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Document Collection - DRAFT
The Development of Daylesford
By Meg Weiderseim, Heidi Sproat, & Mike Bertram
The first move to convert the Daylesford area from a rural to a residential community was initiated by William J. Latta in 1889 when he purchased 2 farms in the area totaling 168 acres in size1. He split the farms into over 100 tracts and sold 3 of them to the Pennsylvania Railroad for Daylesford station (see The Stop at Daylesford).
The Pennsylvania Railroad had widened, straightened, and elevated the track in the 1870s but the idea of a station between Paoli and Berwyn seems to have been an afterthought. Latta worked for the Railroad as a General Agent but his land purchase seemed to be somewhat independent of the Railroad. He lived in Philadelphia and was part of the political scene in the town, interacting with politicians and advocating a Pennsylvania Railroad viewpoint.
Latta’s local partner in this land development was Richard Graham. They set up the Daylesford Water Company to provide water to the new houses with Graham as President (it is unclear whether they actually provided any water)2. Graham had been an accountant in Philadelphia who purchased an estate of 58 acres in 1879 in the northwest corner of Easttown3. In the 1890 taxes his occupation is given as a broker. He sold his original estate in Easttown in 2 pieces in 1891 and 1894.
Graham states that he was the originator of the idea of using Daylesford as the name for the station. He was enamored with the accomplishments of Warren Hastings who had been the Governor-General of India in the late 18th century. Hastings acquired Daylesford House in Gloucestershire in 1788, being a descendant of the medieval owners of the estate.
In 1890 Latta managed to sell only 3 lots (and one of those was to Graham!), so at the beginning of 1891 he sold the remainder of the tract to the Wayne Title and Trust Company. They then tried to sell the lots but had little success. They did manage to sell 2 lots to Graham, 3 lots to Dallas Saunders, and 2 lots to William Burwell. Then in 1894 the Company sold the remaining tract back to Latta.
It was in 1894 that A. E. & Babette Newton started to purchase property in Daylesford and build Oak Knoll4. The initial purchase was 2+ acres and by 1933 the Newton estate had reached 28 acres in size.
This is the description of Daylesford from a Pennsylvania Railroad brochure of 1894:
Distance, 18.6 miles. 26 trains each way on week-days; 18 on Sundays. Running time, express 44 minutes, accommodation 51 minutes. Fare, 56 cents; 2-day excursion rate, 93 cents. Family tickets, $18.80; quarterly, $22.30; monthly, $8.25; school, $5.50.
As yet Daylesford is but little developed; but judging from the growth of other stations with even less advantages, it is safe to predict a bright future for what is really a very desirable and exceedingly pretty stretch of country.
By 1897 the owners of tracts were: Dallas Sanders (on turnpike), Mrs Ada Hansell, Clement Cooper (neighbors on Pennsylvania Avenue), Richard Graham, A. E. Newton, William Burwell, W. Briesch. Tracts such as that owned by William Burwell had windmills to supply water, but others managed to tap into local springs.
In 1899 Latta resigned from the Railroad7 but continued in his development activities in Daylesford. In 1902 Richard Graham decided to withdraw from the Latta development and signed a quit claim for which Latta gave him $500. Then in 1908 the Lattas gave up on the development and sold the remaining tract to the Chester County Trust Company, although they are still shown as owners on the 1912 atlas.
The other land owners in the vicinity were Charlotte and George Mehaffey / Mehaffy. They purchased a farm of 95 acres in 1864, but they never lived on the farm. They were actually residents of Marietta, Lancaster County but for unknown reasons purchased and retained the Tredyffrin property. The tract was bisected by the railroad. When the railroad re-engineered the track in the 1870s they sold 6+ acres to the railroad. Sometime between 1887 and 1893 the Mehaffeys subdivided their property south of the railroad. They managed to sell a plot to William Dawson in 1893 and one to Hannah Epright in 1894 but otherwise sales were difficult until 1903 when the Manor Real Estate and Trust company purchased a block of 13 acres.
The Manor Real Estate company was controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad and handled their real estate needs in the early 1900s. In 1902 the Railroad had approved a project to eliminate the severe curve at Berwyn by constructing a line on the south side of Berwyn (see The Berwyn Curve). The 13 acres purchased was at the western end of this proposed route.
The Croasdale family started to purchase property in the Daylesford area in 1901. Their properties are highlighted on this extract from the 1908 atlas:
In 1903 Susanna Bodine started to amass an estate north of the railroad by purchasing and combining smaller tracts. By 1912 she owned 102 acres.
Charlotte Mehaffey died in 1908, and her husband, George, in 19108. The property was then subdivided among their 3 children. In 1935 their daughter, Emily Mott, consolidated the property in her ownership and continued to sell tracts into the 1950s, for example, the West Berwyn development was on property she sold in 1941.
The development of Daylesford was a long and slow process. The lack of reliable water sources may have been a constraint in the earlier years.
1. The deed history of the Daylesford area can be found in Table L of the Tredyffrin deed histories.
2. The following articles describe the setting up of the Daylesford Water Company. The 1912 atlas shows water pipes running along the roads in the area. In 1919 there is a house sale advertisement saying it has Springfield water.
The Berwyn Water Company took over the other local water companies between 1895 and 1898 (though Daylesford is not mentioned). Then in 1899 the North Springfield Water Company in turn took over the Berwyn Company.2a
3. The deed history of the Graham tract in Easttown can be found at Richard Graham tract
4. Articles have been written in the Tredyffrin Easttown Society Quarterly on A. E. Newton and Oak Knoll: Mr. Newton 'Mutilates' a Book by Hob Borgson [pseud.], TEQ 29-1 (January 1991); ; A. Edward Newton and Oak Knoll by J. B. Post, TEQ 42-1 (Winter 2005); Remembering A. Edward Newton, Notes & Comments, TEQ 43-2 (Spring 2006).
5. Suburban homes on the lines of the Pennsylvania railroad within a radius of thirty miles around Philadelphia, with useful information for summer-home seekers. Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Printed by Allen, Lane & Scott (1894).
6. Electronic copies of the mainline atlases can be found in a number of locations, such as andysantiqueatlases.com, https://radnorhistory.org/maps/#atlases, https://www.philageohistory.org/geohistory/
Jim Brazel, Frank Tatnall. Roger Thorne, & Stephen Titchenal provided useful information and insights.