by William Webb
One method of reviewing the past would be to give great listings of historic dates and the names of the members of past councils and committees all of which can be found elsewhere. In contrast, we hope to recreate an image of our town through the faces of our people, our streetscapes, and business houses.
Avondale is located in the Chester County Charter Index, Book 4, Page 82; Avondale Borough, Decree, 1894, but is this our only date of beginning? A great part of our early village was built and had prospered by this time. We must look again. Before incorporation as a borough, Avondale existed as part of New Garden and London Grove Townships. Each of these Townships having separate origins under William Penn’s grants of land in the Proprietorship of Pennsylvania. New Garden was the western part of a grant of land to William Penn’s children, Letitia and William Jr., called the Manor of Stenning.
This tract was surveyed in 1700 and patented May 24, 1706, to William Penn, Jr., subsequently from which came Avondale’s eastern portion. London Grove was part of a grant made to the London Company, a land company which sold out of its holdings the farms from which Avondale’s western section of the town grew.
As Avondale is part of two townships, we are also at the juncture of four major land holdings whose buildings stand today to mark the centers of those farm industries. In the south was the property of John and Mary Miller whose descendants hold portions of this property at the present time. A part of the tract held by William Miller, John and Mary’s son, was called “Avondale Farms” and gave the developing village its name. Mary Miller, after John’s death, purchased a parcel of land in adjoining London Grove which extended her western boundary and gave control of water power for the family milling industry. To the northeast was the Joseph Sharp property of which the bounty of its fruit trees gives introduction to the grace and beauty of its manor house.
A view towards the northwest encompasses the meadows and prominent slopes of the third of the early properties on which the town was developed. This London Company tract was purchased successively by the Sharp, Gawthrop, Wood, and Pusey families.
We have now covered three hundred years, but not the years of our history as a village site. Before the valley of the White Clay Creek attracted these early immigrants it had sheltered and nurtured the Native American peoples of this area. Artifacts found within our boundaries indicate Native American occupation as early as the seventh century, providing from its forest, meadows, marshes and streams that bounty which Penn wrote of so eloquently. Quote from Pennsylvania 1683: “ The County itself in its soyl, air, water, seasons and produce both natural and artificial is not to be despised. The land containeth divers sorts of earth in some places a fast fat earth like to the best vales in England, especially by inland brooks and rivers. The air is sweet and clear, the heavens serene, like the south parts of France, rarely overcast. The waters are generally good, for the rivers and brooks have mostly gravel and stony bottoms, and are in number hardly credible.” Others before us, as we ourselves, cherish its memories.