Sunday, June 17, 2012

Intercourse, Blue Ball and Virginville

On Saturday, Parke and I drove to Shillington for my Grandson's birthday party.  On the way we passed Virginville.  I said to Parke, there is your favorite town, he said no, that Intercourse and Blue Ball were his favorite, which caused a discussion on why are the towns named such provocative names, especially since they are in "Amish Country" I said to Parke, good subject for a blog, and so here we go.  Most of the information was either found on the Township's websites or in Wikipedia.

1)  Intercourse, PA

Intercourse was founded in 1754. The community was originally named Cross Keys, after a local tavern. Intercourse became the name in 1814. The village website gives several theories for the origins of the name.
"Another theory concerns two famous roads that crossed here. The Old King's highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh (now the Old Philadelphia Pike) ran east and west through the center of the town. The road from Wilmington to Erie intersected in the middle. The joining of these two roads is claimed by some to be the basis for the town 'Cross Keys' or eventually 'Intercourse'. A final idea comes from the use of language during the early days of the Village. The word 'intercourse' was commonly used to describe the 'fellowship' and 'social interaction and support' shared in the community of faith, which was much a part of a rural village like this one."
 2) Blue Ball, PA

 The name originates from the Blue Ball Hotel, which stood on the southeast corner of the PA 23-US 322 crossroads. The inn is no longer standing; it was torn down in 1997 after more than 200 years.  In the early 18th century, John Wallace, an Irishman, built a small building at the intersection of two Indian trails - French Creek Path (Route 23) and Paxtang (Route 322). He hung a blue ball out front and called it "The Sign of the Blue Ball." Locals began calling Earl Town Blue Ball, after the inn. So in 1833, Earl Town officially changed its name to Blue Ball. Years later during Prohibition, the inn changed its name to Blue Ball Hotel.

3) Virginville, PA

No one is certain about how Virginville (originally called Virginsville) got its name, but it is the subject of much debate, and is a place where it is tough to hang on to road signs, which are taken regularly by souvenir hunters.   Some say Virginville was named for the untouched beauty of the countryside: others attribute the name to the honor of Comte de Vergennes, a foreign minister to France’s Louis XVI.

4) Bird-In-Hand, PA

The legend of the naming of Bird-in-Hand concerns the time when the Old Philadelphia Pike was surveyed  between Lancaster and Philadelphia. According to legend two road surveyors discussed whether they should stay at their present location or go on to the town of Lancaster. One of them supposedly said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," which means it is preferable to have a small but certain advantage than the mere potential of a greater one; and so they stayed. By 1734, road surveyors were making McNabb’s hotel their headquarters rather than returning to Lancaster every day. The sign in front of the inn is known to have once "portrayed a man with a bird in his hand and a bush nearby, in which two birds were perched," and was known as the Bird-in-Hand Inn.

Well, there you go, Catasauqua doesn't sound so weird after all does it?  And that's another day in Catasauqua