A Colonial homemaker, serving as cook or kitchen manager, was responsible for providing the family with three or four proper and nutritious meals a day. Without canning or refrigeration, preserving the summer’s bounty through the winter was an arduous task. This display features a few of the key kitchen tools, such as, sifters; strainers; pewter liquid measures; and hoops (cake molds). 


Take notice of Sarah Ann Clayton’s wallet-sized cook book with recipes for baking cupcakes, doughnuts, plum puddings, as well as, fried bologna sausages, calves’ feet, and stewed pigeons.


Displayed is a range of typical items found in Delaware County pharmacies over the past century. Ranging from real prescriptions, to medicinal remedies promising to cure everything from a “Simple Headache” to “Asthmatic Paroxysm”, to pharmaceutical measurement tools, including a wooden bath thermometer, vials, bottles and containers, and a black metal cabinet with six drawers used to organize and store patient prescriptions.


Many of these relics were used in local Chester pharmacies, including Burman's Pharmacy which served the community for over 50 years. We thank the Burman Family for their service, generous support, and loan of artifacts.


DCHS recently reached our fundraising goal to restore and preserve an 1860 Abraham Lincoln presidential banner, thus a Civil War display is a natural compliment. Get a “close-up” look at artifacts from a hugely significant period of time in local and national history.


The display features  two “Union Blues” badges, given to the first volunteers from Delaware County to answer Lincoln’s call for troops at the outbreak of the Civil War. In addition, see the sword carried by C.W. Buckley, Civil War rifle, small cannon ball, Confederate money, canteen, combination knife, fork, & spoon, bullet mold, Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) badges, and the GAR belt buckle belonging to Charles Hunt. 


When William Penn landed in Chester in 1682, he brought with him an emphasis on shipbuilding from his homeland of England. Its been over 100 years since the 1st ship, ‘Chester Sun’ a 10,000 ton bulk oil steamer rolled out of Sun Shipbuilding Company, which was then the largest privately owned shipyard in the world.


Featured in the display are different artifacts including a plague commemorating the launch of the ‘Chester Sun’ in 1917. During WWII, Sun Ship participated in the US Government’s Emergency Shipbuilding program. In addition, there was a US Bond drive, offering a chance to christen a new ship at Sun Shipbuilding Co. The property is now home to Harrah’s Casino and the Kimberly-Clark Company. The background of our website is a wooden replica hull used as a measurement guide for ship builders. 


This display highlights design traditions used in the mid-19th century, please note the history of quilt making spans over 125 years, and includes numerous various techniques.  At this time, the ‘piecing’ technique was as popular as ‘applique.’  A one-patch design based on the hexagon, was first called ‘Honeycomb’ and then became ‘Mosaic.’


Also featured is a ‘Star Quilt,’ with a large center star motif, very popular in the 1830’s and 40’s. This design concept created the ‘block’ construction technique. Each block was assembled separately, and then all were joined together to make the finished quilt. The most American of all quilt patterns is the ‘Log Cabin,’ featuring a deep red in the center, representing the hearth of the home.


DCHS and the Delco Sports Legends Museum are once again collaborating to further illuminate Delaware County’s rich sports history.


Baseball’s Negro leagues were formally founded 100 years ago in the summer of 1920, when Rube Foster brought together 6 African-American clubs to form the Negro National League.  In 1923, a second league was formed – the Eastern Colored League – which included a team from Delaware County, the Hilldale Daisies of Darby, who went on to win the first-place pennants in 1923, 1924, and 1925. This display highlights the history of the ‘Negro Leagues’ giving the visitor both a national and local perspective.


William Penn was the son of Admiral Sir William Penn, a close friend of Prince Charles II. In 1681, the younger Penn received a land grant from the Crown in cancelation of a debt owed to his father. Penn took this opportunity to create a land for religious tolerance and freedom, which he called "the holy experiment".


He divided the 45,000 acres among purchasers, granting them an official indenture bearing the authentic William Penn seal, on display in this case. Penn sent “agents” throughout Europe to entice people to purchase his land, with a promise that each parcel would contain a water source, trees for building and an area appropriate for farming.

Included in this display is the original Markham Map. 


An ode to the United States’ oldest, continuously used courthouse, this case features exterior and interior pictures of the structure from a variety of time periods. It is believed to have been designed by John Morton and by David Lloyd, then Chief Justice, to be similar to the Philadelphia State House. The actual courtroom is on the first floor with windows placed 13 feet above ground so that onlookers would be unable to see the proceedings. A grand jury room and a petite jury room were on the second floor.


The courthouse bell, cast in London in 1729, rang to announce the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776. The courthouse is located next door to DCHS.


Through clothing visitors can truly touch the past….as there is nothing more personal than the clothes one chooses to wear. Clothing also tells the story of time. These are the clothes our ancestors wore. Please take special note of the Marine jacket and the infant and men’s clogging “dancing” shoes.


The women's suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy. Beginning in the mid-19th century, aside from the work being done by women for broad-based economic and political equality and for social reforms, women sought to change voting laws to allow them to vote. The early years of the movement were primarily white-led, and the role of African-American women was marginalized. However, in 1919, the Senate finally passed the Nineteenth Amendment, giving all women the right to vote and the ratification process began. On August 26th, 1920, American Women won full voting rights!


This display is an example of DCHS’s collection of the Lewis family china dating back to the mid 1800’s. The “Blue Willow” china set is believed to have been originally purchased by John Howard Lewis, Sr. and Malvina Irwin - Lewis. This set of china was handed down to John Howard Lewis, Jr. and his wife Ida Longmire Brooke. DCHS houses several boxes of this beautiful antique china setting.


Our female ancestors had to do many chores around the home, they had to beat out rugs, clean the glass of lanterns, change the firewood, wash the clothes, and much more. All of this work was very tiresome, and housework was considered a full time job. Doing laundry and ironing was a day-long chore done weekly. There were no washing machines or dryers, and if you wanted your shirt starched, it was ironed at home. Clothes were handmade, every attempt to fix a rip, or a button, or resize clothing for further wear, was also done by hand.


On display is a unique and rare stipple engraving after the Benjamin West painting "Mr. West and Family". Engraving was published in 1779 and made by Georg Siegmund Facius and Johann Gottlieb Facius. (22"x27").

The original is in the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. West did not exhibit the painting until after his father's death, in 1777, although it was begun in circa 1772, since it records the first visit made by West's father and step-brother to see his younger son, Benjamin. West mentioned that he reused the composition, with many alterations and substituting loose draperies for the modern dress: he may be referring to the 'Ages of Man'  which was painted around the same time.

Domestic scene: interior with Elizabeth West sitting by the window on the left, gazing at her youngest son, Benjamin, lying in her lap, his brother Raphael standing to left, leaning against the chair, the artist's father John and step-brother Thomas sitting on the right, looking at the baby, wearing dark Quaker dress and hats, their hands in their laps, with the artist standing behind, leaning on his father's chair, wearing a pale waistcoat with a decorated hem, cravat, cloak and powdered wig tied at the nape, looking at his son, holding palette and brush.

Story behind the engraving:

“I was brought up, a Member of the Society of Friends, in the North of England where my Grandparents, Harry and Marion Hadfield, spent much of their time at Swarthmoor Hall, the home of George Fox and Margaret Fell and the center of developing Quakerism.

A well-known stipple engraving of the Anglo-American artist, Benjamin West, was handed down through the maternal side of my family.  As a child in the 1950's, I remember this intriguing "Family Gathering" of the artist's son, wife, brothers and new-born baby, hanging in the gloomy expanse of hallway at my Grandparent's home - my Grandfather was a custodian of the nearby Swarthmoor Hall.

My mother inherited the portrait from her parents and brought to my attention that it should "finally rest" in Pennsylvania where the artist was born.

And it came to pass … In 1992 I, Elizabeth Margaret Lesher, moved with my family of five to Wisconsin in the United States - reasons unrelated to the engraving - but of course, it traveled with us.

In 2016, my Grandson, Sam, was born. He required much medical and surgical attention and as a "special needs child" he 'pulled my heart strings' and I found myself in the Pennsylvania area taking care of this baby!

On a visit to Independence Hall, I spotted another Benjamin West engraving and my excitement drew me to contact Karie Diethorn, the Chief Curator of the Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior.  Karie went above and beyond to locate the 'right' place for my engraving- I thank her dearly for this.  Karie put me in touch with The Delaware County Historical Society since Benjamin West was born in Springfield, PA.

And so, this captivating piece of art has come to rest with a group of historians and librarians who will surely treasure it, local generations and visitors who will enjoy and value its intricate detail, and I am experiencing sheer joy!


Elizabeth M. Lesher

August 7th, 2018



Delaware County Historical Society was founded in 1895 by eighty-five local Delaware County residents. The mission of 2020 remains true to the original mission: “To collect, protect, and preserve the history and culture of Delaware County, through the maintenance of historical records and artifacts, making them accessible to all through strong educational outreach.”


Delaware County Historical Society is housed in a nationally registered historic building, located in the City of Chester. The building, originally for use by the Delaware County National Bank, was established in 1814, is in itself a truly valid example of the long and significant history of Chester. It is an appropriate location for the County’s Historical Society.


Since the Society’s founding, members/friends have been and remain key to preserving the historical and cultural heritage of Delaware County. As the oldest and most preeminent society in Delaware County, DCHS has amassed a significant collection of books, documents, photographs, paintings, furniture, decorative arts, memorabilia and more. Recognizing the historical significance of the collection as a whole, DCHS houses it’s collections in three distinct yet braided pillars: the Research Library, the Museum Gallery and the Children’s Education Center, which together bring Delaware County’s history to life!