History of Delaware County Pennsylvania - Chapter 13

Created: Tuesday, 12 April 2011 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email

CHAPTER XIII

FROM THE SECOND WAR WITH ENGLAND TO 1850

The second war with England had almost wholly severed communication with the Old World, particularly with Great Britain, and the immediate result was an effort on the part of the people to meet the public demand for those commodities which previous to the beginning of hostilities were obtained entirely from Europe. The numberless cruisers of England had swept the merchant marine of the Republic almost from the seas, until the only vessels bearing the American flag were men-of-war or letters-of-marque; hence the great demand from this cause stimulated the establishment of manufacturing enterprises, largely throughout the Eastern and in a measure in the Middle States.

It should be remembered that during all our colonial history—not only our State but all the colonies—England had persistently, as in Ireland, forbidden the people to engage in manufacturing any articles which might come in competition with the industries of the home country. Although writers during the middle of the last century in Great Britain argued that the American colonies would not for hundreds of years engage in manufacturing, basing their conclusion on the then known history of the world, that it was only "after there was such an overplus of inhabitants, beyond what is necessary for cultivating the soil, as is sufficient for forming large towns, where trade and manufacturing can be carried on to advantage;" still there were others who rightly judged the geographical position of the American colonies might make them an exception to the rule as taught in the annals of the Old World. The English Parliament early became alarmed at the development of the iron industry in the colonies, particularly in Pennsylvania, and the establishment of furnaces and rolling-mills, so that in 1749 an act was passed "to encourage the importation of pig- and bar-iron from His Majesty’s colonies in America, and to prevent the erection of any mill or other engine for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating Forge to work with a tilt-hammer or any furnace for making steel in any of the said colonies." At that time one forge we know was in operation in Thornbury township, at the present Glen Mills, and some years before that date was another on Crum Creek,—Peter Dick’s Iron Works. The numerous trades, such as carpenters and brickmakers, and the like, were early known on the Delaware; hence, from the references found in the Dutch records a quarter of a century before Penn came, I am confident that no bricks in any dwelling standing in Pennsylvania to-day were made in Europe and brought here. Indeed, the bricks which we know came from Governor Printz’s mansion-house, at Tinicum, present every appearance of having been hardened merely by the heat of the sun; and besides, the peculiar yellow clay of which they were made is still found on Tinicum Island. Previous to 1698, we learn from Gabriel Thomas, who came to the colony before Penn, that "brickmakers have twenty shillings per thousand for their bricks at the kiln." Wool-combers, we are also told, "have for combing twelve pence per pound." It would seem from Thomas’ account that even in that early day the people of the colony had turned their attention to producing articles of daily use, for he informs us that all sorts of very good paper was made at Germantown, and a fine German linen, "such as no person of quality need be ashamed to wear, and in several places they make very good Druggets, crapes, camblets, and serges, besides other woolen clothes, the manufacture of all which daily improves." One of the first notices we have of the doings of the European settlers in Pennsylvania was that Governor Printz had built a yacht at Tinicum; and previous to 1758 we learn from Acrelius that Marcus Hook was noticeable for the building of ships, and in 1727 the first paper-mill in the old county of Chester was erected at the present Ivy Mills, in Concord. In 1715, John Camm, a stocking-weaver, was located in Upper Providence, and in 1723 he warned the public against one Mathew Burne, who had been in his employ two years, part of the time at stocking-weaving, and that Burne was no longer connected with him, but "goes about selling stockings in John Camm’s name" when the articles were not made by him. Strange as it may seem, until William T. Seal* had shown the contrary, this Mathew Burne was credited with having made the first stocking as a regular manufacturer in the United States. But of more particular interest to our present purpose is Gabriel Thomas’ reference to "the famous Darby river which comes down from Cumbry by Darby town, whereon are several mills, viz., fulling-mills, corn-mill, &c." Of course, these fulling-mills did not manufacture, but simply scoured the cloth made by the busy housewives of that day. The wives and daughters of the early English settlers, as the Swedes who had preceded them, employed "themselves in spinning wool and flax, and many of them in weaving."**

During all the period before the Revolutionary war, the greater number of farmers in the colonies had looms for weaving in their dwellings, on which the women wove flax and tow-linen, cloth, and linsey-woolsey of coarse texture but strong and substantial. Indeed, when power other than manual labor was first applied to any part of the process of preparing the raw material to manufacture linen, cotton, or woolen cloths, the mills were very small, containing only a few hundred spindles, where yarn simply was produced, which was afterwards woven by hand in the farm-houses. From that fact the coarse fabrics of that day, in contra-distinction of the imported goods, were known as "domestic," a term which has been continued as the name of shirtings and sheetings even to this day, although the reason for the name had ceased a half-century ago. So general was this individual manufacturing carried on in the colonies to the north of Maryland that David Dulany, the great lawyer of that colony, in 1765, wrote that "the poorest sort of people to the Northward make all their clothes."***

The unprecedented growth of the United States after the Revolution early directed the attention of thoughtful men to the subject of American manufactures, and foremost in advocacy of the establishment of such industries was Tench Coxe, of Philadelphia,—a member of our bar, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Hamilton. It is now generally conceded that the first manufactory of textile fabrics in the Union was established by Samuel Wetherell, in Philadelphia, previous to 1782, at which date he was making "Jeans, Fustins, Everlastings, Coatings, &c.," suitable for every season of the year, as he informed the public by his advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette in April, 1782. Near the close of the year 1791, William Pollard, of Philadelphia, obtained a patent for cotton-spinning which was, we are told by Samuel Weller,(4*) the first water-frame put in motion in Pennsylvania, but the enterprise failing, its want of success retarded the progress of cotton-spinning in that vicinity. The time, however, was fast approaching when the spirit of enterprise, born of necessity, would stimulate the development of the manufacture of textile goods to an abnormal extent.

In the new era of industrial progress which was coming, the county of Delaware occupied no secondary position in the story of that time, but it marched abreast of the commonwealth in the movement which has resulted in placing Pennsylvania in the fore-front of manufacturing States. As early as 1810, we are told by Dr. Smith,(5*) an English family named Bottomly erected an addition to an old saw-mill on a small stream in Concord, and converted it into a woolen factory, to the great astonishment of the people in that neighborhood. Dennis Kelley, the same author informs us, with the assistance of a Mr. Wiest, about the beginning of the war, erected a small stone factory on Cobb’s Creek, in Haverford, which enterprises, owing to the embargo and the demand for goods by the national government created by the war and the want of the people generally, the factory was compelled to run night and day up to its full capacity. The statement of Dr. Smith, however, does not give our county its due credit in early manufacturing, for in Upper Darby, in 1798, Nathan and David Sellers had a cotton-mill, and, in Darby, Isaac Oakford had a fulling-mill and stamping-works. At that date John Orna was employed there as a calico-stamper and Samuel Wetherington as a calico-printer. Previous to May, 1812, Benjamin Smith and William Stedham had begun spinning and carding at William Siter’s clover-mill, near the Spread Eagle Tavern, in Radnor, and advertised that they had placed a spinning-machine in their building "which will work for customers," and also setting forth the prices demanded by them for their labor.

These factories were small, but the almost total prohibition of European goods had advanced the prices of American fabrics to such extravagant rates, and the profits realized to the manufacturers were so large, that it naturally stimulated men of means, desirous of rapidly making large fortunes, to embark in the business. The result was that cotton- and woolen-mills sprang up in all parts of New England, and quite a number were located in the Middle States. In the latter the majority were woolen-factories. The war, as usually is the case, had inflated every article in prices,—flour had advanced to ten and fifteen dollars a barrel, a statement also true as respected other commodities, while real estate, during the time the nation was practically shut out from the world, had doubled and in many instances quadrupled in its supposed valuation. No sooner was peace declared than the storehouses of the Old World opened, and the superior articles of European manufacture were thrown into the American market, and being offered at less prices than the actual cost of the coarsest domestic goods, found ready sale. The English mill-owners, pressed to meet their obligations at home, realized, even at a loss on their stock, in the vain hope of being able to withstand the pressure of a falling, market, and succeeded in merely prolonging the period of their financial ruin. But it finally came to them as it did to their American rivals.

The public mind in this country, notwithstanding the present losses, had been aroused to the possibilities of manufacturing on a large scale, and the intervention of Congress was had in the tariff act of 1816, which imposed a duty of twenty-five per cent. ad valorem on all cotton cloths for three years, the minimum valuation at the port of exportation being fixed at twenty-five cents per square yard, which was a specific duty of six and a quarter cents on every yard. The tariff bill, however, was a sliding one, providing for a reduction of twenty per cent. ad valorem at the end of three years, and the same rate was applicable to cotton twist, yarn, or thread, unbleached costing less than sixty cents per pound, and bleached or colored less than seventy-five cents per pound. Delaware County had, as before stated, become largely interested in manufacturing, and then, as now, the people, irrespective of party, were ardent advocates of protection. Public meetings were then held to give expression to this opinion. The first gathering of citizens in this county friendly to "Domestic Industry," which I have met with, was held at the Rose Tree Tavern, then kept by Isaac Cochran, on July 3, 1819, of which meeting Maj. William Anderson acted as president, and John Wilson secretary. It was there
     "Resolved, That George G. Leiper, William Anderson, Benjamin Pearson, John Mattson, and John Willcox be a committee to draft articles for the formation of a society in Delaware County, and an address to the citizens to promote the important national object of fostering national industry."

The officers of the meeting were also instructed to publish the proceedings in the Village Record, Downingtown Republican, and Philadelphia papers, after which it adjourned to August 14th. If there was any subsequent meeting at the time designated, I have failed to find reference to it in the newspapers of that day.

In Delaware County the majority of cotton- and woolen-factories after the war, most of them hastily built or changed from ancient grist-mills and filled with crude machinery, were compelled to close, while the larger number were sold by the sheriff to meet the outstanding obligations of their owners. Indeed, we are told by John P. Crozer that about 1821 only one cotton-factory in Delaware County was in successful operation,—that of Wagstaff & Englehorn, and that that firm could continue was mainly due to the fact that the senior member of the firm was a practical cotton-spinner from England.(6*)

In considering that period of our history it should not be overlooked that all Europe as well as the United States had just emerged from war, the long Napoleonic contest which had drained the resources of the Old World’s governments to maintain armies in the field and navies on the sea. There, as here, on the cessation of hostilities business enterprises crumbled under the sudden withdrawal of the governments from the markets as purchasers, and failure followed failure as a rule. But in England, as on the Continent and in the United States, an impetus had been imparted to manufacturing industries which could merely be impeded, not arrested, and in the end its importance to mankind far outweighed the defeat of the great captain at Waterloo.

In the general depression of that period all suffered, and no class more severely than owners of real estate. In cases where farms and town-lots were encumbered, in the event of the foreclosure of the mortgages it rarely happened that properties when forced to sale brought more than the charge against them, and, although in Delaware County such sales were not so numerous as in other counties in this State, the rule stated maintained in almost every case.

In manufacturing, the protection offered by the tariff law aided largely in the ultimate success of these enterprises; but of greater importance was the introduction of power-looms, and to that fact more than the tariff should be ascribed the permanent establishment of cotton manufactories as a national industry. In 1826 we find that in Delaware County there were then fourteen woolen-mills, employing 228 hands; twelve cotton factories, employing 415 hands; and one power-loom mill, with 200 looms, employing 120 hands.

Six years afterwards, in 1832, there were eleven cotton-mills, employing 600 hands, and using a total of 19,500 spindles; three cotton-weaving mills, employing 480 hands and 400 power-looms; two cotton-spinning mills, employing 120 hands; and eight woolen-mills, with 350 hands; the entire yearly production being a total of $950,000. In the documents transmitted to Congress from Pennsylvania in that year, John P. Crozer stated that he had established his mill in 1825, that it was run by water-power, and that the capital invested was fifteen thousand dollars. From the year 1829 to 1830 the business had yielded him no profit, but since that time until he made the report it had been paying an average profit of eight per cent. on the capital invested, and that he annually expended two-fifths of that income in improvements. Woolen-mills, he stated, were doing better than that. At his mills the consumption of cotton was three hundred and eighty-three bales a year, and in the article he made there was no competition by foreign goods. At that time his mill gave employment to fifteen men, sixteen women, and twenty children, who worked twelve hours daily all the year round. The production of the mill was sold in Philadelphia to owners of looms on a credit of four months.

If the tariff of twelve and a half cents, as provided in the bill pending before Congress at that time, should become a law, he stated he would be compelled to abandon the business; for although at the time no duties were necessary to protect him against foreign competition, yet the then tariff was not sufficient to absolutely protect him from European sacrifices. Finally, as a general conclusion, he declared that cotton-spinning was a "very uninviting" occupation.

It is unnecessary to continue the narrative of manufacturing in this county, as a whole, further at this time. The story of the rise, progress, success, and decay of the various industrial establishments will be given in the histories of the several townships and boroughs wherein such works have been or are located.

Free Public Education.—At the session of the Legislature in 1830—31, the first steps were taken towards a general free education of the children of the commonwealth by providing for the levying of a tax to create a school fund. At that time John Lindsay was the representative from Delaware County in the House, and John Kerlin in the Senate. It will be required here to, retrace our steps. That Penn’s intention before coming to his province was to provide for public instruction is evident from the twelfth article of his frame of government, which declared "that the Governor and Provincial Council shall erect and order all public schools," which declaration is twice repeated by the General Assembly, the last time in 1696. At the second General Assembly, held at Philadelphia March 10, 1683, when Penn personally presided, the general laws, chapter cxii., provided,—
     "And to the End that Poor as well as Rich may be instructed in good and Commendable learning, Which is to be preferred before Wealth, Be it, &c., That all persons in this Province and Territories thereof, having Children, and all the Guardians or Trustees of Orphans, shall cause such to be instructed in Reading and writing; so that they may be able to read the Scriptures, and to write by that time they attain to twelve years of age. And that then they be taught some useful trade or skill, that the poor may work to live, and the rich, if they become poor, may not want. Of which every county court shall take care; And in case such parents, guardians, or overseers, shall be found deficient in this respect, every such parent, guardian, or overseer, shall pay for every such Child, five pounds, Except there should appear an incapacity in body or understanding to hinder it."

This law was abrogated by William and Mary in 1693, but in the laws "made and past" in the same year when Benjamin Fletcher as captain-general of Pennsylvania had superseded Penn’s authority the law numbered twenty-five was enacted, entitled "The law about education of youth." It presents the foregoing provisions in the same language, except where it applies to guardians and trustees of orphan children, and in these cases those having the care of such minors were required to have them taught to read and write, provided the wards had "sufficient estate and ability so to do." It nowhere appears in our colonial history, so far as I have learned, that public funds were set apart to pay the costs of educating the youth even in the slight acquirements then deemed essentials, but where such information was imparted, the costs of tuition must be discharged by the parent or guardian of the children so taught. By the middle of the last century it had become a practice generally in townships throughout the present county of Delaware, to provide schools for the instruction of youths to which the several residents of the neighborhood made voluntary, contribution, but the sum so contributed was a contract that could be enforced by process of law. The idea, however, of free public instruction for the children of persons in indifferent circumstances is presented throughout all our State history. The section of the Constitution of 1776 which provided that "a school or schools shall be established in each county by the Legislature for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the teachers paid by the public as may enable them to instruct youth at low prices," did not bring into existence the free-school system of which we are now so proud, nor did the seventh article of the Constitution of 1790, which directed that "the Legislature shall, as soon as conveniently may be, provide by law for the establishment of schools throughout the State, in such manner that the poor may be taught gratis."

As far back in our county annals as 1794 we find Dr. William Martin, of the borough of Chester, in a lengthy article in the Aurora (a Philadelphia paper) for December 31st, urging the establishment of public seminaries of learning; but his views were far in advance of the times. On April 4, 1809, the Legislature enacted a law—the pauper law, as Thaddeus Stevens termed it—that the children of parents too poor to provide for the education of their offspring out of their own means, could have proper instruction given them at the public cost, and directing how the expenses thereby incurred should be defrayed. The act of April 3, 1831, provided that all money due the State by holders of patented lands, and all fees received by the land-office, should be invested until the interest annually would amount to one hundred thousand dollars, after which time the interest was to be applied to the support of common schools throughout the commonwealth. At the time of the passage of the act of April 1, 1834, about half a million dollars had been received from the sources named, and the opponents of the school law of 1834— for they were many and included a large number of the ablest and best men of the State— were clamorous in their denunciation of the Legislature for having, as they alleged, violated their plighted faith in providing for the support of the schools by direct taxation instead of waiting until the fund set apart in 1831 had accumulated to two millions of dollars, when the interest alone should be applied to the maintenance of the schools. The act of April 1, 1834, however, was submitted to the various townships in Delaware County, when the result showed that fourteen townships were favorable to the adoption of the law and seven against it. Dr. George Smith at that time was the senator from this district, and Samuel Anderson, representative, both of whom were warm friends of the measure, Dr. Smith being particularly active in advocacy of the bill. The opponents of the law in this county assembled Oct. 30, 1834, at the public-house of Isaac Hall, in Nether Providence, and the list of the committee then appointed indicates how strong and influential that opposition was. The meeting was presided over by Benjamin Pearson, and Jonas P. Yarnall was secretary. The following resolution was unanimously adopted:
     "Resolved, That we disapprove of the law passed at the last session of the Legislature as a system of general education, believing that it is unjust and impolitic. That it was never intended by our Constitution that the education of those children whose parents are able to educate them should be educated at the public expense."

Dr. Joseph Wilson, Joseph Gibson, James S. Peters, George Lewis, and Benjamin Pearson were appointed a committee to draft a memorial to the General Assembly, which contained a statement that while not disapproving of the clause of the Constitution providing for the education of the poor gratis, yet the law of 1834 was oppressive inasmuch as it "imposed a disproportionate and unreasonable burden on the middle class of the community, who can partake but little of its benefits;" that the authority of the school directors under its provisions was unlimited, having power to tax the citizens to any extent, and being "responsible to nobody;" that the assessments for State and county purposes were sufficiently oppressive "without any addition to carry into operation an experiment of doubtful efficacy" and for these reasons they petitioned for the repeal of the law. Capt. James Serrill and Joseph Bunting were appointed a committee to have the memorial printed, and a committee of sixty-four persons was appointed to circulate printed copies for signatures, which papers were to be returned to the chairman by the first Monday of November following.

In the mean time the friends of the law were not less active, for on Nov. 4, 1834, the school delegates in the various townships, excepting those of Aston and Concord, together with the county commissioners, met in the court-house at Chester in accordance with the provisions of the act. George G. Leiper was chairman, and Homer Eachus secretary. The proceedings were not harmonious, but a resolution was adopted by a vote of thirteen to nine, providing that two thousand two hundred dollars should be appropriated for school purposes, and a meeting of the citizens at the usual places of election in each township was called to be held in the afternoon of November 20th to ratify or reject the action of the deputies. Those citizens who favored the act also assembled in convention at Hall’s Tavern, in Nether Providence, on Nov. 13, 1834, when William Martin acted as president; J. Walker, Jr., and I.E. Bonsall, vice-presidents; and J.S. White and A.D. Williamson as secretaries. That meeting adopted the following resolution:
     "Resolved, That the tax levied by the Commissioners and Delegates ought to be extended to bonds, mortgages, stocks, etc., in the same proportion as on real estate, and that in order to raise an additional tax for the support of common schools, that the directors in the several districts shall meet as directed in the Seventh Section, and determine whether there shall be an additional tax, and if they decide in the affirmative, then the Clerk of the Board shall notify the directors, who shall determine the amount and be authorized to levy and collect such tax on bonds, mortages and profitable occupations, as well as real estate, and the proper officers of the townships constitute a Court of Appeal in case any person may think himself aggrieved in the amount of tax so levied by said Directors."

The second resolution indorsed the course of Governor Wolf in the matter of popular education, as also that of the members of the General Assembly who had voted for the measure, and the third resolution appointed William Amies, Dr. Jesse Young, Spencer McIlvain, Samuel T. Walker, and William Martin to prepare a memorial to be presented to the Legislature. This memorial stated that the signers were "deeply impressed with the importance of a proper system of education by common schools throughout the State. They have examined the last act passed at the last session of the Legislature for that purpose, and are of opinion that the objects contemplated by the law would be greatly promoted by an alteration in the mode for raising the fund necessary to support public schools. So far as the law bears equally on all, they cheerfully acquiesce in it, but some of its provisions they deem burdensome and unequal in their operations on a portion of their fellow-citizens. The landed interest, as the law now exists, pays nearly the whole expense of the system, while many that are proper objects of taxation contribute but a very small proportion."

The memorial therefore suggested that bonds, mortgages, money at interest, and occupations should be taxed, as well as a fixed proportion to be paid by real estate; that such sums as may be necessary, beyond the State appropriation, should be levied by the school directors as a township tax, while the township officers should act as a Board of Redress. The memorial concluded:
     "Your memorialists remonstrate against a repeal of the law, and are only desirous that the matter may have your deliberate consideration; sensible that such amendments will be adopted as you may deem most beneficial and just, tending to equalize the operations of the law, the effects of which will strengthen the system, disseminate knowledge among the people, the only sure means of perpetuating the principles of national Liberty."

Those opposed to the law presented thirty-three petitions to the Legislature, containing one thousand and twenty-four names, while those remonstrating against its repeal presented thirteen petitions, bearing eight hundred and seventy-three names. It is creditable to Delaware County that the remonstrants against the repeal of the school law exceeded in numbers almost threefold that from any other county in the State.

James W. Baker, superintendent of the public schools of Delaware County, in his report for the year 1877, presented an interesting and valuable history of education in this county, in which he says, "On the 4th of November, 1834, of the twenty-one districts of the county, eleven accepted the law, viz., Birmingham, Chester, Haverford, Lower Chichester, Marple, Nether Providence, Radnor, Ridley, Upper Darby, and Upper Chichester. In consequence of the obscurity of the law, and the difficulty of putting it in operation, only six accepted it the following year; but in 1836 all the districts but one accepted the new law enacted that year. The last one joined the others in 1838."(*8) On the other hand, in the report of James Findlay, secretary of the commonwealth, on the subject of common schools, submitted to the Legislature and dated March 2, 1835, it is stated that in Delaware County all the school districts had accepted the law, that the State appropriation was one thousand seventy dollars and ninety-three cents, and that two thousand two hundred dollars had been voted to be raised in that county by tax.(*9)

The narrative of the rise and progress of the beneficent public school system is from this time part of the story of the several townships, and will be therein related under the proper heading.

On July 4, 1834, the equipped militia of Delaware County, as was usual with those organizations at that time, celebrated Independence Day with a parade, followed by a banquet. On that occasion Gen. Root presided, and at his right hand was a militia colonel, who was called on for a toast. The latter, not having prepared himself, trusted to his genius and the occasion to creditably propose a sentiment when the time came, sat a moment in thought, and finally concluded his toast ought to be something of a military nature. The guests called again upon the colonel before he had fully determined what he would say. In response, he arose and announced in a loud voice, "The military of our country—may they never want—" Here he hesitated,—"may they never want!" He came to a full stop, and looking imploringly at Gen. Root, he whispered, "What the devil shall I say next?" "And never be wanted," whispered back the general. "And never be wanted," roared the colonel. The joke was too good to prevent it being related, and at length it found its way into the newspapers of the day, and now it is so popularly known in the country that long since its birthplace was generally forgotten.

The military history of the county, other than that occurring in times of actual war, is brief and of a spasmodic character, usually the ground-swell after the storm of battle had subsided. In our early annals, the Swedish settlers and the Dutch were more or less under military organization, as were the English previous to the coming of Penn. In the Duke of York’s book of laws considerable space is devoted to ordinances relating to military service, and providing for the maintenance of bodies of soldiers. As early as 1673 the Council at New York directed the enlistment of ten or twelve men from settlers on the Delaware, and ordered that every sixth man of the inhabitants should be summoned to build a fort for the defense of the river. Previous to that date the presumption is that the troops were recruited abroad, and were brought hither in the character of soldiers. James Sandelands, we are told by Dr. Smith, came to the Delaware River settlement as a private under Capt. Carr’s command, and was discharged in 1669. In May, 1675, there was a company enlisted, for at a court held at Peter Rambo’s in that month, James Sandelands, as a punishment for a "scandalous business" (he had thrown a drunken Indian out of his tavern at Upland, and injured him so that he died from the effect of his fall), was sentenced to pay a certain sum towards building a new church at "Weckahoe," a like sum to the sheriff, and was "put off from being Captain." Hans Junian, who had been lieutenant, was made captain, John Prince lieutenant, and Jonas Keen ensign. The new captain and ensign were residents of the present Delaware County.

On Sept. 23, 1675, Capt. John Collyer was by Governor Andross appointed commander of Delaware River, and he was particularly required to take care that the militia in the several places should be well armed, duly exercised, and kept in order. We know that previous to that date, towards the end of the year 1671, it was ordered, "That every person that can bear arms, from 16 to 60 years of age, be always provided with a convenient proportion of powder and bullets, fit for service and their mutual defense, upon a penalty for their neglect herein to be imposed by the commission-officers in command, according to law. That the quantity or proportion of powder and shot to be adjudged competent for each person to be at least one pound of powder and two of bullet."

All that I have learned respecting military organizations in the county previous to the Revolution has already been related, which is equally true of the war of Independence. After peace was assured the militia of the State was regulated by law. The Pennsylvania Packet states that at a meeting of the Chester County militia, commanded by Edward Vernon, on Oct. 25, 1789, Rev. James Conarroe, of Marcus Hook, was appointed chaplain. This notice was after the county of Delaware had been erected, but Edward Vernon and Mr. Conarroe were residents of the new county, and in all probability the entire organization they represented was from the southeasterly part of the old county of Chester (the present Delaware County). The act of 1792, organizing the militia of the State, continued in operation for forty years without any definite action being taken by the people to correct its provisions. Under the law of April 9, 1799, the militia of the commonwealth was arranged into regiments. From it we learn that "in the county of Delaware the regiments commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Levis shall be No. 65, and by Lieut.-Colonel Wilcocks, No. 110." Five years previous to the latter act, Jonah Lamplugh was convicted at the January session, 1794, of refusing to discharge the duties of the office of collector of militia fines, to which he had been appointed.

It is unnecessary to recall the incidents of the whiskey insurrection and the war of 1812, related elsewhere. During the latter struggle, the Delaware County Troop was organized, with Dr. Joseph Wilson as captain, and it was commanded by Capt. Pearson Smith when it took part in the ceremonies at the dedication of the Paoli Monument, Sept. 20, 1817. The next year Dr. Wilson again became its captain, and its lieutenants Baker and Cornog, and George Kirk quartermaster.

In 1820, the Troop was reorganized, with John Hinkson, captain; Samuel M. Leiper, first lieutenant; John Wells, second lieutenant; Evans Way, first sergeant; and George Kirk, color sergeant. For some years it was part of the first squadron of Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware County cavalry. In time interest in the organization began to flag, and it was believed that it might be revived in 1830, when an election was held, which resulted in the selection of Samuel M. Leiper as captain, Edward H. Engle as first lieutenant, John Wells as second lieutenant, Evans Way as first sergeant, and George Kirk as color sergeant. The interest had gone, however, and after dragging along for six years the organization, in 1836, finally disbanded. The Delaware County Blues was also an outgrowth of the war of 1812, and was commanded at first by Capt. George Hawkins, and subsequently by Capt. George Litzenberg. It preserved its organization until 1836, when it also disbanded. In 1817 the Delaware County Fencibles was commanded by Capt. George G. Leiper, and as such took part in the ceremonies at Paoli. Judge Leiper was subsequently lieutenant-colonel of the Delaware County Battalion, and on Sept. 4, 1823, announced his appointment of George Litzenberg as adjutant, Charles Bonsall quartermaster, and Dr. Morris C. Shallcross as surgeon. Dr. Wilson was major of the battalion; Capt. George Hawkins had command of the Delaware County Blues, Capt. Myers of the Delaware County Volunteers, and Capt. Weaver of the Pennsylvania Artillerists. The latter company was organized about 1819, with John J. Richards as captain, and at his death, in 1822, Joseph Weaver, Jr., succeeded to the command, to give place in 1828 to Capt. William Martin, and he subsequently to Samuel A. Price. The latter officer, in 1832, was colonel of the First Brigade Third Division, and with Lieut. John K. Zeilin and J.M.G. Lescure, represented the county of Delaware at the military convention of the State, which assembled at Harrisburg January 2d of that year. Col. Price was one of the four vice-presidents of that convention. He was succeeded in command of the Pennsylvania Artillerists by Capt. John K. Zeilin. In 1817 the Union Troop, of Chester and Delaware Counties, was a military organization existing in the two counties, and at Paoli in 1817 had the right of the line under the command of Capt. Harris. This organization continued until 1838, when it was commanded by Capt. William Haines, and John Lindsay was its first lieutenant. In 1824 the Forty- ninth Regiment of militia of the county of Delaware was commanded by Col. John Smith, Lieut.-Col. Benjamin F. Johnson, and Maj. Abner Barrett; while the Thirty-eighth Regiment, of the same county, was commanded by Col. Benjamin Wetherby, Lieut.-Col. Benjamin smith, and Maj. Jonathan David.

In 1857, the Delaware County Volunteers, organized about 1822, was disbanded, and from its fragments a new company—the Harmony Rangers—was formed, Capt. Jesse L. Green commanding, who was succeeded by Capt. Simon Leany. It was disbanded in 1842. In 1834, Lieut.-Col. Henry Myers was in command of the Delaware County Volunteer Battalion, succeeding Col. George G. Leiper in that office.

Besides the foregoing military organizations, in 1824 there was a company of militia known as the Washington Artillerists, in 1833 the Union Guards, Capt. George Kirk, and Jesse Sharpless orderly sergeant, and in 1840 the Delaware County Rangers, Capt. Samuel Hall.

On Friday, Oct. 11, 1833, the City Troop of Philadelphia, commanded by Capt. Hart, was met at Darby by the Delaware County Troop and escorted to Chester, where they remained until the Monday following, when they returned to Philadelphia, stopping to dine on that day at the tavern kept by J. B. Lamplugh, in Darby.

During the riots of 1844 in Philadelphia, a meeting was held at the court-house in Chester, on July 15th, at which resolutions were adopted calling for the immediate organization of a corps of volunteers, "citizen soldiers," which body was directed to be equipped and armed, so that, if necessary, the authorities could call on it to preserve public order. The next day, July 16, 1844, the Union Troop of Delaware and Chester Counties marched to Philadelphia, reaching that city in the evening, when they immediately relieved the Philadelphia Cavalry, which had been in service for some days, and were then worn out from loss of sleep.

In August, 1844, the Delaware County Grays were organized by the election of John K. Zeilin, captain, Charles W. Raborg, first lieutenant, and Joseph Taylor second lieutenant. The following year the Forty-ninth Regiment of militia, in this county, was commanded by Col. John K. Zeilin, and C.W. Raborg was adjutant, while the companies composing the organization were commanded by Capts. Walter, Johnson, Crosby, Eyre, Ulrich, and Irwin. The public feeling was then strongly adverse to military service. On May 13, 1845, Maj. Charles Peck, brigade inspector, visited Chester, reaching that place an hour before noon, when some of the older citizens waited on him, and apprised him that the boys in the town were armed with eggs, which they proposed to present to him in no quiet manner, and he hurried away without inspecting the undisciplined militia, which had assembled for that purpose, according to his published orders. On Saturday, June 13, 1846, the Delaware County Grays were inspected by Maj. Peck, Capt. Zeilin having, through Governor Shunk, offered the services of the company to President Polk for the Mexican war. The quota of Pennsylvania being filled, however, the offer was not accepted.

The next year Maj. Peck again visited Chester, when he was made the victim of a practical joke, which, as tradition ascribed, was suggested by John M. Broomall. Several of the practical jokers who then infested Chester induced the major to visit the prison, on the pretext that within its ancient precincts were several relics of the long ago worthy of the notice of a stranger. The plan worked to a charm. After the party had gained admission to the jail, the door was locked behind them, the keys were concealed, and all that day until evening the military gentleman and two of the roysters of Chester stood looking through a grated window in the second story, calling to the people below in the street to procure their release. The keys could not be found until night had nearly come, but several times, during the day the imprisoned men, lowered strings to the crowd below and drew them up with provisions and other refreshments attached thereto. After his release Maj. Peck had several other jokes played upon him before he shook the dust of Chester from his feet, never to return to it again.

Not only was the brigade inspector personally trifled with, but the commissioners of Delaware County failed to enforce the collection of the militia tax; hence Maj. Peck instructed his counsel to bring suit against the county commissioners for their neglect in not issuing duplicates to the collectors for collection of the military fines. The suit, however, never was pressed, the act being repealed by the Legislature in 1849.

The following is the list of persons holding the office of brigade inspector for Delaware County, so far as I have been able to obtain their names:

William Brooke, lieutenant of the county of Delaware Aug. 21, 1791
William Brooke, brigade inspector April 11, 1793
John Crosby, brigade inspector  
John Crozer, brigade inspector April 30, 1799
William Brooke, brigade inspector April 25, 1800
Casper Snyder, brigade inspector April, 1813
Col. James Peck, brigade inspector April, 1815
Nathaniel Brooke, brigade inspector April, 1824
Thomas James, brigade inspector April, 1838
Maj. Charles Peck, brigade inspector April, 1842
Walter J. Arnold, brigade inspector April, 1861

Maj. Arnold was appointed in 1859, but did not take out his commission until the attack on Sumter made it necessary to have such an officer to aid in forwarding troops in the early days of the civil war.

* "History of Hosiery Industry in Philadelphia."— Textile Journal, March, 1883.

** Campanius, p. 90.

*** Penna. Mag. of History, vol. iii. p. 148.

(4*) Manuel of Power, pp. 22—28.

(5*) History of Delaware County, p. 353.

(6*) Life of John P. Crozer, page 51. It is to be regretted that neither Mr.

Crozer nor Dennis Kelly, both actively engaged in manufacturing in Delaware County, and both familiar with the story of its early struggles, have left no extended historical account of that industry, presenting its birth, growth, and ultimate establishment as the leading industry in Delaware County.

(7*) Duke of York’s Laws, p. 238.

(8*) Report of Superintendent of Public Instruction for 1877, p. 239.

(9*) Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania, vol. xv. p. 194.


Source:  Page(s) 93-99, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, by Henry Graham Ashmead, Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. 1884