The Hendrickson House about 1900. The house stood where Crum Creek meets the Delaware River on property now owned by Boeing Vertol Co. The house was built c.1670 by Jacob Hendrickson.
NOTE: The Hendrickson House stood out of the way at Crum Creek and the Delaware River for years. From c. 1915 till 1957 it was on property owned by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Baldwin even paid to have the house restored in the 1920's. In 1957 Baldwin sold the property to Boeing Vertol which was moving to Ridley Twp. Boeing offered the Hendrickson House to the State of Pennsylvania and plans were made to move the house to Governor Printz Park in Essington. The state of Pennsylvania moved very slow and Boeing offered it to any museum etc. that would move the house and take care of it. In a surprise move, Delaware State came and removed the house to Fort Christiana State Park. Local historians were outraged that Pennsylvania let the house slip away.
The Hendrickson House
by Christine Morley
The old Hendrickson house, locally known as the old Swedish house, stands on the east bank of Crum Creek on a tract of ground in Eddystone, formerly owned by the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation. Recently, a transfer of part of the tract for the purpose of industrial development has aroused anxiety among people in the community who are interested in the preservation of old landmarks.
Their anxiety arises from its present need of extensive repairs, and from its location in a region devoted to industrial uses, which makes its fate uncertain. Although the Baldwin Company restored it in the 1920’s, time has taken its toll and the ancient structure is likely to disintegrate unless some way can be found to save it.
In a pamphlet issued by the Baldwin Company in 1928, this description is given of the old house as it appeared before the restoration: “The house was of stone with a projecting hip-roof, and the overhang was pierced with loopholes through which muskets could be fired in case of an Indian attack. The window sashes were hand-fashioned and the shingles split from slabs eighteen inches wide.” It adds that sash and shingles were replaced with new.
The house is two-storied, built of field-stone, and has a shingled hip roof with a chimney at each end. A rather misleading inscription may be seen about ten feet up from the ground at one end of the building. Scratched on two stones, one above the other, it reads: “Built 1620” This is misleading for there are no records of settlers in this area at that time. Moreover, if any Dutch or Swedish trader had built a house with a date stone, he would not have used the English word “built.”
The house has a cellar with an arched opening for air and light. There are two rooms side by side on the first floor, each with a fireplace. On the second floor is one large room, reached by a perpendicular ladder built inside a shaft beside the chimney in the larger of the two first floor rooms. Pieces of wood are nailed to one wall of the shaft near the top, to provide hand holds for anyone climbing the ladder, which ends at the floor level of the upper room. There the climber must step off the top of the ladder or scramble off on hands and knees.
This is truly a primitive dwelling without provision for comfort or convenience except the fireplaces, and a well with a pump which was near the back door when the house was restored.
The land was surveyed to Jacob Hendrickson in 1678, according to the Upland Court record. Hendrickson first came to the Delaware river in 1646 as a soldier under the Dutch commissary, Andries Hudde, who carried on a long series of disputes with Governor Printz, growing out of the conflict of Dutch and Swedish claims to the river and the right to trade with the Indians.
Dr. George Smith in his “History of Delaware County” suggests that Hendrickson “spied out the beauty and richness of this land” while he was here as a soldier, and made it his permanent home after his term of service had expired. As it was not uncommon for a man to build a house before he obtained title to the land, it seems probable that Hendrickson built his dwelling while the Dutch controlled the area from 1655 to 1664.
The writer had the privilege of visiting this house in 1953 and afterward sent a letter of inquiry to the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, asking some questions about the history of the house.
The reply contained the following statements from Dr. Amandus Johnson, Colonial expert of the Museum:
“Hendrix (Hendrickz, Hendrickzen, Hendrickson) was a Dutchman, for a time employed by the Dutch West India Company. He was the first to obtain this grant, though it was a part of New Sweden originally. Date scratched on stone in house is incorrect (1620). First section of house was built between 1656 and 1664 and added to later. Finished in its present form about 1682 or the end of 17th century. Architecture is Dutch.”
Since Dr. Johnson is an acknowledged authority on the early Colonial settlements in Pennsylvania, these notes are helpful in establishing the history of the Hendrickson house. It is to be hoped that some way may be found to save this dwelling from further decay or possible destruction. Such relics may not seem valuable in themselves but they are links with the past and part of our heritage which we should cherish, for, once destroyed, they cannot be replaced.