A brownish stone and a small piece of wood may seem miniscule but to Pennsylvania history and Delaware County, both are quite significant.
These items are among those in the William Penn Collection at the Delaware County Historical Society.
The stone came from the foundation wall of the Chester Mill. In 1683, William Penn had the mill built in Upland.
The wood, which is only 1 ½ inches wide by ½ inch tall, is from the famous Unity Tree, which no longer stands. The tree, an enormous elm in its day, was the place where Penn met with Native Americans to establish and ratify a treaty of peace for the Commonwealth.
The DCHS William Penn Collection also includes a spoon from the 1724 Chester courthouse. Donated by Natalie Randle Moore, she received the treasure from her godmother, Mary E. Hinkson.
While these three are items in the William Penn Collection, the assemblage is actually quite bigger with items available in the research library, copies of renderings of Penn, books such as “William Penn’s Ireland” and “Penn’s Country,” and other research materials.
When William Penn landed in Pennsylvania, he first set foot in Delaware County – in Chester, in fact, where a stone marker designed by John Struthers commemorates Penn’s October 1682 arrival.
His time in the New World was limited as financial obligations required him to return to England. Yet, his vision for a Quaker society where religious freedom would prevail flourishes to this day.
The wood rectangle, the stone and the courthouse spoon are 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.
A piece of wood and a brownish rock in the Delaware County Historical Society collection have ties to William Penn.