The History of Bensalem
Bensalem Township is an area of 22 square miles bounded on three sides by waterways: the Delaware River, the Neshaminy Creek and the Poquessing Creek. Through it pass four of the most important arteries of transportation in the United States: Interstate 95 (Delaware Expressway), US Route 13 (Bristol Pike), US Route 1 (Lincoln Highway), and Interstate 276 (PA Turnpike).

There have been many discussions about the name “Bensalem” with the most popular theory being that it comes from the estate of Joseph Growden called “The Manor of Bensalem” in the 1700’s.

Settled by the Dutch, Swedes, and English, it was a farming community until the 1950’s when businesses and industries started to dot the landscape. One of the biggest changes in the township in the 1960’s was the construction of Interstate 95 which transformed Street Road from a two lane country road into a major four lane highway.

At one point, it seemed like nothing was going to stay the same with so many new buildings springing up to accommodate the influx of new residents and businesses, but remarkably, many of the old buildings have survived.

In 1979 all the small towns (Andalusia, Eddington, Cornwells Heights, Bridgewater, Flushing, and many others), became one postal area called “Bensalem.” Many older maps still show these delightful small towns.

The 21st century brings a realization, or perhaps the rediscovery, of the Delaware riverfront which offers an extraordinary opportunity for recreation and housing development to replace some of the defunct industries and businesses. To preserve valuable open space and to provide continued recreation for residents, the Bensalem Country Club was acquired by Bensalem Township. Under the strong leadership of Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo, Bensalem has thrived and is poised to continue to prosper, thus creating more opportunites for history to be made.

Growden Mansion is named for the family who once owned three quarters of all the land in what is now Bensalem Township. This occurred when Lawrence and Joseph Growden each purchased 5,000 acres from William Penn. While Lawrence never came to the colonies, Joseph did and arrived in 1683 to establish both their claims to the land. Joseph built a home which was later expanded upon by his son, Lawrence, about 1730. This home was called “Trevose” or “The Manor of Bensalem”.

The home later became the property of Grace Growden, the granddaughter of Joseph Growden. Grace married Joseph Galloway in 1753 and since married women of this era were not allowed to own property, Joseph Galloway automatically became the owner of “Trevose.” Galloway and Benjamin Franklin were good friends and history tells of many visits by Franklin to the Galloway estate.

Parts of the home have very interesting histories in their own right. The west side structure was the home of Richard Gibbs and his family until he left and established his own home called “Eddington”. The east side was used as the servants’ quarters and is where the kitchen, with its large fireplace, was used for cooking. The small stone structure near the east wing is called “The Vault” since this is where the County records were once stored and it still bears bullet holes from the Revolutionary War.

Today the Growden Mansion estate is owned by Bensalem Township and is open for tours by appointment only. More information on the Growdens and their home can be found in the book, “Traveling Through Bensalem, 1682-1984.” Or better yet, make a point to visit the Historical Society of Bensalem Township to learn more about this great piece of Colonial history!

Growden in the Past
At the turn of the 20th Century

Growden Today
Today in the 21st Century

Bensalem has stories about… Do you know about…
  • Benjamin Franklin's visits to his daughter's home on the Delaware and to the home of Joseph Galloway.
  • George Washington, John Hancock and John Adams stopping at several local inns.
  • The carefree days at Neshaminy Falls Park.
  • Shad in the Delaware River so plentiful that you could rake them ashore.

  • The ghosts and the beautiful love story at Pen Ryn?
  • Joseph Galloway, the most notorious Tory of the Revolution?
  • The milestone markers along Bristol Pike that date back to 1763?
  • The oldest continuously-meeting society in America located in Bensalem?
  • The notorious 1831 murder in Andalusia?
  • The Saint from Bensalem?
More information about the history of Bensalem Township can be found in the book “Traveling Through Bensalem 1692-1984,” or stop by the office of the Historical Society of Bensalem Township on Knights Road.