The Chadds Ford Bridge over Brandywine Creek about 1912. This small road is now Baltimore Pike. The covered bridge was replaced in 1920.
CHADDS FORD NAMED FOR FERRY SERVICE OPERATOR
Chadds Ford, one of Delaware County’s most historic spots, has an equally historic and interesting name origin.
Chadds Ford made famous by the battle of the Brandywine, which took place there on September 11, 1777 was named for a ferry service operated by John Chadds, son of Francis Chadds or Chadsey, who emigrated from Wiltshire in 1689. The elder Chadds settled on a tract that included all of the present village of Chadds Ford.
The ferry service as set up to serve the increasing number of persons who began emigrating westward in the early eighteenth century. Most of the time the travelers were able to cross the Brandywine Creek on foot. However, in rainy weather and in the springtime, the creek became so swollen that it was practically impossible to ford.
Therefore, persons solicited John Chadds to set up a ferry service. The
made him a loan of 30 pounds to help defray expenses for his “flatt” or “schowe”. He operated the ferry from 1737 until his
death in 1760. It was then taken over by
a Negro woman, Hetty Brown. She kept a small store at the Ford and sold cakes
and beer to the travelers. Chadds
“schowe” was long since worn out and she ferried passengers in a boat which she
shoved with a pole. county of Chester
At the Court of Quarter Sessions, August 30, 1737, rates for Chadds Ford were set. They were as follows:
Horse and rider – four pence.
Single person on foot – three pence (if more than one person – two pence).
Ox, cow or heifer – four pence
One sheep – one pence
One hog – three half-pence
Coach, wagon or cart – one shilling and six pence
Empty wagon or cart - nine pence
Every steed – four pence
Chadds also opened an inn on the road from Philadelphia to Nottingham. It was known as the Chadds Ford Tavern”. After his death, the tavern was operated by a man by the name of Joseph Davis. The community of Chadds Ford therefore took its name from the Chadsey or Chadds family and the ferry service known as Chadds Ford. There is some difference of opinion as to the spelling of Chadds.
One historian says that the double D spelling is incorrect. All agree, however, that the name was originally Chadsey.
Francis Chadsey, the father of John, originally settled in Chichester. It is believed that he moved to
in 1696 when his name first appeared on the list of taxables for the
township. It is presumed that he located
on a tract of 500 acres which now includes the Birmingham . This land was originally surveyed to Henry
Bernard or Barnet early in March 1624.
Later he purchased 111 acres next to his estate, to the southeast, from
Edmund Butcher. village of Chadds Ford
Francis Chadds served as a member of the Assembly from Chester County from 1705 to 1707. He is believed about this time to have erected the first corn mill in the state along the
Brandywine. The original site was forgotten but in 1860,
in making excavations for the foundations of a brick mill built by Caleb
Brinton, evidences of the old log building were found.
A short distance west of the Baltimore Central railroad station, a log with an old wrought iron spike was unearthed. This and other traces started the belief that this was the location of Chad’s or Chadd’s mill.
An old petition, however, produces doubt that Chadds mill was the first in this area. The petition dated May 17, 1689 reads: “Ye Inhabitants of Brandywine River or Creek against ye dam made upon the creek, which hinders ye fish passing up to ye great damage of ye inhabitants.” This indicates that there was some sort of mill there before Chadds built his.
John Chadds, the ferryman, married Elizabeth Richardson in 1729. He is believed to have built an old stone house close to a spring near the northern end of Chadd’s Ford, the village. In 1829 a bridge was erected and the road crossing the
was rerouted to the south.