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Haverford Township Historical Society local manuscript collection


Held at: Haverford Township Historical Society [Contact Us]PO Box 825, Havertown, PA, 19083

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford Township 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

Haverford Township is a suburb of Philadelphia situated near the wealthy "Main Line" west of the city. It encompasses the community of Havertown and parts of Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Drexel Hill, and Wynnewood in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

"Haverford Township was laid out by William Penn as part of the Welsh Tract or Barony. In 1681, a representative group of Welsh Quakers met with Penn to discuss their settlement, having purchased forty thousand acres of land which today comprises all of Haverford, Radnor and Lower Merion Townships. "Companies of Adventurers" were formed, with the most prominent person in each taking out the patent on 5,000 acres of land as trustee. The first three families arrived in Haverford Township in 1682. Lewis David, Henry Lewis and William Howell selected land along the southern border.

"The area was primarily agricultural until the second decade of the twentieth century. The census returns of 1860 show the value of livestock as $62,485.00; animals slaughtered $11,255.00; 46,049 bushels of grain harvested and the and the value of orchard and garden produce, $4,090.00.

"The two creeks that mark part of the township boundaries provided good millseats for the early settlers. [Several gristmills and sawmills were established in the 18th and 19th centuries.]...Between 1810 and 1840, [the Nitre Hall Powder Mills on Cobb's Creek, built by Israel Whelen, Sr.] were the second largest powder mills in the U.S. with production of 800,000 pounds in 1812. The mills ceased operations in 1840...

"Improved transportation opened the township to development. The Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad opened for use from Broad and Callowhill Streets to Paoli in 1833, and went as far as Pittsburgh by 1835. Tracks meandered through the countryside, going along Railroad Avenue in Haverford Township. This was the first railway for general commerce in the U.S., but offered little in the way of service to passengers until the late 1860s. The Pennsylvania Railroad bought the Columbia in 1857 and began changing the roadbed for what became the Main Line to the west.

"The Philadelphia and West Chester Turnpike Company first built the toll road, then formed the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company and built the trolley line, which opened in 1898. The addition of the Ardmore line in 1902 brought much new housing. The trolleys provided good transportation to Philadelphia and workers began to commute. Moderately priced homes on smaller lots were built in communities such as Llanerch, Brookline and Oakmont.

"The population of Haverford Township almost doubled between 1900 and 1925.

"In the beginning of the 20th [c]entury much farmland was purchased by wealthy families who built mansions and developed gardens on their new estates... [Several golf courses and country clubs were developed, notably the Merion Cricket Club Golf Association, The Llanerch Country Club, and The Pennsylvania Railroad Golf Club.]

"The first building erected for educational purposes was the Federal School, in 1797. During the 1800s four additional one-room schools and one parochial school were built. The latter part of the 19th century was the beginning of the present school system.

"After World War II, additions were made to existing schools, a new high school and three one-story elementary schools were built. Today there is one middle school, one senior high, five elementary schools, four parochial schools and four private schools.

"Haverford College, the first College founded by the Society of Friends in the United States in 1833, has several historic structures on its 225-acre property."


Quoted text from: Haverford Township. "History of Haverford Township." January 29, 2008. Accessed April 25, 2014.

This collection consists of a variety of original manuscript materials relating to the people, organizations, and properties of Haverford Township. It includes family papers, organizational records, photographs, maps and architectural drawings, deeds, tax records, a small amount of secondary-source research material, and more.

The family papers include: Ashhurst family papers, including a genealogy scrapbook with original documents and research, circa 1864-1962, and a John Ashhurst clippings scrapbook Wilton A. Bunce (Haverford Township Commissioner) publicity clippings scrapbooks, 1962-1991 Lawrence family papers, 1800-1917 Leedom family papers Annie Martin family papers and some relevant secondary-source research material, circa 1860-late 20th century Helen (Megilligan) McClain wedding scrapbook, 1906 Charles Sidney Sheaff and George Washington Sheaff, Civil War soldiers, letters home (photocopies) White-Bailey family papers, including Charlie S. Bailey's Civil War diary from 1864 (he served in F Company of the 108th Regiment New York State Volunteers) Diary (anonymous), 1886

The local organizational records contain those of the Penfield Civic Association, 1925-1947; and the Llanerch Women's Club.

Municipal records consist of tax records from 1891-1904 (auditor John Lynch), 1913-1916 (tax collector G. Edward Leedom), and 1914-1915 (tax collector G. Edward Leedom); and quarantine records from 1913-1926, 1926-1926, and 1941-1943.

Audio and visual materials in the collection include about 16 oral histories, circa 1990-1995, most of which are transcribed; some oversize photographs; local area maps; architectural drawings and images (not necessarily photographic images) of housing/neighborhood developments, the Grange Estate, and other sites; and about a dozen atlases, 1896-1961.

The collection also features dozens of deeds and related property and legal documents, 1759-20th century; and a binder of research on and photographs of Philadelphia historic sites compiled by Peg Johnston, circa 1935.

Some materials, such as the Bunce scrapbooks, the Ashhurst family materials, and the Lawrence family papers, have been digitized. The Lawrence family papers are also available online.

Materials collected by or donated to the Haverford Township Historical Society from various sources over time.

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 Haverford Township Historical Society directly for more information.

Haverford Township Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu 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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