The 1724 Chester City Hall, where people went to vote 150 years ago.
Election Days 160 years ago
: “The electors of Ridley Township and Chester Township all voted at the Court House with the people of the borough (Chester). The taverns were not then closed on election days, and these fellows from the quarries often strove to carry the election or at least to influence the voters by violent means of persuasion. Fights and disturbances were not at all unusual. I have seen Market Street from the Court House to the Washington House opposite filled with a struggling mass of humanity, all fighting; men climbing upon the backs of the crowd, tearing each other’s clothes and pummeling one another. On Independence Days it was usual for boats to come from Philadelphia loaded with rough fellows out for a ‘celebration,’ and dressed in fancy costumes. These men would land at the wharf and march up Market Street, and it was not well for anyone to oppose their progress. The day was passed off without sundry rows. I do not know that Chester is yet to be taken as a model of civic propriety but its deportment does not now assume such vigorous style as in those days.”
The “fellows from the quarries” referred to, according to this old account were “quarry men from the Leiper and Crosby quarries,” back in 1830, “in Ridley Township, who came to Chester to celebrate the day.” When inflamed by whiskey, which in those days flowed freely in the old town on Independence Day and election days, they proceeded to make things lively. Thinking it was a Donny-brook fair, the old account relates, and being thereby reminded of the good times they used to have in the ‘old country’ when they went to the fair with their shillalas.”
Nothing like the above scene is ever witnessed in the “old town” now. Tuesday last, Election Day, was as quiet as the proverbial church, and so are Independence Days, and if “Chester is not yet a model of civic propriety,” the progress that has been made toward that goal can be appreciated when one compares a present election day with this account of one, a hundred and fifty years ago.’
Politics and Local History
One of the local jokes among Delaware County historians is what boro historian is NOT allowed to be a member of his town's historical society? He wrote the towns history, the book came out and some people did not like it. It was decided by those in power he would never be allowed to be on the boros historical society.
I can remember in 1985 when Ridley Park Boro asked me to not only write their centennial book, but plus head their town's centennial commission! I do not live in Ridley Park and was a Ridley Township Police Officer at the time. The council had no problem but other people were not happy that an outsider was running their centennial celebration. It all went very well. Today I'm on the board of the Ridley Park Historical Society.
Sadly, good friend Caroline Fairfield was not reappointed to the Glenolden Historical Commission. Caroline and Donna Rothe had bus trips, trolley tours, lectures, movies in the park etc. She did more than any other local historical society. Part of her letter of WHY?? is below.
After 8 years on the Glenolden Historical Commission, the Glenolden Borough Council has decided NOT to reappoint me to my position on the historical commission. I have been asked to return my keys to the Glenolden Library History Center, along with any other borough property in my possession. I have served since 2010 as the one of the only official working commission member according to borough records. I have faithfully and respectably upheld my responsibilities as an appointed representative of the Glenolden Historical Commission and represented my community proudly. I have received no reasonable response from the members of Glenolden borough council as to why my appointment is not being reinstated, the past 7 years I continued from year to year without any such reappointments or reinstatements, letters to return property etc. I can only presume my dismissal is due to political reasoning.
Months ago, I was told I would not be reappointed to the commission because of this reason and now the time has come. The leaders in Glenolden made it difficult to execute the commission events in May and October during this last election cycle, and the writing was clearly on the wall as to my future with the Glenolden Historical commission.
Since 2010 the Glenolden Historical Commission has raised over $15,000.00 dollars through the community support by Glenolden residents attending our events and little fundraisers, local businesses and private family donations. All the money donated has been spent on the education and preservation of Glenolden’s resources.