History of Springfield 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


Springfield Township.— Beginning at the southern end of Haverford, Springfield’s northwestern boundary is Marple township to Crum creek, where from a point near Western school house it follows the line of the creek, to Avondale, thence along the line of Ridley township to near Secane station, thence north along the line of Upper Darby to Darby creek, following the line of that creek to the extreme northern point of the township to the place of starting. Within these limits Swarthmore and Morton boroughs are located, the first mentioned borough being the seat of Swarthmore College (q. v.).

The first record of Springfield as a township is in 1686, when Peter Lester was appointed constable. In the south, 850 acres had been surveyed in 1681 to Henry Maddock and James Kennerly. Henry Maddock represented Chester county in the General Assembly in 1684, but subsequently returned to England, the tract mentioned becoming the property of his son, Mordecai, and included the present grounds of Swarthmore College. Other early land owners were: John Gleaves, Peter Lejcester, Jane Lownes, (a widow, who came in 1682, settling on 150 acres in Springfield in 1684; on this farm, yet owned by her descendants, is a stone beariug this inscription: “Jane Lownes, her cave and home, 1684”); Robert Taylor; Bartholomew Coppock; Bartholomew Coppock, Jr., at whose house the first Friends’ meetings in Springfield were held, and who gave the two’ acres of land on which the church and graveyard were located, be a member of the Provincial Council and rePresenting Chester coun~y in the General A’ssembly several terms; George Mans and others. George Mans located, October 26, 1683, 400 acres lying along Darby creek, from Marpie to~vnshiJ) above the mouth of Lewis run. In a valley he built a stofle house near a spring (from which it is asserted the township derived its name) and there lived until his death in 1705. He was a nian of influence; was justice, and from 1684 until 1693 (excepting 16&)) represented Chester county in the General Assembly. In 1722 the old house was removed by his grandjOfi, George Mans, who erected on its site “Home House,” a two and a half story stone building. In the grove back of this house, on August 25, 1883, the two lnmdredthi anniversaty of the Coming of George 1~Iaris and family was held, more than a thousand descendants attending. Samuel Levis came in 1684. He was a justice of the court, and was frequently elected to represent Chester county in the General Assembly; Francis Yarnail had i~o acres, and John Simcock of Ridhey was a very large land owner in Springfield. Besides the Levis, Coppock, Mans and Lowncs families, the taxables of 1715 were: William West, Isaac Taylor, senior and junior, Samuel Hall, James Barrot, Thomas Poe, Thomas Taylor, George James, Richard Woodwarci, John Glere, Nicholas Smith, Thomas Kendall, Mordecaj Maddock, William Miller.

The northern part of Springfield is rural, but in the south much more thickly populated, Morton and Swarthmore being thriving boroughs. Schools are located in the eastern, central and western sections, in addition to those maintained in the boroughs (see schools). Friends’ meeting were early established, followed later by other denominational organizations.

Springfield has the honor of having been the birthplace of Benjamin West, the great early American artist, his birth date being October 10, 1738. Pennsclale farm, directly Opposite Lownes Free Church, has since prior to 1800 been owned in the Thompson family. Prior to that year it was owned by John Thompson, a noted engineer, who when a young man was in the employ of the noted Holland Company. He built at Presque Isle (flow Erie, Pennsylvania) a small schooner in which he made the voyage to Pliiladeipiiia~ his vessel, the “White Fish,” being the first that ever passed from Lake Erie to Philadelphia, being taken around Niagara Falls by land and relaunched in Lake Ontario. The journey from Oswego to New York City is thus described :

“Up the river Oswego to the Falls, 20 miles, then by land around the Falls, one mile, thence up the same river to Three Rivers Point twelve miles, thence tip the straits leading to Oneida Lake 19 miles, thence through the Oneida Lake 28 miles, thence up Wood Creek 3b miles to the landing between Wood Creek and the Mohawk Rivet, thence by land passing Fort Schuyler—formerly Fort Stanwix—one mile into the Mohawk Rivet, then down the Mohawk River 60 miles o the Little Falls, thence around the Falls by land one mile to the landing, thence down the same river 60 miles to Schenectady thence by land 16 miles to Albany thence down the river Hudson 170 miles to the City of N. Y.; thence by sea 150 miles to the Capes of the Delaware River, thence up the. Delaware to this city 120 making in all (from Erie) 947 miles.”

The “White Fish” was taken to Independence Square and remained until decayed. This voyage was made in 1795.

John Thompson after this returned to Delaware county, and was the leading spirit in the building of the Philadelphia, Brandywine & New London turnpike, later known as the Delaware county turnpike. The company incorporated March 24, 1808, and in 1810 nine of the forty miles of turnpike was constructed at a cost of $3500 per mile. The road was twenty-one feet wide, and laid to a depth of fifteen inches in broken stone. John Thompson built the bridge on this turnpike over Stony creek, inserting a stone in the wail, thus described: “Built Gratis by John Thompson for the Philadelphia, Brandywine and New London Turnpike Company in 1811." In 1815, when the legislature authorized the State road from Market street bridge, Philadelphia, to McCall’s Ferry, on the Susquehanna river, John Thompson was one of the commissioners appointed, and chief engineer of the survey. He built the Leiper railroad in Ridley, and was employed as civil engineer in the construction of the Delaware & Chesapeake canal. He died in 1842. Pennsdale farm passed to the ownership of Isaac Taylor, the first Commissioner of Agriculture, appointed to that office by President Taylor, when that bureau was created by Congress, and continued in office under every president until his death. The farm was later purchased by J. Edgar, a son of John Thompson. He was born on the farm, February 10, 1808, and became a civil engineer under his father. In 1827 he was employed on the survey of the Philadelphia & Columbia railroad, continuing until 1830, when he entered the employ of the Camden & Amboy Railroad Company as first assistant engineer of the Eastern Division. He then visited Europe, inspecting public works, and shortly after his return was appointed chief engineer of the Georgia railroad, then controlling 213 miles of railway, then the longest system conttolled by any one company in this country. He continued until 1847, when he was elected chief engineer of the Pennsylvania railroad. On February 2, 1852, he was elected president of that company, continuing until his death, twentytwo years. He was a great engineer and a great railroad executive, and in the history of the railroads of the United States there is none greater than J. Edgar Thompson.

The Springfield Free Fountain Society was formed in April, 1882, at a meeting of men and women at the home of C. C. Ogden; they incorporated, and in July, 1882, erected their first fountain, on the state road opposite the property of George Mans, obtainitig a neverfailing supply from a spring on his grounds. Other fountains have been erected in the township by the society, whose first president was Joseph P. Maris. The last of the Indians who had a home in Delaware county, was “Indian Nelly,” who had her cabin in Springfield near the line of the Shipley farm, residing there as late as 1810. The population of Springfield in 1910 was 1132; of Swarthmore borough (q. v.) 1899; of Morton borough (q. v.) 1071.

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