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.

1915 meeting of the “Old Settlers”; 6 Radnor schools; 1897 rules for using telephones; T. T. Worrell & Sons store and prices for items

T. Stewart Wood, who had often been called “the Father of Radnor Township Schools”, was one of the principal speakers at the January, 1915 meeting of the Wayne Men’s Club, when reminiscences were the order of the evening among the “Old Settlers”.

Described by Henry P. Conner, then president of the Club, as “the most modest of men”, Mr. Wood said that he was originally chosen as a candidate for School Director because as a matter of fact, “it wasn’t an office much sought after in those days”. And since he was not at the caucus “to protect” himself, the candidacy was thrust upon him. Then came elections with a brisk contest for the office since there were two opposing factions among the voters. On one hand there was an insistent demand for better school facilities in Wayne, while on the other there was strong opposition to such a move since it would involve a large expenditure of money and a subsequent increase in taxes.

Mr. Wood was elected, and the changes which he put into effect form the foundation of our present splendid school system. However, when these changes were made they met with so much opposition on the part of Radnor Township residents outside of Wayne that Mr. Wood said he was probably “the best hated man in the district”. His opponents at the time had a way of saying that he was “taxing the poor to educate the rich”, while the more far-sighted realized that the reverse was true.

At the time Mr. Wood was elected to office there were six schools in Radnor Township, including those in Wayne, Garrett Hill, Paxson Mills, Ithan, Radnor and at Tryon Lewis’. Each was independent of the other. While attendance at Wayne and at Garrett Hill was good, it averaged fifteen or less at the other four schools. This meant that in some schools there were classes with but two or three pupils, although all grades were usually represented. And while Mr. Wood had great respect for “the Little Red School House”, he realized that Radnor Township must keep abreast of the changing trends in education throughout the country.

Many of Mr. Wood’s constituents in Wayne would have been satisfied merely with a new Grammar School. But the school director whomthey had elected to office considered the time ripe to put into effect a broader and more general plan which would include changes in the school of the whole township. This plan when finally consummated provided for instruction of the higher grades in Wayne and in Garrett Hill and of the lower grades in the other four schools. Four years from the final establishment of the system the first graduating class of Radnor High School had its commencement.

Such a system called for the services of an able superintendent to organize classes in all the six schools and to supervise their teaching. Mr. Wood was instrumental in securing the services of George H. Wilson, who for a number of years afterwards held his place as head of the schools in Radnor Township.

Four years before these “Old Settlers” meetings were held by the Men’s Club a short series of articles was written for “The Suburban” under the title of “Wayne in the Olden Times”. Much of this series told of early sports in Wayne which have already been described from time to time in this column.

However, there are several aspects of community life which have not been touched on before. For one thing the writer of “Wayne in the Olden Times” thought it might be interesting to his readers in 1911, when “a telephone has become almost a necessity”, to know that in 1897 there were but 14 telephones in all Wayne. Dr. H. C. Hadley was the manager and the exchange was in his drug store. Pioneer subscribers were C. H. Barrett, G. W. Bergner, C. K. Bolles, I. W. Conner & Co., James Goodwin, R. H. Johnson (residence and office), G. E. Mancill & Bro., Pennsylvania Railroad, J. W. Reavey, Siter and Barrett, Charles S. Walton, Wayne Cycle Club, Dr. George M. Wells and T. T. Worrell & Sons.

Rules for the use of these early telephones sound quaint indeed these 55 years later. Some of the younger readers of our column should perhaps be reminded that in those days and for some years afterwards all telephone instruments were large, clumsy affairs firmly attached to the wall. To the writer of this column they always seemed closer to the ceiling than to the floor. Even by standing on her tip-toes she could scarcely reach the mouthpiece, and why some compromise between the needs of the tall and the very short could not have been made has always remained a mystery.

At any rate there were four important rules which were as follows:

1. After ringing for the exchange, take down earphone and wait for operator to answer.

2. When operator answers, give number you want.

3. WHen through talking be sure to ring off.

4. Never call up before 7 A. M. nor after 11 P. M. unless very urgent.

“In these days of high prices”, says our historian of 1911, “it might be interesting to know that T. T. Worrell & Sons were selling butter for 24 cents a pound in the winter of 1897; hams at ten cents a pound and coffee at 21 cents a pound.”

To us in these days of still higher prices it might be interesting to know what were considered “high prices” in 1911. At that time The Suburban gave front page space to its advertisers. Prominent among these were three grocery and meat stores, now long since out of existence. T. T. Worrell & Sons, Ira V. Hale and Edgar Jones. Among the items they advertised were rib roasts at 14 cents a pound; pork roasts at 16 cents; legs of lamb at 18 cents; pork chops at 16 cents and bacon at 30 cents. Butter sold pretty generally at 36 cents a pound and “fresh country eggs” at 36 cents a dozen.

“Fancy California oranges” sold as low as 25 cents a dozen and as high as 70 cents. And for a “quickly prepared luncheon” Worrell offered cold boiled ham at 40 cents a pound; peanut butter and home made jellies at 10 cents a glass; sardines as low as 15 cents a can; cream cheese at 10 cents a package and lamb tongue at 40 cents a jar. This same store apparently specialized in candy as well as “quickly prepared” luncheon articles. Both assorted chocolates and chocolate covered nougats were 40 cents a pound. Horehound drops bring back nostalgic memories, but what were assorted jelly strings” the sold at 30 cents a pound?

Then, as now, The Suburban had its full quota of advertisements–but none perhaps that marks the passing of the years more sharply than that of Howard S. Kromer, successor to James F. Kromer, Wayne Livery and Boarding Stables. “Special Attention” was given “to the care of horses”; “conveyances” were furnished on short notice”, carriages were stored and “particular attention was given to weddings and funerals”.

And now, where in all Wayne should be begin to look for a horse, a carriage or, indeed, any kind of “conveyance” except a gasoline driven one?

1914 “Reminiscence Evening” of the “Old Settlers” with Henry Pleasants, Esq., Historian of Radnor Township; history (roads & buildings)

Under title of “With the Old Settlers”, “The Suburban”, of December 4, 1914, reported on a “Reminiscence Evening” held by the Men’s Club in the Saturday Club House earlier that week. Apparently this meeting was a success worth of repetition, for on January 7, 1915, “The Suburban” told of a second such meeting.

Now some 37 years later these personal recollections of an earlier Wayne are of even greater value and interest than they were at the time they were given by men who then remembered personally the times and events of which they spoke.

At the first of these meetings, Henry Pleasants, Esq., was introduced by Township Commissioner Henry P. Conner as “Historian of Radnor Township”, a fitting title since Mr. Pleasants had recorded many of the happenings of Radnor Township where he and his family had already lived for some 50 years. At that time Wayne was, according to Mr. Pleasants, “a very narrow country road about 15 feet in width, crossed by a stream about where the Saturday Club House stands”.

West Wayne avenue was one of the oldest highways in Delaware County, having been opened in 1808. In those days it ran straight through back of where Lienhardt’s bakery was later built, joining the Pike where the old Presbyterian Chapel now stands. In connection with the latter, Mr. Pleasants recalled the magnificent walnut trees which once surrounded it. Beautiful meadows were also part of this early scene. There was no road to North Wayne in those days, only “a little lane that ran from the Pike to the railroad.” There was not even a railroad station at first, Morgans Corner (now Radnor), and Spread Eagle (now Strafford) being the nearest stops.

Wayne’s first station was “a mere platform” back of where the old William Wood property stands on West Lancaster avenue. Used as a shipping place for milk from this section to Philadelphia, it was called Cleavers Landing. This was Wayne in 1865, as Henry Pleasants personally recalled it in this meeting in December, 1914.

In a talk following that of Mr. Pleasants, A. M. Ware, who came to live in this community in 1885, gave the former the credit for having preserved, against some odds, the name of Wayne for the post-office. Because there was another Wayne in the Western part of the state, this postoffice was known as “General Wayne” for a short time. A number of residents in the community then wished to change it to Ithan because of the nearby creek of that name. Mr. Pleasants led the fight against this change. And then when the issue was at its height, the Wayne in the Western part of the state changed its name to Ovid! And Wayne has remained Wayne to this day.

“Sidewalk stages” in Wayne were described in an amusing vein by Mr. Ware. “First mud, mud, mud where overshoes were lost in the Fall and found in the Spring when frost came out of the ground . . . then board walks, then cinder walks, then stone slabs, and then last and best concrete . . . And a little of each of these stages is still with us.”

Herman Wendell as one of the speakers of the evening described the Drexel-Childs building operation of the 1880’s, when Mr. Childs gave carte-blanche to those who were working with him “to go ahead and make this an ideal suburban community”. Frederick P. Hallowell, a member of the Board of Education, told of his first visit to Wayne in the 70’s when “there was no Wayne really”. When he moved here later with his family, the fact that Wayne had electric lights was one of the deciding factors in his making this his choice for a home. Wayne, he recalled, was the second town in the whole country to have a electric light.

At the second of these “Old Settlers” meetings, which was held in January 1915, Colonel WIlliam Henry Sayen was introduced as the “Daddy of the Township Commissioners”. When he came to Wayne in 1880, he rented for his temporary home the Theodore Ramsey house for the sum of $200 yearly, and this he considered high! At that time there were only two churches in the community, the Wayne Presbyterian and the Radnor Baptist. By 1915 this number had grown to eight.

Touching on politics in the early ’80’s, Mr. Sayen listed the Republican “warhorses” as Joseph Childs, Henry Pleasants, Barclay Hall and Tom Jones. Democratic hosts were marshaled by Tryon Lewis, Matthew Wolfe and Dolph Kirk. Polling places for Radnor township were at the Old Sorrell Horse Inn and at the “Old Store” on Conestoga road in Ithan. The old “vest pocket ticket” was used, Mr. Sayen said, but elections were always on the level and nobody ever dared to “set up” a ticket.

The Radnor Library, early predecessor of our present Memorial Library of Radnor Township, was described by Mr. Sayen as the community’s “pioneer enterprise”, meeting in those first days in a room over the Wayne Estate office. T. Stewart Wood, a later speaker in the program, told of the formation of the original Merryvale Athletic Association which was started in the old Lyceum Hall. Among its early projects were boxing and wrestling, although later it included many other sports. Going farther afield, he described Radnor Hunt as a “Hunt without formality”, with John L. Mather as Master of Hounds, adding that “the hunts often came through the village streets.”

Again in reminiscent vein, the speaker told of the large number of fine horses seen along the highways before the turn of the century, adding that “the musical echo of the tallyho horn was surely more pleasant than the hon-honk of the automobile.”

A speaker of real eloquence, Mr. Wood described Wayne of an earlier day as “a country village without stagnation, a happy blend of bucolic innocence and urban sophistication”. He spoke too, of “the high civic spirit of the residents and of an active public opinion” and in a more nostalgic vein of “the natural healthfulness and general hospitality when we were all one happy family.”

No one topic developed at these two meetings was of quite such vital interest to Wayne audiences of that day, as well as to those of the present, as the part played by Mr. Wood in the development of our present Radnor Township School system. This development will be described in a subsequent article in this column.

The Saturday Club, ‘Suburban’ Archives, State Federation of Pennsylvania Women

From time to time this writer has occasion to refer to the files of “The Suburban” for material for her column that is nowhere else on record. In bound form these files are complete back to February, 1906, when fire completely destroyed “The Suburban” office, then located on East Lancaster avenue.

This particular type of research work is a time consuming affair for the reason that it is so difficult for the writer to confine her attention to the particular subject on hand at the moment. A familiar name in the next column catches her eye, and she must read that article to the end even though it has no slightest relation to the matter on hand!

The old files are indeed veritable storehouses of records of people and happenings in Wayne back almost to the turn of the century–a composite picture in print of our churches, schools, township government and organizations, in short, of Radnor township itself. From time to time sketches made at random from material in these files will appear in this column.

Opening up to May, 1907, issues, a date just forty-five years past, we read of the election to office of the 16th president of the Saturday Club, Mrs. Milton J. Orme. This month the Club elected its 37th president, Mrs. Spencer V. Smith, who on May 20 will be installed in office. Inauguration day feel on June 4, 45 years ago.

In addition to Mrs. Orme, the officers were Mrs. Robert LeBoutillier and Mrs. S. T. Fulweiler, first and second vice-presidents; Mrs. George H. Wilson corresponding secretary, and Mrs. W. W. Heberton, treasurer. There were six directors: Mrs. C. J. Wood, Mrs. Fulweiler, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. W. W. Tarbell, Mrs. F. D. Scanlon and Mrs. C. H. Howson.

On Inauguration Day the Club was very festive in its decorations of green and white, the Club colors. Miss Edith G. Freeman was in charge of a musical program which featured songs by the Club Chorus and by Miss Lilian Walter, soloist, and piano numbers by Miss Marguerite Elder. There was also an amusing skit on “Sightseeing” read by Mrs. J. W. Show. The meeting concluded with a discussion of a subject of absorbing interest–the twelfth annual convention of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women to be held in October at the Devon Inn with the Saturday Club as the hostess Club.

A matter of even greater pride to the Club was the fact that Mrs. Ellis L. Campbell (now Mrs. William Henry Sayen), a woman who had twice been president of the Club, was now president of the State Federation. As such she would call to order the opening meeting of the Federation. As such she would call to order the opening meeting of the Federation. This meeting would be held in the Ball Room of the Devon Inn.

When the 55th annual meeting of the State Federation is held the latter part of this month there will be several thousand women in attendance. In fact there are only about three or four cities in Pennsylvania with hotel accommodations sufficient to house the delegates. This year the convention will be held in Harrisburg. In 1907 an attendance of 300 was considered large. Many of those from the western part of the State came by a specially chartered train.

To plan for their entertainment required a large and efficient committee. Heading it was Mrs. George Miles Wells, a former president of the Club and one of Wayne’s best known women. Assisting her were Mrs. William B. Riley, Mrs. P. S. Conrad, Mrs. S. T. Fulweiler, Mrs. J. H. Jefferis, Mrs. C. B. Stilwell, Mrs. George H. Wilson, Mrs. C. J. Wood, Mrs. Frank Smith, Mrs. W. A. Nichols, Mrs. Harold A. Freeman, and Mrs. A. A. Parker. All of these women were prominent in the civic and social life of Wayne at that time.

When the Convention opened on Tuesday afternoon in the ballroom of the Devon Inn, delegates were welcomed by Mrs. Orme as president of the hostess club. It was a matter of much interest and pride to Saturday Club members that when Mrs. Campbell responded she was speaking not only as president of the State Federation, but as a charter member and past president of the Saturday Club. At the reception at the Inn that evening they were equally pleased that Mrs. Campbell’s address contained “many references to the home Club.”

Special guest of honor at the reception was Mrs. Sarah Platt Decker, president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The evening program of entertainment consisted of the presentation of the cantata, “Sleeping Beauty” by the Saturday Club chorus under the direction of Miss Edith G. Freeman. Solo parts were sung by Miss Florence Fulweiler, Miss Lillian Walters and Miss Freeman.

Another feature of the evening was the reading of a humorous poem on “Suffrage” by a well-known leader of that militant group, Miss Jane Campbell.

It is interesting to note what were the matters of paramount importance as evidenced by the topics of talks given at various sessions. In addition to suffrage, there were those on “Modern Methods of Prevention and Cure of Tuberculosis”, “Home Economics as an Educational Phase in Civics” and one on “Civic Improvement” in which Mrs. Edward W. Biddle, of Carlisle, incoming president of the State Federation stated that “in the great present day movements for civic improvement, unquestionably for the most potent single factor is the influence of womens’ clubs”. Club women were also being urged at this time to use their influence in the matter of Child Labor Laws, an issue of great importance in Pennsylvania. Dr. Samuel Lindsay, of Columbia University, strongly recommended a Child Labor committee in the State Federation in his talk before one of its sessions.

The convention had its less serious side, however, in the way of entertainment for the delegates. One afternoon they were guests at tea of Miss M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr College, who later arranged for a tour of the buildings and grounds under the guidance of Senior students. That evening a performance of “Taming of the Shrew” was given at the Devon Inn, followed by the singing of Shakespearean songs under the direction of Mrs. Fulweiler of the Saturday Club.

To those who may not know Mrs. Ellis L. Campbell as the present Mrs. William Henry Sayen, it will be interesting to learn that she is still living in her home on Walnut avenue, and that up to a few years ago was active in the Saturday Club. In addition to serving as president of the State Federation in 1907, she was its first president, and is now an honorary president of that organization.

Blue Ball Inn layout, Owners: Bernhard Vauleer, Prissy Robinson, Croasdale, Wagner families, skeletons unearthed, ghosts

Back of the present large front room of the old Blue Ball Inn in Daylesford which has recently been purchased by the Paul Warner family of Wayne, is the original Inn kitchen. Just as the life of the tavern in the late 1700’s and the early 1800’s centered in this room, so has family life centered there for the past fifty-odd years for the John Croasdale family and so will it center in the future years for the Warner family. For when the Croasdales acquired the Inn in 1894 the old kitchen was made into a “book room”. It is now undoubtedly the most interesting place in the old house.

This book room is down one step from “the commons room”, as the long front room, created by throwing into one the old taproom and the parlor, is called. The beaten earth floor of the first old kitchen has long since been covered by a wooden one. Three sides of the room, except where doors and windows interpose, are taken up by book shelves that go from floor to raftered ceiling. The south side is given over almost entirely to the wide deep fireplace, so large that one can literally “sit in the chimney corner”. Blackened by the smoke of two centuries, the huge fireplace still has in it the old hand-forged crane, and the “lazy boy” on which many kinds of food were baked. The oven which was originally there has since been bricked up, however.

Directly opposite each other in this room are two doors level with the ground outside. It is a matter of tradition that when this room was the kitchen for the old Inn the backlog for the cooking fire was dragged in at one door by a horse which was driven out the opposite door after the log had been rolled to the fireplace.

As the Warners sit around a blazing fire of a cold winter’s night with the light from their reading lamps making shadows in the corners of the room, it will be easy to imagine very different scenes of a century and a half ago. Then drivers of packhorse trains and Conestoga Wagons gathered around other blazing fires as they paused to eat and later to sleep during the tedious treks along the old Conestoga road.

Up in the rafters of this book-room is a small ladder which was originally made and used about sixty years when one of the early members of the Croasdale family wanted on occasion to make a quiet exit to sleeping quarters upstairs without disturbing guests in the front room. At that time there was a trap door in the floor of the room over the “book room” which was reached by means of this ladder. The main stairway, however, is a narrow boxed-in one leading from the living room. So worn are the trades from the footsteps of many generations that soon they will have to be replaced, interesting though they now are.

The narrow upstairs hallway leads into the front bedroom still as it was originally except for the door which leads onto the second floor porch, which was a later addition to the house. The charm of the room lies in its many windows and its original fireplace. Back of this is a tiny bedroom, while over the old kitchen is a larger room which will be used as a study when the Warners move in. Back of this is the “secret room” of the old house which is reached by a narrow and very inconspicuous passage way at the end of which is a door with a trick latch. One must learn the secret of this latch–and afterwards remember it–in order to enter this room at all. The reason for its one time secrecy is not clear nowadays. It is a plain little room once heated by a Franklin stove which has now gone its way. On the third floor are three bedrooms.

And since no story of an odd house is really complete without its ghost, so must the Blue Ball Inn have its ghost, perhaps even more than one! In the early 1800’s many sinister stories centered around it, all having to do with one Prissy Robinson, granddaughter of Bernhard Vauleer, one of the early owners of the Inn. According to these tales, peddlers who often carried goodly sums of money with them frequently stopped at the Inn to spend the night. Before the great fireplace in the old kitchen Prissy would serve them steaming suppers along with a glass of hot rum. When these same peddlers went up to the room over the kitchen they would find a keg of whiskey and a pannikin beside the bed. After partaking freely of the whiskey they would be in a sleep too deep to be roused by the stealthy figure that would creep in the door. A quick sharp blow – and another limp figure would be dragged down the narrow stairs, to be hidden until a shallow grave could be dug in the beaten earth floor of the kitchen or in the orchard!

Still another tale concerns a woman guest at the Blue Ball who recklessly displayed a large quantity of money at supper in the old kitchen. Next morning her body was found hanging from the wall that still encloses the boxed stairway. her death was called suicide. However, so many doubted the truth of this that the suspicions of the entire countryside were aroused. And as a consequence many would no longer venture into the Blue Ball Inn after dark!

After Prissy Robinson’s death in 1860 less credence was put in these harrowing stories. Many who know her regarded her as a sharp tongued old scold who probably did no one any actual harm. And then after the Croasdales bought the Blue Ball all the harrowing stories were revived. For in making excavations for certain improvements six human skeletons were found under the cellar floor. “These human structures were complete”, according to an article in the Philadelphia “North American”, although some showed broken bones or cleft skulls . . . It is certainly an interesting question how many persons were done away with at the Inn during the years from 1809 to 1860.”

At any rate, so the story goes, the ghost of Prissy Robinson, once roused from her long sleep by the workmen’s picks scraping the skeletons of those she had buried, was seen flitting around the house and grounds. Strange sounds have been heard and bureau drawers have been seen to open of their own volition–or so it is said. At any rate Prissy is supposedly looking in these drawers for clean garments to replace her own blood-stained ones!

But in the words of Joseph L. Copeland, a Paoli reporter writing the story of the Blue Ball Inn for “House Beautiful” in May, 1929, this columnist would say, “In spite, or possibly because of its ghost, it is a friendly old house sitting there by the roadside in the sun. In front of its door America has passed in historic procession–pack horse trains, oxcarts, Conestoga wagons, pushing always into the West, within its low-heeled rooms have paused those men of whom the poet sang:–

‘Conquering, holding, daring,
venturing as we go to the urn-
known ways,
Pioneers! O Pioneers'”