Friday, August 18, 2017
The two postcards pictured here are quite rare and show the Third Penna Regiment on parade in honor of Brigadier General Sylvester Bonnaffon on August 19, 1917. This camp was in Upper Darby on the A. J. Drexel Estate at Garrett Rd. and Lansdowne Ave. The southwest corner of that intersection. The pictures are mislabeled as Camp A. Merritt Taylor which was in Springfield Twp.
Camp A Merritt Taylor
Springfield or Upper Darby?
On Wednesday, August 16, 1917 companies for the Third Regiment of the Penna. National Guard began to gather in Upper Darby to begin basic maneuvers before being shipped to Camp Hancock in Georgia and then overseas to France. There was a staging camp in Upper Darby and that is what the pictures are above. This camp was on the Anthony J. Drexel Estate at the intersection of todays Garrett Rd. and Lansdowne Ave. The camp would have been on the southwest corner there. The houses you see in the background would be on todays Drexel Ave. in Lansdowne Boro. The troops spent about a week in camp here before being sent in small groups to Camp Hancock in Georgia. The troops were allowed to have their families visit after 5pm till 9 and were often entertained by night concerts.
Where was Camp A. Merritt Taylor in Springfield? I do not know. The Philadelphia Inquirer states it was a short march so it was somewhere in eastern Springfield Twp. I was told by several Upper Darby historians that the camp at Lansdowne and Garrett Rd. was Camp A. Merritt Taylor but it is not. The postcard maker who made the above postcards on the spot called the Camp A. Merritt Taylor probably because he simply did not want to take the ride to Springfield. Post card makers in the early days often made mistakes about locations occasionally on purpose. I have one postcard that says it is in Bryn Mawr when it is clearly Marple Twp. for example. The Philadelphia Inquirer on several different occasions clearly state that Camp A. Merritt Taylor was in Springfield.
Annual Chadds Ford Days Festival, September 9 & 10
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
The Chadds Ford Historical Society is hosting this year’s 52nd annual Chadds Ford Days festival. Don't miss out on joining the community for this family- and dog-friendly event that commemorates the Battle of the Brandywine which took place on September 11th, 1777. Come relive history with your family and friends right here in Chadds Ford on Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10. The event runs from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Chadds Ford Days includes over 50 of the area’s finest artisans and demonstrators. Chadds Ford Days offers something for everyone including a “Maker’s Marketplace” for purchasing unique, handmade items, and colonial demonstrator stations where you can learn about a traditional craft like blacksmithing, lacemaking or woodturning. You can try colonial dancing and learn how our ancestors socialized and flirted in the 1700s! You’ll also meet General George Washington and Revolutionary War soldier Ned Hector, and you can tour a 18th century military camp where you’ll see cannons firing, muskets shooting and soldiers on maneuvers.
Monday, August 14, 2017
The Delaware County Memorial Hospital in it's early days
The murder of William Bonsall
On Saturday evening, the 22nd of May, 1824, four men called at the house of Mrs. Mary Warner in Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pa. and requested to see the man living in her family. (Mrs. Warner kept a store in part of the house and the young man referred to Wm. Bonsall, his wife and child, the latter about 16 months old, constituted the whole of her family). Mr. Bonsall, who was in bed at the time, came down and was greeted in a very cordial manner by his visitors; though he had never in his life seen them before; yet, unwilling to be inhospitable, he requested them to sit down. In a few minutes, one of the four men demanded of Bonsall his money. He replied that he had a dollar and a half, which they might take. At this moment one of the ruffians cut down a clothes line hanging in the kitchen, and drew it so tight about Bonsall’s neck as to choke him. Bonsall lifted his hand to his throat to loosen the rope, when the tallest of the robbers made a pass at his arm with a razor, which laid open his arm to the bone from the shoulder to the elbow. Bonsall was then thrown into a chair and held by one of the ruffians, while the other directed Mrs. Warner, after tying her arms to light him into the store.
While this man was in the store taking such property as he could most easily carry off, the other continued with Mr. Bonsall. Just as Mrs. Warner was leaving the store, the man in the kitchen used some words to M. Bonsall, and then stabbed him several times in the abdomen with a shoe knife, much worn. This was done while sitting in a chair directly in front of him, in attempting to withdraw it, the blade stuck so strongly that the handle came off, and the knife was left in the body.
Two of the men had previously retired to the front door. The two men in the house, discovering Mrs. Bonsall and perceiving her delicate situation, threatened the most shocking barbarity, if she did not immediately conduct them to the place where her husband’s money was kept; they were desired to take any and every article of property but to spare their lives; they accordingly took the whole of Mr. Bonsall’s clothes, his military uniforms, excepted, and filled two large handkerchiefs with goods from the shop, and after insulting the dying Bonsall, they retired. Bonsall was in a few minutes a corpse.
It was noticed by Mrs. Warner that one of the robbers was a very large ill-looking man, dressed in a Wilmington-stripe roundabout – and from the appearance of his hands, he was supposed to be a shoemaker; a supposition confirmed by his having the knife already mentioned. The other active man was small had sandy hair and whiskers, and wore a brown goatee.
The very night before this occurrence, a market man was robbed on the West Chester Road, and beaten in a most shocking manner; and as soon as the robbers had departed from Mrs. Warner’s and the alarm was given, not a doubt was entertained that the men in this deed were the same who had committed the former. The next day (Sunday) at about 12 o’clock four men crossed the bride at Gray’s Ferry, on their way to Philadelphia, and were supposed to be the murders. If anything could go beyond the murder of the husband, it was the brutality of their threats to the wife. A reward was at once offered for the apprehension of the murderers.
On the Saturday following the murder (May 29th) three men were apprehended near Woodbury, N.J. on suspicion of being concerned in Mr. Bonsall’s dreadful murder and committed to the jail of that place. Their names, as given by themselves, were James Wellington, Abraham Buys and Charles Washington Labbe. They were recognized as being old convicts. Wellington had been sentenced to imprisonment for life in New York, but afterwards pardoned on condition of his leaving the State. Buys was a large man, believed to be the same that wore the Wilmington-stripe roundabout on the night that the murder was committed. A silver chain, answering to the description of that stolen from Mrs. Bonsall, was found on his person. Wellington had clad himself in the clothes of Mr. Bonsall; but when high constable Hains arrived at Woodbury, he appeared in a different apparel. He denied having other garment in his possession, but search being made, the clothes of Mr. Bonsall were found stuffed in a stove pipe. Suspicion was at first excited against them by their attempt to pass a Mexican or Peruvian dollar. Other circumstances confirmed this suspicion and after they had left the village, they were pursued by some citizens and taken into custody.
The prisoners were subsequently tried in Delaware County and Judge Darlington pronounced sentence upon Michael Monroe, otherwise called James Wellington. (Buys was not convicted, thought there was much excitement and much disapprobation expressed against the jurors at the time, in consequence of the verdict which they rendered in regard to both him and Labbe.)
After receiving his sentence, Monroe, alias Wellington, was remanded to prison. His death warrant was eventually received by the sheriff of Delaware, appointing Friday, the 17th day of December 1824, between the hours of ten o’clock A.M. and two P.M. as the time of execution.
The prisoner protested his innocence to the last, and previous to execution said, “I have heard it said that no innocent man was executed in this country, but it will lose that honor today.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Need some help a unknown aerial of Chester from about 1950. A location etc.
STORIES OF CHESTER IN OTHER DAYS
What the Records of the Town Council Tell of Legislative Work Little Bits of History
In the steel vault of the City Clerk’s office is a large volume substantially bound in full sheep, whose closely written 558 pages of well-preserved manuscript is the only document that has come down to us of the present, appertaining to the official records o the ancient borough of Chester. The minutes of meetings of the Burgesses of the town begin June 6, 1857 and continues until April 6, 1866, a period of almost nine years, while the minutes of the Council of the City of Chester begin April 6, 1866 and extend to, including June 15, 1868. In all eleven years, during which the old order of things that had attained for a hundred and fifty-five years gave place to new conditions which came when Chester took upon herself the responsibilities and dignities of city government.
It is a matter of regret that very little of the records of Chester, as a borough have been preserved to our day. Nearly thirty years ago, when John Hill Martin was preparing his “History of Chester,” he visited our city in the hope that he could trace the whereabouts of the official books and papers appertaining to the old Borough government. With that purpose in view he waited on the late George Baker, the last Chief Burgess only to learn that several years before the city was incorporated, the minute books of Councils and the documents that had accumulated for more than a century, had been dumped into barrels and, as they were deemed of no value, in fact regarded as a nuisance at one of the annual cleanings up of the old hall had been sold as waste to a dealer. Mr. Baker doubted and he was emphatic, for I was present at the interview, whether any record whatever had been saved from the junk pile. This volume, however, has escaped that fate.
THE OLD VOLUME - From time to time Frank W. Harrison, the efficient clerk of the city, has given me free access to the pages of this valuable book of official records. Through his kindness I am enabled to present the facts which make the groundwork of these sketches, covering a period of the history of Chester, when the old system of municipal government was showing “structural weakness” and the public were clamoring for a new order of things – a condition out of which came the active, progressive city of today. This volume, our only record of the old borough, is valuable if for nothing else than that it affords us opportunity to measure the conditions that existed forty-eight years ago, when the population of the town – covering the same territory that we do now – was about four thousand souls, and the city of today, probably with forty thousand inhabitants. It is only by contrasts that growth can be measured.
THE BOROUGH RECORDS – Taking the old minute book as the main source for the facts appearing in these sketches and occasionally illustrating the narrative by turning on some side lights, as the story develops, I hope to present to the reader information that will be instructive, sometimes amusing and unquestionably of considerable historic value, dealing as it does with the formative period of our present city government. The trials and tribulations which came to our staid borough fathers, were, at that time, as serious and as difficult to grapple with successfully as are the subjects presented to our more complexed municipal legislative bodies of today. We laugh now at the perplexities of Borough Council, just as fifty years hence the people then will find amusement in recitals of the momentous problems that vex the gentlemen of our Select and Common Councils in this year of grace, 1905.
BOUGHT THE COURT HOUSE – On December 9th, 1850, the borough authorities at public sale of the county properties in Chester, purchased the old Court House and the contiguous grounds, paying therefore $2601. To comply with the terms of sale, the Borough was compelled to negotiate a note at the Delaware County Bank for that amount and that debt was a serious problem constantly confronting the Committee of Ways and Means for more than a decade.
For several years after that purchase the treasury controlling no money that could be employed is making needed alterations to the hall, the building remained practically as it was when it passed into the ownership of the borough. The court room, shorn of its bench, the bar enclosure and the seats for the witnesses, suitors and spectators, it is true were removed, and the apartment could be hired for exhibitions, public sales or for any legitimate purpose that would turn a few dollars into the town coffers. Gradually the second story was altered to meet the needs of Council but for some time it was occupied as a school, which was attended by the children of the residents of the place, whose parents would not send their offspring to the public school at Fifth and Welsh Streets.
THE OLD MARKET HOUSE – Until the spring of 1857, the Borough council met in the second story of the old Market House, which for a hundred and twenty years had occupied the center of Market Square. That building, a structure thirty-five feet in length and twenty-five feet in width, facing north and south, was erected on a raised brick, stone curbed platform, fifty feet long and thirty-five feet wide. Originally the shingled roof only was born up by fourteen brick pillars – seven on each side. The plastered ceiling was rounded in an arch through which was afforded a glimpse of the Delaware in the distance when viewed from the northern end of the shed. Early in the nineteenth century, a frame addition was built on the north end of the roof of the Market House, the new structure being about twenty feet in length and sixteen in width.
It was built with a three-fold purpose – as a chamber in which the sessions of the Burgesses could be held; a hall for town meetings, when the court room could not be had; and, a room in which to house the books owned by the Chester Library Company. On the roof of this building was a small square cupola and in each of its sides, for ventilation and ornamentation, were permanent blinds, painted green, and the remainder of the structure being white. A wooden staircase on the east and on the outside of the Market building, facing James Street and old St. Paul’s church gave access to the hall.
THE OLD QUESTIONS – In that apartment frequently in the winter seasons, the young men of the town debated interesting subjects, or discussed such topics as: “Which is the Greater – Columbus who discovered America, or Washington who saved it?” As public amusements were the exception in those days, unless the night proved to be raining, the speakers usually addressed large audiences.
In April 1857, the old Market House was dismantled. John G. Dyer purchased the material in the building for 35. The frame structure in which Borough Council met, for many years, was lowered bodily to the ground, placed on skids removed to Fifth Street and set up. There it will remain now used as a Chinese laundry. It is situated immediately in the rear of Louis A. Clyde’s store. Nearly three days were consumed in the removal of the building from Market Street to the present location. Its progress along the street attracted a crowd as a modern circus parade does today.
During the preceding year, 1856, nearly $500 were expended in making alterations to the old Court House to adapt it to the uses of the municipality.
SOME EXPENDITURES – Among the expenditures was an item of $37.48, the cost of piping and fixtures in introducing was in that building. In the same year a committee of citizens of which F.S. Walter was chairman, raised by private subscriptions seventeen hundred dollars. That sum was used in the purchase of the present town clock, the erection of the clock lower and the removal of the old belfry, which formerly crowned the center of the building. There for one hundred and twenty-seven years had hung the old bell which was cast in 1739 by John Rice in Chester, England. It had right loyally rung in honor of each successive birthdays of George II and his nephew and successor, the mad King George III, and subsequently it had called the people to assemble on July 4th successively for ninety-nine years to celebrate the proclamation of America’s independence.
At that time the raising of the fund to buy and install the town clock was a matter entailing great labor. A short time preceding his death, Mr. Walter told me that he still had the original subscription paper together with an itemized account of the way in which the money had been expended. It was, he said, his intention to write and publish the story of the clock, believing it would be a valuable contribution to the history of the town. That he failed to do. None of those papers, I am told, were found among those which came into the possession of Mr. Walter’s representatives at his death. When first erected the dials of the clock were of wood, with gilded figures for the hands, and they were not replaced by the present transparent ones until about twelve years later.
THE OLD MINUTE BOOK – At the time the old minute book opens, July 6th 1857, John Edward Clyde was Chief Burgess. John Larkin, Jr., was president of Council and his fellow burgesses were Abram Blakeley, Samuel Cliff, Benjamin Garside, Joseph Aldous Crossman Lyons, David B. Thomason, Y.S. Walter and Dr. William of the then town fathers alive in the flesh today. William H. Falkville was town clerk, Hon. Frederick J. Hinson, Borough Treasurer and William G. Lyons held the place as High Constable or Chief of Police for the minutes make mention of him under both of those titles.
AN OLD SUBJECT – The everlasting topic of repairs to the public highways shows itself as the first subject demanding the attention of the Councils in the first recorded minutes that have been preserved to us. It appears that the Chester Gas Company in laying its mains on James (now Third) and Market Streets, had opened trenches through the platforms on which the market house stood. John and Washington Rumford had re-laid the pavement and had been paid for the work by the Gas Company. Sometime later the bricks over the trenches settled, forming deep gutters. The public complained that the depressions were dangerous to purchasers frequenting the market. The Rumford’s thereupon repaired the pavements a second time and charged the work to the borough.
The claimants in explaining why they had done that, stated that the conditions in which the streets were kept by the municipality prevented the water, after a rainfall, to flow freely in the gutters, hence, pools formed in the highways. The trenches made by the Gas Company collected the water and gradually the pavement was undermined, finally sinking until deep gutters were formed in the floor of the market house. Councils were willing that the Gas Company should pay the bill, but at a subsequent meeting, the Borough assumed the debt and an order of $8.47 was drawn in settlement of the account.
GOING FOR DOGS – It was dog days and as several names of rabid animals inflicting damage to stock and alarming the public had occurred, the Committee on Ordinances reported an ordinance “to regulate dogs running at large in the borough.” The minutes state that as this grave rise to “considerable discussion,” the ordinance “was withdrawn.”
On the evening of August 3d, Mr. Ladomus, chairman of the Committee on Ordinance, presented an ordinance prohibiting “wheelbarrows, hand-carts or other vehicles from passing over the sidewalks of the Borough,” which was laid over until the next meeting of Council. Mr. Gartside ordered a resolution that stone fenders should be placed at all the lamp posts as a protection from passing vehicles. It seems that a wagon to discharging freight to the general store of Johnson & Cochran. (R. Morgan Johnson and John Cochran) where the White Swan Hotel is now, had backed against and wrecked one of the city lamps, and Mr. Gartside’s resolution was to guard against such accidents in the future. The Borough sought to compel Johnson & Cochran to make good the loss in that lamp, but the firm did not accent that view of the matter and did not pay the bill.
SOME OF THE DISPUTES – The bill of the Gas Company for lighting the town for the preceding three months amounting to $165.50 – an old resident tells me that the ordinary consumer was charged $4 per thousand feet was ordered paid. But the charge of Mr. Ladomus “for attendance. Four months later the Committee on Ways and Means reported that they had written to the Chief Burgesses of West Chester and Norristown, to learn what was paid annually for “caring” for the town clock. The only reply received was from West Chester, where the pay was twenty-five dollars a year. Mr. Ladomus, the Committee reported, would be satisfied with a like salary, and so was Council, for the bill was ordered paid on those terms.
ALAS, POOR BROWSER – An ordinance was reported an enacted providing that after ten days’ notice “from the date hereof” that all dogs of either sex found running at large in any of the streets, public highways, fields or other enclosures of the said Borough without proper and safe muzzles” shall be “taken up by the High Constable or other person authorized by him or the Burgess” and placed in a suitable kennel for the space of twenty-four hours during which the dog or slut’s whereabouts and on refusal of the owner to pay one dollar and fifty cents for his or her redemption, then the said dog or slut shall be destroyed.” One-half of the redemption money was to go to the constable and the remainder be paid into the town treasury. Seventy-five cents was allowed the constable for every animal destroyed. The ordinance was operative from the first day of June until the first day of September in each and every year thereafter. That is the first dog ordinance enacted in our city’s history.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
An unknown picture of Chester looking for some information
A few things on local history I would like to point out. A number of people have contacted me thru my website, delawarecountyhistory.com looking for help and information, The only problem they never left an email, they just sign my guestbook. You can email me direct thru my website.
If you are looking for historical talks, lectures, events etc. check out the FB page, Delaware County Historic Preservation network and join for updates etc.
Help local history by joining and volunteering at you local society or historical site. HINT help is always needed. I'm always looking for typists.
I'm also looking for some longtime residents of Concord, Birmingham aka Chadds Ford who can guide me around on a history project I'm doing. Give me an email
Saturday, August 5, 2017
The Swarthmore Woman's Club at 118 Park Ave. Years ago Woman's Clubs nationwide carried a lot of clout.
Note: Woman even before they had the right to vote carried a lot of clout locally and nationally, the W.C.T.U. was one of those organizations
Delco's Woman's Christian Temperance Union
a look back
In 1885, the year our Delaware County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was organized, we celebrated at the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union convention held that year in Philadelphia the one hundredth anniversary of the temperance movement in our land, which dates from the time Dr. Benjamin Rush gave to the world his remarkable essay entitled, “The Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Mind and Body.” Dr. Rush felt called to write his essay because of the deplorable excessive drinking customs in social life at that time. The temperance reformation was then begun and has kept moving on ever since. Temperance societies of various kinds were soon formed in different States, and among the first were the National Temperance Society and the Good Templars.
MADE MAINE DRY – In 1851 through the efforts of that grand man, Neal Dow, a prohibitory law was passed by the state of Maine and this law has never been repealed. In 1873 the Woman’s Crusade Against the Liquor Saloon was started in Hillsboro, Ohio, and soon spread to other towns.
Through the blessed influence of these faithful praying women many saloons were closed and a great work for temperance was done. The earnest women very soon realized that much could be accomplished by an organized force of workers so the next year, 1874, a call was sent out for all who were interested in the temperance movement to meet in Cleveland, Ohio in November of that year, and at this gathering the National W.C.T.U. was organized with our Frances E. Willard as corresponding secretary, and from that time on she devoted her time and thought and all she had to this society of “white ribboners.” It was Miss Willard who planned the department systems we are using and which have always been found so effective.
During the following year, 1875, the Pennsylvania W.C.T.U. was organized and very soon county organizations were effected through our great State.
CHESTER W.C.T.U. ORGANIZED – As the original members have told you, it was in 1885 that Delaware County W.C.T.U. was founded: “on May 29th an all-day meeting was held in Chester for that purpose. Three “white ribboners” came from Philadelphia W.C.T.U. to help with the organization. They were Mrs. Rose E. Patton, Mrs. Mary H. Jones and Mrs. H.H. Forrest. Thirty women signed the constitution adopted, but only one local union was reported – Chester W.C.T.U.
“After a good lunch” the county officers were elected: Mrs. R.K. Carter, president; Mrs. Henry Martin, vice president; Miss Carrie N. Wilson, recording secretary; Mrs. H.B. Harper, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. P. Hill, treasurer.
Four departments of work were adopted and these superintendents were appointed: Sunday school, Mrs. Agnes Ocheltree; Temperance Literature, Mrs. McConnell; Scientific Temperance, Mrs. McCauley, Unfermented Wine, Mrs. Thompson.
The county Executive Committee met in July with six members present. The Evangelistic Department was added with Miss Carrie N. Wilson, superintendent.
The Darby local union had been organized one month before this executive meeting and the president gave a hearty invitation to hold the first semi-annual county convention in Darby. This was held there on November 19th, 1885, and in the record we find that Mrs. McConnell, president of Darby W.C.T.U., gave a hearty address of welcome that will ever be a reminder of the pleasant time at our first county meeting.” Five minutes were given for pledge signing at this meeting. The department reports were all good and committees were appointed on Resolutions, Plan of Work and Finance.
THE FIRST CONVENTION – The first annual convention was held on May 19, 1886, in Prospect Park M.E. church. So much good temperance organizing work had been done that seven unions were represented – Chester, Darby, Thurlow, South Chester, Chester No. 2, Chester Y.W.C.T.U. and Ridley Park.
Two more departments were added, Franchise and Purity.
When the executive met on April 20, 1887 a county banner was ordered and for it $10 was donated from the county treasury. There was also consent to give $2.00 to each superintendent “as far as the money in the treasury would go.” There was some juvenile work done from the beginning, but in 1888 five L.T.L’s were organized with 580 members.
At the third annual convention, May 25th 1888, Mrs. Thomas McCauley was elected president; Miss Carrie N. Wilson, vice president; Mrs. Agnes Ocheltree, treasurer. The county banner was finished in 1890 painted by Miss Anna Shaw.
Mrs. S.M. Gaskill was elected president in 1892, and Miss Carrie N. Wilson for 1893 and 1894. Mrs. Mary Sparks Wheeler was our leader in 1895 and for the next four years Mrs. Clara B. Miller was our county president, then Mrs. Mary B. Russell was president, then Mrs. Mary B. Russell was president for five years. In 1905 Mrs. Shrigley became president after serving as recording secretary for thirteen years.
Through all these twenty-five years annual and semi-annual conventions, executive meetings and special county gatherings have been held and enjoyed.
Our members have increased from 30 at the organization to 752 at our last convention. We have 22 local unions, two branches and 20 departments with able superintendents.
SALOONS DECREASING – Did time permit, an account of the steady growth of temperance sentiment during these 25 years would be most interesting. About one-half the population of our county sis now living in saloon-less territory and fifteen millions are living in States with prohibitory liquor laws.
During these years some of our best workers have passed on to the higher life and I know that many of you are thinking of faithful white ribboners who can meet with us here no more. Of those who served as county officers we recall with live and gratitude Mrs. Thomas McCauley, Mrs. Malin, Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Ocheltree, who was vice president and for several years, treasurer; also, Mrs. Katherine McKnight, who was called home last year after serving as corresponding secretary for 19 years. We still feel their influence and inspiration while we continue to carry on the work of the W.C.T.U. they so dearly loved.