The intersection of Providence Rd and Possum Hollow Rd. in 1897. You are looking north toward Media on Providence Rd. from Possum Hollow Rd. The house on the left has been remodeled but is still standing. Note the trolley tracks.
NOTE: Many old delco names have faded away in the past 100 years but you still hear some of us use the name Hinkson's Corner in Wallingford. The corner is at the intersection of Providence Rd. and Possum Hollow Rd. in Wallingford. The intersection has changed very little in 100 years.
CHESTER TIMES – March, 1903
EARLY HISTORY OF HINKSON’S CORNER
Centennial Anniversary of the Little Village Known for Many Years as the Home of the Normans and a Garden Spot in the County
“Hinkson’s Corner is the garden spot of God’s earth,” exclaimed Ezekiel R. Norman a few days ago. That was the climax to some remarks in which the well preserved man of seventy odd years dilated upon the natural beauties of that section of Delaware County, its attractiveness as a place of abode and the means of communication which keep it in touch with all the rest of the world. Mr. Norman, as he spoke, stood on the porch of the house in which he was born in 1831, and to which his father, Ezekiel Norman, the elder, had brought pretty Esther Van Culin a bride, ninety-five years ago.
ORIGIN OF CORNERS – THE NAME, “Hinkson’s Corner,” does not antedate the Revolutionary period, for the grounds upon which the hamlet is located was, prior to that struggle, in the ownership of the family of Nathaniel Vernon, well-to-do people for those days. When the war cloud burst, Nathaniel Vernon was Sheriff of Chester County of Delaware. The father, who was the Sheriff, his sons, Nathaniel, Jr., and Gideon Vernon, were supporters and active adherents to the King’s cause, while Fredrick, another son, was, on the contrary, an enthusiastic upholder of the contentions of the united colonies. Sheriff Vernon and his sons Nathaniel and Gideon were proclaimed traitors to the commonwealth, their estates confiscated and sold by order of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. Much of their lands, by those sales, passed into the ownership of the Hinkson family and as the latter’s holdings included three of the four corners at the crossed roads the locality soon became generally known as “Hinkson’s Corner.”
THE BLACKSMITH SHOPS – James Hinkson, a wheelwright, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, resided in a frame structure at the northeast corner, where is now the stone building, erected in 1799, by James Hinkson, which Mr. Rufus Shapley has converted into a stable and used as a large entrance to his grounds. At the northwest corner, where the present forge is located, Hinkson subsequent to the revolution built two shops one of logs and the other frame. In one of these he conducted his business of wheel righting and the other was leased to Richard Nuzzum for a blacksmith shop. At the southeast corner a few years prior to 1800, Mary Hinkson, a sister of James, put up a frame building, wherein she established a country store, which she conducted successfully for a number of years.
EZEKIEL NORAM – Ezekiel Norman, the elder, was born in 1780, at Plymouth, Montgomery County, and while still a child of tender years his father died, leaving the widow to rear and maintain the family. Often Ezekiel related that in the spring of 1794, when he was a lad of thirteen at a point where the Fairmount Dam was afterward built, with hook and line, he caught in the Schuylkill, thirty odd large shad, which his mother salted down for winter use. That incident he told us a refutation of the generally received opinion that shad will not bite at a baited hook.
When fourteen he was apprenticed to Enoch Rex, a noted blacksmith, of Flowertown, Montgomery County, and subsequently Ezekiel Norman himself became widely known as a skillful artificer in iron, at a time when from the delicate locks for fire arms to the heaviest machinery, all were made in the forges of the village blacksmith.
In the early part of the year 1803 Ezekiel Norman purchased the good will and tools at the forge at Hinkson’s Corner, and on Monday, March 3, one hundred years ago today, entered upon a business career then that covered one half of the century which is now completed. As trade prospered he purchased the shop, filled it with the most improved tools then known, and here he made all the screws used in the paper mills in this section, including those at Wilcox’s noted Ivy ills, and all that were required in the extensive snuff mills of Col. Thomas Leiper, at the present Avondale. The thread on these screws, many of them of enormous size, were cut by power furnished by the old-timed sweep, that is, a horse geared to a swinging beam driven continually round in a circle. When Ezekiel Norman introduced that improvement at his forge, the public gathered at the corners and watched the strange machine in motion with undisguised wonder.
IMMENSE SCREWS – In 1818, when the city of Philadelphia was erecting Fairmount Dam and constructing the huge wooden wheels, which, driven by water power, in turn forced the water up into the distributing basin on the mount, John White of Flowertown, who had the contract for making the screws for the flood gates regulating the flow of water into the compartments to which these wheels were placed, was ill, and he advised the authorities to arrange with Ezekiel Norman to furnish the screws. They were five in number, fifteen feet in length and large in circumference. The screws made at the forge at Hinkson’s Corner were in use until August 1862, when the present turbine wheels were substituted for the wooden ones – which in their day were esteemed such marvels of mechanical skill that many travelers from the old world thought they were of sufficient importance to be given a place in the published report of their visits to this country.
In 1831 when the then new United States mint at the northwest corner of Chestnut and Juniper Streets, Philadelphia recently demolished was being fitted with entirely new machinery and presses. Ezekiel Norman was employed by the government to make all the screws required in the machinery for coining. For many years those which he furnished were used until later improved methods rendered his work obsolete.
MURDERER CRAIG – Among the numerous journeymen blacksmiths, who, at various times, were employed by the elder Norman at the Hinkson’s Corner forge, was John H. Craig, the first person, after Delaware County, was erected, to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. Craig, who had been a soldier in the war of 1812, when honorably discharged, had purchased from the State the musket he had carried while in its military service. It was with that gun he killed Squire Edward Hunter, on July 19, 1817, and, as he had cast it aside in his alarm, after committing the felony, when found that musket gave the authorities the first clue to the identity of the murder, Craig, in the hand bills issued offering a reward for his arrest, is described as about five feet ten in height, of stout build, a little knock-kneed, very much sunburned, freckled, thick lips, sandy complexion, and with large whiskers, a striking peculiarity at that time, when generally men shaved or at most indulged in short side whiskers, termed military whiskers. The musket which is still retained in the possession of the county authorities at Media – Craig, on several occasions, repaired at the forge at Hinkson’s Corner, and at such time displayed the weapon with evident pride in its ownership. For years afterwards, when the subject of the Hunter murder was discussed by the neighbors who met at the forge, the repairs there made to the old musket never failed to be recalled by one or more of those present.
THE OLD HOMESTEAD – The old homestead in which Mr. Norman, the present owner, has lived his entire life, with its front door opening immediately into the parlor; its thick wall presenting deep recessed windows at which venetian blinds are still used to regulate the light in the apartments; the high mantel pieces with the shelves reaching well to the ceiling the huge fireplace, now enclosed with fireboards; the old china closet with its small panes affording glimpses of specimens of Delph, Baronial and Queensware that would cause many collectors to violate the tenth commandment; the spacious kitchen with its corner cupboard that a housekeeper of a century ago deemed as essential as the front door itself, all savor of our colonial period. A heavy walnut writing desk, with a history of three generations extending back to a time when the crier in the old court house at Chester proclaimed the presence of the justices and closed that announcement with a supplication that God would save his gracious majesty King George; brass candlesticks, snuffers and tray, household articles and an abundance of relics of a bygone life and times are gathered within those old walls. It is even questionable whether Mr. Norman himself knows how much has accumulated in his dwelling during the century in which it has been in his father’s and his ownership.
REVOLUTIONARY EPISODESD – The old house, tradition states, with what accuracy I cannot determine, was at one time the residence of Major Fredrick Vernon, son of Sheriff Nathaniel Vernon, who, as before stated, with two of his sons, were active Tories in the Revolution. When the British army took possession of Philadelphia in 1777, the father abandoned his large estate in Nether Providence and sought protection with the English forces in this city, while his son, Nathaniel Jr., joined the Tory lighthouse, commanded by Jacob James, a Quaker, whose flagrant outrages upon the people of Chester county aroused such a storm of indignation, that the Supreme Executive Council issued a proclamation offering a large sum for his capture. The differences in the political opinions of Nathaniel and Fredrick Vernon aroused an intense hatred between the brothers.
While the Continental army lay inactive at Valley Forge, Major Fredrick Vernon obtained leave to visit his wife and family, it is said, at Hinkson’s Corner. Through intelligence furnished by Tory spies in the neighborhood, Nathaniel learned of the presence of his brother at his home and determined upon his capture. Accompanied by a detachment of the Tory lighthorse, Nathaniel left Philadelphia in the evening reaching the Corners shortly before midnight. Ordering the men to surround the dwelling, Nathaniel forced the outer door and was about to ascend to the upper rooms when Fredrick, who had been aroused by the noise made in forcing an entrance, appeared at the head of the stairs, armed with a brace of pistols, halted his brother, and demanded the object of his visit. Nathaniel, in reply, stated he had come to make him a prisoner and that he had no chance but must yield, for the house was surrounded, cutting off every avenue of escape. He promised his brother, in the name of Sir William Howe, that if he surrendered and enrolled himself with the Royal Americans, the influence of the family, with that of the Commander-in Chief, would be used to secure for him, an important position in the administration of the colony, when the rebellion was crushed, as it assuredly must be Fredrick stoutly declined to yield, declaring that only as a dead man could he be captured, and that if his brother or any of the Tory lighthorse attempted to ascend the stairway he would shoot the intruder. The house was the property of the sheriff, and, as the loss would, he thought, fall upon his father, Nathaniel hesitated to apply the torch, hence balked in his mission, and he was compelled to retreat, leaving Fredrick master of the situation. Nathaniel subsequently became a captain of cavalry in the British Legion, while Frederick served with credit throughout the Revolution and was one of the founders of the Society of the Cincinnati.
FOUNDERS OF ALLEN’S HILL – The house subsequently passed into the ownership of Sarah Allen, who in 1808 sold it to Ezekiel Norman, the elder. It is now the property of Ezekiel Norman, the youngest, an ownership of two generation, covering a period of ninety-five years, an incident of exceeding variety in the history of titles in real estate in this county. Sarah Allen, the prior owner, was a daughter of Thomas Allen of Wallingford. Herkshire, England, a dissenter from the Church of England, who, early in 1793 settled in Springfield, where he died in March of the following year. In commemoration of his old home in the motherland, he called the place of his settlement to Delaware County, Wallingford, and a name that still obtains in that neighborhood. In 1837, in proceeding in the High Court of Chancery in England, the children of Thomas Allen were cited to appear in London before Sir Griffin Williamson, one of the masters of that court, to prove their claim to a legacy under the will of Elizabeth Pentycross. What was ultimately done in that matter I have failed to learn. Sarah Allen was one of the persons named in the citation. Allen’s Hill, on Providence Great Road, south of Hinkson’s Corner, receives its name from this family.
Ezekiel R. Norman in 1852, when his father retired, succeeded to the business and what is peculiar is that the elder Norman conducted the business for forty-nine years, and without intention to cover a like period of time, his son conducted the business at Hinkson’s Corner for a like number of years, the younger Norman having leased the shop to the present tenant two years ago