Monday, October 16, 2017

Glenolden Boro and some "new towns" 122 years ago

Elmwood Ave. as a dirt road looking toward Folcroft c.1908


Talk of annexing Folcroft and Warwick to the New Borough
            A movement has lately been set on foot for the Incorporation by annexation of Folcroft and Warwick, to the newly incorporated Borough of Glenolden.  In order that the matter might assume definite form, some seven or eight of the leading citizens of Folcroft held a conference, with the members of Glenolden Borough Council on Wednesday evening and talked the matter over.  Such questions as boundaries and the like were freely discussed, and annexation appeared to be generally viewed in a favorable light.  No definite action was taken, inasmuch as the movement is still in its infancy, but it is almost a foregone conclusion that this territory will in the near future become a part of Glenolden Borough.
            Folcroft, which is in Darby Township was started only a few years ago by Jacob H. Price and family, who owned most of the land, and a station on the P.W. & B. Railroad was soon established, and eventually a post office.  Today, Folcroft is one of the prettiest and most flourishing little towns in the neighborhood, but on account of its small dimensions, and its adorning situation, it feels the wisdom of becoming an integral part of its elder sister, Glenolden Borough.
            The new town of Warwick, which adjoins Folcroft, is partly in Glenolden Borough, and partly in the township.  The newest part, which is called the “Warwick Annex,” is in the borough.  Warwick was projected by Wood, Harmon & Co., the Philadelphia real estate men, and the streets have already largely been laid out, grading done, and several houses are in process of erection.  For many reasons, it would be a very desirable acquisition to the borough, and in turn, it would rebound abundantly to its own benefit.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

J. Lewis Crozer Hospital opens

You have to be pretty old to remember when today's Crozer Hospital was known as the J. Lewis Crozer Hospital. Same location as today.

CHESTER TIMES – July 17, 1903


 Formal Opening of the New Institution This Afternoon

 with Rev. Dr. Weston as Presiding Officer and Addresses by S.A. Crozer, Rev. F.C. Woods and Other Friends

            This is a great day for Chester.  It marks an epoch in her history.  One of her most public spirited citizens, J. Lewis Crozer, “being dead, yet speaketh” and “his works do follow him.”  Within the past year there has arisen a monument to his memory; today it is completed; the thought cherished during his life, and the pride of his declining years, is consummated and this afternoon the people will do honor to his memory by attending the dedication of the J. Lewis Crozer Hospital, one of the twin institutions which he projected and endowed.
            This afternoon there will arrive here by special invitation some of the best brain and progress of the medical fraternities, who will go on a tour of inspection of the new institution.  More than 300 of them have been asked to be present and many have accepted formally, to see one of the finest hospitals and homes in the state of Pennsylvania, if not in this country.  Both schools of medicine will be represented.  Prejudice will be laid aside in an effort to know what is to be done in the future by the great founding of a philanthropic man, carried to a happy issue by his partner of life to whom he trusted all.
            THE FINAL TOUCHES – Yesterday was a busy one for those concerned in the hospital.  Every preparation was made for the reception of the guests and none the less interested was Mrs. Crozer herself.  The staff of physicians was present, the nurses and resident physician and each by suggestion and application, completed plans so that this morning the hospital was practically ready for the reception of patients.  None will be admitted, however, until tomorrow and the days following, but everything has a business and professional air about it.
            It may be interesting to know that Mr. Crozer has built these two institutions out of money not in the original appropriation made in the will, but the half million dollars left as the endowment remains intact.  This was of her own volition, as was her decision to erect the buildings during her lifetime.  Her only unselfish interest has been the amelioration of humanity’s sufferings, and how greatly will she accomplish this, and the desires of her husband, is shown in the ideas that have been injected into the structure and of the splendid results that is presaged by them.
            THE STAFF – The TIMES has mentioned in a previous issue the medical and surgical staffs of the hospital and home, but for the benefit of the public does so once more.  Miss Ubil is the general superintendent, Miss Margaret Anderson, a graduate of the Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia, is chief nurse, and Dr. Franklin Massey is resident physician.  The staff is as follows:
            Medical director, Dr. Robert P. Mercer, Staff:  Dr. Isaac Crowther, Dr. Charles W. Perkins, Sr., Dr. Samuel Starr, Dr. Franklin Powel.
            Head surgeon, Dr. Samuel D. Maddux; associate, Dr. George C. Webster; Pathologist, Dr. Joseph R. Taylor Gray, Jr.; Ophthalmologist, Otologist and Laryngologist, Dr. Charles H. Hubbard.
            The original conception of the hospital was a two-story building, one main floor to be occupied by wards and the necessary toilet, bath, and diet rooms, the upper floor to be reserved exclusively for private patients.  However, it was found when the site was selected on the side of the east terrace for the Home for Incurables that the portion of the hospital, which was originally considered as basement, was on account of the sloping ground, several feet above grade, consequently a considerable portion of the so-called basement was found well-adapted for hospital purposes.
            On this, which may really be called the first floor, are located a large room well fitted for the reception of accident cases; two wards which at present are unassigned, the room for X-Ray apparatus, laboratory, staff room, eye room, and five rooms that are very available as private rooms.  A room is also provided on the south end, entered only from the outside, in which a contagious case may be isolated should such develop in the hospital.  This room has a private telephone connected with the hospital telephone system, so that ready communication can be made.
            The main floor of the hospital which is entered from the west end, is devoted to medical cases, and a northern end to surgical cases.  Each section has a bath and diet kitchen, and two toilet rooms, two large wards and a sun parlor.  The surgical section has a suite of five rooms, separated by heavy walls from the rest of the building, which are devoted exclusively to operations.  One is assigned as an anesthetic room, another as a recovery room, where a patient, whether paid or free, can have the benefit of the quiet and privacy in the hours following operation.
            A room in this suite is also devoted to the surgeons, where they may change their street clothing, scrub up and don appropriate robes, previous to entering the operating room.  This is provided with the Mott pedal valve, surgeon’s washstand and a shower bath.  The sterilizing room on the other side of the corridor, is fitted with the latest apparatus for the sterilizing of water, instruments and dressing.  It is also provided with a Mott pedal valve laboratory.
            The operating room is one of the most complete to be found in any hospital in the country.  The floor is of marble-Tarzana and the walls are covered with solid slabs of marble reaching to the ceiling.  Over the ceiling under the skylight is a diffusing sash, so that the light falls in pleasant rays.  It is equipped with powerful electric reflectors, so that if necessary, an operation can be performed day or night.  On the upper floor are eight delightful rooms, each having a pleasant outlook and each equipped with arrangement by which nurses can be signaled by electric annunciator.  The hospital is equipped with six private telephones by means of which different parts of the building may be readily communicated with.  There is also a special wire running to the stable to summon the ambulance which has already been purchased of Fulton & Walker of Philadelphia.
            The elevator is of the hydraulic pattern and runs from the first floor, near the accident room, to the third floor.
            The entire water supply of the Home and Hospital is filtered.
            On each floor is 100 feet of fire hose, running through a special two-inch main.
            It is contemplated that the nurses at the hospital shall occupy the third story of the Home adjoining, where pleasant and ample quarters are provided.
            All the cooking, at least the larger part of it, will be done in the large home kitchen, from thence carried through the tunnel and distributed in the hospital.  It is contemplated installing the most modern X-ray apparatus, both the coil and the static, but unfortunately those who are construing he same have not been able to complete them in time for the opening of the building.
            A special feature of the hospital is the well-equipped pathological and bacteriological laboratories, which will be in charge of Dr. J.R.T. Gray, Jr., who has been taking special course in the Polyclinic Hospital Philadelphia and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.  This will be equipped for the examination of bacteria, blood, sputa, etc. in a most complete manner.
            In the heating and ventilating of the building no expense has been spared.  Steam is conducted by the plant in the home to two immense coils in each end of the building.  The air from the outside is screened, passed over these coils and driven by two three-horsepower fans throughout the building.  In every room and ward in the hospital is another series of duets connected with large ducts, which have their out lets under the ventilators in the roof.  Here the air is sucked out and driven outside by three two-horsepower fans, so that the entire ventilation of the hospital can be conducted independently of the windows; in fact, the windows are only used for light, the actual ventilation being through the ducts in the walls.
            The extreme length of the building which is H-shaped form north to south is 161 feet.  There are two wings each 9112 feet.  All of the six wards have a south exposure, and all of the corridors are ten feet wide, the two lower stories being cement, with marble trimmings.  Rounded corners prevail through the entire structure.  All the doors are at least 3 feet 6 inches wide, so as to permit a bed to be taken in or out. The floors in the two upper stories are double, the surface highly polished, all the trimmings about the doors and windows being of oak.  The hardware is nickel plated of high grade throughout.
            The four main windows are each 24z338 feet, with a ceiling 14 feet high, giving nearly 13,000 cubic feet of air space to each.  It is calculated that the atmosphere of any one room or ward can be completely changed in twenty minutes, without opening the windows.  Chutes are placed at each end of the building, lined with galvanized iron, through which soiled linen can be dropped to the basement.  The hospital will open with forty-two beds, which, however, in no way represents the hospital’s full capacity.
            The wards of the hospital are absolutely free, medical or surgical care nursing, etc., being provided without cost to the patient.  In the private rooms the rate will be moderate and will include the desired attention of the nurse; but the fee for medical attendance, except that furnished by the Intern will be additional.
            An impression may have been created because this hospital makes no demand upon the public or state for contributions of money, that no contributions of any kind are desired, but this is quite untrue.  The hospital will gladly welcome donations of any suitable character which it friends choose to make.  Contributions of linen, muslin, fruit, books garments, or food suitable for sick will be welcomed and properly credited.
            This hospital, although operated in conjunction with the Home for Incurables, is not in any sense erected for the treatment of incurable causes; in fact, known incurable cases, will not be received in the hospital, it is intended for the treatment of acute cases, accidents, and cases of all character that are suitable for a hospital.

Monday, October 9, 2017

This is an unknown house in Brookline so the back of this postcard say. Looking for an address

How old is your house??

  Finding how old your house or home is can be fun, but also very tricky. The only way to do it correctly is to title search at the courthouse in Media. Title searching can be easy and hair pulling at the same time.  Every deed after c.1830, ninety percent of the time tells you who the previous owner was and refers to a date and book and page. So if there are no problems, it is pretty easy, you just keep reading the deeds back till you get to an empty lot or there is no “messuage” aka home. If it is a very old house prior to 1860 I “cheat”. I look at an old atlas say from the year 1909 or 1911 and title search the property back from there, saves a lot of time. First you “grantee”   aka look up the buyer or “grantor” aka look up the seller. The books are indexed and easy to use BUT you have to be careful.
First: Read the deed carefully, is it the right piece of property, address or acres.
      Second: After the 1860’s deeds are on a printed form and filled in. Before that date the deed recorder could put down what he thought was important and sometimes crucial information is left out.
Third: Almost always the property is in the man’s name but sometimes there are exceptions, so if you cannot find the deed check out the wife’s name.
Bad information
   I was looking up a house and could not find when the owner bought it. The owner lived there some 60 years according to the family and neighbors but no deed. I checked a 30 year span nothing. The owner was a millionaire and I was pulling my hair out. Finally I found the deed. He rented the property for over 20 years before finally buying it.
   Maps can be wrong, rarely but it does happen. I was trying to find when the owner bought the property and found nothing. I went back over 60 years. I asked another title searcher to check my work and he found nothing wrong.  After numerous tries I checked several other maps and the map I had been using was wrong, I had been looking up the wrong name the whole time.
   Sheriff sales can be really tough. Sheriff sales usually never mention a current or prior owner. A Sheriff’s deed tells who is suing to have the property sold, money involved etc. but many times never mentions the owner who is losing the property. I was researching a commercial property from the 1840’s and the deed mentioned no prior owner of the commercial property. Worse there were no maps  of Delaware County prior to the Ash Map of 1848 so I had nothing to look at for a previous owner. But I did get lucky several months later. While looking up something else I noticed an advertisement for the property. The new owner who had just purchased it was looking to rent it. I had the name I needed, FINALLY.
    Another thing to remember, when you finally find that deed where there is no house just an empty lot say 1880 your work is not over. When was your house built?  In most cases when an empty lot was purchased a house was built soon after, but there are exceptions. It might be several years or even more. Now is the  time to go to the newspaper to get the final answer. The Chester Times started in 1876 and the Morton Chronicle in 1880 and both by the late 1880’s had sections on “new” towns, like Glenolden or Ridley Park or more established areas like Darby and Chester. These sections in the paper talk about local news, plus houses being built, sometimes builders and even architects are mentioned. In 1913 the Chester Times started the Realty News which every Saturday talked about houses being built, house additions and new developments. Before 1880 newspapers like the Delaware County Republican and Upland Union also had building news but it was much more hit or miss. If your house was built in the 18th century or before the 1798 window tax is very important. In 1798 the Federal Government for just one year had a tax on panes of glass. The theory was the more windows, panes of glass in them the bigger your house was and the richer you were. Many people had no windows with glass at all. What makes the tax list important is the taxman measured the width and length of each house, how many stories, windows etc. It is an excellent research tool. Early 19th century tax records give basic house descriptions, such as a frame, stone or plank house etc. This varied from tax collector to tax collector there was no standard in those days exactly what a collector had to put down. So get to work and find out how old your house really is!!

If you have a business

     As some of you know I'm on the board of the Colonial Plantation, in Ridley Creek State Park. We are having our annual fundraiser on November 10th, more on that later. We do an ad book every year and I'm hoping you will take an ad. We are a 501[c3] and all money donated is tax deductable. We receive NO money at all from the State of Pennsylvania. Please donate to a great cause! email me at and I will send you the information.
   I'm also always looking for volunteers to help with typing, taking pictures, computer stuff etc. Does not matter if it is an hour a week or an hour a month always need some help
Thanks Keith

Friday, October 6, 2017

The William Price Project aka Rose Valley


Boating on Ridley Creek was a popular past time in Rose Valley 100 years ago




 Sale of the Osborne Mill and Houses is Consummated

The sale of the old Osbourne Mil and houses at Rose Valley was consummated yesterday when the deed was placed on record.  This deed was made by the Pennsylvania Company for Insurance of Lives, and Edward H. Coates, executors of the estate of Gustavus English to William L. Price, an architect, who has an office at 731 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.  One of the Price boys has already moved to Rose Valley and has already moved to rose Valley and taken up his abode in the old Osborne domicile, and has begun extensive repairs.  The price named in the deed is $80000, which added to the thirty-five or forty acres purchased along the creek a few days ago, which was mentioned in the Times will give ample ground for the improvements the new owners have I view.
   Exactly what will be done in the way of improvements is not known.  It is a public fact, however, that the three blocks of two houses each will be turned into three houses and fitted up. The other six houses will be turned into dormitories.
This summer sketch classes from the Philadelphia Art School are to be entertained, and it is said that there are to be lectures and musical concerts given after all the improvements are made.  It is also said that a portion of the old mill, which is used now as aw bobbin factory, will be used to manufacture fine antique furniture.
A. B. Geary, who represents the purchasers, when seen at the Court House yesterday afternoon would not talk about the purchase or what is to be done at this once prosperous manufacturing place.
The supposition is that a corporation is to be formed and the property used for some manufacturing purpose.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Street Sweeper Improvements c.1902

 This 110 year old postcard is of a house in Morton Boro. Looking for some help with an address


Street Sweeper inventor from Morton

Note: I know very little about Zenas Whittemore, a Morton resident whose patent 'improved' the street sweeper in 1902. He did know how to get attention, free street cleaning!!!

    Be it known that I, ZENAS WHITTEMORE, of Morton, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, have invented an Improvement in Street-Sweepers, of which the following is a specification. My invention relates to street -sweepers, and it consists of certain improvements which are fully set forth in the following specification and are shown in the accompanying drawings.

CHESTER TIMES – February 28, 1912

            MORTON INVENTOR’S GENEROUS OFFER – Proposition to Sweep the Streets of the City for More Than a Month for the Sum of Five Dollars

            Chester has an opportunity to get the streets cleaned for the insignificant sum of $5, the balance in the appropriation of the Street Department announced a short time ago.  The generous offer is made by Zenas Whittemore, a prominent resident and inventor of Morton, this county.  Mr. Whittemore is the inventor of a street sweeping machine that was given a trial on the streets of this city several weeks ago and demonstrated its efficiency as a cleaner of streets.  In The Times of February 15, Mr. Whittemore announced that he would clean the streets of the city once a week for the following prices:  Brick and Belgium block, 35 cents per thousand square yards; asphalt, 40 cents per thousand square yards; wood block, 50 cents per thousand square yards.

            Mr. Whittemore’s latest proposition is to sweep all the streets of the city with the exception of Market and Third Streets, during the month of March and until the 8th of April for $5.  All he asks is authority from the city officials to go ahead and he will do the rest.  He requests all citizens who favor this plan of getting the streets cleaned for $5 to sign and send to his address the coupon that appears in the advertising columns of the daily papers and he is satisfied that if a majority of the people want it, that the officials of the city will readily agree to the plan.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Volunteering, Organizing and Trash Picking

Does anyone recognize this picture of a bridge in Darby Boro? Need a location

Preserving History

    Please take the time to support your local historical organization, whether as a member, volunteer or both. A number of years ago a man came in to a local society. He complained files were out of date, not organized, mislabeled etc. All he did was complain. I asked him if he was a member?, NO, I asked him if he would like to volunteer and help us get files etc. organized? NO I told him to stop complaining or just leave. His 15 minutes of complaining was over. All historical societies need volunteers and help so please do so.
    Organizing is important not only at the historical level but family level too. It took me over a year to organize my 4000 plus pictures of Delaware County by boro and township. I made files and scanned and photoshopped every picture. It drove me crazy but it has been such a great help having them all at my fingertips. I still keep finding old pictures in odd places in my history room. Organizing family pictures is just as important. A friend of mine scanned all of the important family pictures onto her computer. She identified all of them from great grandparents to grandchildren. It took her a number of years working on and off to put it all together. Then she had a brainstorm, she made copies of the discs and gave them to each of her children so they had the family history in pictures.
    Every local historian trash picks, it is part of the job. It amazes me what I find and what friends find and give me. Several years ago a friend saw a neighbor tossing out metal 35mm slide storage units. He jumped at the chance to have them. What shocked him was what was in them. The father had been a big local contractor and there were pictures all over Delaware County of jobs he had worked on. But the real surprise was the family pictures, vacations, school, parties etc. All tossed out.
   Organizations are just as bad. A local organization was moving into a new building and they tossed, awards, pictures, minute books all sorts of stuff. A friend of mine dumpster dived literally for me. I got all the minute books and some other things but most of the stuff was gone. I could not understand. If they did not want the stuff why not give it to their local historical society?
   Just on my street I did a small rescue. One of the founders of the Leedom Civic Association had died and I saw the piles of boxes by the curb for trash day. I stopped to look and while looking the son came out. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was interested in local history. He invited me in the house and took me upstairs. A lot of stuff was gong but he had all the Leedom Civic Association booklets all the way back to the first one from 1944.
   Lastly a local lady had a bunch of stuff from her uncle a local politician. She was nice and let me copy them all. She promised me I would get them all after she died. After she died I asked her kids about them ? That stuff? gone in the trash!!
    So take the time, organize, copy, save and donate what is important to you, your family and local history!!