Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Delco Landmark is gone!!

A view you might not have seen of the Third Presbyterian Church at 9th and Potter Sts. This was taken about 1910. Another Delco landmark gone.

Note: Sadly the Third Presbyterian Church of Chester is gone. The Church built in 1896 had closed in 1986 and the Chester Historic and Preservation Committee had taken it over in 2015, and was in the process of restoring it. They had the church placed on the National Register of Historic Places in November of last year. The article below is from 1895 when the church construction started. There have been some mistakes in the news and this tells the early history of the church.


 A Picture of the Handsome New Edifice The Church’s History The Happy Realization of Years of Patient Effort by Pastors and People

            The TIMES today prints a picture of the handsome new edifice of the Third Presbyterian Church, as it will appear when completed.  The TIMES is indebted to Isaac F. Pursell, the architect, and the Building Committee, for the handsome perspective view of the church, to Mayor John B. Hinkson for the historical date, and to George D. Howell, C. E., for the description of the structure.
            On September 17, 1875, a preliminary meeting was held for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian congregation in the northern part of this city.  Those present were:  William V. Black, Adam C. Eckfeldt, J. Frank Black, Theodore Hyatt, Henry B. Black, John C. Lindsay, William Hinkson, Samuel Black, Lewis Ladomus, Stephen Parsons, John R. Sweney, J. Elwood Black, John B. Hinkson and James Stephens.  On September 20, Adam C. Eckfeldt, Stephen Parsons and Theodore Hyatt were appointed a committee to present to the Presbytery the application for organization.  ON September 30, a petition signed by fifty-three persons, was presented to the Presbytery of Chester, and the prayer of the petitioners was granted.  The Presbytery appointed Reverend Messrs. Bowers, Hodgkins and Lawson a committee to organize the new congregation.
            THE CHURCH ORGANIZED – On October 16th, 1872 the church was organized, the elders being Adam C. Eckfeldt and Stephen Parsons.  On October 31st, the elders were increased to four, H. B. Black and John B. Hinkson being elected.  The number was again increased to six.  The present elders are:  Henry B. Black, John R. Sweney, Maxwell Ocheltree, B. Frank Beatty, John B. Hinkson and J. Frank Black.  On November 29th a charter was granted to the congregation.
            On February 12th, 1893, at a congregational meeting, at which Rev. James W. Dale, D. D., presided.  Rev. Charles F. Thomas was elected the first pastor.  The pulpit up to that time had been supplied by Rev. E. R. Bowers.  On May 7th, 1873, the first election of trustees was held, when Theodore Hyatt, Adam C. Eckfeldt, John B. Hinkson, James Stephens, J. Frank Black, Lewis Ladomus, Henry B. Black, Samuel Black and William Hinkson, were elected.
            The present trustees are:  William Hinkson, President; John B. Black, Secretary, John C. Hinkson, Treasurer; William R. Murphy, Jr., John B. Hinkson, James E. Cardwell, George D. Howell, H. C. Farson and I. Engle Cochran, Jr.
            THE DEDICATION – On October 5, 1873 the church at Twelfth and Upland Streets was dedicated.  Previous to this the services had been held in Fulton Hall at Broad and Upland Streets. February 28, 1878, Rev. C. F. Thomas resigned and on May 31 of the same year, Rev. Thomas McCauley was called to the pastorate and served until June, 1893.  November 8, 1893, Rev. M. J. McLeod, the present pastor was called and installed the same month.
            The total number of members of the church including those on what is known as the Reserved Roll, is 439.  The number added to the membership during the past year is 87.  The Sabbath schools have always been flourishing, and the number of scholars in both schools is now about 550.  Maxwell Ocheltree is superintendent of the Sabbath schools and Miss Mary H. Volkhardt is teacher of the Infant school; Ridgely G. Hinkson is librarian.
            The congregation now numbers more than 500 which exceeds the comfortable capacity of the building and the Sabbath schools, which are held in the church room, being also cramped for room, it has been decided to erect a new building with appropriate Sabbath school rooms and other apartments on the lot recently purchased on the north side of Broad Street, west of Potter Street.  The land cost $15,000 and has been paid for.  The building with all its appurtenances and fixtures will probably cost $40,000 more.
            THE NEW BUILDING – The contract for the building has been let to William Provost, Jr., and it is now in course of erection.  The Building Committee are William Hinkson, Henry B. Black, J. Frank Black, M. Ocheltree, Geo. D. Howell and I. E. Cochran, Jr.
            In its general style the building is gothic.  The doorways and cloisters surrounding the auditorium, being broken by spires and projections, enhance the effect of the dome issuing out of its classic setting and give dignity and grace to the whole structure.
            The main audience room is octagonal, the supporting roof trusses rise from heavy pillars and meet in the center, high over the heads of the audience.  The chords will be of hardwood, worked into a fine finish and together with the other complimentary parts will give an audience room unsurpassed in our city.
            The pulpit is in the northeast corner in full view of the chapel, classrooms and cloisters, as well as of the main room.  Behind the pulpit will be the pastor’s study, lavatory, etc.  To the left of the pulpit the organ and choir will be ensconced, there being room for a grand organ and fifty singers.  The pews are to be circular, centering on the ascending from the pulpit so that every one of the 700 listeners will have an unobstructed view of the speaker.  Surrounding the main room on the south and west are the vestibules and cloisters.  There are three main entrances and two private ones.  These spaces will accommodate 200 extra sittings.
            SUNDAY SCHOOL ROOMS – The Sunday school rooms are easily connected with the church proper by disappearing doors and when all is thrown into one the speaker in the pulpit will stand in the center of a large chamber capable of comfortably seating eighteen hundred persons.
            The adult and infant school rooms are so arranged that the whole gathering will be under the control of the superintendent.  The ladies have a cozy parlor, kitchen and dining rooms.   The building will be of Avondale marble trimmed with Indiana limestone and roofed with Conosers terra cotta tile.  The outside dimensions are 116 feet front by 149 feet deep.  The structure will be set back 20 feet from the new building line of Broad Street.  The front of the church proper is 85 feet, the remaining width being occupied by the Sunday school building and porte cochers.
The aim has been to avoid all unnecessary expense in the shape of heavy ornamentation, but rather to sacrifice everything to the comfort of the audience, and utility for the work in hand.

The Delaware County Historic Preservation Network has put together a virtual Tour Tour of Delaware County Historic Sites. I'm president but Kate Clifford has done so much work to make our site the best. The link for the tour is below.

     Hopefully you've seen the list of Virtual Heritage Tourism, but if you haven't, check it out here: and if you create or have something that should be added to the list, please let us know. We would love for all municipalities to be represented. Even a short YouTube video of your site on a smart phone giving visitors a sneak peek as to what you have available could get you more visitors when you are able to be open. Keep your websites and social media up to date as to what your plans are and any postponed events will keep your audience engaged virtually until it is safe to open.      

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Ridley Township's first school still stands. May is history month!! Take a tour read below!!

The first school built in Ridley Township about 1885. The school stands in the 300 block of W, Chester Pike in Ridley Park Boro. The school opened in 1800 and closed in 1872 when Leiperville school was built. The school district abandoned the school and Harriet Stowe pictured above moved in and after 25 years claimed the school as her own. Today it is a private home.

Note: One room school houses have always interested me and many still stand as homes. People pass this building everyday and have no idea it was a one room school. This was built as a "subscription" school. Local farmers "subscribed" or gave money to have the school built. The Penna. School Act did not become law till 1835 when school districts etc were formed.

The Records of Ridley Township's First School

            The records are well preserved, although yellow with age.  The writing is plain and legible and can be read without difficulty and bears the date of July 25, 1800.  It was on that date that the deed of trust and conveyance of the ground in Ridley Township was made by Caleb Davis and wife to Abraham Trimble, Jeremiah McIlvain and Nathaniel Worrall in consideration of the sum of five shillings for the use of the inhabitants of the township and its vicinity in the education of the youth.
            THE SUBSCRIBERS – The deed of indenture is witnessed by Isaac Eyre and Hannah Semmens and endorsed by twenty-six residents of the township who subscribed money for the school building.  The subscribers to that fund were:  William Paul, $20; Jeremiah McIlvain, $20; Abraham Trimble, $30; John McIlvain, $30; James McIlvain, $30; Aaron Morton, $20; Jacob Pointer, $30; James Maddock, $5; Nathaniel Worrall, $30; Hugh McIlvain, $5; Henry Trimble, $5; Isaac McIlvain, $10; Caleb Davis, $40; Thomas Price, $5; William Beatty, $5; Michael Rowe, $5; Rachael Effinger, $5; Isaac Worrall, $5; George Jordan, $25; Peter Revel, $5; Daniel Lampleigh, $5; Robert Ravanport, $5; Jesse Worrall, $6; total $346.  James Barnard was Recorder of Deeds at that time and his name is attached to the acknowledgment of the deed.
The minutes of the first meeting held to take into consideration the erection of the school house show that twelve of these subscribers were present.  William Paul was chosen president and Aaron Morton was elected secretary.  A resolution was adopted that after having taken into consideration the property of building a school house on the lot of ground granted by Isaac Culin for that purpose they considered it unfit for that purpose, whereupon Caleb Davis, Esq., proposed to give forty-two perches of ground on the North side of the great road adjoining the lot now occupied by Peter Norbury, which was unanimously agreed by said meeting to be accepted.
THE SCHOOL IS BUILT – At an adjourned meeting held on the seventh month, 1800, three managers to build the school house were chosen by ballot, those elected being Caleb Davis, William Paul and John McIlvain.  These managers were authorized to build the school house of the size and construction they saw proper.  Five trustees to the school were also appointed at this meeting, their names being Peter Hill, Caleb Davis, William Paul, Abraham Trimble and James McIlvain.  The trustees were authorized and enjoined to employ a suitable tutor for the school and furnish him with a list of the names of the subscribers to the school house and such others as they thought proper.  They were also instructed to visit and examine into the state and decorum of the school once a month and keep a record of the visits and if the tutor did not suit to discharge him.  It also decided that if there was any surplus after the building was erected, it was to be used to purchase books for the use of the poor of the school.
THE TEACHER’S TROUBLES – The minutes show that the first teacher employed to teach the young ideas of Ridley Township how to shoot was Jacob Fenton, A.B., who presented a diploma from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.  His salary was $2 a quarter for each scholar and he began his duties on the 20th day of the 10th month in the same year 1800.  He was also allowed a reasonable charge for wood and ink, the minute’s record.
            At the next meeting off the trustees it is stated that complaint was made that the tutor sent his bills to the subscribers before they became due and that he had overcharged them for the amount of schooling.  The teacher was interviewed, admitted his mistake and things went along all right for that quarter.
            When the proposals for the second quarter were sent to the teacher he rejected them and intimated that he would run the school in defiance of the trustees and refused to give up the key.  A meeting of the subscribers was called and the outcome was the election of another teacher in the person of William Fairlamb.  His connection with the school was of short duration and from a casual perusal of the minutes there is every indication that the teachers of those days did not have a very smooth road to travel with the farmer’s boys.  Samuel Lytle was the next teacher employed and thirty-six scholars were enrolled.  His mode of teaching did not please the trustees and they said of him:  “We cannot entirely appropriate the conduct of the Master.”  The last teacher recorded is a Mr. Burrows and the attendance of scholars was dwindled down to fifteen.

Note: In doing research on schools, I was always confused by the number of school buildings in Delco and teachers etc. Things never added up. Reading this article straightened me out. Can you see what I'm talking about?

February 2l, 1891, Chester Times

What It Costs to Teach the Young Idea 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.

Special DCHPN E-Newsletter
May is Preservation Month
Do you have a favorite place in Delaware County? What inspires you about that site? Share your thoughts and a photo (or two) about the site and it'll be posted on the website for everyone to learn more about Delaware County history and what makes us special. Post it yourself (anyone who is a subscriber to the website can post) or email with your entry and check back on the website to see what you and others wrote. 

The Virtual Heritage Tourism site page more activities and places to visit remotely during the pandemic. Click on the button below to check out the page:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Rose Valley Taxes etc. Nothing is open. Check out DCHPN link below and unk. Pic!!

This postcard from about 1910 shows Rose Valley Rd. and how open the boro was at the time. The exact location of this picture is unknown.

Note: This article from 1930 is quite misleading looking to attract people to Rose Valley Boro. Rose Valley is not the smallest boro in Penna. and is not even the smallest boro in Delco, Rutledge is. William Price, one of the founders was a well known and respected architect and had his known ideas
with George Stephens on how to create a boro. They quickly split and Price had his own way. There were no school taxes in the boro because Rose Valley had a private school and residents paid tuition and not public school taxes. No sidewalks etc. to save money were Price ideas.

Another unknown picture from my collection. I believe it is the Aston area. Looking for a location.
Thanks Keith


          The smallest borough in the United States, where there is no public school; where property owners are forbidden to lay sidewalks in front of their property; and where the borough council is composed of very wealthy men, exists in this county.
          Rose Valley, three miles from Chester, with its population of 300, and its background of culture and art, is probably one of the most unique, as well as one of the most beautiful settlements in this State.
          The colored chauffeur, of one of the borough’s wealthiest residents, the latter burgess, is the constable and as such represents the majesty of the law in the town.  Stores are absolutely forbidden, paved streets are banned, and for many years, the taxes collected have remained in a bank unused.
          This modern Utopia was founded as a single tax colony in 1901 by William Price and Frank Stephens, but after several years, a difference in opinion regarding the management of the colony led to Stephens’ withdrawal.  He later went to Arden, Del., and there founded a single-tax colony and carried out his own ideas.
          Price, however remained, a colony of painters, sculptors, and other devotees of the arts.  Two abandoned mills, each almost 200 years old, became the rendezvous for the Rose Valley Folks, as they call themselves, and meetings, plays, and social gatherings were held nightly in the old stone mills.
          One day several years later, Jasper Deeter, a well-known actor, passed through the quaint settlement, and was struck by the beauty of one of the mills, and the idea of producing plays, with artistic rather than mercenary success in view, became imbedded in his mind.
          With $9 in his pocket and countless ideas in his mind, Deeter started the Hedgerow Repertory Group, and in 1923 the first plays were presented to an audience consisting mainly of Philadelphia art lovers and residents of the Valley.  The company has continued successfully since that time, until today it is known throughout the country, and has numbered Ann Harding, Emerson Tracy, Eva LeGalliene, and Paul Robeson, amongst its players.
          The theatre is perhaps the outstanding feature of Rose Valley, today, and the colony has gradually grown up around it, attracting numerous artists who now make the place their home.
          In their efforts to retain the rustic atmosphere, the borough council of Rose Valley banned sidewalks, businesses of any description, and even pave d streets.  There is no public school within the borough limits, the children attending the Wallingford school.  When the residents wish to attend church they also have to leave the borough.
          Arthur Rich, colored chauffeur for Maurice Bower Saul, millionaire attorney and burgess of the borough, is constable and the only law-enforcing officer in the borough.  What Rich does when he makes an arrest is problematical, for there is no magistrate to sentence his prisoner.
          The residents emphatically state that they have no wish to modernize the borough, wishing to retain the quiet peaceful surroundings, which make the place one of the most unique of Philadelphia’s suburbs.

Special DCHPN E-Newsletter
Learn about special online events and resources
Most events have been cancelled or postponed. Many more may be in the coming months. However, the Delaware County Planning Department and Visit Delco PA have compiled a list of 'Virtual Heritage Tourism' opportunities for you to peruse. They include videos of historic sites, virtual tours, online presentations and webinars, and self-guided tours you can do on your own. It also includes history and cultural activities you can do with your children. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Glen Mills School visit 120 years ago! DCHPN online events!

The Harrison Gym at the Glen Mills School was considered one of the finest gyms in the U.S. when it was first built.

Note: Although the Glen Mills School is closed it was considered one of the best in Penna. for many years. A look back on what it was like 120 years ago.

Glen Mills School in 1900

“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.”

Please read below: I'm president of the Delaware Co. Historic Preservation Network and a number of historic groups in the county have put together virtual tours etc. Special Thanks to Kate Clifford

Special DCHPN E-Newsletter
Learn about special online events and resources
Most events have been cancelled or postponed. Many more may be in the coming months. However, the Delaware County Planning Department and Visit Delco PA have compiled a list of 'Virtual Heritage Tourism' opportunities for you to peruse. They include videos of historic sites, virtual tours, online presentations and webinars, and self-guided tours you can do on your own. It also includes history and cultural activities you can do with your children. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Marcus Hook Quarantine Station and Delco History Tours!!

The Marcus Hook Quarantine Station view from the river about 1900 shortlty after it opened.

Note: Much has been said about the Tinicum Quarantine Station in Essington and it's wonderful restoration by Tinicum Twp. and rightfully so. The 1801 building is to become Tinicum Twp. Municipal Building according to the news. The 1801 building looks great. After it closed in 1895 a new station was opened in Marcus Hook and that station closed in the late 1940's. Please read


The Guard Placed Against the Entrance of Disease
 Hazards Taken by Officers

            Down at the State Quarantine Station at Marcus Hook are three men whose lives are placed in constant jeopardy by the nature of the profession in which they are engaged.
            These men are the quarantine doctors, heroes almost unknown to fame, who stand at the gateway of the Quaker City, guarding from the invasion of epidemics the lives of almost a million and a half of persons.  These men are Dr. Henry S. Heller, the quarantine physician, and Drs. Henry Horning and Joseph L. McCool, his assistants.
            The recent sensational death of Dr. J.M.B. Ward, who, leaving the steamer which he had boarded at night, accidentally tripped against the edge of the hatchway and fell into the ship’s hold, first called attention to the hazardous occupation of the self-sacrificing quarantine physician and the many risks he takes with his own life for the sake of safeguarding those of others.
            Like many other heroes, the quarantine doctors are quiet and unassuming.  They wear no decorations or shoulder straps, but they deserve them, because no soldiers fighting for their country render more valiant or valuable service than these three physicians, who are the guardians, in a sense, of the health and comfort of nearly a million and a half persons.
            They are at their posts day and night, summer and winter, and in sunshine and storm.  They must be quick, confident and comprehensive in the performance of their duties.  A certain amount of tactfulness is also required in order to satisfy the passengers of incoming steamers and yet at the same tie comply with the exacting requirements of the law.
            HARDSHIPS AND DANGERS – The work of boarding and examining ocean steamers is always difficult and ofttimes dangerous.  As soon as a vessel is sighted at Reedy Island, the fact is flashed over the wire to the Marcus Hook station, and the doctors prepare for the work of inspection.  The quarantine tug, with its familiar yellow flag, goes out to meet the vessel.  Here is where the danger element comes into full play.  The sea is at times so turbulent that it is dangerous for the tug to go very close to the steamship.  Then again the steamer is often so high and so big that it appears like the side of a mountain.  Put yourself in the doctor’s place, climbing a shaky rope ladder 30 or 40 feet high with both the steamer and the tug in motion and you will gain some idea of the perils of the position.
            The physician simply has to hold on for dear life and hope that he will reach the deck without mishap of any kind.  His work has to be done quickly and with this comes the danger of slippery decks, ice-covered companion ways, open hatchways and the score of other things to be met with every time a bout is to be examined.
            But this is simply one phase of the situation.  Another is the personal danger from contagion.  When evidence of a contagious disease is noted, the patient is immediately removed to the little hospital and the other passengers placed in quarantine and their clothing and effects thoroughly fumigated.  So these three men guarding the portals of the city are liable to be called upon any day to treat cholera, small pox or something else just as dreadful and repulsive.
            A BARRIER AGAINST DISEASE – Few people understand the well-conducted barrier to disease which the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania maintains against the introduction and spread of infection and contagion, always impending in and around the approaches of a commercial city.  It can be readily apprehended that with vessels arriving from all parts of the world, many come from places in which the uncleanliness of the inhabitants offer a premium for the propagation of deadly disease.
            Pennsylvania has had from its settlement by William Penn established quarantine, the records showing that as early as 1699, yellow fever raged in detention of arriving vessels, particularly from the West Indies.  In fact, a rude sort of examination and observation had been practiced prior to that date on all arrivals on account of smallpox which seemed to be constantly prevalent with more or less vigor.  This establishes the fact that the earliest and first quarantine service in the United States or rather the Western Continent, was originated in Philadelphia, and it is also known to be the second in the world.
            The first station was situated on Fisher’s Island, in the Delaware River.  This was used principally in 1793 for the detention of smallpox, malignant and yellow fever victims found on arriving vessels.  Yellow fever prevailed and the population was almost decimated by its fatality, and this fact let to the formation of the Board of Health
            THE OLD LAZARETTO – The quarantine station at the Lazaretto at Tinicum, about eleven miles below this city, was established early in the year 1800 and was superintended by the Board of Health of the City of Philadelphia and a quarantine physician was appointed by the Governor of the State.  The dual government continued until the year 1893, when the Present State Quarantine Board was created by an act of the Legislature.  This action was caused by the exodus of large numbers of emigrants from Austria, Hungary and Russia, where Asiatic cholera was prevalent.  These immigrants embarked to Hamburg from where they expected to immigrate to the United States.  The mortality was so great at Hamburg that the U.S. Government imposed the most rigorous restrictions on all arrivals from Europe and other foreign countries, so that tourists and persons engaged in legitimate business pursuits were subjected to the imperative laws laid down by the local health authorities.
            At the port of Philadelphia, it was found most annoying and vexatious.  The dual government of city and State authorities clashed and public meetings were held in several of the towns along the river front to discuss the proper disinfection of vessels.  As a final result, a plan was formulated by which the Health Board of the city, the Maritime Exchange, representing the commerce of the port, and a number of physicians of well-known reputation were appointed a committee under the act and were known as the State Quarantine Board and an appropriation was made to the Board on its formation.
            This board met and organized June 1893.  They leased the Lazaretto from the city of Philadelphia, temporarily until a more suitable site could be procured, but finally the present site at Marcus Hook was leased for a period of years and the board proceeded to fit it up.
            AN UP-TO-DATE STATION – When Dr. Heller, the present quarantine physician, entered upon his duties he did so with a zeal and energy almost incomprehensible to anyone familiar with public affairs.  The various expenses for maintenance and salaries were closely scrutinized:  extensive reductions were followed by greater economy both at the office and at the station.  A disinfecting plant was built; the hospital improved and enlarged and a bacteriological laboratory created.
            The latest achievement is the erection of a barracks building capable of accommodating over 500 persons who may be detained for observation a hospital for infectious and contagious diseases, a crematory for the destroying of infected articles, and all the requisites necessary for cases of emergency.
            UNCEASING VIGILANCE – A vigilant lookout is kept day and night and stringent orders have been given to detain vessels and suspects from all ports where disease is reported to exist.  All of these improvements have been accomplished without a dollar being added to the regular appropriation made by the State.  Dr. Heller’s ambition and energies are now directed to the purchase of a new boarding boat, built and equipped for this duty, constructed strongly of steel and capable of boarding vessels when the river is rendered dangerous by reason of floating masses of ice, and a disinfecting barge to facilitate the fumigation of vessels.
            Dr. Heller unites to his ability as a physician the rare quality of a business man.  With the single purpose of preventing the impairment of public health, he does not lose sight of the great loss in time and money which unnecessary detention would cause to those engaged in commercial pursuits.  With this two assistants he is serving hiss city and State well.
            How often do we give even a passing thought to these three men, who thus guard our interests, our homes, in fact, our very lives? – Philadelphia Inquirer

Please read below: I'm president of the Delaware Co. Historic Preservation Network and a number of historic groups in the county have put together virtual tours etc. Special Thanks to Kate Clifford

Special DCHPN E-Newsletter
Learn about special online events and resources
Most events have been cancelled or postponed. Many more may be in the coming months. However, the Delaware County Planning Department and Visit Delco PA have compiled a list of 'Virtual Heritage Tourism' opportunities for you to peruse. They include videos of historic sites, virtual tours, online presentations and webinars, and self-guided tours you can do on your own. It also includes history and cultural activities you can do with your children.