The City Of Chester.
married Lydia Bernard, of Chester County, and had children, - John, Jeremiah, Richard, Hugh, James, Lydia, Judith, and Margaret. Jeremiah, the father of the subject of this biographical sketch, was born in Ridley township, on the 29th of June, 1767, and married Elizabeth Spencer, of Bucks County, whose birth occurred Sept. 30, 1770. Their children were Lydia (Mrs. Edward H. Bonsell), Elizabeth (Mrs. Jacob Hewes), Spencer, John S., Jeremiah, Ann (Mrs. Levis Miller), Samuel, and several who died in childhood. Spencer, of this number, was born March 27, 1803, on the homestead in Ridley township. After such advantages of education as the vicinity afforded, he became a pupil of a school at Burlington, N. J., and on his return engaged with his father in various business enterprises. The saw-mill, the farm, and the tannery each received a share of his attention, though the former interest absorbed much of his time. In 1828, the year succeeding the death of his father, Mr. McIlvain married Miss Sarah Crosby, daughter of John and Sarah Crosby, of Ridley township. Their children are Henry, who married Miss Sally C. Pierson, of Philadelphia, and has two sons, - Edwin and Henry, - and Ann E. (Mrs. Edward C. Diehl), of Philadelphia, whose children are Sallie M. D., Ella F., and Mary. Mr. McIlvain has spent much of his active life cultivating his farm, fattening cattle for the Philadelphia market, and working his stone-quarries. On the sale of his landed property, in 1872, he removed to his present residence in Chester, which has since been his home. Here he has been identified with various business interests, as director of the Delaware County National Bank, and the Delaware Mutual Insurance Company, and in the erection of various mills and dwellings, giving an impetus to the growth of the city. Mr. McIlvain was in early life a Whig, and on the organization of the Republican party joined its ranks. He has not sought office at its hands, though for a term was commissioner of the county. He was educated in the religious faith of the society of Friends.
The Chester Mutual Insurance Company was incorporated by the court of Delaware County, Feb. 26, 1874. The organization of an insurance company in Chester had been considered prior to this date, and as early as February, 1869, the charter for a stock company had been obtained, but became void by reason of non-user before Jan. 1, 1874. After that date the projectors of the stock company, together with other persons desiring the organization of an underwriting association on the mutual plan, formed the Chester Mutual Insurance Company, the original subscribers being John M. Broomall, William Booth, John Larkin, Jr., William Ward, John O. Deshong, George Broomall, David Trainer & Sons, Samuel Montgomery, Mortimer H. Bickley, George Baker, William B. Broomall, Benjamin F. Baker, Perciphor Baker, Lewis & Parker, Lewis M. Larkin, B. Gartside & Sons, David S. Bunting, James Irving, Jonathan and Charles D. Pennell, George M. Booth, Henry L. Donaldson, George M. Pardoe, Abraham Blakeley, and Morton & Black. The first meeting of the subscribers was held March 5, 1874, when a board of directors was elected, consisting of John Larkin, Jr., George Broomall, William Ward, J. Newlin Trainer, Mortimer H. Bickley, William Booth, Perciphor Baker, William B. Broomall, James Irving, George M. Pardoe, Benjamin Gartside, and William D. H. Serrill. John Larkin, Jr., was elected president, Mortimer H. Bickley, vice-president, and George M. Booth secretary and treasurer. The board of directors from that date to the present has been changed as follows: In 1877, John Sharpless was substituted in room of William Booth, who declined re-election; in 1878, Frederick J. Hinkson in place of William Ward, who desired to retire from the board, and in the same year Jonathan Pennell succeeded to the place formerly held by George M. Pardoe; 1880, Benjamin F. Baker was chosen to the seat made vacant by the death of Judge Hinkson; 1881, Samuel A. Dyer was elected in the room of Perciphor Baker, deceased; in 1884, John Larkin, Jr., declined re-election, and Henry L. Donaldson was chosen in his stead, and the same year, Amos Gartside was elected in place of Benjamin Gartside, resigned. On Jan. 1, 1884, John Larkin, Jr., declined to continue to act as president, a position he had held since the organization of the company, and Jonathan Pennell was elected to that office. At the first regular meeting of the directors, in 1874, it was decided that the company should effect insurance to the amount of one hundred and forty-six thousand dollars, and on April 1, 1874, the first policy was issued. A singular circumstance was that the first policy issued by the Chester Mutual Insurance Company was to John M. Broomall, Jr., on stock in the building at the northwest corner of Market Square, Chester, and the building was insured by his father, George Broomall, in the Delaware County Mutual Insurance Company, the policy being the first issued by the latter corporation in 1835. The business of the Chester Mutual has been almost exclusively confined to Delaware County, the risks judiciously distributed, and the amounts limited, desiring to transact a safe rather than a large business. This policy gave the company credit in the beginning, and not only enabled it to accumulate a surplus fund sufficient to meet any ordinary demand but placed the Chester Mutual in good standing with the best similar insurance companies in the State. When the company was organized it occupied a part of the law-office of Ward & Broomall, but in October, 1875, it leased the back part of the building at the southeast corner of Market Square, where it continued until June, 1881, when it was removed to more spacious rooms in the front of the same building.
Chester Gas Company. - The project of lighting the city with gas had been agitated early in the year 1855, but for some reason the scheme failed to enlist