Humphrey Marshall was born in West Bradford Township on October 2, 1722. He had little schooling. He worked on the farm until he became a helper to a stone mason. Here he learned to be a stone mason.
In addition, he studied astronomy and natural history. In 1773 he started "Botanic Garden", a rich collection of forest trees and ornamental shrubs of the United States. In 1785 he published an account of forest trees and shrubs under the title of American Groves, believed to be the first such paper prepared and published in the Americas.
Cataracts on his eyes made it difficult for him to see in later years. He died in 1801.
West Chester dedicated a public square in his honor called Marshall Square.
His home, the Humphrey Marshall House, can be seen today in Marshallton. It is one of Chester County’s oldest historic homes.
Thomas McKean Signer of Declaration of Independence
Born: 3-19-1734 Governor of Pennsylvania
Thomas McKean was born in New London Township, March 19, 1734. He was of Irish descent. As a youth he studied law and was licensed as a lawyer in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. He was sent to Congress and represented both Delaware and Pennsylvania for eight and one-half years. In 1781 he was President of Congress.
Mr. McKean was the Governor of Pennsylvania (1799-1808). He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had served in the Revolutionary War. He made Delaware the first state to sign the Constitution. He was also a member of the State Supreme Court.
Thomas McKean died June 24, 1817 and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
Anthony Wayne General in Revolutionary War
One of the greatest heroes in the War of the Revolution was a man called "Mad" Anthony Wayne. In the study of the life of Anthony Wayne there seem to be two Waynes. One was the daring, fearless officer, always ready to lead his soldiers in the most dashing charges or battles. This won for him the nickname "Mad" Anthony Wayne. The other Wayne was a man every-watchful and considerate of his men. The heart warms upon reading of his deeds.
The orders of Generals Washington, Schuykill Lafayette, and Greene show very plainly that when they were met with a situation that called for wisdom and strength, they called on the help of Anthony Wayne. Every general under whom he served sent him to the front. He stood in a place where the danger was the most threatening, and skill and bravery the most needed. He led the advance at Germantown, Monmouth, and on the James River in Virginia. He fought at Brandywine. At Paoli, his leadership saved his soldiers from being wiped out. General Wayne’s most daring deed was done at a place called Stony Point in New York. Although he was wounded, he led his soldiers to the capture of Stony Point. After winning the battle, he sent this message to General Washington: "The fort and garrison are ours. Our officers and men behaved like men determined to be free."
After the Revolutionary War was over, Anthony Wayne came back to his family and farm in Chester County. Peace was not long lasting. Once again he was called to the service of his country and state. The President asked him to take charge of the forces of the United States Army, assigned to stop the Indians from making war on western Pennsylvania settlers. In the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Anthony Wayne led his army to victory over the Indians.
General Anthony Wayne was born in Easttown Township in 1745. He died in 1796, and is buried in Old St. David’s in Radnor.
There is a rumor that once every year at the date of the "Paoli Massacre" (September 20), the ghost of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne rides down the Lancaster Pike looking for his men.
Dr. William Darlington Botanist, Banker, Physician
Dr. William Darlington was born in Birmingham Township, April 28, 1782. His ancestors followed Penn to Pennsylvania. He was raised in a Quaker family, later becoming an Episcopalian.
Dr. Darlington studied medicine, and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1804—the first native of Chester County to obtain an M.D. Degree. He practiced medicine for a short time on a merchant ship. Later, he practiced medicine in West Chester.
He had many different interests. In 1812 he assisted in establishing the West Chester Academy. He helped organize the Bank of Chester County, and was president from 1830 until his death.
He aided in forming a Cabinet of Natural Science in West Chester, and in forming a County Medical Society. He was especially noted for his study of botany, and wrote several books on the subject.
Rebecca Pennock Lukens Woman in Steel
Rebecca Lukens is known as the "Woman in Steel". She helped Lukens Steel Company grow to the big steel plant it is today. Rebecca’s father, Isaac Pennock, started Lukens Iron and Steel Company in 1790 under a different name. Rebecca married Dr. Charles Lukens, who, in 1816, took over the business from her father. When Dr. Lukens died in 1825, he asked his wife, Rebecca, to carry on the business. This she did at the age of 31, even though in those days it was almost an unheard of thing for a woman to head a business—especially such as a steel mill. She is given credit for much of the success of Lukens Steel Company.
Even though Rebecca Lukens spent a great deal of time at the mill, she never forgot her home, or left her children to anybody else. The mill was across the meadow from her home, so that helped to make it easier for her to go back and forth from her home to the mill. Rebecca Lukens was a busy mother, but she always had time to tell stories to her children, and to take them on shopping trips into Philadelphia to buy pretty clothes for them.
As a child growing up, Rebecca Lukens was alert and active. She loved school, especially reading books. She sometimes read books all night by candlelight.
She spent much of her time growing up by being with her father whom she loved. She liked to watch the workings of her father’s steel mill. She also learned by being with her father how kindly he treated his workers. This taught her to treat her employees kindly also when she later took over the business as the "woman in steel".
Rev. John Miller Dickey Founder of Lincoln University
Born: 12-16-1806 Clergyman
John M. Dickey was born December 16, 1806 of Scotch-Irish parents. His early life was spent in Oxford, Chester County. He began his work as a minister at the age of twenty-two, continuing as a minister until he died at the age of seventy-two.
John M. Dickey always had felt sorrow for the treatment of the Negro slaves in the South. He tried to help them by beginning a school for the Negroes to teach them ways of helping themselves to have better lives. Today, this school is called Lincoln University. It was founded in 1854. Because of John’s love for his fellow man, many Negroes of that day were able to better their ways of living by getting a good education at Lincoln University.
Anna Preston, M.D. Physician, Teacher
Anna Preston was born in West Grove in 1813 and died in 1872. She was a teacher, writer, and successful doctor. Dr. Preston was a member of the first graduating class from Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia. She was also one of the founders of Woman’s Medical Hospital.
Dr. Preston lived just at the time when women were beginning to be heard outside of their homes. She spoke and worked against slavery, helping in any way she could to protect slaves who were making a break for freedom.
"Cousin Ann’s Poems", one of her books for children, was enjoyed by all who read it.
Thomas Buchanan Read Poet, Artist, Sculptor
We read in our books about many great men who have helped build our country. Did you ever stop and think that some of these men may have lived near your home?
Thomas Buchanan Read was born March 12, 1822 in East Brandywine Township, near Downingtown. He passed his boyhood days here, and attended Hopewell School. If was the rolling hills and the beautiful countryside that inspired him to write poetry and to paint.
He started to learn the trade of tailoring at an early age, but soon lost interest in this work. At the age of seventeen, he began to travel. He opened a studio in Boston. It was here that he met Henry W. Longfellow, who encouraged him in his poetic writing.
Read was able to save enough money to take a trip to Europe. While there he studied art. When the War between the states broke out, he returned to America immediately. Some of his popular poems were written during this time.
One of his poems is "The Wagoner of the Alleghenies". Another more famous poem is "Sheridan’s Ride". His paintings are on exhibit in several American Art Galleries.
John Fritz Pioneer in Iron and Steel
Late in the summer of 1822 (August 21) a boy by the name of John Fritz was born on a small farm in Londonderry Township, Chester County, Pa. This boy’s father was German, and his mother was Scotch-Irish. The father was a mill-right and a machinist, so it was quite natural that John would be interested in machinery. When he was just 16 he went to Parkesburg to work with a blacksmith. When he grew older, he worked as many as twelve hours a day, and then spent his evenings watching rolls in the mill. He was so anxious to learn all there was to know about the iron business that he left a $1000 job to take one where he only received $650 a year so that he could learn how to build a rail-mill and a blast furnace. He traveled to other states to get more knowledge about iron mines, always returning to his home area where he would try to use the new information in ways that would help make the iron industry a better one.
John Fritz will always be remembered because he succeeded in building machinery that did not need gears, and could be used for a long time without fear of a breakdown. Naturally this saved the owners much money. He worked with Bethlehem Iron Company in making rails for the railroads during the Civil War. He was one of the men who used the famous Bessemer process for making steel. Mr. Fritz made the making of rails and armor-plate so simple that people all over the world asked his advice about how to do this.
Mr. Fritz had not had much schooling himself, but he never stopped trying to learn something new. He was anxious that other boys and girls who wanted to learn more about the engineering field should have a better chance to do this than he had had. He built an engineering laboratory at Lehigh University, and then left money for the purpose of keeping that laboratory in use for many more students to use in later years.
Before he died on February 13, 1913, he wrote the story of his life. This book really said very little about this great man, but it did tell many things about the American iron industry, not only in Chester County and Pennsylvania, but in the entire country.
Bayard Taylor Author and Diplomat
Bayard Taylor, one of the most loved American authors and poets, was born in Kennett Square, January 11, 1825.
When a little boy, he was fond of climbing the tallest trees on his father’s farm so that he might see more of the world. His dreams of seeing more of the world soon came true. He spent much of his life traveling in many foreign countries, including countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. He wished to educate himself, and to better understand other races and languages.
On his return to America, he wrote of his travels. One of his best-known and well-loved books is "The Story of Kennett". This book was written at his beautiful home called "Cedarcroft", near Kennett Square.
Perhaps you would like to take a trip to Longwood Cemetery, near the Longwood Meeting House. There you would find a most unusual tombstone on which you would find out many things about Bayard Taylor.
Dr. James Pyle Wickersham Educator
Died: 3-25- 1891
One hundred thirty-five years ago, on March 5, 1825, a tiny baby boy was born in Newlin Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The little fellow lived on his father’s farm, went to the nearby country school, and attended Unionville Academy when he became older. His father could not afford to pay for his education. James Pyle Wickersham had to earn the money for his education by teaching school in the winter at Brandywine Manor and at Paoli.
Young James wanted to be a lawyer when he grew up. However, his parents were members of the Society of Friends, and their religion was opposed to this. So the young man had to give up the idea. Naturally the youth was quite disappointed, but this did not stop him from becoming a very important person who will be long remembered in Chester County and Pennsylvania.
He had the great honor of being the first person to be County Superintendent of Schools in Lancaster County. He helped start the first State Normal School in Pennsylvania at Millersville where people were trained to be teachers. Later he became Superintendent of Schools in Pennsylvania.
Some of the boys will be interested to hear that besides being an educator, Dr. Wickersham organized a regiment of more than a hundred students and teachers which fought in the Civil War.
Before his death in March 1891, he also had helped to build schools in our country which were for the orphans of soldiers who had fought in the Civil War.
Dr. Evan T. Pugh Educator
Dr. Evan Pugh, a native of East Nottingham Township, is best remembered as the first president of Pennsylvania State University. He became president of Penn State in 1859 when it was known as Farmer’s High School.
As a young man of sixteen he became a blacksmith’s helper. Dr. Pugh devoted the rest of his life to education, either as a student or teacher. He earned degrees from European universities where he became noted for his work in science. Chemistry and mathematics were his favorite subjects.
In the summer of 1863, while returning home after night, he was thrown from his carriage over a bank. He died the following spring from the injuries received from this accident. He was married only two months before he died. He had no children.
Dr. Isaac Sharpless Educator
Dr. Isaac Sharpless was born in Birmingham Township. He spent thirty years of his life as president of Haverford College. He wrote many papers about mathematics, astronomy, and Quaker history. Dr. Sharpless was noted for his ability to get boys to do their best in school. He was a very modest man. He was so modest that he told friends, "They asked me to become president of Haverford College because they couldn’t find anybody else".
He wrote a book while President of Haverford College that would interest the boys. It was called "The Quaker Boy On the Farm and at School". The book tells about the life of a boy on a Pennsylvania farm. It also tells about the life of a Quaker boy after entering Westtown Boarding School, including a story about a pillow fight at bedtime.
Dr. George Morris Philips Educator
Dr. George Morris Philips, book lover, scholar, and teacher, was born in Atglen on October 28, 1851 and died March 11, 1920. As a book lover, he gathered through the years one of the best collections of autographed books in the country. He had over 1600 autographed books. These books can still be seen in the building named for him on the campus of the State College at West Chester.
As a scholar, he raised the hopes and dreams of thousands of young people. He was an outstanding teacher. Because he was such an outstanding teacher, he served at the West Chester Normal School as Principal for thirty-nine years.
He was a contributor to Webster’s Dictionary, sending them some 7,000 new words. He was also very active in the Baptist Church.
The Philips Memorial Building that stands at the college today along South High Street was named in his honor.
Mark Sullivan Columnist and Author
Mark Sullivan was born September 10, 1874 near Avondale. He was the last of ten children born to Irish immigrants. He was an outstanding columnist, author, and lecturer. He died in Chester County August 13, 1952 at the age of 78. He was graduated from West Chester Normal School in 1892, and later from Harvard University. Sullivan served 50 years as a newspaperman, and was editor-in-chief of Colliers magazine. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Major General Smedley D. Butler General in U. S. Marines
General Smedley D. Butler was born in West Chester. He often made the headlines in the Chester County as well as the Philadelphia papers during the first quarter of the 20th century. He was an outstanding football player, and could "serve an excellent curved ball" in baseball.
He joined the Marine Corps at the age of 16. He was a brave Marine, and earned two Congressional Medals of Honor. During a battle in China, he carried out a soldier under fire, even though he was wounded himself. Theodore Roosevelt called him "The Ideal American Soldier". His men in the Marines nicknamed him "Old Gimlet Eyes" because he saw everything and was ever watchful. It was said that he would never send a man where he wouldn’t go himself.
General Butler’s home in his later years was in Newtown Square. He died in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital at the age of 58.
Wilmer W. MacElree Attorney and Historian
Wilmer W. MacElree proved to be one of Chester County’s best district attorneys. He practiced law in West Chester until the age of 93. He was keenly interested in nature, writing books about the Brandywine and its surroundings. For hobbies, he enjoyed wood carving, painting, and giving chalk talks to church gatherings. He lived to be 100 years of age! He gave as his formula, "Six hours in sleep, In serious study six, Four spend in prayer, the rest on nature fix". He died just recently on January 16, 1960.
Herbert J. Pennock Baseball Pitcher and Manager
Did you know there is a famous baseball player from Chester County in Baseball’s Hall of Fame?
Yes, Herbert J. Pennock, a small town boy like many of you, loved baseball. He had a strong left arm. He was one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball. Pennock was born February 10, 1894 in Kennett Square. He began playing baseball in his early teens with his hometown playmates and school teams.
He started out in major league baseball with the Philadelphia Athletics at the early age of eighteen. From then on he was traded or sold to other clubs. Finally he played with the New York Yankees. Just before his fortieth birthday, he was released by the Yankees. The New York Baseball Writers paid the beloved pitcher an honor by naming him their "Player of the Year".
At the time of his death, he was general manager of Bob Carpenter’s Philadelphia "Phillies". He always had a friendly smile, and was always ready to be of help to others.
This page updated on February 13, 2015