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HISTORY

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History

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHADDS FORD TOWNSHIP

 

   The Delaware County township which officially became Chadds Ford on December 11, 1996, has a 300-year history as "Birmingham Township."

 

   The land was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indian centuries before the Europeans arrived. The Indians' town sites were located along the waterways at major communication and trade junctions, with paths laid out between villages and tribes. These much traveled footpaths through the woods became the first roads.

 

   It is believed that the early English Quaker settlers like the Brintons and the Gilpins used caves as their first shelters. According to local tradition, both families were befriended by the Lenni Lenape Indians. Another early name in the Township's histories Chadsey (later shortened to Chads). The family's name became associated with the fording place on the Brandywine and has been a place name since the 1700s.

 

   Ye Great Road to Nottingham, now Baltimore Pike/U.S. Route 1, was one of the five main routes of east-west travel from Philadelphia in the early 18th century and was laid out from Baltimore to Chester in 1707. There was, however, only a ferry across the Brandywine. It began operation in the 1730s and was officially sanctioned in 1736. It continued in operation until about 1827 when work on the first bridge was begun.

 

   Historically, one major but brief event, the Battle of Brandywine, affected the development of the Township and the course of the American Revolution. The Battle took place September 11, 1777. Although a defeat for Washington and his struggling American troops, it marked a turning point in the War. The grand strategy designed by the British General, Lord Howe, to weaken the patriot cause had failed. It was not a coincidence that there was battle action near Chads' Ford, for it was at the fording places in the Brandywine that the troops of both camps could cross en route to Philadelphia to take it or defend it. During the Battle, many local farmhouses were taken over by the English and American troops; in the aftermath, many of them were plundered.

 

   In 1789, Delaware County was carved out of Chester County, and the Township known as Birmingham was divided, its northern border following along farm lines.

 

   The harnessing of water power for use in mill operations was a major factor in the growth of the area during the 1800s. The mills not only manufactured goods, such as gun powder and paper, they also processed the grains and timber grown in the area.

   The establishment of a railroad line through Chadds Ford in 1858 also played a significant role in the economic growth of the Township. Railroad spurs were laid out to accommodate the kaolin companies where the fine white potter's clay was mined at the turn of the century. The railroad also contributed to the gentrification of  Chadds Ford, enabling the city people from Wilmington and Philadelphia to discover the lush rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley. To have a summer house in Chadds Ford became the vogue.

 

   It was about this time that Howard Pyle began his summer art school, which attracted students from all over the country. One of them, young N.C. Wyeth from Massachusetts, came to study under Pyle and never left. From Pyle's studio and its students, the world famous Brandywine School of Art developed, fostered now by succeeding generations of Wyeths, Andrew and his son, Jamie.

 

   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the twentieth century has seen the Township grow from 733 people in a semi-rural setting to a burgeoning bedroom community of 3,118 in 1990. The Delaware Valley Planning Commission's population forecast suggests that by 2025, Chadds Ford Township will have 5,200 residents -- an increase of 66.8% from the 1990 census count.

Facts

TOWNSHIP  FACTS

Area- 8.7 square miles

Population- 2,057 (1980 Census) - 3,118 (1990 Census)

Distance to center city Philadelphia is 28 miles or 55 minutes

No public transportation is available

Chadds Ford is 95% residential and 5% business

Parks in the municipality: Brandywine Battlefield State Park

160 to 480 feet above sea level

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District 347-0970

School Closing Number - Name will be used

 

Name Change

     HOW NAME CHANGE CAME ABOUT

         Birmingham to Chadds Ford

                 by Cliff  RAINEY, Editor

 

    After many years of confusion over distinguishing its identity from Birmingham, Chester County, a number of residents of Birmingham, Delaware County, requested the board of supervisors to pass a resolution seeking a change of name from Birmingham Township to Chadds Ford Township

     Resolution 96-6 requesting the change was adopted by the supervisors on August 7, 1996.

    Solicitor Donald T. Petrosa on August 8 petitioned the county courts to authorize a referendum on the upcoming November ballot and this authorization was given by Judge Joseph F. Battle on August 9

     On General Election Day November 5, 1996, the vote was 896 in favor and 410 against the name change

     Of the 1 ,632 who voted that day ( 105 absentee votes included) 327 didn't respond to the name change question with 68% of the 2,391 registered voters (1,682 R, 417 D and 291 0) casting their ballots.

    After the election, Judge Battle issued the following  order:

    AND NOW, this 11thday of December, 1996, upon consideration of the attached Return of the County Board of Elections of Delaware County , Pennsylvania dated November 22, 1996 and the attached Certification of the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania dated December 5, 1996, which certify the computation and tabulation of the votes cast at the election  held on November 5, 1996, on the Question -"Shall the name of Birmingham Township located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania be changed from Birmingham Township to Chadds Ford Township?" and confirm that the number of votes cast in favor of the said change of name was 896, and the number of votes cast against the said change was 410, and that therefore a majority of the votes cast was in favor of the change of the Township name, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that, in accordance with Section 207 of the Second Class Township Code, 53 P.S. ยง65207, the name of Birmingham Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, be and is hereby changed to Chadds Ford Township, effective immediately.

    It is hereby further ORDERED and DECREED that the record of the proceedings be permanently recorded

 

                                          BY  THE  COURT

                               (s) Joseph F. Battle