Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Delaware County Home in Lima, 100 years ago.


The 1920 Delaware County Home in Lima. This was the same location as it is today.

Note: The original county home was in Media, in the area of the elementary school on State St. When Media Boro was created in 1850, the county moved the home to it's current location in Lima.

The Delaware County Home in Lima 100 years ago.

The visit to the home was interesting, and the writer found many things of interest about the place, and he also conversed with the inmates, most all of them being happy under the circumstances, though some were found not so happy, but this was because they were ill,  or were unable to leave their cots.                After a careful observation of the buildings, the farm and the manner in which the institution is managed, the writer had an interview with Mrs. W. Irwin Cheyney, James J. Skelly, director of the poor, and J. D. Pierson, the steward.

                It did not take long to ascertain that the time had arrived when old time methods of conducting a county home are obsolete; that the conditions of today demand more careful attention than ever; and that a constructive policy must be established, which will insure as near complete happiness and health for those who must spend their last days at the home, and that the present directors are doing this.  The county home has two properties; the one on which the home and its buildings are situated, consisting of one hundred acres, and the Crooks’ farm of fifty acres which cost $18,000.  The directors settled for this property on Wednesday.  The purchase of the Crooks’ property was a fine piece of business strategy on the part of the directors.  The home will need more land in the near future and the land values are continually increasing, but aside from this reason, the property is needed for a very important necessity which will be referred to in this article.

                The main building of the county home, a stone structure was erected in 1856.  Originally the county home was located where the present beautiful high school building of Media is situated but when Media was incorporated as a borough in 1849, Media could no longer be the county home site.

                Aside from the main building there is another building built in 1873.  This was the insane department, but it appears that there was some sort of trouble at the home a few years after the insane department was in operation, and this department was dispensed with, and since that time, the county has been sending its insane to either Norristown or to Wernersville asylums.                In the two buildings referred to, are the directors’ and stewards’ office, quarters for the steward and his family, store rooms, bakery, kitchen, dining rooms for men and women, and sleeping rooms for men and women, as well as a heating plant.

                The barn and other buildings are also an important adjunct to the place.  At present about 80 acres of the land is under production and the crops are growing fine and the stock is in splendid condition. This year, Howard Hatton, the farmer, has produced an abundance of crops including a variety of vegetables which are being used to feed the inmates. Despite the fact that the present directors are making, and have made some big improvements to the exterior and interior of the main buildings, there are conditions which the directors must face and here is where the purchase of the Crooks farm fits in the problem.  For a long time there has been a need at the home for the psychopathic treatment of persons who are often picked up on the streets by the police or are brought to the institution suffering from mental disorder.  For instance it will be remembered how a beautiful young girl was picked up by the police at Boothwyn, taken to the county jail where she was detained until finally located by her family.  This girl, it will be remembered, was not a subject for prison but for a place where her mental and physical condition could be observed.

                The big Colonial house on the Crooks farm will be converted into a small hospital for the mental observation of indigent patients and also for the treatment of indigent inmates who cannot get the hospital care at the home.  This colonial house will also have an addition built to it, and the plans for this important piece of improvement will be made by architects almost any time.  It is estimated by the directors that the cost for making the alteration and addition to the Crooks house, will cost approximately $25,000.

                When the hospital is built, Mrs. Cheyney and Mr. Skelly said, the County Home would then be in a position to treat its own indigent sick, place mental cases under observation in the psychopathic department which will be established, and in this way, not only would the sufferers get better treatment, but Delaware County will be saving thousands of dollars annually.

                Mrs. Cheyney and Mr. Skelly both, declared that the county is forced to pay to Philadelphia County annually thousands of dollars for indigent sick who receive treatment in the Philadelphia General Hospital at the rate of 73 cents per patient per day.At the present time and for many years, those who are ill in the home have been treated by a physician who calls occasionally and who is often called to the home to visit the sick.  At the present time Dr. E. Marshall Harvey, the county physician, looks after the physical welfare of the inmates, but Dr. Harvey is unable to give the medical are to those more seriously ill because of the lack of facilities.  However, this condition will be temporarily remedied, because one of the large rooms at the home has been converted into a neat infirmary.  The room will hold four beds at least, and has been painted white and a sanitary mineral floor laid.  The room will be equipped for service by the early part of next week, and this infirmary will suffice until the larger infirmary has been built on the Crooks place. here has also been installed at the home a temporary infirmary for older men.  This little ward is in charge of the wife of one of the inmates.  She is giving her service gratis in order that she might be near her husband, who is an invalid.

                NEW DINING ROOM – A new dining room has been finished for the younger women at the home, and their sitting room has also been improved by having the walls scrapped of the hundreds of coats of whitewash and painted in a bright color.  The lounging room for men, several dining rooms and other rooms in the home, which have been brightened with a few coats of whitewash, a few days before the visit of the Grand Jury, have all been painted.   It is said when the caked whitewash was scrapped off, vermin came with the scrapings. The old crude way of inmates to bathe their faces and hands by use of a wash basin has also been abolished.  Stationary washstands have been installed in the different departments for both men and women.  Some of the inmates who cannot help themselves are attended to by the nurses.  The directors are not at all pleased with the present sleeping quarters for the men.  So far as the women’s quarters are concerned, they are bright and clean and splendidly ventilated.  But the men occupy rooms where one, two or four beds are located.  The ventilation in these rooms is very bad, and the directors decided to make changes by adding large dormitories which will be light and ventilated.  To do this, Director Skelly said, the directors plan to Alter the present sleeping quarters of the men which can be done without very great cost.

                A SPLENDID FARM – The directors have a very fine farmer in the person of Howard Hatton.  The farm is under heavy product ion, the old dairy has been disposed of, and a dairy of pure-bred Holstein heifers and a registered pure-bred Holstein sire are now on the place.  The poultry is in fine condition as are the pigs and a very large crop of potatoes have also been raised for the year.

                J. D. Pierson, the steward said that during the months of July and August, three quarters of the food product consumed by the inmates was produced on the farm.  This included vegetables, milk, eggs, etc.   Both Mrs. Cheyney and Mr. Skelly are very optimistic as to what the farm will produce next year.  These two officials declare that with the extra fifty acres recently purchased, they hope to produce sufficient food products on the place to feed the inmates at the home during the year.  Of course this does not include tea, coffee, flour, rice and meals.

                INMATES WELL CARED FOR – There is no doubt that the inmates are being well fed.  One only has to pass through the wards and loot them over to be satisfied.  The representative of this paper went through the home unaccompanied and inquired of the inmates about their condition and how they were fed.  Walking up to one man well advanced in years who was reclining in a rolling chair, he was asked if he got enough to eat.  “Eat,” exclaimed the man, “I guess we all get plenty.  I have been here for twelve years, but say mister, the eats here since the first of the year are the best we have ever had.”  He also said the inmates get plenty of vegetables, meat occasionally and eggs, and remarked, “don’t forget, we even get  better. Several other groups of men were visited and said that the food at the home was the best ever.  The women inmates were also interviewed and they also declared that the institution was getting to be more homelike every day.  They said that the food was better and more of it than ever, and they were certainly pleased with Mrs. Pierson, the matron, whom several old ladies declared was so motherly. “Yes,” chirped an elderly lady who was knitting.  “Mrs. Cheyney is also a mighty fine lady.  She often comes in and talks to us and makes us cheerful.  Then Mr. Skelly,” continued the old lady, “he is really sunshine to us people.  He always comes in with a smile and he makes us smile whether we want to or not.  And so does Mr. Martin.".  In another department were more women, and these were also contented and happy, and they did not forget to talk lots about the directors and Mr. Pierson.  One old lady said she had been in the home for fifteen years, but that she is always happy if she only has a minute to talk with Mr. Martin, Mrs. Cheyney, or Mr. Skelly.  This woman declared that the directors, all of them, are so sympathetic.   On the trip through the home the reporter found a number of men, women and one boy who need medical attention.  Some of them are incurables, and they are receiving the best care possible under the circumstances.  Therefore, the directors are certainly showing progress in the right way by building a permanent infirmary where these particular unfortunates may be properly cared for from a medical standpoint.  There are at present one hundred and thirty inmates in the home, which shows that it is a problem to give the care which they are entitled to.

                HOSPITAL TOO COSTLY – The directors were asked if they thought it a good plan for the county to build an asylum.  Both Mr. Skelly and Mrs. Cheyney declared it would not be economy for the county to have its own hospital, providing the State continues the present rate for keeping patients from Delaware County.  These two directors pointed out that there are about 330 patients from Delaware County in Norristown and Wernersville hospitals, and that the county is paying about $45,000 per annum for their maintenance.  These two directors also pointed out that to build a hospital and maintain such an institution by the county would entail a very heavy toll on the taxpayers.

                The old system of giving outside relief by the individual directors has been abolished.  The new system is where a case of outside relief comes to the attention of a director, Mrs. Sarah Kerlin, the field worker, makes a thorough investigation.  She reports back to the board of directors and the necessary action is then taken.  This method does away with giving relief on the outside to undeserving and unscrupulous persons.

                The directors at this time are doing more than giving outside relief.  Of course this kind of relief is more sought in winter months when it is hard to get employment.  The directors are doing real constructive relief work.  For instance, they are constantly in touch with manufacturers and employees of labor.  They get employment for many who need relief.

                In one case where a widow was receiving relief, her son, who was making but $6.00 per week, was found another position by the directors and it also helped the boy to forge his way ahead.

                Another important thing which the present directors are doing is a new method of handling insane cases.  The practice is to have every case of insanity investigated by the county physician and two other physicians.  In each case, the residence off the patient is first established.  If the patient is a charge of Delaware County, then this county cares for the patient.  If the patient is a resident outside of this county, the patient is then turned over to the proper jurisdiction, thus relieving this county from paying for some other jurisdiction’s insane.

                At the present time the directors are investigating twenty-five cases of persons who are in two State insane asylums from this County. These are cases where the directors believe this county should not pay for their maintenance because they believe that the patients are from other jurisdictions they will be deported.

                Recently the directors caused to be deported from Norristown a young woman who was actually a charge of Camden County, N. J.  This was a case where a woman had been an inmate in the Blackwood Asylum for the Insane in Camden County.  This girl eloped with a man from the institution to New York ended traveled with him for two years.  The man left the girl in Chester during the war.  She was then committed to Norristown.  The directors made an investigation and found that the girl was not a charge of this county.  Camden County refused to accept her, but the matter was put up to the Attorney General of this State, whose opinion proved that Delaware County was not responsible for her and the girl was deported to Camden. There is not the slightest doubt as to the progress the present poor directors are making; the county home in the next two years will not be looked upon as a poor house, because the word poor house leaves a stigma which does not easily efface itself from the minds of unfortunates who are forced to live at the county’s expense. The present board of poor directors, the steward and others employed at the county home deserve commendation for the able manner in which the home is being conducted, and to the directors especially because they are using the keenest business judgment in the management of the home.

                To be a poor director today one must have business judgment and be abreast with the conditions of today; a person who is kind, gentle and sympathetic, who has at heart the interest and welfare of those unfortunate persons who are forced to spend their declining days at the home.

                In the present directors, Arthur Martin, the president of the board; James J. Skelly and Mrs. W. Irwin Cheyney, Delaware County has three directors who are thoroughly conversant with the needs at the County Home, and they are deserving of the commendation of the taxpayers for the interest they take in their work. In Jesse D. Pierson, the steward, the home has an able manager who has done much to bring the home up to the present high standard.  Mrs. Pierson, the matron; Miss Cora Smith, the seamstress; Mrs. Sarah Kerlin, bookkeeper and field worker; Miss Bertha Gill and William Butler, nurses, also are efficient employees.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Robert H. Crozer Hospital in Upland is dedicated, Colonial Plantation Events!!

The Robert H. Crozer Hospital locally known as just "Crozer Hospital" about 1925. The hospital is in the same location today, 1 Medical Center Blvd. in Upland.

NOTES: Chester Hospital was founded in 1903 and was the first hospital in the area to have an ambulance [horse-drawn].  The J. Lewis Crozer " Home for the Incurables in 1900. This Hospital became the "Robert H. Crozer Hospital" in 1923 and in 1958 it became +Crozer Hospital". In 1963 Chester and Crozer Hospital merged to become " Chester Crozer Hospital. Below is the dedication of "Robert H. Crozer Hospital" in 1923. 

May 14, 1923 


 Dedicatory Exercises Held on Saturday Afternoon, Which Set Aside, for Public Use, Up-to-Date Accessory Provided by People’s Subscriptions

          National Hospital Day, 1923, will go down in history as the accomplishment of a big achievement in the annals of the Chester Hospital.  The event on Saturday afternoon marked the inspection and dedication of the Robert H. Crozer Hospital and the now surgical wing made possible by reason of generous public subscriptions.

          Hundreds of representative citizens turned out for the occasion, and not a single feature of the splendid new addition was missed by the throng of people.  Guided by members of the Board of Managers and members of the hospital staff, the visitors were shown over the buildings, every detail of equipment and facilities were fully explained, and every nook and corner was carefully explored.

          The dedicatory exercises proper took place in the first floor ward of the new wing.  Special appointments in the way of seating, music and floral decoration were provided.

          The gathering of men and women was presided over by Kingsley Montgomery, Esq., President of the Board of Managers, who first called upon Rev. Francis P. Maginn, rector of the Immaculate Heart Church, for an invocation.  Father Maginn responded as follows:

          “We pray Thee God of Wisdom and Mercy to bless Thy people assembled here today to dedicate this building erected to alleviate human suffering.

          “Bless, we pray Thee, him whose generosity of heart prompted the noble gift.  Teach us, Thy children, the lesson so necessary to know that not in ore knowledge, nor in the mental development that comes from education, but in virtue and strength of manhood that comes from the observance of Thy laws, shall be found universal security for the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

          “Let the light of Thy Divine Wisdom direct the deliberation of our Government and shine forth in all proceedings and laws for the rule and government of our nation, so that they may tend to the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge and may perpetuate to us all the blessings of equal liberty.

          “Finally, O Merciful God, protect our beloved country.  Guide it ever in the way of peace; let it never forget its high vocation to teach all the nations of the world by word and example the principles of well-regulated liberty and reverence for the rights of men.

          “Grant, O Lord, that our ship of state may sail on through all the troubled waters of the world, touching all earth’s human shores, and bringing liberty and opportunity and happiness to all earth’s suffering children.

          “Hear our prayers, Oh Eternal Father, through the infinite merits of Thy Divine Son, who, with Thee and Thy Divine Son, who, with Thee and Thy Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, our God, for ever and ever, Amen.”

          State Supreme Court Justice William I. Schaffer, who was the legal advisor of the late Robert H. Crozer, delivered an interesting address.  Among other things, referring to the beneficence of the donor, which made possible the new addition to the hospital, Justice Schaffer said: 

          “The love of charity and the pity for human kind are the basis of all hospitals.  The good that men do lives after them, and so the good that Robert H. Crozer has done in providing this splendid addition to the Chester Hospital, will live as long as time.”

          The princely benefaction provided for in Mr. Crozer’s will made in 1888, was the largest ever declared in this district by any person said the Justice.  When Mr. Crozer set aside $200,000 for a hospital to be built either in Upland or Chester, it was then thought than the sum was ample.  Mr. Crozer could not foresee the change in monetary value that has come to pass.  Large as the bequest was, it was not large enough to establish a hospital, so those of us who assumed the responsibility held on to the money and its earnings until a plan could be worked out that might meet the purposes Mr. Crozer had in mind.

          “To the credit of the late George K. Crozer brother and executor under the will of Robert H. Crozer is due what has been accomplished.  He, it was, who asked that the benefaction be put at work.  Great problems are simple enough when you come to analyze them.  What we worked out was this:  The Chester Hospital Corporation owned ground and was operating a hospital.  We knew that the Crozer bequest was not sufficient to build and operate another hospital, so we said to the Chester Hospital Board of Managers, “If you will give us the ground in fee, we will build on that ground a hospital to be known as the Robert H. Crozer Memorial Hospital.  You give us a deed for the ground, and we will erect the hospital.  Then we will make a lease to you at a nominal rental per year for the term of ninety-nine years.

          “The proposition was accepted, and the result is that the Chester Hospital was augmented to the extent of over $200,000 through the beneficent gift of Robert H. Crozer.  Although George K. Crozer has crossed to the Great Beyond, his memory must ever be linked with the achievement, for it was his courage and pleading that brought matters to a head.

          “And now I dedicate this Robert H. Crozer Hospital and I present it to the Chester Hospital Board of Managers at the rental of one dollar per year for the period of ninety-nine years.”

          Continuing, Justice Schaffer stated that the City of Chester and the country adjacent owed much to the Crozer family for the various monuments that testify their benevolence and good work done in this community.  Point to John P. Crozer, who was in the audience, Justice Schaffer stated that the matter Crozer guaranteed the gift made in his presence would be in line with his uncle’s wishes, were he alive.

          A very concise speech was made by William Provost, Jr., who, on behalf of the board of Managers, accepted the gift.

          Mr. Provost in his remarks told how that the Jackson fireworks explosion in 1882, was the incentive that eventually led to the establishing of the Chester Hospital.  How for ten years after a charter had been obtained, nothing tangible was done in the way of providing a hospital and how thirty years ago the institution became a reality, were recounted in detail by Mr. Provost.

          “Only one of the original Board of Managers, Mrs. Broomall, and only two physicians that formed the first hospital medical staff, Drs. S. R. Crothers and Elen E. Brown, are now living.  For the year 1893-94 the expenses of the Chester Hospital were a little over $10,000, and 358 cases were taken care of, while last year there were over 2500 cases treated, and the cost of operating the institution was about $110,000,” said Mr. Provost.

          He called attention to the gifts of the Deshongs, the Houstons, the Blacks and other large donations made from time to time.  He referred to the fact that at the close of the World War, the Chester Hospital found itself in debt to the extent of nearly $50,000, money borrowed at the banks.  He also recounted how a drive resulted in pledges aggregating $300,000, of which amount the usual percentage, incident to drives for money, has been paid.  There were 11,000 contributors, he said, and the money came from Chester and vicinity.  The money thus realized, was used to help bring about the institution now open for inspection, and he also said that there was enough money to pay cash for all of it.

          A further acknowledgment of the great accomplishment was made by Rev. Francis W. Taitt, who in a happy manner and in words appropriate and timely, voiced the sentiments so well expressed.  The combination, he said, was a grand one and its great good would be a blessing on a larger scale for future generations.

          Doctor Taitt stated the character of the people in any community is judged by the kind of buildings that are a part of the community, such as public and commercial buildings, churches, schools and benevolent institutions.  Hospitals were a necessary adjunct to every progressive city, he said, and the amount of good they accomplished could only be measured by the method of operation and the kind of support accorded them.  Deeds of love, he stated, surrounded in manifold form.  Speaking for the people of this community, I can but say that we feel grateful that Mr. Crozer should have thought of serving humanity in such an appropriate way as this institution will serve.  The contributions of the Houstons made it possible for the Chester Hospital to acquire such a good reputation in a surgical sense, and all the other generous givers are deserving of much praise and commendation.

          By way of a little sally, the good-natured diving told a story.  A preacher, he said, on one occasion told his congregation that hell was filled with booze, jazz and automobiles, whereupon a member of his flock shouted, “Oh death, where is thy sting?”

          Refreshments served by ladies, under the direction of Mrs. Arthur Jack was the closing feature of the memorable event.

          Arrangements for the exercises in the afternoon were made by members of the Board of Managers under the able direction of Mrs. John P. Crozer, who was chairman of the committee.

          BOARD ENTERTAINS STAFF – The members of the Board of Managers were hosts of the medical and surgical staffs of the hospital and a few invited guests ate dinner at the Chester Club in the evening.

          This is an annual event, which is arranged by the women of the board, who look after all the details and consequently it is one of the most elaborate affairs of the year in connection with hospital work.  Mrs. John P. Crozer was chairman, being ably assisted by other ladies of the board.  The dining room of the club was richly decorated with exotics, spring blossoms of all kinds and beautiful pansies, tulips and other cut flowers.   On no occasion has this handsome dining room ever been more artistically decorated.

          During the serving of the dinner a noted harpist from Philadelphia noted harpist from Philadelphia rendered several very entertaining selections, and immediately the last course was served, President Kingsley Montgomery made a few statistical remarks regarding the operation of Robert H. Crozer Hospital and the surgical wing of the Chester Hospital.  After his remarks several members of the board were called upon for a few words, besides an inspirational speech from Justice Schaffer and an interesting talk by Dr. Frank Crozer Knowles, a noted skin specialist, of Philadelphia, and a nephew of the late Robert H. Crozer, on hospitals from the time of the Christian era up to now.

          Doctors J. William Wood, George E. Cross, Adam J. Simpson and others in response to a call from the president, spoke of the new addition to the hospital and the work of the staff, the hospital service to the community and the cordial relations existing between the staff and the Board of Managers.

          One of the pleasing events of the evening was a piano selection by Dr. M. A. Neufeld, a finished musician, and a solo by Dr. A. V. B. Orr, both of which were heartily received by the diners.

 Colonial Plantation Events

Exciting Events in October and November
We invite you to join us for some outdoor fall fun at the
Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation!

Boscov's in Granite Run-
Friends Helping Friends Campaign
Wednesday, October 14th & Thursday, October 15th from 9:00am-9:00pm

Support the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation by shopping at Boscov's in Media on October 14th and October 15th! Shoppers earn an extra 20% off your purchases at check out. Mention the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantations name at check out and Boscov's will donate 5% of your total purchase to us! This promotion is available online both days. Simply select our name upon checking out. We thank you for your support!

Lantern Ghost Tours-Sold Out
Saturday, October 17th & Friday, October 23rd

The Colonial Plantation, one of the most haunted properties in Delaware County, invites you to an evening of strange sounds, squeaky doors, and ghostly stories. Relive 300 years of the area's most mysterious, scary and true tales of terror. Start by following the torch lit path and discover the strange and inexplicable ways that colonists treated their dead.

For past participants of Ghost Tours, please note that we change our stories every year, so you'll have a new experience every time! Our stories are researched by our staff, are local on the Delaware County area, and are absolutely spine-chilling! Due to the graphic nature of some stories, we will not allow anyone under the age of ten to participate, and we recommend ages 12 and up.
Please call 610-566-1725 to be added to a waitlist.
Fairy Tale Day
Saturday, October 31st
11:00am-4:00pm (Last admission is 3:00pm)

Fairy Tales are very old stories, some of them going back hundreds or even thousands of years. These stories have seen small changes over the centuries but have remained surprisingly consistent. And while they contain many fanciful and unrealistic story elements, there are bits and pieces in the stories that can give us little windows into life in the past.

Come visit us on Saturday October 31st, Halloween day, to learn about the skills of daily life in the past that we can find in fairy tales. Kids (and kids at heart) are encouraged to come in costumes, particularly if they want to dress up as a character from their favorite fairy tale! There will be readings of fairy tales throughout the day. There will also be stations for each fairy tale with skills demonstrations and trick-or-treat kinds of prizes for the children to collect, so bring a bag or other container.

In conjunction with this event, we will be having a children’s writing contest, and you can find more information and an entry form at this link: CLICK HERE

Preservation Days-Beer & Cider
Saturdays, November 7th & November 14th
11:00am-4:00pm (Last admission is 3:00pm)

Join us Saturday, November 7th and watch us make beer! Beer was an extremely common beverage in the 18th c., consumed by people of all ages and classes. And, while you could buy beer in a pub it was also very common for farm families to make beer at home from ingredients grown on the farm. We will be doing just that during our first food preservation day! Come watch as we use historic equipment to brew barley and hops grown right here at the plantation into a batch of beer. We will also have a brewer on site brewing with modern homebrewing equipment so you can see how things have changed over the centuries. We will also have other food preservation demonstrations going on throughout the day. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide samples.

Preservation Days-Beer & Cider
Saturdays, November 7th & November 14th
11:00am-4:00pm (Last admission is 3:00pm)

Join us Saturday, November 14th and watch us make cider! Apples were an important crop in the 18th century. While they keep better than some other fresh fruits and vegetables, finding ways to preserve them even longer was advantageous in the past. At our second food preservation day we will be demonstrating various ways to use and preserve apples including turning them into cider! Cider was a good thing to make from blemished or bruised apples that wouldn't keep well on their own. Without refrigeration, that cider hardens, or becomes alcoholic, quite quickly. The alcohol then preserves the cider. Come learn all about the process!
Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide samples.

Historic Timeline
Saturday, November 21st 11:00am-4:00pm
(Last admission is 3:00pm)

Join the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation as you travel through over 300 years of American history. Come and meet our earliest settlers and then travel to the Civil War on up to the Second World War. Tickets on sale soon. Check for details.

Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation
P.O. Box 158
Gradyville, PA 19039

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Chester Heights Boro is 75 years old and Colonial Plantation events!


This Chester Heights Camp Meeting booklet from 1897 shows one of the reasons why the camp was so popular!

Note: I totally missed the date that Chester Heights Boro was 75 years old. Pat Smith, Aston Historian pointed it out. Chester Heights was part of Aston Twp. till September 21, 1945 when it became a boro.


 When the Camp Meeting Was a Great Power and People Were Stirred  
Religion and Recreation
            Chester Heights  July 14 

Unless the engine slips a cog, and the possibility of this is very remote, The Gospel Train, loaded with a hand of Christian workers of the Methodist Church, will arrive here on Wednesday next for a ten days’ stay for the purpose of saving souls.  This vanguard of the Master will be in charge of Dr. George M. Brodhead, who has had charge of the camp meeting at this popular place for several years past.  Succeeding a popular worker like Dr. Burwell, Dr. Brodhead has had a hard time, but his work has been so satisfactory to those who have charge of the grove that he has been selected to lead the Christina Ship of State for another year.

            Of course, things are moldy, inactivity in the winter months’ being responsible for this, but the cobwebs are being removed, and the place given a scene of activity.  I have been wondering in this connection, if the old canvas which has furnished a covering for the worshippers for years is again to be used, with its thousands of mildewed spots.  Of course, this is not material to the saving of souls, but giving up the good things which have been bestowed upon the people of these grand United States and particularly in this section of the country, from which the patronage to this camp is drawn, it is necessary to make the sinner more comfortable than the Christian.  The latter is used to hardships for the sake of the grand, good cause in which he is working, but, on the other hand, the sinner comes as a visitor, and if the surroundings are not inviting to him, it may be hard to keep him in touch with the things that are spiritual long enough for the good men and women who are engaged in the work of bringing person in Christ, to show him the evil of his ways and get him to travel in the straight and narrow path.

            THINGS HAVE CHANGED – With all credit to the good people who are entrusted with the success of this camp meeting, it is not what it used to be.  Ministers in former years, as a means of divine worship, sanctioned their parishioners going to Chester Heights on one of the two Sundays during which the camp is held.  Today things have changed.  On the other hand, it is openly stated from many pulpits of the church that it is not the right thing for members of the different churches to leave their own places of worship to seek moral and spiritual recreation in their labors for the Lord in this beautiful grove.  Why this is so, has often been asked, but up to date the question has not been answered.  It is true that the old-time spirit of Methodists, which invaded the hearts of the good men and women who came here in former years, is not present in the actions of many present-day Christians.  This may be due to modesty.  Be that as it may, the place has become more of a place for some persons who enjoy the season of hot weather in the country, many of whom have attended the meetings. In former years there was scarcely a family who occupied a cottage or tent who was not an active worker for the good of the camp, and assisted in every way to promote its usefulness in the direction in which the church intended that it should be – the saving of souls.

            There are many things which may be attributed to this.  There are few “Billy” McCrackens left; few Joseph Parkins; few of the Congiations, who formerly made the old woods ring with their sincere shouts for the Master and sent forth His praises to the world at large in old-time Methodist hymns.  The amens of such men as Uncle George Drayton, Jesse Gore, and others are not heard from the old benches which have seen service for many years.

            People are just as good today as they were at any time since the beginning of the world, but there are but few genuine old-time camp meeting goers left in this section of the country.  True, no better or more feeling singer can be found than Mrs. Fitch, who has brought tears to the eyes of many a Christian and sinner alike, but Mrs. Fitch sings the later-day hymns, and by the time the passengers on the spiritual train here get accustomed to the words and tine, the old bell in the tower of the tabernacle sounds the end of things.

            THE MEAGER FACILITIES – Another obstacle is the way of the large attendance of the people of Delaware County and other places is the meagre facilities to reach the place.  Some years ago, when special trains were run to Chester Heights, it was worth one’s life, almost, to get a foothold on the steam conveyance.  People talked of “going to camp in advance, and every country boy and girl prepared to dress up in their best “bib and tucker” to appear at the camp meeting.  Today, no trains are run on Sunday except those on the regular schedule, one in the early morning and returning at night.  This condition, it is true, is due to a petition sent to the railroad company by the managers of the woods some years ago, but I have no doubt but what the good men who are entrusted to make a success of the camp have seen the fallacy of this for some time past.

            It is agreed by the sinners and many of the saints that it would be less harmful to take the people to Chester Heights on Sunday, either by special or regular trains, than to have the attendance cut down, and have thousands spending their time to playing ball or some other amusement when, if the traveling facilities were adequate and convenient, many of these persons would be found sitting under the beautiful shaded tree listening to a good sermon and assisting with the singing of the good old-time hymns.  It is the consensus of opinion that less harm would be done and the Sabbath desecrated to a less degree if the people could be gotten to Chester Heights on the Sabbath during the continuance of the camp meeting.

            Many were of the opinion that the camp meeting of 1905 should be inaugurated, a trolley line would have been constructed in close proximity to the grounds, which would have furnished means for those desiring to attend to get there at a minimal cost.  Every person who has an interest in old Chester Heights is not fortunate enough to own a horse and carriage, and, indeed, many of the working people are not blessed with sufficient of this world’s goods to hire a carriage to reach the camp, and are not able to reach the early morning train which runs there, having no servants at home to do their work. 

            THE SUNDAY ADMISSION – Teams are admitted to the camp ground on Sunday, for which there is a charge, and many cannot see the difference, between this than persons being given the opportunity of paying their fare, on the train to reach the grove.  Of course, it is the duty of every law abiding citizen to obey that Commandment, “Six days shalt thou labor” and do all thy work,” etc., and to rest on the Sabbath, but if every man, woman and child in the world obeyed the Commandments there would be no need for camp meetings or places of worship, for the world would be perfect, and many preachers would be out of a job.  Give the people a chance to get to Chester Heights without so much difficulty, and the old woods will not be large enough to accommodate the people who will attend.  Indeed, on Sundays it will require several leaders to conduct the meetings.  In former years overflow meetings were a necessity, and it will come to this again, if the proper facilities are given the public of reaching the place.

            Last year the Chester Praying Band, which for years held forth at the entrance to the woods, was missed very much.  I have seen these good men and women march down to the main tabernacle, after holding an interesting meeting, followed by at least five hundred men and women, who crowded the accommodations afforded for the main meetings.

            While Dr. Brodhead has not completed his program of ministers who will be here during the entire camp, he can say that some of the best divines in the Methodist Conference will be here to expound the gospel.  There will be no lack of singing this year, and all of the meetings will be in charge of competent persons.

            THE DAILY PROGRAM – There will be the usual sunrise meeting in charge of Rev. Samuel Kohr; the 3:30 praise meeting; the regular preaching service at 10:30 o’clock; children’s meeting at 10 on the hill; preaching at 3 o’clock; Young People’s meeting at 6:30, and preaching again in the evening, with experience meetings and song services on various days.  Many old timers are expected to be present at the love feast on Sunday morning following the opening of camp.  Some of the experiences given at this meeting are worth coming miles to hear.

            Nearly all the cottages have been taken; the grounds have been cleaned up, and everything points to a successful ten days’ meeting.

 Upcoming Events

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation invites you 

to a French and Indian War Encampment and Skirmish Saturday, October 10, 2020 11:00am—4:00 pm Become an eyewitness to history, as the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation becomes the backdrop for scenes from the French and Indian War. It’s the French and British fighting for control of the frontier, and it is taking place on Saturday, October 10th . Watch the local militia lead by a Rodger’s Ranger as they discover a French raiding party and witness the skirmish which ensues. Visit the French and British campsites. Talk to the soldiers about their uniforms, weapons and strategy for fighting in the wilderness of the frontier. As you take in the action, remember that the French and Indian War determined not only the future of the Pennsylvania frontier but also events that put the loyal colonials on a path to revolution. There will also be demonstrations of hearth cooking, woodworking, and other everyday activities of the colonial time period. The Plantation’s hours are 11 am to 4 pm with the last entry at 3 pm. Skirmishes will occur at 12:00 and 2:15. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children ages 4 to 12. Children under age 4 are free. Members are free. Please purchase in advance by visiting GPS Address: 3900 North Sandy Flash Drive Newtown Square, PA 19073

OPEN-On Site Visit or a Virtual Visit

Now Open-On Site Field Trips

Covid has disrupted many aspects of our lives. Schools, in particular, have been affected by it. Maybe our site can help bring some sense of normalcy to your school year. We are open for field trips and many aspects of our site make it a safer option. There is much anecdotal evidence that outdoor spaces are safer than indoor spaces and all of our activities happen outdoors. Additionally, we can ensure that your school is the only school on site to minimize the number of people outside your school that you come in contact with. 

We also had the chance during our summer camp program to get our cleaning procedures in place and to get accustomed to offering sanitizer for every hands on activity. Lastly, our staff will be wearing masks through the whole program and we would ask that you do the same. 

With these small changes we feel we can offer you the outstanding programs that you have come to expect from us, and give you and your class the chance to take a fun and educational trip even in the midst of covid. 

Now Open-Virtual Field Trips

Given the continuing impact of Covid-19 on our everyday lives--especially your school students--we are now offering virtual programming for your students!

This virtual program is an extension of our very popular Colonial Experience program and it brings our farm right to your classroom. While it lacks many of the sensory aspects of our on-site programs, it still delivers in depth knowledge about life in colonial times and demonstrations of the skills people used in the past, all delivered by our excellent educators. We will show you how fire wood was cut and talk about the importance of putting up enough wood to last you through the winter. Did you know that, after you cut up wood, it takes a year before it is ready to burn? We will show you how they got water from the well and talk about the importance of different water sources on the farm. Did you know that water helped to keep food cool in colonial times? We will introduce you to the animals and tell you about their jobs. Just like the humans, animals had jobs that they did on the farm. We will show you around our 18th century farm house and tell you about what it was like to live there. We will show you some of the steps involved in making clothing in the 18th century. Did you know you need about 7,000 yards of yarn for one petticoat? 

The program includes over an hour of video, broken up into shorter sections on the topics listed above. It also includes lesson plans that you can use with your class. For an additional fee, you also have the option of having one of our educators join you virtually to answer questions and talk more about life in the 18th century. Once you purchase your program, you will decide what day you want to take your virtual “trip” and you will receive a link to the videos and lesson plans. Those links will only be good for the day that you booked your virtual “trip”.  

For more information or to book your program, please call our office at