John Price Crozer was born Jan. 13, 1793. He was the son of John and Sarah Price Crozer.
The first ancestor of John P. Crozer in America was James Crozer, who, with his four brothers, Samuel, John, Robert, and Andrew, emigrated from Ireland in the early part of the eighteenth century. Soon after arriving in this country James Crozer was married to a lady of English descent named Gleave, whose parents resided in Springfield.
John Crozer, the father of John P., married Sarah Price, daughter of John Price, of English descent. He was a carpenter, and pursued his occupation in Philadelphia until after his marriage. After residing for a short time on a farm owned by the estate of John Knowles, he purchased the farm at Springfield where John P. was born. The property is now owned by Swarthmore College. Though following the humble trade of a carpenter, he possessed an education far superior to his calling, and was a good Latin scholar and well versed in the classics. His religious views were in sympathy with the Society of Friends, though he was not a member of any denomination.
Sarah Price Crozer was a woman of strong religious convictions, gentle and charitable towards all. The children of John and Sarah P. Crozer were Elizabeth (who became the wife of John Lewis), James, Sarah (who became Mrs. Samuel Y. Campbell), John Price, and Samuel.
The educational advantages of John Price Crozer were very limited. He began attending school at the age of six years at the little stone school-house about three-quarters of a mile from his home, and here all the days of his school-life were spent, except for a short term of three months, at a school about two miles away. The amount of knowledge that could be acquired at these schools was very meager, and was mostly comprised in the three “r’s,” – ” readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic.” He was, however, a serious student, and supplemented by the small but well-selected library of his father, he acquired a much better education than was usually attained in that day.
From his early childhood he had been accustomed to the hard labor of the farm, and from the age of seventeen he assumed most of its management. In consideration of this fact, upon attaining his majority, his father gave him a one-third interest the farms’ profits. In 1816 his father died, and his mother’s death occurred the next year.
He wanted to purchase the farm to prevent its falling into the hands of strangers, but became convinced that it was not practical.
In 1820, after leasing the farm pending its sale, he made an extended trip through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and the then sparsely-settled country in Indiana and Illinois. The trip was made almost entirely on horseback, and covered a distance of twenty-seven hundred miles, lasting from April to December. Upon his return the farm had been sold, and his share of the proceeds was about two thousand four hundred dollars. This, together with a little more than one thousand dollars, was his sole capital, and with it he began his business career.
His first enterprise was in partnership with Mr. G. G. Leiper, who had bought the home farm, was a saw and merchant gristmill. The capital was furnished equally, and the rent of the mill owned by Mr. Leiper was to offset Mr. Crozer’s personal services. After accumulating a large stock of lumber, a depression in business prevented profitable sale. To prevent a failure, which he foresaw, he retired from the business with the consent of his partner. He then decided to engage in cotton manufacturing, and to this end he rented Mr. G. G. Leiper’s mill on Crum Creek. His entire capital was about three thousand seven hundred dollars; this, with two thousand dollars put into the business by Mr. John Lewis, was the entire capital at startup.
The business was at first small and encountered many difficulties, but through great personal effort he was at last on the road to success. In 1825 he bought the property known as Mattson’s paper-mill, on the west branch of Chester Creek. After altering it as needed, he moved his machinery there in the autumn of that year. From this time on his business interests grew larger and larger, and continued to increase as long as he remained in business. In 1845 he purchased the Flower estate, about two miles from Chester. He erected an elegant and spacious mansion, and he and his family moved there from West Branch on April 19, 1847, and gave it the name of Upland. From this time to the date of his death he made his home at Upland. Being a man of great business concerns, and sensitive to the duties of a Christian; and being aware of the responsibilities of wealth, made him an active worker in charitable projects.
Mr. Crozer died at his home at Upland, on Sunday morning, March 11, 1866. Among the many good works he accomplished, and to which he was a generous contributor, were the building of the First Baptist Church at Upland, the endowment of a Professorship in the University at Lewisburg and the founding of the Normal School at Upland. After his death, his family endowed the Crozer Theological Seminary. He was president of the Pennsylvania Colonization Society; president of the board of directors of the American Baptist Publication Society; president of the Pennsylvania Training-School for Feeble Minded Children at Media; president of the Home for Friendless Children at Twelfth and Fitzwater Streets, Philadelphia; president of Women’s Hospital at Philadelphia and president of the Pennsylvania Baptist Education Society. He was one of the founders of the Christian Commission, and, together with George H. Stuart, represented the city of Philadelphia at the meeting in the city of New York, on Nov. 14, 1861, where the Commission originated. During the war of the Rebellion he gave the use of his school at Upland for a hospital. He passed away at the age of seventy-four, in the full possession of his strength of mind, still planning future acts of benevolence.
Mr. Crozer was married on the March 12, 1825, to Miss Sallie L. Knowles, the daughter of a near neighbor of his youth. She was a lady of intelligence and education, and an active participant in all of his plans for good. They had nine children; Samuel A., Margaret, Elizabeth, J. Lewis, Sallie K., James, George K., Robert H., and Emma. Of these James died Oct. 25, 1838, Sallie in August, 1852, and Margaret in March, 1870. His widow died August 3, 1882, at the age of eighty-two years.”