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Old Chester, PA: Arasapha Textile Mill


10th & Walnut St.
Arasapha Manufacturing Company, Incorporated 1885

Note: "Arasapha" is one of the Indian names for the Delaware River and Bay, meaning "the bend in the river."

Company History | Employees


Company History: "My Great-Great Grandfather was Abraham Blakeley who came from Yorkshire England in 1860 to found the Arasapha Textile Mill in Chester. My Great-Grandfather, William S Blakeley and Great-Grandmother, Mae King Blakeley lived at the corner of Providence Road & 20th street and had a beautiful home that was called “Braewood”. After the death of ‘Granny Great’ the 3 acre estate which even had an orchard near the stables was sold to the Roman Catholic Church and St. Roberts [currently St. Katherine Drexel] was erected on that property.

My Grandfather, William S. Blakeley, Jr. was born and raised at Braewood and later when he married my Grandmother, Marie Richards Cummings Blakeley, built their home at the corner of 20th and Hyatt where they both lived until they passed away – Granddaddy in 1980 at the age of 93, and Grandmother until 1989 when she passed away at the age of 97. The home was donated to Widener University and then later sold to my cousin, Peter who has kept the home intact with all of the very special accoutrements that my Grandmother had decorated her house with including 19th century French hand painted mural Hunt Scene in the Dining Room.

My Grandfather, William S. Blakeley, Jr. was the President of the Chester-Cambridge Bank and was responsible for the merger of Chester Cambridge Bank with Philadelphia National Bank. My Mother, Anne Blakeley Bates and my Uncle, William S. Blakeley, III are still alive: Mother resides in Gradyville, PA and my Uncle resides in Mantoloking, NJ. 

My Great-Grandfather, William S. Blakeley, Graduated from Pennsylvania Military College in 1872, one hundred years before I graduated from High School. I graduated from Widener College in 1977 where I met my current husband, Peter Boisvert. He was a cadet in the last graduating Class of PMC and lived on E. 19th street in Chester until we married in 2001. He still has his old PMC uniforms.

To my knowledge, the Arasapha Mills operated until the 1950’s when it merged with Aberfoyle Corporation. I had the pleasure to meet several loom operators who lost their jobs after the doors were closed. I met the former workers in the 1970’s and they were elderly but had wonderful stories and memories of working at Arasapha Mill. I spent a lot of time at my Grandparent’s home when I was growing up and have fond memories of going to the Drug Store at 18th & Providence and playing a pinball machine there and listening to Granddaddy have a conversation with Emil ? (the tailor) whose shop was next to Bloom’s (spelling – it’s been a really long time) Drug Store.

Lastly, Granddaddy was great friends with Dr. Mark Allam who later became Dean of the University of Pennsylvania’ Large Animal Veterinary Hospital –New Bolton Center in Kennett Square. When Dr. Allam moved to Media and was trying to set up his Veterinary practice, he came to my Grandfather for a business loan. Because he had just graduated from Penn’s Vet School, he was having trouble getting a loan to get started in his new practice. My Grandfather gave him a loan through the Chester-Cambridge Bank and Dr. Allam never forgot this. The families remained friends for life.

Thought I would pass this on. When we were cleaning out my Grandparent’s home at 20th and Hyatt, there were boxes of papers in the attic, many of which had simply been moved from my Great-Grandparent’s a couple of blocks away and had stayed in the attic until 1989. I came across a couple of newspaper articles from 1860 describing the arrival of Abraham Blakeley and Samuel Rhoads to Chester. Samuel Rhoades set up his own Textile Mill in happy and coordinated competition with my Great-Great Grandfather.

Thank you for the opportunity to write down this information and I hope that it is useful!"

Thanks to
Marie Blakeley Bates Boisvert

Employees: "My Aunt and Uncle, Lillian and Arnold (Lefty) Vann worked at the Arasafa (spelling) somewhere around 10th and Walnut Sts. during the 20's and 30's. I believe it was also a weaving mill." - Lillie May Pizza




If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about this company, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2007 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07