Cheltenham Township is a home rule municipality in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. Although it retains the word "Township" in its official name, it has been governed by a home rule charter since 1977 and is therefore not subject to the Pennsylvania Township Code. The population was 36,793 at the 2010 census, making it the third most populous township in Montgomery County. With just over 4,000 people per square mile, Cheltenham is the most densely populated Township in Montgomery County. It is bordered by the City of Philadelphia to the East and South, Abington Township to the North, Springfield Township to the West. Originally part of Philadelphia County, Cheltenham is often noted as "Philadelphia's first suburb".
As one of the oldest communtites in Pennsylvania, Cheltenham Township is rich in history. It is home to the oldest house of continuous residency in Pennsylvania, Wall House. It was home to the state's only training ground for Black troops during the Civil War, Camp William Penn. Cheltenham also served as a major stop on the Underground Railroad. The early development of Old York Road and the railroad connected Cheltenham with the rest of the Philadelphia area. Cheltenham also served as the home of some of the wealthiest people in the history of the United States, most notably, John Wanamaker, Peter Widener, William Lukens Elkins, John B. Stetson, Henry W. Breyer, Jr., Cyrus H.K. Curtis, George Horace Lorimer, among others.
The La Mott section of the township was the site of Camp William Penn, the training grounds of the first African-American troops ever enlisted into the United States Army during the American Civil War. These soldiers were at General Lee's surrender, helped hunt down John Wilkes Booth and were the only African-American soldiers to carry President Lincoln's casket.
The following is the list of the 15 original founders of Cheltenham Township
The USCT (United States Colored Troops) 3rd Regiment were the first to be trained at Camp William Penn. It is tradition that soldiers have a grand parade before leaving for war, but Philadelphia was partially a racist community at that time and the government believed that a parade might cause a riot, so it was cancelled. The leader of the Camp (Colonel Louis Wagner) was furious and made sure the next regiment to come through would have a parade.
Cheltenham became a township of the first class in 1900. In 1976, it passed a home rule charter that took effect in 1977.
There are many books about Cheltenham Township's prestigious history.
The seal of Cheltenham was adopted from the seal of the namesake and sister city, Cheltenham, England. It appears on all formal documents, resolutions, proclamations, and all legal records or documents. The pigeon on top of a blue sphere represents the founding of the fountain spa which made Cheltenham famous. They are placed above a wreath of Oak leaves. The two books represent Education, in particular, the Pates Grammar School and the Cheltenham College. The silver cross in the middle represents religion. The two pigeons represent the flock that would gather at the spas. Finally, the Oak tree represents the many Oak trees that line the streets of Cheltenham and promenades.