Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Edgmont Love Story

An old Edgmont one room school house.


Story of Life and Death of Ann Drinker, Once Noted Society Belle

The Philadelphia Record recently printed the following story:

                A traveler passing through the peaceful village of Edgemont would scarcely imagine that it was the scene of one of the most dramatic romances ever known to Eastern Pennsylvania. Yet here is found the home of Annie Drinker, and those who knew the once famous society belle, who was a recluse at death – ending her life in solitude in the quiet village – still relate to the interested stranger her story of love and tragedy, intermingled with unselfish devotion.  They tell of how the society queen, upon whom life’s shadows suddenly fell, became estranged from her people and lived, and died a veritable recluse in Edgemont, among those who were neither kith nor kin.
       Here for nearly 14 years she lived a hermit-like existence, when, if she had so desired, she could have held a high position in the best society in the land.  The events of years, however, made her seek solitude, and in this secluded portion of Delaware County, where she could be near to Nature, her only daily companions her books and a pet parrot, and she passed the declining years of her life.
        Today she sleeps in the pretty Episcopal churchyard at Rockdale, five miles from here, and near her grave is that of her brother Joseph, between whom and Annie Drinker, there existed a bond of love and sympathy that stood the strain of a murder and years of the brother’s confinement in a madhouse.


      Annie Drinker died as she lived during the later years of her earthly career.  Possessed of sufficient income to enjoy all the necessities of life and many of its luxuries, she preferred a quiet, simple unobtrusive existence, and it was her expressed wish that when death closed her eyes there should be a plain funeral, and beyond the mere announcement of her death to follow the interment, that nothing be said.  These last instructions she committed to E. G. Pierce of this place, who, in addition to being her landlord, looked after her affairs.  She even told him that she did not want her people notified, but when the funeral was held there were two representatives of the family present.
       Miss Drinker was born in Philadelphia about 80 years ago and was the eldest of eight children.  Her lineage dates back to an old English family of the same name.  The first of the Drinkers to arrive in this country came here about 15 or 16 years subsequent to the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock.  This was Philip Drinker.  With his wife and several children he took up his residence in New England and immediately identified himself with the life of the Puritans in that section of the country.
       Prosperity followed his course, and he became rich and influential.  One of his sons became Governor of Cape Colony, and during the early days of the Colonial history preceding the breaking out of the Revolution, others of the name occupied conspicuous positions.
       The passing of years and the growth of the country brought about divisions in the family.  Some remained in New England, others tarried around New York, while the remainder passed over into Pennsylvania.  So far as is known the first of the Drinkers to settle in Philadelphia was John.  With his wife, Ruth Raich, he came here a few years before the founding of the city by William Penn in 1682, when the river front was occupied by a few Swedish settlers and by Indians.  It is said that he built for himself and family a rude cable near what is now the corner of Second and Walnut Streets.


        It was here that the first Philadelphia Drinker was born, on Christmas Eve, 1680, or two years before Penn founded the city.  He was named Edward, after a member of the family in New England.  When not yet in his teens Edward left Philadelphia and went to New England, where he was taught a trade.  For nearly 60 years he lived in that section, and then returned to Philadelphia, where he died in 1782.  The children of Edward Drinker married into some of the best families of the period.  Among those were the Benezets of distinguished French extraction.  It was a daughter of this family who was the mother of Annie Drinker.
The child’s early career was watched carefully.  She was reared amid the most refined surroundings, and as she grew in years she received the best education that the private schools of the old city could give.  Following her education in Philadelphia, she was sent abroad where special attention was given to her musical development, and also to the study of German, French and Spanish.
         When she returned to her native city she was prepared to make her formal entrance into society.  She was the rage.  Society showered its favors on her, and she was received with open arms in the most exclusive circles.  This admiration did not turn the girl’s head.  She was thoughtful, studious and found time to devote much attention to the poor and needy and among the sick of the city.
       During all these years Annie’s father had been steadily accumulating wealth and owned considerable land I the western part of Pennsylvania, and around Susquehanna county.  Among his most intimate friends in the latter county was William H. Cooper, a banker of Montrose.  During the height of Miss Drinker’s social career her father died, and William H. Cooper became trustee of the estate and the guardian of the children.


                It was somewhere about this time, according to report that Annie Drinker gave her heart to a prominent young society man, who had been one of her most earnest suitors.  It is said that this match was soon broken off because of the discovery by Annie that he was carrying on an intrigue with another woman.  This, it is also said, was succeeded by a resolve that she would forever remain unmarried.  Her social reign continued, however, but as the years passed there came a change in the harmony of her life.  William Cooper, her guardian had her committed to a sanitarium on the ground that she was insane.  What means he took to accomplish this or what evidence there was of insanity is not known.  Some hinted that it was disappointment in love, while others maintained that back of it was a plot by which Cooper hoped to gain possession of the girl’s share in the estate.
     Among those who inclined to the latter opinion was her brother Joseph.  One night he lay in wait for Cooper on one of the main streets in Montrose, and as the banker passed, Joseph fired a shot from a pistol.  The banker fell.  Almost instantly another shot was fired, and Joseph Drinker fell, a victim of his own bullet, and also swallowed poison.  The banker was hurried to a hospital, where he died two weeks later, but Drinker recovered.
        Then came Drinker’s trial on the charge of murder.  He boldly asserted his fearlessness of death, and said he had avenged his sister, and was satisfied.  The sister, meanwhile, had secured her release from the sanitarium, and came at once to her brother’s side.  She spent the greater part of her fortune to save his life.  In this she was successful, for the jury rendered a verdict of insanity.  Mr. Drinker was sent to an insane asylum and his sister retired from society.
       She first attracted attention at Edgemont when she came here to live with a family named Eberly.  Mr. Eberly, it is said, was employed in a sanitarium where Miss Drinker spent a portion of her time.  She afterward took up her residence in the house adjoining her Pierce’s home, where she lived alone with her parrot.  During the remainder of her life she kept almost absolutely to herself frequently taking long rambles about the country and on these occasions she would carry her pet parrot with which she would hold conversations.  When her brother Joseph died in the Danville Insane Asylum – about five years previous to her own death – she had the body brought here and buried in the churchyard at Rockdale, where her own body now lies.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Seven Stars Hotel in Aston and Before and After

The Seven Stars Hotel in Aston about 1908 the site at Five Points is now Zac's Hamburgers.  
 Chester Times
July 25, 1899
Anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine Creek – An Anecdote of Farragut
                In the northwest angle, made by the crossing of Marcus Hook and Concord Roads at village Green, Delaware County, is located “The Seven Stars,” a tavern which has been a public house since Colonial days.  In the middle of the last century the prosperous Sarum Forge from Works were a Glen Mills and the ore there melted was conveyed by wagons from Marcus Hook, then an active shipping place.  The manufactured bars were in turn carted to Marcus Hook, where they were loaded on vessels for transportation to Philadelphia.
                The number of teamsters thus employed as well as the general heavy travel to the then “backwoods,” required the location of an inn at an intermediate point and “The Seven Stars” was the outgrowth of this public need.  Thy the tavern was so called is not certainly known, but tradition tells that its name was bestowed in honor of the Ursus Major, the beauty of whose seven suns had excited the admiration of an astronomical student, closely connected in sentiment or kin with one of its earlier proprietors.
                The records show that prior to the Revolutionary War it bore that title.  The reason the little hamlet which has grown about it was known as Village Green is lost.  Our information goes no further than the fact that it went by that name early in Colonial times.
                IN REVOLUTIONARY DAYS – More than a century has elapsed since the battle of Brandywine but the incidents of that eventful period at Village Green are yet the glory of “The Seven Stars”.  It was a sultry morning that Thursday, September 11, 1777, and a thick fog clung to the earth, shutting out the autumnal landscape.  The children of the neighborhood had gathered at the school, for while to the matured dread and dismay came with the news of the approach of the British Army and the certainty that the crash of arms between it and the Continental forces, which then lay at Chadd’s Ford, only ten miles away, could not be long averted, it is nowise lessened the ardor of the urchins’ play in the school yard.
                Yet even the youngest pupil noticed that the aged theater, James Rigby, appeared depressed, and with difficulty could follow the mumbling scholars in their recitations.  So merged was this impression that Thomas Dutton, the centenarian, then a lad of 8 years, remarked the circumstances.  Shortly after 10 o’clock when the fog lifted, disclosing a cloudless sky, the distant booming of a cannon startled the master and pupils.  Colonel Proctor, of the Pennsylvania Artillery, at Chadd’s Ford, had opened fire on Knyphausen’s advance.
                The reverberations had hardly died away when another booming sound followed, which was followed in quick succession by others.  James Rigby for a short time strove to continue the usual exercises, but the excitement of the hour was so intense that finally he said:  “Go home children, I can’t keep school today.”
                All that afternoon stragglers from the field of battle hastened along the highway to Chester, but when the American army was driven backward by the English advance, many of the Continental troops lost all company organization and fled, each intent only on personal safety.  When Knyphausen forced the passage of the Brandywine compelling Wayne to retire from Chadd’s Ford, the Pennsylvania militia, under General Armstrong, although it had taken no active part in the contest, broke in a body and joined the demoralized throng that well nigh choked the Concord road with a struggling mass of panic-stricken men, hastening wildly in the direction of Chester.
                The artillery jolted and surged onward as rapidly is the weary horses, under the goading lash, could be forced to move, while the baggage wagons crowded to the front, compelling the foot-sore men to make room for them to pass.  The oaths of the teamsters and the soldiers clearly indicated that the army in Flanders was not alone given to profanity.  Fortunately the early evening was still and clear, and the moon looked down kindly on the defeated troops, who, jaded with their long march, had recovered in a measure from their panic e’re they reached the Seven Stars.  When General Greene’s division, which had acted as a rear guard of the army, marched by the ancient tavern shortly after midnight it was in order such as became the brave soldiers who that day had proved themselves to be on the heights of Brandywine.
                CORNWALLIS WAS THERE – Two days later at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Saturday, September 13, Lord Cornwallis and his staff reached Village Green, where they drew rein before the side porch of “The Stars”, James Fennell, the landlord, despite his political bias, hid his chagrin with a host’s smile and watched with interest the unusual spectacle.  Cornwallis naturally was the center of attraction.  His tall stately form, his rich musket coat loaded with gold lace and decorations, his white sheepskin britches, tog boots and his superior horsemanship all combined to render him a figure never to be forgotten by those who envy the able soldier on that occasion.
                The urchins gazed with open-eyed amazement as the group of grandly equipped officers and listened with awe to the tingling of their swords and spurs and the chomping of the bits by the horses as the men dismounted at the tavern door that raw autumn day.  His lordship stood on the porch and watched the soldiers of the Second Battalion of British Infantry, Second Battalion of Grenadiers, which accompanied him and the first and second Brigades under General Grant, as they entered the fields, south of the Concord Road, their left resting at Mount Hope and their right extending a short distance east of the road leading to Marcus Hook.
                The few Hessians, not the advance, were objects of the utmost curiosity to the rural lookers on, for they, for the first time, saw those men who “were their beards on their upper lips.”  In the dusk of the evening the campfire stretched in a semi-circle more than half a mile.  That night Cornwallis slept at “The Seven Stars,” and early next morning accompanied the advance to Thaw’s Mill – now Upland, where he seized a large amount of flour, which he forwarded, under guard to the headquarters of the army.
                On Sunday evening, September 16, three soldiers who had been of a party of foragers, straying away from the main body and crossing Chester Creek above Dutton’s mill, entered the dwelling of Jonathan Martin, where they plundered the family of many articles of value, among these, some personal trinkets belonging to his daughter, Mary Martin.  The latter was a lass of 18, who fearlessly upbraided the men for their dishonest and cowardly acts.  One of the soldiers became enraged at the girl, angrily struck at her with his bayonet, inflicting a slight wound on the hand, with which she had attempted to ward off the blow.
                The men the same evening went to the residence of Mr. Cox, nearly a mile distant, where they committed similar acts of pillage, among the articles stolen being a silver watch.  Miss Cox was about the same age as Miss Martin and early next morning the two girls in company repaired to the British headquarters where they had an interview with General Howe, just as the latter was about to visit Cornwallis’ extreme outpost at Upland.
                It chanced that the troops encamped at Village Green were mustered for inspection and Howe stated to the young women that if they could recognize the men who had been guilty of the theft they should be punished as prescribed in his general order.  The commander-in-chief- with the girls at his side, walked in front of the lines its entire length and the women pointed out three men whom they declared were the culprits.  That there should be no mistake the officers were instructed to march the troops by a given point, and again the girls selected the same men, and a third trial resulted in their recognition out of the three or four thousand soldiers then assembled.  Howe ordered the men searched, and some of the stolen articles were found secreted on their persons.
                They were immediately tried by court martial and as the evidence was direct and uncontradicted, they were found guilty and sentenced to death, but only two of the three were hanged, the third was required to act as executioner for his companions.  The one who should do service as Jack Ketch was determined by lot.  That evening after General Howe and his escort of dragoons returned from Upland, the sentence of the court was complied with.  An apple tree near the roadside was used for the gallows in full sight of the officers who stood on the porch of the tavern watching the ghastly sight.  Tuesday morning the British army broke camp and marched away.  General Grant, who four days thereafter, perpetuated the massacre at Paoli, gave no attention to the dread case and their lifeless bodies were left dangling from the limb, fearful silhouettes outlined against the leaden sky.
                On the porch of the Seven Stars, in 1817, David Glascoe Farragut, then a young midshipman on leave, whiled many an hour during the intervals of study, for he was then a student under Joseph Weef, a Frenchman, who established a school in Philadelphia founded on the system in vogue at the noted Pestallozzi in Switzerland, which he subsequently removed to Village Green.  The future admiral homely in face and diminutive in stature, at that day carried himself very erect and wore an ample neckerchief to stiffen his head, because as he frequently declared, he could ill afford to lose a fraction of an inch in his height.  An elderly lady of striking physique, even in her declining years, who died nearly twenty years ago, told the writer than on one occasion at a sleighing party at the Seven Stars she danced with Farragut, and they were the target of the would-be wits.  But when the boy midshipman in after years became one of the giants of the world the fact that she had been his partner in that dance was the proudest memory of her life.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The White House Reunion

The Brooke Hall Seminary was opened in 1856 by H. Jones Brooke and was considered in it's day a top school for ladies to attend. The Seminary stood at Franklin and Lemon Streets in Media. .One of the early attendees was Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio. Saxton[1847-1907] would later marry William McKinley who would become the 25th President of the United States.

April 18, 1898 – CHESTER TIMES

 Brooke Hall Graduates Received at the White House
 County Ladies Present

            The former schoolmates and the members of the Brooke Hall Alumnae were royally entertained on Saturday by Mrs. William McKinley at the White House at Washington, D.C.  Mrs. McKinley has always retained the warmest recollection of her school days in Media, and her appreciation on Saturday was shown beyond the most sanguine expectations of those present.  The marine orchestra stationed in the conservatory, plated throughout the reception, which lasted from 2 until 4 o’clock.  The guests were received in the East Room by the first lady of the land.  She was becomingly gowned in a lavender silk.  A buffet luncheon was served, owing to the large number present.  The table was adorned with masses of pink tulips.

            At the close of the reception, Mrs. Richard Peters, Jr., the president, presented Mrs. McKinley on behalf of the society, with a Brooke half pin, studded with diamonds.  Miss Hattie Gault, of Media, Mrs. McKinley’s former teacher, who is a candidate for post mistress of Media, will remain as a guest at the White House for several days.

            Mrs. John McLean, a daughter of the late General Beale, and a former resident of this city, also gave a tea in honor of the Brooke Hall visitors.

            Among those present from Media, Chester and vicinity were:  Mrs. Louise Deshong Woodbridge, Mrs. Sara Wright Worth, Mrs. Virginia Weaver Miller, Miss Mabel Wood Reynolds, Miss Mary Loeffler, Miss Mabel Caughan Fase, Miss Esther Williamson, Mrs. Emma Thompson Risley, Miss Helen Irma Riley, Miss Laura Linday, Miss Ella Williamson, Miss Mary B. Shaw, Miss Hannah Shaw, Mrs. Annie Callahan Eachus, Miss Beatrice Tyson, Miss Helen Weaver, Miss Nina Cooper, Mrs. Helen Tyson Challenger, Mrs. Marlon Matthews McAllister, Miss Sallie Williamson, Mrs. Grace Worth Stackhouse, Miss Mary Mercur, Mrs. Mary Rogers Barton, Mrs. Emily Rhodes Griscom.
Note. Mrs. McKinley had made a pair of slippers for Hattie Gault  who she considered her best teacher.
The cup below was given to Miss Maria L. Eastman the principal by her students in 1860


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Trolleys and Trains in Haverford this Wednesday

Good friend, Rich Kerr is giving a talk on trains and trolleys in Haverford. Take time and come out, it will be good.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lots going on this weekend!! Come on out

The ground behind the car is now houses and in the distance is a busy intersection on Chester Pike. Any guesses?