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Wallingford’s First (and Only) Air Mail Flight

1938 6¢ Bicolored Eagle

National Air Mail Week, 1938

Postmaster General James Farley and President Roosevelt proclaimed May 15-21, 1938 to be a week-long commemoration of the 20th anniversary of US airmail service in an effort to spark increased use of the airmail.

A new 6¢ airmail stamp was issued and Farley asked that every US citizen send an airmail letter during the week. The slogan was “Receive Tomorrow’s Mail Today.”

Towns were encouraged to create unique “cachets,” commemorative designs printed or stamped on the envelopes. The idea was popular and towns across the country planned events and created as many as 10,000 cachets.

Special Wallingford Cachet

Thursday, May 19, was designated as the celebration day. Postmasters headed up the planning, finding landing fields and submitting their plans for approval to their state’s Department of Aeronautics. Postmasters also sought out volunteer pilots to pick up the mail.

Nether Providence and Media held a joint celebration which began at 2:00 PM at the Media Aviation Field, today’s Wallingford Summit neighborhood (Woodcrest, Ridgewood, and Grandview Roads). The autogyro that arrived to pick up the mail was met by Judge John M. Broomall and the Media and Nether Providence High Schools’ bands. Local postmasters Matthew Fox of Media and Stafford Parker of Wallingford and Burgess of Media Crosby Smith comprised the Welcoming Committee.

The Journal, student newspaper of Nether Providence High School, reported, “…students left school at 1:00…so that they could witness the only air mail pick-up in the history of Wallingford. …After the autogyro took off, four Navy pursuit planes circled the field twice and then returned to Philadelphia.” Continue reading

Trench Art: Beautiful Remnants of War

In their free time, soldiers, especially during World War I, created folk art from discarded bullets, shell casings, and other materiel.

They kept their creations as souvenirs or gave them as gifts to loved ones when they returned from war.

Ryan Berley will share with us the history of Trench Art and show examples from his collection.

The Historical Society will also display the vase that local resident, Von Byre, brought home to his mother. The vase is part of the NPHS’s permanent collection.

Trench Art
Thursday, April 11 at 7:00 PM
Helen Kate Furness Free Library – Chadwick Auditorium

About the Speaker: Ryan Berley, Curator of the Rose Valley Museum at Thunderbird Lodge, has a life-long interest in antiques. He and his brother are owners of Franklin Fountain and of Shane Confectionery in Philadelphia.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the contact form below.

“What the Boys Use When They Go Over the Top”

Second only to the many brave Delaware Countians who served in the armed forces in WWI, the County’s most significant contribution to America’s war effort was rifle production in Eddystone.

Join us to learn the story of the remarkable industrial achievement of the Eddystone Rifle Plant, located on the far side of the Baldwin Locomotive Works property. It was America’s largest rifle plant and produced the majority U.S rifles, almost 2 million.

The Eddystone Rifle Plant During WWI
Wednesday, March 13 at 7:00 PM
Helen Kate Furness Free Library – Chadwick Auditorium

About the Speaker: Kurt Sellers is a retired Major in the U.S. Army, a graduate of West Point, and served in the 1991 Gulf War. A volunteer researcher for the United States WWI Centennial Commission, Kurt has received approval on behalf of Eddystone Borough for a state historic marker to be placed near the site of the old rifle factory on Route 13.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the contact form below.

 

Colonial Christmas Open House

You’re invited!

Join us Sunday,

Sunday, December 15, 2019, from 1 o’clock until 5 o’clock at Thomas Leiper’s 1785 Country Home.

William Penn Weekend

The last weekend of September, local historical organizations will commemorate the 300th anniversary of William Penn’s death with a schedule of activities celebrating his legacy of tolerance.

  • Thursday, September 27: Lecture at Lima Estates, 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 28: Colonial Music Presentation, 6:00 to 7:30 PM at Newlin Grist Mill
  • Saturday, September 29: Bus & Car Tour of Historic Sites (contact Delaware County Historical Society for details: 610 359-0832).
  • Sunday, September 30: Self-Guided Tours of Historic Sites

Nether Providence Historical Society will have a display of Sharpless family history at Chester Meeting House (520 East 24th Street, Chester) on Sunday afternoon from 1:00 until 3:00 PM.

The John and Jane (Moore) Sharpless (Sharples) family were the first permanent English settlers in what became Nether Providence, in 1682 on a Penn land grant. They are buried at the Chester Meeting House. A son, after finishing the house his father started, “Wolley Stille,” on today’s Harvey Road lived in a house on Providence Great Road from 1700 until 1720, now known as 322 North Providence Road.

Other sites open Sunday afternoon are the Pusey Plantation in Upland, and the Delaware County Historical Society Library and Museum in Chester, and the 1724 Court House next door.

Come visit local history sites this special Penn weekend, especially our Sharpless display at the Chester Meeting House!

Lecture: Art & Archaeology – M. Louise Baker

To early 20th century archaeologists digging in the Middle East and South America for 2,000-year-old artifacts, the most popular woman in America was artist M. Louise Baker – and she lived in Wallingford!

An artist, Baker worked at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology from 1908 to 1936. She traveled the world at the request of archeologists to illustrate their finds. Watercolors and reconstructions make up the over 500 works of hers that are in the Penn Museum today.

In retirement, Baker lived on Brookside Road with a studio above the garage that had a large window for sun and views.

Dr. Elin Danien, a research associate at the Penn Museum, will give an illustrated talk about Ms. Baker and her art on Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 at the Helen Kate Furness Library.

Come learn about a Nether Providence resident, well-known to others, but not to us – until now.

Centennial of The Great War

2017 is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.

Saturday and Sunday, through September and October, we will exhibit in the Leiper House dining room artifacts and ephemera from the era. The Leiper House hours are 1:00 to 4:00 pm. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Long before Ellis Island, there was Lazaretto.

Where Route 420 ends at the Delaware River, you’ll find Lazaretto.

Considered both the oldest surviving quarantine hospital and the last surviving example of its type in the United States, it was built by the newly created Board of Health after the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 killed off one tenth of Philadelphia’s population. Thereafter, every vessel headed toward the port of Philadelphia first stopped at Lazaretto.

Later, it was the home of the Philadelphia Athletic Club, then a flight school during World War I and then a seaplane base.

Speaker Barbara Selletti will paint a vivid picture of Lazaretto’s long and fascinating history.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Known as the “Lazaretto Lady,” Barbara Selletti is a local historian, genealogist and Neumann University librarian. She and her husband, Tony, were instrumental in the effort to save and restore the Lazaretto.

The program is free and open to the public: Monday, June 12 at the Helen Kate Furness Library on Providence Road in Wallingford, starting at 7:30.

An Oyster Cart on Every Street Corner?

Celebrated historian Nancy Webster will present A Brief History of Popular Street Foods, an exploration of sidewalk cuisine from American Colonial times through present day. Some will be familiar (we’ve been frequenting hot dog and pretzel vendors for ages) and others will be surprising.

Bonus: Samples of old-fashioned street foods will be available for tasting!

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: A highly engaging speaker, Nancy Webster was named Delaware County Historian in 1988. The Principal Planner with the County Planning Department for 25 years, she was head of historic preservation and won state and national awards. A Delaware County native, Nancy holds a BA from Harvard, and a double MA in American history and museum curatorship from the College of William and Mary.

Uniquely qualified to speak on this topic, Nancy is a member of the Historical Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley and chairman of the Foodways Committee of the international Association for Living History.

The program is free and open to the public: Thursday, April 27 at the Helen Kate Furness Library on Providence Road in Wallingford, starting at 7:30 pm.

RSVP:

Local Family’s Immigrant Roots

In February, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a piece about the Kassab family. Penned by a granddaughter of the patriarch who brought the family to Nether Providence, the article was entitled A Syrian Immigrant’s American Story. Marie Kassab Helfferich described her family’s roots in Syria and the welcome they experienced as immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century.

The family is so well established in Nether Providence and Media that you would be hard pressed to find a longtime resident without some connection to a Kassab. Many were patients of the family – more than a few of Dr. Kassab’s progeny were or are dentists.

Click here to read the Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Did your family’s immigrant story find its way to our township? We’d love to feature it here. Send an email to info@nphistory.org.

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