History of Darby Borough, Pa.
From: A History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Edited By: John W. Jordan, LL. D.
Published By Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York 1914



Darby Borough.— After the establishment of mills, Darby soon Became a centre, although there is no direct mention of Darby Village until 1773, although Darbytown is mentioned in 1698. About the year 1800, the place is thus described: “Darby is situated about seven and a half miles from Philadelphia, on the east side of the creek of the same name that empties into the Delaware a little above Chester. It contains about fifty or sixty houses, and has a Friends’ meeting house.” In 1836 the Upland Union, published a description of the borough and villages of Delaware county: “Darby is next in importance to Chester. It is on the southern great road about seven miles from Philadelphia by a good turnpike. It contains a Friends’ Meeting House,, Mt. Zion Methodist Church, a lyceum, a library company, a printing office, four public houses, three stores, a cotton factory, a post office and about sixty dwelling houses, and many elegant dwellings on the Haverford road.” The village prospered and grew, retaining its village government until May 3, 1853, when it was incorporated a borough. On the third Friday in May following the date of incorporation, an election was held, William Jones being elected the first burgess.

An institution of which special mention is a pleasure, is the Darby Library Company, founded May 1, 1743. Twenty-nine persons founded the library by signing articles of agreement and effected an organization. These articles required each person in the copartuership to pay on becoming a member, twenty shillings to a person who should be appointed to receive the money and purchase books for a library, and also annually thereafter to pay five shillings “for and towards the purchasing of such books and the necessary expenses of the Library as two thirds of the Company shall direct.” Proper rules and regulations were provided, and the Library started on Its useful prosperous career. Many valuable books were donated and many purchased, the earlier purchases being made in England. No effort was made to erect, their own library building until January, 1795, when a committee was appointed their report being that they could not obtain a suitable lot “at a price that would possibly do.” In 1872 a successful effort was made to purchase a lot and erect a suitable building, The cost of lot and buildings was about $10,000, and on March 29, 1876, the building was dedicated.

Another ancient association is Darby Fire Company, organized January 27, 1775, by the active male adults of the village. It is set forth in the articles of association that each subscriber, “for the better preservation of our own and neighbors’ houses, goods and effects from fire, would at his own proper charge provide two leathern buckets, to be marked with his own name and respective Company, and shall be kept ready at hand and applied to no other use than preserving our own and neighbors houses, goods and effects.” Any neglect of this agreement subjected the member so offending to a fine of five shillings. A sufficient sum was contributed to purchase ladders that were forbidden to be used for any but fire purposes, and only then by members of the company. A fine of five shillings was imposed on all members who failed to attend at a fire occurring on the premises of one of the company, unless a reasonable excuse could be given; a member refusing to pay his fines, his name was erased from the roll and he was excluded from all rights and forfeited all interest in the ladders and other property of the company. The articals of agreement, “presented by. Zachariab Poulson Jr., 106 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, 1796,” concluded: “XI. Lastly, that upon the death of any of our company, the survivors shall, in time of danger as aforesaid, be aiding and assisting to the widow of such deceased, during her widowhood, as if her husband had been living, she only keeping the buckets in repair and causing them to be sent to every fire as aforesaid.” The company existed as a volunteer company until 1871, ninety-six years, when it gave way to a paid fire department instituted November 6, 1871, by the borough officers, who elected Enos Verlenden chief engineer. On January 1, 1871, a room was rented at the mills of Verlenden Brothers, and the “old Machine” laid away after a half century of service.

Darby’s banking institutions are the First National Bank, established in 1870, of which W. L. Verlenden is president, and G. W. Dwier, cashier; the Darby Trust Company, established 1912, Charles R. Lee, treasurer, O. L. Skilton, secretary. The Progress, a &emi-weekly newspaper, Republican in politics, is edited by M. H. Magnin.

Famous old inns of Darby include: “The Ship,” just licensed in 1735; The Market Wagon” licensed in 1739; “The Blue Anchor,” licensed in 1747.

Orphans’ Rest Lodge No. 132, I. O. O. F., was instituted October 20, 1845. General Taylor Encampment, I. O. O. F., was chartered, Jantiary 29, 1847. Other modern fraternal orders also flourish in the borough. The population in 1910 was 2412.

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