Early Wayne, Railroads – Cleaver Farm, Conestoga Rd. & Lancaster Turnpike

The story of Louella House as given in last week’s Suburban was founded upon information gathered from various sources by Miss Josephine W. Scott for a paper she read several years ago for a group from her Church Missionary Society. In this meeting the members of the society were assembled in the same large room in Louella Apartments which was described in last week’s article as the formal parlor of Louella House. Fortunately the notes for this talk were preserved and from them has been drawn the description we give you for this week of the Wayne of an earlier day.

Back in 1868-70 when Louella House was built, most of what is now Wayne was rolling farm land, where cattle grazed as they stood in the shade of chestnut, hickory and oak trees. On the site of what was known until very recently as the William Wood property on the north side of West Lancaster avenue, the Cleaver Farm was located. The Cleaver house, built in 1775, was sold by that family to J. Henry Askin, who in turn sold it to W. D. Hughes. Later it became the property of William Wood.

The first railroad station took its name from the Cleaver Farm. This station was called “Cleaver’s Gate” or “Cleaver’s Landing,” since trains stopped there to take on milk. The Pennsylvania Railroad company, originally known as the Lancaster and Columbia Railroad Company, had built double tracks along the Main Line in the early 1860’s. Later, “Cleaver’s Landing” was known as Louella and then as Wayne.

The first station was a large square wooden pillar laid on its side where passengers sat while they waited to flag the train. An old wagon bed which too the place of this pillar was burned one Fourth of July. Then a small box-like station was built with a house attached in which the ticket agent lived. This house is still standing on its original site, considerably to the south of the present tracks, however, as the road bed was moved a one time. It is now used by the Wayne Hotel as sleeping quarters for employees. Even a casual glance easily identifies it as a one-time railroad station! A path past the old Presbyterian Church led to the station in its early days.

North of the railroad there was but one farm. On it was a lovely little lake and many beautiful trees. Later this property became the home of Dr. George Miles Wells. The Wells home still stands on its original site on Walnut avenue, though it has now become a small apartment house. The spacious ==== lots on which many homes have been constructed, some facing on Poplar avenue, some on North Wayne avenue and some on Walnut avenue.

The two main highways of Cleaver’s Landing in the 1860’s were Conestoga road and the Philadelphia and Lancaster turnpike. At that time the former had already been in existence for more than a hundred years, having originally been an Indian trail from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna River. The latter was the first turnpike built in the United States, dating back to 1792-93. With its toll gate it went from Philadelphia to Lancaster and points West. What is now West Wayne avenue was the Wayne road, built in 1808. It was but 33 feet wide.

Where the Saturday Club now stands there was a little bridge coming from the Cleaver Farm. Church road, going from Five Points to Old St. David’s Church, was built in 1863 and like Wayne road, was 33 feet wide.

So much for roads. As to the pavements, they were originally of “the kind of mud where overshoes lost in the Fall, reappeared only when the frost came out of the ground in the Spring!” Later there were boardwalks, the loose boards of which were apt to spring up at unexpected intervals and tip the unwary. Then followed cinder paths, later stone slabs and still later, concrete walks.

On the corner of Conestoga and Wayne avenues there stood at the time the old Radnor Baptist Church, organized in 1841, through the untiring efforts of Mrs. Emily Worthington Siter. The original building was destroyed about 1889. Back of the church building was one of the first schools in the community. On Conestoga road, near what is now Wayne-St. Davids station of the Philadelphia and Western Railway, was the famous old Conestoga Potteries.

Fire protection, even in the early days of Wayne, was considered very essential. Each householder was provided with a fire horn three feet long, to be blown when the occasion demanded. The horn call is described as something like a sick cow! A fine of five dollars was imposed for any unwarranted blowing of a horn. Early records also state that a bucket of water was behind the front door of each home, also that householders took nightly turns in patrolling the neighborhood. The present Radnor volunteer Fire Company, chartered in 1906, represents the consolidation of several small fire companies which served various parts of the community earlier.