History of Birmingham Township, Pa.
From: A History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Edited By: John W. Jordan, LL. D.
Published By Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York 1914
Birmingham Township — This township, lying in the extreme southeastern corner of Delaware county, adjoins
on the west and north the state of Delaware and Chester county, Pennsylvania, being separated from the latter by
Brandywine creek; on the east is bounded by Thornbury and Concord townships, Chester county; on the south by the
state of Delaware. It is traversed from east to west by the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore railroad (Central
Division) which entets the township near Branclywine Summit and leaves it at Chadd’s Ford. The Baltimore turnpike
also crosses the township. It was on this road that Washington and Lafayette bad their headquarters during the
battle of Brandywine, fought September 11, 1777. The name of the township is believed to have been conferred by
William Brinton, the first white settler known to have located in that section, in remembrance of the town of like
name in England, near which he resided prior to his coming to Pennsylvania in 1684. He had purchased 400 acres
from Joseph Allison and William Morgan, and his patent was so located, in 1790, when Delaware was erected out of
Chester county, the county lines being so run that the original tract laid about equal in both counties. William
Brinton’s daughter Ann married in England, John Bennett, who loined his father-in-law in 1685 and in 1686 was appointed
constable. The next settlers were Peter and Sarah Dix, a name that in more recent years has become Dicks. Joseph
Gilpin and his wife Hannah settled in Birmingham not later than 1659. He inherited under the will of William Lamboll,
of Reading, England, a part of the tract of land that had been, surveyed and located in Birmingham in 1683 by Lamboll.
Gilpin, glad to escape from the persecution to which his Quaker principles subjected him, came to the province
and settled on his inheritance. On first coming lie dug a cave at the side of a great rock, and-therein thirteen
of his fifteen children were born. It was on this farm that two valuable varieties of apples originated — the Gilpin,
also called carthouse and winter redstreak, and the house apple, also called grayhouse apple. Several years after
his settlement, Joseph Gilpin built a frame house, removing from the cave. In 1745, adjoinging the frame, a brick
house was built, On the evening of Thursday, September 11, 1777, the house, then owned by George Gilpin, was occupied
by Gen. Howe as his headquarters, remaining there until the following Tuesday.
There are two historic buildings in Birmingham, Washington’s Headquarters, a building of stone, two stories,
used by Washington as his headquarters during the battle of Brandywine, was built in 1731, by Thomas G. Clark,
and was owned at the time of the battle by Benjamin Ring. There are several stories connected with the ancient
building, one of which is that the first time an American flag ever floated from the house was during the battle
of Brandywine, when the Stars and Stripes were flung from an open window and hung there all through the fight.
Another is, that while the battle was raging, Benjamin Ring stood on the porch watching the fray. Bullets were
flying all around and Ring was advised to go into the house for protection, but answered, “I always put my trust
in the Lord.” Just at that moment a round shot struck at his feet. Tradition makes no reference to the revocation
of his trust, simply recording the fact that he fled to the wine-cellar. Here Benjamin Ring conducted a tavern,
his application for a license being granted in 1800 and refused in 1802. The following year his son Joshua was
granted a license, the hotel having the name of “The United States Arms” in 1805. Its career as a hostelry ended
in 1807. Extensive repairs were made in 1829, athough the interior of the east side remains as it was at the time
of the battle.
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