from the dwelling that stood there and which during the Revolution was the summer residence of George Gray, a stirring Whig, and the keeper of the noted ferry over the Schuylkill still known by his name. In order that the family should be out of danger during the British advance from the head of the Elk to Philadelphia, he refused to allow Mrs. Gray and the children to return to the home on the Schuylkill, but kept them at the Yellow House to avoid the evils of war, not for a moment supposing the din of strife would be heard in that locality. But the removal of Washington's army to Chad's Ford, made necessary by the movements of Gen. Howe, placed them in the immediate vicinity of "broil and battle." All the morning and afternoon of Sept. 11, 1777, the booming of the cannon at. Brandywine was distinctly heard, and Mrs. Knowles, who was Margaret Gray, and then a child of eleven years, used to relate how, in the afternoon and evening, the demoralized and scattered American soldiers fled in that direction through the present hamlet of Thornton. It has been said that this locality was called Shintown, because of the manner in which the troops ran through it; but be that as it may, certain it is that Thornton was for many years known by that name. Prior to 1835, John King established a store, in which he was succeeded by Albin Ingram. After the latter removed from the store, it remained idle for several years, when Alfred Mansell took the building and again established the business. He was followed by Bennett Temple, and is now kept by William H. Yearsley. A post-office was located there many years ago. In 1832, John King was postmaster, and he was succeeded by the person who kept store at that place. Prior to 1831, Thomas Charlton resided at the Yellow House, where he manufactured cloths, coverlets, linen, sheetings, toweling, and linsey. Of course, his machinery was simply a hand-loom, such as was frequent in the early times. In 1831, Charlton removed to Middletown, and continued the business in the first house below the Black Horse Tavern, on the Middletown road, as he announced to his patrons in an advertisement early in that year.
Cheyney Shops. - Just on the border of Chester County, located on Westtown road, are Cheyney's shops, consisting of a blacksmith and wheelwright shop. In front of the property of Cheyney Brothers is a row of buttonwood trees, which were planted by the great-grandfather of the present owners on the 11th of September, 1777, the day of the battle of Brandywine. Prior to 1832 a post-office was established at Cheyney's shops, and in that year William Cheyney was postmaster. In 1859, Charles H. Cheyney was postmaster; in 1863, George S. Cheyney was appointed, and in 1867 the post-office was moved to Cheyney Station, on the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad.
Aged Persons. - At the residence of Garrett Thatcher, one afternoon in the autumn of 1867, four ladies sat at the tea-table whose united ages amounted to three hundred and fifty-six years, or over ninety years each. They were Phoebe Thomas, aged ninety-seven; Sarah Sharpless, aged ninety-four; Phoebe Mendenhall, aged eighty-five; and Rebecca Trimble, aged eighty years.
Licensed Houses. - In the township of Thornbury the record shows very few applications to keep houses of public entertainment. The first that has been found is that of Obadiah Bonsall, whose petition, dated Aug. 31, 1743, represents that he "has taken a Lease of a Tenement and piece of Land situated in Thornbury by the road from French Creek Iron-Works to Thornbury Forge, which road being much Travelled, and many people resorting to and working at and near to the said Forge," secured him the license desired."
How Bonsall succeeded in his undertaking of keeping public-house does not appear, unless the silence of the records as to any application for continuance of the license the following year argues that he was disappointed in his expectations and abandoned the enterprise. From the first petitions herein set forth, until 1786, when John James received license, Thornbury seemed without a public-house, and even James, so far as the records show, made no attempt at renewal of his privileges subsequent to the above date.
After the county of Delaware was erected no application for license in Thornbury appears for twenty-two years, until 1821, when Vernon G. Taylor received license for a public-house in the township. In 1829 he was succeeded by John Henderson, whose petition set forth that his house was located about midway between Darlington's tavern, in Chester County, and the President in Edgmont township, while he designated his house as the Thornbury Star. Here he remained for twelve years, and in 1841 license was granted to Rufus Cheyney, who died the following year, and the court extended favor to his widow, Sarah. She did not continue landlady of the inn for any considerable time, but in 1844 gave place to Jesse Russell. The latter was "mine host" of the Star Tavern until 1859, when Joseph M. Hizer became the landlord, and continued as such until 1862, when Russell again petitioned successfully yearly except during local option until 1876, after which date no license has been granted in Thornbury.
Relics of First Settlers. - In 1873, John Pyle, of Thornbury, was the owner of some table knives and forks whose age was then over a century and a half. The knives are curved like a cimeter, and a knife and fork weigh a pound, which shows that handling a knife and fork with our ancestors was a weighty operation. In old wills, the gift of a pewter dish was deemed worthy of mention. They were in common use about thirty years ago, as also sets of Britannia ware, and may be yet in the country. At the time of the settlement of this country by the English, wooden dishes and spoons were used.1
|1 Delaware County Republican, 1873.|