There’s collections of china stored at the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center that come from a significant lineage in the county’s legacy.
Named the Lewis collection, there’s a set of Blue Willow from the 19th century that includes plates, cups and tureens, all bedecked with the famous dark blue and ivory that trademarks the brand.
Another set is a large assemblage of plates with golden rims and delicate pink flowers dusting their borders.
The sets are believed to have come from the Lewis family. William and Ralph Lewis, two brothers, came to the United States from Wales as William settled in the Haverford area and Ralph chose to set up his homestead in Upper Darby.
It is known that William Lewis made his voyage to the New Land on the Morning Star in 1683. One of his descendants was John Lewis, who was the original operator of the Lewis Paper Mills. Lewis operated the mill after his wife, Elizabeth, purchased it on April 1, 1833 until his son took the helm three decades later.
The mill itself was built by John Pancoast in 1826 when he erected a two-vat stone paper mill on the property he bought on June 16, 1825. He remained the sole owner until Elizabeth Lewis made her purchase.
John’s son, J. Howard Lewis Sr., was founder of the Rose Tree Fox-Hunt Club. John Howard Lewis bought the mills on Crum Creek on July 30, 1868 and built his house on the 106-acre estate around 1840. That house still stands in the area that has become Smedley Park and is occupied by the Penn State Cooperative Extension Center.
The Lewis collection is housed at the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The museum’s telephone number is 610-872-0502. Parking is free on the society lot behind the building or across the street in the municipal lot.
Membership in the Delaware County Historical Society ranges from $10 for students, $27 for individuals to $250 at the patron level. It includes free admission to the society’s Chester museum and library at 408 Avenue of the States, the society newsletter and preferred reservations and discounts for lectures and events. To join, please visit www.padelcohistory.org or call 610-359-0832.
Blue Willow plates from the 19th century are among the items in the Lewis Collection.
More plates with dainty edging are among the items in the Lewis collection.