Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Norwood millionaire wants to marry 18 year old girl!! Hearth cooking and Chester Rural Cemetery tour


Chester Pike in Norwood looking west from Cleveland Ave. c.1910

Note. In the summer of 1910 the big talk, aka gossip was the Bullitt marriage in Norwood. Bullitt wanted to marry an 18 year old girl, and his family wanted him declared legally insane!! Imagine that, a fun read for the week
CHESTER TIMES – June 3, 1910
            LEGAL FIGHT TO PREVENT MARRIAGE OF MILLIONAIRE – Sensations Sprung at Yesterday’s Hearing to Restrain Dr. Bullitt of Norwood from Making Miss Edna Dever His Bride – Preliminary Injunction Continued
            Some surprising developments have arisen in the proceedings to prevent the proposed marriage of Dr. John Christian Bullitt, Jr., a Norwood millionaire, to Edna Dever, the eighteen year-old daughter of his caretaker, John E. Dever, a former police lieutenant in Philadelphia, in which the names of several other women figure.  A hearing in the injunction proceedings was held yesterday in court room No. 2, at Media before Judge Isaac Johnson and after the arguments were presented the Court continued the preliminary injunction until Saturday morning, June 11.  The injunction restrains John E. Dever from assisting in the proposed marriage of his daughter and Miss Dever and Dr. Bullitt from marrying.
            QUESTION OF JURISDICTION – When the hearing began a motion was made by V.G. Robinson, Esq., of Clifton Heights, representing the petitioners, Logan M. Bullitt, Theresa L. Coles and Julin Bullitt Gross, who declare their brother, Dr. Bullitt, is a lunatic, that the preliminary injunction be continued.  This was objected to by William I. Schaffer, Esq. of Chester, with whom is associated John J. Steiser Esq. as counsel for Dr. Bullitt and the Devers.  After offering the objection he filed a demurrer which accompanied an answer to the bill in equity under which the preliminary injunction preventing the marriage was granted.  The contents of the demurrer were read to the Court.  The same attorney also filed a motion to quash the proceedings in lunacy in which his contentions were outlined.
            Attorney Robinson asked that first the question raised as to the jurisdiction of the Court in equity he decided and the argument mainly hinged on this point.  He declared that the proposed marriage is a matter of public policy.  He said that the equity proceedings are supplementary to the petition for a commission in lunacy. 
            “All we need to do at the present time, he said, “is to show the proceedings in lunacy are going on in good faith,” and he also stated to show a basis for the case.
            Judge Johnson suggested that the demurrer be considered before further argument on the part of the attorneys or before the calling of witnesses.  No witnesses were called at the hearing.
            NO PROPERTY RIGHTS INVOLVED – Attorney Schaffer declared that there are no property rights involved.  He asserted that the brothers and sisters of Dr. Bullitt have no right to say that he shall not marry or that the girl shall not marry.  The State, and the State only, he said, has the power to control marriages.  The Court must be satisfied, he said, that this is a proper case for a commission in lunacy.  He declared that the affidavits set forth that Dr. Bullitt is of unsound mind and that the law requires reasons to show this by affidavits or proof.
            The petition, Attorney Schaffer declared, does not contain facts on which the Court can primarily conclude that Dr. Bullitt is of unsound mind.  No committee in lunacy ought to be issued, he said.  He then referred to Dr. Bullitt’s standing as a member of Norwood Borough Council for three years and as a Justice of the Peace.  He is a man of property properly conserved under his father’s will under trustees appointed, he declared.  These trustees are H. Gordon McCoach and Joseph L. Doran.  “A man’s sanity is just like a woman’s honor,” he said, in declaring that no commission be appointed, saying it would be an everlasting reflection on Dr. Bullitt.
            PROOFS OF PREVIOUS MARRIAGE – Attorney Robinson presented a copy of the proceedings in the New Jersey Court which on March 13, 1909, annulled the marriage of Dr. Bullitt to Miss Josephine Zinque, nurse in the private hospital in Trenton at which he was a patient.  In that action Dr. Bullitt himself testified that he was of unsound mind.  “We want to prevent the same sort of proceedings as occurred in the New Jersey Court,” he declared.  He then stated as facts that John E. Dever, the caretaker for Dr. Bullitt and father of his betrothed, actually claims to own the roof that covers him, he residing at “The Homestead, Dr. Bullitt’s home at Norwood.  He also stated that Dr. Bullitt’s yearly income is $10,000 and that he receives about $60 a week.  He declared that the proposed marriage is even against the desire of Miss Dever, who is being forced into it.  He also claimed that the brothers and sisters of Dr. Bullitt are denied access to him.  He said that Dever alleges that the property of Dr. Bullitt belongs to him.  He also asserted that Dr. Bullitt has hallucinations and that he evidently believes that a former policeman would be able to protect him.  He said that Dr. Bullitt having an income of $10,000 a year there must be property rights involved which would justify equity proceedings.  He insisted that it would be a wrong to the community to permit the marriage.
            HIS RIGHT TO MARRY – If Dr. Bullitt is not locked up behind the bars, his attorney declared, he can marry Miss Dever, committee or no committee, inquisition or no inquisition, and the committee could not invalidate the marriage.  He argued that the Court cannot prevent the marriage but could afterwards annul it if it found proper under the law.
            Judge Johnson stated that the question at stake was whether or not the Court had the authority to halt this contract, and he asked the attorneys to submit paper books on the subject containing their arguments.  If the Court does not have the power the proceedings will consequently fail.
            In the demurrer to the injunction proceedings it was set forth:
            1.  The parties’ plaintiff in the said bill of complaint have no equitable right to file such a bill of complaint against the defendant.
            2.  The parties’ plaintiff are without equity to maintain their said bill of complaint, as appears by the inspection thereof.
            3.  The Court is without jurisdiction to entertain the bill of complaint against the defendants or to grant any relief therefrom.
            4.  The matters set forth in the plaintiff’s bill of complaint are not cognizable in a court of equity and a court of equity is without jurisdiction under the bill filed by the complainants to grant any relief against the defendant.
            Accompanying this demurrer is the answer to the bill in equity containing a denial of the allegations.
            The answer to the petition for a commission in lunacy is in the form of a motion to quash.  It sets forth:
            1.  The petition is not supported by any affidavits showing the mental state of the respondent or establishing that he is of unsound mind.
            2.  The petition sets forth no facts which warrant the conclusion that the respondent is of unsound mind.
            3.  The petition is not supported by the affidavits of any persons versed in mental diseases setting forth that the respondent is of unsound mind.
            “The petition is otherwise informal and incomplete and avers conclusions instead of facts.”
            The bill of equity under which the injunction was granted restraining the marriage sets forth that Dr. Bullitt is of unsound mind, and altogether unfit to govern himself or to manage his affairs.  The next of kin are given as Theresa L. Coles, William C. Bullitt, Julia Bullitt Gross, Logan M. Bullitt, James F. Bullitt and Helen B. Furness.
            HIS MENTAL FACULTY – The bill, which was previously impounded, set forth that for four years John Dever and his family and daughter, Edna, have resided at Dr. Bullitt’s residence.  It sets forth that the petitioners are informed and believe that Dr. John Christian Bullitt, Jr., is seeking to bring about his marriage with Miss Eda Dever and that Dr. Bullitt is incapacitated, mentally and physically from entering into the marriage contract.  The brother and sisters making the petition allege in their bill in equity that John E. Dever is attempting to procure the marriage by fraud, force or coercion.  They looked for the preliminary injunction, which was granted, restraining John E. Dever from procuring or attempting to procure the marriage and restraining Dr. Bullitt from entering into the contract of marriage.
            Accompanying the request for the injunction was the affidavit of Clement H. Congdon of Philadelphia, who set forth that he was employed by the plaintiffs to ascertain the mental condition of Dr. Bullitt and the likelihood of a marriage between him and Miss Dever, and whether this was voluntary on the part of Dr. Bullitt and Miss Dever whether it was being procured by fraud, force or coercion.  The affidavit process.
            “That in pursuance of said employment he had made inquiry of sundry and various persons residing in Norwood and who are familiar with all the circumstances surrounding the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., and the condition of his health, and from these investigations your deponent believes:
            “That said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., for a period of over ten years has been of unsound mind, possessed of hallucinations and unable and unfit to care for his person or his affairs; that he is under duress by John E. Dever, the father of Edna Dever, who is endeavoring to force a marriage between the said Edna Dever and the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr.; that the said John E. Dever has caused the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., to employ counsel to prevent the next of kin of the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., from seeing him and that unless an injunction is issued restraining the said marriage that the said John E. Dever will through fraud, force and coercion cause a marriage ceremony to be performed between the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., and Edna Dever against the will of both contracting parties.
            OTHER WOMEN NAMED – “That the investigation thus far made has disclosed the fact that the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., while of unsound mind and understanding did marry in the State of New Jersey a woman by the name of Zink; that he represented and declared that he had married a lady resident in the State of Missouri named Neideringhaus and that he repeatedly declared and represented to his near friends that a young woman visiting in Norwood with whom he had but a speaking acquaintance set about and intended to entrap him into an undesired marriage; that he repeatedly endeavored to have his attending physician act as his agent in an effort to induce Miss Anna Duffy, a resident of Norwood, to marry him and that he believed and understood that the said John E. Dever intended to force him to marry his elder daughter, Lula Applegate, nee Dever, now a resident of Wilmington, Del.:
            In connection with the request for the injunction, an affidavit was taken by Logan M. Bullitt, a brother of Dr. Bullitt, and one of the plaintiffs.  It is as follows:
            “John C. Bullitt, Jr., is a resident of the borough of Norwood, in said county of Delaware, and is at the present time and for a space of more than two years last past has been of unsound mind and has been so far deprived of his reason and understanding that he is rendered altogether unfit and unable to govern himself or to manage his affairs.  That said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., has been of unsound mind since his early childhood and during the past twelve years, he, on three different occasions had to be physically restrained on account of outbreaks of violent lunacy.  From time to time he is possessed with hallucinations that people are trying to kill him and to do him great bodily harm.  That for the past two weeks he has been in a state terror and collapse which produced in him complete physical prostration as well as great mental anguish, and that the complainants in this case, in consequence of the mental state of John Christian Bullitt, Jr., have filed in this court a petition for the appointment of a commission to inquire into the lunacy of the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr.  That for more than four years last past the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., has been living at Norwood aforesaid and has employed one John E. Dever as his personal caretaker.  That said John E. Dever together with his wife and daughter, Edna Dever, have been residents of the house occupied by the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., during the whole of said period.  That the said John E. Dever was selected to care for the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., for the reason that inasmuch as he was constantly suffering from or possessed of hallucinations that people were trying to kill him, the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., had great confidence in the ability of the said John E. Dever to protect him from bodily harm and injury for the reason that the said John E. Dever had been on the police force in the city of Philadelphia.  That the said John E. Dever by reason of his association with the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., under the circumstances aforesaid, has acquired great power and influence in a way that the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., has been cut off from intercourse with his family and as deponent is led to believe from conversation he had with the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., he has been prevented from making trips which he desired to make and which the said John E. Dever did not wish him to make for fear he (Dever) would lose his influence over the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr.
            ANNOUNCES THE ENGAGEMENT – ‘That recently the said John E. Dever caused to be announced in the newspapers that the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., was engaged to be married to his daughter, Edna Dever, who is a girl as your deponent is informed and belies of her than 18 years of age, while the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., is past 33 years of age.
            “The said John E. Dever has well known that the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., is of unsound mind and incapable of entering into a marriage contract or to care for his person or his affairs.
            “Your deponent is informed and believes and expects to be able to prove that the said John E. Dever if not restrained by your Honorable Court will by force and fraud, threats any coercion induce and procure a marriage between the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr, and the said Edna Dever, although he will knows that the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., is not of sound mind, and not capable of entering into the said marriage contract and your deponent is informed and believes that coercion will be exercised by said John E. Dever on his said daughter, Edna Dever, to force her to consent to such marriage.  Your deponent is informed and believes that neither said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., nor said Edna Dever desire to enter into said marriage, but that said Edna Dever is too young to resist the coercion used by his father, the said John E. Dever, and the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., is of such unsound mind that he cannot resist the force and coercion employed by said John E. Dever to get him to enter into such marriage.
            “Deponent further says that within 48 hours after said John E. Dever caused the announcement of said proposed marriage to be made public said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., was taken violently ill with an extreme collapse, that his pulse went down to 46 and his respiration to 14.  The physicians attending the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., have informed your deponent that they did not know the cause of this as said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., was suffering from the physical ailment or disease.  That this was on the sixth day of May, 1910, and since that time the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., has been so confined to his bed in a dangerous state of health and without reason admission has been refused to members of the family of the said John Christian Bullitt, Jr., who have endeavored to see him, all of which deponent believes to be at the instance of the said John E. Dever
CHESTER TIMES – June 27, 1910
            COMMISSION IN LUNACY TO PASS ON DR. BULLITT – Ultimate Solution of Legal Battle to Prevent His Marriage Will Be Expedited; Mutual Agreement of Parties Concerned – An Interesting Phase of the Case
            To expedite the ultimate solution of the legal battle in which a brother and two sisters of Dr. John Christian Bullitt, Jr., of Norwood, are trying to prevent his marriage to Miss Edna Dever, the eighteen-year-old daughter of John A. Dever, his caretaker, and in which they declare Dr. Bullitt insane, Judge Isaac Johnson on Saturday afternoon appointed Carols M. Broomall, Esq., a Media attorney, as a commission in lunacy, and dissolved the injunction preventing the proposed marriage with an agreement of counsel that the status quo shall be maintained.  This means that the time of the court and expense will be saved by having the proceedings before the commission, who will act in a capacity similar to that of a master in divorce.  After taking all of the evidence the commission will make his report to the Court with findings and a recommendation.  It may be some time before the proceedings are finally completed, but time will be saved by this method.
            If the court had continued to hear the case and had then appointed a commission, it would have been necessary for the latter to also have heard all of the evidence.  Then if an appeal were taken and granted the court would again have had to review the entire matter and to have heard the testimony.  The possibly would have meant interminable litigation and expense.  The procedure before the commission will no doubt have time.
            INTERESTING QUESTION RECEIVED – Before making his decision Judge Johnson consulted V.G. Robinson, Esq., attorney for the petitioners for a commission, and William I. Schaffer, Esq., representing the Devers and Dr. Bullitt.  The lawyers consulted with their clients and reported to the court their willingness to abide by the result.
            An interesting question is here devolved.  At the present time there is no injunction preventing the marriage and the commission has not been informed of his powers in the proceedings.  If Dr. Bullitt and Miss Dever choose to marry there is no law which can prevent them.  If they do so and Dr. Bullitt is adjudged to be of unsound mind the marriage might afterwards be annulled.  The only thing to prevent the marriage is the agreement that the status quo should be maintained.  This means that no further action shall be taken by either side in this case, but that the result of the proceedings before the commission should be awaited.  This is not a legal preventive of the proposed marriage, it is said, and the principals could not be punished for contempt of court if they should marry.
            The hearing in the Bullitt case was late in starting, but when the matter was finally called it was readily disposed of by the court.  At that time Dr. Frank Woodbury, secretary of the State Lunacy Commission, who examined Dr. Bullitt, was called as a witness.
            Two hours previous to the decision of the court a private conference was held in the office of Judge Johnson between the court and Attorneys Robinson and Schaffer.  After the conference the attorneys returned to the court room ready to try the case.
            It is stated that Dr. Woodbury examined Dr. Bullitt at the request of William C. Bullitt, a brother who is not opposing the marriage, and that he was expected to be called in behalf of Dr. Bullitt.  It is asserted by the petitioners in the suits that they learned that the other side was not going to call him so they had him subpoenaed.
            A set of hypothetical question which would have been asked Dr. Woodbury in court were submitted to him previously and Dr. Woodbury had subscribed his answer to them.
            BELIEVES HIM UNSOUND – The questions and answers were:
            “From the examination you have made of Dr. Bullitt and from his speech, and behavior are you able to form an opinion as to whether he is of sound or of unsound mind?”
            Dr. Woodbury’s answer was, “He is unsound and constitutionally inferior.”
            “If you consider him of unsound mind, state whether or not in your opinion he is capable of governing or taking care of his person and estate.”
            The written reply was, “Not fully.”
            “If in addition to what you have observed, it were a fact that he has had violent outbreaks, during which he suffered, with the hallucination that he was in great danger of bodily harm, became so violent that it was necessary to put him in a straight-jacket; that upon occasion when he was not violent he labored under a morbid dread or fear of bodily harm from persons who were free from all suspicion of having any intent to do him harm, or was in morbid fear of great bodily harm from unknown persons and so completely subject to this fear of bodily harm that he employed persons to follow him and protect him from danger; that he had exaggerated ideas of his own importance and responsibility to and in the community in which he lived; that upon one occasion he was induced to marry a woman who was his nurse, acting solely on her statement to him that his people intended to put him in an insane asylum and to keep him there permanently.  Assuming the above statements to be true, how would they affect your opinion as to the soundness or unsoundness of the mind of John Christian Bullitt, Jr.?”
            The answer was:  “They would confirm my opinion.”
            “Assuming the above statements to be true and that the first violent attack occurred in 1890 and the last of several at the present time, as an expert will you please state whether, in your judgment, his condition of unsound mind is temporary or permanent?”
            The answer was:  “Permanent with occasional lapses into mania.”
            “Assuming the above statements to be true, as an expert will you please state what bearing in your opinion they have upon the ability of John Christian Bullitt, Jr., to govern or take care of his person and estate.”
            The alienist subscribed:  “They support the view that he is constitutionally incapable of taking care of himself and his estate.”
Join Dr. Edgette  on a guided tour of Chester Rural Cemetery on October 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm. The Making of Chester Through Chester Rural's Gravesites will be the emphasis of the tour. The worth and success  of any given community can be attributed to those people who were the impetus and pulse of that community.  Chester reached its prime near the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries  For nearly a century she was known as he " shipbuilding capital of the United Stated" and lived by the motto "What Chester Makes, Makes Chester"  The main focus of this tour will highlight the families who have been credited with having been the force behind the making of Chester as reflected by their final resting places.  The tour is being sponsored by the Chester Historical Preservation Committee.  It is free an open to the public.  Please meet at the main entrance to the cemetery across from Chester Crozer Medical Center.  Rain date October 16.  For further information call 610-872-4497

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Athletic Club plus Country Club = Golf Course?? Flax day coming at Colonial Plantation and Delco history tour!!


The entrance to the "Orchards" the former Lazaretto in Essington, the summer home of the Philadelphia Athletic Club about 1908.

Note About 1900 the Philadelphia Athletic Club took over the former Lazaretto Quarantine Station
 in Essington as their summer home. In 1911 they merged with the Delaware County Country Club to form the Manoa Golf Club


 Athletic Club of Philadelphia Will Unite with County Country Club and Abandon Quarters at Essington

            The Delaware County Country Club will be taken into consolidation with the Athletic Club of Philadelphia for the purpose of securing a country home and golf course, and at the same time increasing its membership.
            The Delaware County Country Club has a membership of about 175, about 125 acres of rolling land at Manoa, on which is an old farm house, now used as a locker house.  The Athletic Club of Philadelphia has a fine club house at 17th and Arch Streets and a membership of about 400.
            Under the terms of the proposed amalgamation the name “Athletic Club of Philadelphia” will be retained and the dues placed at $50 a year, giving members all the privileges of both town and country clubs.  The membership under these arrangements is to be restricted to 500, so only about 225 new members will be needed, providing all the Delaware County Club members stick when the amalgamation takes place.
            The Board of Directors of the athletic club formally sanctioned the amalgamation last evening and as the Country club officials have also approved, it will require only a joint meeting of the two committees to complete the arrangements.  By May 1 it is expected the athletic club members may be playing golf over the Manoa links.
            Under these arrangements the athletic club will drop the Orchard, the Essington summer home of the organization, and make extended improvements in the Delaware County Country home.  When the full membership has been reached the income of the club will be $40,000 a year and the members at a very reasonable figure will have the benefits of a town and country home.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saving and protecting History, Civil War in Ridley Creek State Park and DCHS annual meeting


Got this out of the trash when they tore down the old Ridley Township Junior High School aka Ridley North


Saving and protecting History the old Fashioned way


DD and TP

    Saving local history and preserving it comes in all sorts of ways. Including, Dumpster Diving [DD] and Trash Picking [TP}.  It still amazes even today,  what people toss out.  Over the years I have found and been giving things that people toss out. I started trashing early. The following stories I have changed the names and locations as to not embarrass anyone.
When Mr. Smith died. his son came to clean the house out. Mr. Smith had formed the local civic association and had put some booklets together over the years. Neighbors told me the son was throwing out everything. I walked down and looked at the trash and saw some promising boxes at the curb and walked home and got my car. As I was loading the first box the son came out yelling at me, “What was I doing?” I explained to him I was interested in local history and had known his dad. He invited me in the house and took me upstairs. His dad had saved all the civic association booklets all the way back to the 1940’s and the son gave me everything. Sadly much had already been thrown out. He didn’t think anyone would be interested.
John, one of my history buddies, stopped one day to show me what he had trash picked and he was shocked at what he had found. He had stopped to get some metal containers that he could use for storage in his shed but it was what was inside the containers that really surprised him. The father who had died a number of years ago had been a local builder and there was a bunch of slides of local buildings in various course of erection and John was giving me them. But it was the other pictures in the containers that he could not understand. They were all family pictures, picnics, weddings, confirmation, baptisms etc. Why would anyone toss them out?
   Schools I have never understood. When Delaware County Schools began to merge in the 1960’s and 70’s, especially high schools I was surprised at what happened with some. Most local schools saved everything and devoted rooms, aka museums to the old high schools. Yearbooks, trophies etc. were lovingly displayed but not everywhere.  I was shocked that one school tossed everything but their yearbooks. Trophies, pictures, plaques, programs etc. everything before 1960 was trashed. It had been done in secret, depending on what story you heard. Not even all the school board members had known what had happened until it was over and it was too late. I just could not believe it. Several of my history buddies found out and dumpster dived and got some trophies etc. The high school had a big alumni group and they had been told nothing and not offered anything, so sad.
   I had been asking the owner for weeks about the lights on the building, I had always loved them. The building was coming down and I really wanted to save them. The lights were an art deco style and I did not want to see them end up in the trash, I had gotten permission the day before demolition to take them. So here I was on a ladder at 1230 midnight taking the lights off the building. I had just gotten done work so I was still in my police uniform. Two cop cars pulled up and wanted to know why I was stealing the lights. Luckily I had gotten a letter from the owner that day that I could take the lights. The officer from the other town could not believe the company was just given the lights to me a Ridley Cop of all people. I showed him the letter and he still called the building’s owner to make sure everything was on the “up and up”. He could not believe that the company did not want them and neither could I. I had them restored and they look great.
Always look and always ask! You never know what is going to be trashed next week! Remember one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Delaware County Historical Society

Cordially invites you to the Annual Meeting and Awards

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
5:00 pm
The Grange Estate
143 Myrtle and Warwick Roads

Havertown, PA 19083
The Friends of the Grange will provide a lecture and
Tour of this beautiful 18th century mansion
For Information please call: 610-359


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Chester Pike needs repairs!! Lansdowne Theatre fund raiser!!


Chester Pike in Folcroft looking west toward Oak Ave. which would be at the top of the picture. The Wawa store would be on the right, today.


NOTE: from the 1850's till June of 1921, Chester Pike was a toll road between Chester and Darby. A private company ran it, basically started to save tax payers money for road repair. Things were getting out of hand in the early 1900's.


CHESTER TIMES – August 1, 1905


 Philadelphia Newspaper Frames a Severe Indictment against the Road

            The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph frames a severe indictment against the Chester and Darby Pike.  It says:
            For years the Chester Turnpike and its tollgates have been thorns in the sides of Delaware contains.  Protest after protest has been lodged officially and unofficially, yet no step looking either to its improvement or abolition of the tollgates, which line it like mushrooms on a swampy bank, has been taken.
            Throughout its snakish length it is a menace to pedestrian and driver alike.  For a full decade practically nothing has been done for the amelioration of the discomforts of those who are compelled to use it.
            Every borough and township along its line has passed resolutions condemning it, but still the tolls and miserable roadway exist to depreciate property value to keep away desirable would-be residents, and to tax the purse and temper of all of Delaware County.
            The stockholders of the corporation want to be rid of it, the people are equally anxious for that end, and so the responsibility for its presence rests upon a Board of Viewers appointed some months ago as a result of legal steps taken by the residents of Sharon Hill.
            It is their business to view it and to condemn it, but this has not been done, according to the Turnpike’s President, George C. Hetzel.  Their duty completed, the matter should be referred to the Master appointed.  John T. Reynolds of Media, and then it will be up to the County Commissioners, C. Harry Marshall of Lanwellyn; A.A. Sellers of Radnor; and John C. Rhoads of Chester Heights to purchase the road.
            “The Evening Telegraph” takes up the fight in order to expedite the work of the Board of Viewers and to urge upon the County Commissioners the wisdom of purchasing the miserable stone and mud heap that masquerades under the name of a turnpike.  The cooperation of the people of Delaware County is solicited and expressions of opinion or protests from them will be gladly received and published, along with the findings of staff men and legal advisers.
            The following description, the result of a walk from Darby to Chester, will show the fearful conditions which obtain throughout the turnpike’s length of six miles.
            PEN PICTURE OF THE PIKE – To take the Chester and Darby telford road mud hole by mud hole, rut by rut, and jolt by jolt; to review it throughout its miserable length is to realize in all its distress that it is the worst turnpike in the State.
            Beginning at Darby Bridge, pedestrians, automobiles, carriage drivers, and trolley patrons alike are confronted with either a mud puddle or a dust heap, according to the vagaries of the weather, extending from the bridge to Quarry Street.
            To those compelled to use the Chester Traction Company especially, the place is a nightmare.  One car every fifteen minutes to Chester and one every half hour to Wilmington is the schedule of this transportation company.
            All cars for months past have stopped on the south side of the bridge right in the heart of the spot described.  No shelter from wind or weather is there provided, and the hundreds of people who daily use the line must stand in either the boiling sun or pouring rain waiting at times as long as thirty-five minutes for long-delayed cars.
            If it has been dry they are smothered and choked by dense clouds of dust, which rise to nearly suffocate them at the least breath of wind or in the wake of passing vehicles.  IN order to make the connection with Philadelphia cars, they must first walk a full square, wading through the dust or mud, as the Case may be, and crossing the bridge.
            To essay that dust pile or mud in low-cut shoes is to fill them with one or the other, which uniformly varies in depth from two to three and a half inches.
            WILL NOT PAY THE BOROUGH – All this must be endured because of the joint dereliction of the trolley and turnpike companies.  The condition of the void may be laid to the latter, while the lack of shelter and the walk across Darby Bridge is imposed by the refusal of the Traction Company to hear half of the expense for the erection of the new bridge which has been in course of construction for months.
            Leaving Quarry Street and beginning the steep ascent of the Darby Heights Hill, which attains its highest point at Cherry Street, the jolting stones hold undisputed sway.  Throughout, the rise is fraught with danger to all who climb no matter by what means of locomotion. 
            Twisted ankles, unstrung nerves, damaged vehicles, and lamed horses are the result of anything other than the most careful picking of the way.  An accident lurks in every square of its disgraceful length.
            Just beyond Cherry Street a full 100 yards of backbreaking nerve-destroying stones form in themselves a declivity that would mean certain damage if unavoided in the remaining few feet of clear road at that point.
            At Pine Street a partially exposed sere of perhaps eight inches diameter extends across the intersecting road plainly visible from end to end.  To take it in a quick turn with horses or motor would mean a spavin for the former and a broken machine for the latter.
            In Sharon Hill Proper a large square block of stone measuring 6 1/2 by 7 ¼ inches lies unblushingly in the center of the road.  What would it mean to the axle, tire, or hoof that strikes it?
            At Ridley Avenue in Sharon Hill, an unbroken succession of exposed cobbles lurk four inches above the ground for the demoralization of unwary drivers.  Throughout that section between Darby and Sharon Hill piles of earth, and heaps of ties placed along the roadside by the Traction Company combine with the unvarying uncomfortableness of the road to augment the discomfort of its users.
            CUTTERS HILLS; ROAD A GUTTER – Between Sharon Hill and Glenolden the track belies the designation given it in its charter specifications. “artificial road.”  A succession of timber cards passing through paths of primeval forests could eventually create a road with more pretensions to the name than the undiluted apology known as the Chester Turnpike.
            Here to place the eight feet of beaten track occupying the center of the right of way is flush with what should be the gutters at each side, and is often lower, sharp stones with sharp edges protruding everywhere, to permanently injure hoofs. 
Large stones, lying flagrantly in the road are numerous; weeds three feet high line its neglected edges, and the road itself is as flat as pancake except where ruts disturb – it is not wholly unlike the surface of the rolling, rollicking sea.
            Immediately on the north side of Glenolden Bridge a full twelve feet of large stones appear above the ground on a declivity which, if swerved into by an automobile moving at the regulation speed, would mean a wrecked car and certain injury to its occupants.
            Just on the south side of the bridge there nestles in the bosom of the roadway a germ-disseminating, disease-laden stagnant pool.  By actual measurement its dimensions were a day or two ago 3 feet 2 inches by 7 feet 8 inches.  The rule used as a stick and held perpendicularly, recorded a depth of 5 ½ inches of mud and water when pushed down as far as it would go, with only the moderate impetus imparted by one hand.
            PROMISE AND PROBABILITY – Hard by this artificial lake in an “artificial” road stands a shanty.  It is tollgate No. 4.  You must stop and enrich the coffers of the Chester & Darby Telford Road Company to the amount of one cent for the pleasure of contemplating the pool’s murky water, and for the inconvenience of steering carefully past it, with one hand held sedulonaly to the nose.  Your ruffled temper impels you to declare it an outrage, but that doesn’t matter.  Your protests are met with prophecy, promise and probability.
            This over you proceed a scant mile further, stop again, and repeat the performance.  Isn’t it a beautifully obsolete yet compensating game for the company?
            Farther on you find grass on both sides of the route, caked mud, large stones and unbroken line of ruts.  From Norwood to Prospect Park the same conditions obtain.  Sticks, grass, weeds and ashes obstruct the path – a fitting name; sewers at cross streets exposed, and the inevitable ruts and refuse.
            At the White Horse Hotel and Lincoln Avenue the worst conditions on the whole apology – hereinafter designated “the snake” appear.  Worn down to the original telford paving of years ago, every stone flares out boldly, utterly guiltless either of earth or gravel to mitigate its brazen bareness.
            Imagine this steep incline immediately after a rain with every stone presenting a treacherous slimy surface.  Horses slip and slide as though with the blind staggers, and drive wheels on motor cars whirl and fly around like buzz saws.  To attempt the climb on anything more than second speed means to get out and push or go to the garage for repairs.
            Yet for a full decade this hill has thus deteriorated to its present depth of dilapidation.  Never a spade or pick or a bushel of dirt for its improvement.  To go either up or down means clenched teeth, a determined hand and a few or maybe a few more violations of the Decalogue.
            On the ascent of another grade – or precipice – the cobbles are not only bare, but ruts, not of mud, but of hard paved rocks that would mean certain diameter to any one essaying them.
            From thence to Ridley Park on the second descent, the same thin holds good.  Then are encountered the usual mild puddles, ruts, weeds and grass in the abyss between and clear to Ridley Park until South Ridley is reached, where the corporation, after being compelled to make improvements by that borough, is doing a little desultory work on “the snake.”  And this needs comment.  On one day of last week the ten men alleged to be employed on this operation, together with two carts, were kept under careful scrutiny by the writer.  Throughout the forenoon careful counts and recounts failed to reveal more than nine men.
            A DAY JOB CINCH – Their manner of working was of that character usually encountered in “day jobs.”  From their placid, leisurely, carefree movements it was evident that they regarded their work in the light of what is termed, in questionable English, “a cinch.”  Two worked with picks, two with shovels, three sprawled full-length along the wayside, while two others, the cart drivers, stood idly by.  But none overworked.
            This continued at intervals throughout the morning.  In the afternoon the number mounted to ten, and their inactivity increased proportionately with the course of the sun.  The circumstances compelled the mental suggestion of that arithmetical bugbear to the average schoolboy:  “If it requires ten years for 100 men to build a turnpike 6 miles long, how long will it take 10 men to construct the same road?”
            The answer is obtainable, but unsatisfactory to Delaware countians.  It might come under the head of the mathematical theory of chance, yet ultimately inevitable accidents.
            Thence through Crum Lynne to Leiperville the undulating thoroughfare winds its uneven course with not a single saving mark of grace to warrant the leniency of a long-suffering public.
            Thence to Saville Avenue, where the tracks of the crack Chester Traction Company desert it for Chester, its winds in snakiest contortion to its unkempt end.
            NOT FORGETTING TOLLS – But here comes the chiefest outrage – the toll gate question.  The possible purchaser of property in Delaware County determines to take a spin or a drive by way of the Chester Pike to look it over.  He finds handsome suburban residences in many of the townships and boroughs it crosses.  But his appreciation of their beauty is somewhat befogged by being held up at its beginning for either a cent or a through ticket – ten cents.  Every mile of its length is punctuated by a ramshackle shanty called by courtesy a toll gate.
            At each of these he must slack up or stop and pay his penny, or flourish before the eyes of the inhabitant money-grabber his ticket.  He must actually pay to have his throat clogged with dust, his eyes blinded, and for the privilege, not of a pleasant drive, but of a sort of “bumpy bump” performance, calculated to bring him to the dentist, the blacksmith shop, the garage or the veterinary surgeon.
            By the time he reaches the third toll gate his choler is up and what with tolls, ruts, mud puddles and the cobblestone rattle, his one aim in life is to get off.  His purchase is forgotten, and when he ordinarily emerges from the grasp of the octopus, Chester Pike is deserted forever.
            Hundreds of disgusted people daily condemn this past century and the Pike and those who have indulged and endured by the people of Delaware County.  And it undoubtedly means a pecuniary loss through making the towns unpopular and unsought as places of suburban residence.  “I myself,” declares G. C. Hetzel, president and chief stockholder of the pike, “am opposed to the tollgate.  It is obsolete and should be abolished.  I would be gladly rid of it.”  And this is the sentiment of all the stockholders.  It is obsolete and should be abolished.  I would gladly rid of it.”  And this is the sentiment of all the stockholders.  It is not a paying proposition for those who control it, so what is the logical conclusion.  With no opposition from this source it should be easy to have them abolished.

CHESTER TIMES – August 2, 1905



Position in the Premises is to Protect the Interest of the Taxpayers

            The Evening Telegraph of Philadelphia for some days past has been publishing a series of articles upon the question of doing away with tolls on the pike between Chester and Darby, and in the article of yesterday gave the impression to the public that the County Commissioners of Delaware County are standing in the way of the abolishment of this long-standing public evil.  This is not the case.  The only thing the Commissioners are doing and which is their duty, is to protect the interest of the taxpayers and to see to it that, if the collection of tolls is done away with, that the taxpayers pay no extravagant sum for the franchise.  The owners of this franchise are asking about $100,000 to relinquish their grip upon it and this, the Commissioners think, it out of all proportion to its value.
            The petition filed with the Court asking for the abolition of the payment of the tolls will bear out the Commissioners in this petition.  This petition sets forth that the Darby Pike is in bad condition, and that the owners of the franchise are not justified in exacting so much for each mile traveled by vehicles over its surface.
            The Court, upon the petition, appointed a jury to adjust the matter, with John T. Reynolds, Esq., as Master, or virtually as Judge of the Court to take testimony and pass upon the facts and report the same to the Court.  Several meetings have been held, at which testimony was given as to the condition of the pike and also as to the value of the franchise.  The County Commissioners and their solicitor, H.J. Mackiver, Esq., appeared before the jury and in plain words stated their position in the premises, which is that a they propose to oppose the payment of any large sum of money from the public treasury for a franchise which has admittedly, almost, become worthless, if the condition of the highway is to be taken as a criterion.  Every property owner in the county cannot but upheld the county officials for their position, it being their duty to save to the taxpayers every cent they can, if the report of the jury and Master should be in favor of the abolition of the toll system and the taking over of the highway by the county officials.
            The question will hardly admit of argument, but that the toll system should be abandoned, and no doubt the report of the present jury and Master will be in favor of it after a careful hearing of the facts.  It is understood that the hearings will be resumed in a short time, and the while matter will then be laid before the Court for his judicial decision.  In the meantime, however, it is not fair to the County Commissioners for the impression to go out that they are opposing the abolition of the toll system – they are simply performing one of the many duties for which the public elected them, to see to it that no extravagant price is allowed for the toll franchise.

CHESTER TIMES – February 15, 1906


 Chester and Darby Turnpike Company Will Be Put in Good Condition 


            The fact was established yesterday at the hearing before the Master, John T. Reynolds, Esq., and the jury of view at Media that the Chester and Darby Turnpike Company intend to put the old King’s Highway between Chester and Darby in first-class condition.  This information was given to the public through W.K. Mitchell of Ridley Park, the only witness called for the day, and who gave evidence on behalf of the telford people.
            Mr. Mitchell said that in his judgment and from practical experience, backed up by the knowledge of the best engineers of the country, that it will cost $1 per square yard to put the turnpike in good condition.  There being 65,000 square yards in the entire roadway of eighteen feet wide, it will be seen that considerable money is to be expended.
            “This will be done,” said Mr. Mitchel, “notwithstanding the order of the Court.  We have already given the contract for the labor to re-surface the road its entire length and the work will be started just as soon as the weather will permit.  We have also ordered a new steam teller which we expect to arrive about the middle of March and the contract for the necessary stone to put the roadway in first-class condition will be let in a few days.”
            VALUE OF THE ROAD - The above was not given in the line of testimony upon the subject before the jury.  The question being considered in what the turnpike is worth.  All parties have agreed to its condemnation, providing the telford road people are paid a fair compensation for the franchise by the county.  This franchise according to the evidence of Mr. Mitchell, is worth what it will take, $65,000 in his judgment to put the pike in good condition and the good will, it already having been shown that the investment has been a paying one.
            Mr. Mitchell in his testimony hearing upon the question of why the roadway has not been kept up, puts the blame on the trolley company.  He said that from time to time in ballasting the trolley road the tracks have been raised higher than the bed of the pike and in this has caused all of the water to be taken care of by the Telford road people.  In the original construction of the pike this was not provided for and hence it has kept the pike in bad condition.  There was no attempt to deny the words of the petitioners, who ask to have the pike condemned and that the roadbed has been in bad condition, but the excuse has been and it seems reasonable, that with the water from the trolley road flowing over the pike, it was impossible to do this.

Join us as Lansdowne's own Steve Gunn kicks off the
2016 Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival
in a solo concert benefiting the Lansdowne Theater
Saturday September 10th at 7:00
$30 General Admission
Steve Gunn was born and raised in Lansdowne and often speaks of growing up in the borough. As he said on C-Ville.com in July 2016, "I was lucky enough to be in a town where there was a great guitar store (Todaro's Music) where I took lessons." Now a resident of Brooklyn, Steve returns to Lansdowne to perform a solo concert in support of the ongoing restoration of The Lansdowne.
Steve's performance kicks off the 2016 Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival. For additional information click here.
Steve is coming off a successful European Tour and the recent release of a new highly regarded CD Eyes on the Lines. Help us to welcome Steve back to Lansdowne while supporting The Lansdowne.
Take a look at Steve's recent performance on CBS This Morning
Tickets are very limited----make sure to get yours today!
Tickets may be purchased  HERE or call the theater office at 610-622-1234
2016 Lansdowne Arts on the Avenue Festival
Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra
Lansdowne String Quartet
Sunday September 11th at NOON
Free Admission
Dorothea DiGiovanni, Laurie Wolfe, Eiko Ogiso and Suzanne Sevens
Join us for the 2016 Lansdowne Arts Festival on the Avenue Festival
For more information visit

Lansdowne Comedy Night- 2016
By popular demand
Comedy returns to The Lansdowne
Saturday September 17th   6:00 to 9:00
Doors open and silent auction 6:00 to 7:00
Pat House, Mike Rainey and Carl Boccuti
Tickets from $35
Tickets available HERE.
Tickets are very limited-- make sure to get yours today!
Proceeds from the night benefit the ongoing restoration of the Lansdowne Theater.