East Goshen Township

"Preserving the Past, Serving the Present, Protecting the Future"

Chester County, PA

Goshenville Blacksmith Shop

The Blacksmith Shop was built in 1740 by Arron Ashbridge for rental as a Wheelwright Shop. The hearth room section was built first. In 1750 an Ashbridge lad completed his apprenticeship and opened his own blacksmithing business in this shop. At that time a one and half story addition was erected on the south side of the original building to house the wheelwright shop. Later the addition was reconstructed with a full second floor to house the wheelwright’s family. Sometime in the 1800’s the field stone building was covered with stucco (patches of the original stucco remain). It is interesting to point out that iron ore is mixed in with the field stones, in the walls of the building.

In the 1700’s a blacksmith shop was essential to every village. It was a gathering place for farmers and other residents where they could exchange news and catch up on local gossip while the smithy shod their horses or the wheelwright tightened their wagon wheels.

The blacksmith shop opened at daybreak, with horses and their attendants waiting to be shod. The work often continued after sunset. In addition to horse shoeing, the blacksmith along with the wheelwright, repaired single and double trees for wagons, tightened and rerimmed wagon wheels, built new hay wagon bodies on farmers running gear, repaired and sharpened farm tools. They also made and installed new wooden handles for shovels and forks as well as making fireplace andirons and tools. Often broken tools required welding by heating the partisan the forge then hammering the pieces together at the anvil.

The Blacksmiths that worked in this shop included: the original Ashbridge in 1750, James Garrett (1806), William Hagenbottom (1844), Lewis Farra (1860), Edward Dougherty (1886), William Sharpless (1890), Moses and James Brown (1905), and Wiebe Velde (1915). Wheelwrights included: J. Davis Ashbridge (1840) and William Delinger (1880).

The last blacksmith, Weibe Velde, was born in Holland, his family moved to America in 1893. He apprenticed in John Armstrong’s Blacksmith shop in Willistown and about 1915 purchased the business of Moses Brown. Mr. Velde continued working until his death in 1960. The shop fell into disrepear until 1982 when East Goshen celebrated the Tri-Centennial of the arrival of its first residents, Quakers from Wales. Extensive restoration of the shop was commenced. Windows, doors, the wood shingle roof were all replaced and the stone hearth rebuilt. A concrete floor replaced the cinders. Wooded planks from a nearby barn were used to cover the concrete in the hearth room. Today East Goshen proudly uses the Blacksmith shop as its official logo. It is open for free tours over the summer months and upon request the remainder of the year.