Sunday, July 24, 2016

Where is Prospect Park's Bessie Ward Hinkson??


The Morton Morton Homestead in Prospect Park about 1920 before restoration.

NOTE: In 1904, local Prospect Park businessman, Henry J. Borzener planned to tear down the old Morris Ferry House aka todays Mortonson Mortonson Home in Prospect Park. There were rumors about it's age etc. but no one really cared. Then in stepped Ridley Park's Bessie Ward Hinkson. Hinkson whose husband was lawyer Joseph Hinkson and yes Hinkson Ave. is named for their family. Bessie literally threw herself in front of the contractors, stopped the demolition and took over the care and maintence of the house for the next 32 years till the state of Pennsylvania restored and dedicated it in October of 1936. Bessie Ward Hinkson was guest of honor at the dedication.

Today the Mortonson Mortonson Homestead in Prospect Park sits empty and closed. It is the oldest house in the state of Pennsylvania. Depending on what rumor you hear the boro or another group are in charge of the building. It has been closed for the last 3 years at least. It is time to get the homestead up and running and OPENED!

 So who will be the next Bessie Ward Hinkson? Men can also apply!!


The articles below are from April 1904



            The cabin home of Mrs. Margaret Bailey along the banks of Darby Creek in Prospect Park, which was built in 1688, and to one of the oldest structures in the United States, is to be torn down and a modern dwelling erected on the site.
            The cabin was at one time the home of the late George Morris, a direct descendant of Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  It was known as the Morris Ferry House and George Morris was for many years the ferryman.
            Mrs. Bailey has received notice to move from the ancient cabin, which has been her home for quite a number of years.


            The latest historic relic to succumb to the march of progress is the old log cabin on Darby Creek, at the end of the draw bridge from Ridley Township to Tinicum Island, familiarly known as the “Morris Ferry House.”  The building has been standing for more than two centuries, but how much longer is a matter of some dispute.  However, on the inner side of the northwest end of the mantelpiece on the Darby Creek end of the original building are carved the figures “1698,” which doubtless indicates the time of its erection.  But tradition would have it much older, and that it was erected by one of Governor John Printz’s men.
            It was about a mile from Printz’s Hall, the seat of the Swedish colonial government as early as 1650.  Here, where the cabin was erected, the inhabitants from the lower settlements crossed the creek in the Governor’s mansion, and past this point in 1688, when the English were in possession and the road from Tinicum to Springfield was laid out.
            The old cabin is built of white cedar logs, flattened, the ends of which can be distinguished in the illustration in the Darby Creek end of the house, just within the log wall, is a huge stone fireplace, extending the full breadth of the building the chimney being on one side, thus permitting the settler’s family to use the other end for warmth and light during the cold weather.
            Here in the wilderness, with Indians and savage beasts on one side, and on the other an island spot which contained the buildings of Old World expansion, the seed of white conquest that has since spread over the continent from the landings of Leif Ericson and Medoc, to the Golden Gate where in loneliness and solitude dwelt the early settler by whom the cabin was built.  Here he drew forth the many denizens of the deep, forestalling Captain Rice and his seiners by several generations; here he brought down the wild game of the forest, and here in the old fireplace he planked his shad ere even the epicurean frequenters of Gloucester were born, and here on the red hot wood coals he broiled his venison and bear steaks.  Here he paddled his canoe across the creek with travelers, and here he kept in touch with European civilization through the foreign ships plying the stream.
            But it did not long remain a hunter’s cabin.  In 1729 one Adam Archer, who dwelt there, anxious to use it as a public house, with entertainment for man and beast, petitioned the court for a license, stating that his place was “on the Banks of a large Navigable Creek Leading out of the said River Delaware, commonly known as Amos Land,” and further explaining, “your petitioner’s Landing being close at his door.”  Although a remonstrance was filed he obtained a license.  The beer and cider that he sold, however, were not conducive to the peace and quiet of the neighborhood and his license was not renewed every year.
            In 1744 John Hendrickson of Amosland, obtained a license for the place which he said in his petition was “upon Darby Creek, where great numbers of travelers, as well by land as by water, only resort.”  At that time considerable shipping was done along Darby Creek, boats ascending up the creek, much higher than Hendrickson’s place. Up to this time and for many years later the only mode of crossing the creek was in canoe, for it was not until 1786 that John Hoof obtained the privilege of keeping not only a house of entertainment at that place, but also a conduct a ferry across to Tinicum Island from Darby Creek.
             Hoof kept the tavern and was ferry master till 1801, when George Gill got the place.  It is asserted that Robert Morris, the financier of the Revolution, was sheltered beneath its roof, for in 1804 Philip Morris obtained it, when it became known as the Morris Ferry House.  After his death his sons had it.  One of them, George, who died recently, was there until 1848, having been born in the house.
            The property is now owned by H. J. Borzener, who has contractors demolishing the building preparatory to erecting dwelling houses.  The building will be down by the end of the week.

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