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

Borough of Media.- One hundred and sixty-eight years prior to the location of the village of Media, Peter and William Taylor, brothers, bought of William Penn, yet in England, 1250 acres of land in the province of Pennsylvania at a price averaging ten and a quarter cents per acre; 700 acres of this land was taken up on the exact location of Media, Peter taking 400, and William 300 acres, the balance of their purchase being located elsewhere. The brothers came from England early in 1682. William lived upon his estate until his death, Tanuary 6, 1683, surviving his wife's death but three days. Peter Taylor married Sarah, daughter of John Houlston, a neighboring settler, and moved to East CaIn township, Chester county, where 500 acres of their original purchase had been located. The Taylor land passed to other hands and was used for agricultural purposes, although at the time of the removal of the county seat from Chester in 1848 there were twelve buildings included in the present borough, including the old almshousc and the house of Peter Worrail, which was a tavern. The original name of the village, Providence, was thanged to Media at a meeting held at the Providence Inn, January 10, 1850. It is an interesting fact that Gen. Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican war, and president of the United States, was a lineal descendant of Peter Taylor, original owner of the land upon which Media stands.

The agitation over the removal of the county seat began at a meeting heki at "Black Horse Tavern," in Middletonw township, and continued with bitterness in the county and legislature until the signature of Gov. Slunk was finally affixed to a bill authorizing the removal, passed by the house January 19, 1848, by the senate March 30, and signed by the governor April 7, following.

The first sale of building lots in Providence (Media) of which Joseph Fox had completed the survey and plat July 26, 1849, was held by the county commissioners, Monday, September 17, 1849, they having purchased a tract of forty-eight acres from Mrs. Sarah Briggs. Seventy lots were sold, realizing a sum of $7580, but $180 less than the sum they had paid Mrs. Briggs for the entire forty-eight acres, leaving one hundred and thirty-four lots still in their hands. The commissioners making the purchase and conducting the sale were Edmund Pennell, Mark Bartleson and Caleb J. Hoopes. The purchaser of lots Nos. 1 and 2 was Dr. George Smith, the price paid $3 per front foot. Other purchasers in rotation were Gideon Miles, one lot; Jacob Smedley, three;. William Jones, two; J. Morgan Hunter, two; Minshall Painter, eight; Joseph Hood, one; Capt. William Apple, two; Isaac Taylor, one; Isaac Haldeman, three; Geo. Smedley, two; John Miller, three; James Edwards, two; J. T. Hawkins, one, and John C. Beatty, one. Other buyers recorded were: John Hardcastle, William Smedley, Phelin Campbell, Abram Pennell, James Smith, Thomas Pratt, Isaac C. Malin, Charles Palmer, Henry Bowen, Thomas Inman. Isaac S. Williams, Jabez Lawson, James Pennell and John Hill. Large reservations had been made for the court house, jail and a market house. The lots were twenty feet front, one hundred and seventy feet in length. At a second sale, October 15, forty more lots were sold, and the same day the Briggs farmhouse and barn were purchased. After the first and second sale of lots, the increase in the value of surrounding property was so marked that it became expedient to sell the ground upon whick the old almshouse stood, particularly as the buildings were old and not well adapted to their purpose. The old structure was bought by a Mr. Primrose, of Philadelphia, who sold it to David Milne, another Philadelphian, who converted it into lodgings for a large number of colored families. The place soon became known as the "Continental."

The first building erected after the act of removal, was a fine brick store, located at the northeast corner of State street and South avenue, built by John C. Beatty, who commenced it in the fall of 1849, finishing it early the following spring. The lower story was occupied as a dry goods and grocery store by Ellis Smedley; the upper story, finished as a hall, was dedicated to the cause of temperance, February 16, 1850. Other buildings were in course of erection before the Beatty store was finished, and soon the locality began to take on the appearance of a busy town. On Friday, June 20, 1851, the first fire occurred in the infant village, Peter Hill's shingle factory, which stood not far from the bridge over Ridley creek, on the Black Horse road, being destroyed, with a considerable quantity of lumber.

Early in the history of the borough, stage lines to outside points were established, and in August, 1851, Walter C. Brodhead thus advertised in the Delaware County Republican. "For Media-Mr. Brodhead, the accommodating proprietor of the line of stages between this borough and Media, will place extra coaches on the route during the session of court. A capacious fourhorse omnibus will leave the depot at half past eight o'clock in the morning." This line was continued until the opening of the West Chester & Philadelphia railroad. In August, 1852, a telegraph line was run through Media, although a local office was not at once established.

Various improvements were inaugurated at this time, all tending to increase the prosperity and beauty of the town. Early in 1853, John C. Beatty bought from the Thomas estate eleven acres partly within the town limits, and in August bought of the directors of the Poor and House of Employment, forty acres attached to the poorhouse property and lying south of State street. This he divided into building lots. The movement for church organization had already commenced, and the Presbyterian church was afterward erected on this tract. Early in 1853, Isaac Haideman began the erection of a large store and dwelling on the northwest corner of State and Lemon streets. The same year a fine residence and bakery were erected on the opposite corner by David Middletown. Near Sandy Bank, Nathan G. Shaw also erected a handsome dwelling. By midsummer of 1853 there were seventy dwellings in the borough, fifty-seven of which had been erected after the town site had been surveyed. Four more houses were in course of construction and eight were tinder contract to be built in the fall; the court-house, jail and Charter House were finished: a school-house, blacksmith shop and coachmaker's shop also had been erected; all this having been accomplished, in less than four years. In 1854 the spirit of improvement increased wonderfully. The Media Loan and Building Association was organized; the Methodist, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches were built or started. Preparations were made also for the erection of Brooke Hall and Gayley's Academy, (subsequently the Sanitarium), and the building of private houses kept pace with public improvement. Thomas Pratt erected five brick houses northeast of Olive street, and in partnership with Jesse Bishop built the five original offices on the western side of South avenue. Abram P. Smedley put tip the handsome three-story brick building in which lie afterwards lived, and other buildings were added to the growing town. In the meantime an ordinance was passed forbidding the erection of frame buildings within the borough, a wise precaution, resulting in solid improvement and lessening fire risk. In the years intervening, Media has grown and prospered until it is one of Delaware county's most beautiful and desirable residence sections. Steani and electric roads connect it with the great city, while its freedom from all licensed drinking resorts has resulted in a much to be commended moral tone.

As a borough, Media has existed. since March 10, 1850, when the bill introduced by James J. Lewis, representative from Delaware county, was passed by the senate March 30, and received the governor's signature April 7 following. At preliminary meetings asking for incorporation as a borough, a resolution was adopted, prohibiting the sale of ardent spirits within its proposed limits. This brought on a fierce fight, and every individual was forced to take sides, either for or against. As finally passed, the bill contained the following prohibitory clause:

"It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to vend or sell vinous, spirituous or other intoxicating liquors within the limits of said borough, except for medicinal purposes; or for use in the arts; and It shall not be lawful for the court of Quarter Sessions to grant any license or licenses therefor to any inn or tavern in said borough. If any person or persons, shall within said borough, vend or sell or cause to be vended or sold, any vinous, spirituous, or other intoxicating liquors to any persons (except as provided for in this section) such person or persons, so vending or selling, shall be liable to indictment, and on conviction thereof shall forfeit and pay for every such offence, a sum of not less than twenty dollars, nor more than one hundred dollars at the discretion of the court: Provided-That it may be lawful for the Court of Quarter Sessions of said county to license inns or taverns in said borough without permission to vend or sell intoxicating drinks: And provided such license may be granted without the publication of any previous notice, as is required for other taverns."

As a direct result of this clause, the Charter House of Media was built, a place of happy entertainment for the "wayfarer and the stranger," and a monument to those zealous friends of temperance, who triumphed after a hard fight to make prohibition of the liquor traffic a part of the fundamental law of the borough. Only a few months after the incorporation of the borough, at a temperance harvest home held in Media, August 13, 1850, it was resolved, at the suggestion of Rev. James W. Dale, to raise subscriptions to build a temperance hotel. The assemblage, one of the largest ever gathered in the county, flushed with their victory, responded liberally, and $4000 was at once subscribed. It was decided that the proposed hotel should commemorate their victory, bear the name of Charter House and should not cost over $5000. At a meeting held in Temperance Hall, September 9, 1850, of which John P. Crozer was chairman, John C. Beatty and Ellis Smedley, secretaries, the Charter House Association was organized, articles of government drawn up and subscribed to. The cost of the building was extended to $10,000, and the present site of the building agreed on. John Eves was on November 9th awarded the contract for constructing the house and outbuildings for the sum of $9,500, and pledged himself to have the building completed by August 1, 1851. The cornerstone was laid November 18 by Hon. Sketchley Morton. The fourth installment of subscriptions due to the Charter House Association was paid to Abraham Pennell, the treasurer, March 24, 1851, and up to that time but one persoll had repudiated his subscription. The house was finished, May 1, and on June 18 was rented to D. Reese Hawkins at a rental of $600 per year, he to furnish the building. He moved in on Thursday, July 10, and opened the hotel for the accommodation of guests on the following Monday. With but two short intervals he retained the management of the hotel until 1871. There has been a succession of landlords since, but the Charter House has. always borne an excellent reputation, and under its present landlord, Walter S. Westcott, (treasurer of Delaware county,) it has become exceedingly popular and well patronized. The history of the Charter House is a sufficient answer to the charge that a hotei cannot be successfully maintained without a bar for the sale of liquor.

The Court House and Jail.- The county commissioners, after the act of removal, which became a law April 7, 1848, at once began to provide the necessary public buildings for the new county seat. The site was decided upon. May 15, and an offer of $50 made for an acceptable plan for a court-house and jail. The plan adopted June 18 was prepared by Mr. Sioan, of Philadelphia, the estimated cost of the court-houe being $15,000. On August 28 the coinmissioners awarded the contract to Joseph Esrey, John Williamson and Josepil Lawson for the erection of both court-house and jail, for the sum of $32,000. Work was at once begun, the cornerstone laid September 24, 1849, and May 1, 1851, the court-house was pronounced finished, though it was yet too damp for occupancy. At the last term of court held in Chester, which convened May 26, 1851, official notice of the completion of the court-house and jail was given in these words: The commissioners reported to the court that the county buildings at Media were completed and ready for occupancy and the court ordered the following minute to be entered upon the record: "May 29, 1851. The Court of Common Pleas of Delaware Co., are satisfied that the Buildings, to wit-New Jail, Court House and Public Offices in the Borough of Media are fully completed according to the true intent and meaning of the act of the Legislature entitled an Act concerning the removal of the Seat of Justice of Delaware County. Approved the 3rd day of March, 1847. After the close of this term of court, the last to be held in the old court house in Chester, the Delaware County Republican said in alluding to the change: "The next term will be held at Media, an order having been issued by the court to remove the records and other property to the new county seat prior to August. Our ancient borough, which bad been the Seat of Justice from the time of the Swedes will never again we suppose be visited by the hurry, bustle and commotion of Court Week."

The records were all moved to Media and safely housed in the new building, the work begun on Monday, June 16, being finished the following Wednesday, the prisoners from the Chester jail also having been placed in their new quarters. The bell, of Philadelphia manufacture, was received August 12, but was not placed in position in time to announce the opening of the first court held in Media, which opened August 25, 1851. The business of the term was opened by President Judge Henry Chapman, aided by Associate Judges Joseph Engle and George G. Leiper. The first case tried was that of John R. Bergen, indicted for keeping a tippling house, He was found guilty and fined $30 with costs of prosecution.

The first attorney to locate in Media was Ezra Lewis, who located in 1850; he was followed soon after by Charles D. Manley, Edward Darlington, Joseph R. Morris, and Samuel B. Thomas. The first lawyer admitted to the Delaware county bar, after the removal, was Thomas J. Clayton,

In 1870 it was found that the court-house was inadequate, and in 1871 two wings were added at a cost of $29,000. Other improvements were made as needed, but in 1913 the building is being greatly enlarged, changed so from its former appearance abd so constructed as to meet the requirements of a modern court-house in both external appearance and internal arrangement.

There are many instances of escapes from the jail at Media, becoming so frequent that in 188 improvements were made. An addition was built and cells to the number of forty provided, well ventilated and supposedly secure. In 1872 however, the commissioners found the jail defective in several particulars, and in 1877 extensive improvements were made. In 1878 a new building was erected adjoining the original jail, which has since proved a reasonably secure place of confinement.

The House of Empioyment, or County Poor House, was located at what is now Media, long before the town existed. The act creating it was passed February 13, 1804, a farm of 137 acres bought, and a poor house completed about 1807, The house was of stone, one hundred feet long by forty in width, A description of the Institution written by Miss Dix in 1845 says:

"Several miles from Chester is a large stone building, clean, well kept. and well directed. The provisions are good and sufficient and the food well prepared, Here were eighty-five inmates, the third week in October; of these but few were children. From twelve to fifteen are insane or idiotic; were clean and comfortable, with the exception perhaps of wearing chains and hobbies. None were in close confinement, though such cases often occur. * * * The entire establishment seemed excellently conducted and but for the difficulty of managir.g the insane and idiotic would afford a quiet home for the aged and infirm."

The Directors of the Poor decided in April, 1854, to sell the House of Employment and property attached and to purchase the farm of Abram Pennell, in Middletown, which was done, and a new poor house finished in Middletown by April 1, 1857. The old house was, torn down, and upon its site was erected the Haldeman House, later the home of Shortlidge's Boarding School.

Street improvement in Meda has kept pace with other improvements, and in this particular, little more can be desired. With the era of better streets, the borough council also began taking steps to secure a sufficient supply of pure water. This work was first taken under consideration in 1853, resulting in the completion of a small system of water works in Extensions and improvements were made until 1871, when the Palmer Mill property on Ridley creek was purchased and a contract made with the Philadelphia Hydraulic Works Company for the erection of pumps, and a system of modern supply inaugurated. In addition to the new water works system begun in 1898 and finisiled in 1899 a twelve-inch pumping main was laid for a distance of two thousand feet connecting with other mains leading to the reservoir and stand pipe, whicil are located at the highest point in the town. A modern system of filtration is employed, and the highest authorities declare the purity of the water unsurpassed by the supply of any other municipality. So well known is the purity and quality of the water that Wallingford secured the passage of a legislation act enabling Media to supply that section with water, which has been done for the past twentyeight years. Another main from the Media water works supplies South Media, Moylan and Rose Valley, also on the State road in Upper Providence township, a supply is furnished the residents. January 1, 1911, twenty-four acres belonging to the Lewis estate were purchased by the borough, thus insuring more perfect protection from contamination and providing a place for the erection of a modern setting basin in the future. In 1901, the borougil council installed at the pumping station a modern municipal electric lighting plant, which furnishes energy for the illumination of the streets and public buildings of the borough. The Media Gas Company was incorporated April 11, i866; works completed, mains laid and gas introduced into the homes of several citizens on September 10th. With the introduction of electricity, the usual changes were made and both systems of lighting and heating employed.

During the first years of Media's existence, as a rule, mail was received from Rose Tree, but in 1852 through Nether Providence post office, at the public house of Peter Worrall. About this time the office was moved to Media, the papers of that date stating that "the post office at Nether Providence has been removed to Media, its name has been changed and Ellis Smedicy appointed deputy until the present postmaster removed to a more convenient location." Ellis Smedley resigned, and in May, 1853, Charles R. Williamson was appointed postmaster and the office removed from Smedley store, northeast corner of State street and South avenue, to the residence and store of Mr. Williamson, on the southeast corner of Front and Orange streets. The present postmaster is Matthew S. Fox. The first burgess of Media was William T. Peirce; the present incumbent is Harry P. Engle. The first members of the council were: Dr. George Smith, Dr. Joseph Rowland, Isaac Haldeman, Nathan Shaw, Thomas T. Williams, John C. Beatty. The first treasurer of the borough was Charles Palmer; the first clerk, Thomas Richardson. The population of the borough according to the census of 1910, was 3562.

The borough is also the home of the Delaware County Institute of Science. The first meeting was held in Upper Providence, September 21, 1833, five persons attending-George Miller, Minshall Painter, John Miller, George Smith and John Cassin. An acre of land was purchased near Rose Tree, and in 1837 a two-story brick building was erected, which was formaily opened in September of that year, Dr. Robert M. Patterson, then director of the United States Mint at Philadelphia, delivering the dedicatory address. The society increased in numbers and was incorporated February 8, 1836. The lectures were given in the ball, a museum established, which received specimens in every department of natural science, and a library opened. In 1867 the society erected their building in Media, and removed their treasures thereto. The library contains thousands of volumes, besides valuable and rare pamphlets. The museum is large, containing many specimens of historical and scientific interest, Indian relics, zoological specimens, minerals, coins, birds, insects, etc. Dr. George Smith was president of the Institute from its organization until his death in February, 1882, when he was succeeded by John M. Broomall.

The Delaware County Mutual Insurance Company had its origin under the name of The Delaware County Mutual Protection Company, incorporated June 12, 1839, for the purpose of "insuring their respective dwellings, houses, stores, shops and other buildings, household furniture, merchandise and other property, against loss or damage by fire." No attempt was made at organization until the charter was extended by act of May 1, 1852, for a period of twenty years. The first meeting was held at Media, August 26, 1852, the incorporators then adopting by-laws and dividing the county into districts. Later, John M. Broomall was elected president, Jesse Bishop secretary, and John C. Beatty treasurer. Rates were adopted, and by October 20, 1852, the entire machinery of the company was in motion. By January 1, 1853, insurance to the amount of $300,000 had been effected. On June 15, 1853, the company announced that it had issued three hundred policies, covering property to the amount of $600,000. October 18, 1873, the company moved to its own building on the corner of Front street and South avenue. The losses paid up to 1913 aggregate $610,000.

The financial institutions of Media arc: the First National Bank, established in 1864, William H. Miller, president, R. Russell, cashier; The Media Title and Trust Company, established in 1880, H. W. Rhodes, president, T. E. Levis, vice-president, W. E. Johns, treasurer, and the Charter National Bank, established in 1887, Jesse Darlingham president, Miss A. J. Darlingham casilier.

Three newspapers are published in the borough-The Delaware County American, established in March, now published under the firm name of Thomas V. Cooper & Sons; The Delaware County Record, founded March 23, 1878, now published by Joseph Chadwick, and The Media Ledger, established in 1891 William Ward, Jr., editor.

The churches in Media, ten in number, are treated in another chapter, as are its most excellent schools for which $75,000 has recently been voted to still further improvements.

George W. Bertram Lodge, F. A. M.; Media Chapter, R. A. M.; Kossuth Lodge, I. O. O. F.; Bradbury Post, G. A. R.; and other fraternal societies are located in the borough.

There was no early organized body of fire fighters in Media although provision had been made by the council for protection by the purchase of a hand engine and several hundred feet of leather hose. In 1889, at the suggestion of the Delaware County Republican, steps were taken to form an organization. At a meeting held at the home of Frank I. Taylor, was organized the Media Fire and Protective Association. The association took charge of the hand engine and hose, but it was not until August, 1891, that application was mache to court for the incorporation of Media Fire and Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. The charter was granted October 6, 1891, Terrence Reilly becoming first president. The apparatus of the cpmapny consists of a La France fire engine, a chemical engine, and hose wagon. The company's roster contains the names of the judges, lawyers, physicians, mechanics and merchants, and has a protid record of efficiency in actual service as well as holding prize records in competition with the best companies in the state. The company now has under advisement the purchase of an additional engine of the automobile type.

Company H, Sixth Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard, is quartered in a handsome graystone armory on State street, erected by the government of Pennsylvania at a cost of $25,000. The building was erected five years ago, and besides containing a spacious drill-room is fitted out excellently for the comfort and convenience of the enlisted men, having numerous lounging and smoking rooms, as well as commodious locker and dressing accommodations. The enrollment at present is fifty-five men, who meet in the armory every Tuesday night for drill. The officers of the company for the present term of three years are Captain, William Westcott; First Lieutenant, Henry C. Saulnier; Second Lieutenant, George Owen Cornod.

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