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The Path of America’s First Railway

 

Leiper built a temporary track in the yard of the Bull’s Head Tavern in Philadelphia to demonstrate the merits of his railway.

Did it go through your backyard?

Historians say the horse-drawn railway that Thomas Leiper laid out in 1809 from Crum Creek to Ridley Creek, through today’s Governor Sproul Estates, was the first commercial railway in the United States.

Pierre Lacombe, New Jersey Geologic Historian, has precisely mapped the railway. He’ll present a talk with maps and photos. You’re invited.

Sunday, October 20 at 2:00 PM at the Helen Kate Furness Library: 100 North Providence Road, Wallingford.

RSVP via Email.

The program is presented by the Nether Providence Historical Society and is free and open to the public.

 

Delaware County Arts Week

Thomas Leiper House is participating in the Delaware County Arts Week.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 28 and 29 the Leiper House will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Visitors can see original paintings of Leiper family members by famous artists. There are also old paintings of buildings that are no longer standing but were part of Leiper’s estate, “Avondale.”

Local artists Ursula Ippoliti and Dennis Goldsborough will display their paintings of notable Delaware County locations.  They will have prints and notecards of their paintings available to purchase.

LEIPER HOUSE | 521 Avondale Road, Wallingford

An Honor Well Deserved

A Lifetime Achievement Award for Merv Harris

Merv Harris, front row, center.

At their annual Preservation Awards ceremony, during the May 15th County Council meeting, the Heritage Commission of Delaware County presented a lifetime achievement award to Merv Harris for his significant contributions to preservation of the County’s history.

J. Mervyn Harris, “Merv,” is a man who believes in giving back to the community. After graduating from Nether Providence High School, Merv continued his studies at Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University). After graduation, Merv served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and as a major in the United States Army Reserves. Upon his return to civilian life, he became a commissioner for Nether Providence Township and served as chair of the Nether Providence Township Republican Executive Committee. He was also appointed the judge of elections for the township. In 1964, Merv was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He is the founder of the Nether Providence Historical Society; a member of the Nether Providence Historical Commission; and authored the book, A Brief History of Nether Providence, which was published in 2010.

Merv was a dedicated and active member of the Delaware County Historical Society (DCHS). He served as president in 2002 and initiated and led a working collaborated group named the Council of Local Historical Societies.

In 2000, Merv was appointed to the Heritage Commission of Delaware County and until his recent retirement, served as Vice Chairman. In addition to his political and history related activities, Merv served on the board of COSA, March of Dimes, and the Center for Resolutions.

Nether Providence and Delaware County have benefitted greatly from Merv’s lifelong devotion to the preservation of our history.

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.

Colonial Christmas Open House

You’re invited!

Join us Sunday, December 16, 2018, 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!