KINGSESSING and MAYLANDVILLE

"A MILL TOWN DIVIDED"

The third part of the University City that existed independently in 1854 was Kingsessing Township. From the point of acreage inclusion in present University City, it is the smallest, managing to qualify as part of the development by virtue of the area adjacent to Clark Park.

Not that Kingsessing Township itself was so small. In its entirety, it consisted of 8,923 square miles, running from the west bank of Mill Creek as it flowed through the Clark Park area to empty into the Schuylkill, to Cobbs Creek and the Delaware County line in the west and from Baltimore Avenue south to the Schuylkill River. Within its boundaries were a number of little towns and villages such as Kjngsessing, Paschellville, Abbotsford, Angora, Eastwick, and many huge estates such as those of the Buists, Eastwicks, Hoffmans, Dicks, Gibsons, Thomases; all reflected in street names today.

Furthermore it has an ancient and distinguished history going back to 1646 when it is recorded that Governor Print, the ruler of New Sweden, had a grist mill on the Karakung (Cobb's Creek) in "Kingsesse." Indeed St. James Church of Kingsessing (still standing at 6828 Woodland Avenue) is the oldest church west of the Schuylkill River and the sixth oldest in Philadelphia. The land was purchased from Andrew Justus "to remain for time eternal for the use of a Lutheran Church thereafter to be erected" (in 1844 St. James became a member of the Episcopal diocese). The cornerstone was laid on August 2, 1762 (last year the congregation celebrated its bicentennial) and was built under the direction of James Coultas, of Whitby Hall, sometime operator of the Middle (Market Street) Ferry and onetime sheriff (1755-58) of Philadelphia County. (He was killed by a fall from his horse in 1768 while riding to church.)

Kingsessing seems to be credited with the famous Satterlee Heights, site of the Satterlee United States General Hospital during the Civil War, although most of it lay within the Township of Blockley. One of the largest army hospitals in the country at that time, it extended on a hill from a point below Baltimore Avenue in what is now Clarence Clark Park in a rectangle to a point northwest of 45th and Pine Streets. Osage Avenue (then Sheridan Street) cut across the grounds to a central point where the administration building stood flanked by 34 ward buildings.

It was opened on June 9, 1863 with a capacity of 2860 beds, later increased to 3124, and was named for General Richard Sherwood Satterlee, U. S. Army surgeon. To its staff were attached many men whose names are familiar to Philadelphia medical history: Alfred StillÈ, W. F. Atlee, J. M. Da Costa, D. Hayes Agnew, Caspar Wistar, and Joseph Leidy. Before it closed on August 3, 1865, over 60,000 of the "boys in blue" had been patients within its doors. All that commemorates this hostel of mercy today is a huge boulder taken from the battlefield at Gettysburg which stands in the Baltimore Avenue side of Clark Park near 45th Street, placed there by public spirited neighbors in 1916 to which is affixed a plate reminding readers of the "nearby site" of the Hospital.

West of the Heights bordering the north side of Baltimore Avenue almost to 51st Street was the famous Twaddell Estate. The mansion house stood on Baltimore Avenue near 46th Street. Here was born the famous Dr. Twaddell whose father, an iron merchant, had acquired the house in 1817. The mansion remains within the memory of many now yet alive.

Within Kingsessing ran the King's Highway opened in 1696 to Darby and which later generations called the Darby Road, the Washington Post Road, the Plank Road and, after it was opened through the Hamilton Estate to Market Street, Woodland Street, or Avenue. An interesting little settlement was Maylandville, located on both banks of Mill Creek and, therefore, in both Kingsessing and Blockley Townships.

The present hollow in Clark Park was formerly a pond formed by Mill Creek. This provided a mill pond and, between it and the Schuylkill River where the creek emptied, were excellent sites for water-driven mills. As early as 1750 there appears to be a mill at the mouth of the Creek as shown on Heap and Scull's map. In 1817 Jacob Mayland erected a saw mill on the Blockley side of the Creek and later erected a snuff house. It appears that a flour mill was also part of the complex. Later the Parker-Warren Paper Mills were built about 43rd Street and Darby Road (Woodland Avenue).

As more mills were opened, the personnel began to settle in the area. Soon there was a little village that took the name of Maylandville. In 1853 there were enough people to warrant the opening of a church --The Trinity Church of Maylandville. By 1881, the centre of population had moved to the northward so that a new church building was erected on the northeast corner of 42nd Street and Baltimore Avenue. Later the building was occupied by the Woodland Presbyterian Church. When the latter congregation moved to its present building on the southeast corner of 42nd and Pine Streets, the old building became the present home of a Pillar of Fire Church.

With the passing of waterpower and the conversion of the creek into a sewer, the mills passed from the scene and the village became absorbed in the expanding city. All that remains now is a short portion of a Maylandville Street, the only reminder of the picturesque old town.

Although not standing entirely within the bounds of Kingsessing, but certainly within the Maylandville area is the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. Established by a group of Quaker pharmacists at a meeting held in Carpenters Hall in 1821, the College opened in rooms in the Hall of the German Society on the west side of Seventh Street between Market and Chestnut Streets. Over sixteen years it expanded into succeedingly larger quarters until 1928 when the beautiful building at 43rd Street and Kingsessing Avenue became its home. Since then the College has occupied additional buildings and grounds and has done much to help stabilize that portion of University City adjacent to it.


Originally published in 1963.
Reprinted with permission of the West Philadelphia Partnership.


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