Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Delaware County, Pennsylvania

Delaware County Travel Suggestions

The Ghost of William Penn: Gas Pains and Leisure Travel Suggestions

{Thomas Leiper Home}
Thomas Leiper Home

Delco residents should gladly save gas and do their March Birthday saluting via short petrol trips to one, two, or three of the following: The mid 1600's Swede's Log Cabin, the Thomas Leiper Home ("Avondale"), and or the Delaware County Institute of Science. --- The cabin is at the end of Creek Road in Drexel Hill. Contact number: 610-237-8064 The "Institute" is within one hundred yards of the Media Court House. Contact: 610 566-5126 The Leiper Mansion is an easy find in Wallingford, follow signage. Contact: 610-566-6365"

"Readers may wonder how I chose the recommended three sites. In addition to being wonderful sites that ought to visited (and revisited), all are elite as 'portals.' My word use of "portals" comes with a second connotation: Yes, they are portals to the past. Each, too, however, claims a distinctive Delco doorway. Diversity shines well through them, each is telling of Delco." "The Drexel Hill Swedish log cabin holds claim to - an earliest settler form - rude doorway, of backwoods hard labor. Two: The Leiper doorway, by contrast, retains perennial honors – as "the most beautiful doorway in the county." Leiper wealth bought the custom made beauty. Three:The Delaware County Institute is unique for having a pair of entrance pocket doors; which in the way of two welcoming arms –greets all who enter with glad fond feeling. In the county they are unique."

{Delaware County Institute of Science}
Delaware County Institute of Science

Quaker sensible I start with the 1833-founded Delaware County Institute of Science. Quaker founder, bee-busy Dr. George Smith, (1804-1882) carved out time to be first county historian. The amazing good doctor was father of Abraham Lewis Smith, first president of the Delaware County Historical Society, founded in 1895." – "What is the connection?"

"This: Sixty-three years before the start of the Delco Historical Society, the Delco Institute was the county de facto repository for local artifacts and many records. ----- On-High forbid! I do not want persons to skip a visit to the Delco Historical Society (I urge everyone to make a visit in October, when I cut my birthday cake.)"

"Spring is a splendid time to become acquainted with items of natural history, which relate locally, and for the seeing of many highly engaging local historical artifacts - on view and touch exhibit. I am a Delco Institute of Science - Life Member. Lucky me - my member card has no expiration date. -- It is good to Governor! Even unto ghost realm!"
Thomas Leiper

"When down home I make a point to wing in. I like to Awe! over - new / old items. Staff members are always making discoveries. I mean, with ongoing research items take on enlightenment marks of newness, via new earned understanding, which of course, in turn gets broadcast. A long shelved stethoscope recently was researched and found to hold an 1840's local role in perfection. Truly, DCIS is a whip-up fun center of learning, unlike any site in Delaware County. – So Go! Visit it." "Be sure to March – Go-Visit -the Thomas Leiper Home, too. Thomas Leiper (1745-1825) joined the rich through sale of tobacco. Today tobacco companies sell their leaf product for pipe, for cigars, and for cigarettes, and increasing portions to purchasers who buy full blend tins for chewing. Early sales were sliced different."

"In the post War 1780's Thomas Leiper tobacco went up in smoke two ways, by pipe smokers, and by a few cigar smokers (chiefly wagon-teamsters who held the reigns with two hands and cut dust with a cigar clapped in the mouth). In addition, a great chunk of his leaf business comprised of tobacco ground for snuff. Persons took a pinch inhaled it to caused a "likable" (sic.) sneeze. CA-choo! Note: Before cigarette boxes appeared, snuffbox makers did a brisk business.

"Tom Lieper's beautiful home "Avondale," stands as it did in 1800. The property is remarkable for several support buildings. Enterprising Leiper conducted a quarry stone business and having easy access to the material he made sensible use of it in the raising of his Delaware County rural home. Tom Leiper built structures to last. And they did!"

"In shadow of Avondale are to be seen a stone money vault, which has to be seen to be believed, and a stone privy for (yes!) five. It is old saw, Tom L. knew five U.S. Presidents. It is joshed that each made use of his privy. -- They (you do the inferring) hold a unique memorial role in American history. The doorway is elegant; a close look at the leafy motif surrounding same - reveals they are sprite tobacco leafs. Advancing once more we switch from craftsmanship beautiful to primitive utility."

{Willam Penn}
Willam Penn

"Lest you've forgotten, this is William Penn: My favorite place in Delco ranks in hard-put status. I do love Chester and Darby and so-on and so-forth, but for sheer heartfelt pleasing admiration the mid 1600's Swedish log cabin in Drexel Hill out does them all. I do not need a deep ponder for a reason. The first to arrive Swedes made possible the smooth settlement under Penn – Me. Yours truly gets the credit, but the Swedes took the 'grunt' out of grunt work for the latterly.-- Mine."

"If you visit the Swedish log cabin you will learn log architecture. Cabin rooms are "pens." The Darby Creek cabin is a two pen cabin, and lively received the bump addition for the settlement's follow up generation. About 1790 the pens received a bump up attic. For fifteen years there was no box stairway. A ceiling trap door in each pen was the means for to and fro access; by ladder." What astounds me me is little appreciated. First waves, including those under Me, went upstream along Darby Creek only as far as the head of the fast currents. At the head of fast flow settlers stopped. To go further placed oneself beyond water power and dreamt for saw and grain mills. ^ * * The astounding fact is that the (extant D.H.) cabin, which situates at the "Interior limits of Cradle Pennsylvania settlement" survived –- It is Astounding! To me and it should you, Go visit!

Post script to the above: "The low doorway you may need to bow before – before entering. I've got head knobs that prove the need of it. -- Listen or Ouch! " "The above portals to the past I chose, in part, to celebrate. March is the birthday month for Pennsylvania – it was founded in March 1681. Better times, a trip to Harrisburg (or Pennsbury) poised splendid; but these are lean times. – That said: Pardon me while I give a smile, with your parents. We found agreement In This: "Applied wisdom which fosters a savings is always a great - GOOD!" Look over my itinerary.

"I close with a hope that you start to make visits to the nearby Delaware County places I suggested. Your Governor thanks you for listening." William Penn

By: Thomas R. Smith, a.k.a., William Penn


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