Wayne’s First Baptist Church, part 3 – Spread Eagle Inn, Siter Family

The William Siter whose conversion to the strict precepts of the Baptist faith from his former more wordly ways of thinking, and who was in a large measure responsible for the founding of the Radnor Baptist Church, belonged to a family whose name has appeared more often that any other in the early history of Radnor Township as it has been sketched in this column. In 1791 his grandfather, Adam Siter, ran the first small Spread Eagle Inn on the old Lancaster Turnpike. Later two other Siters, John and Edward, were in turn associated with the second and much large Spread Eagle Inn. The beautiful Siter farm covered much of what is now South Wayne. Part of the land around Martin’s Dam was once owned by this same family.

Mrs. Emily Siter Wellcome tells us that the family was one of the early Welsh settlers to whom William Penn gave a grant of land in what was later to become Radnor township. The original part of the house where she now lives at 415 West Wayne avenue with her daughter, Rosita Wellcome and her brother, George Siter, was probably built in the late 1600’s. Like the other Welsh houses of that period, of which there are a number still remaining in the township, the Siter house was built of stone, with two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. The thicknesses of the old stone wall of Mrs. Wellcome’s living room gave evidence of the age of the house.

Somewhat puzzling to us at first was the present outside appearance of the house, stince it so closely resembles certain of the Wayne Estate houses. The explanation seems to lie in the fact that it was remodeled in 1890 by Mrs. William Siter, Mrs. Wellcome’s mother. it was at this time that large numbers of Wayne Estate houses were in the process of construction, and it seems quite possible that Mrs. Siter patterned her home after one of the popular type of that era. At the same time that she enlarged the little four room stone home, built by Welsh ancestors, she also built the house just to the west of her that is now occupied by William M. Zimmermann, Jr., and his family, and which for many years was occupied by the late Eber Siter and his family.

According to the old volume of “Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties”, lent to us by Mrs. Wellcome, Adam Siter, that first early proprietor of the little old Spread Eagle Inn had several children, among them William, who married Mary Taylor. There were six children born to this union. David, the eldest, “kept store for some time at the Old Eagle house on Lancaster turnpike”, in a section that was known for some time as “Sitersville”, even on the post office records. “John married and settled in Radnor township near the village, of Ithan, where he followed farming” according to the old genealogical records.

“Adam and William, the twin brothers (born December 8, 1798) received, under their father’s will, a tract of land containing 192 acres where South Wayne now stands, and here they conducted farming.” After Adam married, he sold his interest to William, who continued the cultivation of the farm and the old Siter saw and grist mill, which stood upon the property. William married Emily Worthington, a daughter of Eber Worthington, of West Chester. The twin brother, Adam, married Margaret Brooke, while one sister, Anna, became the wife of Enoch Davis and the other, Elizabeth, married John Yocum.

Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., in writing of the Wayne of the 1880’s, when he came to this community and established his small drug store in what was then known as Wayne Lyceum Hall, now the newly remodeled Colonial Building, told of what he could see from the door of his shop:

“I could look out the drugstore door (it had now window on the pike) and see cattle grazing in the meadow where the business block, fire house and school houses now stand. This was part of what was known as the Siter farm. Its buildings stood on Conestoga road, about where the residence of F. A. Canizares now stands. The old Siter homestead burned in later years when owned and occupied by R. H. Johnson. The spring house was near the rear of what is now the Wayne Apartment House at the corner of West Wayne and Bloomingdale avenues.”

(Note: The old Siter household to which this refers was one the site of the present Herman Lengel house, 250 Conestoga road. The former F. A. Canizares house is at 240 Conestoga road.)

The William Siter who owned so much of what is now South Wayne was the same William Siter who, with is wife, the former Emily Worthington, was the leading spirit in the founding of the Radnor Baptist Church. Their son, another William Siter, married Sarah Martin, daughter of Richard and Hannah Moore Martin, both of English birth. Sarah Martin is the Miss Sallie Martin referred to in a number of articles in this column as the teacher of the Wayne Lyceum School and also as one of the editors of the “Weekly Gazette”, that early Wayne paper published in 1871-72. When the Wayne Lyceum Hall was dedicated on October 24, 1871, Miss Martin was one of the speakers on the program. Two of the children of these William Siters, George Siter and Emily Siter Wellcome, are among the four living trustees of the old Baptist Church who negotiated its present sale.

Seventy-nine persons signed the petition presented at a special meeting of the Great Valley Church on February 6, 1941, for letters of dismissal “for the purpose of constituting a Church at Radnor Hall, which on motion was granted,” to quote the exact wording of church records, now over 100 years old. Written in ink, these records and signatures are still so clearly legible that there can be doubt about only one or two of the signatures. They are names of families who had much to do with Radnor township in its early days. Descendents of some of them are still living here.

The “written request” was signed by George Joseph, Samuel, Sarah, Elizabeth, Alice and Susanna Lewis; Christian, Margaret, Sarah Jane, Mary Ann and Elizabeth Miller; William, Louisa, John, George, Mary Hughes, Elizabeth, Peter and Zimmermann Supplee; Mahlon, John, Elizabeth, Elijah, John, Jr. and Hannah Wilds; William, Lucy, Emily, Mary Ann, Sarah and Adam Siter; Charles and Sarah Ann Stout; Thomas and Ann Petty; Jacob, Eliza and Mary Huzzard; Samuel, George, Ann, Mary, and George, Jr., Bittle; Merriam, Hannah and Joseph Hunter; Mary Ann and Sarah Bowman; Jane and Mary Ann Smallwood; Samuel and Emma Crew; John and Elizabeth Aikens; George and Hannah Phillips; Margaret and Abraham Richardson; Jacob Wismer, Jacob Taylor, Ann Hampton, James Carr, Jr., Elizabeth Meredith, Mary Ann McKnight, Mary Marion Loveat, George Murry, Samuel Hanson, Nancy Davis, Mary Rulong, Isaac Millenn, Benjamin Snively, Theodosia Riddle.

(To be continued)