Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Christ Church suicide

The Irving Mill at Bullens Lane in Woodlyn, Ridley Township, looking south from Nether Providence. The empty land to the left was the George West Farm in the 1930's. Today it is low income housing at Overlook Heights.
It was the name "Christ Church" that caught my eye, and the date of 1818. Then the name Isaac Culin a Ridley farmer. After reading the deed of Culin donating land for a church on Chester Pike I knew the other name for the church, the "Free Christian Church". They were known locally as the "Battle Axes" and had quite a local following in the 1830's in Chester and Delaware Counties. "Battle Axe. They believed in "free love" and felt there was no need to marry, something like the hipster 1960's. The local minster was Fredrick Plummer and in Ridley Township the group was known as "Plummerites". The main minster was Theohilus P. Gates of Philadelphia and his disciple,Hannah Williamson and they made a deep impression with their views locally. One of his followers was Aaron Morton of Ridley Township. Aaron was a grandson of John Morton and after meeting Gates became a religious maniac. Morton was married and was one of the largest and wealthy landowners in the area. Gates evidently wanted some of Aaron Morton's wealth. Morton who was described as "mentally weak" was totally taken by Gates and Gates had a plan. Gates went to Morton's house in Ridley on Saturday, May 30th, 1840 and told Morton he would have to leave his wife and marry fellow disciple, Hannah Williamson. Williamson, the story goes, was also totally under Gates control and by marrying Morton, who was in his late 60's would give Gates control of his estate. Gates gave Aaron Morton an ultimatum, marry Hannah Williamson by June 5, 1840 or a terrible thing would happen to him. The story goes Hannah Williamson was not the most attractive girl in the area and Aaron Morton was terrified of what would happen. On the morning of June 5th, 1840 Morton cut his own throat with a straight razor. gates who was waiting nearby fled to Philadelphia and barely escaped with his own life. After Morton's death the "Battle Axes" sect fell apart and was never heard from again. the church stood on Chester Pike near where the "'Hack Wilson" Park is in the 1100 block of Chester Pike.

No comments:

Post a Comment