Norwood Park in the early 1900's. The park was almost lost to the boro thru a lawsuit over ownership.
NOTEIn the early 1890's, when a Norwood contractor began building a home in the middle of Norwood Park residents were outraged! Local lawyer, Joseph Calhoun, claimed title to the park, thru a lawsuit against John Cochran the original developer of Norwood. Calhoun purchased the Park from the lawsuit winner. What followed was several years of hearings and lawsuits by the Boro against Calhoun. Incredibly Calhoun lived in Norwood at the time. The suit was finally settled in April 1897.
Judge Waddell Confirms the Report of the Master, David F. Rose, Esq. – Opinion of the Court
In an opinion handed down by Judge W. B. Waddell on Saturday, in the case of Commonwealth vs. William Calhoun, et. al., the report of Master David F. Rose IS CONFIRMED. This was virtually an action to test whether the citizens of Norwood were entitled to have the use of three lots given by John Cochran in 1872 and 1873 as a place for a public park, or whether the parties who purchased them after they were sold at Sheriff’s sale were entitled to the right title and interest in them. According to the Court’s decree confirming the Referee’s report the public still maintains the grant given by Mr. Cochran.
The report of the Referee set out that the three lots in question were owned by Mr. Cochran and that it was his intention that they should be set apart for public use as a park. No deed of dedication was then made nor has any been made since. To bear this out a number of sales of lots about the three in question took place and at each Mr. Cochran gave notice that they had been dedicated to public use. The public character of the lots was recognized by the turnpike assessors, who made no assessment of them for the purpose of taxation.
In April 1878, Hon. John M. Broomall obtained judgment against John Cochran for $2000. This was obtained on a judgment note which was marked to the use of George Broomall. On June 11th, 1833, these park lots were sold under an execution on said judgment and were purchased by George Broomall, to whose use they had been assigned.
Prior to the Sheriff’s sale a number of the citizens of Norwood, alarmed at the danger of losing the park lots, held a meeting and organized for the purpose of protecting the rights of the park lots. Mr. Calhoun, one of the defendants in this suit, took an active part in these meetings and contributed to the fund raised to employ counsel. Then the day of the sale came a notice was read of this action by Mr. Galloway.
On September 15th, 1891, George Broomall sold the three lots in question to William Calhoun and later he sold part of them to Charles Lynch, B. Mitchell Newbold and Charles K. Swift. In view of this fact the referee said the question arose had George Broomall notice of the dedication of those lots for public park purposes? He goes on to cite how this could be obtained and decided that he had sufficient notice. He decided that the defendants should be restrained from having the use or occupation of said lots and that the costs of the proceedings be paid said defendants.
OPINION OF THE COURT – Judge Waddell’s opinion says: “We think the facts found by the Referee are justified by the evidence, and its conclusions are the legitimate result of those findings. Such findings of fact are conclusive upon us unless clear mistake, misconduct or manifest error be shown. No such error is apparent here. It is true his conclusions are not entitled to the same weight and may be reviewed with more latitude by the Court but to reverse the Referee his conclusions must be clearly wrong.
“We cannot say that of the conclusions of the Referee in this case. They seem to be properly drawn from the facts found: Entertaining these views we must dismiss the exceptions filed by the defendants, confirm the report and sign the decree submitted.”