Chapter XXXV

South Chester Borough.

 

At the upper end of the present borough, on Lamokin Run, between the King's highway and the river, was the James Laws farm; the old mansion, owned by Samuel Eccles, Jr., is still standing at the foot of Edwards Street, surrounded by towering trees. The red-cedar pillars of the porch still remain, as they were when the dwelling was noted for the hospitable reception which awaited a guest under its roof-trees. Farther along on the sandy beach in front of this farm was a valuable shad and herring fishery, which was leased annually in the spring for a goodly rental, until the improvement along the river rendered it valueless. In the olden time, tradition relates, a pirate buried his treasure on this shore, and many were the stories told of the unsuccessful attempts made by daring money-diggers to recover the corsair's hoard. Above the post-road was the narrow strip of land following Lamokin Run, on the Ashmead farm, where, on the north of the railroad, was the grove first used for a picnic-ground in 1844, when the Sunday-school of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia visited the ground. In after-years, under the name of Young's Grove, it became quite a resort for pleasure parties. Alongside of this property was the "Fairview farm," belonging to Jeremiah W. Flickwir. Tradition states that in the last century, when wagers at play were the rule, the then owner of the land being seated so that the cards he held could be seen in a mirror, his antagonist succeeded in winning this farm, because of the advantage the looking-glass gave him. Just below the Fairview farm was a tract of two or three acres, owned by Jennie Carr, who resided in a log house, with a pole-well near the door, located on the post-road, near where Morton Street is now. Flickwir purchased the land, tore down the old log building and the dividing fences, making the few acres an addition to a large field below the railroad and west of the lane now Flower Street. To the west of the Carr lot was a small property owned by Crossman Lyons, alongside of which was another small plot, owned by Taylor. To the west of the latter was the Daniel Robinson tract, noted forty years ago for an orchard of luscious peaches which grew thereon. Below this estate was part of the Thurlow farm, while to the west of the last-named property was part of the Erasmus Morton estate, which extended to the Lower Chichester line. South of the post-road, to the west of the Laws farm, was the John Jeffreys property, the owner of which was a noted sportsman in his day, who was so expert a shot that often, with the fowling-piece reversed, the trigger instead of the hammer being uppermost, he would, for a small wager, shoot at pennies thrown into the air, and rarely did he fail to strike the coin before it fell to the earth. To the west of Jeffreys was the farm of John J. Thurlow, who, when he retired from hotel-keeping, purchased the estate at the present Thurlow Station, on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, whereon he built a commodious house, taken down about ten years ago, to which he gave the name of "Sporting Hall," and here for many years the annual "Harvest Homes" in the southwestern part of the county were held, on which occasions the people for miles around would gather, and on the thrashing-floor the beaux and belles passed away the afternoon and evening in dancing, while the old folks enjoyed the hours in conversation and quiet pleasures. When the railroad company established a station in the immediate neighborhood of "Sporting Hall" the depot was named "Thurlow," in honor of the then owner of the real estate near by.

John J. Thurlow
John J. Thurlow

Mr. Thurlow is of English parentage, and the son of Thomas and Mary Thurlow. He was born in the county of Essex, England, on the 1st of February, 1795, and during his youth enjoyed but limited advantages of education. He was, however, as a lad, industrious and quick of perception, which qualities rendered his services valuable at the early age of fifteen to Thomas Barston, of Yorkshire, who made him general manager of his business, which included the charge of his real estate, together with the purchase and sale of property. Desiring a wider field than was offered at home to a young man of ambition, he sailed at the age of twenty-four for America, landing in the city of Philadelphia on the 12th of June, 1819. Mr. Thurlow at once repaired to Newport, Delaware Co., and after purchasing a farm opened a public-house. In 1823 he removed to Chester, and became the landlord of a hotel called "The Sign of the Ship," over which he presided for seven years, and in connection with it established a line of stages running from Philadelphia to Baltimore. At the expiration of the fourth year he sold this property and became the landlord of the "City Hotel," which he kept for ten years. Much of the responsibility in connection with the management of this hotel Mr. Thurlow left to the care of his efficient wife, while he engaged in the construction of various public works. He aided in the building of the Pennsylvania Canal, having the contract for the completion of a section, and subsequently constructed the Spruce Street tunnel for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He also built a tunnel on the North Pennsylvania Railroad, and eleven and a half miles of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. After an active business career Mr. Thurlow determined to enjoy the more quiet and congenial pursuits of the farm, and located upon land two miles from the city of Chester, where he has since been exclusively devoted to the employment of an agriculturist. He was first married in England, in 1819, to Miss Mary, daughter of Richard Shepherdson, of Yorkshire, whose two children are Thomas, a resident of Washington, D. C., and Emeline (Mrs. George McMullen), of San Francisco, who was lost on the ill-fated steamer "Golden Gate" when en route to her father's home. Mrs. Thurlow's death occurred in 1863, and he was again married on the 15th of June, 1867, to Miss Rachel Brewton, daughter of Capt. Wil-

 

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