The following biography was written by W. K. Mendenhall for Landenberg Day, Sept 9. 2000
Hiram Hall Storey (1851-1913) was an enterprising merchant and landowner in the town of Landenberg, New Garden Township, Chester County, PA for nearly four decades, ending in 1913. He ran a successful general store, served as Landenberg's Postmaster (1885-89), kept extensive poultry yards and owned several rental properties in New Garden and London Britain Townships. For about a decade, commencing in 1886, he operated a second general store in nearby Hockessin, DE, which he eventually turned over to his son-in-law, William T. Mendenhall. In this era, Storey was arguably the best known merchant store keeper in the Hockessin valley. Storey was a leader and trustee of the Methodist Church in Landenberg. Married three times, he had four children by his first wife and one by his third.
The Storey family were farmers from New London Township. Hiram Hall Storey's father, George Reed Storey (b. Dec. 11, 1823) taught school and later farmed in New London. On August 29, 1850 he married Elizabeth Hickman (b. August 27, 1829), whose family lived near Kaolin in New Garden Township. George and Elizabeth Storey had four children, the eldest of which, Hiram Hall Storey, was born on August 27, 1851. Elizabeth (Hickman) Storey died on October 11, 1892 (aged 63). Six years later, George Reed Storey passed away on May 6, 1898 (aged 74). Both are buried in a Storey family plot in New London Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
Hiram Storey married Sarah Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Phillips, the daughter of William and Sarah West (Craig) Phillips of Kennett Square, Chester County, PA, on December 24, 1874. "Lizzie" Phillips was born on October 12, 1843 and thus eight years older than her spouse. ["Lizzie" Phillips had a great grandfather, Jacob Craig, who served in the Sixth Co., Third Battalion of the Chester County militia during the Revolutionary War.] Lizzie attended Eaton Academy, a girls boarding school then located on West State Street in Kennett Square, which building now serves as the Friends Home.
Hiram and Lizzie Storey settled on Landenberg Road, on the west side of White Clay Creek, opposite the Landenberg Hotel built by Chandler Phillips for Ezra Lund in 1874. They occupied one of five row houses purpose-built, on the north side of Landenberg Road near the creek, to accommodate shops on the ground floor. Here Hiram Storey opened a small store and harness shop by the end of 1874. The location held promise. A new bow arch iron bridge across White Clay Creek had been built in 1873. The bridge provided easy access to the railway station across the creek; the railway line from Landenberg to Wilmington was completed in 1873. [Later, in 1899, the bow arch iron bridge was replaced by another iron bridge, of the Pratt pony truss variety, with a single 76 foot span and a cantilevered sidewalk separated from traffic. This charming Victorian relic is the endangered bridge which PennDot has closed and plans to demolish.] The Post Office was across Landenberg Road in Lund's general merchandise store (the successor of which still operates). In 1879 James Lund, a wealthy Englishman, bought a derelict four storey woollen mill, factories and other properties from the family of Martin Landenberger. Lund rebuilt Landenberger's woollen mill, (west of Storey's shop, on the opposite side of Landenberg Road, just across Penn Green Road), which became one of the largest woollen mills in eastern Pennsylvania. The mill employed workers from Wilmington whose daily commute by train took them by Storey's shop. Local farmers raised sheep, brought their wool to Lund's mill and then spent some of the proceeds in Landenberg. In Victorian times Landenberg's economy was also boosted by the mining of white clay or kaolin deposits in New Garden Township. Tons of kaolin clay were shipped daily by rail to the Port of Wilmington.
Storey's original store was no doubt a success but the enterprise was limited by the size of the row house shop. Storey decided to build a new, larger general merchandise store at the intersection of Penn Green and Chesterville Roads on a small tract of land leased from the Lund family. The new store opened in 1884 under a sign reading "H.H. Storey, Cash Dealer in General Merchandise". There were now three general merchandise stores in Landenberg, the third being a small one across White Clay Creek run by Washington Ewing. Storey sold buggy and wagon harness, farm implements, clothing, groceries -- you name it. Apparently, the most enterprising of Landenberg's three store keepers, Storey has been described as "the Wanamaker of the town", willing to supply any goods that could be bought at any store in Chester County at the lowest price.
Landenberg's first post office opened in 1848 when the village was called Chandlerville. The name was changed to Landenberg in 1869. After some entertaining local politics, the Post Office moved into Storey's new store in August of 1885. After more local politics, the Post Office was transferred back to Lund's store in December of 1889.
Hiram and "Lizzie" Storey had four daughters named Lillian (b. Feb. 19, 1876), Bertha (b. March 3, 1878), Sarah Elizabeth (b. July 27, 1882) and Elva (b. Dec. 11, 1887). Bertha died young, on Oct. 3, 1882 (aged 4). The three surviving Storey girls were raised in the Storey house at 111 Chesterville Road, a short distance west of the 1884 store. Not long after Storey opened his store on Penn Green Road, an opportunity to expand his business arose in nearby Hockessin. A new general store had opened in 1886 on the ground floor of the Odd Fellows Hall, a three storey brick building built in 1886 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), located on Main Street (old Lancaster Pike), near the railway station. Storey bought the inventory of the new store, rented the ground floor of Odd Fellows Hall and raised his familiar shopfront sign reading "H.H. Storey, Cash Dealer in General Merchandise". How did Storey manage two general stores, five miles apart? Well, Storey had hired (probably about the time he opened his 1884 store) a young apprentice storekeeper named William Taylor Mendenhall, whose family had been Quaker farmers near the village of Mendenhall, PA for generations. Will Mendenhall was born in Mendenhall, Kennett Township, on July 23, 1867. After some two years experience in Landenberg, he would have been about nineteen when Storey placed him in charge of the new Hockessin store. Several years later, Will Mendenhall married Storey's oldest daughter, Lillian (on Sept. 17, 1894), following which Storey turned the Hockessin store over to his son-in-law. Altogether, under Storey and in his own name, Will Mendenhall ran the general store in Hockessin for about thirty years, until 1918. Ownership of this still thriving country store passed from Hiram Storey to Will Mendenhall to Fred Gebhart (in 1918) to Joseph Lake (1943) to "Hank" Grobelny (1984) to Steve Henretty (1999). In addition to his merchanting activities, Storey invested in property in Landenberg, elsewhere in New Garden Township and in London Britain Township, during the 1880's and 1890's. A residential area in Landenberg was known as Storey Heights.
Both Hiram and Lizzie Storey were devout members of the Methodist Church in Landenberg. When a new church was built on a site acquired in 1902 on Penn Green Road (opposite Storey's store), Hiram Storey was one of the trustees selected to hold the title deeds.
By 1900 Ezra Lund had succeeded his father James in the management of the family woollen mills. The land on which Storey had built his 1884 store was owned by Ezra Lund, to whom Storey paid a quarterly ground rent of $20. Ezra's brother, Thomas Lund operated the general store on the southeast corner of Landenberg and Penn Green Roads, served as Postmaster (both before and after Storey's stint) and ran the telephone exchange. Thomas Lund married Laura S. Mayne from Wilmington. When Mrs. Laura Lund set up housekeeping in Landenberg she became a close friend of Lillian Storey, two years her junior.
Storey reputedly had some religious reservations about the prospect of his eldest daughter Lillian marrying a Quaker. Nevertheless they married, albeit in Philadelphia, in 1894. Lightning struck twice. Storey's second daughter, Sarah, married Mendenhall's younger brother Alfred Mendenhall, in Landenberg this time, on August 22, 1907. Fred Mendenhall (b. Aug. 22, 1868) was a Quaker who lived and farmed in the vicinity of West Chester. Storey's third daughter, Elva married Dr. Harry Bailey Chalfant, on July 27, 1911.
After a marriage of twenty six years duration, Sarah Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Storey, a much loved member of the Landenberg community, died on Dec. 30, 1900 (aged 57). In January of 1904, Hiram Storey married a widow, Mrs. Frances Zelia Glasier who was born in Ohio on April 6, 1861 and thus ten years younger than Hiram. After a marriage lasting but seven years, Zelia Storey died, on March 10, 1911. Hiram Storey clearly did not enjoy the status of widower, for within two years, he married another widow, Mrs. Lelia Campbell LeFevre, in Landenberg on November 27, 1912. Hiram Hall Storey died nine months later, on August 7, 1913, aged 62. He is buried in a Storey family plot in New London Presbyterian Church Cemetery, with his parents, his first wife, "Lizzie", their infant daughter Bertha, and his second wife Zelia.
Storey died intestate, leaving his widow Lelia carrying an unborn child. At his death, Storey owned six properties in Landenberg and the surrounding area, his store building and inventory and a poultry flock of some 1000 chickens. After complicated proceedings in the Orphans Court, his estate was eventually settled in 1915 on Lelia, her infant daughter, Hirama Helen Storey and the three surviving daughters from his first marriage, viz., Lillian Mendenhall, Sarah Mendenhall and Elva Chalfant. Following his death, Storey's 1884 store was closed. The building stood idle for years but ownership eventually passed to a group of ladies belonging to the Methodist Church. After extensive renovations, the building, now known as Landenberg Hall, became a Community center. Landenberg Hall was demolished in the late 1950's but a single story residence was built on the foundations of the 1884 store at the intersection of Chesterville and Penn Green Roads.
Lillian (Storey) Mendenhall died on August 19, 1917, aged 41. Will Mendenhall turned his Hockessin store over to his clerk, Fred Gebhart, in 1938. His late wife's long-time friend, Laura (Mayne) Lund had been a widow since 1909, when Thomas Lund died aged 45. By January of 1920 Will Mendenhall and Laura Lund had married and were living in Landenberg with his two youngest sons (Vance and Dallas) and her only son Harold. Thus for a brief time (until he parted company with Laura) Will Mendenhall found himself living once again in Landenberg where he started his business career under Hiram Storey.
William Taylor Mendenhall died on March 20, 1956. He and Lillian (Storey) Mendenhall are buried at Union Hill Cemetery, Kennett Square, PA, with five of their seven children. Alfred Mendenhall died aged 48 of double pneumonia on January 9, 1916. His widow Sarah (Storey) Mendenhall married Elwood Kerns. Sarah Elizabeth (Storey) Mendenhall Kerns died May 6, 1969. Both Alfred and Sarah Mendenhall are buried at Union Hill Cemetery in the same Mendenhall plot with their siblings, Will and Lillian Mendenhall. Also buried at Union Hill is Laura (Mayne) Lund Mendenhall, who died on Jan. 7, 1961. She is at rest in a Mayne family plot with her first husband Thomas Lund and their son Harold M. Lund.