Historical society hosts tour around Ross Township
Marsha Beers, member of the Ross Township Historical Society, teaches tour participants how to count from 1 to 10 in German. The Flyte School was one of five stops on a recent tour. It is the only one-room schoolhouse still standing in the township. STACI L. GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Saylorsburg Lake View Cemetery is one of four cemeteries at the intersection of Old Rt. 115 and Brick Church Road. Veterans from as early as the Civil War and as recent as the Vietnam War are buried in these cemeteries.
Charlie Bruno shows Linda and Ed Harpel an old photo and historical documents from sales of the farm on Pennell Road. Apple Ridge Farm is 7 acres of organic farming, but back in the 1800s it was about 109 acres of farmland. Bruno’s son, Brian, has owned the farm since 2008.
About a dozen participants joined Ross Township Historical Society members on Oct. 12 for a tour of five sites.
“It takes about two months to plan and get everything ready. We always have to come up with different tour spots that people will want to go to,” Kathryn Villoresi, president of the Ross Township Historical Society, said.
Carol and Jim Weisbruch looked around inside the Flyte School, examining the German counting lesson on the chalk board and relics inside the one-room schoolhouse before Marsha Beers, historical society member, began her presentation.
“This is our first time doing the historical society’s tour. We are looking forward to hearing more about the history of the community,” said Carol Weisbruch.
The Flyte School, 109 Flyte Road, was one of five school districts in Ross Township in the late 1800s. The other four were: Meixell, Reynold, Frantz and VanBuskirk. Flyte School is the only one left standing.
“All lessons were taught in German for the first 100 years,” said Beers. “Grades 1 through 8 were taught by the same teacher.”
Teachers received a monthly paycheck for $22.50.
Beers taught the group how to count from 1 to 10 in German, using the words on the chalkboard as a guide and showing them how to move their mouth to make the sounds.
“You guys are good. You are trying. I’m impressed,” she said.
Mount Eaton Church
Just as school was conducted in German, so were weekly church services at Mount Eaton Church, 7277 Mount Eaton Road.
“I am not sure when they switched to English, but there is an 1884 Bible on the pulpit in English and an 1884 Bible written in German is packed away,” said Rick Villoresi, member of the historical society and the church.
He shared how missionaries from Philadelphia came up to establish the church. The land was purchased in 1884 and the church was built in 1888.
“Local farmers donated material and their time. They built it as if they were building a barn for a neighbor,” Villoresi said.
The congregation remained the same each week, as visiting ministers provided a Lutheran service one week and a Reformed service the next. In 1976, it became nondenominational.
Apple Ridge Farm
Over at Apple Ridge Farm, located on Pennell Road, Charlie Bruno showed Linda and Ed Harpel a framed black-and-white photo of the farm from years ago and a copy of an 1813 deed originally written on sheepskin.
According to historical accounts, William Penn sold it to the Flyte family, who later sold it to the Getz family. The Getz family farmed it for 100 years.
As it was sold over the years, the farmland decreased in size and homes popped up.
“There are 7 acres left from the original property, which was at least 109 acres,” said Charlie Bruno, owner from 1972 until 2008.
His son, Brian Bruno, has owned the farm since 2008 and does everything organically. He grows vegetables, raises and butchers pigs, has free range chickens that lay 15 dozen eggs per day, and has other chickens that are butchered for broilers.
On site is a bakery and farm store, where he sells his produce and baked goods.
“The bakery is a big thing. He put a brick oven in there and can bake as many as 2,000 loaves a week,” said Charlie Bruno.
Cemeteries along Route 115
At the intersection of Brick Church Road and Old Route 115 on both sides, are four cemeteries that contain names of families that were of importance to this area — including several veterans.
“There are approximately 150 headstones in these four cemeteries. The Altemus cemetery stones are facing the other way to distinguish from the Brick Church cemetery,” said Joanie Blobner.
She and her husband, James, are members of the historical society.
The church and surrounding cemetery were built in 1856.
“In 1859, while digging underneath to put a basement in, it collapsed. We’re sitting where the church was,” said James Blobner.
A much bigger church was built north of the original location and is now called St. Peter’s United Methodist Church.
Travelers on Route 115 can see trees, fencing, buildings with candles in the windows and grassy landscape on both sides of the road as they pass Ross Commons.
In 1787, Jesse Ross of Bucks County used the property as a hunting lodge. His son, John Ross, built the manor house in 1810.
It is a 2½-story, five-bay-wide stone dwelling with a gable roof.
In addition to the house, the property has a stone icehouse, a 3½-story frame grist mill, a former barn converted to a theater in the 1930s, and the cemetery with burials dating from 1814 to 1850s.
In the middle of a soybean field, there is a stone wall around a large tree and John Ross’ burial site.