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Old Chester, PA: Chester Lace Mill

Block between Second & Third Streets and Trainer & Clayton Streets

Let me know if you can help to identify any of the ladies in this picture?

Much of the following was based on a January 12, 2001 column by
Ed Gebhart in the Delaware County Daily Times.
Click on the following link to read the entire column:

There was also a follow-up letter to that column from Bob Sakers who also grew up in the West End and now lives in Marietta, GA:

Company History | Presidents | Employees | About the Company | Recollections


Presidents: Charles A. Turner, (? until his death in 1951)
Robert J. Turner (1951 until the mill closed)


Elizabeth Fox Bowley, master lace mender
Albert Deacon, boss of the weaver department
Charles Deacon
Edith Deacon, hem sewer
Edna Deacon, hem sewer
Gertrude Deacon, bin girl
Carmen Joseph "Joe" DeLurio (when the Lace Mill closed he went to work at Stauffer Chemical) -
Abe Detwiler, ran the mill
Olive (Ollie) Firlein (c. 1939-1943), lived on Clayton St. across from the mill - 1
Barbara Gebhart
Harry Gebhart
Mack Gebhart, punched out designs
Margaret Gebhart
Martha Gebhart
Obie Gebhart, weaver
Mabel Grace, examiner
Woody Grace, examiner
Mr. Hamer
Minnie Hampton
King, Orville

"Orville King worked at the Lace Mill in about 1945 but I don't know how long he worked there. He came down from Blue Point, Long Island, NY and was a designer. He lived two doors from us on West 6th Street." - 4

Helen Knox, lace designer

"We remember the tough times during the great depression. Helen applied and was accepted at the Moore Institute of Art and could not find a job after she completed the course.  I remember her coming home after one interview where the man interviewing her said "This is the finest drafting I've ever seen and I can't hire you because you're a woman"... I've remembered this all my life. Eventually she heard of a job possibility at the Mill for a designer.  She applied and was hired.  She was told at that time that she was the only female lace designer in the world.  Lace design had always been a "Man's job" but WWII changed a lot of things!

"To this day I have her drawings and many of her finished designs packed away in the attic."
- 2

Amy Laird
Laura Miley
Ethel Moore Callaway, bin girl then folding department
Alice Nessome, worked in office for Mr. Shropshire
Ruth Pilkington
Jen Reilley, folder
Mr. Shropshire, office
Ruth Sweigart
Glen Thompson
Miss Trish, secretary to Charles A. Turner and Robert J. Turner
David Watson c. 1950's (Son of Grace Watson) - 3
Grace Watson c. 1950's (Mother of David Watson) - 3
Ann Wohnus, flat work

If you can add to the list of Chester Lace Mill employees, please contact john@oldchesterpa.com

About the Company: "My paternal grandfather was John Bowley, who immigrated from Knottingham, England to get the CHESTER LACE MILLS running when it was first built... Incidently, my mother Elizabeth was a master lace mender and worked for the Chester Lace Mills..."
Ed Bowley, Edlbee@aol.com

The Chester Lace Mill produced lace curtains.

The mill closed after World War II when the invention of nylon made lace obsolete.

Recollections "I was doing a search on Chester Lace Mill when I came across your webpage.

"I had some vivid memories of the mill as child.  My grandfather Charles A. Turner was the president until his death in 1951, and my father Robert J. Turner was the vice president and succeeded his father as president in 1951.

"As I recall there was a connection to Quaker Lace Mill in Philadelphia and the Bromley family, and my father went to work at Quaker shortly after the demise of Chester Lace.

"During World Ware II Chester Lace converted their looms to make camaflouge netting for the Army.  Chester Lace was designated as a defense contractor and it kept my dad out of the war.  I can remember a few of the employees at Chester Lace who are not on your list of employees.  Miss Trish was secretary to both my father and grandfather, but I do not know what her first name was.   Glen Thompson also worked there, and there was a man named Hamer...

"My childhood dream was to work at Chester Lace along with my dad, but that sadly ended in 1953 or 1954 when the mill closed."

Rick Turner, rickturner@bellsouth.net
Sevierville, TN

Many thanks to the following for providing additional information for this page:

1 - Joan M. joaniiii@yahoo.com

2 - Thelma Knox Pusey Cochran, daughter, Termite521@aol.com

3 - RNETN85@aol.com, wife of David Watson

4 - Barbara Montello



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

2001, 2003 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/18/05