedly detected on the Herkness Farm at Vinegar Hill along Susquehanna Road east of Abington Village.  But this turned out to be a farce.  The road then goes on to intersect with Edge Hill Road.  It was here, in 1777, the Americans (under Colonel Morgan) met the British and a short but severe conflict ensued and four officers and thirty men fall before the rifles of his (Morgan's) men."[7] The British retreated.  This was the nearest approach to a batter ever fought in Montgomery County.
          
          In 1834 the Common School Law was adopted.  This gave each township the choice of freeing their school, and thus receiving a state appropriation.  Free schools meant that specific religious instruction would not be offered and this fact brought much opposition to the law. Abington Township adopted the law shortly before 1840.
         
          Three schools were in existence at the time of the Common School Law Controversy, one of which was the Valley School on Susquehanna Road, opposite Hillside Cemetery.  It was supposedly erected at John Tyson's expense, after his son had been flogged so badly by a teacher at the Edge Hill School (at York Road) that he built a new school for his son to attend.  
 
          The Valley School was built between 1820-1825, so it was around before the public schools, although it later became one. It stood on what was the Tyson estate.  The Valley School was typical of the time.  "There was one room, holding from 50 to 75 children.  The benches extended the length of the building, and were covered with initials, after the fashion of their kind.  The teacher's desk was on a raised platform at the front of the room.  Behind it was the blackboard and near at hand the traditional hickory switch.
 
          The Hillside Cemetery was chartered in 1890.  John L Mayer, Philadelphia home builder and businessman, established the cemetery, after the city of Philadelphia stopped the establishment of any more cemeteries so that land could be reserved for the building of homes.
 
          The trolley line ran funeral cars labeled "Hillside" to Tyson and Bradfield Avenues, where they were met by the cemetery hearse which, with its sad freight, then moved down Bradfield Avenue to the cemetery entrance still in evidence today at the railroad tracks.
 
            Bradfield Road was named after Adam Bradfield who owned and farmed some of the land that became the cemetery.  His home (Bradfield Mansion), built about 1795, and now serves as the cemetery office.
 
            The rest of the land that became the cemetery was Tyson property.
 
            In 1953, the Hillside Cemetery bought out their adjoining Ardsley Burial Park.  Now, both are under one management.  Together they comprise about 300 acres.
 
          The Springfield Water Company (now Philadelphia Suburban Water Company) built twin water towers on Edge Hill Road in 1909.  Each holds 938,000 gallons.  Another tank, located east of the "twins" holds 1,500,000 gallons and was built about 1912.
 
          Reservoir Avenue in Roslyn (and Crestmont), derives its name from the fact that there once was a reservoir water tank located where that street and Rubicam Avenue intersect.  This was just inside the border of Crestmont Park, which was once a part of Willow Grove Park.  The tank was then a source of water supply for Willow Grove Park and was probably razed about 1964.[8]
 
          Roslyn remained mainly a rural community well into the 20th century.  The trolleys were a big factor in the development of the area.  Their destination was Willow Grove, but they passed through Glenside, Ardsley, Roslyn, Abington, and the edge of Crestmont enroute.
 
          Perry Greenspan came to the Roslyn Village in 1915 and started advertising building lots, but it wasn't until the twenties that building expanded.  Much building was curtailed because of World War II.  "Nevertheless the development of modern Roslyn began substantially in 1940."[9]
         
          The peak of the building boom occurred in the fifties, not only in Roslyn, but throughout the township.  One development in the 1950's in Roslyn was called Wunderland and included the area from Fernwood north, with Thomson on the east and Osbourne Avenue from Woodland and Wunderland Roads on the west.  St John of the Cross Roman Catholic Church lies in the middle of this area.
          
          By the sixties, land for homes was scarce, and the trend toward apartment complexes began.  There were five complexes by the end of 1965.
          
          In 1849 the population of Roslyn was twelve families, in 1940 there were between 500 and 800 homes, in 1950 there were 1,700 cites, and in 1970 the population numbered 11,390 with 2,888 housing units - 2,684 of which were one family structures.
 
 
 
Majority of material taken from The Abington School Community, A Bicentennial Local History Resource Unit.
Written By
Mrs. Helen Berkes, Glenside Weldon Elementary School
Mr. Arthur Drescher, Glenside Weldon Elementary School
Mrs. Allison Elkins, Cedar Road School
Miss Carole Grandy, Roslyn School
Mrs. Carole Meyer, Glenside Weldon Jr. High School
Miss Clara Turner, Overlook School
 
Editor
Dr. J. Robert Rorison, Chairman, Social Studies
Abington High School, South Campus
  
 
 
[1] E. Gordon Alderfer, The Montgomery County Story, (Narberth: Livingston Publishing Co., 1951), P.9.
[2] Paul A. W. Wallace, Indians in Pennsylvania, (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pa. Historical and Museum Commission, 1964), p. 127.
[3] Alderfer, P.12.
[4] Uhler, p. 29.
[5] John Heckewelder, History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations Who Once Inhabited Pennsylvania and Neighboring States, (New York; Arno Press, Inc. and the New York Times, 1971) p. 300.
[6] Ibid., p.66.
[7] Alderfer, P.23.
[8] Ibid., p.7.
[9] Ibid., p.8.
[i] Ibid., p.66.