History of Londonderry TownshipLondonderry Township was officially created in 1734. During this time, Londonderry shined in religious and educational accomplishments.
The local topography of Londonderry's streams, valleys, and ridges provided natural travel routes for the Lenape Indians and for early English settlers in the area. Although no official record of archaeological resources exists for the area, there is little doubt that Lenape encampments and possibly villages were located here, with trails running through the area.
The first group of European settlers was a small group of Scotch-Irish immigrants, who named Londonderry for a town in Ireland.
Generally, early English settlers followed two routes: 1) up the Elk River and south from Octoraro Creek and 2) over the hills of what is now Highland Township. The two paths met at Faggs Manor.
Faggs Manor still exists today consisting of Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church and Faggs Manor Cemetery.
The Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church was organized in 1730 and is located in the northwest corner of Faggs Manor which was originally a Lenape Indian camp site. The earliest sermons were held under an oak grove near the present-day location of the church. The present church was built in 1846 under Rev. Alfred Hamilton's guidance.
The first pastor, Rev. Samuel Blair, achieved great fame as a scholar and pulpit orator during his career from 1740 to 1751. Many residents walked as many as six miles to hear his sermons.
Saint Malachi Roman Catholic Church, originally named Doe Run Catholic Church, held its first service in a local barn in 1771. Saint Malachi's is believed to be the second-oldest Catholic Church in the County. In 1794 a small parcel on the McGuire farm was donated to the church for a cemetery. The stucco-over-stone church building was constructed beside the cemetery in 1839 occupying a beautiful site overlooking the Doe Run valley.
Saint Malachi became a mission to the Parkesburg parish in 1953. Used for little more than a decade, the actual building was torn down and replaced with the current structure in 1865. By the 1880's the Doe Run congregation consisted of roughly 30 Catholic families from the area. In the early 1900's the congregation had declined so much that services were held infrequently, often not for years at a time. The church stood vacant until 1952 when a congregation was reestablished at Saint Malachi.
Doe Run Meeting House, also known as Londonderry Friends Meeting House and ultimately as Derry Meeting, was established by the Society of Friends in 1805. Early meetings were held at a schoolhouse on or near the current site. The present brick structure dates to 1883. In 1811 the meeting was established as a branch of the Fallowfield Monthly Meeting. Fallowfield sold the building in the early 1900's. Since then the Derry Meeting has served as a private residence.
Along with the religious influence in Londonderry, farming was the predominant industry. Early farms produced hay and corn for livestock and wheat and buckwheat for flour. Wheat and buckwheat were processed in the gristmills, which could be found throughout the township taking advantage of the many streams that flow through the township from the headwater of the Big Elk Creek.
Farm and church life dominated early Londonderry Township along with a succession of 19th and 20th century businesses in the rural community. Trades people included furniture makers, storekeepers, auctioneers, creamery owners, greenhouses, attorneys, blacksmith, sawmill and gristmill operators, and undertakers.
One of the earliest businesses in Londonderry Township was a sawmill, circa 1765, located along the Big Elk Creek along Ewing Road. The township had at least four schoolhouses: Ramsey School at Faggs Manor and Baker Roads, Coates School at north Faggs Manor Road, Whitehorse School at Rt. 926, and Forest Shade School on Greenlawn Road.
Londonderry was a thriving community in the early part of the 18th century and is now a quiet rural township which the residents consider a jewel of Chester County.