The New Borough of Upland

On June 28, 1869, the Borough Council of the new Borough of Upland was organized for the first time by the motion of Mr. Augur Castle, nominating Mr. F. B. Jarman, President and Mr. Benjamin Crowther, Secretary. George K. Crozer was unanimously appointed the first Borough Treasurer. What was the object of the petitioners for a corporate borough? The Chief Burgess stated the object to be “for the purpose of having a local government here so that law and order might prevail in the village”.

Law and order did, indeed, seem to be of prime importance. F. B. Jarman reported at the Council meeting of July 27, 1869 that he had obtained the consent of Mssrs. Crozer to make a “lockup” in the cellar of the Reading Room and that the Chief Burgess had consented to put men to work on it at once. Note: The Reading Room was located in the North half of the home at #33 Main Street, and the remains of the old cell can still be seen there today. (2009)

Financing the borough was another immediate problem. During 1869 the assessed value of all property and incomes in the Borough was found to be $8,477.78. The following costs were incurred for that year: Police Officer-$600.00; Cost to maintain the Lockup, $150.00; Stove and Coal, $25.00; Collecting Tax, $43.00. This year the Council levied the first tax of 1.5 mils on the dollar of all property and income for Borough purposes. Council appointed Joseph Dansfield to be Tax Collector. The Committee of Ways and Means was instructed to write out the name of each property holder, tenant and single man in the borough with the amount of tax opposite each name in a suitable book for the use of the Tax Collector. His compensation was fixed at 5%.

The Borough Council decided to get on with the business of governing by resolving that the meetings be limited to one and one-half hours duration unless extended by unanimous consent.

Council soon had plenty of business to discuss in those one and one-half hours. Mr. Joseph A. Kyte was engaged as policeman to begin service Monday, September 6, 1869. His hours were to be from 5 P.M. to 2 A.M. with six hours of service on Sundays, at a salary of $10.50 per week. Mr. J. William Lewis was appointed to procure a revolver and star badge. Mr. Kyte resigned, his reason being that he could not comply with a condition of employment which required that he move into the village.

Early ordinances might as well have been passed in 1969 as in 1869, since they dealt with pulling down hand bills, riding or driving immoderately, corner lounging (loitering), and that catch-all; nuisances. The newly-appointed policeman, Thomas Aaron, wanted some further information on “corner-lounging”, to which the Council replied that, “it was only necessary to notify once . . . . and that anyone to persist in obstructing the sidewalks after having once been notified (no matter when), policemen being certain of the same, they are liable to arrest”.

As most other governing bodies, Upland Borough Council soon found taxes inadequate, and in 1870, the Committee on Ways and Means levied a tax of 5 mils on the dollar on all incomes and property. Some of the money may have been used to handle the traffic problem; a somewhat different one from modern times in Upland, as the Street and Road Committee was empowered to provide a place to impound stray cattle.

The early fathers took their responsibilities seriously. The secretary was requested to write Mssrs. DuPont to instruct their teamsters to avoid driving through Upland with wagons loaded with powder. Matters of health were of concern too. Council ordained that while smallpox prevailed among the colored people of Chester City and South Chester Borough in 1872, it should be unlawful for them to engage in work in Upland and that any persons employing them should pay a penalty of $5 or suffer imprisonment in the lockup for 24 hours. An ordinance was also passed prohibiting the throwing of garbage, ashes or refuse of any kind into the streets and providing for disposition of same in boxes and barrels where it could be hauled away twice a week.

The town moved steadily forward. By 1876 the committee appointed to name the streets reported a plan for that purpose which was adopted, and the committee was authorized to provide suitable boards with the names of the streets and place them in the proper position. As various streets were opened up and improved, they were accepted into the borough; on September 7, 1880, Ninth Street from Mulberry to Main Street and Church Street from 8th to 9th were accepted by the council.

There were always some troublemakers to keep life interesting. Sunday ball playing kept cropping up, was stopped temporarily only to spring to life again when the police committee had passed by. Justice Compton had his problems with a shopkeeper who kept his shop open on Sundays for the sale if cigars; he even had a list of persons whom he had seen coming from the shop on Sunday. The shopkeeper promised to cease doing business on Sunday.

A special meeting of Upland Borough Council was held on May 11, 1883 to consider the proposition of the Chester Street Railway Co. to lay railway tracks to Upland and to consider an amendment to an ordinance granting them right-of-way. President Samuel A. Crozer remarked that while it was of no particular interest to him individually to have the cars run out here, he thought it would be of great benefit to the Borough and believed that a majority of the taxpayers were in favor of making some concessions to the company by grading the roadway. The ordinance was adopted giving Chester Street Railway Co. exclusive right to construct, maintain and operate a street railway on Upland Avenue in Upland Borough from Ship Creek to No. 1 Mill and on to Kerlin Street from the borough line to Upland Avenue provided said railway be built within one year from the date of the ordinance, May 11, 1883. Two important terms were laid down; steam power should not be used to propel the cars, and all horses used in hauling cars should carry a sufficient number of bells to denote approach of the cars except Sunday during daylight.

Another modern convenience arrived in 1883, when Pennsylvania Globe Gas Light Company offered to replace coal oil lamps with naphtha lamps, furnish naphtha, light them and keep them clean and in repair for the sum of $23 per annum, each lamp to be lighted at dusk in evening and burn until 2 o’clock in the morning for 21 nights in each month. Upon investigation, the new system was adopted.

The policemen reported giving lodgings to 85 tramps in one week in February, 1885. It was decided to give lodgings in the lockup to all applicants rather than have them on the streets during the night.

After much discussion, Council resolved to erect a building 21 feet by 30 feet, two stories high with the first story arranged as the police station and the second story as a council chamber. A lot, 35 by 50 feet, was purchased in front of No. 3 Mill. The first meeting was held in the new building on December 6, 1886.

Newspapers came and went in Upland. In 1885 Joshua Taylor edited and published the “Local”, a four-page independent weekly at Upland. Issued each Saturday, it was in existence only a few years. A McDaniel edited and published “People’s weekly” at Upland in 1886. This was a journal of eight pages, issued on Tuesday. “The Advertiser”, an eight-page monthly, issued free of charge, was established in 1891 with E. A. Stringer as editor and publisher, but publication was suspended after a few years.

Another step in progress came in 1889 when the telephone company was granted permission to erect eight poles at 8th Street, two poles on Kerlin Street, three on Upland Avenue and four on 6th Street.

By 1899, Upland seemed to be a very busy little community. The Chester Directory, 1889-90 listed the following professionals and tradesmen in Upland: three doctors, three barbers, three bakers, two clergymen, one carpenter, three druggists, three dry goods store keepers, five grocers, three hucksters, three shoemakers, one stationer, fourteen dressmakers and seven tobacco and cigar storekeepers.

Various railway companies began petitioning Upland for the right to introduce electricity as a motive power as early as 1890. One of the several that received permission was the Media, Middletown, Aston and Chester Electric Railway Company. This company was granted the use of the following named streets on which to construct, maintain and operate an electric street railway: beginning in Mulberry Street at the dividing line of the Borough of Upland and the Township of Chester, then southwest along Mulberry to 8th, thence southeast along 8th to Hill, thence across Hill to Upland Avenue, then east on Upland Avenue to Kerlin Street and south along Kerlin to the boundary.

The Board of Health report of February 29, 1896 gives a picture of the ebb and flow of life in Upland of that day. During the year ending February 29, 1896, 44 births were reported – 23 males, 21 females. Burial permits were issued for 41 deaths with causes as follows: pneumonia 7, consumption 0, marasmus 3, cancer 2, congestion of brain 2, heart trouble 3, old age 2, asthma 2, meningitis 2, railroad accident 2, apoplexy 1, asphyxia 1, peptic ulcer 1, diarrhea 1, intestinal catarrh 1, menopause 1, premature birth 1. Four cases of typhoid and one case of diphtheria were reported in the year.

Events of law provided spice to ordinary days. The Borough Council received a communication from John M. Carroll of Boothwyn claiming $138 for damages to his horse and wagon by reason of the street breaking through on Upland Avenue near Third Street. The Street Committee, on investigation, noted that Mr. Carroll’s damaged horse was again at work. Mr. Joseph Carroll, speaking for his brother, said that bills for horse hire, wagon repairs and other expenses had amounted to $66 for which he was willing to settle. The Street Committee countered with an offer of $50. John M. agreed.

On November 1, 1897, the Police Committee reported that Elisha Moore’s store had been burglarized, and five special officers were appointed to hunt the burglars. Shortly afterwards, one of the burglars was arrested.

Ordinances for electric lighting of street lamps were passed in 1897-98. These provided for furnishing electricity for light and power to the borough and to individuals and corporations for commercial and domestic purposes.

The midsummer meeting of the Delaware County Historical Society was held in Upland Baptist Church on June 22, 1899. Included in the program were “literary exercises”, one of the speakers being the Rev. Henry G. Weston. He spoke of “John P. Crozer – the Man”, but included some very interesting remarks about Upland. “Upland has its comforts, but its chief distinction is not what has been done for its inhabitants but what has been done to them. Upland has made men and women . . . . . There have come to me, in chance meetings away from Upland, testimonies unsought and unexpected from business men, which have been most gratifying of the habits ingrained in this village. I do not claim perfection for this community, or that we have not our admixture of unworthy characters, or that in the best there are no undesirable traits; but I think you may search the land over for a factory village whose history for fifty years can rival this.”

Prices were modest in 1900. That year the wages of the borough workmen were fixed at 15¢ per hour. Also in that year, Joseph Laird, Sr. contracted to remove ashes and garbage and do borough hauling for these rates: removing ashes and garbage one year, $208; working on streets, $2.25 per day for man, horse and cart; hauling stone from quarries, 40¢ per perch; hauling stone from station, 30¢ per ton.

The Street Committee reported on December 2, 1901, that Samuel A. Crozer had, at his own expense, macadamized 6th Street from the top of the hill above Main Street to Upland Avenue, as well as on Main Street from 6th Street to the Baptist Church. The committee also reported a number of citizens, by private subscription, had purchased a steam roller and watering cart for use on borough streets. On November 6, 1905, the Street Committee read a statement listing $9,598.09 in highway improvements in Upland personally contributed by the President of Council Samuel A. Crozer over the past four years. This amount did not include numerous small repairs to streets and culverts.

Mr. Samuel A. Crozer died June 28, 1910. The Chester Times’ headlines reflected the mood of Upland, “News Yesterday of the Borough’s Great Loss Cast Gloom Over County”. Mr. Crozer was buried July 1, 1910, with private services at Crozer mansion followed by public services at Upland Baptist Church.

Mr. S. A. Crozer lived and died in the great tradition of the Crozers of Upland. During the lifetime of this family nine mansions were built and occupied by the sons and daughters of the founder, John P. Crozer. The 1847 home of John P. Crozer, the elder, was near the old mill race; Samuel A., eldest son, at 6th and Main. J. Lewis’ home was entered from Summit Street and was bounded by Upland Avenue and Hill Street. Samuel A. Crozer, Jr. lived on the Crozer Seminary campus. John P. Crozer, grandson of the founder, lived between 8th and 10th Streets on Main Street (later the Allcutt’s home). Elizabeth C. Griffiths’ “the Gables”, was at 6th and Main Streets, while Emma C. Knowles’ home was on Summit Street across from J. Lewis Crozer.

The Chester Times reported, August 2, 1910, that “Beginning this week the S. A. Crozer & Sons mill will close each Thursday afternoon until Monday, until further orders”. The reason was the difficulty in securing cotton. John P. Crozer, who succeeded his father as manager of the mill, announced that rent of all houses owned by him would be lowered 50% during the time the mill ran on short time.

Mr. John P. Crozer (the Younger) was nominated and unanimously elected President of Borough Council to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel A. Crozer. Following his father’s tradition, Mr. John soon was reported to have purchased a street sweeper at his own expense for use on the borough streets.

The Club House of Upland Athletic Association was presented to the organization by John P. Crozer in 1912. Dr. Anna Broomall’s “Delaware County, Pennsylvania”, Volume 1, described the Club House, when fully equipped, it was to cost approximately $50.000. The main entrance would face the ball park and be adjoined on the east by the swimming pool. The second story would contain a hall for meeting seating 550, including the gallery. The first floor game room was to contain 2 bowling alleys; two regulation sized pool tables, one convertible pool and billiard table, card table, reading table, etc. The room was also to have a large fireplace, bath rooms, toilet rooms and a large and complete kitchen.

The blowing up of the covered bridge was the big topic of 1915 and for years to come. At least 2000 persons witnessed the demolishing of the covered bridge at Upland on February 8, 1915. It was the climax of a Kentucky feud motion picture. The bridge was described as slowly rising and then suddenly collapsing and falling into Chester River. The spark that caused the destruction was set off by A. E. Allcutt, dynamite expert with DuPont Powder Company.

The old bridge, which had stood for more than seventy years, was scheduled to be replaced by a new concrete structure. Lubin Syndicate of Philadelphia heard about the plans for the new bridge and contracted for the privilege of taking views and doing the dynamiting. The company’s scenario writer, in about three hours, turned out a love story around the old crossing

called “On Bitter Creek”. The story concerned the well-to-do Yause family and the less fortunate Kirbys on either side of the river. The Yause family built the bridge and opened it free to the public. A sister in the Yause family fell in love with a Kirby; they met at the bridge, exchanged notes, and became engaged. A feud ensued and shots were exchanged. The Yause family then erected a toal booth and demanded a kiss from any Kirby who desired to pass. The grand finale took place as some opponents of the Yause family are crossing the bridge and it is dynamited. 20 years later, the two principles meet in college, are later married and return to old scenes.

The coming of the automobile brought new problems to the town. In 1919 an ordinance was passed regulating the parking and standing of vehicles on public highways of the borough. It was unlawful to permit any vehicle to remain standing on any public highway in the borough overnight. It was also deemed unlawful to permit any motor vehicle to stand on any highway in the borough from one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise unless said vehicle should show at least two white lights on the front and one red light on the rear of sufficient brightness to illuminate the license tag and make the number clearly visible. Council also resolved that any person who informed of the violation of the traffic laws and rules, to the Justice of the Peace, upon the conviction of the violators, would be paid $1 as compensation.

In 1870 Upland reported a population of 1,341; by 1923, it had grown to 2,500. The assessed valuation in 1922 came to $875,850 with a tax rate of 20 mils. There were four miles of paved roads.

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