Chronology of Chester Mills

Chronology of Chester Mills from 1681 through 1858. . .




Land in the area of today’s Upland was entirely taken up in the 1600’s by Swedes, and laid out in “plantations”. Swedes and Finns had settled on the west bank of the Delaware River as early as 1650.


The Swedes called this area “Upland”. Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam (now New York), forced the Swedes to capitulate and named the area “Oplandt”.


September, 1664 – English Colonel Nichols captured New Amsterdam, it became “ his majesty’s town of New York” . The Swedes decided it was “Upland” again.


Local Indians were of the Lenni Lenape tribe – The Turtle Clan.


An old Indian trail ran from Darby along the general route of the present MacDade Blvd. into the Chester area, where it followed today’s 24th Street to the present Upland Avenue. Here it turned down the hill passing the current Kerlin Street and on to the area that is now Front Street where it turned right, following close to Chester Creek across the land which later would become Caleb Pusey’s plantation, and then made a crossing to the higher land on the opposite side of the creek.


Dr. Paul Wallace, the Indian expert, sites this Indian trail; “The Indians could here cross over on stones and keep their moccasins dry”. The Indian name for the Chester Creek was “Meechaoppenachklan”, which meant. . . . Large potato stream, or the stream along which large potatoes grow.


From 1681 .


William Penn, being a man who learned from the experiences of others, was intent on providing a vital infrastructure for the settler/land owners in the new colony. Penn and nine partners organized a stock company to build one or more water mills to be erected in the province. Caleb Pusey received one share and was selected as the manager of the enterprise; the “Keeper of the Mill”.



William Penn



Early deeds, which recited the setting up of the partnership (stock company) by twelve Friends in London, the whole divided into 32 shares, remained with the various owners of the Caleb Pusey House and Chester Mills until the time of the Crozers (circa 1845). (These deeds were copied and are on file in the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, PA.) Caleb Pusey purchased 250 acres of land as one of William Penn’s 450 First Purchasers. 100 acres of this original purchase were laid out along the Chester Creek in present-day Upland.


1681 In London - Caleb Pusey signed himself as a Last Maker when he married the widow Ann Stone Worley at the London Friends meeting. A “last-maker” made and carved the wooden forms around which shoes were assembled.


1682 – Caleb Pusey, before leaving London, was entrusted with the responsibility of being the manager and agent of the grist and saw mills [the first proprietary mills in the new Pennsylvania].


It is believed that Caleb Pusey may have come out ahead of the ship “Welcome” in order to select the site for the new mills and to arrange for their building. There is some confusion here as recent developments of “The Welcome Society” have accepted Caleb Pusey as a passenger aboard Welcome.


The ship “Welcome” was a wooden vessel; square rigged, 300 tons, about 150 feet long, high in the bow and higher still in the stern. Robert Greenway was the Master. There were 102 passengers aboard, and not all of Penn’s company could come as the passenger list was full. Others were compelled to wait for later boats, which numbered about 21 vessels in all over the next few years.


The “Welcome” left Deal, England, September 1, 1682, and ended her voyage in 57 days, arriving in New Castle, DE on October 27, 1682. As other vessels normally made the crossing in one month, the “Welcome”, would have been considered a “dull boat” by mariners, if not for having to lay over at “Little Egg Harbor”, New Jersey because of illness aboard. 1/3 of the original 102 passengers were carried away (died) in an epidemic of Small-Pox.


October 28, 1682 – The “Welcome” arrived in Upland (Opland) with William Penn aboard. Penn then changed the name of the area to Chester, likely with respect to the fact that most of the “Welcome” colonists were from Chestereshire (Cheshire) in England. William Penn created Chester County and Chester Township at that time.


Caleb likely sought advice from Robert Wade and other local English settlers as to the best location for the new mills. Wade had lived in the area that was to become Chester for seven years, and although not a Quaker, was highly respected by Wm. Penn. Caleb named his plantation “Landingford”.


Conjecture leads “us” to suggest that this name was developed from the fact that the location of the mill was to be at the point farthest upstream from the Delaware River that would allow navigation and the landing of a barge/craft. . also at the point nearest to the Delaware River where the creek could be crossed on foot, hence: Landingford.


1682 – Richard Townsend, a Millwright by trade, also a passenger on the “Welcome”, was sent out by the stock company to erect a mill “for grinding and the sawing of boards”, so that the early settlers would have lumber for their houses and flour for their tables. He was awarded two shares in the partnership. Townsend had built 1 or 2 mills for the partnership in London. He was also most likely instrumental in helping Caleb Pusey with the building of the east room of his house. The ship “Welcome” carried the first mill “ready-framed” for erection.


1683 – The first Mill was erected on Chester Creek “at the head of the tidewater".


Caleb Pusey obtained land warrants for the mill: two parcels, 20 Acres in all on both sides of the Chester Creek just above high tide. The original location was at a site upstream from the Pusey House. It is believed the initial site was some 350 yards upstream. A notation on a deed from 1705 shows the location to be, “near his now dwelling house with advice of the Proprietary and such other of the Partners as were in the Province, did in 1683 erect a corn mill.”  (Confirmation is based largely on the location of English Milled Dam Stones found in the creek during the archaeological excavations of 1970’s) .


1683 – Pusey House was built. (The current East Room)



First known sketch of Caleb Pusey House, published 1843


At this time the east room had a peaked roof, the ghost of which is still visible in the brickwork on the east end wall. A center door in the end of the building provided ladder access to the sleeping/storage loft area.


The new venture soon became known as Chester Mills. The house and mills were on the main road (Indian trail) going north and south. Many travelers passed by and spent the night with Caleb and his family.


Charles Ashcomb, the Surveyor’s Map of 1683 shows 100 acres owned by Caleb Pusey on the Chester Creek (also shows a house). It also shows 50 acres next door to Caleb owned by Richard Townsend with his house. It also shows all the other current Upland area as 500 acres owned by Thomas Brassey.


1683 – This mill and its dam “were soon swept away by a flood.”


1684 - “Soon after” Caleb Pusey built a second mill (grist and saw) upon part of the 20 acres, “and made a dam over the Creek a little above where the first mill stood”.


1684 – Wm. Penn returned to England.


1685 – Richard Townsend relinquished his four shares in the mill and premises, and sold his 50 acres along Chester Creek to Caleb Pusey and moved to Germantown, where he built his own mill.


1687 – The “Great Land Flood” carried away the dam from the second mill, not the mill itself, as is often reported. (1705 deed notes state; “Thereupon, the partners found it advisable to take the water out of the Creek about a mile above the said Mills”).


Ashmead’s History of Delaware County states that; “ The expenses attending these constant repairs were so great that the outlay far exceeded the earnings of the mill, and Pusey borrowed money from time to time from Robert Turner, a merchant of Philadelphia, in order to pay for the improvements.” (Page 429)


1687 – Caleb Pusey bought two (2) acres of land from Thomas Brassey to “dig and make a mill race”.


1688 – Ashmead says; “In settlement of these advances Pusey, on June 21, 1688, drew a bill of exchange on Daniel Worley & Co. (the court record gives the name Whearley), merchants, of London, partners in the mills, for one hundred and eighty-seven pounds, payable at forty days' sight to Robert Turner or order. On Oct. 15, 1688, the original bill was presented to the drawee, who said "that he would not accept the sd bill for that the others Concerned in the same would not allow their proportionable shares," and the bill was protested.”


1690 – The Commissioners of Property issued a patent of gift from William Penn to Caleb Pusey “for the use of the said Mill”, 20 acres of land on Chester Creek on which to build the newest (Third) Mill. (See “Penn’s 20 Acre Gift of Patent to Pusey” document hanging in the Crozer Schoolhouse.)


1691 – Caleb Pusey (with six others, including James Sandilands) “presented” by the Grand Jury of which Caleb was Foreman, for selling beer without a license.


1692 – Robert Turner got a judgment for money loaned to rebuild the mill and dig the Race (in 1687). The original partners owed £319/18s/7½p, and had washed their hands of a bad investment. Turner got awarded 22 shares of the partnership in payment, which he sold to Samuel Carpenter. “The mills being much decayed”, Carpenter planned to rebuild lower down the creek. He got Caleb Pusey to donate 5 acres 94 Perches of his (Caleb’s) land-grant acquired from Penn in 1691. Caleb retained his water-meadow and a cartway to the creek. (See the map by Lightfoot; 1730; Delaware County Historical Society Library)


1693 – Penn, Carpenter and Pusey signed an agreement of partnership.


1693 – Chester Mills paid the highest tax in Chester Township. Robert Langum, having served Caleb Pusey for eight years, is freed. Alexander Ross, Caleb’s bound boy (kidnapped from Scotland) is adjudged by the Court to be eleven years of age, and is set to serve until he comes of age.


1693 – The millrace is extended through Caleb’s 100 acres to the third mill which had been erected on the 20 acre tract.


During the 1690’s – The West Room was likely added during this period. Records indicate that there was a Chester Friends gathering (meeting) at the home of “Friend Pusey” in the summer of 1696 where the men were said to have been in one room, while the women were in another.  (This is the only known reference to there being two rooms in the Pusey house).


December, 1699 – Thomas Story’s Journal indicates that William Penn came to the Pusey House for midday dinner. This was during William Penn’s second and last visit to the colony.


To commemorate the successful partnership of William Penn, Samuel Carpenter and Caleb Pusey in Chester Mills, a weathervane was made and is currently in the keeping of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and residing at the Atwater-Kent Museum in Philadelphia.


1700 – Francis Worley and Mary, his wife (daughter and heir of Thomas Brassey) convey to Samuel Carpenter ½ part of three tracts of land along Ridley Creek (not mill lands). Caleb Pusey already had the other half: 200 acres on Ridley Creek.


1701 - A proposal to turn over the proprietary colonies to the crown, forced Penn to return to England, November 1701 on the 'Dalmahoy'. Caleb Pusey was appointed by Penn as one of the “Councillors of State” in his absence.


1705 – The Commissioners of Property grant Caleb Pusey three parcels of land on Ridley Creek totaling 175 acres.


1705 – Carpenter and Pusey purchased 75 acres on Ridley Creek from John Parker, sold 60 acres to Rebecca Fawcett, widow of “Walter Ffawcett” and retained 15 acres; making the holdings along Ridley Creek 215 acres in all. Samuel Carpenter “the older” sold to Caleb Pusey, for £1000, his 22/32 shares the mill and lands, including the 215 acres. (Worley and Parker Tracts, recorded in 1706).


1705 – Mary Royle, who had been kidnapped in Scotland and carried to Pennsylvania, was  sold as a bound girl to Caleb Pusey for five years. She was aged 11 or 12.


1705 – Thomas Story visited the Puseys.


1706 – Caleb Pusey sold Henry Worley, both called “yeomen”, for £500 a ¼ part or 8 shares (of 32) of the Mills (already under option to him for 1 year) and 8 shares of Mill-lands 5 acres and 94 Perches, and  8 shares of 20 acres, and 8 shares of the Woodmansey ½ acre, of buildings, of three tracts of land (200 acres), and of 15 acres on Ridley Creek ½ share. Worley continued to allow Caleb to take water from the Race and keep a cartway. Witness: Alexander Ross, who had been Caleb Pusey’s bound boy.


1706 – New road from north to south was finished, and Chester Mills area was not on the route. The Queen’s Road entered Chester from the North and progressed to Market Square. Leaving Chester to the South, this new road was known as the King’s Road. For a time, Landingford Plantation and the Chester Mills area lost the limelight.


1707 – Thomas Story was present at the double wedding of Caleb and Anne’s two daughters. (See the “George Painter and Lidya Pusey Wedding Certificate – 1706/7” hanging in the Crozer Schoolhouse.)


1708 – Caleb Pusey altered one of the mills to operate as a “Fulling Mill”; so he must have continued as manager. Pusey sold to Isaac Norris for £250 a 1/8 share in the Mills, retaining his Water and Cartage rights.


1709 – Caleb sold to James Logan for £250 a 1/8 share in the Mills. Worley had ¼, Norris had 1/8, Logan had 1/8, leaving Caleb Pusey with ½ share. Not mentioned in the deeds is the acquisition of Penn’s 1/3 share (as of 1692-99).


1709? – Caleb and his family may have moved into a home in the Town of Chester. Caleb owned a city lot there. Henry Worley, Caleb’s stepson must have taken over management of Chester Mills at some point. For a time it was known as Henry Worley & Company.


1710 – Caleb Pusey sold to John Salkeld for £15 17½ acres of his 60 acre Hendricks Tract. (See the “1710 Caleb Pusey to John Salkeld Deed” document hanging in the Crozer Schoolhouse).


1710, 11 and 12 – Caleb Pusey was a member of the Provincial Assembly. After 1712, his name no longer appears in the Upland Court records.


1712 – A letter from William Penn to “My deare fFriends S. Carpenter, J. Norris, C. Peusey, S. Preston, T. Storey, G. Owen, etc., at Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. - - “I grow old and infirm, yet would gladly see you once more before I dye - - “. In this letter he announced that he had transferred provincial government to the Queen. (Anne).


1715 – Isaac Taylor map “whereof belong to Jon. Dickinson and Isaac Norris’s Mills” . . This indicates that Jon. Dickinson was already a partner at this time.


1716 – Historical Note: John Salkeld and his wife Agnes sold the 17½ acre plot to Tobias Hendricks (the son of Albert) for the sum of £23 in silver. (See the “1716/1717 Salkeld to Hendricks Deed” document hanging in the Crozer Schoolhouse).


1717 – Caleb Pusey retired from public life and moved his wife to London Grove, East Marlborough, where he died in 1727. Pusey corner cupboard is believed to have been given in tribute to Caleb at his retirement from active political and social life.


1718 – Hannah Carpenter, Samuel’s widow, and her youngest son John, sold to Jon. Dickinson, Philadelphia merchant, 3/32 parts of Chester Mills and Lands and Freeboards for £93, 16s. (Samuel Carpenter’s will dated 1714.) This was Samuel Carpenter, aka “the older” or “the colonist”.


1719 – (Recorded in 1768) the indenture between Caleb Pusey of East Marlborough and Henry Worley of Chester, and Jon. Dickinson of Philadelphia, Merchant, and Isaac Norris of Philadelphia, Merchant:  Henry Worley joins Caleb Pusey in selling for £20, 21 acres of the 175 acres to Jon. Dickinson and Isaac Norris.  Witness: (at the recording) Caleb Pusey, Junior, 1768. This is the last deed by Pusey concerning the Mills.


1719 - Henry Worley and Mary his wife of Chester, sold to Isaac Norris and Jon. Dickinson of Philadelphia, Merchants, 164 acres and 66 Perches. (Tracts)


1721 – Dickinson and Norris paid £1 tax on the Mills and Plantation.


1722 – Isaac Norris alone is assessed tax of £1-4s-0p on £23 value.


1723 – 15/32 share of the Mills and ½ of the Worley Plantation mortgaged in the estate division of Jon. Dickinson.


1724 – Isaac Norris paid tax of £1-10s-0p. The Dickinson estate paid the Penn family £1000.


1725 – Isaac Norris is taxed only on the Plantation.


Note: From 1727 to 1752 the tax lists do not record taxes paid on the Mills. (Mary Patterson)


1727 – Richard Townsend, in his autobiographical notes of this year, said that he brought over the mill (Chester Mills), built it, and that it was very successful, but his name does not appear in the deeds, except as an early share-holder.


1731 – Isaac Norris assigned his share of the Worley Tract to his daughter Mary, wife of Thomas Griffiths.


1741 – Mary and Thomas Griffiths granted to the son of Isaac Norris (Isaac Norris, Jr.) their half of the above mentioned Worley Tracts. (not the Mills); the other half belonged to the Dickinson estate. (see 1723)


1745 – Executor Logan of the Dickinson estate sold the ½ share of the 164-¾ acre Worley Tracts to John Pennell.


1745 ? – Ashmead states; “the old mill having been almost destroyed by an accidental fire, a new stone mill was built by Joseph Pennell, the then owner of the property. He was the Grandfather of John P. Crozer. “


1745 – Samuel Shaw appears on the tax list as “freeman”, not Miller.


1749 – Isaac Norris, Jr. conveys to John Pennell the Norris ½ part of the tracts. John Pennell now has both halves of the tracts.


1750 – John Pennell, Jr. and Martha his wife sold to Nathan Dicks, Ironmonger, for £450, 149-3/4 acres and 32 Perches (not Mill lands).


1752 – John Pennell, the Younger, and Martha his wife, sold for £334-10s, to Samuel and Thomas Shaw, then of Pennypack in Philadelphia, Chester Mills and two tracts of land: 1. on which the old Mills stood; 2. The 9 acres and 13 Perches and 22/32 parts of 3 tracts called Mill-lands and Cartway from the Ford.


Around this time the gambrel roof may have been installed on the east room of the Pusey House to make room for children in the loft.


Samuel Shaw, of the borough of Chester, miller, records owning a Negro man, Peter, 36, and a negro man, Buff, age 23. Both listed as slaves for life.


Up to this time the annual tax continued to be collected by the Penn heirs.


1761 – Samuel Shaw, Jr., of Philadelphia, sold to Sam. Shaw, Miller, of Chester, ½ share of 54 ½ acres and 13 Perches, 27/32 of Mill lands.


1762 – Thomas Shaw dies intestate. His half went to his only brother and heir, Samuel Shaw, Jr., of Philadelphia, Merchant. Deed Samuel Shaw, Jr. to Sam. Shaw, Miller of Chester, 1761, “the aforesaid 9 acres and 13 Perches, formerly belonging to Robert Wade, late of Chester.” (1675-1683).


1764 – Samuel Shaw is said to “have a very large family”, and was taxed at £766.


1777 – George Washington, fearful that the British would seize the mills at Chester, ordered that the mill stones be removed a to a safe place and there be buried. Since the Mills were back in business immediately after the war, they must have returned the stones or bought new ones.


1784 – Sam. Shaw, Jr., of Philadelphia, died intestate and his estate was divided among his children by decree of the Orphan’s Court. The Chester Mills were given to John Shaw, the eldest son, he to sell them and share the proceeds with the other children.


1786 – John Shaw transferred to William Shaw, 1/3 part.  Witness to this gift is Richard Flower.


1786 – John Shaw sold 3 of 5 parts of the Mills and 2 tracts of land to Samuel Shaw, Miller of Chester (John had a brother Samuel in 1786/87) for £1422, who contracted to pay off the mortgage. He got 9/32 of Mill-lands and 45¼ acres in receipt for payment.


1788 – The High Sheriff sold to Henry Hale Graham (defendant Job Dicks) 2/3 parts of Mill tracts and 18/32 shares. Plaintiff was B. Parker, (son of J. Parker), who held the mortgage.


1788 – William Shaw, yeoman of Chester, and Anne his wife, sold to H. H. Graham 1/3 part of Mill and Tracts for £1000. Graham, Attorney, then held 3/3. (William was the son of Samuel Shaw)


1791 – Henry Hale Graham died intestate. Property went to his son William who married Abigail Pennell. (Their son was the Historian Henry Graham Ashmead).


1792 - Ownership passed to Henry Graham’s daughter and son-in-law, Henrietta and Richard Flowers. William Graham, Attorney, sold to Richard Flower, Miller of Chester, for £4000. (The Flowers family continued to care for the place and the old deeds, and appreciated the story in them).


1794 – Richard Flowers had built a ‘schallop’, a boat with oars and sails, to carry his flour from Chester Mills to Philadelphia. A Schallop draws 5 feet of water loaded, and could be navigated up the Chester Creek to the mills. This enabled the Chester Mill’s businesses to rise from a grist mill operation to the designation as a “merchant mill”. Flower bought milling patents for the Oliver Evans “Continuous Milling Process and Machinery” for a price of 60 Spanish Milled Dollars.  (Note: There is a great display of Evans machinery at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.)


November 7, 1795 – Richard Flowers, along with a group of business partners known well to him, purchased the “Georgia Packet”, a 113 ton vessel built in 1791, and began to ship internationally from Chester Mills.


December 7, 1797 – the “Georgia Packet) sailed for Port au Prince, Haiti with food stuffs claimed not to be contraband of war. She was captured by a French privateer “The Loyalty”, condemned and declared to be illegal cargo. This loss began the decline of Richard Flowers’ flour milling success.


1811 – The Flowers built a new saw mill that was completed at Chester Mills. Over the next years the Lumber Mill flourished.


1813 – By this time (most certainly by 1815) Chester Mills had ceased to function as flour milling center, but Chester Mills continued to grow its lumber cutting function. The growing cotton and woolen industries had led to the high risks of dealing in flour for export.


1824 – William Graham Flower was operating the saw mill at Chester Mills and advertising ash planks and other assorted lumber for sale at his mill. However after this year, he no longer offered lumber for sale from the Chester Mills location. He removed the lumber to Chester for sale. Other merchants were selling ‘Susquehanna’ lumber from locations in Chester, and nobody wanted to come the 2 miles up Chester Creek to buy it from Chester Mills.


1826 – The Chester Mills ground grist only occasionally, but continued to cut >310,000 bd/feet of lumber per year.


1835 – The Delaware County Branch Railroad Company was incorporated, and a committee of manufacturers was formed to ascertain the amount of commerce that would be transported by a Chester Creek Railroad, with the estimated cost to be $360,000. The project languished because of financial problems.


1838 – The Delaware County Branch Railroad Company tried to revive the Chester Creek Railroad project unsuccessfully.


1839 – William Flower, still an owner/investor in the Chester Mills lumber operations, suffered a financial loss when 50,000 bd/feet of lumber was swept away at Chester Mills in a flash flood.


1842 – The Chester Mills were again severely damaged by a flash flood.


1842 – J. W. Ashmead and Henrietta, his wife sold to John P. Crozer, 60 acres for $13,500. Here was the first reference to  U.S. Dollars used in these transactions.


July 24, 1843 – Richard Flower died leaving a mortgaged mill, six heirs and no will. The trustee for the estate was Edward Darlington.


June 14, 1844 – Richard Flower’s estate was first advertised for sale.


February 13, 1845 – 35 acres were sold to William Flower and 60 acres including the Chester Mills sold to John W. Ashmead.  John W. Ashmead was a son-in-law of Richard Flower, and was the father of the historian Henry Graham Ashmead. John W. Ashmead immediately sold the mill site and 66 acres to John P. Crozer.  Crozer was, at the time of this purchase, living at Crozerville since 1839.




1846 – John P. Crozer built the Cotton mill known as Mill #1; a 5 story stone structure, 138 feet long by 50 feet wide. This cotton mill was located at the east end of the old mill race built by Caleb Pusey. John P. also built a number of stone dwellings for his mill operators. Some of these dwellings are still standing, and in use.  Worship services were originally held in an upper room of Mill #1 – Sometime called the ‘attic’.


The site was never referred to as Chester Mills again, but became famous as the location of the Crozer Cotton Mills. But this is another story. . . . . .


1847 – An eighty horse-power steam engine was purchased to be used for powering the mill, if the water power to the mill should fail at any time.


1847 – There were now 46 tenements on the Upland property.


April, 1847 – John P. Crozer relocated from Crozerville to Chester Mills, which he renamed Upland due to his respect for the history and the story of the place. And here was the beginning of the Village of Upland.


1848 – The Chester Creek Railroad was finally operational and joined in Chester with the Philadelphia to Baltimore Railroad which had been completed in 1838.


1849 – John P. Crozer informed the school directors of Chester Township that, if they would provide for a school in Upland, he would build the schoolhouse exclusively at his own expense. The offer was accepted. The “Crozer Schoolhouse” was erected on Race Street.



Crozer School House, Race St. Upland, Pa. 2008


1851 -  John P. Crozer rented the Caleb Pusey House as a “double house”. The cellar is supposed to have been filled in at this time with debris from a nearby trash pile.


1852 – Cotton Mill #2 was built, it was a 4 story stone structure, 158 feet long by 52 wide.


1858 – The “Old Mill” building (the Penn, Carpenter, Pusey Mill) was completely destroyed by a fire.




Landingford Plantation,15 Race St. Upland, PA.