Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Willcox Mills in Concord Twp. and upcoming Delco events!!

The original Ivy Mills stood at the intersection of Ivy Mills Ed. and Polecat Rd. today just east of Chester Creek. The above picture taken about 1865 is from a book on the history of the mills published some 120 years ago.

December 22, 1905 – Chester Times


Delaware County Plant that has a National Place in the Industries of the Country

    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 Willcox, 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 Willcox, 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the course of the Revolution, Thomas Willcox died, but some time before the war broke out, it was supposed that he had withdrawn from the management of the mills, having turned the business over to his son Mark.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 Willcox 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, Willcox 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, Willcox 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


Weekend hayrides are back at Linvilla! Fun for the whole family, take a ride through the orchards to see what’s in bloom this season. Tickets available online and are weather permitting.

Delaware County Arts Consortium presents the Delco Arts Spring Fling, a one-day celebration featuring both in-person and virtual events for attendees of all ages. Don’t miss your chance to support the arts in Delco this spring.

The incredible summer fountain displays are returning to Longwood Gardens beginning on May 6th. Three fountain gardens offer daily performances including the Main Fountain Garden, which is considered to be one of the finest performance fountains in the world.

Calling all soccer fans! Get your foam fingers and face paint ready because spectators are officially permitted back in Subaru Park. Head to the website to purchase your tickets today to cheer on the Philadelphia Union!

The Towne House—a local Delco favorite, has made a return to the food scene. After closing its doors in 2015, this iconic spot is being returned to its former glory and is serving up classic Irish favorites (both food and drink!) to Delaware County.

Want to know what’s happening in Delaware County? Follow us on our socials for the latest news, happenings, events and more in Delco.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Holmes Presbyterian Church and businesses fight over opening on Sunday!! Colonial Plantation Events!!

The northeast corner of Holmes Rd. and MacDade Blvd. about 1943. One of the small businesses the Holmes Presbyterian Church was trying to close in the 1920"s. The original Holmes Presbyterian Church stood right across the street where the WaWa Store is today. The building was torn down about 1969.

Note :  As I talked  about several months ago , Baseball games had people up in arms for playing on Sunday. Churches also got in the act demanding that all businesses close on Sunday. Holmes Presbyterian Church led the battle in Ridley Twp; and this was front page news!. The church lost the battle.

CHESTER TIMES – August 16, 1926  


 Only One Merchant Closes on Sunday 

Church Group to Plan Action

          Four of the five stores in Holmes yesterday remained open in defiance of the Sunday ban issued by the trustees of the Presbyterian Church about three weeks ago.  Andrew Rankin, who operates a stand on Parker Avenue, was the only storekeeper who acceded to the request of the trustees and closed voluntarily by August 15.

          As a result of the storekeepers’ refusal to remain closed on the Sabbath, the trustees will meet in special session either tonight or tomorrow night to map out plans to force the merchants to observe the Sunday ban.

          This course was decided upon at a meeting of the trustees last Wednesday evening when they decided to refer all plans for action to a special meeting to be called early in the week.  In this way they attempted to give the storekeepers the full time allotted to them by the letter sent out three weeks ago which set the date of the trustees ultimatum as Sunday, August 15. 

          It is not known just what action is contemplated by the trustees who are carrying on the fight for the closed Sabbath in the absence of Rev. J. Earl Jackman, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Holmes and leader of the opposition to open stores on Sunday.  Last week one of the trustees met in conference with District attorney William Taylor at Media, and it is thought that the action taken by the church group will follow the lines laid down by Mr. Taylor in this conference.

          No change was apparent yesterday in the determination of the storekeepers to fight the closed Sunday move to a standstill with the exception of the action of Mr. Rankin, who bowed to the wishes of the church faction by closing his stand, but continued to sell oil and gasoline.  These products have been exempted by the trustees who are directing their attach against the sale of groceries and refreshments on Sunday.

          All the other storekeepers were open at the usual time and did a brisk trade despite the knowledge that their actions would lead to an attempt on the part of the church faction to force them to observe the Sunday ban.  The feeling among the merchants is that the trustees have “bitten off more than they can chew” in their attempt to close the stores, and they are awaiting with interest further action.

 Colonial Plantation Events

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation invites you to Sheep Shearing & Textiles Saturday, May 8th and May 15th 11:00 am-4:00 pm (Last admission is 3:00 pm) Come to the Plantation on Saturday, May 8th or Saturday, May 15th, and see our rare breed sheep lose their fleece. We will have Eva Mergen, one of our farmers, explain how to shear and then demonstrate the skill by using hand shears. We will also have people demonstrating most of the steps for turning that wool into cloth for clothing, and visitors will have an opportunity to card wool. We will explain how to care for sheep, what they eat, and the advantages of various breeds. There will also be a chance to learn about our other farm animals including our horses, ox, pigs, chickens, geese, and turkeys. There will be hearth cooking, garden, farm, and house tours. Check website for shearing times. Enjoy a day in the country that is very close to home. We advise pre-purchasing tickets, and as always, COVID safety measures will be in place, and masks that cover your nose and mouth will be required, Purchase tickets in advance by visiting Use GPS address: 3900 N. Sandy Flash Drive, Newtown Square, PA 19073 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The hanging of Elizabeth Wilson at "Gallows Hill".


This picture has nothing to do with the hanging of Elizabeth Wilson. I'm sure many of my Chester readers know and recognize this building now part of Widener University. This view is from about 1950.

Note: The hanging of Elizabeth Wilson for killing her twins in January of 1786 in Chester at Gallows Hill created all sorts of problems. Was she really guilty? Did her unknown boyfriend do it? or did she?Wilson did not accuse her unknown lover till after the trial when she was found guilty. Many people have written about her and her hanging and the truth has been blurred. The bare facts are below.

Also "Gallows Hill" in Chester were she was hung along with many other prior to 1850 was the intersection of Edgmont Ave. and Providence Rd.

The Hanging of Elizabeth Wilson


The hanging of Elizabeth Wilson in Chester almost 235 years ago is all wrapped up in folklore today. The young mother of two was hung for the murder of her twins. Wilson became pregnant out of wedlock and her twins were found dead in Phila. were Wilson had gone to find the father.  She had no luck finding the father and moved back to Chester County to East Bradford Twp. The unknown father came to Chester Co. took the children from her and stomped them to death. The father threatened to kill. Elizabeth Wilson and told her to say he had taken the children to New Jersey and she told that story. When the children’s bodies were found a few days later and the clothing etc. was linked to her, Elizabeth Wilson was charged with murder. Elizabeth was arrested and her trial began in October 1785. Elizabeth remained silent throughout her trial, never giving her own testimony or refuting the circumstantial evidence. The jury sentenced her to death by hanging.  Then her brother, William Wilson stepped in. He found the father in New Jersey but he denied everything. But Wilson found several witnesses that had seen Elizabeth and the father together. The story varies but it is believed the father killed the twins because he wanted no responsibility for them.  Her brother William traveled to Philadelphia to appeal to Charles Biddle, vice president of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council, for a pardon for Elizabeth. Biddle granted William a pardon, but William was delayed in his return to Chester, arriving only a short time after Elizabeth was hung on January 3, 1786. According to legend William Wilson rode from Phila to Chester in a little over an hour and his horse dropped dead just as he galloped up waving the pardon from Biddle. His sister, Elizabeth had been hung just 10 minutes before and was cut down immediately but could not be revived.

A special thanks to Shelley Ashfield, Chester Historian for the article below. 

Gallows Hill

"The graveyard for negroes above mentioned was on Edgemont road, above Twelfth, and was used for the interment of slaves by the sufferance of the then owner of the land.  The latter, Grace Lloyd, in her will, dated 6th of Fourth month, 1760, made the following bequest: 'And

it is my mind and will, and I do hereby order and direct that the piece of burying ground, being forty feet, fronting Edgemont Road, in said borough, thence seventy feet back and forty feet in breadth, shall at all times hereafter, forever, be used for and as a burying place for negroes, that is to say, for such as shall have belonged to my late husband or myself, and such as do or hereafter may belong to Friends of Chester Meeting, and as such as in their life-time desire to be buried there, but not for any that are executed, or lay violent hands upon themselves, and that none be buried there without the consent of the Overseers of the Friends' Meeting at Chester.'

The lot thus set apart was surrounded by a tall, thick-set hedge, but after the execution of several persons at the intersection of Edgemont and Providence roads (the colonial law then requiring the burial of the body of the culprit near the gallows) rendered the locality a place of dread, and [it soon began to be regarded] as a spot to be avoided when living and shunned as a place of interment.  In time even that the lot had ever been used as a graveyard was forgotten until the clause in Lydia Wade's will directed attention to it.  In 1868, John and James C. Shedwick erected the row of houses on the east side of Edgemont Avenue, above Twelfth, and while the excavations for the cellars were being made a number of human bones were exposed.  At that time they were thought to be the remains of Indians, the fact that it was the site of an old graveyard being unknown to the public." (Henry Graham Ashmead, History of Delaware County, pp.336-337)

Gallows Hill's original function as a dignified burial place was contaminated by those who saw fit to raise the gallows at that crossroads of Providence and Edgemont.  It is a testament to the triumph of Goodness that a place of restoration, where the hungry are fed - Chef Reeky's - has sprung up in its place.  Support this good man.  And before we take that first bite, let us say a prayer for the souls whose bones upon which the foundations of that building rests. (photo credit: Chef Reeky's Widener)

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Burn Brae Mental Hospital in Clifton Hghts.

The Burn Brae Hospital in Clifton Heights about 1890. Built in 1859 it closed in 1969. It was a private hospital for the mentally insane. It was designed to accommodate forty patients, 20 of each sex.  It actually stood in Upper Darby Twp. Clifton Hgts. postoffice. It was on the southwest corner of  Oak Ave. and Baltimore Pike just east of today's Home Depot. It was torn down in 1971. Below is a description of the hospital from the 1884 Philadelphia Medical Registry. 

"It is a private Hospital for mental disease, and derives it support from the payments made for board and medical care of patients. No patient is received for a less period than three months. A certificate of insanity, signed by two physicians, and acknowledged before a magistrate, is invariably required. A lady, well educated and of unexceptionable manners and deportment, resides in the same apartments, and devotes her time to lady patients, thus securing them on all occasions a pleasant companion and a watchful friend. A limited number of cases of Opium habit can be admitted."



A Place Where the Afflicted are Tenderly Cared For

                One of the largest and finest buildings of which Clifton Heights boasts is that of the Burn-Brae Asylum, located on the Baltimore Pike, about an equal distance from Clifton and Primos stations and less than ten minutes’ walk from either.

                Burn-Brae was founded in April 1859, by Dr. R. A. Given, as a private establishment for the insane, and in its treatment of cases of this kind has met with satisfactory success.

                The location is well adapted for such an institution, all the surroundings being of the most pleasant character.  The buildings are on very high ground, and command extended and cheerful views.  On the premises is a large artificial lake for boating.  A brilliant fountain is constantly playing and spouting up water in front of the house, flowers and shrubbery and pleasant walks abound, and everything within and without the house conspire to cheer and divert the unfortunate patient and distract his attention from his own morbid ideas.

                An annex has been lately erected on the male side which greatly increases the accommodations of the institution.  The new department is supplied with comfortable bath rooms and water closets, and the entire structure is thoroughly warmed, lighted and ventilated.  A new gas machine for furnishing the gas is in course of construction.

                Burn-Brae asylum, through its successful treatment has gained a high reputation, and patients are sent here from all parts of the Union.  The institution continues to receive the benefit of the long experience, personal care and attention of its founder, Dr. Robert A. Given, and his assistant, Dr. J. Willoughby Phillips.

                The institution is doing a noble work and Dr. Given is in every way worthy of the name and success which he has achieved.  In many ways the asylum is an advantage to Clifton Heights borough.

The McDonald's and Burn Brae

Note: The story below is from Bob McNulty who put it on a Phila. History Facebook Page. Special friend Anita McKelvey bought it to my attention. The story is interesting to say the least and after being committed to Burn Brae by her husband, Mrs. McDonald was rescued by her family. The story made all the local papers. Please read

"Francis J. McDonald was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, on August 10, 1865. As a young man, he worked as a reporter for the Reading Eagle before moving to Newport News, Virginia, to study ship design. In 1891, he moved to a rooming house in Philadelphia at Third and Spruce Streets, where he met his future wife, Zaida Arnold Lucas, who was six years his senior. Francis and Zaida married on November 9, 1892, at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church. They lived at 2130 N. Van Pelt Street. The McDonalds had two children, Sommers Taylor Smith McDonald, in 1894, and Francis J. McDonald Jr., in 1902.
Francis worked as a draftsman for the Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Co. at Beach and Palmer Streets. In 1902, he was promoted to company secretary. He left Neafie and Levy in 1905 to become the president and treasurer of the Mifflin Street Wharf, which a year later became the Philadelphia Ship Repair Co. At the same time, he also became the president and treasurer of the Camden Ship Building Co. and the Philadelphia Steamship Co. Other businesses that he became affiliated with were, the Globe Ship Supply Co., the Globe Sheet Metal Works, the Union Machine Works and Iron Foundry, and the Keystone Welding and Engineering Company. Between 1902 and 1907, Francis became a very wealthy man.
Francis and Zaida had an awful marriage. She felt that he was cruel, unfaithful and neglectful to her needs, while he came to despise her extreme jealousy, suspicious nature and erratic behavior. They argued frequently, and, as time went on, his verbal abuse toward her turned physical. Francis left Zaida on September 11, 1905 and took a room at Green’s Hotel at Eighth and Chestnut Streets, which would be his home for the next four years. Zaida and the boys moved to 2238 N. 19th Street.
Francis monetarily supported his estranged family and, in 1908, he bought them a beautiful estate in Ardmore at 116 Montgomery Avenue. Later that year, their eldest boy, Sommers, enrolled at the Central Manual Training School at 17th and Wood Streets and moved in with Francis at Green’s Hotel.
On July 26, 1909, 15-year-old Sommers took ill and was admitted to Jefferson University Hospital. The poor boy had contracted pneumococcal meningitis. Francis didn’t let Zaida know about Sommers’s illness until the evening of July 27, when the lad took a turn for the worse. She planned to take the first train into Philadelphia, but Francis didn’t want the dying boy to be subjected to one of her emotional meltdowns, so he phoned her back early the next morning and told her not to come, that Sommers was doing much better. A few hours later, Zaida received a telegram from Francis informing her that their son died at 10 a.m.
Francis, fearing that Zaida would cause an embarrassing scene, banned her from attending Sommers’s funeral. She saw in the obituary that the service was scheduled at Charles Stewart’s Funeral Home, 104 Cricket Avenue in Ardmore, at 2 p.m on July 31. She defied Francis and called a taxi. When she got to the funeral home, though, it was empty. She learned that, at the last minute, Francis had the service moved about a half-mile away to St. Colman’s Church. The funeral mass was already underway by the time Zaida arrived. Francis anticipated her actions and had the church doors locked. Zaida became hysterical and repeatedly cried aloud the name of her deceased son and begged for him to get up from his casket and come to her. She then unsuccessfully tried to enter the church through an open window. Francis came out and had his driver take her back home.
Francis was furious that Zaida had embarrassed him in front of his friends and business associates. Two days after the funeral, he had two doctors declare his wife insane and had her whisked away against her will to the Burn Brae Asylum for the Insane in Clifton Heights, Delaware County. Francis then moved into her house on Montgomery Avenue and had their surviving son, 7-year-old Francis Jr., sent to Sacred Heart Convent in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, to be raised by nuns.
On September 22, 1909, after seven weeks confined at Burn Brae, Zaida broke free from her nurse and escaped to a waiting car during her daily evening stroll. After a year in hiding, living with friends in Ambler, Zaida filed for divorce and sought custody of Francis Jr. At the end of a very ugly, three-year fight, Zaida was awarded Francis Jr. and $33 weekly support (equal to $813 today)."

Sunday, April 11, 2021

125 years ago a school was not a school and a special event from the Delco Historical Society!!

This one room school house stood on Fairview Rd. in Woodlyn from the 1850's till  the early 2000's. It closed as a one room school when Woodlyn School was built in 1912. The teacher lived on the second floor.

Note: When the Penna. School Law came into existence in 1835 one room school houses were everywhere in Delaware County. The schools were originally "subscription" schools built  by local subscribers who raised money and elected their own school board. As the population of Delaware County increased more teachers were hired. It was not unusual for two teachers to teach in a one room school house. Prior to 1910 a teacher was considered a school. As weird as it sounds today that's the way the State of Penna. did it. When I first began working on Delco School histories I could not understand why there were so many schools until I realized that is the way schools were counted in the old days. A school was a teacher NOT a building.


What It Costs to Teach the Young Ideal How to Shoot.

                There are 31 school districts in Delaware County and 236 schools.  They are taught by 18 Male and 226 female teachers, for which an average salary of $6,087 is paid to the males and $4,319 to the females.  Last year the total receipts of the districts, including $18,655.54 as State appropriation, was $276,445.34, of which $258,090.60 were expended.  Of this amount the teachers received $100,215.78, new buildings and improvements cost $64,070.14, and fuel, collectors’ fees and other expenses cost $93,780.67.  The number of boys enrolled last year was 6,067; girls, 5,987, or 12,054 pupils in all, with an average attendance of 7,708.  The cost per scholar per month was $1.17.

                Chester City has 65 schools, 2 male teachers and 63 female teachers.  The number boys enrolled is 1,583; girls, 1,735, of a total of 2,260, with an average attendance of 90 per cent.  The total receipts last year were $64,457.69 (of which $6,036.02 was from the State) and the expenditures $64,029.17.  The amount paid for teachers’ salaries was $27,420.50.

                South Chester expended $8,143.50 for the salaries, or a total of $24,037.86 for the expense of maintaining the district.  The State appropriation was $1,268.28 and the receipts from other sources, $23,863.98.  The enrollment is 482 boys and 465 girls, with an average attendance of 82 per cent.

                The cost per scholar per month in Chester is 96 cents, and in South Chester $1.17 per pupil.  The tax in Chester is 5 mills and in South Chester 7 mills.

 Fully two fifths of our school houses are miserable, ill-contrived structures, and are wholly unfit for school purposes.  It is sad to have to report so many worthless buildings in Delaware County – a county too that is abundantly able to have her school affairs in the best condition possible without imposing an undue burden upon her people.  In no district of the county can there be found four such wretched specimens of school architecture as in Darby Township.  The school rooms of these are not only rough, uncouth and destitute of all refinement, but are as ill-adapted to teaching as can well be conceived.  The buildings, however, are better than the furniture, (if furniture it can be called.)

Women's Journey to Equal Rights 
live online conversation event hosted by Delaware County Historical Society

About this Event

This live conversation event will include Constitutional Law Professors Jim May and Alicia Kelly, both from Delaware Law School and equally instrumental in getting the state of Delaware to ratify equal rights for women. The event will be moderated by DCHS Board member, Stefan Roots. The three panelists, Dr. Merle Horowitz, Honorable Linda Cartisano and House Minority Leader for PA, Joanna McClinton will each talk about their career paths – challenges of being a woman in their various professional work arenas.

This event is free and open to the public. Please contact Delaware County Historical Society (DCHS) with any questions, or 610-359-0832.

To learn more about DCHS, make a donation or join as a friend, visit

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Darby Boro Library needs your help

The Darby Library at 1001 Main St. in Darby from about 1905. The library is still in the same building which opened in 1872.

   Before Radio, Tv., computers and cell phones, libraries were the place to go. Libraries were the place to go for information, research or just to meet and talk. Ben Franklin founded the first library in Pennsylvania in 1731 and the Darby Library Co. was founded 12 years later in 1743, On May 10, 1743 some 30 men met to organize the library and the first official meeting was held just 2 days later electing John Pearson as the first librarian. The men came from  as far away as Ridley Twp to start the library. John Sketchley, step father of John Morton, was an original founder. The original books of the library from the 1740's the Darby Library still has on display. It cost three dollars a year to join the library. The problem was getting books for patrons to read. A list of 43 books was selected to start the library but there was no way to get the books in America. There were no businesses in America printing anything at the time and the books had to be bought an shipped from England. Darby Library board member, John Bartram, had a friend in London, England Peter Collinson. Collinson bought the books the library wanted and shipped them to them, something Collinson did for years. The first library building was at the home of the first librarian, John Pearson at 934 Main St. up until the mid 19th century the home of the library was in the home of the librarian were a room was set aside. The current library building at 1001 Main St. opened in 1872. The building a Darby Landmark needs help a lot of work to bring it up to date structurally. The Library is applying for several grants to get the work done, but that does not mean they will get them. The library is a 501[c]3 organization were donated money is tax deductible. Please take the time and help a Delaware Co. Landmark thru a rough time.


Established in 1743, the Darby Library Company has continually provided library service to Darby Community and beyond. It is a 501 c3 Corporation with the id number of 23-1396790.


The current home was built in 1866 and now needs major improvements.

·        First and most important, the bricks are crumbling and bowing.

·        It needs a new roof and better management for water runoff.

·        Lighting needs to be up graded to LEDs.

We are constantly applying for Grants to solve the building’s problems but as of today, we have not been the recipient.

You can help in two ways:

Write a letter in support of the Library and its importance to you and the community. Letters can be sent to or mailed.

Donate towards our capital fund. Checks can be made out to the Darby Library  1001 Main St. Darby PA  19023


April 3 and Onwards!
Come and meet our new pig mom-to-be!
Thank you to all those volunteers who joined us on our opening day on March 27! We had a tremendous turn out of both volunteers and visitors, and even Mother Nature smiled on us!
Come and join us in the months ahead - Volunteer sign up now permits sign up up to the end of May!

The Plantation cooks are back, and this Saturday for the first time in over a year we were able to share the fruits of out labor with other volunteers!

See all our farm animals especially our new Leicester Longwool sheep, Hog Island sheep, and Tamworth mixed breed pig. There will be hearth cooking, woodworking, long rifle demonstrations, spinning, weaving, working with flax, colonial music, candle making and seed planting. The ox will be yoked and the horse harnessed so some farm work can be completed.


New this year - Sunday Storytime!
Join us the 3rd Sunday of every month from 12:00pm until 2:00pm we will be reading from a children's book, the children will then do a hands on activity, go on a behind the scenes farm tour and then you are welcome to picnic in our grove!

April 10th - Historic Timeline
Witness history throughout the ages from Europe to the Americas and from the 16th century to modern times.

April 24th - Slavery and Servitude in Colonial Pennsylvania
Come and see how work was accomplished on our farm. This will be a day for children and adults alike. There will be hands on activities such as candle making and planting in the garden. Ned Hector will address slavery in the colony with his “Imaginary discussion with George Washington”.

May 8th & May 15th - Sheep Shearing and Textiles
Come to the Plantation on Saturday, May 8th or Saturday, May 15th, and see our rare breed sheep lose their fleece. We will have Eva Mergen, one of our farmers, explain how to shear and then demonstrate the skill by using hand shears. We will also have people demonstrating most of the steps for turning that wool into cloth for clothing, and visitors will have an opportunity to card wool. We will explain how to care for sheep, what they eat, and the advantages of various breeds. There will also be a chance to learn about our other farm animals including our horses, ox, pigs, chickens, geese, and turkeys. There will be hearth cooking, garden, farm, and house tours. Check website for shearing times. Enjoy a day in the country that is very close to home. To purchase tickets or make a free member reservation

May 29th - Militia Muster and Lock, Stock and Barrel Display
Join us on Saturday, May 29th for a discussion by local historian Chris Reardon as he presents an in-depth look at the evolution of hunting and military arms from the beginning of European settlement in the Delaware Valley, to the Valley's impact on the arms used as the eastern settlements push westward. There will be a small colonial muster. In colonial times, a muster was the gathering of local farmers to drill, work, and socialize with good food and music. The muster will include long rifle demonstrations, fire starting, hearth cooking as well as farm chores and our farm animals.

LET US KNOW if you plan to come out by signing up ABOVE - this is important! Please plan to be set up and ready to go at 11am, since this is our most popular time slot and visitors are typically raring to go!

The house and farm have all been spring cleaned, and Kevin and Eva have the place in better shape than ever! However we know it won't stay that way for long! Moving forward we will be asking that one of the weekend volunteers sign up to arrive upto an hour earlier to give the house a sweep, and clean the dead bugs and spider webs off the window sills. This will be particularly important once we start to allow more visitors into the house

Please Note - No one is to park along the lane. We have had many trees removed due to lantern flies and the cars are now visible to the public.

2021 Policies for Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation regarding Covid -19

The Plantation plans to be open for public visitation starting March 27, 2021 on weekends, Saturdays and perhaps Sundays if staffing is available and interest is again high. We have just a couple of live school visits scheduled and all are small groups. If permitted, the Plantation will operate a summer camp (to start no earlier than June 20, 2020). We will develop a similar policy for camp likely in May.
The number of visitors on weekends will be limited to ensure proper social distancing. For now we would like to increase the total capacity of people on site to be 75. All but a few of them again will be outside. We expect this number to rarely, if ever be exceeded.

We will open the farmhouse and stone cabin similarly, as we did last year. Windows and doors will be open throughout the visited areas and visitors will be allowed in family groups. If an interpreter is demonstrating inside (such as spinning, sewing or weaving) we will ensure that there is adequate distancing. There will be an inside cook in the kitchen but we are able to distance adequately there. Food will be prepared and eaten by just volunteers, as in the past. Any meal will be eaten outside and there we be no eating in groups. Any outdoor demonstrations and activities will allow six foot separation between the demonstrator and the public, and staff will be on hand to discourage different groups of visitors from congregating or getting too close.

All outdoor activities such as plowing, gardening, animal care, blacksmithing, woodworking and interpreting the well, will be demonstrated by a single staff member in an outdoor location. If help is needed by another staff member social distancing will be maintained. Only visitors that arrived together (for example, members of the same family or household unit) may watch a demonstration at one time.

As long as the state recommends it, visitors over the age of two years will be required to wear a mask on admission and keep it on during their stay, and all employees will wear masks while required by state law/DCNR law. Hand sanitizer stations will be available at the entrance/exit, near the restrooms, and at all regularly trafficked areas.

The restroom will be open at all times (once the park turn the water back on) with good ventilation when the site is open for the comfort of the Plantation’s visitors and to give full access to handwashing. Restrooms will be disinfected regularly throughout the day while the site is open and at the end of the day after closing.