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)