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.

Traveling Lancaster Turnpike in 1770’s, J. F. Sachser book “The Wayside Inns on the Lancaster Highway”, local inns

For travelers making their slow and ofttimes weary way from Philadelphia to Lancaster in the 1700’s, the most important factor of their journey was the wayside inn which gave them shelter for the night as well as refreshment during the day. By 1794 the Lancaster turnpike, the first stone turnpike not only in the state of Pennsylvania, but in the entire country, was completed. Extending the 62 miles between Philadelphia and Lancaster, it became the pattern for all subsequent hard roads in the United States. It was then that “the highest development of the wayside inns was reached”, according to J. F. Sachse in his book, “The Wayside Inns on the Lancaster Highway”.

Even before the time when there were any inns at all along the highway, travelers secured shelter and food at private houses where “it was the custom of those who resided near the highways, after supper and the religious exercises of the evening, to make a large fire in the hall, and to set out a table with refreshments for such travelers as might have occasion to pass during the night”, according to an early historian writing in 1738. The first inns that sprang up along the highway were small crude buildings, often scattered at some distance from one another. But after the stone turnpike was completed in 1794, the increase of travel along it necessitated the erection of many hostelries in addition to these first early ones, until eventually they averaged about one to the mile. This was especially true as the distance from Philadelphia increased, and there was greater need for meals and overnight accommodations. These later ones were usually larger and of better construction than the earlier small crude structures.

One of the earliest of these small inns was that originally known as the “Halfway House”, according to an article written in 1886 for the West Chester “Village Record”. This “primitive stone house, roughly built of the stone found on the surface of the ground”, was in Tredyffrin township, on the borders of Easttown, about a mile west of eh village of Berwyn, just south of the railroad, where the turnpike crosses underneath the iron highway . . . in a slight ravine or valley formed by a spur of the valley hill.” It was located on the south side of the narrow road which “was then the only means of reaching the outlying settlements towards Conestoga.” And it was called Halfway House, not only because it was “about equidistant from the Schuylkill (Coultas) ferry and Downings Mill (near Downingtown)”, but also because “it occupied the same position on the road connecting the two Welsh congregations of the Church of England, viz.: St. David’s (Radnor) and St. Peter’s (Great Valley)”.

The exact date of the building of this small stone structure is not known beyond the conjecture that it was in the first quarter of the 18th century. In 1735, when it came into the possession of one Robert Richardson, it became known as the “Blue Ball”, under which name the original house as well as its successor, built somewhat to the north of it, attained the status of a celebrity that lasts down to the present day. For a short period of time in the middle years of the Eighteenth century the name was changed to “King of Prussia” by Conrad Young, a new landlord who was a German. However, according to the author, the “traveling public and residents do not seem to have approved of the change on the signboard, so the inn continued to be known as the “Ball”.

Old records show that from time to time tavern licenses were issued to succeeding owners of the Blue Ball. Then in 1794 the completion of the new stone turnpike cut the old hostelry almost completely off from its patrons. Also the erection of more comfortable inns situated directly on the new turnpike made serious inroads on the business of the Blue Ball. But in spite of this, old records show that a John Werkizu obtained licenses for the years 1797-99.

And then in the first years of the new century a larger tavern, still operating as the Blue Ball, was erected directly on the turnpike and somewhat to the north of the first tavern. However, it was still on part of the same two hundred and more acres of land which in 1714 had been granted by William Penn, “proprietor and governor of Pennsylvania” to Owen Roberts. This house when first built had two stories. Later it was partially destroyed by fire, and when rebuilt the third floor with its semi-circular windows were added. And because of the ill repute of one Priscilla Robinson, a descendant of the builder of this second Blue Ball Inn, there are, according to Mr. Sachse “many gruesome and ghostly tales told in connection with this house, probably more than about all other inns on the turnpike put together”. These are stories of murders and a hanging, of limp bodies dropped down through a trap door, of shallow graves hastily dug under the kitchen floor and in the orchard . . . and then of the ghost of a woman who, when death had claimed her after her life of evil, still continued to walk through the old inn.”

But all this somehow seemed far away and unlikely on a spring afternoon last week when this writer wandered through the lovely old gardens of the one time Blue Ball Inn and explored the 150 year old house with Mrs. Paul McCurdy Warner, who with her husband has recently acquired this property.

For seventeen years the Warners have lived in Wayne, first on Conestoga road, later on Midland avenue where they have resided for the past 12 years. Mr. Warner, who has been with the Philadelphia “Inquirer” for 27 years, is now its editorial director. Both are much interested in community affairs. Mrs. Warner has been active in the work of the Neighborhood League for some years, serving now as chairman of the Family Service Division. She has also interested herself in the Radnor Township Memorial Library, of which she was president for several years. She takes an active part, too, in the operation of the Delaware County Branch of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Warner have always wanted to buy a really old house, and do it over themselves. Their opportunity came recently with the purchase of the one time Blue Ball Inn from Mrs. John P. Croasdale, whose husband purchased it in 1894 from Mr. and Mrs. Richard Graham. When the Warners move in May as they hope to do, the quaint old house will be in livable condition after builders and painters have done their work. But there will still be months, perhaps even years ahead for them to do for themselves the many things that make a house a home.

(To be continued)

Conestoga Wagons, part 3 – classes of wagoneers, songs, Lancaster turnpike

Conestoga wagoners were a rugged lot who competed ruthlessly among themselves for the business of the road and the right-of-way. Yet the majority were honest, industrious and thrifty, loyal to the traditions of their calling. They were proud of their teams, their wagons and their work. It is said that many of them refused shelter from the weather themselves if their teams had to remain unsheltered.

Among themselves they held to a code of courtesy as evidenced by the fact that when they stopped at wagon stands on cold winter nights the younger men deferred to the older ones by giving them the best places near the fire in the “common” room. All slept on the floor on narrow mattresses of shoulder width which, with their blankets, they packed in their wagons while they were on the road. On pleasant nights they usually slept outdoors.

At the wayside hostelries the wagoners drank, sang and danced. Old Monongahela whiskey was three cents a glass, two for five, while a meal cost about twelve cents. They smoked long and somewhat rank cigars which sold four for a cent and were called “stogies” because of their popularity among Conestoga wagoners.

In the early days of the Turnpike, sharply defined lines were drawn between the various classes of wayside taverns. Those of the better class, such as the famous Spread Eagle of Strafford’s early days, were known as “Stage Stands”, those taverns patronized by wagoners and teamsters. Before the time when these hostelries of various types became frequent along the highway, travelers secured entertainment at private homes.

John Galt, an early historian, writing in 1738, tells us that in the house of the principal families in the County “unlimited hospitality formed a part of their regular economy. It was the custom of those who resided near the highways, after supper and the religious exercises of the evening, to make a large fire in the hall, and to set out a table with refreshments for such travelers as might have occasion to pass during the night. And when the families assembled in the morning, they seldom found their tables had been unvisited”. But inns soon became havens for the sojourner whether “he were farmer, drover, teamster or traveler, upon business or pleasure bent.”

Conestoga wagoners ordinarily wore plain suits of homespun wool, blue cotton shirts and broad-brimmed hats. For the most part they spurned underwear and stockings, their feet bare in their high leather boots or in their “stogy” shoes, so named for the wagons they drove. Since each teamster manned a vehicle hauling two to six ton loads, they were necessarily men of prodigious physical strength.

In “Pennsylvania Songs and Legends” the author of the chapter on “Conestoga Wagoners” writes “It is almost inconceivable that any man “for only one accompanied a wagon) could remove or replace the heavy endgate of a wagon with the rear wheels six feet high – to say nothing of loading and unloading the cumbersome barrels of merchandise.”

Among the wagoners’ feats of strength were these: lifting a hundred pound keg of nails out of the wagon by grasping the narrow edge of the keg between the fingers and thumb of one hand; unloading a six hundred pound barrel of molasses singlehanded; walking off with a half-ton of pig iron to win a wager; handling a 56-pound weight with the ease of a gymnast throwing a dumbbell; and lifting a wagon off its four wheels by lying under it and pushing upward with both hands and feet.

Some of these feats seem as fantastic in the telling and as unlikely as some of the tall tales exchanged around the blazing log fire in a wayside tavern. In addition to their story telling these wagoners were known as singers of ballads and drinking songs as they stood around the wayside barrooms.

To the accompaniment of fiddle, accordion or banjo they sang such favorites as “Little Brown Jug”, “Ach, du Lieber Augustine”, “The Arkansas Traveller”, “Turkey in the Straw” and many others.

In addition to singing their traditional ballads, wagoners made up their own songs to long familiar tunes. “Pennsylvania Songs and Legends” gives the texts of many of these new ballads, improvised from old ones, among them parodies on “Jordan Am a Hard Road to Trabbel”, “Lieber Heindrich” (Dear Henry) and “The Farmers’ Alliance”.

As these wagoners traveled beyond their native counties of York and Lancaster they swapped songs and stories with the people they met along the road, thus accumulating a vast store of folklore. Apparently no particular attempt was made to record this folklore while the original wagoners were still on the road. What has come down to us has been mostly through the memories of their sons and grandsons.

Even the original source of the name “Conestoga” is not clear, although it is supposedly the Indian equivalent of “Great Magic Land”. In a map of the lower Susquehanna valley dated 1665, there is a stream of water named “Onestoga”. There is also an early tribe of Indians designated as “Conestoga”, as well as a manor in Lancaster County. All these antedate the Conestoga wagon and the Conestoga horse which, according to tradition, were named for the section of Lancaster County where they probably originated. Even the Philadelphia – Lancaster turnpike was for a time called the Conestoga Road because it was the favored route of Conestoga freighters.

In 1792, the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Company was chartered and two years later America’s first hard-surfaced road was completed, at a cost of $465,000. The route of the Turnpike was virtually that of the old King’s Highway, which at some points it paralleled and at others it crossed. Nine toll gates were set up along the route to collect from wagons and stage-coaches a specified toll, based on the number of horses and width of tires. By 1798 a nine arch limestone span bridge was finished over Conestoga River, thus completing the last mile of the new highway.

This new road “eliminated much of the hardship of travel – and some of its color, too”, to quote from “Pennsylvania Cavalcade”. Faster travel was possible and lighter vehicles came into popularity, “foreshadowing the doom of the massive Conestoga wagon”. Then in the middle of the nineteenth century canals presented a new method of transportation, and only a little later the first railroad between Philadelphia and Lancaster was in operation. The deep resentment of the teamsters over this encroachment on their domain was expressed in bitter fights in taverns between railroad laborers and teamsters.

But eventually it became plain to even the wagoners themselves that their wagons were superseded by the canal and the railway. It was then that the merry songs of this stalwart group were changed to this last unhappy one: “Oh, it’s once I made money by driving my team, but now all is hauled on the railroad by steam. May the devil catch the man that invented the plan, for it ruined us poor wagoners and every other man”.


For her information for this series of articles your columnist is indebted to “It’s an Old Pennsylvania Custom”, by E. V. Mitchell; “Pennsylvania Songs and Legends”, edited by George Korson; “Pennsylvania Cavalcade”, a Pennsylvania writers publication, and “The Wayside Inns on the Lancaster Roadside”, by J. F. Sachse.

Conestoga Wagons, part 2 – Teamsters, King’s Highway, “There will be bells”

“I’ll be there with bells!” How many among the readers of this column know that this expression originated 200 years or more ago among the drivers of Conestoga wagons along our old Lancaster highway?

How long the narrow trail had sufficed the Indians for their travels from their inland homes to the sea before increasing traffic made better roads necessary is a matter of conjecture. It was not until 1733 that the Governor and the Provincial Council recognized a petition by the Conestoga framers for a “King’s Highway”.

Acting on the petition, the Province ordered that a dirt road thirty feet wide be laid from the courthouse in Center Square, Lancaster, “until it fell in with the high-road in the County of Chester”, and so through to the High Street Ferry on the Schuylkill.

Thus was the narrow Indian trail transformed into the dirt road that was the early predecessor of our present 61 mile highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster.

As a matter of fact, this first dirt road was little different from the Indian trail except that it was wider. As late as 1773 tree stumps remained in the road, and for a long time there were no bridges across the streams. During much of the year the road was almost impassable in places. At best, Conestoga Wagons covered only 15 or 20 miles a day.

Often when two teamsters going in opposite directions met, one had to yield the high crown of the road to the other. Sometimes it required a fist fight to settle the matter of who should do the yielding. Eventually one driver often found himself in the ditch. No one ever offered to help him unless he asked for such help. On the other hand, none ever refused to give assistance when asked for it.

Once the request for help was given, the distressed teamster withdrew his own stalled horses to have them replaced by those of the rescuer. If the later was successful, he was rewarded by the gift of the bells from the other team. The unfortunate driver lost the right to use bells until he, in turn, had rescued another team in trouble. If a teamster arrived at this journey’s end with his bells intact, it was assumed that he had had no trouble along the way. And so the saying that is still a common one today, “I’ll be there with bells on.”

Of these early bells Howard Frey, writing in “Pennsylvania Songs and Legends”, says, “Much might be said about the attractive and musical brass bells that were suspended form the iron arch over the horses’ shoulders. The bell arches were ornamented. They were covered with bearskin or some other fur, or with black and red cloth tied with dangling, fancy ribbons. Six sets of bells were usual for a six-horse team, although many teamsters used only five sets because bells on the saddle horse interfered somewhat with driving. There frequently were five bells on the lead horses, four somewhat larger bells on the middle horses, and three still larger ones on the pole horses.

“It is not known just how these bells originated. We do know, however, that the lead horse in a train of pack horses carried a bell, probably to warn approaching persons to move to the side and make way for passing on the narrow dirt paths that led through the wilderness. There is no manufacturer’s name on these bells, and it s not known whether they were American-made or imported; nor does anyone know the significance of the customary 5-4-3 arrangement. The bells of different sizes produce not only noise, but music as well, and were among the proudest possessions of the wagoners.”

Other accoutrements in which the drivers of the old Conestoga wagons took pride were the bridle rosettes, pompons, ribbons and tassels. The rosettes were usually plain brass buttons which were made of horse hair or wood dyed red or blue, and were fastened to the bridle under the rosettes. Sometimes the hair of the horses’ forelocks was plaited with red, white and blue ribbons.

A blacksnake whip was an indispensible part of every wagoner’s equipment, thick and hard at the butt and tapering tot he end, to which was attached a plaited lash. these were the work of highly skilled saddlers. The harness was always the best that could be gotten, with particularly heavy sets for the larger teams.

As they travelled through the villages and Pike towns these caravans of wagons were a never failing source of interest to the inhabitants. At the sound of the Conestoga bells they came to their doorways to watch these wagoners as they drove from their “lazy board” or walked beside their teams. one large wagon alone with its six horses, stretched to a length of 60 feet. There were days in the 1700’s and 1800’s when the sparsely settled inhabitants of what is now Wayne and its neighboring suburbs could probably see several hundreds of these wagons pass in the course of a day, along what then was King’s Highway.

Another expression in addition to “be there with bells on” that stems back from the present to those early Pennsylvania days is, “Watch your p’s and q’s”. It originated when tavern keepers made a record of charges against their customers by wiring on a slate that was kept behind the tavern bar in full view of everyone who frequented the tavern.

“When a pint of whiskey was purchased on credit”, according to Mr. Frey, “the letter P was written on the slate, and when a quart was purchased, the letter Q was recorded. Some of the heavy drinkers would sometimes have too many P’s and Q’s entered back of their names, and the proprietor reminded them that their bills were getting too high by saying “Watch your P’s and Q’s.”

Still another expression that one hears occasionally in these days, though not as frequently as the other two to which we have alluded, is “Old Stuck in the Mud.” If it did not originate with these early teamsters, at least it was an epithet with which they often jeered one another when mishaps occurred along the 30 foot wide dirt highway.

A tale is told of one Abraham Witmer who in 1788 built a wooden toll bridge at Deering’s Ford, across the Conestoga River. When some of the wagon drivers tried to evade payment of toll by fording their heavy vehicles below the span they often found themselves in trouble. Not only did they have to forfeit their bells to the passing team that happened along in time to pull them out of the river mud, but they had to listen to Witmer’s ridicule and his shouts, ‘Old Stuck in the Mud’, don’t you wish now that you had paid toll?”

The forming of Delaware County, part 2 Conestoga Road

In the early days of the colonization of Pennsylvania, Delaware County had the unique experience of a crown appointed proprietor in the person of William Penn. His advanced ideals and social theories gave the people of this section their first experience in real democratic government.

Very early in its political existence Delaware County gave its support to the Republican Party. Indirectly, this was due in a great measure to the large Quaker residency in the county. Always interested in matters of justice and humanitarianism, Quaker sympathy was with the freedom of the slaves from the time their freedom became an issue. Even as early as the American Revolution citizens of Delaware COunty went on record as opposing slavery.

So although political opinion was generally Federalistic before the Civil War, the majority of voters of Delaware and Chester Counties naturally agreed with teh political philosophy of the Republican Party when it was organized-and to this day Delaware County has, generally speaking, remained a bulwark of Republicanism.

It was in October 1682 that Penn first set foot upon his property in Upland, which in about 1700 was to be re-named Chester. A memorial shaft at the corner of Front and Penn Streets marks the place of his landing as he came up the Delaware River. A little more than a year earlier Deputy Governor William Markham, representing his cousin, Penn, had established Upland as the seat of the Colonial Government of Pennsylvania. Penn chartered it as a borough on October 13, 1701. The courthouse, built in 1724 near what is now Fifth and Market Streets, is said to be the oldest consecutively used public building in the entire country.

Chester is the only city in Delaware County, having been incorporated by an Act of Assembly on February 13, 1866. It belongs in the third class group. In addition to this one city, there are 25 boroughs and 21 townships, Radnor and Concord, each with an area of 13.80 square miles are the largest in the county.

Townships are divided into two groups, first class and second class, according to their “needs, development, and density of population” rather than population itself. Those having a population of 300 or more persons per square mile are first class and all others are second class.  Radnor will this month celebrate its 50th anniversary as a first class township.

Strictly speaking, Pennsylvania’s settlers were not pioneers. Some others had preceded them along the Delaware River. When they arrived they found other white men as well as an Indian population. In the most part, the latter were friendly and already accustomed to trading food and materials for warm clothing. However, to the newcomers was to fall the work of clearing, since the greater part of what is now Delaware County was then virgin forest.

Most of these settlers arrived in the late summer or early fall since summer is the least hazardous season in which to cross the Atlantic in a small craft. Their first task was to build a shelter against the elements. Since timber was plentiful and lime was available these shelters usually took the form of crude log houses. When the snows of winter melted, the work of clearing was resumed. For the most stumps were left in the ground, and these with the field stones which also remained, meant that the lot which the farmer ploughed was a very rough one.

However, the soil was not really rocky, and the crops were mostly good from the wheat, corn, rye, oats, flax and tobacco which were sown. Prior to the Revolutionary was livestock belonging to the settlers of Delaware COunty roamed at large. According tot he laws of the Duke of York all cattle, sheep, goats, hogs and horses were to be branded by their owners as a means of identification. For all parts of the county domestic fowls such as we have today were common. These included chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys.

Of some of the earliest roads there is no exact record. Conestoga Road, which was originally an Indian trail from the Delaware to the Susquehanna River, divides Radnor Township almost diagonally. It was opened as a series of links in the chain of communication between Philadelphia and the West. The section extending from Merion Meetinghouse to Radnor was first laid out. This was later extended from Radnor to Moore’s Mill, as Downingtown was then called. The entire route was resurveyed in 1741. From these records we learn that among the stations were Radnor Meeting House and Jerman’s Run. Another early road, the old Lancaster Turnpike, has been frequently described in this column.

All of these early roads, as petitions show, were intended to provide ways “to mill, to market and to meeting”. The mills played an important part in the lives of Pennsylvania’s early settlers. Grist mills and sawmills were often established together for seasonal reasons, just as the ice and coal business were combined at a later time. Even before Penn’s settlers had arrived, Swedes had established a gristmill on the early bank of Cobbs Creek. The earliest mill known to have been in Delaware County was established in 1683 on Chester Creek near Upland, by a partnership of ten men, of whom one was William Penn himself. It was “brought ready-framed from London, and served for grinding corn and sawing boards”. From this beginning many other mills sprang up all over Delaware County, among them a gristmill operated in Radnor in 1710 by one William Davis.

(To be continued)

Old roads of Wayne – railroad and Wayne Station moved

In continuing the story of Wayne as it was in the early 80’s, it is interesting to note what Mr. Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., wrote concerning roads in this vicinity.

Country roads were the Conestoga, Eagle, Radnor and Church roads. “The first,” Mr. Fronefield wrote, “Is today in the same location, but the Radnor road left the Lancaster Pike near where Pembroke Avenue is now and crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad diagonally at grade and came through the property now owned by Joseph Rosengaren and struck its present road-bed where it crosses Aberdeen Terrace. The lines may not be followed in some places, particularly near the point where it crossed the railroad.”

Eagle Road was in its present location, excepting it crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad west of Wayne at grade. In this connection it is interesting to remember what Miss Dorothy Finley told me about the mushrooms and wild strawberries that once grew in such abundance along the railroad track on Eagle Road, between Wayne and Strafford stations. Whenever any Wayne housewife wanted either mushrooms or strawberries for the table, it was there she went to pick them. (Miss Finley lives in what was once the old Ramsey farm house on Beechtree lane.)

Church road, according to Mr. Fronefield’s account, “left the Lancaster pike east of St. Davids Golf Links, crossing the Conestoga road at what is now known as Five Points, thence straight to St. Davids Church. The part of this road which passed through the property of William T. Wright was abandoned some years ago.” Hall lane, so called because it led from the railroad to the old Lyceum Hall, once located on the site of the Baptist Church on Conestoga road, has already been described in this column.

So much for roads. As to streets, the first one built by Drexel and Childs was North Wayne avenue, from Lancaster Pike to Eagle road. “At about the same time,” Mr. Fronefield writes, “the railroad was moved from the crest of the hill to its present location and the station located as at present. The road to the old station was closed. The first station at the new location was a frame structure, which some years later was replaced by the present station, since altered. The original one was moved to Strafford, where it still stands.

“In building Wayne avenue, the road was changed so as to cross the Lancaster Pike at right angles and the old roadbed through Lienhardt’s and LaDow’s (now the Sun Ray store) was abandoned.

“A few years later Audubon avenue and Aberdeen avenue were both built, Audubon starting from Wayne avenue just South of the Lancaster Pike and winding through to the Conestoga road, where now stand the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Tillotson and Dr. Truxal. (The Tillotson home is now owned by A. A. Schley.)

“Aberdeen started from the Radnor road North of the railroad at the entrance of the present Stone property (now the Robert N. D. Arndt house), crossing the Lancaster Pike where St. Katharine’s Church now stands, and running to the Conestoga road, where it established what is known as the Five Points. Windermere avenue soon followed from Audubon to Aberdeen avenue.”

The description of Bloomingdale is probably in the first pages of Mr. Fronefield’s account. The pages were unfortunately lost before the stenographer’s not book in which Mr. Fronefield wrote had been found by his son, J. M. Fronefield, 3d. However, the date of he building of the plastered mansard roof houses on Bloomingdale avenue is given as 1871. They were built by J. Henry Askin and later acquired by Drexel and Childs.

“These houses have all been much improved in the intervening years, though the general architecture is much the same as it was,” according to Mr. Fronefield. Another very old house which he mentions is the J. R. Pinkerton home at the corner of Louella avenue and the Pike. It was the first residence erected under the Wayne ownership of Drexel and Childs. Though it is still standing, it is so obscured by the row of stores in front of it, including the large Acme market, that few passersby ever notice the original house.

With this article I have used all the valuable information in Mr. Fronefield’s story of early Wayne. He has been dead for several years. But he would be glad to know, I feel, that Wayne of this generation can, through what he wrote, glimpse a bit of the picture of his Wayne of the early 80’s and 90’s. His account closes with the following amusing brief paragraph:

“Saturday nights in the early days were great nights. All the farmers and their friends for miles around came into town. Cracker barrel, wheelbarrow and macaroni box seats were at a premium and on many nights the early corners pre-empted the Presbyterian Church sheds to keep their horses in the dry, while the latecomers had to be satisfied with fence posts to which to tie. the same people were back, however, on Sunday morning to Church services.”

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.