A view of Chester Creek aka River about 5th St. c. 1908
CHESTER’S OLD SECTIONS HAD QUEER PLACE NAMES
What is Chester today was for the most part Chester 75 years ago. But it was also Frogpond, Powhattan, Larkintown, Thurlow, Temperanceville, Pigeon Hill, Happy Valley, Forty Acres, and many others. Within what are now the city limits were these small communities and sections which all had descriptive and picturesque names.
Frogpond was named for, of all things, a frog pond. Powhattan was named for old mills, Larkintown for the Larkin family and Thurlow for the Thurlow family.
The facility around what is now Seventeenth Street, east of Providence Avenue was known as Frogpond. The name originated because there was a pond populated by frogs located there during the development of North Chester Borough from 1873 until 1877. A person who lived in that vicinity was known by the dubious title of Frogponder.”
On Fourteenth Street just south of the Chester Rural cemetery were located the Powhattan Mills. The mills were operated by the Esrey family. From the mills’ name this section of the city soon became known as Powhattan. The name Powhattan is undoubtedly derived from the famous Indian chief of the same name.
The Larkin family owned much of the land and resided in the section which is now approximately the area between Eighth and Tenth Streets, and Edgmont Avenue and Potter Street. Thus this section became known as Larkin town.
At Ninth and Upland Streets was a store operated by N. Larkin. In the rear there was a small carpenter’s shop. The property at the corner later was the home of John Larkin, ex-mayor of the city. St. Paul’s church is now located on this site.
The Larkin's also owned the whole block between Eighth and Ninth and Madison and Upland Streets and many other properties in this vicinity. According to a map drawn up in 1870, Charles Larkin owned a property at the corner of Eighth and Potter Streets and there was a woolen factory operated by the Larkins at Seventh and Potter Streets.
The Larkin family name still is retained in this area by the Larkin Grammar School at Ninth and Crosby Streets.
The West End section around what is now Thurlow Street was formerly known as Thurlow, named for the John J. Thurlow who owned a large estate here. His home, known as “Sportsman’s Hall” was located along the river at about the point where the South Chester Tube Company is now located.
The old home grounds are now bordered approximately by Harwick Street, Highland Avenue, and Second and Third Streets. It was built about 1840 and taken down in 1869 when Third Street was surveyed and laid out by William B. Broomall. All of the surrounding section was then known as Thurlow and there was a railroad station on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore line known as Thurlow station located there.
There were many other section names for the city. The section around what is now Twenty-fourth and Chestnut Streets was known as Temperanceville. Out Providence Road where the Governor Printz Bridge now crosses Ridley Creek were a group of homes known as Shoemakerville.
The section what is now East Thirteenth Street west of Providence Avenue was known as Pigeon Hill. The section adjoining the present site of the Aberfoyle Manufacturing Company was called Happy Valley. The vicinity of Central Avenue and Concord Avenue was known as Forty Acres.
The area between what are now Third, Seventh, Ulrich and Broomall Streets was at one time known as Perkin’s lawn. Abraham R. Perkins owned most of the land in this area and thus the name.
Most of these sections have long since lost their names and become merely a part of the city with no special identity. However, Chester still retains a few section names.
There’s Bethel’s Court, between Market, Welsh, Second and Third Streets. This area was so named because the Bethel Methodist Church was at one time located there.
Then there’s Holy City, the title given to the long block of West Eighth Street between Sproul Street and Chester River. This area is said to be so called because of the quietness of the section. The lack of noise is accentuated by the area’s proximity to the downtown business district.
Among the city’s newer settlements with old names is Eyre Village. The new development was named for the Eyre family, Joshua P. Eyre and William Eyre, Jr., being owners of the tract in the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the city’s most historic spots is the present site of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad station at the junction of Edgmont and Providence Avenues and Twelfth Street. This was formerly known as Hangman’s Lot. In early times it was the scene of public executions. It was also sometimes called Gallows Hill.