Old "Tough," once a village of beauty, prosperity, and a
certain gentility can now only be compared to an aging movie queen. There are
traces of former beauty, but she has been ravaged by time and man. When new
settlers arrived in the Township and displayed various talents, shops were
established by blacksmiths and carriage makers; shoemakers and weavers. There
was no town at first and business was conducted from the artisan's home. Travel
increased steadily as people moved westward to live; to conduct business; or to
carry on matters of government throughout the Province. People wanted a meeting
place and accommodations were soon needed for the wayfarers.
A petition for a house of entertainment dated August 29, 1738, stated that William Carpenter "has a Convenient House by the great Road
which leads from Conestogoe to Christiana and New Castle where the Road from
Brandywine to Nottingham Crosseth the Same. Which roads being very much Travelled
by a Multitude of People and No House of Entertainment being near nor on the
sd. Road for about Twenty Miles Travellars have often times been Obliged to
repair to the Adjacent Settlements for Necessary relieft, Wherefore your
Petitioner Hymbly requests that you will be pleased to Recomment him to the
Governour as a fit person to be Licensed to keep Inn or Publick house of
Entertainment for the Conveniency of Travellars at New Garden aforesaid." The
petition was "not allowed." Two days later another petition by Carpenter asking
for a license to sell "Beer and Cyder" was awarded by the Court. The crossroads
mentioned is the intersection of Old Route 1, now LR 131, and Newark Road in Toughkenamon. Around this inn, or public house, was slowly built the Village of Toughkenamon. For many years it was only a wayside stop, however.
George Chandler presented a petition in November 1739 saying
that he had purchased a house and tract of land where William Carpenter
dwelled. Because of illness and misfortune, he was unable to work and support
his family of small children and would thus operate the public house. He was
refused. The next mention was in 1742 when William Reed asked for a license to
sell necessary refreshments at this same location. The Deed for part of this
property was then recorded and stated that on June 15, 1742, William Penn through his attorney, James Logan, sold to William Reed of New Garden, a dyer, 46 acres of land. The house was on the east side of present Newark Road as best
as can be determined, facing present LR 131. Deeds relating to Carpenter, Chandler and other early owners were not recorded, nor is there a description of the
building. Thus, it may not have been the later one that many people remember.
William Reed's petition for a license was granted and
continued each year until 1748. Stephen White then applied, stating that he had
purchased the former Reed tavern, but no name was mentioned for it. White acted
as host until 1753. John Morton, Sheriff, then sold this and four adjoining
tracts to Elizabeth Ring. Her husband, Nathaniel, obtained a license in August
of that year and operated it until 1763. Before she remarried, Mrs. Ring was
the widow of Archibald McNeil, an early keeper of Red Lion Tavern. Simeon Woodrow
sought to operate it after that and was granted the privilege for the tavern
"Commonly known or Called the 'Sign of the Ship' " that had "lately been put in
better repair." Elizabeth Ring appears to have still owned the property, but
leased it to Woodrow until 1767.
Sarah Baldwin then obtained license for the "old and well
accustomed Tavern where Nathaniel Ring for many years heretofore by your favour
obtained Licence for Selling Wine, Rum, Cyder, Beer &c by Small Measure."
(Small measure was less than a quart, and often called "the small.") She
retained possession through 1771. In that year license was granted, but with
opposition. Twelve men petitioned the Court stating that Sarah Baldwin
"causes great murmuring and uneasiness in the
Neighborhood, for she entertains or detains great companies of Children,
Hirelings and Servants, and other unthoughtful People about her House, drinking
to exces and Singing at unreasonable Hours and Specialy upon the first Day of the
Elizabeth Ring may have been uneasy about all this, for in
the following March, she sold the property to Stephen White for the sum of 351
pounds and ten shillings. Presumably, White is the same man from whom she first
purchased the property.
Stephen Anderson, who had previously kept the inn at Chatham, obtained a license for "Sign of the Ship" and retained it until sometime after May
1776. He was said to have been a Tory and his property was confiscated after he
was tried and convicted of high treason. During the Revolutionary War, the
inn's sign was supposedly spared from shot because it bore the Masonic emblem
on its face and there were Masons in both armies. Another legend says that.
General LaFayette stopped there during this period, too. The next record in
August 1781 found the estate of Anderson, "an Attainted Traitor," conveyed unto
Major James Parr by the president in Council. Parr and his successors agreed to
a yearly rent of nine bushels of good merchantable wheat, payable twice a year,
to be delivered at the public market place in Philadelphia, free of expense; or
in lieu of that, the current price of such wheat to the University of Pennsylvania.
Parr soon sold his property to James Hutchinson,
"Practitioner of Physick." A few days later, on May 4, 1782, Dr. Hutchinson sold it to Jonathan Sergeant for 250 pounds, but one Elizabeth Anderson was
licensed to "Retail Sprittous liquers by the small" for the next. two years.
Enoch Betts than operated it and finally purchased the property on January 7, 1785. He remained its owner for two years until it was sold to Joshua Jackson
of Wilmington. Jackson did not occupy the inn. Joseph Gray asked for a license
to operate it, and for the first time, in the year of 1786, mentioned the name,
"Hammer and Trowel," situated "on the Principal Road Leading from Notingham to Chester." License was not granted until the following year. Thomas McDaniel leased the Ire
property in 1790 and held license until his death seven years later. His widow,
Margaret, then served as hostess. James Bell, Constable in 1797, reported on
those who sold liquor within the Township as required by law:
"A return of Retailers and Venders of Spiritual Lickers in
the Township of New Garden - Benjn. Brown, Thomas Best, Joseph Temple by the
Quart and Gallon; John Tomblinson, Mary Mc danel by Small Measure."
The last two were tavern operators; the first listed
gentlemen probably maintained "bottling works."
Joshua Jackson finally sold the property to Hugh Thomson (or
Thompson) who in turn sold it to Jane Cloud in 1792, in trust for her son,
Allen Thompson until he came of age. The widow McDaniel only kept the house for
one year thereafter. George Copeland was licensed for the "Hammer and Trowel"
then, but changed the name in 1799 to the "White Horse," probably because it
had suffered a bad reputation under his management. Copeland was still listed
as operating it in 1808, but in October 1809, Stephen Greenfield took over its
management and remained until 1815 when William Hagerty was granted a license
at the May term of Court. Hagerty's son, Washington, was an early Prison Warden
in Chester County. Host Hagerty remained through 1824; Sidney Marsh is listed
as Innkeeper in 1825; Caleb Swayne in 1826-27; and Sidney Marsh, again, 1828.
It was once more known by the name of "Hammer and Trowel," but called at times
the House of Margaret Hagerty although it was still owned for Allen Thompson,
and operated by Sidney Marsh until 1835. He then purchased it from Allen and
Anna Thompson for $2000.00, and remained until 1840 when he left to become a
hotel keeper in West Chester. The "Hammer and Trowel," or "Mallet and Paddle"
as it was facetiously called, was leased to Phineas Brown in 1840-4; then
operated by Daniel Johnson, a local shoemaker, for two years. A strong
temperance movement swept the County by 1844 and New Garden Township residents had strong sentiment against liquor. Sidney Marsh, who either discontinued
hotel keeping in West Chester, or operated the "Hammer and Trowel," too,
obtained a license to operate the inn as a temperance house. The newspaper
"AN IMPORTANT TEMPERANCE MEETING will be held at Public
House of Sidney Marsh, well known as the Hammer and Trowel. In order to convey
to Sidney Marsh an expression of their approbation of his conduct, in opening a
temperance house, to encourage the sentiment which now prevails, in the
community, against the sale of intoxicating drinks, and to erase from the
public mind those painful associations which have fore more than a century been
connected with the name of the Hammer and Trowel, the friends of Temperance
have agreed to present him with a new and appropriate sign, which will be
raised on the day of the meeting."
Eloquent speakers were invited; a stand and comfortable
seats for ladies were built in a nearby grove; and ample accommodations were
made for entertainment of the company. Dinner was provided for 25¢
Shortly thereafter, a report of the meeting said that the
old sign was removed "from the gaze of the people," and a new one raised in
lieu of it, dedicated to Temperance, "after which the old post was deliberately
chopped off..." It was then known as "Temperance Inn and Traveller's Rest."
Temperance wasn't 'a big hit in Toughkenamon, however, and few patronized the
inn. Marsh soon had to admit that a license was necessary if business was to
continue and the "Hammer and Trowel" sign was raised once more. Marsh was a
careful innkeeper who never patronized his own bar, and until his death in
1865, the inn was known as a very reputable hostelry.
His sons, Ralph and Sidney, Jr. operated it after he died,
but Ralph died soon, himself, and Sidney, Jr. ran it alone. He had a sister,
Sarah, who married Solace Adams about 1869, and during 1870 and 1871, Marsh and
Adams were licensed together. Before that, however, the property was sold at
public sale, apparently to settle the estate. The hotel and 57 acres of land
went to Marsh and Mrs. Adams for $10,045.50; a small dwelling and about three
acres of land to John Harper for $1,000.00, and other lots brought varied
Solace Adams died in 1871, leaving Sidney Marsh, Jr. to
operate alone. The following year, the State Legislature passed an act known as
the "Local Option Law." It provided that every three years thereafter, in local
elections, voters were to decide whether or not liquor could be sold in a
community. New Garden went Dry! As if that were not enough of a blow to the
innkeepers, Marsh and his sister were sued by Isaac Slack for damages from
diversion of a water course. He said that water was provided for his house by a
particular spring, and that it had been diverted when the defendants tapped it
and took a greater portion for their use. Court found for Plaintiff and charges
made of 10¢! The "Toughkenamon Hotel" as it was then known closed its door to
friend and foe on March 31, 1874.
The closing may have been due to the death of Sidney Marsh,
Jr., for a public sale of personal property of Sarah Adams was held January 31, 1874. She was listed as the surviving partner of Marsh and Adams. It was then
planned to rent the property which included seventy acres of ground and a
The Local Option Law was repealed in 1875; Sarah Adams
married a second time to Edward G. Yetter; and Yetter ran the inn for about the
next ten years. He changed the name to "Valley House at Toughkenamon," and
solicited the trade of the sporting fraternity by building a trotting track
nearby. In 1879, a license was issued to Chalkley J. Yetter; none was issued in
1880; and in 1881 Edward Yetter was fined $250.00 for selling liquor without a
license. Several people testified that they had purchased it from employees and
Yetter decided to move to Kansas. The property was rented to Moses Carpenter
who finally so1d part of it to James Mendenhall in 1884 for $4800.00. Ten
months later it was sold to Morris E. Shie1ds of Compassville. Mendenhall had
obtained an eating house license, and Yetter seems to have delayed his trip to Kansas for he opened a bottling business and was arrested, again, for illegal liquor sales.
When sold to Shie1ds the inn was reported as one of the
oldest taverns in the County, and among the most famous. The most widely known
mention of the "Hammer and Trowel" is probably in the "Story of Kennett" by
Bayard Taylor who wrote that Barton and Fortune, retired there after a fox hunt
for a "Smaller, or a bigger, for that matter." As they left together, Fortune
was revealed as no other than "Sandy" Flash, the fictional outlaw who had
terrorized the County for some years. More information may be found of "Sandy"
Flash in the section entitled "Landenberg." Leaving fiction and returning to
fact, Shields erected a new "Hammer and Trowel" sign on the front of the
building, but shortly changed the name to "Shields House." Additions were made
during the next three years including a wagon shed, a new fence and wall in
front, a scale house, new floors inside, and various other interior
renovations. J. B. Graves operated it as a temperance house in 1888, but
Shields still owned it and continued to do so until 1898. Norris Patterson, an
employee, was severely burned when he put out a fire that had started
from an overflowing lantern in the hotel barn. He laid over the burning
The stockyards adjoining the inn were the scene of much
bargaining among the drovers who regularly passed through. John Huey sold about
eighty head of York State Calves there in 1890 at an average of $14.00 per
A liquor license was allowed in 1894 over the protests of
several citizens against this action by Shields, and four years later Shie1ds
sold out to Joseph and Hannah Green of Philadelphia. They appear to have
retained it until 1904 when John Babb of Kennett Square purchased it and resold
it shortly to Charles C. Smith of Philadelphia. The "Daily Local News" reported
in June 1906:
"The famous old tavern, the Hammer and Trowel, at
Toughkenamon, was the scene of a merry party, which called up recollections of
the old time reveries at that hostelry. Friday evening, about one hundred and
fifty kindred spirit, the jolliest band in the entire section, gathered there
to do justice to a terrapin supper which Mr. J. P. Lynch of West Grove had
provided for their entertainment."
Lynch was a candidate for Legislature. The party with guests
from West Chester, Wilmington, and Philadelphia as well as neighboring
communities lasted until the wee small hours. The Oxford delegation brought
with it the "Neapolitan Italian Orchestra" which proved a most enjoyable
feature of the evening's entertainment.
A flowery reprint from the "Philadelphia Ledger" covering
the history of the old inn appeared in 1913. Its closing paragraph read:
"Just recently some other very old taverns in Chester County have had their tap-rooms sealed up by the Court. The dispenser of licenses
doubtless reasoned that to molest such an ante-diluvian bar as that of the
Hammer and Trowel would be like desecrating a great-grandmother's tomb; so he
passed it by."
The owner at that time was Alred F. Timms of Kennett Square who had suffered a lengthy Court hearing regarding illegal liquor sales and
disorderly conduct. The case was heard in March 1913, and seventy witnesses
testified that liquor had been sold to "known intemperate men," including many
from the large Negro population in the vicinity who celebrated on Saturday nights.
There was much discussion of the questionable conduct of a certain lady, too.
Two months later Sheriff Jones levied on the personal property, household
goods, hotel fixtures, etc. on a judgment said to have been about $20,000.00.
Mrs. C. W. Smith purchased the property at the Sheriff's Sale and sold it in
January 1915 to George W. Lukens of Jennersville. The sale included the "Hammer
and Trowel Hotel" and sixty acres of ground. It was said that Lukens did not
intend to apply for a liquor license and purchased the property because of its
location, its adaptability to stock sales and its drove yards and other
accommodations. He retained the property until February 1923.
The old inn passed through many hands after that. Sometimes
it was operated as a restaurant and bar, and at other times it was used
primarily as a boarding house. On some occasions, it was raided and owners
fined for selling liquor without a license or selling on Sundays, and for other
sundry and assorted activities. It suffered from a poor reputation at times.
Chester Bartoli purchased it in 1939 and operated it as an
apartment house until about 1948, when a fire occurred in one of the
apartments. Because of its generally run down condition, the building was torn
down. So ended the "Hammer and Trowel."
The village, itself, grew slowly around the old inn, and
reached a peak when the railroad came. Until that time it was only a few houses
and a store or two in the midst of a farming community, The Messrs. Taylors'
Vineyard at Tuffcanum near Kennett Square produced wine in 1830. A report on it
"It was agreed by all present the wine was well flavored
and of good body, needing nothing but age to deserve the character of excellent
- far superior in our opinion, it certainly was, to the wines Lisbon, Fyal,
&c which sell from about $1.00 to $1.50 per gallon. The experiment is so
successful, our hopes are strengthened, that in a few years Chester county,
will produce wine enough for domestic consumption, better than the half that is
There were no more references to winemaking. The next year
it was reported that several growers sold their fruit in Philadelphia instead
of making wine. During that Winter, ice cutting from the pond of Joseph
Chambers was reportedly not completed on time because Miss Mary Warrington fell
in the dam and lost her reticule (handbag) .It was saved by Chamber's son who
let out the water, much angering his father for the ice sank to the bottom and
settled in the mud. Frederick McNamee advertised that same year in the
"American Republican" that he was available:
"The subscriber has commenced the business of coverlet,
draper, and carpet weaving, in all its varieties, at his residence in New Garden Township (Hammer and Trowel) where all business in his line will be punctually
attended to, on reasonable terms."
He may have been an itinerant tradesman who later moved on
to another village or town for awhile.
In March 1853, public meetings were held regarding the
building of a railroad from Baltimore to Philadelphia, by way of West Chester. Finance Commissioners were appointed for respective townships. Those from New Garden were Joseph Dowdall, Eber W. Sharp, John Richards, Townsend Walter, and Halliday
Hoopes. Dowdall was nominated to the Executive Commission, and as Treasurer.
Seven lines were examined for the proposed road. In the meantime, the "Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad" surveyed a branch road to run from
Elkton to the Pennsylvania line to divert strength from the proposed move. It
was decided, however, to start the "Philadelphia and Baltimore Central
Railroad" then, even though money was only available at a high rate - 2% per
month. Contracts were awarded for grading and building parts the road from
Media to the Susquehanna River. Employment was provided for many. When the line
was completed to Toughkenamon, Sidney Marsh, the innkeeper, threw a big dinner
for all who had worked on it.
It is said that the efforts of Isaac Slack resulted in the
railroad coming through Toughkenamon. About 1856, Slack, William Johnson, and
John Richards erected a stone mill to use as a sawmill, with the idea of
rafting pine logs down the Susquehanna River to Port Deposit, Maryland, and
then bringing them by rail to Toughkenamon. This enterprise was not successful,
but they carried on a good neighborhood trade for a time. The building was sold
at public sale in 1862 and was described as brick, 106 feet by 28 feet, lying
contiguous to the Railroad at Toughkenamon Station. It was then known as the
sash and frame factory, and was the same building used later for the hard
rubber factory; as a machine shop by Ashton Hand; and eventually as the
One of the most prosperous early businesses in Toughkenamon,
and one that lasted for many years, was the wheel and spoke works of Messrs.
Samuel Strahorn and I. M. Pierson. Their letterhead states that they were
established in 1848, but they were not in Toughkenamon that early. Each
continued a business in Landenberg for several years after that date. Isaac
Pierson had a smithing business near Landenberg in 1854; and Samuel Strahorn
had a turning mill there which was entirely destroyed by fire in 1864.
Following that fire, there was published a "Dissolution of Partnership" that
had existed between Samuel Strayhorn, I. M. Peirson, and James M. Corlis, under
the firm of "Strayhorn, Peirson and Corlis." It was dissolved by mutual
consent. Strahorn and Pierson were to continue the Spoke Business, and James M.
Corliss was to continue the manufacture of wheels. "Strahorn, Pierson and
Company" opened in Toughkenamon in the Spring of 1866, after purchasing a
factory. One of the best of descriptions of the operation was written in the
"Oxford Press" on December 2, 1868, the same date that Toughkenamon became
fully recognized and its Post Office opened. The name was spelled as two words
- Tough Kenamon; the first Postmaster was George C. Gallagher; and the office
was in the station house of the Phi1adelphia and Ba1timore Railroad.
The reporter, after describing the physical set-up of the
building which was three stories high, went on to say that some fifteen to
twenty men were employed there, turning out 40,000 spokes, 1200 sets of wheels,
a large number of hubs and other items, each year. Machinery was driven by a
twenty horsepower Corliss engine.
"There is also a planing machine run which supplies the
neighborhood with building stuff, besides the firm deals in felloes, shafts,
A great amount of the best hickory wood is here used and
the forests all around have for years been levied upon for supplies until there
is beginning to be an apparent diminuation of hickory timber. The farmers
furnish the split spoke stuff at $25.00 per thousand - which is sawed and split
in the woods by professional hands as it is a somewhat difficult operation to
split into the proper size and shape. A cord of wood will make about 1500
spokes, yet it takes a very handsome tree to make 1000."
It added that several spoke machines were in use that turned
a spoke to proper size each minute. The principal markets were Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore, along with "most of the shops in the surrounding country." The
price was about $50.00 per thousand. The article further stated:
"The engine which affords the power for this mill deserves
more than a passing notice. It is of the celebrated Corliss pattern, built by
J. Morton Poole and Company of Wilmington... There is a peculiarity of
construction in this engine which renders it superior to all others, the
governor being so arranged as to regulate it most beautifully and gives it a
remarkable regular stroke. This engine has been run for about ten years without
costing $1.00 for repairs. Mr. Isaac Slack, member of the firm who has
supervision of the engine and other machinery, takes great delight in keeping
everything in order, and has given much attention to the economy of mechanical
operations. He informed us that he uses none but the best sperm oil."
Although the company operated under the original name,
Samuel Strahorn died in November 1867 of typho-malarial fever which
periodically swept through the Toughkenamon Valley. It appears that his wife
retained the partnership, but a few years later his cousins, Joseph H. and
Milton Strahorn, were listed in the business. The ensuing years were prosperous
ones and, eventually, a large warehouse was built. A lumbering operation began
in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to provide needed material with which to
operate. The factory closed for a day in July while employees attended a picnic
in Strahorn's Grove, with the day and evening devoted to dancing and other
"Toughkenamon is a noted place," wrote a reporter in 1875,
"Noted for its peculiar name, its fine, healthy location, its excellent schools,
its fine hotel, etc.... and now it is still further noted for a newly made grave.
In a nice shady nook just west of the village we find a mound of earth which
bears evidence of frequent visits, and no doubt many sighs are heaved and tears
are here shed for the departed. A monument has just been erected at the head of
this noted grave and reads as follows:
In memory of
Old dog Branch, born in Fulton County, Penna.,
Died June 11th, 1875, aged 14 years
To this urn let those repair;
That are either true or fair;
For this dead dog sigh a prayer.
Sic Transit, Branchi."
By 1880, the Wheel and Spoke works employed more than thirty
men and had more orders than it could fill in six months. In that same year,
John Springer of Toughkenamon was working in the garret of the factory. While
descending to a lower level by elevator, the rope broke and Mr. Springer fell
to the cellar below, bruising himself and badly spraining an ankle, "from the
effects of which he is now suffering severely." Two years later, the manufacture
of cheese boxes was begun for the Creamery in Toughkenamon, and for those
located elsewhere. One hundred a day were produced, and had the need arisen,
they were prepared to increase the number to meet the demand.
An employee, bitter over his shortened work week in 1887,
put oil in the glue pots and did other things to injure and annoy fellow
workers and his employer. He also threatened to burn down the works and was
arrested. By this time, the partnership included Isaac M. Pierson, Isaac Slack,
Joseph H. Strahorn, and Milton Strahorn. John Chandler, who had entered the
picture at one point, left.
Through the years, the capacity for finishing spokes had
increased to seven or eight hundred more per day, but new machinery was
installed to increase the number to even more. By 1889, employees were working
ten hours daily. The partnership was dissolved in 1890 and business was then
conducted only by Isaac M. Pierson. Milton and Joseph Strahorn operated a
carriage shop across the road in the same building that housed the blacksmith
shop. Pierson operated under his name alone for several years, but tragedy
struck on Christmas day in 1903 when the wheel works was set af'ire. The
following day fire struck again and completely destroyed the operation. It was
written that a Toughkenamon firebug was responsible, and there is no further
reference to the business.
By the mid-1800s, Toughkenamon was extolled for the rare
beauty of its picturesque valley "of which but little was known until the
establishment of the 'Daily Local News' in the columns of which we occasionally
read with feelings of interest some Toughkenamon items or a Toughkenamon letter
which indicated the place as no longer consisting of a crossroad tavern and a
few one-story dwellings." It went on in its description, thus:
"At the eastern end of the town a large brick yard is
making full time - at the other end is the base ball ground and private
trotting course which is open every Saturday to those who comply with the
strict rules for the prevention of cruelty to horses. No betting or other
immoderations are allowed. On one of the main streets a watering trough of cast
iron attracted my attention, resting upon wrought iron supporters set in
masonry, it seems capable of resisting the ravages of time like the rock of
The ample railroad depot and freight house were described
along with the platform and watering station which were erected and presented
to the company together with the ground upon which they stood by Isaac Slack,
the acknowledged founder and benefactor of the town who also subscribed
liberally to the stock of the road. It said, too, that Slack either built the
factories and houses, or was instrumental in getting them built.
Slack's donation of land and buildings to the railroad was
not readily accepted. He had intended that no part of this land at any future
period be fenced in, or monopolized by any party to the exclusion of the
public. Mr. McHenry, Railroad President, informed Slack of certain rival
interests that prevented his accepting the property, but after deliberation
proposed to use it as a flag-station, providing Slack would take a bond for
$500.00 and pay for it at once, which was agreed and done. Slack then put an
agent in the building and agreed to pay his salary if the railroad refused.
The company paid a small salary; Slack made up the
difference for awhile. When he built the water house and tank in order to
induce the company to make it a permanent station, the railroad became
arbitrary since it had obtained no title to the water and tore down the water
house and tank. They were moved away, contrary to an earlier agreement, and
someone else was granted the privilege of building a granary on or near the
site. The dispute was published to make the public aware of their railroad
rights and privileges, and to prevent future trouble "when Mr. Slack and all of
us shall have passed the period dividing time from eternity, when our places
will be filled by others yet unborn, and when Toughkenamon, instead of being a busy
manufacturing village, may be a large and prosperous town!" The railroad agent
was said to have abused his power when he fenced in ground to raise special
breeds of fancy dogs and attended to his own private enterprises, which were
numerous, and neglected the three public offices he held under salary, vis. -
Railroad agent, Adams Express agent and Postmaster. He was accused in a public
meeting of lying about his explanation regarding an important business letter
from New York "which came to hand torn open," but its contents were not
described by the newspaper.
Although all of this was written in 1877, it must've
happened several years earlier, for in 1872 it was reported that a double frame
dwelling that had originally been a grain house was struck by lightning and its
contents destroyed. The owner, Mr. Johnson, had remodeled it, but the
"Baltimore Central Railroad Company" threatened to remove it, claiming that it
was on their grounds. The fire was regarded as providential for Mr. Johnson
since the insurance company paid for damages and the loss was much less than it
would've been had the railroad moved it, but the McCurren family who rented the
property were unable to save even their shoes.
Isaac Larkin erected a "Wingard patent brick kiln" in the
village about 1878, and made "first class bricks." From it came most of the
brick used in many of the homes built in Toughkenamon for the factory
operatives. By 1885, however, he turned the kiln into a tenant house, and a few
years later, he and Joseph Chambers were in the greenhouse business and trying
to get Congressman Darlington to aid them by having the Post Office sell money
orders and postal notes to help business in the area.
The site for the New Garden creamery - one hundred rods east
of the railroad station at Toughkenamon - was chosen on April 27, 1881,
following an investigation begun a year earlier by a group of farmers who
canvassed the area to see if enough cows existed to enable a creamery to
operate. A fine stream of water there influenced those who selected the site,
after they had determined that the necessary five or six hundred cows were
available. The group: Thompson Richards, President; I. Frank Chandler,
Secretary; and Committee members: Ed. Marshall, William J. Marshall, Jeremiah
Starr, Eli Thompson, and Joseph P. Chandler. A two-story building was erected,
with stone for the first floor, and frame for the second. Philip M. Sharpless,
"founder and merchant of West Chester," was awarded the contract for installing
the machinery in the "Toughkenamon Creamery," the name by which it was first
known. A deep well was sunk and water pumped by steam power. On September 30,
R. and E. Palmer of West Chester forwarded a complete set of Whiteman's patent
creamery apparatus for installation. It was the first set of complete creamery
ware made in Chester County, and the Whiteman patent was considered by
practical butter makers to be the best in the market. Operations began November 1, 1881. The very next month, the "Daily Local News" reported:
"A prominent citizen of Kennett Square, who does not
object to taking an occasional "smile" was at Toughkenamon a few days ago
attending a surprise party. While there our Kennett Square friend met a
gentleman, a strong temperance advocate, who invited him to take a look at the
new creamery. The invitation was accepted and while they were taking a look at
some of the machinery, the Kennett Square gentleman found it necessary to get
in a stooping posture, and in doing so out fell a flask of whiskey on the
floor. The tableau that ensued was beautiful to behold."
In March, the stockholders met and the Board was elected:
Isaac Richards, Caleb Hoopes, Samuel Wickersham, I. Frank Chandler, Eli Thompson,
Richard Moore, and Edward Marshall. Caleb Hoopes was chosen Treasurer, and
Edward Michener, John Thompson, and Benjamin P. Hoopes selected to audit the
accounts. Butter sold at 47¢ and cheese for 12¢. By May, prices dropped to 33¢
and 10¢ respectively. In October, William Sharpless of near West Grove and
Joshua Thompson had taken charge of the creamery. The manufacture of cheese was
discontinued and the skim milk fed to hogs that were housed nearby in large
pens. Bui1dings and machinery were sold to N. Sharpless for $5000.00 in
November 1882, an amount about $2000.00 less than it cost to set it up
originally. Sharpless was listed as former Superintendant of the creamery, but
all references are to William Sharpless the owner. From three to five thousand
pounds of milk were received daily. Four cents a quart was the average price
paid for it. The questionable accuracy of newspaper reports is shown in two
statements of 1884. In June, it was said that 2700 pounds of butter were being
produced weekly, several hundred pounds short of demand. In August, however, it
was reported that a meeting of creamery proprietors was held at Toughkenamon,
with representatives present from all of the most important creameries of Delaware, Chester, and Lancaster counties, for the purpose of discussing the depressed
condition of the trade due to overproduction of butter.
Sharpless purchased the right to manufacture butter from
skim milk in a "secret process discovered by a New York man," and prepared to
do so at Conard's creamery at West Grove on which he held a lease. Farmers were
skeptical of the process, but Sharpless strongly emphasized that the butter was
genuine and could be made in greater quantities from less milk, although it was
claimed that skim milk butter was not quite so good as that produced by the
separator. It was, nevertheless, said to be a first-class, wholesome article,
and the manufacturing of it was to begin in 1886. Two years later, "Sharpless
Creameries" were operating, also, in Landenberg and Kennett Square. When the
owner found himself with about two thousand pounds of butter and many barrels
of cottage cheese on hand, and the railroad blocked by the Blizzard of 1888, he
loaded a four-horse team, took several men with shovels and axes, and started
for Wilmington. He arrived all right and shipped his goods from there to Philadelphia.
About 1905 or 1910 the business in Toughkenamon was sold to
P. E. and another William Sharpless of Concord. This latter William Sharpless
had large creameries in Concord, Fairville, and, then, Toughkenamon. George D.
Riale from the P. E. Sharpless Company operation in Rising Sun was placed in
charge of the Toughkenamon plant about 1912 and continued there through the
many changes of ownership that occurred through the years. The creamery was
destroyed by fire about 1932, sustaining $50,000.00 in damages.
There has been a feed and supply store at Toughkenamon for
many, many years, but there were so many references to it that it hasn't been
determined if there was only one that changed hands often, or if two or three
were located in the Village handling different types of supplies finally merged
into one big operation. Messrs. Marshall and Pyle opened a grain warehouse in
connection with their coal and lumber yard in 1864, and the name was changed to
Pyle and Springer a year later. The partnership of E. S. Marshall and Isaac
Pyle was dissolved by 1868, and Pyle sold his interest to his sons. John Hoopes
was successor to Webb and Hoopes, coal and lumber dealers, in 1876. Samuel
Hoopes sold his coal and lumber yard three years later to Isaac Larkin who in
turn sold it to Chalkley Walton of London Grove for $4000.00. Walton installed
a sawmill three years later, but had sold to S. M. Wilson of the Pusey and
Wilson firm by 1887. Transfer was delayed because Mr. Wilson had a sunstroke.
Storm damaged the Pusey and Wilson mill, and an employee,
James Collier, was killed when they built a new trestle for coal chutes and
"the cars caught him." S. M. Wilson died in 1891 and his interest in the
business was purchased by his brother, Morris. They were now coal and lumber
dealers in Toughkenamon, Avondale, and Landenberg. By the very early 1900s, the
operation in Toughkenamon was known as Wilson and Mendenhall, then H. A. Mendenhall
as successor. The name Wilson and Brosius appeared in the 1940s. They sold to
Penn-Del Supply Company about 1947 and the business was operated under the
supervision of James Kerr, Vernon Mercer, and Burnett Wilson.
The first mention found of a store house in Toughkenamon was
a newspaper ad dated January 1827:
"Store-House and comfortable dwelling attached - to let -
also a barn and stabling and 7A of land - near Hammer and Trowel - late the
property of Anthony Paxson, deceased. For information apply to George Gregg,
Kennett, or on premises to Martha Paxson."
And, in 1848 what seems to be the same store-house was
listed for sale by Warner M. Paxson. William Dowdall resided on the premises.
Other than its location near the old inn, there is nothing to indicate that
this is the same place where Eli Bullock kept store, but there isn't any
indication that it isn't, either. Bullock operated for several years and then
sold his "store stand, good will and fixtures" to Harry P. Owen about 1872.
Owen operated there for many years.
It was a typical "country store," and he had those problems
that any successful merchant might encounter. His store was robbed so many
times that he installed burglar alarms connecting the house and store in 1892.
Apparently, the store was rebuilt in 1895, and his advertisement for
"Rebuilding and Reduction Sale" offered horse and bed blankets, wool and merino
underwear, boots and shoes, carpets, trunks, wallpaper, dress goods, clothing
and harness, along with men's extra everyday, good wearing pants at 75¢ a pair;
children's kneesuits at $1.00; 4-4 Hill muslin at 6¼¢ apiece; heavy muslin at 5¢ a yard; dress ginghams at 6¢; ladies
and gents dress shoes at $1.00, plus plenty of pantaloons and overalls. Dried
peaches were 10¢ a pound, and four cans of tomatoes cost a quarter. Wheat Flour
was available by the barrel or bag, at mill prices, together with drugs and
patent medicines, hardware, queensware, wood and willow ware, watches and
violins. Great Western Washers cost $3.50, and ladies trimmed felt and velvet
hats were available.
J. J. McCrery of Nottingham exchanged his property for the
business and stock of H. P. Owen and moved there in March 1897. Later, however,
business was conducted by Owens' son, Herbert, and at one time by "Owen and
Buckingham." The property was purchased August 28, 1921 by Eugene DiFilippo who has operated at that site ever since. He replaced the old building with a modern
one which was completed in the early 1960s, but the charm of the country store
remains. One can still find many items that are missing from the shelves of
chain supermarkets, and have the advantage of dealing with a true family
The business men of Toughkenamon were, obviously, eager for
new experiences. Many businesses opened, only to close shortly thereafter, and
one that lasted only a few years was the rubber mill which opened in part of
the sash and frame factory .
This latter factory was operated then by Harvey Lang who
purchased the large steam mill on February 2, 1870. He operated the sawmill section of the mill, while George M. Thompson of Oxford operated the grist
mill part. Four years earlier, the "Village Record" had reported the saw mill,
operated by McQuillen, Hoopes and Company, was doing an extensive business in
sawing ships' timbers.
"This firm is now filling an order for a large new
schooner being built in Boston. They will get out the stuff for the whole frame
and ship carpenters will be on hand to frame the vessel before it leaves the
mill. It requires a large amount of timber for a vessel - some of the pieces
being 48 feet long and fifteen inches square.
The giant white oaks of Chester County have for years been
in demand by ship builders. This firm lately filled a large order for ship
timber to go to Australia. The business of turning axe handles is extensively
carried on by McQuillen and Cunningham. The manner in which the handle is made
is somewhat novel and interesting..."
Thousands of handles for axes, picks, hatchets, etc. were
made and shipped to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and other markets.
Lang altered part of the mill for a hard rubber factory
about 1874, and it may have been the operation of Elverson and Company, of Franklin Township, that he and T. T. Worrall set up in Toughkenamon, for it had been
reported that Elverson and Company planned to move to Lang's mill, and would
employ a hundred hands. By October 31st, the firm, known as the "Pennsylvania
Hard Rubber Company," was operating under the management of Messrs. Lang,
Worrall, and William Mullee. It employed some twenty operatives who made hard
rubber chain for ladies' and Gentlemen's wear, hair pins, ladies' belts, combs,
and all such articles ordinarily wrought from this material. It was claimed as
the only mill of its kind manufacturing such ware from the raw material in the
State of Pennsylvania. Its principal market was New York. The first year was
reportedly unsuccessful, and management was taken over by Messrs. Eavenson and
Muller (perhaps Elverson and Mullee) who reported an increase in trade and that
a full corps of workmen were employed by mid-1876. By December, however, an
assignment was made, supposedly only to effect a dissolution of partnership
since three of the four members of the firm wanted to dispose of the fourth and
reorganize on a stock basis. The aggrieved member sought an injunction to stay
the proceedings. The plant closed and forty men and women were unemployed over
the Christmas holiday. A public sale of machinery and fixtures was arranged for
January, but the offer was withdrawn when bids were low. By June 1877, the
partnership of Lang, Worrall, and Eavenson was dissolved, with Eavenson out.
William Mullee, "formerly of the rubber works" tried to revive interest in
reestablishing the works the following January, but Harvey Lang had died by
then and the property was offered at public sale by his executors. It was not
sold until a year later when George Larkin of Pocopson purchased it for
$2000.00, reported a third of its original purchase price, and "little more
than the cost of the excellent engine which furnishes motive power to the
Six months later, John C. Hand of Philadelphia purchased the
property for $3500.00 to convert to a machine shop. At that time it was
mentioned that the mill had been built in 1856 as a saw mill and carpenter shop
by Isaac Slack, and was converted the next year into a grist and flour mill
where Jones McFadgen acted as miller.
While it was said that John C. Hand purchased the mill
property to be used as a machine shop, record is found only of S. Ashton Hand
Machine Works. A charter was granted January 12, 1885, with $50,000.00 paid in by Thomas C. Hand, Alfred Hand, Thomas C. Hand, Jr., S. Ashton Hand, William R.
Claxton; and, as solicitor, Edward S. Sayres. S. Ashton Hand had patented a
yarn winding machine; a machine for grinding drills; and was working on the
invention of a machine for cutting diamonds. The Machine Works was
superintended by E. R. Hill, formerly of Pennock Manufacturing Company in Kennett Square. Hand had earlier worked at the Philadelphia firm of Neafie and Levy, and he
and Hill had both been connected with American Standard Gauge and Tool Works, Philadelphia. The shop received a contract, one of many, to manufacture oil pumps under a
"recent patent for George W. Mixter."
It hasn't been determined how long the Machine Works
operated, but in 1888, it was rumored that John Wanamaker was in town
inspecting the mill property with a view of starting a woolen factory of some
The "Toughkenamon Harness Bazaar," under the management of
John B. Shortlidge for C. B. Wa1ton operated in 1881 at the corner of Pine Street and Newark Road; Samuel Lacklin sold his blacksmith shop to James Roach in 1887;
and Mr. Lisett pitched his tent at the trotting grounds in 1876 to "take
pictures cheap and good, no mistake!"
William Ewing, son of the renowned Landenberg storekeeper,
contracted for a large store and dwelling in 1885, while Jesse Milhouse, acting
Deputy Postmaster in 1894, entered into the mercantile business with William A.
Prigg. William C. Humes sold his store to Frank Milhouse in 1889. There were
several quarrying operations carried on near the Village. Chester Steele's
Tinsmith and Plumbing shop operated near the Post Office in 1907; John Bonner
moved his painting establishment from West Grove to Toughkenamon in 1887; and
Harry Ney still sold Stoves, Heaters, Etc. from his place of business that had
opened in October 1877.
New equipment was installed in the Broom Factory of William
Gardner in 1889, but there is no further reference to his business. Isaiah
Jeanes had a broom factory in Toughkenamon in 1898 and seems to have retained
it until 1909, when he moved to Delaware County to accept a position with the
The Village in 1880 had 250 inhabitants. Its medical needs
were met by Dr. W. O. Stevens until he left for Minnesota the next year. There
may have been no doctor in town for awhile, but the next one to live there was
C. S. Reynolds, brother of the Railroad agent at Kennett Square. He boarded
with Mi1ton Strahorn.
Charles Wickersham planned to manufacture cigars in
Toughkenamon during that year, too.
"A syndicate of capitalists has leased the feldspar mines at
Toughkenamon" began a newspaper report of October 1890. The mines, owned by
Moses Carpenter and Harvey Stackhouse, were rented for a period of five years,
along with the old White mill. It was to be used for grinding feldspar, with
the intent of making pottery in Toughkenamon. Messers. David Smith and Enoch
Steele, of Phoenixville, either comprised the "syndicate" or were the members
who handled leases.
Smith said, "If the McKinley bill remains in force," he
intended starting a pottery, and would hire three hundred hands. This statement
was made on December 4, 1890, the day after his pottery works in Phoenixville
had been destroyed by fire. In the meantime, Steele moved machinery to
Toughkenamon for crushing flintstone used for glazing pottery ware. Mineral
rights for feldspar, kaolin, and flint were leased on the farms of T. E. Hannum
and the John Pratt estate, as well as the two mentioned earlier.
The "Brandywine Feldspar and Kaolin Works" was closed in
1893 for an indefinite period of time, "due to lack of orders and general
depression of the times - 90% of the workers are said to have enough money for
no more than two weeks keep." Work resumed three days later.
There is no further reference to this particular operation.
The "Pennsylvania Feldspar Company of Philadelphia" was still operating in
Toughkenamon in the early 1900s, and may have been a successor.
In the Fall of 1875, a group of earnest Christian people
felt the need for a Sunday School in the Village and met on November 30 for the
purpose of starting one. A few days later, 72 people congregated in one of the
rooms of the wheelwright shop to signal the organization of a Sunday School
open to all, irrespective of denomination, and not affiliated with any church.
The next year, William R. Bingham, Pastor of Avondale Presbyterian Church, and
Rev. John B. Randall of Lincoln University held preaching services every two
weeks. Ground was broken for a Chapel in October 1876, and the builder, Isaac
Larkin, was paid $2141.34 for his work when the building was completed in May
of the following year. After Larkin was paid, 90¢ remained in the
building fund which was used to install hitching posts in front of the Church.
The Sunday School met in its own house of worship for the first time on June 3, 1877.
The Presbytery named it "The Toughkenamon Mission" in 1885,
and it was made a part of Unionville Church. This Sunday School and Mission Church were the forerunners of today's Church. Under the leadership of Rev. E. A.
McLaury, the Presbytery was petitioned for a separate Church, independent of
Unionville. As a result, the "Toughkenamon Presbyterian Church" was formally
organized on April 23, 1888, and ministers came to the village to live and
work. The Church began with thirteen members. Three were ruling Elders: Milton
Strahorn, J. Edwin Humes, and James M. Yeatman. The other original members
were: Rebecca P. Humes, Heannah G. Lacklin, Anna M. Strahorn, Mary J. Strahorn,
Emma J. Scott, Maggie McKay, Lizzie M. Pierce, Lizzie Jeanes, Sarah Hughes, and
Margaret Strahorn. When Rev. McLaury left the next year, Church membership had
increased to 22. Rev. James McLeod followed him and served until ill health
forced him to retire, and a succession of ministers ensued.
The oldest organization within the Church is the Women's
Missionary Society dating from 1880, when it was known as the Toughkenamon
Mission Band. Mrs. Sara L. Scott, a church member from almost its beginning,
long talked of a manse. Failing to get any response from the Church, Mrs. Scott
at the age of 80, started her own Manse Fund in the name of the Church. She
stitched and sold apron upon apron, and when she passed away in June 1959 at
age 89, there was $2294.83 in the Fund. The down payment on the Manse stands as
a perpetual memorial to her.
Hannah M. Cope (nee Cooper) of Parkesburg was the second
wife of John Cope, assistant Superintendent of the "West Chester and Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad." He was killed by the cars on March 4, 1867, and from that year until about 1898, his widow and her daughter, Lucy,
conducted a boarding and day school at Toughkenamon. It seems to have begun as
a co-ed school, but was later for girls only - a place where proper deportment
was urged, good manners taught, and ladylike achievements mastered along with
the normal school subjects. Regular reunions were held when the "Original 35"
agreed to meet each five years from 1873. The last was held about 1940 with six
present. The building in which the school operated may be found, much changed,
on Church Street.
As you may have noticed, newspapers of earlier years
reported items that would hardly be covered today. They reported on various
businesses in a manner to be found today only in paid advertisements - praised
good work; listed investors; always assumed everything was fine regarding
employee relations. There was little bad news, but when it was reported, it was
awful! Almost every word spoken against anyone was printed, along with
condemnations from people who lived nearby that may have heard of the
individual or situation being reported. These articles provide an insight into
life as it was, and while they were not always entirely accurate, they are an
entertaining source of information. There was never a lack of news, for there
was never a lack of activities. The late 1800s were a time of sociability, and
recreational activities were pursued with great enthusiasm. There were many who
did not enjoy the high standard of living of which we read, but for those who
"made the headlines" everything was joyous. Men attended shooting matches and
received laurels and appropriate prizes, like the six hundred pound hog won by
Chandler Walton in 1885. Dances were held at Sharpless Park where "the light
fantastic was tripped until a late hour." Summertime brought endless picnics
held by numberless organizations in groves and parks throughout the Township.
The Gypsies came through the area on schedule each year and camped in "Morton's
woods on the State Road near Toughkenaman." They had a fine showing of
horseflesh, but were sent scampering when too many valuable items disappeared
nearby. Parents probably threatened to sell naughty children to the Gypsies if
they didn't behave!
Organizations abounded, many of them connected with the
temperance movement. The W.C.T.U. met regularly for several years, sometimes in
Owen's Hall when they held an entertainment to raise funds, and often at the
homes of members. They held apron fairs and served refreshments. Some of its
members were Mrs. E. K. Taylor, Mrs. Ada Taylor, Bessie Richards, Mrs. Grace
Townsend, Jennie Pearson, Mrs. B. P. Humes, Miss Eva Gilbert, Eva Schrader,
Miss Lippincott, and Miss Matlack who presented music. Messrs. H. Ney and W.
Humes often accompanied with instrumental music.
C. Wesley Talbot applied to State authorities for a Charter
for the "Toughkenamon Rifle Team" to improve its members in the art of rifle
practice, and for the protection of game and fish. The "Vesperus Literary
Society of Toughkenamon" provided entertainment often; the "Toughkenamon
Literary and Aid Society" met regularly; and it was reported in 1875 that the
"orchestra of Toughkenamon is becoming very popular as dispenser of good music"
under the direction of Mr. Wickersham, its leader. The "United Cornet Band of
Toughkenamon" serenaded Chandler Phillips in 1878, and a Mr. Van Schooten
organized a band in 1891.
Baseball is, was, and probably always will be a passion. It
was the latest craze as the 1870s drew to a close, and teams were organized all
over the County. The Star Base Ball Club of Toughkenamon challenged the Mohican
Base Ball Club of Kennett in 1886, confident they couldn't be shut out. They
were all twelve years old. The Toughkenamon Base Ball Club was organized in
1888, with teams for both men and boys. Among others, there were the Sharpless
Team, the Toughkenamon, Jrs., and the Wheel Works Team.
Many activities were church connected or inspired. The
various Circle meetings and Class meetings were held regularly, and revival
meetings held in tents in nearby areas drew people from all around the
countryside. Morton's Grove was the popular spot for them, and it was reported
that thousands attended one in 1877. A "colored jubilee meeting" was held in
1874 that lasted for four days. While it was planned for the Negro families of
Landenberg, Avondale, Kemblesville, and Toughkenamon, it drew 500 white people,
The Gentlemen's Driving Park was the scene of many exciting
races. As mentioned earlier, it was built by Edward G. Yetter, then owner of
the Hammer and Trowel. The half-mile trotting course opened about July 1875.
Yetter seems to have had a partner for awhile for a "Positive Sale of Personal
Property to close Partnership" was held December 20, 1876, on the orders of C.
P. Felton. Yetter fenced the area with a picket fence. Speed trials in 1878
found the "excellent time - trotting down to 2:40 and 2:50 and 3:00 minutes." Horses participated from Landenberg, Kennett, Doe Run, Delaware, and other places. A fair proportion of ladies attended in 1891 when three races
were trotted, with seven heats in all. Some participants of one race were C. N.
Bernard, C. J. Moore, S. J. Pennock, Dr. Quinby, Harry Wollaston, George
Barton, and T. E. Agnew.
Charles Kelly met with opposition from the temperance people
when he opened an original package saloon in July 1890, but the Internal
Revenue Collector of Philadelphia informed him that until Congress repealed the
law, he was perfectly justified in selling. The Independent Order of Good
Templars fought the demon rum from 1894 led by Chief Templar, Thomas Whitaker,
while Anna Pugh superintended the Snowdrop Juvenile Temple #9 along with C. T.
Warren and S. Sharpless. There was the Order of United American Mechanics,
Order #996, whose officers in 1895 were Oscar Lovell, Harry Young, Alban Hall,
John Lemmon, Jarres Mackereth, Edward Skelton and Walter Yeatman. Reports of
that organization continued through November 1, 1951, on the occasion of its 56th Anniversary. President of the Toughkenamon Branch of the Needlework Guild
of America, organized in 1894, was Miss Alice Hoopes, later to be known as Mrs.
Telephones connected Toughkenamon with the world in 1885,
and the Village was lit with six or seven electric lights on the streets in
1893. Some of the street names were different then, and one finds Cope Street and Temperance Street, along with Blackberry Street, the name by which present Pine Street was known. When the street lights were lit, it made Avondale, Kennett Square,
and 'Tough' all lighted by electricity, "and as the Acme Lime Quarries have the
light, it makes a continuous six-mile stretch of wire." Several farmers along
the route, including Joel B. Pusey and Thompson Richards, had considered having
their premises lighted thus, but Richards, apparently, decided against it for
he was killed and his family injured when the lighting plant in his basement
exploded in January 1912. The railroad ran a special train that day which
stopped near the Sharpless Creamery for passengers to view the ruins. Hundreds
of people came on the special cars of the trolley line for the same reason.
Debris was strewn throughout the yard, and bedclothes hung from the trees.
The trolley came to town about 1905. A contract was secured
by Vandegrift Construction Company of Philadelphia to build a line from Kennett Square to Oxford, beginning at a junction of the Brandywine Springs, Kennett Square and Unionville line. Work was to begin March 1, 1902, with completion expected in four years. This goal was met, but on March 31, 1906, Township Supervisors ordered their attorney to compel the "Wilmington, Kennett, and Oxford Trolley" to
put a bell at their crossing in Toughkenamon. The tracks were located on the
north side of Baltimore Pike (LR 131) which was then a dirt road, and the
trolley caused much grief at first. From the "Daily Local News" of December 18, 1907:
Doings at Sharpless Park
"There have been big doings at Sharpless Park near Toughkenamon in the good old Summer time, but last night a genuine pitched battle
Some of the most prominent citizens of the neighborhood,
men who sit in front seats in the public meetings were there with picks and
shovels to do effective work in tearing up a siding, and if blows were struck,
this was attributed to the stress of the occasion."
It further stated that the skirmish was the most lively that
had occurred in any part of this quiet old County of Chester in a long time;
and that New Garden was one of the most quiet Quaker neighborhoods in all of
The trouble began about a year earlier when Contractor
Theobald Harsh, who built the stone State Road from Avondale to West Grove, was
granted permission to lay a siding across the highway in order to take stone
from a quarry on the Skelton farm. It was to be removed when work was
completed, but Contractor O'Connell, who was building a similar road, asked to
use the siding for a few months and promised that he would not interfere with
public travel on the highway. The siding remained after he finished and was
used by the trolley company to pass cars. The company then took up their switch
at Sharpless Park and left their passengers cars standing across the road,
according to Thompson Richard who was then a Township Supervisor, and thus
blocked the highway. The Board of Supervisors notified Mr. Baylis,
Superintendent for the trolley company of this fact and asked that the siding
be removed. He would not comply, so the Supervisors tore it up themselves. The
trolley men relaid it. The Supervisors tore it out again. The report went on:
"Before the battle royal which occurred in the light of
the full moon at eleven o'clock there was a preliminary skirmish at five o'clock. It seems that the Supervisors (Thompson Richards, George P. Reardon, and B.
Wilson Orrin) and Roadmaster, A. P. Jackson, having torn up the tracks at the
crossing in broad daylight early in the week waited quietly to see what would
occur. They had left the roadbed in good condition that teams might pass. All
yesterday afternoon the Situation was quiet, but about five o'clock last evening Superintendent Baluss arrived with a gang of men and began tearing up the macadam
road and preparing to lay the tracks anew. Notice was sent to the Supervisors
who soon arrived and entered protest, but being few in number, they were driven
away by the trackmen. They retired to the village of Toughkenamon where a
campaign was planned. Voluntary Paul Reveres were soon scurrying through the
neighboring country and the telephone wires were heated almost to the fusing
point, while the alarm was given and aid was summoned. Every man who ever had a
horse frightened by a trolley car, and some who had experienced narrow escapes
at that very siding responded to the call, the valiant hosts assembling all
through the village and preparing for action."
The march from Toughkenamon to the park began about 10:30 p.m. The "army" was led by Thompson Richards, "tall and alert, vigorous in defending
what he believed to be the rights of his home people." About 120 citizens from New Garden township and the neighboring towns of Avondale, West Grove, and Kennett Square, "all stalwart and muscular and willing to fight for their 'altars and their
fires' " had responded. To continue:
"The citizens found the trolley men on guard and ready to
adopt original tactics as a means of saving their tracks. They had a number of
cars which they began running back and forth on the siding to keep the farmers
away. The cars served as barricades for the men within and also as battering
rams to keep the tracks clear.
Bang! Crash! A shower of stones which had been laid as a
border to the macadam road went flying against the sides of the cars and
through the windows, leaving a trace of much battering and thorough
ventilation, not to mention a few broken heads.
'Let 'em have it, boys!' yelled some of the lieutenants,
rallying their fellows and boarding the cars to drag off the motormen and
Superintendent Baluss reached behind him as though for his
revolver. Just then he was struck in the face by the fist of a man who had been
husking corn all day. Baluss soon retreated, and his men were driven away, the
farmers tearing up the tracks, leaving a party on guard and returning to their
Mr. Richards, in a classic understatement, said, "We did not
intend any violence. We went there merely to take up that track." An injunction
was obtained against the trolley company, and as it would seem an anti-climax
to spend time, now, determining whether or not that track stayed removed, that
story shall stop.
The trolley did enable people to travel more freely, and a
great deal of freight was hauled over the line, too. Residents, however, were
bothered by rowdies who loitered around the stops, particularly on Saturday
nights. On one occasion, Detective Charles W. Gillen of Kennett Square carried
a manhunt into Luray, Virginia in an attempt to locate three fugitives from justice
who had robbed a waiting passenger.
Gillen's most entertaining arrest occurred at Avondale when
he put the finger on members of a variety troupe who, had in their possession
goods stolen from the store of J. W. Parker at Toughkenamon. Members of the troupe,
all from Cokesbury, Maryland, were uncovered by acting detective James Martin.
Martin applied for a job as banjo player and singer with the group, and spent
his money "as if it were real" entertaining the other players until he
discovered the loot for which he was looking. The arrests were made while the
players performed on stage, and caused much excitement in the audience.
By 1900, Mr. Pyle was successfully cultivating his
carnations; the new broom factory had been erected; the feldspar works had a
busy winter; and carpenters and painters were busy repairing recently purchased
"The pretty little town of Toughkenamon, 'the loveliest of
, the plain,' is just awakening to a consciousness of its central and most
attractive situation... it affords every facility for progress and development.
Many travelers and city boarders have felt the glamour and attractiveness and
have made their homes here."
Preparations were underway to install sidewalks so that the
town would present a tidy and attractive appearance.
"The question, 'Where shall we spend our vacation?' will
then be easy of solution. Go to Toughkenamon, 'its air feels the freshest; its
flowers smell the sweetest.' "