Early Explorers

The Dutch were the first Europeans in Chester County, in 1616.  The English followed in 1634; the Swedes, in 1638; the Finns, in 1640; and Welsh-Quakers, in 1682.  In the southeastern part of Chester County in the late 1600’s, the English Quakers and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians predominated.

Some of these were explorers, traders or fur trappers, but those that came to settle as permanent residents needed first of all to find a way to keep themselves fed, and alive.  They could bring little food with them on their journey across the wide Atlantic, so they needed to find a site fairly quickly that could be farmed. Preferably, the site would have a stream of water running through it that could be diverted across an available hillside to create a watered meadow bank on which to raise a crop as winter forage for their cattle.  (These water rights were quite valuable in those early days, and some were retained well into the 20th century.)

Fortunately, they found enough fertile soil in this locality which promised abundant food once brought under cultivation. Once a site was obtained, the next step was to clear enough of the original forest with axe, grubbing hoe and fire. They needed space for a log cabin, and enough surrounding ground to plant a vegetable or truck garden to feed themselves for their first vulnerable year.  The whole family would work from dawn to well past dusk, cultivating a little patch of corn, a few hills of potatoes, and perhaps some beans and pumpkins. For many, this was not the “street of gold” promised them when they left their native country.