On Feb. 2, 1869, when Thomas Dutton completed his century of life, his family connection and friends amounting to nearly one thousand persons, assembled at his house in Aston, on which occasion interesting ceremonies appropriate to the unusual event were had. The venerable man lived until the following autumn, and only three instances are recorded in Delaware County of persons who lived to a more advanced age than that reached by Thomas Dutton.
In 1850, Nathan P. Dutton, his mother, Rachel (Pennell) Dutton, and Richard P. Slawter died in Aston, the cause of their death being exceedingly remarkable. On Saturday afternoon, August 8th of that year, a public sale of household goods was being held in a house near Village Green, when a storm accompanied by lightning occurred. The house where the vendue was in progress was struck, the fluid entering the peak of the roof, passing down between the weather-boarding and plastering until it reached the first story, "when it divided, one portion passing in at a hook driven in the wall, from which a looking-glass was suspended, and striking Nathan P. Dutton, who was standing under the glass, upon the top of the head, leaving but a slight mark. The fluid passed to his left arm above the elbow, thence down his body, burning the skin in its passage. He lived about five minutes, and was sensible of his approaching dissolution. The fluid passed from him to John McClay, who was standing near, struck him in the back, and ran down both his legs, burning the skin and clothes from his body, tearing his shoes to fragments, and leaving a small hole in the toe of one of them, as if perforated by a bullet. The other branch of the fluid struck Richard P. Slawter, who was standing outside of the house, and felled him to the ground. He was taken up, but expired in about fifteen minutes. Rachel Dutton, the mother of Nathan, was in an adjoining room, and, on being told of the fate of her son, she came out and immediately commenced to render every assistance in her power to restore him to animation. After laboring with great anxiety for nearly half an hour she gradually fainted away, and, continuing to lose respiration, she expired in about three-quarters of an hour after the death of her son."1
|1 Delaware County Republican, Aug. 9, 1850.|
The foregoing is not the only freak of lightning worthy of record as having happened in Aston. On Monday evening, June 19, 1848, during a heavy storm, the dwelling of John Hall, in that township, was struck by lightning, and a lady sitting in th house was so severely stunned that she was unconscious for several hours.
As late as 1770, Dr. Smith tells us, a family of Indians had a wigwam on the Aston side of Chester Creek, on or in the vicinity of the present farm of George Drayton, but they did not remain there constantly. Their names were Andrew, Isaac, his son, and two women, sisters, Nanny and Betty, one of whom was the wife of Andrew. The latter died about the year 1780, and was buried in the graveyard of Middletown Friends' meeting-house.2
|2 Smith's "History of Delaware County," p. 400.|
On the evening of Sept 11, 1777, a number of the stragglers from the defeated American army, hungry, demoralized, and exhausted in their flight from the field at Brandywine, collected in the neighborhood of Logtown where they passed the night, sleeping in the outbuildings and open fields. The next morning most of them rejoined their commands.
Several acres of land lying in the sharp angle formed by the union of the Marcus Hook and Concord roads at Village Green early in this century were the property of John Hoskins, and there occurred in the olden times an accident which is still recalled to the minds of many of the aged residents of the county. On Jan. 5, 1819, a six-year-old son of John and Mary Hoskins, in the absence of his parents, caught up an old firelock standing in the room back of a door, which had been charged about the preceding Christmas, and which the owner had several times attempted to discharge without success. The child pointed the gun at his sister, four years older than himself, saying, "I'm going to shoot," pulling the trigger as he spoke. The gun, unfortunately, was discharged, and the shot lodged in the bowels of the girl, causing instant death.
In February, 1836, a strike occurred at Crozer's West Branch Mills, occasioned by the discharge of William Shaw, one of the hands, and in May of the same year the operatives employed in the cotton-factories along Chester Creek struck for higher wages. In April, 1842, wages having been reduced, a general strike followed. Meetings were held, and on May 16, 1842, eight of the operatives were arrested on a charge of inciting the others to riot. On May 24th the trial began, and continued one week. It was alleged that the strikers caused Burt & Kerlin's mill to stop work by shutting down the head-gate, and one Broadbent, an operator who would not join the strikers, was overtaken going to work and kicked, cuffed, dragged to creek, and ducked. It was alleged that a party, consisting of two or three hundred men, gathered at Rockdale, when a committee was appointed to go to John Garsed and John D. Pierce, at Pennsgrove Mills, and compel the hands to cease work there, and that a procession of about fifty men, of Rockdale, armed with clubs, canes, and a few with pistols, went to Kelly's factory, in Upper Darby, to compel the operatives there to join in the strike. Mark Wild, Hiram McConnell, and Maj. Rowe were convicted of conspiracy. Wild and Rowe were fined twenty dollars each. McConnell was ordered to pay thirty-five dollars fine. The jury acquitted all the eight men indicted for riot, but ordered McConnell to pay the costs of prosecution.