Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ivy Mills in Concord and Concord History and Education Center to open soon!!!

Ivy Mills in Concord Township about 1860

Ivy Mills in Concord

      These mills, situated on a branch of the Chester Creek, about perhaps eighteen miles from Philadelphia, and long known as the “Ivy Mills,” were abandoned more than a generation ago, after an industrial existence for considerably more than a century.  Next to the Rittenhouse Mill and the Dewees Mill in and about Germantown, the original structure is believed to have been the first paper mill in Pennsylvania, and probably outside of those, no other or certainly no other of equal importance, precede it in what is now the United States.
    The name “Ivy Mills” is suggestive at once of the relation which Benjamin Franklin bore to it and to its founder.  The walls of the first structure appear to have been covered with ivy vines in its early days by Thomas Wilcox, who had come from England, and who built it a little before the time when Franklin, as a young printer, branched out in business in this city as the publisher of the “Pennsylvania Gazette.”  An ivy leaf, which at a later time in his life he designed for a daughter of Wilcox, is now preserved as a relic of her embroidery.  The friendship which existed between him and her family doubtless grew out of Franklin’s purchase at the mill of the paper on which he printed the “Gazette,” and continued up to the time of the death of the mill owner, nearly half a century afterward, when the statesman was in France.  Franklin is known to have been often a visitor at the Ivy Mills, to have corresponded with Wilcox, and apparently to have used his influence in procuring business for him.  The probably included the furnishing of paper on which the bills of the Pennsylvania provincial money were printed.  The account books of Franklin, now in possession of the American Philosophical Society, show conclusively that he made his first paper purchase at the Ivy Mills and that he continued to make purchases there until he retired from the active control of the “Gazette.”
    In the course of the Revolution Thomas Wilcox died, but some time before the war broke out, it was supposed that he had withdrawn from the management of the mills, having turned the business over to his son Mark.  It was by him that paper for the first issue of Continental currency authorized by the Congress in Philadelphia, was made more than a year before the adoption of the Declaration.  At this time, too, paper of all kinds began to be scarce; subsequently, most of the people had to be severely economical in the use of it, and Nathan Sellers, who made the molds for the process of paper manufacture at the Wilcox Mill, long afterward narrated to one of his descendants how fly leaves were torn from printed books and bank leaves from account books in order to obtain material for writing letters.  While the British were in occupation of Philadelphia the scarcity was so much felt by the fugitive government of Pennsylvania, then at Lancaster, that a secret order was issued to one of the officers of the army to seize the stock in the mill on Chester Creek.  The officer was directed, too, to make particular inquiry as to the conduct of those who were carrying on the manufacture inasmuch as it had been “hinted’ that they were unfriendly to the American cause.  The subsequent career of the proprietor, of course, does not justify this suspicion, and the fact that the officer was instructed to certify the quantity of the seized paper because of the intention that he should have a reasonable price, indicates that strong credence could not have been given to the “hint.”  Indeed, it seems that while the British were in Philadelphia, Wilcox was arrested by them on the charge of obstructing their officers in obtaining supplies in the country, that he was carried to this city as a prisoner, and that he was afterwards released by General Howe at the solicitation of some of his neighbors who were members of the Society of Friends.  He held at various times not a few public offices, including a seat as Associate or lay Judge of Delaware County.
    Throughout the Revolution, Wilcox furnished large quantities of paper for the Continental money, and when Robert Morris and his associates, of whom the papermaker was one, in the establishment of the Bank of North America, wanted paper for the printing of their notes, they placed their order with him.  The reputation which the mill thus gained, led in the course of time, to its development as a special source of supply of the various paper used by not only banks in Philadelphia, and all over the country, but by governments.   During the entire period of the old State bank system, it turned out vast quantities of paper for bank notes.  The Bank of the United State, too, was its customer, and Nicholas Biddle, when he was president of that institution, took particular pains that the paper for it should be difficult for counterfeiters to imitate.  Several of the South American governments were patrons of the mill, and on one occasion its proprietor entered into a contract with the financial authorities of Greece.  Indeed, Mr. Ashmead, the historian of Delaware County, is authority for the statement that for “a long period not only were the banks of the United States supplied with their paper from this mil, but its lofts were, at times, piled with peculiar-looking papers of various tints, bearing the ingrained watermarks of most of the governments of South America.  Nearly the whole of the western continent drew its supply of bank paper from the mill.”
    It was not only in the Revolution that the mil was a dependency to the Treasury of the national authorities, but also in the War of 1812.  At that time, it is stated, a distinctive paper with colored silk woven through it, was made for the government’s use, and that the mill was guarded by the government to prevent the paper from falling into unlawful hands.  Again, under Tyler’s administration and it was then that the making of bank paper had come, for some time previous, to be almost exclusively the chief operation of the mill, it supplied the Federal government with the sheets for the printing of its bond issues and also during the Mexican War.  When the Civil War broke out it was once more in requisition; Secretary Chase repeatedly made contracts with its owners for the paper on which demand notes, bonds, legal tender notes, certificates and other monetary issues were printed; and it was difficult to produce the material as fast as it was wanted at Washington on some occasions.  The late Jay Cooke, when the war was at an end, bore testimony to the value of these services and Chase’s appreciation of them.  He stated, moreover, that when peace came, the government concluded that it would itself make the paper for its notes, its bonds and the notes of the national banks, but that the experiment was then unsuccessful and that the authorities were obliged to renew their contract with the men who had through generations of experience in the manufacture of that class of paper.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Old time Punishment in Delaware County and a Mill Talk this week


The intersection of 7th and Edgmont now Avenue of the States is where early hangings took place. This was outside the city till the 1850's.


Delaware County early Hangings

The list of hangings within the territory now Delaware County, shows that Friday has not been, as a rule, the day designated for the infliction of the death penalty.  Those cases included in the list were those on which the day and date of execution could be definitely ascertained from the records.  Yet by and over sight one case where that could be done was omitted from the list.  Elizabeth Murphy, together with her husband, Edward Murphy, were tried August 27, 1723, for murder.  The jury acquitted the man and convicted the woman.  She was executed Thursday, August 13, 1724.  The costs in that case were 1b2 6s 6d, or about eight dollars, for it was in Colonial money, in which a pound was only a little more than half the value of the pound sterling.
            There are three other cases of the infliction of the death penalty at Chester in Colonial times, which were not included in the list published in the Times, because the exact date of execution has not been ascertained.  The first was in 1722, when William Batten, who had “been convicted of Divers horrid, complicated crimes,” was on August 3 of that year, ordered by the Provincial Council to “be executed and hung in chains in the most public place at such time as the Governor shall appoint, and that the warrant for the execution be issued before the Governor set out for Albany.”  I cannot fix the exact date when execution was made.  This is the only instance in the criminal history of Chester and Delaware Counties when after execution, the body of the convict was gibbeted – that is, suspended in any iron frame work until the elements slowly destroyed the body.
            At the court held September 27, 1728, William Davis was convicted of murdering his master, William Cloud, and was sentenced to be hanged “and his body at ye Disposal of ye Governor.”   I cannot fix the date when Davis was executed.
            At a special court held for the trial of negroes under the act of 1706, Phoebe, the slave of Joseph Richardson, was on March 2, 1764, convicted of burglary in entering the house of Thomas Barnard – that adjoining to the north Jonathan Pennell’s dwelling on Edgmont Avenue, facing Fourth Street.  John Morton presided at the trial.  Richardson her master, lived in his then new residence – the present Steamboat Hotel – and the Colonial treasury paid to him fifty-five pounds, the sum at which Phoebe was appraised, for the act of assembly providing that when a slave was executed the province must make good the loss to the owner of the Negro.
            FIRST HOMICIDE TRIAL – The first homicide in our county was in the consequences which followed the execution, the most momentous in the history of the Colony and State.  Hugh Pugh, a wheelwright, and Lazarus Thomas, a laborer, were hanged in Chester, Friday, May 9, 1718, for the murder of Jonathan Hayes, a resident of Marple Township and one of the judges of the county court.  The crime was committed three years prior to the execution of the culprits.
            The case was one which excited the public to that extent that in October, 1715, the Court instructed Henry Worley, Robert Carter and James Sandelands, the younger, to procure a place “more Convenient than the Court House for holding the Supreme Court for ye Tryail of these persons ye are holden in ye Jail of ye County on Suspition of murder.”  We learn from the minutes of the Provincial County that for some reason the accused parties had been admitted to bail, “and through the indolence of a former administration,” that of Governor Charles Godin, the men were not brought to trial until April 17, 1718, when Chief Justice Lloyd and the four associate justices of the Supreme Court were present as was Governor Sir William Keith, who occupied a place on the bench.
            It seems that the prisoners were leaders of a “Lawless Gang of Loose fellows, Common Distrurbers of the public peace,” and “were so hardened and became so audacious as still to continue in their publick Rioting, Caballing and fighting.” Boasting openly that it was not within the power of the Government to try any capitol case, according to the common and statute laws of England, which the prisoners claimed as a right, they being English subjects.
            On May 8, the day previous to the time set for the hanging, Hugh Pugh and Lazarus Thomas petitioned Sir William Keith for a stay of execution, until the pleasure of the King could be ascertained and at the same time formerly lodged with the Governor and council their appeal to George, the lst, in which they assigned three reasons rendering their conviction illegal.  First, because seventeen of the Grand Jury and eight of the Petit Jury were Quakers, who had not been sworn.  The Act of Assembly permitting affirmations by Governors and witnesses was enacted in violation of the Act of Parliament, passed in the first year of his majesty’s reign; second, because the Act of Assembly permitting affirmation to be made in all legal proceedings, was not enacted until “after said murder was supposed to be committed,” hence was expost facto and not applicable to their case, and third, because the Act of Assembly was repugnant to reason and in conflict with the laws and statutes of England, and therefore void.
            The Governor and council refused to reprieve the prisoners and Sheriff Nicholas Fairlamb was instructed to execute the two men according to the death warrant, which, signed, by Chie justice Lloyd and the associate Justices of the supreme Court, had already been placed in his hands.  The men were hanged and the public excitement ceased.
            It was then the authorities began to question the legality of the execution, for the appeal to the King had not been forwarded, although it accompanied the petition for a stay of execution, or reprieve, and just at that time the King and his ministry regarded with no favor the mild criminal code framed by Penn which was then recognized in the province, and had repeatedly urged the colony to adopt that of the mother country.  Only a few days elapsed when the legal reason which were urged by the hanged men to set aside their conviction, aroused such alarm among the leading class in the providence, as to the legality of the trial and subsequent execution of judgment, that in twenty-two days after May 31, 1718, the Assembly passed the act which substituted the fierce criminal code of England, which its then seventy odd offense punishable with death, in the colony, simply in exchange for the right to use affirmations in place of corporal oaths, the Legislature feeling assured that the little matter of illegally executing two “bad men,” would not weigh with the King if it accomplished his policy of substituting a rigorous system of punishment for crimes in Pennsylvania.  The King approved and confirmed the Act of the Assembly early in 1719.  The legal points raised by the accused in their petition was never made the subject of judicial consideration and decision, but the effect of their petition was to wholly change the criminal code of the province, and today the consequences of that trial, to a large extent obtain in our penal laws.
            THE CASE OF SHIRTLIFFE – In the case of John McDonough, convicted of rape and executed Saturday, June 17, 1786, at Gallows Hill, was indicted jointly with Richard Shirtliffe and sentenced to be hanged at the same time and place with McDonough.  A few days after the death warrant was delivered to Sheriff Gibbons, the supreme Executive Counsel, with a refinement of cruelty difficult to understand, considering the high character of the individuals then composing that body, ordered Richard Shirtliffe reprieved, but directed the Sheriff not to notify the man of the fact until he had been taken under the gallows and the rope placed under his neck.  What became of Shirtliffe afterwards, how long he was detained in prison or formally pardoned, I do not know, but certain it is he was not hanged.
            Thirty persons have paid the death penalty in Delaware County, four of whom were women.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

He saw Lafayette and Institute of Science lecture on Monday

General Lafayette's Headquarters about 1910


Robert Hoopes Saw the Patriotic Frenchman at Brandywine

 Remembers the Time Well

from 1898
            After placing in their last resting places, the bodies of upward of 1000 persons all that was mortal of venerable Alban Seal was quietly buried in the buying ground adjoining quaint Birmingham Meeting House on the Brandywine battlefield at noon on Saturday.  For over half a century Mr. Seal had been sexton of this Friends’ place of worship and upon hundreds of occasions had he stood quietly by and witnessed sad scene similar to that which was enacted when his own body was lowered into the grave.
            With the death of Alban Seal there is now, so far as is known, only a single person living who accompanied General Lafayette and his party over the Brandywine battlefield upon the occasion of the distinguished Frenchman’s visit to this country in 1824 and he is Robert F. Hoopes, one of the best known and best preserved octogenarians in Chester county.  Mr. Hoopes was bred upon a farm right in the heart of the battlefield and strange to say, is the only survivor of the subscription school which existed at Birmingham Meeting forty-one years ago.
            AT THE OLD FRIENDS’ SCHOOL – “Yes” he remarked in lamenting over the death of the old sexton, “Allen Seal is dead, and I alone am sole survivor of that group of fifty merry boys and girls who nearly eighty years ago, attended the school at Birmingham Meeting.  How time flies!  The old school, with his determined master who ruled with a god of birch, looms up before me like a dream, and then it seems so strange to contemplate that all my old schoolmates are in their graves. In 1819 or 1820 I made my debut as a pupil in this school, which was then under the control of a committee of Friends’ Meeting.  Anion Cook was the first master, followed by Richard Darlington, father of ex-Congressman Smedley Darlington.  In 1822 Alban Seal, the respected sexton whose funeral occurred today, came among the seeking an education, and I was well acquainted with him during all these years of our long lives.  I understand that a public school has been established in the same building in which I was taught to read and write, and some day I want to go down and relate to the children the reminiscences of a schoolboy of four score years ago.”
            MR. HOOPES’ REMINISCENCES – “Do you remember the visit of General Lafayette to the Brandywine battlefield in 1824?”  Mr. Hoopes was asked.
            “Indeed I do,” replied the aged gentleman.  “It is really more vividly pictured in my mind than important incidents which occurred ten years ago.  My father owned only a single horse, and as he wished to ride in the rear of the procession, I was obliged to foot it.  It was a scorching hot day.  Even now I can at times imagine I hear the blare of the trumpet and clatter of the horses’ hoofs as we encountered the distinguished visitors moving up from toward Chadd’s Ford, and fell in line in the rear.  General Lafayette, as I remember him, was a man small in stature, and was slightly lame.  An imposing military procession accompanied him ever the battlefield, and stops were made at all the points of interest.
            “Dismounting and passing over into a field on the old Gennett farm the General pointed out the spot near an old apple tree where he was stationed when injured by a British bullet.  Then he passed on up to Birmingham Meeting House, which was used as a hospital during the battle, and where many of his injured soldiers were quartered.  The old building seemed to impress him and he stood gazed about in silence for some minutes.  Later in the day he passed on up to the farm house of Samuel Jones, a half mile north of the meeting house, where a stop was made for refreshments.  My mother was there helping Mrs. Jones entertain the guests, and I recall having heard her remark upon her return home that the escorts had eaten up nearly everything before the general and his close friends had taken their places at the tables, all of them being very hungry after a long and tiresome march.  I, after a long and tiresome march.  I followed the procession a couple of miles up the road, and the last I ever saw of General Lafayette he was passing over the brow of Ostorne’s hill, where the British line was stationed when it fired upon him years before.”
            From Mr. Hoopes’ description of General Lafayette’s movements upon the occasion of his visit to the battlefield it seems that the monument erected by the Chester County Historical Society to mark the spot where he was wounded has been wrongly located, but a movement is on foot looking to the erection by the Government of a new and more endearing shaft.
 Note: When I first became interested in local history some 40 years ago, Paul Rodebaugh the great Chester County historian became a best friend. One day he introduced me to one of Robert Hoopes grandchildren. So I got to meet someone who knew someone who had  met Lafayette!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A " House of Refuge" aka Glen Mills visit 120 years ago and summer camp

The Glen Mills Gymnasium 100 years ago


In late 1888 some 378 acres was purchased to establish the "House of Refuge" aka todays Glen Mills School in Thornbury. The reform school for boys opened in 1892, the name was changed to Glen Mills in 1911. Below is a look back from almost 120 years ago.


 The Good Impressions of a Lady Visitor to Glen Mills – An Excellent System Used

                “A work that is well worth the trouble of doing is that which is undertaken by the committee who have in charge one of Pennsylvania’s most noble institutions, the House of Refuge.  On the hills at the station called Glen Mills, are situated the buildings, the elegant and commodious cottages where boys live in families.  The large main building where the meetings of the directors are held and where the business of the school is transacted, the chapel where the boys are assembled for religious instructions and for lectures and entertainment; the gymnasium, one of the largest and best equipped in the United States; the various school buildings and workshops – all surrounded by beautifully kept lawns and walks, make one of the most charming pictures imaginable.  The views of the surrounding hills and valleys with their garnered crops and stretches of woodland are magnificent and exert of themselves an untold influence in reclaiming the wayward youth who must go to school here.
                “There are about eight hundred and fifty boys in the school, ranging in age from six to eighteen years.  Their faces, some of them dear, sweet faces, poverty and neglect have hardened and on which the want of love, which every human being needs, has left a desolate look.
                “It was my good fortune to visit the boys with Colonel Hawley, one of the directors, who has ever the good of the boys at heart, and who does not think his duty finished when he has met with his friends and directed how they shall be taken care of, but who goes straight to the boy and interests himself in each one and thinks of something to entertain and interest.
                IN THE KINDERGARTEN – “The kindergarten is managed very much as all good kindergartens are.  The songs and games and work are enjoyed very much by all.  Besides this, they are all being taught to read and write and cipher.  These little boys are kept in a cottage by themselves; their dainty white beds spotlessly clean; their little table with white cloth carefully set, and all their appointments for recreation, work and study, all that the most fastidious could wish; and yet through it all we were sorry for these poor little bits of humanity who could not have known a tender loving mother’s care and devotion.
                “At the gymnasium the boys are under the care of an experienced teacher.  We saw a class in Indian club swinging.  The teachers told us that it was the class of the lowest grade of intellect in the school.  “They were boys that were perhaps sixteen or more years of age who had been either too worthless to learn or had not the opportunity to go to school.  The obedience and quick precision necessary to the giving of movements required by the teachers were very difficult for some.  In the basement of the gymnasium is a swimming pool, the water being warmed to the proper temperature.  The boys are allowed by cottages in their turn, evenings at the swimming pool.  While we were in the basement looking at the miniature lake, we turned and saw a door leading into what appeared an underground tunnel, which it proved to be, all the buildings are so connected, lighted with electric light, and ventilated.  In case of a storm or inclement weather, the boys do not have to go out of doors to their work or to school.
                “We visited various school rooms where the classes were being taught according to the best methods, and where they are evidently making rapid progress, for these boys are no stupids.  We visited the various shops, where the boys work in wood and iron.  Those who are old enough are taught a trade, so that they are allowed to know there is no need of them going without employment, as they are skilled in the use of their hands and eyes.
                “As we passed through the different rooms many of the boys dropped for the instant their work to shake hands with Colonel Hawley, who was evidently a great favorite with them.  The bright look which they all gave him was evidently all the reward he desired for his thoughtfulness for them.  ‘Are we to have a lecture, Colonel?’ greeted him on every side.
                “In the printing department the boys get out a daily paper which is a little sheet.  In every department there is evidence of the inborn American genius.  In the paper hanging and wall decorating department some of the designs were beautiful.  In some of the cottages the border on the sitting room wall had been designed and executed by the boys.  It was entitled the ‘Circus’ and it certainly has made more attractive their reading and play room.
                “At 5 o’clock the boys are all lined up in a large room for the purpose of separating them into their families.  During the day they all work according to their ability and aptitude, but at their homes they are classed according to size.  This makes possible very fine drills and military discipline.  I can think of no grander night than that made by this small army of boys lined up in quiet readiness waiting for the order to march to their homes.  There is a friendly rivalry among the different cottages for the report in marching and drill work.
                HOW THEY LIVE – “As it came on supper time we visited the cottages to see how they lived.  The boys had not yet arrived when we went into No. 9 so our party descended to the basement to see them come in.  As soon as the boys were disbanded and could speak to Colonel Hawley they kept us busy shaking hands with them.  One boy was afraid that so many of them shaking hands would soil the ladies’ gloves.  Colonel Hawley had some x-ray pictures in his pocket, which he showed and explained in the great delight of the boys.  One youth had a black cat which he informed me was the mascot of that cottage, and brought them all their good luck.
                “So on through all the various phases of their systematic life we went.  At one cottage we found the boys assembled in their reading room, some reading, some playing checkers and other games.  One of the boys suggested that if one of the ladies would play on the organ a hymn they would sing, and they all united in the singing.  In one cottage where the boys had received a particularly good report, the matron had prepared a treat of molasses candy.
                “Everything through the whole institution was clean, neat and systematic.  The boys are healthy and in good physical condition, and apparently in good spirits.  There would seem no reason why such a training for several years should not serve to correct evil tendencies in all these boys – the training of the head and the hand and shall I say the heart?
                “Only a few people in the world like Colonel Hawley ever think to do these things which would teach these boys to be men, to feel that they have a friend, a human friend, to whom they can go in time of trouble and need.  And that money and the work of devoted teachers can do for these boys is being done there at the House of Refuge.  Yet, they have few friends and little incentive to follow in the path of virtue, other than that which habit gives them, I come away convinced that were we all more mindful of the waifs who have not yet been sent to this school, or if time and opportunity permitted, would take the trouble to become the friend of only one of these poor children, whose condition may be partly due to the poverty of parents, that we would be following in the footsteps of Him who said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me,’ and we would be better men and women for it.”

Experience Hands-On History this Summer at the Chadds Ford Historical Society!

The Chadds Ford Historical Society is excited to announce two different summer camps this year! Returning again is our American Girl™ Doll Camp for two sessions. Learn about history through the eyes of Kaya, Felicity, Josefina and Addy. Camp activities include sewing, weaving, woodworking, cooking, dress-up, candle-making, Colonial games and more! Participants will end the camp with a special tea party. Recommended for children starting 2nd grade or older (7 years of age to start the camp). There are two sessions for the camp: June 20-24 and July 25-29 (this is currently sold out – waiting list only). The camp runs from 8:45-2 pm. Cost is $225/non-members and $200 for members. For further information and to download a registration form, please visit:
Our second summer camp is new for this year, our Hands-On History Summer


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Glenolden Mill's "Dusty Miller" and Lansdowne Theatre Show

The ruins of the Glen Olden Mill which burned in February, 1896, The ruins today would be in the middle of Delmar Drive as you enter Folcroft Boro from South Ave.
 The mill was built by Thomas Shipley in 1755 and came into the hands of Elisha Phipps in 1808
which is the setting of this story. Ephraim Inskeep bought the mill in 1828. Inskeep married Mary Olden (1795-1875) from New Jersey, a widow with a daughter, Margaretta. Margaretta married WIlliam Ridgeway and they moved to Chester County and had several children including  Ephraim Inskeep Ridgeway. In August 1849 both Margaretta and William Ridgeway dies from cholera and their children went back to the mill to live with their grandparents, Ephraim and Mary Inskeep. Sometime in the 1860's  Ephraim Inskeep Ridgeway took over the mill. He named the mill, Glen Olden, Glen for the pretty Muckinipattus Creek valley and Olden for his mothers maiden name.
 Famous Voyage of a Delaware County Manufacturer and Navigator – He Was Mourned As Dead – Elisha Phipps, the Miller of Glenolden Mill, Who Sailed the Muckinipattus on the High Seas in a Quest for a Market, Found It and Came Home With Gold in his Pocket
The advantages of this site for manufacturing purposes caught the eye of one of the earliest settlers, who came long before Penn, as the Ridgeway family, the present owners, have deeds going back to 1653 when the point of land washed by the Darby and Muckinipattus creeks was given the name of Calcon Hook, but nearly a century elapsed before a member of the sturdy family of Shipley from Darby, staked out the foundations for his mill in the wilderness.
             LITTLE TO FEAR FROM INDIANS – Despite the presence of a few predatory hands of Indians the farmers had pushed well in to the forests and meadows inland and Shipley had little to fear from any visits of red men, most of whom had retreated before the advance of the white man, while those that remained were too lazy or too cowardly to fight.  The squaws soon learned that Shipley’s hoppers ground wheat and corn with much less labor than was included in the aboriginal method and were among the earliest customers, though on the free list.
            Through all the Revolutionary period the wheels of Glen Olden Mills churned on and many a Colonist hauled his gram from the Chester and Darby Pike down the Calcon Hook path to the mills.
            Peace came, the young Republic was fairly on its way when a character who gave a distinct personality to the grist mill became its owner.  He was Elisha Phipps – sturdy, stolid, indefatigable.
            Phipps was not only the owner and operator of the mill, but his own shipmaster and commission agent.  He built a ship which he christened the Dusty Miller and used it to convey his flour from his mill wharf to Philadelphia and New York.  Phipps combined the trails of a Girard, a Captain Cook and a Letter, for his bins burst with grist and his boat was in for barters at many points.
            DUSTY MILLER DISAPPEARED – One day in August, the Dusty Miller well freighted, weighted anchor from the mill floated out from the Muckinipattus into Darby Creek and Phipps hoisted sail from New York.  Days went into weeks and Mrs. Phipps still looked in vain for the sail on Darby Creek. Then she made the stage journey to New York, but the Dusty Miller had not been in port, and none of the merchants with whom Phipps dealt had seen him.  Carrying a heavy heart, the wife returned with the consciousness that she was a widow.  Evidently the Dusty Miller was a wreck on the desolate New Jersey Coats.
            But still the wheels ground out the grist, farmers brought their grain, neighbor came to render sympathy, and John Pilmore, with tender sympathy for the bereaved woman, entertained the notion that time would assuage her grief and likewise make him owner of the prosperous mill.  Even disaster and death bring their competitions.
            FATE OF ELISHA PHIPPS – And, Elisha Phipps – manufacturer, navigator, trader – what of his fate?  When the Dusty Miller reached the capes of the mouth of Delaware Bay on an August day, he conceived the notion that the West Indian ports offered better markets than could be found in New York, he headed his boat southward, and with favoring winds made a rapid voyage to Havana, Cuba.  His cargo of flour and cornmeal was quickly exchanged for one of molasses and rum, with a goodly number of Spanish doubloons for the locker of Phipps’ cabin; then the path of the Dusty Miller was headed north.  Rum and molasses formed a ratio for a ready sale in New York and after taking on some household necessities, Phipps’ boat plowed the Narrows before a stiff breeze on the way north.
            SAILED BACK TO PORT AT LAST – One day in the latter part of October, as the sun was nearing the western horizon, a sail appeared off the mouth of the Muckinipattus, and a few minutes later the Dusty Miller moored to the mill wharf.
            Then Phipps nonchalantly walked into the house, tossed his hat into a corner, sat down to the supper table that had just been spread, and ate the evening meal with no more concern than if he had just returned from a social call upon a neighbor.
            The Glen Olden Mill changed owners from time to time, then came into possession of Ephraim J. Ridgeway, by who it was operated, but one fateful night a few years ago an incendiary opened the torch and one of Pennsylvania’s historic mills, around which the association of two centuries was simply a ruin and a memory of ancient Calcon Hook.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Norwood Park Lawsuit and Bobby Rydell Concert Benefit, tickets going fast!

Norwood Park in the early 1900's. The park was almost lost to the boro thru a lawsuit over ownership.


 In the early 1890's, when a Norwood contractor began building a home in the middle of Norwood Park residents were outraged! Local lawyer, Joseph Calhoun, claimed title to the park, thru a lawsuit against John Cochran the original developer of Norwood. Calhoun purchased the Park from the lawsuit winner. What followed was several years of hearings and lawsuits by the Boro against Calhoun. Incredibly Calhoun lived in Norwood at the time. The suit was finally settled in April 1897.

Chester Times

            NORWOOD’S PARK


 Judge Waddell Confirms the Report of the Master, David F. Rose, Esq. – Opinion of the Court

            In an opinion handed down by Judge W. B. Waddell on Saturday, in the case of Commonwealth vs. William Calhoun, et. al., the report of Master David F. Rose IS CONFIRMED.  This was virtually an action to test whether the citizens of Norwood were entitled to have the use of three lots given by John Cochran in 1872 and 1873 as a place for a public park, or whether the parties who purchased them after they were sold at Sheriff’s sale were entitled to the right title and interest in them.  According to the Court’s decree confirming the Referee’s report the public still maintains the grant given by Mr. Cochran.

            The report of the Referee set out that the three lots in question were owned by Mr. Cochran and that it was his intention that they should be set apart for public use as a park.  No deed of dedication was then made nor has any been made since.  To bear this out a number of sales of lots about the three in question took place and at each Mr. Cochran gave notice that they had been dedicated to public use.  The public character of the lots was recognized by the turnpike assessors, who made no assessment of them for the purpose of taxation.

            In April 1878, Hon. John M. Broomall obtained judgment against John Cochran for $2000.  This was obtained on a judgment note which was marked to the use of George Broomall.  On June 11th, 1833, these park lots were sold under an execution on said judgment and were purchased by George Broomall, to whose use they had been assigned.

            Prior to the Sheriff’s sale a number of the citizens of Norwood, alarmed at the danger of losing the park lots, held a meeting and organized for the purpose of protecting the rights of the park lots.  Mr. Calhoun, one of the defendants in this suit, took an active part in these meetings and contributed to the fund raised to employ counsel.  Then the day of the sale came a notice was read of this action by Mr. Galloway.

            On September 15th, 1891, George Broomall sold the three lots in question to William Calhoun and later he sold part of them to Charles Lynch, B. Mitchell Newbold and Charles K. Swift.  In view of this fact the referee said the question arose had George Broomall notice of the dedication of those lots for public park purposes?  He goes on to cite how this could be obtained and decided that he had sufficient notice.  He decided that the defendants should be restrained from having the use or occupation of said lots and that the costs of the proceedings be paid said defendants.

            OPINION OF THE COURT – Judge Waddell’s opinion says:  “We think the facts found by the Referee are justified by the evidence, and its conclusions are the legitimate result of those findings.  Such findings of fact are conclusive upon us unless clear mistake, misconduct or manifest error be shown.  No such error is apparent here.  It is true his conclusions are not entitled to the same weight and may be reviewed with more latitude by the Court but to reverse the Referee his conclusions must be clearly wrong.

            “We cannot say that of the conclusions of the Referee in this case.  They seem to be properly drawn from the facts found:  Entertaining these views we must dismiss the exceptions filed by the defendants, confirm the report and sign the decree submitted.”


Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Media Armory 108 years ago and I'm giving a talk on Thursday!

The Media Armory on State Street right after it was built in 1908. The armory is now Trader Joes.


                The new Armory in the borough of Media, as it will be when completed, the future home of Company H. N. G. P.  This new structure which is in the course of erection, is located at the corner of State and Church Streets, in one of the most prominent points in the borough for a building of this kind.  The good citizens of Media who interested themselves in raising the $5,000 necessary to secure the Stat appropriation for this purpose are being congratulated on all sides.  The building will be a credit to the town when completed, which will be in the near future.  If nothing unforeseen happens the Medial soldier boys should be comfortably ensconced in their new home before the snow falls.
                Major Frank G. Perrin was one of the active spirits in bringing the new armory to the borough, and he is doing all in his power to give to the soldier boys whom he formerly commanded one of the coziest homes in the State.  The Media company has the distinction of having the addition to Major Perrin, Charles Lawton, who is Battalion Sergeant Major.  The officers of the company are:  Captain Walter R. Johns; First Lieutenant, William Westcott; Second Lieutenant, Robert F. Engle.
                The officers and men are hard at work at present to make a good showing at the coming annual encampment.  It will be no fault of Captain Johns if the company does not receive a high rating on inspection.
                An excellent account of the armory is published in a current issue of “Our State Army and Navy.”  The following is the description of the building”
                The structure is being built of local stone, and the purpose of the building is at once expressed by its heavily buttressed walls and low flanking towers.  The walls are surmounted by broken battlements of stone.
                The building when complete will provide ample quarters for the officers and men, with a Drill Hall at the rear, open for the entire height of the structure. This hall will have between walls a clear space of ninety by sixty feet.
                The basement, which will extend under the entire Armory, will provide for ammunition vaults and camp storage for the Company.  Here also will be placed the kitchen, toilet room and heating plant.
           The space under the Drill Hall will at some future date be fitted up for a modern rifle range, with space reserved for bowling alleys, etc.
                Upon entering the building one passes through the Sally Porte directly into the Drill Room.  Opening upon this corridor and adjacent to the Drill Room, is the locker room, which will provide lockers and accommodations for sixty men.  The lockers installed here will be of pressed steel pattern with arrangement for ventilating.
                At the front of the building on the right, will be placed the officers’ quarters, while o the left-hand side will be the company library or reading room.
                On the second floor will be located the quarters for the quartermaster and first and second sergeant.  Next to these and extending across nearly the entire front of the building will be placed the Company Room.
                At the end of the Drill Hall at the second floor level will extend a spectator’s balcony running the full width of the Drill Hall.  As this will be directly hung from the trusses above, no inconvenience at the drill floor level will result from supports underneath.
                The building will be finished with all modern improvements and will be heated with steam and lighted with electricity and gas.
                The interior finish will be of hard wood.