Martin’s Dam Club development, Unkefer Brothers builders


Probably the two most important milestones along the way of the Martin’s Dam Club, once it had been organized, were the actual purchase of the property in 1936 and erection of new bathhouses in 1947.

For twelve years after the club was started in 1924, every effort was made by Humbert B. Powell, the club’s president and attorney, to effect the purchase of the Dam and certain acreage surrounding it. But since it was impossible to locate all the bonds which had been sold by the Lower Merion Water Company in the late 1800’s, the best that the club could do was to renew the license to operate it from the trustees of the bonds, the firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, attorneys. This was done on a year-to-year basis.

Finally, however, some of the bonds came into the possession of the club, and Mr. Powell acted to obtain a foreclosure of the property under the bond indenture. Following court hearings, the property was sold at auction on the Court House steps in Norristown, on March 11, 1936. There was only one bidder against the Martin’s Dam Club and for the sum of $17,000 the club obtained clear title to the Dam itself and to 21½ acres surrounding it.

The purchase was financed from the club’s treasury and by the sale of $10,000 in mortgage bonds, which were paid off in the course of a few years. It is interesting to note that this first mortgage was taken by Miss Isabel Maddison, then owner of the old Martin homestead across Croton road, which had been occupied for some years previously by George R. Park.

Miss Maddison, an Englishwoman who, until her retirement, had been connected with the teaching staff of Bryn Mawr College, was much interested in seeing that the Club should continue to be properly run, since it was so close to her own property. In gratitude for her timely financial aid, the Club minutes of March 30, 1936, note that Miss Maddison was elected an honorary member of the Club, a privilege which she enjoyed until her death a few years ago.

It was nine years after this, however, before the minutes of the Club meeting of October 2, 1945, held at the home of Mr. Powell in Devon, show that it was “the consensus of opinion that the Club should proceed with plans for a new bathhouse, including a water system… without committing the Club to immediate execution of the plans”. At this meeting the Planning Committee, consisting of Paul L. Lewis, N.C. Cregar and Archie D. Swift, was also authorized to employ an architect to prepare plans for the boathouse. However, it was not until two years later, in time for the opening of the 1947 season, that the handsome new bathhouses, as they now stand, were completed.

The old, dilapidated buildings, which were always damp because of the heavy shade of surrounding trees and because of the constant tracking in of water, were replaced by the new bathhouses, distinguished by their open roof construction which lets in sun and air.

The buildings, made of concrete blocks, painted white with contrasting stained wood trim are striking in appearance, yet entirely harmonious with their rustic setting. Entrance to a wide passageway, which separates the women’s quarters from that of the men, is from the large parking space at the back. Included in the set-up is ample office space and a room for the life guards.

Theo B. White, of Villanova, was the archgitect for the building erected by Unkefer Brothers, of Philadelphia. Ralph T. Unkefer, long a resident of Wayne and now living in Ithan, is a member of this firm. Messrs. Lewis, Cregar and Swift served on the building committee. The cost of these new bathhouses was approximately $40,000.

As the years since 1924 have gone by, additional acreage has been added to the Club holdings, the latest purchase being 13 acres covering the crest of the ridge above the Dam in order to protect the scenic woodland and water supply. In all, the Club holdings now approximate 40 acres. Several of these are in the parking lot and from time to time, more and more space has been given to outdoor fireplaces and picnic tables and benches, which Club members and their guests use from early morning through the twilight hours.

The main dock is built where, in the early days of the Club, there was only a smooth depression in the ground from which swimmers entered the water. The dock to the left has always been known as the “Old Ladies Dock”, not so much because of the age of those who frequented it, but rather because of their reluctance to enter the water amid the splashing and shouting of the younger element. The dock to the right is known to old timers as “Stockwell’s Landing” because it was held in such high favor by one of the five founders of the Club, the late Joseph F. Stockwell. Other equipment includes diving boards, a number of floats, a long rope to swing out over the water and several life guard stands. The “Duck Pond” or “Baby Pool”, is the center of activity for the very youngest members of the Dam and the center of interest for the spectators.

The main source of water supply for Martin’s Dam is the large spring on the Machold property, on the northeast corner of Upper Gulph and Croton roads. Two springs on Miss Emily Exley’s property also contribute their share. Then, too, there are springs in the Dam itself, as the extreme coldness of the water in certain parts of it indicate. All of these sources guarantee the purity of the water for swimming purposes.

Management of the Club is now in the hands of a large board, made up of 15 members headed by Paul L. Lewis, of Strafford, who is also the secretary of the Club. J. Renwick Montgomery, of Wayne, serves as vice-president, while John B. Yerkes, of Villanova, is treasurer. Others include Drew M. Thorpe, Charles C. Stewart, Humbert B. Powell, Jr., Walter Y. Howson, T. Magill Patterson, Stanton C. Kelton, N.C. Cregar, and Archie D. Swift.

Of the original five founding members Messrs. Lewis, Kelton and Patterson are still active, the other two, Mr. Powell and Mr. Stockton having died. Messrs. Cregar, Swift and C.H. Howson were among the very early directors. C.C. Stewart has been one of the Club’s most active members since its organization. Two of the youngest board members, Ralsten Lewis and Humbert Powell Jr., are sons of founders of the Club, while John Yerkes has succeeded his father-in-law, T.M. Patterson, as treasurer. Walter Howson is a son of Charles Howson.

Officially connected with the personnel of Martin’s Dam, though not board members, are William T. Tilden, assistant to the treasurer, and Jules F. Prevost, who succeeded R.E. Hinkel several years ago as Club manager. There are now eight life guards, most of whom are of college age, in contrast to the one guard who was on duty in the early days.

As the second generation of children, many of them children of those for whom the Club was founded, learn to swim at Martin’s Dam, the two men who “sat on a log and planned the Club” 28 years ago see the dream realized probably far beyond their brightest hopes. Among the youngsters they now watch their own grandchildren. In their pleasure, and that of countless others, these two men and those others who gave of their time and wisdom through the years realize the reward of their labors.


Martin’s Dam Club


The spring of 1924 was a busy one for the five men who were then organizing Martin’s Dam Club. Meetings were of almost weekly occurrence, with many at the home of the treasurer, T. Magill Patterson, on Midland avenue, others being held at the home of the president, the late Humbert B. Powell, who then lived on Windermere avenue.

The first annual meeting, held in April 1925, took place in the office of the late Frederick H. Treat, on North Wayne avenue. By that time, other names had been added to the roster of board members, among them Louis S. Adams, of Radnor; Charles W. Bayliss and the late John H. Stone, of Wayne; and the late Murdock Kendrick, of Strafford.

This brought the total Board membership to ten, the number at which it was held for some years. Upon Mr. Kendrick’s death, Major Clifton Lisle, of Wayne, was elected to his place. Major Lisle’s place was later taken by N.C. Cregar, of Radnor, who still takes an active part in the management of the club. Other board members of those early days of the club were Charles H. Howson, Archie D. Swift and William P. Cochran, all of Wayne. Among those names and those of the original five it is easy to recognize the heads of so many of the large families of Wayne of the middle 1920’s.

The amount of the first payment due George R. Park on the lease of the Martin’s Dam property was met by an assessment made on the original five board members. Letters of invitation to join the club were soon in the mail, with membership at first restricted to residents of the Radnor-to-Strafford district. Mr. Powell, in his capacity of attorney, saw to the articles of incorporation and the by-laws of the club.

Mr. Adams, an architect, designed the gate at the Croton road entrance to the property. With Mr. Kelton, he also headed the property committee, which was to make such repairs to the pump house as were necessary to convert it into a bath house. These two men were also responsible for the purchase of new equipment.

The owner of a small refreshment stand which was on the Dam property was first requested to remove it, but later this order was rescinded. The small building also served every purpose, from a tool house to sleeping quarters for life guards, when it became necessary to maintain 24 hour protection of the property.

By the July 9 meeting of ther newly-formed club the membership committee, consisting of the Messrs. Treat, Patterson and Lewis, reported that the lists were closed for the season, according to the limits originally set. By this time two men had been employed for full time duty, Carl Malmesbury, as a life guard, and Howard E. Adams, as caretaker. Dr. Richard P. Lienhardt was beginning his sanitary inspection, not only of Martin’s Dam itself, but of the streams which fed it – a duty which was to be his for many years thereafter. A row boat had been purchased, and orders given for an additional dock, a diving board and a float.

Where there are now eight lifeguards at the club, there was but one in the first few years of its existence. Carl Malmesbury always held a unique place, both for his swimming prowess and his management of the small fry. Mr. Lewis recalls him as “a big web-footed swimmer… who obligingly gave lessons to members’ children as well as exhibitions of diving and swimming. One of his feats which particularly amused the children was being able to swim without the use of arms, simply by flapping his big feet in the manner of a duck”.

Howard Adams, who acted as special policeman and night watchman, was an elderly man who was well known to all the members because of the paternal interest he always seemed to take in the club. Since it proved very difficult, at first, to keep “itinerant visitors” off the club property and out of Martin’s Dam waters, his services were valuable at all times.

The bath houses, when the club was formed and for many years afterwards, Mr. Lewis describes as “patched up extensions of a building which had been erected for a pumping station… the main building was a brick structure with wooden additions at various levels, a few benches and nails on which to hang clothes. One of the early improvements was to build bath houses in the women’s quarters, which were in the brick building. Galvanized pails filled with water for washing feet were, along with the nails and benches, the only furnishings.”

Mrs. Y. Parran Dawkins, one of the original members of Martin’s Dam, recalls the first swimming meet held there, the picture of which she has lent as illustration for this article. One of the small figures in the foreground on the raft is that of her daughter, Susan, now Mrs. George S. Clayton, of Strafford. Although unidentified, others in the group might well include members of the Swift, Lewis, Howson, Kelton, Bayliss and Patterson families, in addition to other children of that generation. Many, like Mrs. Clayton, are now bringing their own small fry over to the Dam. Mrs. Clayton herself was the first woman life guard ever to be employed by the club.

Mrs. Dawkins was chairman of this first meet. Among those who assisted her were Carl Malmesbury. Jane Adams (daughter of Louis S. Adams) and C.C. Stewart, always one of the club’s most interested members and on the board of directors. Among the events were the quarter-mile swim, as marked off by Carl, and “the little 10-yard race”. Age limit for the latter was seven years, and contestants could get in the “Baby Pond” in any expedient fashion, even to falling in. With its first, second and third prizes this was always a favorite event with all, including the spectators. Mr. Stewart was the contributor of the “Improvement Cup”. At this first meet, Sue Dawkins headed the list and Mr. Stewart’s son came in second. Since it did not seem quite ethical for either to take it, a very astonished small boy who qualified as third received the cup.

Awards were also made at this time to the boys and girls who had completed the greatest number of turns on the quarter-mile swim during the summer. When the carefully kept records were compiled, it was found that all the children’s records had been eclipsed by that of an adult member of the Club, who was always prominent in the life of Wayne, Mrs. Vera Gugert. Amid rousing cheers she was awarded one of the coveted green felt frogs used as emblems on bathing suits. In addition, all the winning youngsters received their awards. More than any other members, Mrs. Dawkins and Mr. Stewart worked to develop basic interest in good swiming among the boys and girls of Martin’s Dam in the early days of ther club.

(To be concluded)

Martin’s Dam purchase by Lower Merion Water Company, law suits by downstream farmers, Martin’s Dam Club

Lewis, Patterson, Powell

The Lower Merion Water Company, which purchased the site of Martin’s Dam and a few acres surrounding it in 1890, from James Martin, son of Richard Martin, for whom the Dam was named, started to build a large red brick pumping station and also raised the original dam breast.

Whether the company ever intended to operate the pumping station is an open question. At any rate no machinery was ever installed in it, and it seems quite possible that the building of this pumping station was only a gesture on the part of the promoters to reassure stockholders of their good faith. On the face of the matter, it seems difficult to believe that the flow of water from the dam was ever sufficient to supply the needs of the lower Main Line.

In the meantime, farmers in the valley below the dam obtained a court injunction, halting the use of water for the purposes designated by the newly formed water company. Stocks and bonds had been sold far and wide, many even in England. Legend has it that the bonds were lost in transit by the sinking of a boat between this country and their ultimate destination.

The old Guaranty Title and Trust Company of Philadelphia was trustee for the bonds, with the firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius as attorneys.

In the end the promoters of this nebulous water company fled to Mexico and stockholders lost all the money they had put in the venture. It was not until the spring of 1936 that the legal entanglements of the situation were sufficiently cleared up to assure clear title to Martin’s Dam Club for its purchase of the property.

In the meantime George R. Park, a long time resident, who purchased the old Martin homestead for his family in 1906, saw the possibilities of the Dam as a swimming club. Several years before, a Mr. Kirby, from Radnor, had obtained a lease from Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, which Mr. Park now took over. Mr. Kirby had made some attempts at improvement of the property, one of them being the original platform on the site of the present diving platform. This was built on a foundation of solid masonry, placed in that location by the Water Company for some unknown purpose.

Mr. Park, who had a large family of his own to enjoy a good swimming place just across the road from their spacious home, soon established an informal club at this location. Many came here to enjoy swimming in the cool spring-fed waters of the Dam, some on the basis of annual membership, others by admission at the gate. What remained of the one-time brick pump house was used as a bathhouse.

According to Paul L. Lewis, of Strafford, now president of Martin’s Dam Club, the idea of the Club originated in his mind and that of T. Magill Patterson as “they sat together on a log over at the Dam one day.” Because their children and their neighbors’ children were experiencing the joys of a “good old swimming hole” these two men could envision the benefits to be derived from an organized Club for the residents of Radnor township and its general vicinity.

The first meeting of the Martin’s Dam Club was held early in May 1924, at the home of Mr. Patterson, on Midland avenue, in St. Davids. (Well does your columnist recall many admonitions of five small Pattersons gathered on the second floor “to be quiet because Dad is having a meeting in the living room.”)

Three other men had been invited to come to this organization meeting by those two who had “sat together on a log over at the Dam one day” not long before. They were Stanton C. Kelton, of St. Davids, and the late Humber B. Powell and Joseph F. Stockwell, both of Wayne. These five “organized” the Martin’s Dam Club for the purpose of operating “a restricted club for swimming and other sports.”

Mr. Powell was elected president, Mr. Lewis, secretary, and Mr. Patterson, treasurer. Mr. Powell held his office continuously from that spring of 1924 until his death in the summer of 1951, devoting much time to all the legal business of the club, particularly on the occasion of the eventual purchase of the property in 1936. Mr. Lewis has succeeded Mr. Powell as president, while still retaining his original office as secretary of the Club, and he has proved invaluable over the years.

Mr. Patterson relinquished his post of treasurer to his son-in-law, John B. Yerkes, of Bryn Mawr, in 1945 after more than 25 years of continuous service. Minutes of a meeting held in October, 1931 record the fact that “Mr. Patterson has devoted a great deal of time since the organization of the Club not only to his official duties as treasurer, but also has given more time and energy to the management of all the affairs of the Club than any other one member of the Club. During the past seven years, he has visited the club property almost daily during the swimming season, and has been mainly responsible for the satisfactory manner in which the club has operated and for the repairs and improvements which have been made. In addition, he has received innumerable telephone calls and letters in regard to membership in the Club.” Despite ill health, Mr. Patterson’s interest in the operation he helped to found still remains unabated.

To these five men, who came together 28 years ago this spring, the community owes the existence of a swimming club now numbering 625 memberships, the majority of which are for families. In addition, there is a waiting list, now of necessity confined to those living in the immediate vicinity.

(To Be Continued)

(Note: The picture used with last week’s column was that of the old brick pump house, and not that of the Hughes Mill as incorrectly stated in the caption.)

Colonial Village swimming pool, Martin’s Dam, the Wilds family, old Indian School “Ponemah”, Zooks’ Dam

The Old Hughes Mill in 1922

A quaint landmark on the well travelled road that leads to Chester Valley by way of the Colonial Village Swimming Pool and Martin’s Dam Club is the small white stone house on old Upper Gulph road just at its intersection with Croton road.

Standing as it does among modern houses and remodeled old houses, the small whitewashed stone structure catches the eye of every passing motorist. So little changed during the 140 years it has stood there, it is, indeed, a quiet reminder of a day long past.

Until the house was sold in 1927 by James R. Wilds, of Wayne, to Sidney Evans Wells, it had been in the continuous possession of the Wilds family since the four acres of land, on which it originally stood, had been bought by John Wilds, and his sister, Sarah Wilds, in 1814. The old deed, still in the possession of the present James Wilds, shows that the purchase price was “150 silver milled dollars.”

The four acres were a portion of a large tract of land belonging to Rudolph Huzzard, a blacksmith, that extended as far west as Old Eagle School road. At a somewhat later date, this entire acreage could have been bought by John Wilds’ son for $1500.

The first Wilds to come to America was another James Wilds, the great – great – grandfather of the present James Wilds. When he left his native England, in 1772, he received a “certificate of good conduct” signed by the minister and “principal inhabitants” of the township of Crompton Parish, of Cresturick, County Palatine of Lancaster, showing that he left there “with unblemished character” and with the good wishes of his community. By trade he was a wool weaver, and probably worked in one of the old mills near King of Prussia after coming to America.

A son and daughter of this first James Wilds bought the four acres of land on old Upper Gulph road. Supposedly, they built the house that still stands there soon after they purchased the land, although there is no written record of the fact.

Here, John Wilds and his wife had a family of 15 children, though all did not live to maturity. The house then consisted of a basement kitchen, with two rooms above them on the second floor. It was not until the Wellses remodeled what appeared to be an old stone house that it was discovered that the original structure had probably been made of logs, at least in part.

In their remodeling the Wellses added eight feet to the west end of the house. At one time a barn, which has since been torn down, stood to the south of the house. So small and quaint and reminiscent of the past is this neat, white house, that it is difficult to believe that any changes at all have been made since it was built in about 1812. It is now the property of Mrs. Kathryn L. Stimson.

Across the road from the old Wilds’ homestead, in the northwest corner of Upper Gulph and Croton roads, is another old house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John H. Preston, Jr., who bought it from Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P. G. McGinnes. The latter is a descendant of the Hughes family, who at one time owned almost all of the houses on either side of Croton road, from Upper Gulph road to Martin’s Dam, in addition to the famous old Hughes’ lumber and grist mills. In reminiscing of her former home, Mrs. McGinnes tells of the original deep well, now part of the porch at the northwest corner of the house. In the course of remodeling it was discovered that this house, too, was, at least partly, made of logs.

A house dating back to the middle eighties is one on the left side of Croton road, past the Preston house. Now the property of Mr. and Mrs. Howard H. Stringer, it was originally built for Mr. and Mrs. William H. Owens. The former was a son of Sarah Hughes Owens. Sold to the Stringers by Mrs. John W. Henry, daughter of Mrs. Phoebe Hughes Brown, the original old white house has seen but few changes in its almost 70 years of existence, and none of them are of recent date.

Still another old house on Croton road is the one to the north of Miss Emily Exley’s, now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. George C. Turner. For many years this house was owned by William Morris. Across the road from the Exley and Turner properties is the former site of the old Indian School known as “Ponemah,” meaning “Land of Hereafter.”

In addition to what has been written in three previous issues of this column, this is in brief the story of historic Croton road, along which ran the rapidly flowing streams that turned the wheels of some of the famous mills on the edge of Chester Valley, none more famous than the old Hughes Mill described in last week’s column. Some time in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s a grist mill had been built near Zook’s Dam, later to be known as Martin’s Dam, then converted into one for the manufacture of woolen materials, and was sold to Richard Martin in 1841.

English born, the Martins had lived in Kensington before coming to Upper Merion township in Montgomery County to run a woolen mill such as they had owned in Kensington. They occupied a small pre – Revolutionary house across Croton road from the Dam. As the family grew, so did the house, until two wings had been added to it. All the Martin children, as they grew up, attended the small frame school on the right hand side of Croton road past Martin’s Dam, the walls of which are still standing. In winter they often went on stilts to keep out of the snow and in spring to keep out of the mud.

Of the nine children born to the Richard Martins, James was the last to occupy the old homestead. Some of the original acreage he sold to the Thomas Nurseries. In 1890 he sold the rights to Martin’s Dam and a few acres surrounding it to the Lower Merion Water Company. Whether the project was conceived in good faith has always been open to question. Certainly the flow of water was never great enough to warrant the piping of water to the lower Main Line, which was the announced purpose of the Company. So complicated was the title that it was not until 12 years after the organization of Martin’s Dam Club that the Directors were able to purchase the Dam.

Hughes Saw Mill, Zooks’ Dam (now Martin’s Dam), grist mill

There were other interesting terms of sale in regard to the transfer in 1800 of the old Hughes Saw Mill besides those referred to in last week’s column, which had to do with the flow of water into Zook’s Dam, now known as Martin’s Dam.

When William Carver and Abner Hughes bought the sawmill and acreage surrounding it from Isaac Bewley and his wife, Ann Bewley, for “the sum of 700 pounds current lawful money” they also had an agreement with Henry Zook in regard to the spring, which supplied much of the water for the sawmill and the dam. This is particularly interesting in view of the fact that the spring house, which the new purchasers were permitted to build, is still standing, and is now more than 150 years old. Mrs. DeWitt P. Pugh, who owns the original Abner Hughes homestead, has taken steps to preserve it as a landmark.

As agreed, the spring house was built by William Carver and Abner Hughes. The spring, which bears the reputation of never having failed, is one of the chief sources of water supply for Martin’s Dam Swimming Club. For many years it supplied all the water used in the Abner Hughes house. When Dr. and Mrs. William Z. Hill built their present house on the hill, across Croton road from Martin’s Dam in 1927, their water also came from this spring.

In 1816, Abner Hughes built his new mill and with it a new dam, which, with numerous changes, has now become the Colonial Village Swimming Pool, organized by J. Howard Mecke, in connection with his extensive building operation in Colonial Village. To quote the article written on the old Hughes Mill by Annie Brooke Simpson for a meeting of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, “In 1816, Abner Hughes built the new mill. The dam built by him is now the Colonial Village Swimming Pool … He had the race dug; and the race bank still stands, lined with yellow clay, which never leaked. This clay he had dug from the field above the present upper garage, opposite the mill site. The clay hole became a stump hole; as ground was cleared and stumps were removed they were put into the hole with stones and earth, and from time to time were set on fire in order to let the ground level up”.

Even before the building of this mill, however, water power was in use at the older mill. Before water power was used, logs were sawed by hand. According to Mrs. Simpson’s account, “a rip saw was used by two men, one above and one below the log, which was placed across the mouth of a pit. The log was stripped of bark and scribed above and below, and then sawed by hand. This primitive method must have been used much earlier, because water power was in use in 1800 at the old mill, which stood at the time of the purchase”.

Mrs. Simpson tells in interesting detail of the kinds of wood that were sawed for various purposes. Wild cherry, white oak, poplar and walnut were used, and from logs of other kinds of trees a variety of “stuff” was sawed. From 1800 on there are records of the sawing of planks, boards, pieces of scaantling [sic], lath, sled runners and sleigh runners.

By 1855 William Hughes had built a grist mill adjoining the saw mill at the rear. A new waterwheel of the overshot type was installed since, in order to run two mills, more water power was now needed. Mr. Cresson, a millwright from Barren Hill, built this waterwheel, while a Manayunk millwright, William Hutton, built the new grist mill. The former charged $500 for his labor alone. This wheel was replaced in 1887 by a new waterwheel, the last one to be installed.

According to Mrs. Simpson’s record, Joseph Brown, a nephew of William Hughes, was the first one to run the grist mill. He was later succeeded by Abram Supplee. To this old grist mill the neighboring farmers, many from the Chester Valley section, brought their grain to be ground. Graham flour and whole wheat flour were made here, while oats, corn, wheat and rye were ground. Later still, William Hudson leased this grist mill for a period of five years, during which time he manufactured spools, bobbins and croquet sets. Bobbins and spools were sold to Bullocks’ Mill, in Conshohocken, and to mills in Norristown.

William Hughes’ son, William Jr., who was born in 1848, worked in the saw mill with his father when he became old enough to assist with hauling logs, sawing and delivering lumber. Of those days, Mrs. Simpson writes: “Splendid trees for miles around in the counties of Montgomery, Chester and Delaware were bought, hauled to the mill, sawed and cured by drying in the mill yard, piled carefully so that the air could circulate about each board. The sun, rain, snow and wind seasoned the lumber, which was then ready to be sold and delivered to the cabinet makers and undertakers. Walnut trees were in great demand, and lumber made from these was regularly purchased by Mowday, of Norristown, and by Kirk and Nyce, of Germantown.

“Trees, which had been plentiful, grew scarcer and had to be found at greater distances, purchased and transported by log teams consisting of horses driven to a log wagon, one in the shafts and others ahead in single file. As many as nine horses were used at one time in this way. As trees grew on hillsides, and oftimes in places difficult to reach, the wagon was often overturned, carrying the “Shafter” or shaft horse over with it. This flourishing business had necessitated employment of men, horses and wagons. But in time there were no more walnut trees to be had.”

In 1922, this old saw mill, famous for so many years, was torn down, as was the grist mill which adjoined it, both having fallen into disuse. “Nothing remains today to suggest the old Hughes Mill”, Mrs. Simpson writes, “unless one pauses to observe the water flowing from the Swimming Pool, which still runs merrily along the race bank that Abner Hughes “lined with yellow clay that never leaked”. Beyond the former log yard one sees the spring house, above the “spring that never failed”. Across the road from the mill site stands the old house. With dignity and with a certain nobility, it faces the woods known as the “One Hundred Mile Woods.” Four generations have called it home, aand [sic] each one in turn has followed Abner Hughes to rest in the burying ground at Valley Friends Meeting.

“The old house, sheltered by the hills, basks in the sunshine and looks out upon one of the loveliest of scenes, with the Swimming Pool and Martin’s Dam on either side and the wooded hill between”.

(To be continued)

Old documents found, Martin’s Dam occupants, Colonial Village swimming pool

In the course of writing this series of historic sketches, many quaint old records and documents have come into the temporary possession of your columnist. Of the documents, none has proved more interesting than an insurance policy of 1863, found in the old Martin family Bible, now the property of Mrs. Emily Siter Wellcome and her brother, George Siter, of West Wayne avenue.

The policy was issued to their grandfather, Richard Martin, to cover the machinery in Croton Mill, where Mr. Martin manufactured woolen and cotton material. The mill, located near Martin’s Dam, had been sold in 1841 by James Patterson to Mr. Martin, a former mill owner of Kensington.

The policy was issued by the Fame Insurance Company, an old Philadelphia firm now long out of business. The $60.00 premium covered insurance for one year on “machinery generally, shafting, belting, fixtures, tools, implements and utensils, all contained in the stone and frame mill occupied as a cotton and woolen mill, situated on Croton Creek, Upper Merion Township, Montgomery Co., Pa.” These were valued at $2,700, while “water wheel, drum, gearing and connections contained therein” were insured for $300.

This old mill belonging to Richard Martin was located just across the dam abreast of Martin’s Dam after Croton road takes its turn to the right. At one time there was quite a fall of water at this spot to turn the mill wheel. A small stone house which backed onto Croton road, somewhat to the left of the large house now occupied by Oliver Pepper, stood close to the mill. Like the Pepper house, it was owned at one time by the Richard Martin family. Both the mill and the small stone house have been destroyed.

Another landmark in the Martin’s Dam section was the old Hughes saw mill, owned by William Carver and Abner Hughes, the latter a Welshman who founded the large family of Hughes which later settled all along Croton road.

Abner Hughes’ house, built in 1820, is now occupied by Mrs. DeWitt P. Pugh. Other Hughes homes include the large residence at the corner of Upper Gulph and Croton roads, occupied by the William F. Machold family; the house on Croton and Knox roads, owned by Robert A. Apple, and the home next to it, now occupied by A. McKnight Sykes. Another Hughes house was the one beyond Martin’s Dam, on the left hand side of Croton road, in which A. Lincoln Castle lived for many years.

The lovely, old stone house, now owned by Mrs. Pugh, was the second home of Abner Hughes, the first being a log cabin located on the rear of the same lot. The second home has its rafters pegged together, floors made of heavy oak timber and hand carved mantles. There are fireplaces in nearly every room, with a bake oven in the big fireplace of the former kitchen.

It was in this house that Abner Hughes died in March 1844, leaving the mill and all its appurtenances, as well as the family homestead, to his only son, William. To each of his three daughters, who were all married, he left a house and grounds on Croton road, formerly called Reeseville road, which leads from Reeseville–now Berwyn–to the Schuylkill at Old Swedes Church.

Several years before his father’s death, William Hughes had married Hannah Maris, of Chester County. They had five children, two sons and three daughters. William, Jr., born in 1848 and Frank born in 1857, attended Treemount Seminary. The former worked later in the sawmill with his father, hauling logs, sawing, and delivering lumber.

Frank Hughes learned his trade as a miller at the Arcoln mills, and for many years afterwards operated the grist mill, which, by now was operated in conjunction with the old saw mill. When his father died in 1899, Frank inherited the house and the land, including the mill and the nearby quarry. In 1929, he sold about 40 acres of his holdings to J. Howard Mecke, who was responsible for the development of Colonial Village. He also sold the dam, by the old saw mill, which is now Colonial Village swimming pool. On March 9, 1938, Frank Hughes died in his 83rd year, in the old home built on Croton road 119 years before by Abner Hughes, founder of the family.

In 1927, Mrs. William Z. Hill, a niece of Frank Hughes, and her husband, Dr. Hill, bought from Mr. Hughes an acre of ground on the hilltop across the road from Martin’s Dam. Later they purchased another two acres from Mr. Mecke. Here they have built a home overlooking not only the vast Chester Valley, but the hills beyond – the famous “Forty Mile View.” From their beautifully landscaped hilltop with its many flower gardens, Dr. and Mrs. Hill also look out over Martin’s Dam and Colonial Village swimming pool.

Although the old saw mill was long known as the Hughes Mill, it antedated the Carver and Hughes ownership by some years. Indeed, at one time the primitive method of sawing wood by hand was probably used here. Water power was used, however, by 1800, the date of the Carver and Hughes purchase.

The terms of the sale are interesting in many details, among them that “it is mutually agreed on by the said partners to these presents that the water shall not be confined by the said William Carver and Abner Hughes or any other person acting under them … from falling into its natural course leading to the said Henry Zook’s Mill Dam more than 48 hours at any time; but should the water be longer detained, the said Henry Zook, his heirs or assigns shall have free liberty to enter on the hereby conveyed premises and draw or open any flood gate or gates that may be erected thereon and give the water full liberty to flow into the said course …”

This Henry Zook dam is now Martin’s Dam, named after the Richard Martin family, and the property of the Martin’s Dam Club. The Club was formed in 1924 by a small group of public spirited men in the Wayne area for the benefit of their children and their friends, and is now enjoyed by a second generation of children, as well as their parents.

(To be continued)

(For information in this article, Mrs. Patterson is indebted to Mrs. W. Z. Hill and to Mrs. John Henry. The latter, who is the granddaughter of Mrs. Phoebe Hughes, has lent her the April 1940 “Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County,” in which Annie Brooke Simpson, daughter of William Hughes, has written an article on “The Old Hughes Mill.” Any further information on the Martin’s Dam neighborhood will be welcomed by Mrs. Patterson.)

Martin’s Dam, first white settlers, “Cherry Garth”

Martin’s Dam on an early Sunday morning in mid-June is a beautiful place. Almost entirely surrounded by low lying hills, it yet has its vista onto the wide-spreading green Chester Valley to the north.

Softy breezes ruffle the clear waters of the Dam, made green by the reflection of leaves still fresh from the spring unfolding. Overhead the sky is blue, while the air yet has its early morning freshness. The voices of a few families who have gathered for an early outdoor breakfast and swim seem far away.

The bird notes in the great trees overhead are sweet and clear. On the most distant banks of the Dam several young fishermen are casting their lines in the water.

It is a time for easy dreaming, a time when the present merges into the past until the scene as it once was becomes almost more real to the mind’s eye than the scene as it now is. It is easy to imagine this beautiful countryside with its forest unbroken, except by narrow Indian trails leading through their cool green depths, its only inhabitants these early Americans, now totally vanished from the scene.

The first white settler in this section of whom we have written record was a Welshman named Lavis, who must have made his way by these same Indian trails to the spot where he built a home for his family from materials near at hand. This was in 1648, some 30 years before William Penn received his grant of land from Charles II of England.

This crude little two-room log cabin still stands, forming the nucleus of the lovely home on Radnor Street Road known as “Cherry Garth”, owned and occupied by Miss Emily Exley, well-known landscape architect, one of the several streams which feed Martin’s Dam as it cascades it [sic] way between the house and the road.

In 1922, when Miss Exley purchased the house and some of the surrounding acreage, she kept the original structure almost intact, gaining larger living quarters by the addition of two wings, each constructed in harmony with the simplicity of the little home built almost 300 years earlier. These additions were constructed of wood from trees on the place and with stone from the tumble-down ruins of the old grist mill, built in the early years of the 18th century and operated with the stream as a source of power. The lovely gardens now surrounding the house are planted almost entirely with flowers and shrubbery native to this section of the country.

If Lavis had any of his own countrymen as close neighbors, there is no record of it. It is much more likely that those with whom he came in contact were the Indians who occupied the fertile lands of Pennsylvania, before encroaching white settlers drove them further west.

The Indians in this locality (who were wonderful fishermen, woodsman and agriculturists), belonged to the Algonquin and Iriquois [sic] tribes. Though their farming implements were of the crudest character, sometimes merely a stone or a shell, or even a bone attached to a piece of wood, their crops were varied and plentiful. From them the Welshman may well have learned to raise corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, peanuts, gourds, sunflowers, cotton and tobacco. For, strange as it may seem, North America was a country of farmers long before the coming of the white men to its shores.

In the 300 and more years since the small stone house was built it has never been without occupants. It remained in the Lavis family until 1702 when it was sold to John Davis, a silversmith residing in Philadelphia, then a settlement only 20 years old. In the course of the years it had many other owners until 1821, when James Bard Patterson bought the house and the nearby grist mill. As a source of power for the mill its owners used the stream which now runs between the house and the road.

In the first century after the settlement of Pennsylvania the comparatively simple needs of its people were supplied by individual artisans among them. Along the streams, rolls driven by the weight of falling water sawed the logs, ground the flour and fulled the woven cloth. There were various mills in the Martin’s Dam section from time to time, among them a sawmill once standing in the present parking lot of the Colonial Village Swimming Pool.

After James Patterson acquired the original Lavis property in the 1820’s he converted the grist mill into a small woolen factory, making use of the same mill race that had been utilized to run the first mill. When he retired in 1841 he sold the whole property to Richard Martin and his wife Hannah. It is from this family that Martin’s Dam derived its name.

The old Martin family Bible, now in the possession of Mrs. Emily Siter Wellcome and her brother, George Siter, shows that their grandfather, Richard Martin, was born in 1792 in Manchester, England, and their grandmother, Hannah Moore Martin, in 1806 near Halifax, Yorkshire, England.

After their marriage they lived in Kensington, Philadelphia, where the first five of their nine children were born, according to the records in the old Bible. The last four were born “in Montgomery County, Upper Merion Township”, as the faded, but still legible handwriting shows. Next to the youngest of these four was Sarah Martin, often referred to in this column as Miss Sally Martin, who taught school, first in the old Lyceum Hall and later, in the small Radnor Township grade school, once located on West Wayne avenue near the present Philadelphia and Western tracks. After some years of teaching she married William Siter and became the mother of Emily Siter Wellcome and of George Siter. Mrs. Wellcome recalls stories told of her mother, that when she taught school in Wayne, the horseback ride from Martin’s Dam was along such lonely stretches of road that she carried a pistol always with her.

In Kensington, Richard Martin had been operating a woolen mill. When he acquired the woolen mill near Martin’s Dam from James Patterson he not only continued it as such, but also added facilities for a cotton mill as well. The house into which he moved his young family was on the site of the large house almost directly opposite the entrance to the Martin’s Dam Club–it was in fact the center portion of that house is [sic] it now stands. The story goes that as the Martin family grew in numbers, Mr. Martin added first one wing and then the second one.

The original part of the house undoubtedly dates back to pre-Revolutionary days, with its great fireplace with wide triple doors, and with a huge baking oven in the basement under this fireplace. An old mill once directly opposite the Martin’s Dam Club entrance was torn down by George Park when he acquired the property in 1906. The mill stone was used at the entrance to the house, to which Mr. Park added still a third wing. Sold by him to Miss Isabel Maddison, who occupied it until her death a few years ago, the old Martin House is now the property of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Pepper.

(To be continued)

Wayne in 1922: Automobiles, Bryn Mawr Business Men’s Assoc., Red Cross, Church Pastors

Though it may be true, as we said earlier in this series, on the Wayne of 1922, that 30 years ago may seem “but yesterday” to many of us, it still must seem many yesterdays ago to all of us wen a new Chevrolet car could be purchased for $525. Nevertheless the Wayne Motor Sales Company was advertising such a car in “The Suburban” in 1922.

In addition the autos of that year had made “about 30 improvements”, since the spring of 1921, including “three speeds forward, water pump, one man top and gypsy style back curtain”. By December the Chevrolet “Sedanette” was the newcomer in the automobile field, with the public invited “to inspect this latest and most sensational addition to the Motor World’s Sport Car Field.” This sedanette cost $850.

Ford, “the Universal Car”, sold one model as low as $295, as advertised by the Suburban Auto Sales Company, of Wayne. George L. Barnett was showing a Packard Single Six at $2350 in his show rooms. Allan C. Hale, Maine Line distributor of Buick, had a wide selection ranging in price from $895 for a 2-passenger roadster, to $2375 for a 7-passenger sedan. The Strafford Motor Shop was selling Maxwell touring cars and roadsters at $885, with sedans at $1485.

The Wayne Business Men’s Association was formed late in 1922, when some 40 of the business men and women of Wayne held an organization meeting, at which Everett E. Bürlingame, president of the Bryn Mawr Business Men’s Association, told of what his organization was accomplishing. Elections resulted in the choice of Harvey M. Hale, president; Fred H. Treat, vice-president; Walter H. White, secretary; William C. Devereaux, treasurer, with Louis Jacquette Palmer serving as solicitor. The objects of the association were “to increase the prosperity and welfare of members, and to cooperate with other civic organizations to secure municipal improvements.

Elections in the Radnor Fire Company were spirited in 1922 with several candidates running for most offices. Final results were Charles E. Clark, president; John M. Gallagher, vice-president; Harry C. Hunter, treasurer and Harry Bryan, secretary. Harvey M. Hale was chosen Chief, with James K. Dunne as first assistant.

A boarding school for boys that held a prominent place not only in the community, but in the educational world, was St. Luke’s, which has since gone out of existence. When it was in operation it was located in what was later to become the original building of the Valley Forge Military Academy, at the intersection of Eagle and Radnor roads.

The Wayne Boy Scout Troop was very active 30 years ago under the leadership of Joseph Y. Wilson. In the spring of 1922 these boys were hosts to all the other Delaware County Troops at a get-together such as had never been held up to that time. Staged at the log cabin on the LeBoutillier property, it was a huge affair with Julian Saloman, of New York, as the chief speaker. Mr. Saloman had been the guiding spirit of the jamboree at London two years before, when he headed the Indian pageant which won for American Scouts the first prize in competition with Scouts from all over the world. When he appeared at the Wayne Troop affair he was in full Indian regalia as he talked on Indian lore and legends, concluding with Indian dances. A review and inspection of the Delaware County Scout Troops, with refreshments for all, concluded the big day in Wayne.

The Wayne Lodge, F. and A. M., held its annual meeting in December when Guy B. WHeeler was named Worshipful Master. Francis G. Lathrop was made senior warden; J. Kenneth Satchell, junior warden; Elmer Burket, treasurer and Charles D. Smedley, secretary. Trustees were Jonathan D. Lengel, Walter L. Lobb and Nathan P. Pechin. Representative in Grand Chapter was Dr. Joseph C. Egbert. Elections were followed by the annual banquet.

The Wayne Branch of the American Red Cross, along with all other Branches throughout the country, was still holding an annual membership drive in an endeavor to enroll as many as possible for what now seems the more than modest sum of one dollar each. Of this, 50 cents was divided between the local branch and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter. House-to-house canvassers had worn special badges as they made their rounds “with buttons and placards for all”. At that time Mrs. William Henry Brooks was chairman for the Wayne Branch; Miss Grace C. Roberts, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. William V. Alexander, secretary.

For the spring of 1922 the preferential ballot was used for the first time in Saturday Club elections, which resulted in the choice of Mrs. John J. Mitchell for president. Mrs. Charles H. Howson was made first vice-president; Mrs. J. S. C. Harvey, second vice-president; Miss Fannie E. Wood, recording secretary; Miss Elmira Eckert, corresponding secretary and Mrs. E. D. Tatnall, treasurer. Directors for two years were Mrs. James F. Mitchell, Mrs. Ross W. Fishburn and Mrs. Marshall H. Smith, while those for four years were Mrs. Henry Roever, Mrs. W. Allen Barr and Mrs. A. H. Higgins. Inaugural ceremonies were followed by a tea for the incoming president, given by the retiring president, Mrs. Barr. The year had been the usual active one for the Club, with the big birthday luncheon in March and with weekly programs varying from lectures on current events to classes in contract bridge. Combining with the League of WOmen Voters they had had an evening meeting at which state and local candidates for the coming elections had been invited speakers.

In 1922 Dr. Charles Schall was pastor of the Wayne Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Henry Rushton, of the Methodist Church; the Rev. John Wesley Elliot, of the Central Baptist; the Rev. F. T. Gillingham of the First Baptist; Msgr. Charles F. Kavanagh, of St. Katharine’s; the Rev. George Anthony, of St. Mary’s; the Rev. Richard H. Gurley, of St. Martin’s, and the Rev. Croswell McBee, of Old St. David’s.

At Christmas the big tree on the Louella grounds was lighted for the first time with community singing led by Edgar Hunt. This custom continued for many years thereafter around the giant tree on Lancaster pike.

On this Christmas note we conclude this story of Wayne in 1922 –a story which of necessity has hit only the highlights, with the omission of many of the details. For Wayne 30 years ago was almost as full of community life as Wayne of 1952–different in many ways perhaps, yet as friendly and neighborly then as now!

Wayne in 1922: St. Katharine’s Hall opens, War Memorial dedicated

In this column there are frequent references to Wayne happenings as chronicled in past issues of “The Suburban”. Sometimes these stories of people and events have been picked out at random from the old files because of their special interest. Sometimes they have been used in a particular series, as when various spectacular fires were described in the story of the Radnor Fire Company.

Recently, in pulling out these heavy bound copies of “The Suburban” from their places on the shelves, your columnist decided it might be interesting to select one volume, and to present a composite picture of Wayne for one year of its past history. Perhaps because 30 seemed a good round number, she has sleeted the year 1922. And while that may seem “but yesterday” to many of us, it is still three decades ago.

Early in January of that year the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners held its reorganization meeting. Those present were William S. Ellis, Henry P. Conner, Frederick F. Hallowell, John Kent Kane and William T. Wright. Miss Margaret Rugg was secretary of the Board at that time. The oath of office was administered to Mr. Conner and to Mr. Kane by Justice of the Peace Harry C. Hunter, since they had been re-elected to the Board at the November election. Mr. Ellis was named president and Mr. Kane vice-president, while Miss Rugg was re-elected secretary, Charles F. DaCosta was appointed solicitor and S. Hibbard Steele, road foreman. Captain Edward J. Sweeney headed the police force at that time.

The report of Township Treasurer William H. Crawford showed that the various departments had kept well within their budgets for the year 1921, with a pleasant surplus with which to start 1922. For that year the chief expenditure had been for road maintenance which, according to Mr. Crawford’s report, had amounted to $41,732. The Police Department came next with $20,277, while administration cost $3,818; Board of Health, $2,580; Radnor Fire Company, $3,000 and street lights, $5,556.

The Men’s Club, now defunct, was at the height of its popularity 30 years ago. Arrangements had been completed for the use of the Masonic Hall auditorium for club purposes on practically any night of the week. It was agreed that this “would fill a long felt want and would make the club the ideal meeting place which it is intended to be”.

At the regular January monthly meeting, which was a general get-together, or “Neighbors Night”, as President Lamson phrased it, A. K. Higgins, of St. Davids, “one of the moguls” of N. W. Ayer Advertising Company gave a talk on “The Making of Advertising”.

At a forum held in the auditorium that same week Richard S. McKinley spoke on “The Desirability of Starting a Bank Account”. Other activities of the Men’s Club for early January included a Pool-League Game at the Fire House; a bowling contest of the Sharp-shooters vs. Radnorites and a Bowling League game of the Men’s Club at Radnor.

The 1922 annual meeting of the Neighborhood League was held at the Saturday Club in January, with Dr. Jameson presiding. A report of the Christmas Committee showed that under the able direction of Mrs. E. W. S. Tingle her group had been unusually active during the 1921 holiday season, with “many houses made brighter by well-stocked baskets, toys and useful articles”. The Well-Baby Clinic, a then newly-organized activity of the League, was proving a great success, with “60 babies having been enrolled and started on the road to health”. At this point A. J. County had aptly remarked that “there are few situations in life from the cradle to the grave in which the Neighborhood League does not stand ready to step in and lend a helping, or if necessary, a restraining hand!” After the Rev. Crosswell McBee had made the address of the evening, League directors for the ensuing year were elected as follows: Mrs. Charles S. Walton, Louis Jaquette Palmer, William Townsend Wright, A. J. Drexel Paul, Nathan Hayward, William Paul Morris and Robert G. Wilson.

The Wayne Public Safety Association, at its January meeting, reported a membership of 314, then the largest to date in the history of the organization. At that time Henry Roever was president; Dr. Charles D. Smedley, secretary, and W. L. Margerum, treasurer. Directors then serving were the Rev. W. G. W. Anthony, the Rev. J. W. Elliott, and John Turner, George M. Aman, Ira V. Hale, G. P. Singer and John L. Mather.

The St. Davids Building and Loan Association was running large advertisements in each issue of “The Suburban” in 1922. Its officers at that time were Dr. H. C. Hadley, president; Allan C. Hale, vice-president; Charles M. Davis, secretary; A. M. Ehart, treasurer and Louis Jaquette Palmer, solicitor. Directors included David H. Henderson, Ira V. Hale, E. E. Trout, A. J. Martin, P. J. Wood, Louis S. Natale, F. P. Radcliffe, E. J. Wendell, Dr. R. P. Elmer, Norman A. Wack and William P. Cochran.

Early in January 1922 St. Katharine’s Hall was opened to the public, immediately adjoining St. Katharine’s Parish School, for the first time with an orchestra furnishing music for dancing for the occasion. In a short address Monsignor Charles F. Kavanagh felicitated the members of the congregation of St. Katharine’s Church on the completion of the new hall, so greatly needed in the parish. Work on the building had begun only the previous September. Seating about 800 people, St. Katharine’s Hall was one of the largest auditoriums in the suburbs.

On January 18, 1922, a meeting of the Radnor Memorial Committee was held at the Saturday Club, with Mrs. Robert G. Wilson presiding. By this time the site for the Memorial and the form which it was to take had been decided upon by the large committee of representative men and women of Radnor township, headed by Mrs. Wilson as general chairman. Miss Mary DeHaven Bright was secretary and Miss Grace C. Roberts treasurer. On ground given for the purpose by the Chew family, of Radnor, from pre-Revolutionary holdings, the monument as it now stands was dedicated on Sunday afternoon, May 28, 1922.

The unveiling ceremony was performed by a little girl and two small boys, all children of men who fell in battle in World War I. The dedication address was given by Senator George Wharton Pepper, who was introduced by Captain Sydney Roberts, at that time commander of Anthony Wayne Post, American Legion, under whose auspices the ceremonies were held. Several thousand people witnessed this impressive dedication.

The passing years have seen succeeding Memorial Day gatherings at the monument, each held in reverent commemoration of those from Radnor township who have given their lives in the service of their country. On Friday of last week, Memorial Day services were again held there just 30 years after the dedication of this Radnor Township War Memorial.

(To be concluded)

The Founding of the Community Garden Club of Wayne

Five years ago this spring the Community Garden Club at Wayne had its start in the most informal of meetings held at the home of Mrs. P. H. Mell, on Runnymede avenue by a small group of men and women who envisioned its possibilities as a real community project. They thought of such an organization as one open to all in this general vicinity who might gain in general gardening knowledge by interchange of ideas with neighbors, or by listening to experts in various fields who might be brought in as lecturers from time to time.

Open to one and all without special individual invitation and with minimum dues, it was to be truly a community garden club. The measure of success it has attained in the five year period of its existence is perhaps best told by saying that the only similar garden club to which it may be compared is the Trevose Horticultural Society–now 25 years old. Also that Wayne’s annual fall flower show is one of the very largest in the Philadelphia-Suburban area.

Among those who responded to Mrs. Mell’s invitation to the informal meeting held at her home on Monday, March 24, 1947, were the Misses Sue Dorothy and Virginia Keeney, Mrs. Richard Howson, Charles Mintzer, Kenneth B. Anderson, Nathan Sangree and Harry Anderson.

In order to ascertain what interest there might be in a local garden club, a meeting was scheduled for the evening of April 8 in the Radnor High School Library Room with Stephen J. Patronsky, of the Ambler School of Horticulture as the speaker. The audience at this first meeting taxed to capacity the seating facilities of the room with an enthusiasm that augured well for the success of the project. H. H. Kynett presided, outlining the aims of the group and asking for suggestions for its future activities. Such was the enthusiasm of the audience that the second meeting was scheduled to follow the first in less than a month’s time. This was to be on May 1, with short talks by two local garden authorities, Mrs. J. Folsom Paul, of Wayne, and Harold Berry, of Strafford.

Although an election of officers was scheduled for this May meeting, that matter of business was eventually in the hands of a competent committee. In the meantime, a treasury low in funds, but strong in courage, had been substantially enlarged by the proceeds of the Club’s first plant sale, an all day affair held on the “Christmas tree lot” on the property of the Main Line Diner. Under the capable direction of Mrs. Mell and Mrs. Howson, funds for future needs of the Club were realized from the sale of perennials in wide variety.

Activities in that first summer of the Garden Club’s existence were many and varied. Not only where there monthly meetings, with speakers, but in addition there was an afternoon devoted to visiting small gardens in the vicinity in early June and a Forum meeting in July. The August meeting was devoted to a talk on “Planting and Maintaining Lawns” by S. O. Wilcox, of the Pennsylvania State College of Agriculture. Two other important matters at this meeting were the announcement of the date of the Club’s first flower show, and the distribution of the year book, which had just been printed.

Arranged in attractive form by Mrs. Harold J. Berry, the book listed the names of all members of the Club and presented the proposed Constitution and By-Laws. It also indexed the 99 specimen classes for the fall flower show and listed rules for the show, the date of which was to be September 20. Sponsored jointly by the Saturday Club and the Community Garden Club, this show was scheduled to be held in the High School Gymnasium.

When the show took place, its success far exceeded the fondest hopes of its two sponsoring grounds. Held on Saturday afternoon and evening, it had flower and vegetable exhibits to the number of approximately 300 and an attendance of some 500 garden enthusiasts. Judges for the show, all well-known in their respective fields, were Mrs. John B. Carson, Mrs. J. Packard Laird, Mrs. Otho E. Lane, Miss Estella Sharp, Ernest Gray and Hartley Shearer. All exceptionally well qualified to voice an authoritative opinion, these men and women stated that this initial exhibit of the newly formed Wayne Garden Club and the Saturday Club compared favorably with many more pretentious efforts in the Philadelphia area.

Topping the list of winners was Mrs. Mell, with a total of 20 points. She was also the recipient of the Conard Pyle prize of selected rose bushes and of the Kenney Cup, presented for the greatest number of points in the arrangement class. Other winners were Charles Becker, of Haverford, Mrs. Robert Krumrine, Kenneth Anderson and Mrs. Robert Winterbottom.

Two interesting October events were the election of the Club’s first officers at its regular monthly meeting and the plant sale held on the lot next to Park’s Hardware Store on the Pike. The election resulted in the choice of Nathan P. Sangree for president; Mrs. P. H. Mell as first vice-president and Harold Berry as second vice-president; Kenneth B. Anderson as treasurer; Mrs. Raymond Dahm as recording secretary and Mrs. Dudley C. Graves as corresponding secretary.

December saw the Club’s first Christmas Party, a gala affair with refreshments at which a capacity audience watched Mrs. C. B. Goshorn, of Paoli, make Christmas wreaths and other holiday decorations as she gave a brief history of traditions. That month also saw the origination of a column in “The Suburban” under the title of “Green Thumb Gossip”, written by Margaret Mell. This first column was devoted to an elaboration of Mrs. Goshorn’s suggestions in the making of Christmas decorations for the home.

The activities of this first year of the Garden Club’s existence set the general pattern for the four that have followed, although there have been important additions from time to time. In April, 1949, the Garden Club joined with the Saturday Club in sponsoring a spring garden show when prizes were awarded to home gardens according to the size of the grounds. During the same month the Garden Club cooperated with neighboring clubs in sponsoring the spring daffodil show of the Berwyn Garden Club. And in May announcement was made that the planting on the grounds of the Memorial Library of Radnor Township would be sponsored by the local Garden Club.

This is a project that has extended up to the present with additions made from time to time when money given for memorials has made such additions possible. This planting has been done under the direction of Miss Emily Exley. Other services to the Library have included decorations at the Christmas season and vases of fresh flowers twice weekly from spring until fall. The Club budget also provides for the regular gift of books on horticulture to the Library and for yearly subscriptions to two garden periodicals. The Board meetings of the Club are held in the assembly room of the Library.

At present Club members lend advice to the running of the Mt. Pleasant Garden Club and act as some of the judges at the flower show put on by that thriving community organization. They also take an active part in making Christmas decorations for Valley Forge Hospital and in providing cut flowers and plants at Easter time.

With the slogan “Show what you grow”, the fall flower show grows in variety and number of exhibits from year to year. The highly amusing “derangement class”, now a part of the schedule of many other flower shows, had its origin in Wayne. A burlesque of conventional arrangements, this class, at first “for men only”, was this fall open to all contestants.

Present officers of the Club include Robert Tice, of Berwyn, president; Mrs. W. H. W. Skerrett, of Colonial Village, first vice-president, and John Lober, of Radnor, second vice-president; William P. Hutton, of Colonial Village, treasurer; Mrs. Francis J. Dallett, of Wayne, corresponding secretary and Mrs. Edward T. Headley, also of Wayne, recording secretary. With the chairmen of the various standing committees, these men and women make up the Board of the Community Garden Club at Wayne, membership in which is open to all upon the payment of two dollars annual dues.

There is a cordial open invitation to all to attend the meetings, which are held on the first Thursday of the month in the Wayne Presbyterian Chapel. Membership dues may be paid at the meetings.