Friday, July 15, 2016

New Media Library to Officially open tomorrow! And teaching chidren "Sheep to Shawl" at Colonial Plantation!!


The original library from 1910. It stood at the southeast corner of Jackson and Jasper Sts.


 About Seven Hundred Books and More to Come 

Everything is in Readiness

                The Media Free Library will be formally opened to the public on Thursday evening this week.  The librarian, Miss Johns, has been busy for some time cataloguing the books and getting things in shape to open, and everything will be in apple pie order on Thursday evening.
                The library contains about 700 books already and this number will be increased by at least 100 by the time winter weather comes.  The ladies and gentlemen of the borough who have devoted their time and money to establishing this library trust that the people will take an interest in it.  The library is something that the borough has needed for a long time, and if the public gives it the proper support, all the new books will be found there, and many a pleasant and profitable evening can be spent.  The room is in the borough hall, one of the most central places in the borough.
The above article is for the original library opening on July 31, 1901



Given before the Media Woman’s Club 

 A Child of the Organization

            The history of the Media Free Library formed the subject of an interesting paper read before the Woman’s Club on Friday last by Mrs. Henry C. Smith.  The story of the library project is as follows:
            That the Media Free Library is an assured success is a self-evident fact that all who live in the town must know, but I have been asked to take the place of Miss Lewis, who cannot be with us this afternoon, and give a brief sketch of its history.
            You also know that the first step towards starting a public library was taken in this club.  Less than a year ago the Civic Committee of the Woman’s Club formed as a branch of its work, a Library Committee, having as chairman and members, a few women of our club who earnestly desired to give Media the advantages of good literature free.  This committee worked faithfully, energetically and hopefully during the early winter months to stir up enthusiasm in the club and through the town, and to raise money through donations, but they soon found that the only way to create any great interest in the undertaking was to make it a more general movement.  Several gentlemen of the town, especially interested in such matters, were invited to meet with the Library Committee and through them much advice and help was obtained.  Then it was seen that the project to create and maintain a public library for the town, though started in the Woman’s Club and rightly called a child of the club, to be carried out successfully must join hands with and ask and support of the people of the town; as a public undertaking and not under the Woman’s Club or any other society or coterie of people.
            THE PUBLIC MEETINGS – Several mass meetings were held, still through the efforts and courtesy of the Civic Committee, for they gave the club room and defrayed the expenses.  These meetings called forth much discussion and difference of opinion among the people of the town as to the need of, or the possibility of maintaining a Town Library, but they had the desired result in creating interest and thought, in the matter.
            The battle was half won when we started people to thinking.  Conviction usually follows honest thought, and the majority being soon convinced that we would need a library and that we could have one if we willed to have it, a permanent Library Association was formed.  This Association to be composed of every person of the town feeling any interest in the library, either for himself or for the benefit of the town, held its first regular meeting May 14.  At this meeting the constitution and by-laws were adopted, with dues of $1 per year agreed upon and officers and Board of Directors elected as follows:  President, Dr. E.L. Clark; secretary, Miss Dora Lewis; treasurer, Mrs. Henry C. Smith; directors, Mrs. William F. Lewis, Miss Sallie Williamson, Mrs. William Easby, Mrs. Henry Wirz, Prof. Leon Watters, Horace Green and George Yarnall.
            On June 18 a book reception was held to which all people of the town were invited and where much interest in the project was shown and about 300 books donated.  Through the courtesy of the Media Town Council, we were given a room in the Town Hall, with light and heat; and in two months the Executive Board had collected $700 in contributions, furnished the room, engaged a regular librarian, and on the first day of August opened the library to the public.  The interest manifested in the library was shown by the large number of people who came to this opening on the evening of August 1, and in the demand for books, which immediately began.  In August 261 persons registered and took out books and in September 111 more added their names.  Of these 372 persons, 228 are women, 79 men and 65 children.  In August, 937 books were taken out and in September 1054 making a total of 1991 books in two months, or an average of 1000 books read each month.
            ONE THOUSAND BOOKS – Since the opening of the library about 200 more books have been brought or donated, so that the number of books at present on the catalogue is about 1000.  This number will be greatly increased shortly, as the Friends Library Association has loaned us all the books of their library, 500 in number, to be placed on our shelves in our room and made free to the public under exactly the same rules as our own.  Through the advice and generous help of the legal member of our Board, the Free Library Association of Media, has been made an incorporated body, with a seal in proof of which you will soon find a very handsome charter framed and hanging on our walls.
            Though this is a free library, I trust it will not escape the mind of anyone that it is maintained entirely by the generosity of the people of Media and that each person will feel it his or her privilege and duty to do something towards its support.  Surely anyone deriving any benefit from it can at least join the Association and pay the $1.00 a year.  The present membership is perhaps $1.50, but it should be twice, yes, four times that size.  Some people have been so generous that it should encourage others to greater effort.  The running expenses from year to year.  In keeping an efficient librarian and in renewing and adding to the books, will necessarily be great and therefore, every effort must be made to add continuity to our treasury.
            A project with this end in view is to have a bazaar in the Haldeman House on the afternoons and evenings of the 14th and 15th of November.  We earnestly request that you will all take the greatest interest in this effort to donate money and assist those who have undertaken the work with your contributions, kindly interest, and attendance, for only with the help of each and all can such an undertaking succeed.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Delaware County Prison 110 years ago.

The Delaware County Prison stood on the East side of Orange St. between Front and Second St.  About where the Fronfield Building is today, where you walk to the courthouse.


 A Well-Managed Institution Complete In All Its Appointments

Words of Praise For The Prison At Media

 How The Inmates Are Cared For and The Workings of the Big Building Described

                The big stone building at Media, used as a place of confinement and workhouse for transgressors against the law, is located on Second Street, overlooking the Court House Square.  It is of light gray stone, constructed throughout in the most substantial manner, and is regarded as one of the safest jails and one of the hardest to “beat” in the State.  On the outside strong iron bars and bolts secure every opening where the light streams in, and outside a thick wall, over twenty feet high, extends around the jail portion.
                The cells, eighty in number, are arranged in three tiers, and the doors of all can be seen by the attendant or watchman in the corridor on the first tier.
                There are at present forty-two prisoners in the jail, and of this number only four are females.  Tom Rodgers, to be tried at the September term of Court, for shooting his father and attempting to kill his mother and sister, is the most important prisoner.  Most of the inmates now are in for short terms.  The jail at present holds no such distinguished guests as did a few years ago when it sheltered “Big Charley,” “Dutch Gus” and Samuel Johnson.
                The terms of the prisoners range from thirty days to two years and every week new recruits arrive and others are discharged.  When a prisoner arrives he is taken to the bathroom where he gives himself a thorough washing and cleaning.  He is not compelled to work until after trial and sentence, and nearly all go to work at either stocking making or carpet weaving at their own request as soon as they come in.
                After conviction and sentence the suit of clothes worn by the prisoner when he arrived is exchanged for the striped prison suit, and the suit taken off is tied in a package and labeled with the owner’s name and returned to him when his term expires and he walks out again to freedom.
                In both stocking making and carpet weaving each prisoner is allotted a certain task daily, and for all that he makes over that amount he is paid so much per dozen or per yard, and when the time expires those who are diligent often have a good little sum coming to them.
                The prisoners who use tobacco are served with a certain quantity every Monday morning, and when sick can have medicine to suit their case from the prison pharmacy, or, if very sick, can have the services of Dr. J. H. Fronfield, the prison physician.
                The prison rules show a certain brand of reading matter.  This comes from the prison library, and is distributed among the inmates every two weeks.  No daily papers or sensational reading matter is allowed there.
                Visitors are admitted on Tuesdays and Fridays, or a permit signed by one of the prison inspectors.  The most accessible inspector in Media is H. D. Pratt.  He can nearly always be found at his harness store, on State Street.
                The appearance of the prison in all its departments showed that a master hand was at the helm in the person of Warden John J. Rowland, as genial and as whole-souled a man as ever lived.
                In the bake room, the kitchen and everywhere, neatness and cleanliness were apparent, and all the articles of metal glittered like burnished steel.  The keepers in the jail are John J. Rowland, Jr., assistant warden; and John Holmes, second assistant, and Samuel Morris, night watchman.
                The most important meal is dinner, when they are given a large dish of bean soup in which are three or four white potatoes and a slice of beef.  For breakfast each prisoner gets a pound and a half loaf of bread and a pint of coffee; the loaf being the allowance of bread for the day.  In the evening they get a pint of tea with their bread.  They are served with three pints of molasses a month.  The hours for feeding are 6:00 a.m., 110 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.  On Christmas Day the prisoners are served by Warden Rowland with a turkey dinner.  The bread is made by the prison baker and is of good quality.
Note The jail closed in 1950 and was torn down shortly afterward

Monday, July 4, 2016

Life of John Morton, the Signer and Pirate Day at the Colonial Plantation

The home of John Morton in todays Ridley Park. A state historical marker at E. Ridley Ave. and Cresswell St. marks the spot. He was born here in 1725 and built this brick house in 1764 on the site of his birthplace.


                Of the seven delegates allotted to the Province of Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration of Independence, two of the number were selected from that section which now constitutes the present county of Delaware, John Morton of Ridley, and Charles Humphreys of Haverford.  A man of ability, undoubted integrity and high social station, Charles Humphrey had within his grasp undying fame, but in error of judgment, not personal fear, he cast the laurel wreath aside.  From 1763 to 2776 he was a member of the Assembly of the Province and in 1774 was appointed one of the seven delegates representing Pennsylvania in the Congress of the Colonies, and was continued as such in the succeeding Congress.
                On Friday, the seventh of July, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, presented his famous resolution, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States,” and on that measure, when it assumed the final form of the Declaration of Independence, as did his distinguished kinsman, John Dickinson, Charles Humphreys voted in the negative.  When the great Charter of American liberty was adopted, he withdrew from public life, resigning his place in Congress and the Assembly alike.  At no time prior to or since his death at the conclusion of the revolutionary war, was the honesty of his opinion or the integrity of his purpose questioned.  He had only faltered when the crisis of his life came and comparative obscurity, where he might have secured immortality, became his fate.


                His colleague, John Morton of Ridley, takes high rank among the fifty-three men who gave to the world that Declaration of Independence, which made this nation the foremost of the earth.  He was of Swedish descent the grandson of Morton Mortonson of “Calking Hook,” the surname in time assuming the English form, as we now know it.
                John Morton was a posthumous child, his father, John Morton, having died prior to his birth, which occurred early in 1725, the exact day of the week or month not being recorded, at least to this time the diligent research of historians, has failed to ascertain the precise date.  His mother, after a brief widowhood, married John Sketchley, and Englishman, whose kindness to the orphan boy was recognized by the latter in giving his name to his son, Sketchley Morton, subsequently a Major in the Revolutionary Army and a man of sterling worth.  Mr. Sketchley, who appears to have received an educational training beyond that general among the early settlers, personally instructed his stepson in the common English branches, devoting particular attention to mathematics, as young Morton developed a peculiar aptness in that study which subsequently, in his avocation as a surveyor, as well as a husbandman, had much to do with his success in life.
                In 1756, at the age of thirty-one, he became a member of the Provincial Assembly, and continued to represent Chester County in that body until 1766, an uninterrupted period of eleven years.  While still a member of the Assembly, in 1765, he was designated one of the delegates from Pennsylvania to the “Stamp Act Congress” which convened in New York City in October of that year.

                In 1767 he was chosen Sheriff of Chester County and for three years discharged the duties of that office acceptably to the people, although the mutterings of the approaching conflict had already depressed trade and brought about much business disturbance.  At the expiration of his term of service, he was again returned to the Assembly, sitting as a member of that body until 1776, for which he was not elected in the latter year, the new representative had not yet been chosen.  During the last year of his service he was speaker of the Assembly, and was such when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and proclaimed.  Twelve years before he had been appointed in 1764, a Justice of the Peace – an office of great dignity in Colonial times – and was the Presiding justice of the several Courts of the County of Chester.  In 1774 he was commissioned by Governor John Penn an Associate Justice of the Colonial Supreme Court.  While discharging the duties of the two offices – member of the House and Judge – he was appointed by the Assembly in 1774 a delegate to the First Continental Congress and was re-appointed to the second – the memorable Congress, which adopted the Declaration of Independence.  By this vote in favor of that measure he achieved immortality.

                On his monument in St. Paul’s Churchyard, in this city, on the east face – for the shaft is erected so that its four sides face precisely the four cardinal points of the compass – is the inscription:  “In voting by States upon the question of Independence of the American Colonies, there was a tie until the vote of Pennsylvania was given, two members of which voted in the affirmative and two in the negative.  The tie continued until the vote of the last member, John Morton, decided the promulgation of the great diploma of American freedom.”
                A strict regard for the truth of history constrains me to declare that there is no contemporary evidence support the foregoing statement.  Shortly after the bicentennial historical sketches of Chester, Col. Frank M. Etting, the author of the most elaborate and authentic history of Independence Hall yet published, and the founder of the National Museum in that building; in a letter to the author, objected to the printing of the inscription just quoted in the historical sketches.  Col. Etting, among other matters wrote as follows:
                “Yet I cannot pass over one very grievous error or perversion of the facts in connection with John Morton and the ‘vote of the Stat.’  Not only is there absent a scintilla of evidence to support the whole statement, but the unquestioned evidence of the action of the colonies on June 7th and July 2nd, when every colony concurred in the vote, but New York shows the utter falsity of such details…I do believe Morton’s friends generally were adverse to independence ad doubtless upbraided him, as he was Speaker of the House.  He may have presided over the separate deliberations of Pennsylvania’s representatives as a colony, and may have given his own vote, last, but there is no evidence whatever to this effect, while every item built upon this in its various shapes is shown to be entirely baseless.”
                It seems to me that John Morton’s claim to greatness is built upon higher ground than the old tradition accords him, in as much that although he was Speaker of the Assembly that by resolution had instructed its delegates to vote against independence, yet he dared to disregard that mandate when the supreme moment of action came, placing himself in so doing on a plane with the best minds of the colonies and acting in unison with that class who recognized that the hour for extra measures had presented itself and to falter was to fail.  He saw the right, unhesitatingly dared to support if, and in so doing, he justly earned the lasting gratitude of the American people
                John Morton was the first of the signers to die.  His death occupied in the following April, at the comparatively early age of fifty-three.  It is a strange circumstance that the exact date of his death as with his birth, has not been recorded.  A good man and true, his life had been without stain or blemish, and he filled the measure of success that the world was better in that he had lived.

                No wonder that Morton felt keenly the responsibility of his act.  It must be remembered that his immediate friends and the leaders of opinion in this section, particularly that part which was constitutionally the county of Delaware, were not in accord with his views.  Less than a year before, General Wayne, dashing “Mad Anthony,” in the old Court House, In Chester, offered a resolution declaring that its idea of separation from the mother country was abhorrent and “pernicious in its nature.”  Nathaniel Vernon, of Nether Providence, the then Sheriff, was an avowed Tory, afterward proclaimed a traitor, and his son Gideon had a price on his head and immunity from punishment promised to anyone who might slay him.  Charles Humphreys of Haverford, his associate in Congress, had declined to vote for the Declaration.  Nathaniel Newlin, of Darby, the wealthiest land owner and an affluent citizen had declared that “King George’s government was good enough for him.”  Henry Hale Graham, the deputy Register General, and afterward the first President Judge of the Courts of Delaware County, by reason of his religious convictions, was opposed to war, and that was the prevailing sentiment of the neighborhood.  Apart from this, the continued reverse that had overtaken the American forces, bringing as their results that period known as “the dark days of ‘76” doubtless weighed heavily on his sensitive mind and increased the burden of his accountability for the disasters that seemed to flow upon his associates and friends as the immediate consequences of his act.  No wonder then is it that when he felt approaching death, his mind, filled with these thoughts, should give utterance to the memorable words:  “Tell them they shall live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service I ever rendered to my country.”  Today the world, not the circumscribed community he then addressed, acknowledges with praise the grandeur of his deed.


                Although it may not be directly germane to this theme, yet I cannot refrain from alluding to an incident connected with the story of American independence, which has not received that attention from poets and historians that is justly its due.  The most picturesque figure in the Continental Congress on Thursday, July 4, 1776, it seems to me, was Caesar Rodney.  An ardent Whig, in the discharge of his duties as Brigadier General of Delaware, he was necessarily absent from Congress much of the time while the question of independency was pending.  When it became apparent that a final vote on the measure would be reached in the near future, Thomas McKean, then a delegate from Delaware, afterwards Chief Justice and Governor of Pennsylvania, on the evening of the 2nd, dispatched a courier to Rodney to apprise him of that fact.  The messenger reached him at St. James’ Neck, below Dover, eighty miles away, about noon on the 3rd.  The urgency of the summons could brook no delay, and with expedition Rodney set out on horseback For Philadelphia, notwithstanding a heavy downpour of rain which, for a few hours, lessened the intense heat then prevailing.
                The inhabitants of the little hamlet of Chester had dispatched their evening meal, when a mud splashed horse and rider clattered over the rickety bridge at the creek, galloped to the Washington House, where the rider requested William Kerlin, a fervent Whig, well known to Rodney, to bait his horse, and he himself would sup while the animal was feeding.  The rider was a tall man of massive frame, attenuated by disease, a green silk patch shading the right eye to conceal the ravages of the cancer, which, within seven years thereafter, terminated his life.  Only a brief period did Rodney tarry, when, remounting his steed, he started under whip and spur, reaching Philadelphia at a late hour that night.  Next morning when his colleague, McKean, approached the State House, he met on the doorstep Rodney, booted and spurred, just as he had ridden from his country home to declare in favor of independence, when a final vote was taken late in the evening of July the fourth.
                To me history furnishes hardly a parallel to this scene.  “Tottenham is his boats,” the member from county Wexford, who rode in the night time sixty miles from Ballycarug and entered the old Parliament House in Dublin in his big jack boots to cast his vote – the Mayoral vote – in favor of home rule, and two decades before the Union destroyed Ireland’s government, became the standing toast at the table of all the Irish patriots.  The famous midnight ride of Paul Revere, to arouse the yeomanry of Middlesex, and Sheridan’s ride to Winchester to turn disaster into triumph, were not so great in their results so that of Caesar Rodney’s, which was largely instrumental in founding a nation with possibilities the greatest ever known to man.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Preserving History, Chester's Third Presbyterian Church

Chester's Third Presbyterian Church at 9th and Potter Sts. about 1910, is one of many on going preservation projects in Delaware County.

 NOTE: It is so important to preserve our history, for future generations. Many local historical societies struggle to maintain and preserve historic properties they own. It is not easy and requires money and volunteers etc. So take the time and money to support local historical projects in your community and in Delaware County and VOLUNTEER. Every site and society needs volunteers. I'm always looking for typists and the Delaware County Historical Society is always looking for help.
The Chester Historic Preservation Committee has taken on the enormous project to restore the Third Presbyterian Church at 9th and Potter Streets. Please take the time to visit their site  and take the time to help them with this project
Below at little history of the Third Presbyterian Church

May 27, 1895 – CHESTER TIMES

            THE THIRD 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. Sweeney, 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. Sweeney, 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.

July 12, 1895 – CHESTER TIMES

            THE THIRD’S CHURCH

 The Cornerstone Ceremonies Were Conducted Last Night 

 A Handsome Church Edifice

 The New Building Will be Built on Broad Street near Potter, and the Estimated Cost, Including the Ground, is $45,000

            In the presence of about 500 persons of every denomination represented in this city, the cornerstone of the new Third Presbyterian Church, which will rise on the old Miller property, on Broad Street near Potter, was laid at 6:30 o’clock last evening.  This unusual hour for a service of this kind was chosen to accommodate the public, as it was thought best to avoid the heat of the day, although the latter turned out to be very pleasant for the occasion.
            The exercises were held on the southwestern end of the foundation walls, where the stone was placed, and were of a simple yet interesting character.  A big platform had been erected around this end of the building and on this those who participated stood, including the choir and the visitors who wished to get a glimpse of the stone and the copper box and its contents.
            The service began with a short prayer by Professor J. B. Randell, of Lincoln University who in the absence of the pastor, Rev. J. McLeod is supplying his pulpit.  This was followed by the hymn:  “How Firm a Foundation,” in which the audience joined.  Portions of appropriate Scripture were then read and J. Frank Black, secretary of the session, asked for the reading of the minutes of the meeting at which the authority was given to the trustees to build a new church.  This was read by the secretary of the board, John B. Black.
            In pursuance of this authority Mayor John B. Hinkson stated what the trustees had done in the way of procuring the lot, the giving of the contract, etc., and the prices thereof.
            THE ADDRESSES – Professor Rendell followed with an address in which he referred to the influence of a church and said that eternity alone would reveal it.  He said a cornerstone is significant of unity and support, and is a prophecy of the living stone which is to be built on the sure foundation, even Jesus Christ.
            Rev. Dr. Joseph Vance, of the Second Presbyterian church, brought greetings from that congregation, and in a few remarks referred to the surrounding property as being once the farm of ex-Mayor Larkin.  He outlined the moral and spiritual progress of Chester.
            The next speaker was Rev. Dr. Henry, a returned missionary from China, who told of his work in the Celestial Kingdom, and wished the Third Church great success.  He was followed by Colonel Charles E. Hyatt, who made a most beautiful and eloquent reference to the compatibility of the school and church, and stated that while the students in the one look up to God through art, science and literature, the text book of the church is the Bible.  The hymn “Rock of Ages” was then sung.
            Before the stone was placed in position by Contractor Provost and his workmen, Harry Black read the list of articles which were to be deposited in the box, and placed in a cavity in the stone.  As each of the following articles were named, Captain George D. Howell put them in the box:
            IN THE CORNERSTONE – Copy of the Bible, plans of the church, the Presbyterian and Presbyterian Journal, and the following Chester papers:  Times, News, Issue, Advocate, Republican and Democrat; photograph exterior and interior view of old church, newspapers containing cuts of church, photographs of the three pastors, Revs. M. J. McLeod, Thomas McCauley, D.D. and C. F. Thomas, D.D.; photograph of new building, list of communicants, contributors to the lot and building, list of members of the Session of the board of trustees of the deacons, officers and teachers of the Sunday School and Chinese School; list of the members of choir of the home and foreign missionary society, also of the Dorcas, Mite and Christian Endeavor Societies; charter of church, report of building committee, copy of manual of city councils, list of the city officials and program of exercises.  The whole was covered with the American flag.
            The stone was then lifted by means of rope attached to a device, the mortar was placed beneath it and the stone lowered into place, while Prof. Rendell read the service declaring the stone laid.  Five children from the infant department then advanced and each laid a bouquet of flowers upon the stone.  They were Helen M. Volkhardt, Harriett Wood, Bessie Fields, Jessie Wallraven, and Fannie Maraden.  The dedicatory prayer was offered by Dr. Vance, after which “America” was sung and the benediction pronounced.
            The ground was broken for the new church in the latter part of May, and remarkable progress has been made.  The building committee consists of Captain George D. Howell, J. Frank Black, Maxwell Ocheltree, Harry Black and John B. Black.
            THE NEW CHURCH – In general style the building is gothic.  The doorways and cloisters surrounding the auditorium, being broken by spires and projections, enhance the effect of the done issuing out of its classic setting and give dignity and grace to the whole structure.
            The main audience room is octagonal.  The supporting roof trustees rise from heavy pillars and meet in the center, high over the heads of the audience.  The chords will be of hard wood, worked into a fine finish and together with the other complementary 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 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 and 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 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 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 Conosera terra cotta tile.  The outside dimensions are 116 feet front by 249 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-cochere.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


The H. K. Mulford Co. was in Glenolden and Folcroft for almost 60 years finally closing in 1956. A business card from about 1915.



 A Noted Trial That Took Place Long Ago – The Witch of Ridley Creek

            Mention is often made of a trial for witchcraft in Pennsylvania, but, except the mere mention of the matter, no further information is given.  The record of the trial is found in Volume 1 of the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, in which all the proceedings of the Provincial council are recorded.
            The two accused persons, old women, were Swedes, Margaret Mattson, wife of Noel Mattson, and Yeshro Hendrickson, wife of Hendrick Jacobson.  While both persons were called before the Council, the first only seems to have stood a regular trial.  Margaret Mattson lived on a plantation owned by her husband on the Delaware River, on the west side of Crum Creek, in Ridley Township, now Delaware County.  She was long known in local legends as “The Witch of Ridley Creek.”
            She was first brought before the Council on December 7, 1683, no provincial court having yet been organized in the colony, when her trial was set for December 27.  On that day the accused appeared in the city of Philadelphia before William Penn, his Attorney General, a grand jury of twenty-one persons, all English apparently, and a petit jury of twelve persons, one of whom Albertus Hendrickson, was a Swede.  One of the Council Lassse Cock was a Swede.  The grand jury brought in a true bill, reporting in the afternoon.  The indictment was then read to the accused.  She pleaded not guilty, the petit jury was empaneled, the trial held, the Governor charged the jury, which retired, brought in a verdict, the prisoner was discharged, and THE WHILE BUSINESS WAS CONCLUDED THAT SAME AFTERNOON SO FAR AS PENNSYLVANIA WAS CONCERNED, THE VERDICT was as follows:  “GUILTY OF HAVING THE COMMON FAME OF A WITCH, BUT NOT GUILTY IN MANNER AND FORM AS SHE STANDS ENDICTED.”
            Nine years later, 1692, Massachusetts was for a whole year shaken with most horrible trains for this imaginary offense, until no person in that colony was safe from accusation, NINETEEN PERSONS WERE HUNG and one pressed to death under heavy weights, while a great number suffered intolerable imprisonment.  The whole population became infected with a craze concerning “witchcraft,” the shame of which endures there to this day.  In this matter the sober Quaker reached a righteous conclusion much quicker than the hasty Puritan.
            SOME OF THE TESTIMONY – Henry Drystreet, attested, said he was told 20 years ago that the prisoner at the bar was a Witch and that several cows were bewitched by her; also, that James Saunderling’s mother told him that she bewitched her cow, but afterwards said it was a mistake, and that her cow should do well again, fir it was not her cow but another person’s that should die.
            Charles Ashcom attested, said that Anthony’s wife being asked why she sold her cattle, was because her mother had bewitched them having taken the witchcraft of Hendrick’s cattle, and put on their oxen; she might keep but no other cattle, and also that one night the daughter of the prisoner called him up hastily, and when he came she said there was a great light but just before, and an old woman with a knife in her hand at the bad’s feet, and therefore she cried out and desired Jno Symock to take away his calves or else she would send them to hell.
            The accused flatly denied all the allegations.
            ASTROLOGERS AND NECROMANCERS – In 1695 John Roman and his two sons, residing in Chichester, were reported to be students of astrology and other forbidden mysteries.  The public tongue had so discussed the matter that on the tenth of the tenth month, 1695, Concord Monthly Meeting of Friends gravely announced that “the study of these sciences bring a vail over the understanding and that upon the life.”  John Kingsman and William Hughes were ordered to speak to the parties, and have them to attend at the next monthly meeting.  The offenders were seen and stated that if it could be shown wherein it was wrong, they would desist from further investigation in these arts.  For several months the matter was before the Concord Monthly Meeting without resulting in suppressing the evil.
            Extracts from the records of Concord Monthly Meeting commencing September 11, 1695, are interesting:  “Some friends having a concern upon them concerning some young men who came amongst friends to their meetings and following some arts which friends thought not fit for such as profess truth to follow, viz., astrology and other sciences, as Geomancy and Cliorvmancy and Necromancy, etc.  It was debated and the sense of this meeting is that the study of these sciences brings a vail over the understanding and a death upon the life.
            “And in the sense of the same, friends order Philip Roman be spoken too to know whether he have dealt orderly with his two sons concerning the same art; and that his two sons bespoke to come to the next monthly meeting; “friends orders John Kingsman and William Hughes to speak to Philip Roman and his two sons to appear at the next monthly.”
            CONVICTED IN COURT – The ease finally reached a stage through the report of the committee that Robert Roman was arrested, tried at Chester for practicing the black art, was fined five pounds and the following books were seized and burned; Hidon’s Temple of Wisdom, which teaches Geomanycy, and Scott’s Discovery of Witchcraft and Cornelios Agrippos teach Necromancy.”

Always a great time!
Stop and meet one of the great Ladies of Delco History, Angela Hewitt who runs the Leiper House
When in the Course of Human Events – A Fourth of July Celebration and Picnic
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, July 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Time - 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Admission is $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for children (ages 4 to 12). Children under 4 are free.
Enjoy a picnic at the farm and celebrate our nation's birthday by hearing the Declaration of Independence and witnessing the crowds reaction. There is not complete agreement in Chester County but the Patriots are determined to win the crowd by making demonstrations against the king. Activities include house tours, textile demonstrations, long rifle, garden and animal talks. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic basket lunch or purchase refreshments. Bring a comfortable chair or blanket and enjoy the Fourth as it was celebrated years ago on a true colonial farm in Chester County.
Reading from Paine's "The Crisis" (12:30 and 2:30)
Reading of the Declaration of Independence -( 1:00 and 3:00 with burning of King George) Feel free to pick up a quill pen and sign the declaration yourself.
"Schedule subject to change"

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A rare account of the Underground Railroad in Delco

The Holy Child of Jesus Convent in Sharon Hill c.1910

NOTE John Jackson ran the Sharon Female Academy in what is now Sharon Hill from the 1840's thru the 1860's. It was a well known private girls school. This newspaper account is a rare first hand story of the underground railroad in Delco.


            John Jackson was a fine teacher and a man of very strong convictions on the slavery question.  Elizabeth Lloyd, who now lives at Lansdowne, was a pupil of Sharon.  In her article to the intelligencer, Miss Lloyd says:
            “Situated in close proximity to the Great Southern Post Road aka Chester Pike, formerly known as the King’s Highway leading from Philadelphia through Chester and Wilmington down through the Eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia, it was perfectly natural that a fugitive in his search for freedom should make Sharon one of his points of rest and recuperation, but no record was ever kept for precautionary reasons as our friends, Thomas Garrett and John Hunn, situated on this line, had fully realized, being virtually bankrupted with fines and prosecutions under the Fugititve Slave Law for noting the part of the Good Samaritan, to these poor creatures.
            “On the Southern road near the State line, there was a public house called the ‘Practical Farmer,’ the occupant of which was always on the lookout for fugitives in order to get the reward offered by the masters for their apprehension, but after they had got past this they were generally pretty safe.  In Chester they had a valiant friend in Samuel Smith, a colored Methodist preacher, who almost invariably piloted them to Sharon, where he announced his arrival in the night by dropping pebbles on the roof just below my chamber window.  The most of those who came were men who were safely stored in the haymow until the next evening, and although our family was large, yet until after they had gone very few knew of their presence.  We also had a very efficient helper in William Brown, a colored quarryman, who had lost one leg by a premature explosion.  He walked on a wooden stump, and withal was more active than many men with sound limbs.  Whenever notified he was always on hand to escort passengers to the next stopping place or put them safely on the way and I have no recollection of any who passed through our station who were ever returned to their masters.
            “The travelers were only moved in the night season except when imperatively necessary, as when belated, and their pursuers were close behind them; in which case it was necessary to resort to stratagem to get them to a place of safety.  I call to mind one morning when three men came in just after daybreak.  Their pursuers were seen mounted on horses riding round the farm on the lookout.  It was necessary to be expeditious, and the large Dearborn wagon used by the school was got out and straw placed in the bottom.  The men were told to lie down and bags of apples were placed on each side of them.  They were covered with bags of hay and two flour barrels were placed in the tail of the wagon as though going to mill.  To carry out the deception further I went in my shirt sleeves, the mill not being over a mile distant.  I had hardly got out of the lane before I perceived I was being pursued.  The man rode alongside, gave a hasty glance in the wagon and passed on.  Fearing I might be pursued I quickly turned off the main road and made for a station about five miles distant.  Finding the occupant was not at home I was at a loss how to proceed as there was no other safe point in that direction.  I therefore kept on, nor stopped till near sunset, when I brought up at Attleborough; at the close of Bucks Quarterly Meeting.  Here I parted with my companions and the next day returned home.
            “But the most interesting case that occurs to me was that of Allen Ricketts and family, consisting of a brother and sister, one half-brother and two sisters and a niece.  They were owned by a man near Baltimore and I presume were house servants.  Their owner died insolvent and the administrator thought it necessary to sell the slaves in order to pay their debts.  Their master’s children, with whom they had always been brought up on terms of intimacy, advised them to leave, and they accordingly did so and in the course of time arrived at the home of Daniel Gibbons, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and were sent by him to his sister, Rachel Hunt, of Darby.  Here they found homes and were appreciated by their employers for their integrity and faithfulness.  Allen was taken into the family of John and Rachel Hunt, where he remained for a number of years as gardener and chore boy.  He was sent to Friends’ school with the rest of the family and acquired the rudiments of education – the three R’s of which we hear so much.
            “In this neighborhood they resided quietly for several years until the younger members had grown to man and womanhood.  A man who had known them in the old Maryland home came to reside in the neighborhood obtained work close by and finally married one of the sisters.  He opened a correspondence with the creditors of their former master, one of whom, having obtained a claim to them, came in search of them without making himself known.  He professed to be a drover going west after a drove of horses, and hired Allen to go with him.  When they reached Harrisburg, unknown to Allen they switched off on the road to Baltimore, and as soon as they crossed the State line he slipped handcuffs on Allen and conveyed him to Baltimore, where he sold him to a slave trader named Slatter.  Here he was confined in a jail just back of the Philadelphia depot, on Pratt Street, preparatory to shipping a vessel load to New Orleans.  The slaves’ dwelling was attached to the house and some of those he thought trustworthy were used as house servants.  One of these, a young woman, Allen persuaded to furnish him with pen and paper, and he wrote me of his situation appealing to me for help in his dilemma.  He got the young woman to mail the letter for him and I received it very fortunately on the afternoon of one of the weekly lectures for the neighborhood which were held at the school and a goodly number assembled.  Allen being known to them all, when the news was read to them it created quite a sensation, and it was decided that I should go to Baltimore that evening and see what could be done.
            “Accordingly the next morning at sunrise found me in that city, and after hunting up our valued friend, John Needles, we went to see Slatter and had quite a talk with him, but previously I went into the jail to make sure that Allen was there.  I found him overjoyed to see me and earnest in the hope that some way might be found to help him out of his troubles.  The jail was nothing but a large room, bare of everything but a few benches, and surrounded by a high brick wall enclosing a yard where the inmates shackled and otherwise might exercise under the supervision of the keeper.
            “Slatter, from his talk, did not incline to terms as he expatiated on the price which as a likely slave, Allen would bring in New Orleans – about $1000.  But finally, perhaps as a matter of bluff, he agreed to take $800 for Allen provided the cash was paid not later than that day week, and I returned home not very hopeful of the prospect in view.  After reporting the situation a subscription was started and through the energy and influence of John Jackson $500 was soon raised and the balance was advanced by a wealthy Friend of Philadelphia, so that at the allotted time I was in Baltimore, and with my friend John Needles as witness called on the trader prepared to consummate the bargain.  He appeared to be very much surprised, and so expressed himself, as he did not expect the money in so short a time and rather hesitated about confirming his agreement on the ground that he could get so much more by shipping Allen South.  He then asked me to allow him to see the letter I had received from Allen, stating that he himself used a certain kind of paper, and if any of his servants had been instrumental in communicating with me he would sell them south at once.  Fortunately I had left the jetter at home and could not gratify him.  When we had completed the papers it was nearly train time, and under the laws of Maryland the railroad companies were not allowed to carry colored people unless two residents of the state gave bonds as to their freedom, under heavy damages.  John Needles and I went over to the depot to get the tickets and the bond prepared.  Slatter saying he would come over to sign the same and bring Allen with him, which he accordingly did, though I have it from Allen that before doing so he supplied the lash to make him disclose his aids in getting the letter to me, but without success.  Allen is still living in Darby and has been placed in many positions of trust, enjoying the respect and esteem of his employers.  The rest of the family have passed away in the home of their adoption, no one having ever disturbed them, but the faithless brother-in-law found it too hot in the neighborhood for him and he was obliged to leave.”