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Held at: Chadds Ford Historical Society [Contact Us]1736 N Creek Rd., P.O. Box 27, Chadds Ford, PA, 19317

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Chadds Ford Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"The land around Chadds Ford [Delaware County, Pennsylvania] was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians centuries before the Europeans arrived. In 1638 the first European explorers, the Swedes, discovered the Brandywine [River] and by 1700 English Quakers made up most of the population in the area. In 1707 "Ye Great Road to Nottingham," now U.S. Route 1, was laid out from Baltimore to Chester. It was one of the five main routes from Philadelphia in the early 18th century. During the late 1730s and 1740s when John Chads operated a ferry service across the Brandywine, the crossing place became known as "Chads Ford." About 1827 a bridge to span the river was built.

"On September 11, 1777 Continental troops formed a line of defense along the eastern bank of the Brandywine. George Washington had chosen this spot to halt the British advance toward Philadelphia. General William Howe split his forces to outflank the Continental army in the Battle of the Brandywine. After a day of fierce fighting, the Americans retreated to Chester and the British camped on the battlefield for five days, ransacking nearby homes.

"During the 1800s the harnessing of water power for use in mill operations was a major factor in the growth of the area. The mills not only manufactured goods such as gun powder and paper, they also processed grain and timber grown in the area." ("Our Village History")

"In the late 1850s the railroad came to town. Two lines came to Chadds Ford -- the east-west running Philadelphia & Baltimore Central RR in 1858 and the north-south running Wilmington & Reading RR a few years later. The two lines met at Chadds Ford Junction, while only a few hundred yards away on the east side of the Brandywine was Chadds Ford Station. The railroads played a significant role in the economic growth of the area. Spurs were laid out to accommodate the kaolin companies where fine white potter’s clay was mined at the turn of the century. The railroad also brought city people from Wilmington and Philadelphia who discovered the lush rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley. To have a summer house in Chadds Ford became the vogue.

"It was about this time that Howard Pyle held summer art classes in Chadds Ford that attracted students from all over the country including Frank Schoonover, Maxfield Parrish, and Violet Oakley. One of them, young N.C. Wyeth from Massachusetts, came to study under Pyle and never left. Pyle's studio and its students gave rise to the celebrated Brandywine School of Art, fostered by three generations of the Wyeth family.

"In the early 20th century the village of Chadds Ford was still a quiet crossroads surrounded by acres of farmland. After WW II, better roads and the population explosion of the 1950s brought people from the cities to the countryside transforming the rural landscape into a burgeoning suburban community." ("Our Heritage")


Quoted text from: Chadds Ford Historical Society. "Our Village History" and "Our Heritage." 2012. Accessed June 18, 2013. and

This collection consists principally of clippings, photocopies of articles, photocopies of primary source documents, and research notes, covering various local history topics and people from the vicinity of Chadds Ford, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. There are also transcripts and copies of census and tax records, 1715-1790, and historic resource surveys of sites in Chadds Ford Township and along the Route 202 corridor, 1994.

Materials gathered at various times from various sources by the Chadds Ford Historical Society.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Chadds Ford Historical Society directly for more information.

Chadds Ford Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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