by Carol Isett
of the Lower Pottsgrove Historical Society,
for The Post Publications
POTTSTOWN PA – Do you remember attending summer camp when you were a child? Maybe you belonged to a scout troop that did some camping, or possibly you were a member of the Indian Guides operated by the YMCA. Many area churches sponsored their own camping programs for children, too. If you participated in any of them, you probably remember one highlight of the trip was sitting around the campfire at night, telling ghost stories and Indian legends.
Lower Pottsgrove Township had its own Indian legend, “The Legend of the Ringing Rocks.”
The rocks – still found in Ringing Rocks Park off White Pine Lane, behind the Ringing Hill Fire Company – were objects of worship and adoration to Indians in years gone by. Here’s the “Legend of the Ringing Rocks,” as told in an 1896 pamphlet:
Once there was a young warrior named Atchokatha. He and Namechi, lovely daughter of Wekewapka, were in love. Wekewapka was the chief of a tribe which was an enemy of Atchokatha’s people. The young warrior had met Namechi while sitting around a council fire at a peace treaty with his father and other braves in the village of old Wekewapka. The peace treaty did not last, however, and before long the sound of the war-whoop was heard through the hills, and the brooks were red with blood.
During the brief time of peace, love had blossomed between Atchokatha and Namechi. It was only a day’s journey from Atchokatha’s home to the “Gray Rocks,” as they were known to the Leni Lenape Indians. Four times each moon the lovers met by moonlight among the rocks.
Now their tribes were at war again. On a day when the two were to meet, ignoring the warnings of his tribesmen, Atchokatha clambered over the rocks towards the Signal Rock, a large boulder in the center of the field. Would Namechi come to him now?
As he saw her climbing over the rocks, reaching to take his eager, outstretched hands, suddenly there was the harsh twang of a bow string! An arrow, shot by Namechi’s people, pierced Atchokatha, but he stood there until his faithful Namechi reached him, and he clutched her to his bleeding breast. Then there was the sound of another arrow, as it winged its way from the bow of Atchokatha’s brother. Namechi drooped, and, with a sigh, her spirit fled from her.
For just an instant Atchokatha stood there, erect and proud, holding her in his arms, as all around him the battle between the two tribes raged. Then his body relaxed, and his tomahawk fell with a crash onto the surface of Signal Rock. As it fell, there was a loud sound like a bell. All the warriors were startled and every hand was stayed.
The forms of Atchokatha and Namechi swayed just a moment and then plunged to the ground, while clear and sweet and long above them rang the strange music from the Signal Rock.
From that day the Indians revered the Gray Rocks, because they sang so sweetly, and for the first time, when Namechi died.
Ringing Rocks Park remains a place of wild, natural beauty. Visitors who stand near the rocks, or in the woods on a still and quiet day, can feel the romantic and haunting aura of mystery, traces of which still linger there.
Articles in this series:
- ‘Love Among Rocks’ Forms A Township Legend Legacy
- On Corner Where You’ll Idle, Booming Market Once Stood
- When Winters Raged, Sanatoga Lake Was Place To Be
- In Township, Scouts And Cookies (Yum!) Have A History
- Family Appliance Business Has Long History In Santa-toga
- Love NASCAR Now? You Would Have Adored Sanatoga
- Timeless Treasures Fill Historical Society Chapel Offices
- Hilltop’s Still Making History, 59 Years After Opening
- Historic Answer To Heat: Township Swimmin’ Holes
- Need A Local Hotel? There Once Were Four, Right Here
- What’s Changed Most In ‘Grove Grads? Their Schools
- Shantz’s Mound Presence Made Sanatoga ‘Pheverous’
- Stars Danced In Lower Pottsgrove Long Before TV Show
- Never Heard Of Sanatoga’s Longview Hotel? Here’s Why
Editor’s note: The Lower Pottsgrove Historical Society was formed in 1985 to share the heritage of Lower Pottsgrove Township with its residents. It meets on the second Wednesday of every month at its museum and offices in the former Sanatoga Chapel, 2341 E. High St., Sanatoga PA. Author and society member Carol Isett joins society President Beth Scherer in writing about Lower Pottsgrove history for The Post.
Photos from the Historical Society, researched by Carol Isett