Web exclusive! Surveying Legacies of Pennsylvania
Stanley F. MoyerAny surveyor working in Bucks or Montgomery counties, Pa., has likely encountered the works of Stanley F. Moyer. Moyer lived and died in the Souderton vicinity located along the county line between Bucks and Montgomery counties. His career carried him deep into each county. Many who encounter Moyer’s name have a positive regard for him, but how many of us really know anything about him?
I had the privilege of meeting with Francis Y. Goehring, who spent many years working for Moyer (among others). Goehring maintained ownership of Moyer’s records for many years after Moyer’s retirement. (Some locals may have had brief encounters with Goehring when acquiring a copy of an old Stanley F. Moyer plan.) In meeting with Goehring, I learned a little more about this legendary man and other surveying legacies of Pennsylvania.
As part of another WPA project, Moyer prepared tax maps for Montgomery County. In those days, plans were drafted with ink pens, and every drafter had his own modification of a north arrow on his plans that many of us today recognize as a “signature.” That is, many of us can predict who prepared certain plans simply by observing its characteristics, namely its penmanship and—you guessed it—its north arrow. Moyer’s north arrow was bisected by a floweret that was made of six circles in a rotational pattern. The interior floweret generated by the six intersecting circles was darkened in. This was Moyer’s signature; it can still be found on many Montgomery County tax maps today.
Francis Y. Goehring and George Reid NevellsFrancis Goehring also graduated from Souderton High School but in the year 1930. From 1943 through the war, he worked second shift at Mack Trucks in Allentown and spent his mornings performing field surveys with Moyer. Eventually, Goehring worked full-time for Moyer, performing field surveys as well as drafting. Goehring inherited Moyer’s north arrow design and continued using it on plans for other surveyors after his years with Moyer.
In 1961, Goehring accepted an invitation to go to work for George Reid Nevells, a man who worked for Moyer in the 1950s. Nevells left Moyer to go into business for himself, trading as GRN Associates. He started out of his home on Elephant Road in Bedminster in the 1950s and relocated to 7th Street in Perkasie from 1960 until 1961. Then, until 1964, he shared a building on Broad Street in Quakertown with Cowan Associates. From 1964 until 1970, Nevells operated with two field crews out of a building in Quakertown on Route 309 at Trumbauersville Road. From 1970 until 1978, his office was in Sellersville on Ridge Road and Old Bethlehem Pike. Although allegedly retired thereafter, jobs managed to find Nevells through old business associates and friends. He continued working through his part-time retirement with his son and Goehring.
Nevells attended Drexel University from 1942 until 1953, and was a licensed land surveyor in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He served as a private first class in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943 through 1945. Some well-known sites surveyed by Nevells include the Upper Bucks Vo-Tech School, Trexler Game Preserve and the layout of facilities at Nockamixon State Park. Nevells was the last surveyor to hold the public office of county surveyor in Bucks County. By the 1960s, the position was simply a political office, prompting no conventional duties of a land surveyor. Nevells died in 1997 and is buried in the Kellers Church Cemetery at St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bedminster Township, Bucks County, Pa. Nevells had three sons: Paul, Thomas and William. Thomas continues to survey for Allan Myers Inc.
In 1961, Goehring accepted Nevells’ invitation to work for him. Goehring retired in 1976, having finished his career working for Nevells. On many plans by George Reid Nevells, we will find Goehring’s north arrow, originally signed by Moyer. During his career with Nevells, Goehring worked part-time for G. Marvin Hendricks. Some of Hendricks’ plans bear the familiar north arrow.
Bucks County, Pennsylvania SurveyorsFor a brief segue into the county surveyors, I was able to assemble a complete list beginning in 1850. Prior to 1850, the position was appointed by the surveyor general from the land office and was titled “deputy surveyor.” Essentially, deputy surveyors and county surveyors were responsible for original surveys and monitoring of lands distributed by the commonwealth to ensure that all land was singularly allotted.
The list of county surveyors for Bucks County that are recorded in the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg is as follows:
The conclusion of the list of county surveyors for Bucks County that is recorded with the Board of Election in Doylestown is as follows:
I hope that when future onlookers reflect on my dash, they see a life that made a difference upon the earth.