Sunday, February 21, 2021

How Police work was done in Delaware County 100 years ago.


The James F. Dougherty Fire Co. in the 1300 block of Chester Pike, this fire co. later became the Vauclain Fire Co. The picture is from about 1915. The one room building on the far left in the background is the first headquarters for the Ridley Township Police Department.

Note: Police work was very different in Delco 100 years ago. Officers worked on foot, directed traffic and when in a hurry stopped cars to get a ride. 

Police in Delaware County 100 years ago

   It is hard to imagine today what being a police officer in Delaware Co. was like in the 1920’s. Police patrolled on foot, no cars allowed, some towns allowed horse patrol at night. In Ridley Township which is as big as it is today, they had only one police officer in the early 1920’s. He walked the entire township and would stop cars and ask for a ride if he had to get somewhere fast. In those days a officer usually worked a 12 hour shift, usually 7pm to 7am and they would be on call during the day. In some towns, police were required to punch in at a time clock at night at various stops to prove they were patrolling. Towns built small booths where officers could rest while on patrol and also check in by phone. One of these booths can be seen in Ridley Park at Chester Pike and Sellers Ave. today. It is not a toll booth as some think. Small booths like these could be seen everywhere in Delaware County years ago. Police had no radios then and they would call by phone or stop back at the station to see if they had any calls. Some departments had a police phone system in their township of boro. These phones were placed at various intersections and locked and police had keys to use them. Some of these call boxes can still be seen in Delco. Officers were usually required once an hour to call their station to see if they had any calls.  In other towns in Delco an officer would ask a friend or business if they could use their phone to call in.

  As eastern Delaware County was growing rapidly, police calls came in faster, but by the time an officer found out about a robbery, theft etc. the bad guys were long gone. With robbers using cars and police on foot catching criminals was almost impossible.

  Another problem was traffic control. When traffic lights first appeared in the 1920’s, for the first couple of years they were operated by hand usually by police. In Darby Boro at Chester Pike and Main St. was a small booth that was torn down some 20 years ago. It was built for traffic control and also a place an officer could stop to rest and get out of inclement weather. A number of police officers were killed trying to enforce traffic laws. The police chief of Norwood was killed when he ran out onto Chester Pike and tried to stop a speeding car. He was hit and killed and the car kept right on going.

  It all came to a head in Ridley Park one day.  The boro was being hit hard by burglars and by the time the police found out about the crime and got there they were long gone. The burglars were so brazen they were robbing houses during the day. An officer on foot had no chance to make an arrest. But one day that all changed when an officer was in the station when a call came in that burglars were breaking into a house on West Ridley Ave. The officer was on foot and had no way to get there but to run. Ridley Park Boro had it’s own car for boro business and the officer grabbed the car keys off the Mayor’s desk and jumped in the car. He drove to the house and caught the burglars in the act. Boro residents were thrilled the burglars had finally been caught, but boro council wanted to fire him for taking the boro car without permission. After numerous hearings and meetings the officer was reinstated and Ridley Park became one of the first towns to have a police department with cars. The rest of the county followed quickly.

  But even with cars police still had to call their station at a phone station or stop in to learn what calls they had. The good news came in 1943 when Delaware County created their police radio system!

The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation is open for outdoor Spring on-site field trips!
Can't come to us? We can come to you-Virtually or through our many exciting Outreach Programs!
The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation abides by all recommendations of the CDC and State of Pennsylvania. The safety of our staff, volunteers and guests is of the upmost importance. Strict safety measures are implemented so we can safely host schools and guests outdoors. We understand many schools are unable to visit therefore we do have other options for your students! Call 610-566-1725 or email for more information.
At the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, the past is your present! The 18th century is brought back to life through our weekday field trip programs and other educational offerings. We rely on hands-on "living history" demonstrations and activities to educate our visitors. Our programs are appropriate for groups of all ages from pre-kindergarten to college. Programs can be designed to fit any group size, age, or interest.

The Colonial Experience
Our flagship program! The Colonial Experience is a 3.5 hour program designed to best serve large groups. This program includes rotations of 6 or 7 activities, albeit shorter and less intensive than our Sampler Workshop activities. Each program will include our popular candle dipping activity and farm chores, in addition to other crafts that will introduce your students to colonial life in Pennsylvania. Each activity is designed to be hands-on and may change to reflect the age of your group and the needs of our farm - just like they would have in 1770! A typical program includes things like a farm tour, chores, toys and games, and spinning. This program features a 30-minute lunch break.

Sampler Workshops
Perfect for the group that wants a more in-depth learning experience, the Trio and Quad Sampler Workshops are the only programs currently offered that feature hearth cooking in our historical kitchen. In all of the Sampler Workshops, your party will be greeted at the entrance to the Plantation by our guides, who will then explain the history of the site and its context in colonial-era Pennsylvania. Please Note: Due to the more complex nature of the hearth cooking activity, the Trio and Quad Samplers are restricted to Grade 3 and older. Younger visitors can still enjoy the Mini Sampler.

Mini Sampler Workshop
The Mini Sampler is perfect for groups that have less than 3.5 hours to visit, or are too young for the Trio and Quad Samplers. The Mini Sampler is a 1.5 hour program that features two hands-on activities: candle-making (our most popular activity) and farm chores. Groups choosing this program will still get a historical overview of the site and the colonial era and see many of our heritage breed animals. Participants will get to take their candles home with them.

Trio Sampler Workshop
The Trio Sampler Workshop is a 3.5 hour program featuring 3 in-depth activities, one of which will be cooking in our colonial kitchen and another being farm chores. The third hands-on activity is up to you (please call for a list of available activities.) At the end of the Trio Sampler, you will get to taste what your group has cooked in the kitchen that day.

Quad Sampler Workshop
Similar to the Trio Sampler, the Quad sampler can accommodate groups of up to 40 participants and includes a total of 4 activities, one of which will be cooking in our colonial kitchen and another being farm chores. The other hands-on activities are up to you (please call for a list of available activities.) At the end of the Quad Sampler, your will get to taste what your group has cooked in the kitchen that day.

This virtual program is an extension of our very popular Colonial Experience program and it brings our farm right to your classroom. While it lacks many of the sensory aspects of our on-site programs, it still delivers in depth knowledge about life in colonial times and demonstrations of the skills people used in the past, all delivered by our excellent educators. We will show you how fire wood was cut and talk about the importance of putting up enough wood to last you through the winter. Did you know that, after you cut up wood, it takes a year before it is ready to burn? We will show you how they got water from the well and talk about the importance of different water sources on the farm. Did you know that water helped to keep food cool in colonial times? We will introduce you to the animals and tell you about their jobs. Just like the humans, animals had jobs that they did on the farm. We will show you around our 18th century farm house and tell you about what it was like to live there. We will show you some of the steps involved in making clothing in the 18th century. Did you know you need about 7,000 yards of yarn for one petticoat?

This program is about an hour long and broken up in to 7 segments. Teachers will receive a lesson plan in advance when you book your reservation. A link can be sent to multiple email addresses if students are broken up in to different classrooms. You also have the option of having an hour long Q & A with one of our educators to join you virtually to answer questions and talk more about life in the 18th century.





February is a month full of love; engagements, Valentine’s Day, and National Wedding month. Delaware County has some of the area’s premier wedding venues, so if you or someone you know is planning to say ‘I do’ be sure to check out this list of locations that will make for unforgettable nuptials.

Delaware County is home to plenty of delicious restaurants and a variety of cuisines, but did you know we also have more than a few budding chefs putting Delco on the map? Meet the faces behind some of the best food around.

February celebrates Black History Month, and Delaware County has quite a few historic places right in our own backyard. Brush up on the past and learn more about sites in Delaware County with ties to the Underground Railroad.

Looking for a way to support local Delco restaurants? Join in on #HopeforHospitalityPA efforts by dining in, taking out or ordering delivery from your favorite local spots. Snap a picture and let us know you’re doing your part to keep our county strong…Delco style.

Why wait to experience Delco when you can do it from the comfort of your own home? Check out the new list of virtual experiences happening in our county. From sports to history and arts, you’re sure to find a way to spend the afternoon experiencing Delco.

Want to know what’s happening in Delaware County? Follow us on our socials for the latest news, happenings, events and more in Delco.



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