The Mahanatawny Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, was founded on May 11, 1939, in the clubroom of the Pottstown YWCA by Forney, the Pennsylvania State Regent. Forney appointed Amelia Klink as the organizing regent. The name Mahanatawny or Manatawny (more current spelling) means “the place where to drink.”
The name Manatawny (or its older form, Mahanatawny) has always been associated with the region in and about Pottstown.
The eastern part of the town and adjacent districts were a section of the Manatawny Tract, which Francis Daniel Pastorius and others residing at Frankfort-on-the Main, Germany had purchased from Penn, but which was afterwards claimed by John Henry Sprogel of Holland. Mr. Sprogel came over and settled upon it with his family, along with his brother, Ludwig Christian Sprogel, about 1709. These hardy Dutchman were probably the first permanent settlers in this locality. The matter must have been settled amicably, because in 1718 records show Ludwig Christian Sprogel’s deed for the conveyance of the land to Henry Wanger, a Swiss Mennonite pioneer in what is now the borough of Pottstown. In 1719, John Henry Sprogel opened the first copper mine in the country on this same site.
At Pottstown, we find the confluence of the Manatawny Creek and the Schuylkill River. It was here that the industry began that spread westward in the state and made Pennsylvania the greatest iron-manufacturing commonwealth. Thomas Rutter, Samuel Nutt, and Samuel Savage were the pioneers in this enterprise. Thomas Rutter “removed from Germany forty miles up the Schuylkill” in 1717 “to the outermost verge of civilization” and settled at Mahanatawny (now Pottstown) where he erected a “forge” on the Schuylkill River near the Hanover Street bridge.
On the west side of the Manatawny Creek stood Mill Park, the sturdy home of Thomas Potts. This household was large with connections that associated its members with almost all the forges and furnaces of the countryside. Nearly all of these Colonial industries were making “cannons” and balls. One made iron clock weights to replace the leaden ones confiscated for bullets. Dr. Jonathan Potts, the Director of Hospitals in the Revolution, was a member of this large family.
This great house sheltered the father of our country on different occasions. Here he came in his hour of need- after Brandywine- to friends of the spirit; and here, many feel, were laid the plans for the encampment at Valley Forge.
The building that became George Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778 was owned by Isaac Potts (brother of Thomas). Isaac willingly relinquished it to accommodate the General and his officers.
Again in 1794, when on his way to quell the Whiskey Insurrection in western Pennsylvania, President Washington traveled the waters of the Manatawny to visit with his tried and true friends at Mill Park.