Friday, December 7, 2012

Burrowing into history

Off Route 162 near Embreeville there's a road called "Groundhog College Road." How did it get this colorful name? I asked East Marlborough historian Mary Larkin Dugan (one of my most loyal readers!), and she tracked down this narrative in an old resident's oral history interview: 

"Well, it was 1923 or 1924 they opened Unionville School, so that’s when it was abandoned. We had one in the edge of West Bradford about as far off the Newlin line as from here to the road. West Bradford and Newlin shared it before Unionville opened. West Bradford said, We’ll try it next year without it. And they closed it the following year because they didn’t have enough students for it. That was abandoned for a few years, and somebody came there to do some work one day, and the groundhogs were all crawling in and out of groundhog holes, and somebody said, Look, there’s Groundhog College! That’s where it got its name."

Danilo Maffei, a member of Kennett Borough Council, grew up on the road and said that's the same story he recalls.
And longtime Unionville school board president Guy Hayman, in his history of Unionville schools, wrote this: "Ground Hog College was owned by West Bradford District, but the water supply was in Newlin. A large number of pupils were residents of Newlin who dwelt within easy walking distance of the school. For a number of years, the two townships had operated the school alternately, rather than jointly."
Thank you, Mary, for your research!
I drove down the road on Saturday morning and saw horses, bicyclists, a jogger and some luxuriant stands of bamboo, but no groundhogs, educated or otherwise.


  1. When my parents moved there from Delaware County in 1971 this was a pretty remote area. I recall my mom getting lost a couple times driving home from grocery shopping.

  2. I wonder what it was called prior to this name?