My Book of Old Chester
Louis J. Warfel,


Introduction & Dedication  |  Index
Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV
(7-53)  |  (54-89)  |  (90-127)  |  (128-164)

Part I In 1623 the Dutch Ship New Netherlands under the command of Capt. Cornelius Jacobson Mey, for whom Cape May, New Jersey is named, sailed up the Prince Hendricks or South River, as the Delaware Was then called. (The Hudson was known as the North River.) At about the site of the City of Chester Capt. Mey encountered the friendly Lenni Lenape Indians.

They are usually referred to as the Delaware, however, the Native Americans who lived in Penna, Delaware and New Jersey, referred to themselves as the Lenni Lenape which means genuine or true born men.

Although the Dutch claimed possession of the Delaware Bay and the River area it was the Swedes under Peter Minuit who, in 1638, first settled on the site of Wilmington Delaware. From the Indians they purchased the land extending from Wilmington to the site of the League Island Navy Yard, "from the river to where the sun set."

In 1642 John Printz was commissioned Governor of this territory called New Sweden. He arrived the following year with his family, 24 soldiers,, and a group of colonists aboard the ships Swan and Renown with orders to control the Delaware.

Printz built Fort New Gothenburg on Tinicum Island, a couple of miles north of the site of Chester.


The fort was armed with four small copper cannons. He also had a combined residence and government building erected there. A second fort was built across the river on Salem Creek.

The land on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, between Chester and Ridley Creeks, for 1 miles inland, was granted by the Swedish Government in 1644 to Gov. Printz's bodyguard, Joran Kyn. He and the people who settled his land, called the community Upland, after the province and island of Upland (Oland) on the Baltic coast of Sweden, from whence many of them came

In 1653 the land west of Upland Creek, extending four miles along the River, was granted to Capt. John Besk, for outstanding service to the State. During that time Finland was part of Sweden, so many of the original colonists were of Finnish descent.

In the meantime, the Dutch had built Fort Casimir at New Castle, Delaware in 1651. Four years later Peter Stuyvesant led the Dutch on a series of attacks against the Swedish Forts and seized control of the entire region. The Dutch held this control until 1664 when the English captured New Amsterdam, which they renamed New York. All of the Dutch dependencies on the Delaware came under the rule of England. Except for a brief period in 1673 England kept control until the American Revolution.

* * *

During 1676 Upland ( later Chester ) became the center of a large Judicial area when the British established a Court there.


The first Court session was convened on Nov.14, 1676. It was administered under "The Duke of York's Laws During that year the first Insane Patients Maintenance Act was passed. The Act reads: " Jan Cornelissen of Amesland, Complayning to ye court that his son Erick is bereft of his naturall Senses and is turned quyt madd and yt ; he being a poor man is not able to maintain him; Ordered: that three or four persons be hired to build a little blockhouse at Amesland for to put in the said madman, and at the next Court order will be taken yt: a small Levy be laid for to pay for the building of ye house and the maintaining of ye said madman according to the laws of ye Government."

* * * *

In 1681 William Penn was granted the land west of the Delaware River between the 40th and 43 parallels of north latitude, by King Charles 11 of England.


William Penn was born in London during the year 1644. His father was Sir. William Penn, an Admiral of the British Navy under the rule of both Cromwell and Charles 11. Admiral Penn achieved some notable Naval Victories which were of great importance to his Country. But at the time, England was in a state of turmoil and the King was not able to raise money to pay all of his many obligations.


The King owed Admiral Penn 16,000 pounds. That did not cause the Admiral any great hardship, he was still quite wealth.

Young William enjoyed the life of a middle-class English Gentleman. He was sent to a preparatory school at Chigwell until he was twelve. For the next four years he lived with his parents on their estate in County Cork, Ireland where he had a private tutor. It was there that he first heard Thomas Loe preach the Quaker Philosophy of George Fox.

George Fox was born in 1624. At the age of nineteen he began a quest for religious enlightenment. Five years later he began to preach his great truth of "The light within" which had brought him comfort. His followers called themselves "children of the light". They shared his rejection of formality in religion, advocating the disuse of Baptism and the Lord's Supper and the discontinuance of a salaried Ministry and the "anti- Christian yoke of tithes". They accepted the words of Christ that appear to forbid oaths and war. Fox preached that every man could find truth by recognizing for himself the Divine Spirit in his own being.

Opposition to the Anglican Church was a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment. George Fox and his followers spent many years in prison.

Young William Penn was impressed by the Quaker philosophy. He was enrolled in Christ Church College at Oxford. He was not there very long before he was expelled in 1662 because of being outspoken against the religious


restrictions of the time. His parents were very troubled by his actions which were ruining his prospects for a good career. Admiral Penn sent young William on a Continental Tour.

When William Penn returned to England he studied some law, attended his father aboard ship, carried dispatches to Charles 11 and later spent some time in the military service in Ireland.

In Ireland he was once again exposed to the Quaker ideas and soon became a zealous member of the Society of Friends, speaking out vigorously on their behalf. When in 1668 he published his work, "The Sandy Foundation Shaken" he was arrested and confined in the Tower of London. While in prison he wrote several other tracts, not only defending the Quaker sect but the right of all men to freedom of choice in Religion. Penn was released from prison in 1669 . He returned to Ireland to manage the affairs of his father who's health was beginning to fail.

Penn continued to use all of his influence to help his fellow Quakers who were suffering very harsh treatment. On August 14, 1670 he and a friend, William Mead, went to attend a Quaker meeting in London. The meeting house was locked so Penn began to preach to the crowd in the street. Both he and Mead were arrested and put into Newgate Prison.

At their trial the jury was instructed to bring in a verdict of guilty. Penn defended the right of the Jury to reach a verdict without intimidation so eloquently that he was acquitted. The Jury was imprisoned for defying the court.


That action led to a famous trial in which the rights of the British Jurors was affirmed. Admiral Penn died soon after the trial in 1670.

In 1672 William Penn married Gulielma Maria Springett. His religious fervor remained high and he continued to write and preachin England, Holland and Germany. It was in that year of 1672 when King Charles 11 issued the Declaration of Indulgence and the violent persecution of those who dissented from the established Church of England came to an end. Penn was free to carry on his missionary work and to plan other ventures. He was looking toward America. It was his hope to be able to establish there a haven where complete freedom of conscience might be exercised.

In 1681 Penn and 11 other men purchased East Jersey. Then he persuaded Charles 11 to settle the debt which was owed to his father by granting to him land in America. On March 4, 1661 the King signed a Charter by which Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn as true and absolute proprietor and Governor subject only to minor limitations of Privy Council review of the Provincial Laws. Penn was also granted the territory that became Delaware. That he received from King Charles' brother James, the Duke of York.

On October 27, 1682, William Penn and his party of one hundred Quaker settlers sailed up the Delaware on the ship "Welcome" and disembarked at the little settlement of Upland.

Penn found accommodations at Robert Wade's Essex House. It was in that house


that the first meeting in Pennsylvania by the Society of Friends for Divine Service was held in 1675.

The vast territory over which William Penn had control was divided into six Counties, Bucks, Chester and Philadelphia and the three that later became Delaware, Castle, Sussex and Kent.

Penn called for the immediate election of seven freeholders from each of those Counties. Those men, who comprised Pennsylvania's first legislative body, met at Upland on Dec. 4, 1682 and began to pass Laws which confirmed the framework of the Government for the Colony.

That first Assembly of Pennsylvania was held in James Sandeland's "Double House" which was located on the West side of Edgmont Ave between Second and Third Street. The session continued for three days, during which time the "Great Code of Law", which had been prepared in England, was adopted. William Penn presided over the session.

Religious toleration was guaranteed by Penn's Legal Code. It's primary emphasis was on freedom of conscience. But in keeping with the influence of a Puritan Culture the assembly adopted the "Blue Laws" which forbade gambling, stage plays, card playing, cock fights and gossiping.

William Penn's endeavors were for him a Holy experiment, reflecting his inner devotion to the Society of Friends. He shared their confidence in the inner guiding light of conscience to influence man's destiny, and there faith in the dignity and worth of the individual.


It is to their honor and credit that they earnestly support humanitarian and benevolent causes and refuse to sanction violence and war. Penn's fair and honorable dealings with the Lenni Lenape Indians prevented the violence that occurred in some of the other Colonies.

Chester Township was established. It included Brookhaven, Parkside, Upland, Toby Farms, Feltonville, and Lower Feltonville and Chester. (At the request of his friend Pierson, Penn changed the name of the village of Upland to Chester, after the town in Cheshire England from whence Pierson had come.) Chester became the County Seat of what was then Chester County.


During the two years after Penn came to America with the first hundred settlers 3000 more colonists arrived. For the most part They were members of the Society of Friends from England and Wales. But there were also many farmers from Bavaria and Saxony who were urged by agents of William Penn to establish farms in Pennsylvania. Some of the immigrants were Mennonites who hoped to escape Religious persecution. A good many them settled around Germantown, near Philadelphia but most went to the area of Chester County which soon became Lancaster County. The farmland there is full of limestone and much like the land they had productively worked in the old country.



Caleb Pusey was an Englishman who came to America with Penn from whom he later bought 250 acres of land on the Chester Creek about 2 miles north of Chester. Pusey built a home and established a grist mill in which Penn and some others invested. The business prospered and eventually the Chester Mills included 2 water Grist Mills, a Saw Mill and a Fulling Mill.

Caleb Pusey was born in Berkshire, England in 1650. Early in his life he moved to London. He married Ann Worley in 1681. He joined the Society of Friends and was keenly interested in Penn's plans for Pennsylvania.

Pusey joined with Penn and eight other men in the setting up of mills in the Colony and was picked to be resident manager of the enterprise. In 1682 Pusey and his wife came to Pennsylvania and settled on Chester Creek near Upland. The corn mill which he erected on that site in 1683 became famous as the Chester Mills. There was an older mill on Cobb's Creek which the Swedes had built, but Pusey's was the first under the proprietorship of Penn, who himself laid the cornerstone. Seven of the partners soon disposed of their interest in the business and for several years it belonged just to Penn, Pusey and Samuel Carpenter. Pusey managed the Mills for about thirty four years. In 1717 he retired and moved to Marlborough Township where he spent the last years of his life. Ann Worley Pusey died in 1726. Caleb Pusey died the following year. The Puseys were survived by two daughters.


Pusey was for many years a Justice of the peace of Chester County. He was also Sheriff in 1692-93 and County Treasurer for a short time in 1694. He was active politically and in the affairs of the Quaker Movement. He founded and for many years presided over an informal court, " The Peacemakers", that settled controversies between the Quakers. He wrote a large number of works in defense of his Quaker philosophy and made a large collection of Historical manuscripts.

Caleb Pusey's original home , located at 15 Race Street, Upland was built in 1683. It is one of the oldest English built homes in Pennsylvania. Today the Landingford Plantation on which it stands also contains an old Historic School House, a Country Barn, a Log House and a 17th Century Herb Garden.


All of the areas around Chester were settled by 1700. Marcus Hook was a Dutch community founded in 1655. Farms were located in Parkside in 1672. Farms were also established in Upper Providence in 1683 and a road was laid out from there to Chester.

Darby was founded in 1683. In 1706 the Philadelphia and Chester Turnpike, a toll road which passed through Darby, was constructed. This later became the Chester Pike. Another important road was the Kings Highway which connected Philadelphia with Baltimore Maryland. This of course was later called the Baltimore Pike.


Aston consisted of farms and a small cluster of homes around Village Green in 1682. The Concord Road which passes through Aston was soon established.

In 1687 Farms were located in Ridley Township which included what is now Rutledge, Ridley Park, Eddystone, Prospect Park, Morton, Norwood, Holmes, Milmont, Woodlyn, Folsom, Crum Lynn, Leiperville and Secane.


* * *

William Penn presided over a Court session at Chester on June 27, 1683. Reportedly, this was the only time he ever acted in a judicial capacity in Pennsylvania. It is also interesting to note that the first American Jury composed entirely of women was assembled for a trial in Chester in 1687.

Penn was not able to remain long in America. He had to return to England in 1684 to settle a dispute over the boundary of Pennsylvania and Maryland. While there King Charles 11 died. Penn became a chief advisor to James 11, his close friend.

When James was dethroned in 1688, Penn found himself in disfavor with the new monarchs William and Mary.

William Penn married again in 1696, his first wife had died sometime before. In 1699 Penn was finally able to bring his wife to the new world. While he had been in England, Penna. was Governed by a succession of Deputy Governors. Penn visited Chester in 1699 and for a second time stopped at the Essex House where he was the guest, for a day, of Lydia Wade, who was then a widow.


Penn and his wife remained in Pennsylvania for two years, until 1701. They spent much of their time at their home, Pennsbury. At times they were in residence at their City home, the "Slate Roof House" on Second Street, North of Walnut. Their son John, "The American" was born in Philadelphia in 1700.

William Penn granted a Charter to the little Village of Chester in 1701 and it thereby became the Borough of Chester. During that year he had to once again return to England with his family. He went thereto oppose a legislative attempt to make Pennsylvania a Crown Colony.

William Penn suffered a stroke in 1712 which left him with paralysis and amnesia. Penn died six years later in 1718. In his time he was probably the greatest champion of religious liberty. His beliefs became central to the development of the modern world of freedom.

* * *

In 1703 the first Saint Paul's Episcopal Church was built over the grave of James Sandelands, one of Chester's earliest prominent citizens. The building was located in part of the Swede's Burial Grounds, on the south side of 3rd Street, between Market and Welsh. In 1708, the congregation of that Church established the first school in Chester.

* * * *

In Chester the route that is Morton Ave to Fifth Street, to Edgmont Ave., to Third and Market St. (Market Square) was laid out in 1706 and called the "Queen's Highway". It was so named to the honor of Anne, Queen of Great Britain & Ireland. She was the second daughter of James 11 and Anne Hyde.


* * * *

A homicide trial was held in Chester on April 17, 1718. It was the first such trial to be set down in the County Records.

Two men, Lazarus Thomas, a laborer, and Henry Pugh, a millwright, were accused of the murder of Johnathan Hayes. According to the Tax List of 1693, Hayes was the owner of a the largest tract of land in Marple Township. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1689 and a Justice of the Court from 1703 until 1711. Pugh and Thomas were convicted of the murder and hanged on May 9, 1718.

* * * *

Chief Justice David Lloyd had a very beautiful home built on his estate in 1721. It was at Second and Welsh Street, not far from Saint Paul's. He called the home and property, "Green Banks". Many years later that mansion was the home of Commodore Porter, father of Admiral Porter and step father of Admiral Farragut. The building was also the scene of a tragic explosion and fire in 1882.

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Chester's Historic Stone Court House, the oldest public building in continuous use in the United States, was built in 1724. It is located on the west side of Market Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

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The old Quaker Burial Grounds was for many years located on the west side of Edgmont Ave. above 6th Street. The bodies were removed to another location in the 1950s to make room for more stores.

* *


For many years Chester, Pennsylvania was

little more than a thriving fishing village. Shad was plentiful in the clear water of the bounteous river. People came from as far away as Lancaster to purchase wagon loads of fish which they packed in straw and ice for the trip home.

But the little borough was also a County seat and the hub of an extensive farming region. At that time tobacco was one of the most profitable crops grown in the area.

Gradually the little community became dotted with the homes and shops of many different trades people, Blacksmiths, Wagon Builders, Merchants, Harness Makers, Barbers, Bakers, Doctors and Inn Keepers.

People from surrounding farms traveled to Chester for provisions and services by way of the Concord Road, Middletown Road, Providence Rd., The King's Highway and the Queen's Highway. Sailing Ships from England brought supplies and carried cargoes and passengers back.


About five miles north of Chester where, the Middletown Road crossed the King's Highway (Baltimore Pike) the Black Horse Inn was erected in 1739. The Inn soon became the popular place yo stop for those traveling between Chester, Coatesville and Lancaster and between Phila. and Baltimore, Md. Public sales of cattle and other livestock were regularly held on the 300 acres around the Inn.

* * *

There were very few Catholic Families in the Chester area in the middle of the 18th century. The first regular celebration of the Mass was begun about 1730 at the home of one Thomas Wilcox in Concord Township. The Wilcox family established the famous Ivy Mills which produced paper money for the Colonies. In later years they were active in the founding of St. Michael's in Chester and St. Thomas the Apostle in Chester Heights.

A Jesuit, Fr. Joseph Greaton, traveled to the Wilcox home from the Bohemia Manor Mission at Cecil County, Maryland, to say the Mass and administer the Sacraments. In 1731, Fr. Greaton established St. Joseph's Chapel in Philadelphia. With that at his main base he made regular visits to Ivy Mills, West Chester and Deer Creek. That was four years before January 8, 1735, the birth date of John Carroll who became the first Bishop of the United States.

In 1763, Saint Mary's Parish was founded in Philadelphia by Father Robert Harding. The boundaries of that Parish extended from the City of Philadelphia to Bally, Reading, West Chester, Concord and Ivy Mills; to Chester then on to Coffee


Run, Delaware, then down to Bohemia Manor, Maryland.

* * *

On November 7, 1764, Benjamin Franklin came to Chester to board a London Packet Ship. He was on his way to the Court of King George the Third to present a list of Colonial grievances to the British Monarch. A Packet Ship is a relatively small vessel which carries mail, passengers and some goods on a regular fixed route.


When the Liberty Bell rang out on July eighth of seventeen seventy-six, the Bell in the tower of the Chester Court House also peeled, calling together the Townspeople for the announcement of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, four days previous

. Later that year, Anthony Wayne drilled Continental Troops in front of the Chester Court House.

Anthony Wayne was born in Chester County in 1745. He was a surveyor and manager of his father's Tannery. He became a member of the Provincial Assembly in 1775 and was appointed Colonel of a Chester County regiment in 1776. Col. Wayne received a Congressional Medal for his bold action at Stony Point and he assisted Gen. Lafayette in the Yorktown Campagne. Col. Wayne received a Major Gen. brevet when he retired in 1783. He died in 1796 at the age of 51.

On August 24, 1777, George Washington and his Army of 16000 men stopped to rest in and near Chester. They were marching to the Brandywine to intercept a British Army under the command of General Howe. Gen. Washington stayed at the Inn


(built in 1747) on Market Street across from the Court House. That Inn was later renamed "The Washington House".


While in Chester, Washington and his officers no doubt visited the grave of John Morton in the Swede's Burial Ground. John Morton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was the great grandson of Morton Mortenson who came to America in 1654. The log house which that early settler built in what is now Prospect Park is a very famous Historical site.

In 1724 John Morton was born in that log house, which by then had been much enlarged.

John Morton served as High Sheriff of Chester County ( of which Delaware County was then a part ) and held various other Judicial posts. As a delegate to the Continental Congress, his vote, with that of Benjamin Franklin and James Wilson, swung Penn. to the side of independence by a majority of one vote. John Morton's death occurred in April of 1777. He was the first of the signers of the Declaration Of Independence to die.



After the Battle of the Brandywine, George Washington returned to the Pennsylvania Arms Inn at Chester. There in his room, on September Eleventh of 1777 he wrote a report for Congress about the engagement with the British.

General Lafayette stayed just up the street at the Columbia Hotel (built at 5th and Market in 1736). There Lafayette was treated for wounds suffered during the fighting.

Since there was no hope of preventing the British from taking Philadelphia, General Washington decided to lead his Army to the safe haven of Valley Forge for the winter.

Congress moved to York, Pennsylvania after stopping for one day at Lancaster.

A few days later, on September 18,1777, General Cornwallis with an Army of 3000 men passed through Chester. General Howe and the remainder of the troops who had camped around Village Green marched on to Philadelphia.

It was four years later, after much bitter fighting, that George Washington once again rested in Chester. The date was September 5, 1781. He was then on the way to Yorktown, where he and his Colonial Army defeated and captured Cornwallis and his men. That victory brought an end to the War, but the peace treaty was not signed until September 3, 1783.


For the next few years the United States were governed by the Congress of the Confederacy under the provisions of the Articles of the Confederacy. It was an agreement under which the States were to engage in an alliance of friendship and mutual protection. Congress had limited powers to regulate National and International affairs. It also had the authority to coin money, limit the size of the standing armies maintained by the States, and to control alliances between the States.

The system did not work very well. By 1786 the Confederation was in danger of breaking up. The National Government was too weak. On many vital matters, Congress had no authority to legislate for the Country as a whole. Furthermore, it had no power to enforce it's decisions. George Washington repeatedly warned of the dangers ahead if the Government was not drastically revised. At last, in May of 1787, Congress and the States agreed to hold a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Washington was selected to preside. After much deliberation and discussion the American Constitution was finally drawn up and submitted to the States for approval.

On December 7, 1787 Delaware ratified then on December 12 Pennsylvania

December 18 New Jersey
January 2,1788 Georgia
January 9,1788 Connecticut
February 6,1788 Massachusetts
April 28,1788 Maryland
May 23,1788 South Carolina
June 21,1788 New Hampshire
June 25,1788 Virginia


July 26,1788 New York
November 21,1789 North Carolina
May 29,1790 Rhode Island

Elections were held as soon as a majority of the States had approved the Constitution. George Washington was selected to be our first President.

The Borough of Chester was lavishly decorated and the people wild with excitement when President elect Washington came to town once again on April 20, 1789. He was on the way to New York City for his inauguration. He was truly, as someone once said, "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the hearts of his Countrymen".



It was about the year 1785 when a young Chester woman, Elizabeth Wilson, became involved with a man who has been identified simply as a "Philadelphia Lodger". From the brief account which I have read of this story it is not clear where they first met. She may have been in Philadelphia for a time or, what seams more likely, he may have been lodging in Chester for a time while conducting some business. At any rate, they had an affair and in due time, Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys.

She contacted the 'Lodger' who had returned to Philadelphia and tried to interest him in marriage, or at least in becoming to some extent involved with her and the children.

The lodger agreed to meet Elizabeth at an Inn near Newtown Square. He would have gone over the old road that later became the West- Chester pike, she would have traveled up the old Providence Road. Elizabeth took the two babies with her.

They met and no doubt the young woman tried to charm the man and to appeal to him through the children. Her plan did not work.

We can only speculate about what happened next. They quarreled, she made threats, confronted him again and again with the babies. In anger he seized the boys, killed them and buried them in a field. The lodger fled.

Elizabeth somehow managed to return to her home in Chester. Her account of what had happened to the children was not readily accept- ed by the authorities.

Elizabeth was tried for the murder of her children. She was found guilty and sentenced to be hung.


Elizabeth's brother, George? Wilson, was entirely convinced of his sister's innocense. He gathered together what evidence he had and rushed to Philadelphia by horseback. After much frustration and delay he was at last able to present his case to the higher authorities there and he convinced them of his sister's innocence. With her reprieve in his saddlebag Wilson ran his horse a fast as he dared to get back to Chester and free his sister. He traveled all through the night and finally arrived weak and exhausted only to find out that he was too late. Elizabeth had been hung on the scaffold at 'Hangman's Hill', at Twelfth Street where Middletown Road and Providence Road intersect.

Wilson was inconsolable. He was angry with the people of Chester who had misjudged his beloved sister. He was angry and remorse- ful because he was too late to save her. He withdrew from society altogether. Wilson lived as a hermit for the remainder of his life. He took shelter in a cave near Kutztown, Pennsylvania called 'Indian Echo Cavern'.

Friends and neighbors and people who lived near the cave took food and clothing and medical supplies and left them at the mouth of the cavern. Wilson was seldom if ever seen by anyone.



The first Steamboat to carry a man was built by John Fitch. A steam engine drove twelve large wooden paddles that propelled the boat. It was first operated by Fitch on the Delaware River on August 27, 1787.

In 1790 John Fitch was operating the Steamboat " Perseverance" on the Delaware River between Wilmington, Chester and Philadelphia. That was more than fifteen years before Fulton's venture with the Clermont on the Hudson. The boat John Fitch ran during the summer of 1790 traveled at a speed of eight miles per hour.

* * * *

An Historic event in the history of the Catholic Church in America took place in 1790. A native son of Maryland, John Carroll, was appointed Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Baltimore, the boundaries of which extended from Georgia to Maine, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.

* * * *

All of the people of the area were grieved by the horrible incident that occurred in 1794 at the Black Horse Inn, Middletown Road and Baltimore Pike. James Pennell, who previous- ly operated a Hotel in Chester was then the proprietor of the Inn. For several years he had entertained guests at his establishment by performing an act with his pet tiger. During on of those shows the animal was provoked past it's endurance. The great beast attacked James Pennell and clawed him to death in front of the audience.

* *

A far worse disaster began later that year when an epidemic of Yellow Fever broke out in Philadelphia.



In 1796 an epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Philadelphia. Everyone who could possibly leave the City, did so. Congress fled to New Jersey to try to escape the disease. By the start of 1798 it had spread to Chester.

The Chester Times reported that 80 people, one fifth of the population perished in the epidemic of 1798. At that time there were only 17 homes on Edgmont Ave. between the River and Fourth Street and more than 30 people died in that neighborhood alone.

Dr. William Martin was a Chester Physician who tirelessly dedicated himself to the care of the victims. He took every precaution to keep himself from contacting the illness. According to the Chester times he rode up to the windows of homes where people were sick and prescribed and gave out medicine without entering the buildings.

When the entire crew of a British Ship which was docked in Chester came down with the sickness Dr. Martin felt he had to board the vessel to treat them. He did, and some were saved. But Doctor Martin caught the fever and died.

More fortunate was the prominent Chesterite Richard Flower, owner of the Chester Mills in what is now Upland. Flower was stricken with the fever, became extremely ill and was believed to be dead. As his burial party was placing him in a coffin, Flower uttered a few feeble words. He completely recovered and lived for another 50 years.



In the Historical Section of the Directory for the Borough of Chester, 1859-1860, published by William Whitehead of West Chester, Pa., it was stated that the Chester area in the early years was peculiarly exempt from destructive diseases which are often encountered in such low lying locations.

All of the families in the area enjoyed excellent health.

The wells were like mineral springs, the water containing saline solutions and Iron Salts with medicinal properties. Thanks to the purity of the spring water, the Butter produced in that area was of such superior quality that it was greatly in demand in the markets of Philadelphia and Baltimore.

It was reported that in 1832 the Cholera swept over the Town without a single case.

Along the shore below Chester there were at least a dozen large farms. Some of the houses were located on the banks of the river. Including the families, numerous City boarders, harvest workers and servants, the Medical bills for amount of sickness of every kind at these farms in a year did not come to more than Ten Dollars at One dollar per Doctor visit.

The largest boarding house in that part of the country was on the Delaware River two miles below Chester. Every summer it was filled to overflowing with seasonal visitors, including a great number of little children. Medical attention for all of those people did not average Twenty Dollars a year.


Westchester became the County Seat of Chester County on March 18, 1786.

* *

On September 26, 1789, Governor Mifflin signed legislation which created Delaware County. On November 7, 1789 the first Court for the new County, convened at Chester. It is interesting to note that the very first court in Pennsylvania was convened in Chester on November 14, 1676 and was administered under what was known as 'The Duke of York's Laws'.


For quite some time during the early years of the Revolutionary War period an outlaw who became known as the "Sandy Flash" preyed up travelers in Chester County. He was finally caught and identified as one James Fitzpatrick. After a speedy trial in Chester he was hung on the scaffold at Hangman's Hill on September 26, 1778.

* *

In 1796, after serving eight years in the highest office of the land, George Washington declined the nomination for the Presidency, thus establishing the "no third term" tradition. John Adams was elected and became the second man to be President of the infant Republic on March 4, 1797.

* * * *

A small settlement of homes and small mills sprang up that year at Hinkson's Corner, where Providence Road crosses Brookhaven Road.


Delaware County was still made up mostly of farms. There were only 54 homes in all of the vast area of Ridley Township.

* *

Chester was developed a tiny bit more in 1797 when Johnathan Morris built his home on Fifth Street between Market and Welsh and erected a Blacksmith Shop beside it on the corner.

* *

A little country schoolhouse was opened in 1800 on the Philadelphia Pike at Myrtle Avenue in the section which years later became Ridley Park. For the next sixty-two years, it was there that children from the area were given their elementary education.



Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was inaugurated on March 4, 1801. During the eight years of Jefferson's Administration Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803.The Indian word, Ohio means Beautiful River The importation of slaves was prohibited in 1808. Slavery was gradually eliminated in Pennsylvania and the other Northern States. By 1840 the practice of slavery was continued, for the most part, only in the South .

The Naval expedition that quelled the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Africa, also took place while Jefferson was in office.

* *

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Philadelphia was established by Pope Pius VII on April 8, 1808. It encompassed the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Western and Southern New Jersey. Michael Egan was consecrated Bishop of the new Diocese on Oct.28, 1810. He held that office for less than four years when he died on July, 22, 1814.


Meanwhile, in Lancaster County, the land cultivated by the Warfel Family and the other Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers, yielded abundantly.

William Penn had welcomed industrious people from all over Europe. He had sent agents to Palatinate of Bavaria to encourage the Swiss and German Farmers to come to America.

Among the many who came were the three Warfel brothers, Melchior, Leonard and George


who arrived in 1732 with their Parents and two sisters. By 1814 the family had grown and prospered greatly.

The heavily laden Conestoga Wagons, drawn by oxen, lumbered ceaselessly over the Lancaster Pike to the Philadelphia area. They carried huge loads of cotton, tobacco, grain and numerous other farm products produced by the Warfel Family and their neighbors.

The sturdy transport wagons were built in Conestoga, Lancaster County. They were very uniquely designed so that the bed of the wagon sloped downward toward the center from the front and back. That prevented the weight of the Cargo from shifting when they went up or down hill.

The drivers of the wagons walked alongside or sometimes rode on a board that protruded from the front side. They smoked short little cigars. In time the drivers and their little cigars came to be called "Stogies".

* * *

James Madison began the first of his two terms as President on March 4, 1809. At that time the Country was already engaged in a bitter controversy with England because of their abrasive Naval practices. They routinely intercepted American Ships at sea and illegally searched them. They often took members of the crew and even passengers and forced them to serve on the British Ships.



In 1809 Thomas Leiper experimented with a horse drawn rail system. The following he built such a railway to make it possible to haul stone from his quarry on Crum Creek to the tidewater, a distance of about 3/4 of a mile. The railway was used until 1828 when it was superseded by a canal.

Thomas Leiper was born on Dec. 15, 1745 at Strathaven, Lanark, Scotland. Lanark is the County Town of Lanarkshire, the most populous County in Scotland. It is located about forty miles from Glasgow. The famous Clydesdale work horses originated in the Clyde Valley, situated in Lanarkshire.

Thomas studied in Glasgow and Edinburgh before he followed his brothers to America in the year 1763. He remained for a time in Mary- land, then in 1765 went to Philadelphia to work for his cousin Gavin Hamilton in the tobacco business. Eventually he went into business for himself and became one of the leading retail and wholesale merchants in the City.

During the 1770's Leiper bought a large tract of land along the Crum Creek in the southeast corner of Nether Providence Township. He built a snuff mill there and gradually added other mills, some on the opposite side of the Creek were in Springfield. In the end he had at least two mills for the manufacture of snuff and other tobacco products and a Grist Mill, Paper Mill, Saw Mill , Ice Mill and Spinning Mill.


Thomas Leiper married Elizabeth Coultis Gray on November 3, 1778. They had a family of thirteen children.

In 1785 Leiper had a beautiful country home erected on his estate which he called Avondale. That Historic home has been preserved. It is located at 521 Avondale Road, Wallingford, Pa. I have read that when he acquired it, the land that comprised Leiper's estate was within the boundary of Ridley Township, and was known as Lapidea. I do not know if that information is accurate.

In 1780, Thomas Leiper bought and operated the stone quarries near his Mills. Through the years the demand for stone greatly increased. It became increasingly difficult to deliver the large orders to waiting ships. on time. In 1809 Leiper brought a Millwright from Scotland to experiment with a rail line like that which he had seen there. A section of track was laid in a Philadelphia field and horses were used to pull a heavily loaded wagon up a moderate grade. The trial proved to be a great success.

John Thomson made the survey, drew the maps and estimated the cost ($1,592.47) of building a short railroad from the vicinity of the quarry (500 ft. due north of Canterbury Drive, Sproul Estates) to a landing on Ridley Creek at tidewater in Chester, opposite the Crosby Mills, which later became the Irvington Mills. This proved to be the first successful rail line in the Country.

Some time before the Declaration of Independence Thomas Leiper raised money to support open resistance to the British Rulers. When War was declared he contributed large sums of money to the cause.


Thomas was one of the original and most active members of the 1st Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry. He took part in Battles at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown and other scrimmages. He was a First Sergeant until 1794 when he became a Second Lieutenant.

Leiper was a Presidential Elector in 1808. He was Commissioner for the Defense of the City of Philadelphia in 1812. Thomas also served as a member and President of the Common Council of Philadelphia 1801--1805, 1808--1810 and 1812--1814.

Leiper was very well acquainted with the members of the Continental Congress, including Franklin and George Washington. However, as a leading Democrat in Penna. he was opposed politically to Washington and the Federalists. Thomas Leiper was 80 when he died at his country estate, Avondale, in Delaware County on July 6, 1825. His sons continued to carry on his many and varied business enterprises.


WAR OF 1812

In 1812 war broke out between the United States and England as the result of the unsettled dispute over the British interference with American Ships. It was largely a Naval War in which the United States achieved notable and decisive victories.

There was considerable activity on the Canadian border which proved to be indecisive .

In August of 1814 the British General Ross lead a force from Bermuda that burned the city of Washington, D. C. He then turned his attention to Baltimore, Md. Which was then being bombarded by the British Fleet.

Baltimore's inner harbor is protected by Fort McHenry which was built in 1790. The star shaped fort is situated at the end of a long neck of land that extends well out into the harbor area. It is constructed of concrete, stone and thick brick walls all set into a huge mound of earth. Several enormous guns on the upper level can be moved around on railroad tracks to cover the water in every direction.

In anticipation of the British attack, the Fort Commander ordered from Mrs. Mary Pickersgill, the largest American Flag ever made and promptly raised it over the Fort.

The British fleet had been in the Chesapeake Bay since early August. British Admiral Cockburn moved several of his ships up to the outer harbor of Baltimore. On one of those vessels an American, Dr. William Beanes, was being held prisoner. Early in the morning of September 13, 1814 Francis Scott Key and Col. J. S. Skinner went aboard the Admiral's ship to secure the release of Dr. Beanes.

. They were successful but they had to remain on the ship because the assault on the City had begun.


Sailors were landed in an attempt to capture the Fort from the rear. They were not successful.

The ships trained their guns on the Fort and began a bombardment that continued for more than 25 hours. Many of the British shells fell short of the Fort. Her huge guns, with a greater range than those of the ships, kept up a steady fire that kept the fleet at a distance.

Throughout the night Francis Scott Key remained on deck and experienced the sound of the battle, the shouts and cries of the sailors, the explosion of gunpowder and shells. His eyes grew tired and watery watching the red glare of bursting rockets. By the early light of dawn he rejoiced to see the enormous American Flag still flying proudly over Fort McHenry.

In a small boat, on the way to shore, the poet wrote the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner on an envelope.

The British realized they were hopelessly out gunned and running short of supplies. They brought their ships about and sailed away from the Chesapeake.

On January 8, 1815, U. S. Forces under General Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Two weeks later the War was ended and a Treaty signed.

* * *

It appears Chester Commerce had it's start in 1819 when a Company was formed to operate the Sloop " John Walls " which hauled freight and passengers between Chester and Philadelphia.



After the Battle of the Brandywine, General Lafayette came to Chester and stayed at the Columbia Hotel where he received treatment for his wounds. He returned to Chester for a visit on Oct. 5, 1824, Forty-seven years later.

His full name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert DuMotier, Marquis De Lafayette. But he is known to Americans as General Lafayette a hero of the American Revolution.

Gen. Lafayette was born in 1757 at the Chateau of Chavaniac, in Auvergne, central France. His father died fighting for France in the Seven Years War with England. Young Lafayette inherited a large fortune and a high place in French Nobility. Family tradition motivated him to choose a military career. In 1771 he became one of the KIng's Musketeers. In 1774 he married Marie Adrienne Francoise De Noailles, a member of one of the most prominent families in France.

Lafayette came to America in 1777, anxious to fight the British and at least partially avenge the death of his father. He was an well trained officer so Congress commissioned him a Major General. Gen. Washington made Lafayette a member of his staff.

Gen. Lafayette was slightly wounded at the Battle of the Brandywine. At the climax of the war he was in command of body of troops who kept the British Army in Virginia from eluding the main force of Washington's Army and the French Troops who came to assist the Colonial Cause.

Lafayette returned to France in 1781 enthused about the ideals of Republicanism. In his home in


Paris he fostered ideas that turned people's minds against the old order of Government.

Lafayette and some others persuaded the King to establish a Parliamentary system and he became President of the National Assembly. On July 11, 1789 he presented a Declaration of Rights modeled after the Declaration of Independence. On July 14, 1789 the Constitutional Monarchy was formed and Lafayette became military leader of the revolution with the impossible task of maintaining order in that turbulent period.

Lafayette opposed the Jacobins because of their cruelty and extremely harsh treatment of all with whom they disagreed. Lafayette himself was declared a traitor when he brought the troops which he commanded against the Jacobins in an attempt to restore a limited monarchy. On August 19, 1792 He was arrested and imprisoned at Liege, Belgium which was then under French Control.

Napoleon secured his release in 1799. Lafayette returned to France and remained active in the political life of the country until some time after 1804. He retired to live quietly on his estate at La Grange, 40 miles from Paris.

In the course of the French Revolution, General Lafayette lost his fortune. In 1794 the Congress of the United States voted to pay him the $24,424.00 Officer's pay which he had refused to accept during the American Revolution. Later Congress repaid him the $200,000.00 that he had spent from his private funds to help the American Cause.

Gen. Lafayette returned to America for a visit in 1824 and received an enthusiastic Hero's welcome.


He is one of the two men who were made honorary U. S. Citizens. ( The other is Winston Churchill).

The Marquis arrived in Chester for a visit at Eleven P. M. The City was brilliantly lighted . Boys holding large lighted candles lined both sides of Market Street from the pier to Fifth Street. The General was escorted by a number of dignitaries to the Columbia Hotel where he was greeted and made comfortable by the owner, Colonel William Anderson. It was a happy occasion for both men who had served gallantly in the Revolutionary War.


Colonel Anderson was born in 1763. He grew up in Chester County. His early education was obtained in the Schools of the day, which he attended when his varied home duties allowed.

At the age of 13 he went promptly to the front when the Revolutionary War broke out. Eventually he became a Staff Officer with Gen. Lafayette's Command holding the rank of Colonel. He took part in the experiences of Valley Forge, Germantown and Yorktown.

After the War, Col. Anderson settled in

Chester , married and acquired the Columbia Hotel. In 1803 he built a beautiful new home on the Northwest corner of Fifth and Welsh Street.

Colonel Anderson was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian order. As such he held many public offices. He was elected to Congress in 1809 and retained his seat until 1815. He returned again in 1817 and remained until 1819. He was subsequently County Court Judge and collector of Customs.


The Colonel's daughter Evelina married Commodore David Porter. She and her family lived in the beautiful estate "Greenbanks" on Welsh Street near the River's edge. The home was a gift from her father Col. Anderson.

Evelina Anderson Porter was the mother of David Dixon Porter, the second man to be named Admiral of the U. S. Navy. Another Son, William David Porter was also a distinguished Naval Officer.

Evelina was also the foster-mother of David G. Farragut, Naval War Hero and the first man to hold the Rank of Admiral in the Navy of the United States.

Evelina's father, Col. William Anderson died on December 14, 1829.



Andrew Jackson, born on March 15, 1767. became an international celebrity because of the skills he had displayed when he led the Tenn. Militia in a victorious campaign against the hostile Creek Indians Alabama in 1813. In 1814 he was awarded a commission as Major General in the regular Army commanding the Southern Division. In this capacity on January 8, 1815 he led his troops in a crushing victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans. On March 4, 1829 Andrew Jackson became the President of the United States.



That was the year in which Samuel Palmer, age 16, to Chester. A few years later Palmer operated a brickyard third and Parker St. His home was at 2404 W. 3rd St. became a convert to the Catholic Church in his later years.

* * *

Chester was a very small town in 1830 with a population of only 848 people.


The reaping machine which greatly helped increase farm production was first demonstrated by Cyrus McCormick in 1833.

During that year The Delaware County Republican began publication on August 30, 1833. Copies of this newspaper and the old Post Boy paper are a valuable source of information about Old Chester and the people who lived there in the 19th century.


Little by little the City grew as new businesses were begun. The Sharpless Dye Extract Co. was formed in 1835. That Company extracted dyes of various colors from wood.

During that year of 1835 George G., William J., and Samuel M. Leiper, purchased from the McIlvain family their estate in and renamed the village Leiperville.

* * * * *

When he retired from the Presidency in 1837 Andrew Jackson left a surplus in the federal treasury. He had paid off the National Debt in 1835; the first and only time that this was ever accomplished. However his policies are thought to have been partially responsible for the financial panic that began few weeks after the inauguration of Martin VanBuren on March 4, 1837. Some of the other causes were the over speculation in public lands, large State debts, and the calling in of loans by British bankers.

In spite of the problems Chester continued to progress. In that year of 1837 a machine shop was set up on Edgmont Ave. above 5th St. by Kitts & Kerlin. In it they installed the first stationary steam engine in the town.

The following year, on Jan. 15th, 1838, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad was run through Chester. The tracks crossed Market Street and Edgmont Ave at 6th St. A Station House was built on the southwest corner of 6th and Edgmont Ave. The railroad ran from the Southern and Western train depot on south Broad Street in Phila. The tracks crossed the Schuylkill river at Gray's Ferry Bridge and followed a lower line along the Delaware to Chester. From there it ran along the river to Wilmington, then on to Baltimore.


* * * * *

John Deere's improvements to the plow , in 1839, were a boon to the farmers on the prairie and made him a wealthy man.

* *    *

When Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped rubber treated with sulfur on a hot stove in 1840 he discovered the vulcanizing process which he patented.

* *

Our ninth President, William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration in 1841. He was succeeded by Vice President John Tyler.


Only two Catholic families lived in Chester in 1841. However, a considerable number of Irish immigrants had settled in Leiperville. As time went on they became greatly distressed because there was no Catholic Church closer than St. Mary's at fourth and Spruce Street in Philadelphia. Mass was celebrated from time to time in the home of Thomas Maguire in Chester and at the Wilcox house at Ivy Mills. But a proper church within a reasonable distance of their home was what everyone wanted. In response to the petitions of the people, Bishop Kendrick founded St. Michael's Parish in 1842. Consistent with the advice of James Wilcox, a most active promoter of the new Parish, it was agreed that the new Church would be erected in Chester. On Sept. 10, 1842 Bishop Kendrick paid $300.00 for a tract of land on Middletown Rd. on which to build.


On Thursday, Sept. 29th, 1842, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, the cornerstone of the original church building was laid in place. This event took place 27 years after the death of Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore. The diocese of Phila. was 34 and Delaware County was 52 years old. Although it was a time of financial depression the work progressed rapidly. In less than a year the building was ready for the opening. Built of stone from Leiper's Quarry the Gothic style structure was 42 by 72 feet, with a square tower and spire 100 feet high surmounted by a gilt Cross. A one thousand pound bell of fine tone hung in the tower.

The solemn liturgical blessing of the new church took place on Sunday, May 25, 1843. Two boatloads of people came from Philadelphia for the ceremony performed by the pastor, Father Patrick Francis Sheridan.

* *

A serious flood occurred in Delaware County in 1843. The Chester Creek rose 19 feet over it's banks and 19 people in the county lost their lives.

* *

The first telegram, "What hath God wrought," was sent by inventor Samuel F. B. Morse in Washington, on May 24th, 1844.

* *

Potatoes originated in South America in the Andes of Peru and Chile. The Spanish took them to Europe in the sixteenth century but many people considered them poisonous so, for some time, they were not extensively used for food. Ireland was one of the first counties to use the potato as a major food crop. They came to rely on it as their primary


source of nourishment. When a blight destroyed the crop in the years from 1845 to 1847 the Irish suffered and many died from famine. During those years about 500,000 came to America.

* *

James Knox Polk was then President of the United States. He was an ardent advocate of the annexation of Texas. Mexico had never recognized the independence of Texas. Many people in the United States did not want to admit Texas to the Union because they knew it would mean war with Mexico. Congress interpreted Polk's election as a mandate for annexing Texas so they approved that action on Feb. 28th, 1845 and the State of Texas became part of the United States on Dec. 29th. Soon after this war broke out with Mexico. At the end of that war, as a part of the terms of the peace treaty of Feb. 2, 1848, the United States acquired the territory of Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico.

* *

On Jan. 24, 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill on the American river in California Territory. As word of the find spread throughout the country thousands of people rushed to make their fortunes. Especially during 1849 the population grew rapidly and swift action took place to make California a State. It officially entered the Union on Sept. 9, 1850.

I don't know how this effected the lives of the growing band of Irish immigrants who clustered together around Second and Penn St. in Chester. They were homesick and anxious about their future in this country where they were looked down upon with disdain and suspicion because of their faith.


But it was the strength of that faith that sustained them. It was the fervor with which they practiced that Faith, and the great courage and perseverance they derived from it that enabled them to eventually achieve a place of honor in their adopted land. Through all the sorrows and hardships they had to endure they retained a wonderful sense of humor.

With all the new people in town the congregation of St. Michael's Church grew rapidly. In 1850 the first Pastor, 25 year old Father Peter Haviland was assigned to the Parish.

* * *

The little Borough of Chester was on the brink of unprecedented development. Still, it was ringed by large farms who's owners were reluctant to relinquish them. Finally, in 1849, developer John Broomall succeeded in purchasing 50 acres of the Kerlin farm west of Chester Creek. The following January, builder John Larkin Jr. bought 83 acres from John Cochrane. Both tracts were immediately laid out in streets, squares and building blocks, and construction began. The town was soon to become an important industrial center.

* *

The Textile business had already begun in March of 1849 when James Campbell opened his, "Pioneer Mill" at 4th and Market Street.

* *

When The County of Delaware was formed from part of Chester County in 1786, the town of Chester was designated County Seat. During the next 50 years mills, towns and villages sprang up all over the County. In the 1840s many people began to complain


about the long distance they had to travel to settle Judicial affairs. It was suggested that a centrally located place should be made County Seat. The matter was put to a vote of all County residents.

The result was 1942 Yeas to move, 1190 nays.

Delegates from the various Townships met and finally a location was selected. Four Farms were purchased by the county. Buildings were erected including a County Court House in the style of the Greek Revival. The new community was named Media because of it's middle location. Media became the Seat of Delaware County on October 12, 1848.

This brought to an end the long era during which several sensational murder trials had been held in the Old Court House in Chester. For many years the condemned prisoners were executed on Hangman's Hill, at 12th street and Edgmont Ave.

* * *

The year 1852 marked the end of Millard Fillmore's Presidential term. He had succeeded to that office in 1850 upon the death of Zachary Taylor who died about a year after his inauguration on March 4, 1849. Franklin Pierce became president on March 4, 1853.

* *

During the ten years from 1850 to 1860 Stephen Foster wrote most of his memorable songs. They quickly became popular throughout the country.

* *

In 1851 Bishop Kenrick was transferred from Phila. to the more prestigious Diocese of Baltimore. He remained until his death on July 6, 1863.

John Neumann was consecrated Bishop of Phila. on March 28, 1852. He came to St. Michael's on


August 30, 1852 to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 113 people.

Father Haviland took up residence in the newly built brick rectory next to the church in 1854.

* *

That was the year when the Chester fire fighters started to use two new hand operated engines. One they named "Delaware", the other, "Friendship". They remained in service until 1867.


Elias Howe is the American who was credited with the invention of the Sewing Machine. He was an apprentice in a Cotton-machinery mill in Lowell, Mass. from 1835 to 1837. He later worked in a machine shop in Cambridge and for a watch maker in Boston. He developed the first sewing machine in 1844-45 and in 1846 patented a second model. Sewing machines of various designs had been built since 1750 by European inventors. The machine that Howe built featured a lock-stitch and continuous thread. But it was Isaac Singer who in 1851 produced the first practical sewing machine for domestic use. His improvements included the ability of the machine to sew continuously and the foot treadle which powered the machine and freed both hands of the operator to manipulate the material being worked on


Robert Bunsen invented the gas burner in 1855. In the summer of 1856 William Bucknell erected a gas works in Chester and laid mains through the town. In the fall of that year, for the first time, some of the homes and businesses were lighted by gas lamps.

* * *

Bishop John Neumann came to Chester from time to time to administer baptism and confirmation. One such occasion was the baptism of Ida Beaver in 1857. A sponsor for her was 23 year old Sebastion Hass who operated a hotel on the south side of third street, just west of the bridge over Chester Creek. Mr. Hass was born Jan. 20th, 1834 and died Oct. 7, 1913. His wife Gertrude was born March 18, 1838 and died Oct. 3, 1876. They had a son Henry and two grandsons, Henry and Louis.

* * *

James Buchanan, a Pennsylvanian born in Mercersburg, became the 15th President of the country in 1857. His beautiful home near Lancaster is called Wheatlands. Although he did not approve of slavery, Buchanan felt duty bound to protect it in those States in which the practice was legal.

During his administration relations between the Northern and Southern States, which had been strained for years, grew steadily worse. there was constant agitation by the abolitionist groups in the North. The underground railroad helped hundreds of runaway slaves gain their freedom. Then there were economic problems as well. The policies of some presidential administrations greatly favored the industrial Northern States at the expense of the South which depended largely on agriculture. The


Continue to Part II >

My Book of Old Chester
2001 Louis J. Warfel,

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of Chester, please forward it to

2001 John A. Bullock III.

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