History of Compass

Compass has a rich history dating back to the colonial era as a well travelled crossroads. We have created a small historical sketch to help you understand Compass’ historical ties.

history1The History of Compass:
Compass is at the intersection of two old Indian trails one that became Old Peter’s Road, named for Peter Bezellon, and is now known as Old Philadelphia Pike. The other was a north-south route from the Welsh Mountains to the Chesapeake known as the Octorara Trial. In the early 1700’s, the east-west trail became the main road between Philadelphia and Lancaster and named Kings Highway. Because it was frequently traveled, there were a number of inns and taverns that developed along this route, and several of these structures still exist. The “Sign of the Mariners Compass” is one such Inn. Maps from as far back as the 1700’s show the Inn at this location.

Compassville became a large commercial center simply because it was at the intersection of two Indian trails. In the late 1600’s there was an Indian trader named Peter Bezellon who spoke “the Kings English” as well as the language of the local Indians. Bezellon actively traded with the Indians for many years. As time and travelers increased the old trail became a road. The Incorporating of the City of Lancaster in 1729 as the earliest inland city increased travel on the Kings Highway. By this time there was an Inn, a mill and a church and several families living in and around Compassville.

history2From L 2-21-1883

Some notes sent to us from that point of the compass.
This is the principle village of West Caln township. It has not increased in size for several years. In it is one tavern kept by Wm. D. Eaby. It has a stove and tin store and marble yard, kept by Mr. D. White, a flour mill, owned and operated for many years by John Wagoner. It has a general store carried on by Issac McCammant & Son. What makes Compassville of importance just now is that the Post Office Department has just established a post office at this place and commissioned Mrs. Dickenson as postmistress. There has been no physician in the place since Dr. Spring removed to Coatesville, but it is reported that a doctor from Monterey, Lancaster County, will remove to the place in the spring.

Joseph T. Perdue reported that the new Compassville Post Office would be serving 400 people and that there were 150 in the village of Compassville.

history3On Feb 15th 1883 the post office opened. Thirteen years later on July 9th 1896 the name was shortened from Compassville to Compass and the next day Herman H. Ammon was appointed Postmaster. Ammon would hold that office longer then all the other Postmasters combined and was there on Feb 15th 1918 exactly 35 years after opening, when the Post Office closed forever.

“There have been great changes about Compass in the past forty years” “I can remember when Compass was a bigger place on the map than Coatesville was in those days. That was the age of the puddling furnace and the Conestoga wagon.” But times have changed………….

Pierre Bisaillon history and photos of his head stone along with his wife’s at St John’s Church in Compass.

history4

The headstone for Pierre reads: “In memory of PETER BEZELLON who have departed this life July the 18th, 1742 Aged 80 Years. Who e’er thou art with tender heart, stop, read and think of me; I once was such as now thou art; As now I am so thou shalt be.” The headstone for his wife Martha reads: “Here lieth the Body of MARTHA BEZELLON: She departed this Life June 18 A.D. 1764. Aged 71 Years. All you that come my Grave to see, And as I am so must you be: Repent in time, no time delay, for sudden I was Snatch’d away.”