History of Ridley 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


Ridley Township.- This township as at present constituted, extends from Darby to the city of Chester and Nether Providence township, and from Springfield township to the Delaware river, on which it has a frontage extending from the mouth of Darby creek to the mouth of Crum creek. The former creek Separates the township from its mouth to Prospect Park borough, from Tinicum, the latter creek forming the boundary between Eddystone borough and Ridley township. Boroughs incorporated in the township are Eddystone, Ridley Park, Prospect Park, Norwood and Rutledge (q. v.). Stations on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad are: Holmes, Folsom, Ridley, Milmont and Fairview; on the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington railroad stations are located at Crum Lynne, Ridley Park, Prospect Park and Norwood. Leiperyule, a post village, and Wyndon, are in the northern and southern parts of the township respectively. That part of the township now Eddystone, was taken up by Olof Persson Stille, one of the Swedish settlers coming with the third Swedish emigration in 1641. He was a millwright, but had agreed to engage in agriculture. He seems to have become an important man in the colony. After the conquest by the Dutch, he was one of the four magistrates appointed "to administer justice among the inhabitants," thus was a judge of the first court of record on the banks of the Delaware. His son, John Stille, in 1664 was living in Passyunk, Philadelphia. One hundred acres of the Stille land was patented to Neals Mattson, June 13, 1670. It was his wife, Margaret Mattson, who was tried February 27, 1683-1684, on an indictment for witchcraft, before William Penn and a jury. Above this tract 100 acres was set apart by a court held at Upland, November 12, 1678, to Anthony Nealson, a Swede, father of the above Margaret Mattson. East of Crum creek, south of now Avondale, Jacob Hendricks had 100 acres called "Stony Point." Valuable stone quarries were later opened in that neighborhood. Charles Ashcomb, the surveyor, had 300 acres which included the present village of Leiperville and a greater part of the lake at Ridley Park. John Simcock was a large early land owner, part of his 2200 acres being in Ridley. He was a wealthy Friends who came in 1682. He was a member of Penn's council, continuing one of the governors council until Gov. Blackwell in 1689. He was then appointed one of the judges of the Provincial Court, and in 1691 was again a member of the council. In 1693 and again in 1696 he was elected to the Assembly, and chosen speaker the latter year. In 1697-98 he was a member of the council. He was one of the commissioners appointed to settle the Doundary dispute between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and was deputy president of the Free Society of Traders. He died March 7, 1703, aged seventythree years. The following were taxables of Ridley in 1715: Jacob Simcock: Joseph Harvey, John Stedman, John Hanby, Thomas Dell, John Sharpless. Jacob Simcock, Junior, John Simcock, Joseph Powell, John Crosby, Lawrence Friend and Gabriel _____, Amos Nicholas, Enoch Enochsen, George Brown, Andrew Hendrix, George Vanculine, Andrew Torton, Hance Torton, Andrew Morton, John Hendrick, Andrew Morton, Jr., John Orchard, Israel Taylor, Jonathan Hood, Obadiah Bonsall. The population has steadily increased, and in 1910 was 2945, exclusive of the boroughs within its borders. In 1809-10, Thomas Leiper constructed the first railroad in Pennsylvania and the second in the United States. it was three fourths of a mile in length, and used in transporting stone from his quarries in Springfield to tide water at Ridley creek. The survey and draft of the road was made by John Thompson, and in 1873 the original map drawn by him was presented by Dr. Joshua Ash to the Delaware County Institute of Science. The road continued in use nineteen years. The cars were drawn by horses, the rails, were of wood, the gauge four feet, and was a practical success for drawing loaded cars over.

Thomas Leiper, son of Thomas and Helen (Hamilton) Leiper, was born in Strathaven, Scotland, and came to America in 1764, settling in Virginia, later in Philadelphia, where he made a fortune in the tobacco business. He was an ardent patriot, and is said to have been "the first man in Pennsylvania to advocate a rupture with the mother country." He raised a fund to prosecute the war, and as treasurer of the First Troop bore the last subsidies of the French to the Americans at Yorktown. He was orderly, treasurer and secretary of the First City Troop, and later president of the common council of Philadelphia. He was often chosen presidential elector; was an intimate personal friend of Thomas Jefferson, and was alluded to as the "patriarch" of the Democratic party. He made it a rule of life never to accept an office of pay or profit; hence while he served as director of the Bank of Pennsylvania and of the United States, and was commissioner for the defense of Philadelphia in 1812, he drew no salary. He used his private fortune to prosecute the war, and in the darkest hour gave £5000 to the North America Bank fund. He subscribed $100,000 to various public improvements in Pennsylvania, introduced machinery for breaking and grinding plaster and oyster shells, for sawing. stone, threshing grain and making pider, all of which lie had in operation on his Ridley estate. He tried to secure an appropriation from the state to build a canal to lessen transportation cost from his quarries, but not succeeding, built the railroad previously mentioned.

The canal, which was about a mile in length, not only was used to transport stone to the creek below Leiperville, but the water was led by it as by a race to supply power to the mill at Leiperville. (See "Manufacturing," for the great mills of Ridley township and borough).

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