The land is generally good, well water’d and not so thick of wood…

-William Penn

When the land that became Montgomery County was colonized by Europeans, it was inhabited by Lenni Lenape Indians. The Lenape are an Algonquin speaking tribe who lived in villages of several hundred, usually near bodies of water to utilize the resources of the region.

King Charles II granted William Penn the charter for Pennsylvania in 1681, and the region was meant to be a haven for Quakers particularly from Wales. As a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), William Penn was imprisoned several times for his refusal to follow the Church of England, and in his new colony, Penn was determined to make religious freedom one of the tenets of Pennsylvania. As a result, many religious groups that were persecuted in their homeland came to Penn’s colony and settled in the future Montgomery County: Dunkards, Mennonites, Schwenkfelders, Catholics, Lutherans, and many others. Settlers also came from many countries: England and Wales, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany.

The American Revolution was an exciting time here. After the Battle of Edge Hill, Washington moved his troops to winter quarters at Valley Forge, an area which lies within Montgomery and Chester Counties.

In 1784, people in the upper part of Philadelphia County petitioned the state Assembly for a new county. They cited their distance from the county seat as one of the reasons. As a result, Montgomery County was created on September 10, 1784, and Norristown became the county seat.

With its strong Quaker heritage, Montgomery County was a center of the abolitionist movement. It was the home of Lucretia Mott and Hiram Corson, and the Underground Railroad was active here.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Montgomery County was an active region of family farms and small industries. Turnpikes, canals, and eventually railroads crisscrossed the county connecting it to both Philadelphia and the interior of the state.


Today Montgomery County is the home of many vibrant and diverse communities, some of the nation’s premier public and private schools, and green parkland. There are many small businesses as well as major corporations.