In June, volunteers went to Media to meet with Rachelle Green, a planner in the Delaware County Historic Preservation Office in order to learn how to research deeds for the historic markers that will soon appear on some Radnor buildings. Beverlee Barnes, manager in the Historic Preservation Office, greeted Andrea Pilling, Jim Corrodi, Sandy Gilbert, Suzanne Shuut, Pat Hartel, Jeanne Murray, Meg Tharp, Lynn Ellis and Susan Ayers.
RHS board member Lynn Ellis has been labeling, indexing and archiving hundreds of glass photographic negatives from about 1870-on, containing many Radnor landmarks that are no longer there. The McKnight, Wendell and Heilner collections have been archived, as well as a collection from Capt. John W. Morrison, who lived at 425 Chestnut Lane. Morrison served in the Union Army during the Civil War and was later Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Radnor Baptist Church Cemetery Cleanup
RHS has taken the lead to clean up and maintain the cemetery, which once was connected to the Baptist church established in 1842 at the corner of Conestoga Road and West Wayne Avenue as a result of a schism over abolition at the Baptist Church in the Great Valley. After the Civil War and the demise of the abolitionist movement the church slowly declined and closed its doors; the building was demolished in 1951. Many of the original families have continued to use its burial grounds, with the last burial in 2010 for John Nash, a Radnor High School teacher. The trust fund for the cemetery’s upkeep was exhausted in 2008, at which point the Radnor Historical Society organized several volunteer cleanup events.
A Works Progress Administration project to list all grave markings in the United States included this site in 1936-1937 and a copy of that project is now on file at the Historical Society. All interred who could be identified by their grave markings were listed with their positions noted on a grid. The graves may also be found at www.FindAGrave.com. A future project will be to photograph each gravestone to be posted to the site.
Volunteers have cleared brush, pulled ivy, raked leaves and hauled away a great deal of trash that has been dumped on the site over the years. They have come from such varied groups as the Troop 219 Boy Scouts, Villanova University students, the Wayne Bateman-Gallagher American Legion Post 668, the Italian-American Club, Friends of the Baptist Cemetery and neighbors. Several local tree companies have removed trees. An Eagle Scout project was proposed to list Civil War veterans, but the Scouts became so excited about their project that they decided to list all veterans, identify their graves, set markers on the proper graves, and determine the necessity of any grave restoration. Ground-penetrating radar has recently been used to identify burials with no visible headstones; so far one buried headstone has been found and raised.
Much remains to be done to clean up the site and to identify graves. If you are interested in participating, please call RHS or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are always needed! If you would like to help, please visit www.radnorhistory.org/volunteer.
(This article appeared in the September, 2011 Radnor Historical Society Newsletter. To receive the newsletter in the mail, consider becoming a member!)