Traveling And Transportation.
The last case I shall mention occurred about ten o'clock on the night of Feb. 8, 1838, when Warren Gibbon, returning from market, was stopped on the highway, a short distance west of Darby, by three men, who caught his horse by the head. Two of the men then held Gibbon, while the third presented a pistol at his breast with one hand and robbed him with the other. They took from him seventy-five dollars, his watch, and some of his clothing.
There was, of course, during all the time of which I write, the natural highway, the Delaware, and the early emigrant made constant use of it in going from settlement to settlement. Among the first mention respecting transportation the canoe is prominent, and we know that after Governor Markham's coming there appears to have been constant communication by water between the settlements from Burlington to the Capes of the Delaware. Gabriel Thomas, in his "History of Pennsylvania," published in 1698, states that "Chester, the German town, New Castle, and Lewistown" are the four great market towns, and "between these towns the watermen constantly ply their wherries." In October, 1698, Joseph Holt and Isaac Warner were drowned in the river, near Tinicum, by the upsetting of the ferry-boat going from New Castle to Philadelphia, and on the 23d of the preceding month John Barnskill was a passenger from Chester to Philadelphia in a ferry-boat, when it was overturned by a sudden gust of wind and he was drowned. Shallops constantly plied between the villages of Marcus Hook and Chester to Philadelphia in the last century, and during the months of June, July, August, and September, 1790, John Fitch ran a steamboat, the "Perseverance," as a passenger- and freight-boat on the Delaware, between Philadelphia, Trenton, Burlington, Chester, Wilmington, and Gray's Ferry, advertising her trips regularly in the newspapers of that day. During that summer his steamboat ran over three thousand miles in these trips. This was seventeen years before Robert Fulton made his noted journey in the "Clermont," in September, 1807, from New York to Albany. Fitch was a watchmaker, and during the Revolution repaired old muskets. One day, it is stated, he was walking along the stage-road near Newtown, N. J., suffering with rheumatism in his feet, and was so much annoyed by passing wagons that he declared, "I will make steam carry me." He did so, but the machinery of the "Perseverance" was so defectively constructed that it was constantly breaking down, and ultimately ruined its inventor.
In the last decade of the last century and in the early part of this the "Chester Planter," a shallop, built by Richard Flower to carry flour from the Chester Mills (the present site of Upland) to Philadelphia, would frequently take passengers to and from the places named, but in time the vessel became so old and decayed that it was run on the bank at Mount Mellick, on the opposite side of the creek from Upland, where its frame remained many years, until it entirely rotted down.
Previous to 1819, Capt. John D. Hart ran the sloop "John Wall" as a passenger- and freight-boat between Chester and Philadelphia, leaving the former place on Mondays and Thursdays, and returning every Wednesday and Saturday. The "Wall" continued on the line until and including the year 1828. In 1824, John Ashmead Eyre owned the sloop "Mary and Louisa," commanded by Capt. James Eyre, which he ran as an opposition packet from Chester, and in 1830 the sloop "Hunter," Capt. Harrison, made regular trips. In 1827, Peter Deshong ran the sloop "Mary and Louisa" as a regular packet between Chester and Philadelphia, leaving the former place every Tuesday and Friday, and returning Thursdays and Saturdays. Joshua P. and William Eyre built the sloop "Jonas Preston," which for many years, commanded by Capt. H. J. Gibson, was the noted packet between Chester and Philadelphia. She subsequently became the property of John Larkin, Jr., and William Booth, who were engaged in freighting between the points mentioned for several years, running a daily line of packets. In 1849 the firm had the sloops "John G. Johnson," Capt. Green, and the "John M. Broomall," Capt. Huston, on the line, and in 1851 the "Jonas Preston" was added, so that one vessel would leave and another arrive at Chester the same day. The "Jonas Preston" ultimately became the property of J. & J. Baker, and on April 6, 1868, when off the light-house near Fort Mifflin, heavily laden with coke, she was struck by the swell from the "Eliza Hancock," which caused her to capsize and sink. In 1850, Pancoast Levis ran the packet "Mary J." between the points named, and the same year William T. Crook established a line of packet schooners, making weekly trips between Chester and New York, employing therein the schooners "William," Capt. Collins, and the "Rebecca," Capt. Russell.
In 1865 the steam freight-boat "Chester" was built by P. Baker & Co., and ran between Philadelphia and Chester, and in the following year the propeller "Lamokin" was placed on the same route by J. & C. D. Pennell, as an opposition boat. In 1871 the lines were consolidated, and in 1872 the Delaware River Transportation Company (a new organization) was formed. The latter company built the "City of Chester," and subsequently became the owners of the Union lines. They have now on the route the freight steamboats "Eddystone," "Mars," and the "Mary Morgan," a large and commodious passenger steamer. The officers of the company are: President, J. Frank Black; Treasurer, J. Howard Roop; Secretary, Capt. Frank S. Baker.
In April, 1870, the Electric Line between Wilmington and New York, via the Delaware and Raritan Canals, in connection with their lines, established direct tri-weekly communication from Chester to New