Category Archives: Read An Book Excerpt!

My new book: to be published in time for Valentine’s ,2017

milfordmills-coverfrontandsideTo save time, I am cross-pollinating on my social media sites.

A link to my Twitter Account

 

 

 

My soon-to-be-published book will have 21 chapters, illustrated vintage maps, and early photographs.

Most people are intrigued with the “Bo Bo” Hoff connection – the famous Philadelphia gangster (and Al Capone’s partner-in-crime) spent five years in a mansion/hideout in Milford Mills.

Here is an excerpt from some of the “curious” landmarks

“Murder Hollow” and Other Tales

From 1836 to 1916, the miller and farmer Benjamin G. Nichols was held in high regard for his productive saw mill and a cider mill that used many varieties of apples from his farm on Creek Road.

In the 1930s, Nichols’ son, Oliver, was similarly well-known. His former store and gas station still stands at the corner of Creek and Crawford Roads, just north of the Struble trail at Dorlan’s. According to local legend and written accounts during the gangster “Bo Bo” Hoff’s residency in Milford Mills, this stretch of Creek Road was known as “Murder Hollow” after the body of an unidentified woman was found along Creek Road and a “severed head” found floating in the nearby East Branch.

Equally frightening was the area’s reputation for harboring the “Dorlan’s Devil,” an apparition that was described as “an oversized kangaroo with long black hair and eyes like large red saucers.”   One news notice in 1937, reported a sighting “after an absence of five years.” The “witnesses” included a Downingtown paper mill worker with the unusual name of Cydney Ladley as well as his “wife and Mrs. Chester Smith”who were with him in the family car, on the way to Milford Mills from Dorlan’s.   The sighting in 1932 was made by two nursery men who working in the heavily wooded area near Dorlan’s. One man, “Charles McCandless of Landsdowne” was asked, as was Ladley, if he did not mistake the “beast” for a deer – a stupid question, as the reporter suggests, knowing that deer were so common in “those parts.” The “apparition which crossed his path was no deer,” reported Ladley, who later organized a search party. “Armed with guns and accompanied by hunting dogs, the men tramped about that section for several hours without locating the menacing brute,” it was reported.

A few years later, in 1935, the myterious death of Evelyn Hoey seemed to seal the reputation of “Murder Hollow” although the “murder” took place some distance away, in what was described as a sprawling mansion on Indian Run Road in Glenmoore. Hoey, a Broadway theater torch singer and an aspiring actress who had a Paramount contract, was spending the week in the mansion, then the home of Henry Huddleston Rogers 3d, grandson of a deceased millionaire, “Col.” Henry Huddleston Rogers, who was co-founder, with John D. Rockfeller, of Standard Oil.

According to one account written decades after insident, police were called to the scene on the night of September 11th, and they found Hoey dead from a head wound in the master bedroom. Her body was taken to a mogue in Downingtown and later to the county seat of West Chester for an autopsy. A coroner’s jury returned an open verdict that Hoey killed herself, but still Rogers and a friend, William Kelly, were arrested on suspicion of homicide.[1]

[1] A Wikipedia entry for the incident presents a list of people at home in the mansion as though presenting characters in a Clue board game. In addition to Kelly, “a photographer,” there was “a Japanese cook, George Yamada, a butler, and Rogers’ chauffeur, Frank Catalano.”

Site #9, Walking the East End, Part One

Magnolia House front

This corner location, which still operates as a boarding house, may be one of the East End’s most celebrated sites.

The 19-room Magnolia House stood on the fringes, but thrived for more than a half-century beginning in 1866. That was when an entrepreneur named Moses G. Hepburn obtained his hotel license with the help of a West Chester judge, John Hickman, a former congressman and state legislator who was an early advocate of civil rights.

Hepburn was described in 1897 as the “wealthiest and best-known colored man in Chester County.” He built his brick hotel in 1860 and welcomed all “permanent and transient boarders,” as one reporter put it in 1892, but was best known for hosting “prominent colored personages.”

Another reporter recalled the time when, around 1880, Frederick Douglass “registered at the Magnolia House and expressed himself quite pleased to find such a fine hotel for the accommodation of the colored race.”

Historian Robert Bussel writes of Hepburn’s “ongoing contact” with such people as Douglass, “the journalist William Howard Day and visiting members of the black clergy,” who all helped him prepare for what was described as a “leadership role” within the black community. That included serving as the borough’s first black councilman in 1882.

Hepburn operated the Magnolia House for 30 years until his untimely death at the age of 65 years, on the night of December 1, 1897. It is believed that he was living at the time across the street, at 331 East Miner. One paper described his death as being a bit “strange,” having been witnessed by his “dear friends, Capt. Levi Hood, Solomon Hazard, and Nathan Priggs.”

The account was as follows: “That day two strange white men came into the hotel. There were words between Mr. Hepburn and one of the strangers. Mr. Hepburn staggered back into the living room and died.” There were “no wounds,” the account noted.

On December 6, 1897, Hepburn was laid out, “clad in the uniform of a Knight Templar and with the hat and sword of the order reposing on the cloth-covered coffin,” [decorated] with engraved Masonic marks and emblems.” There were 12 pallbearers, six of whom were fellow members of the Masonic order; the other six friends included James Spence, Levi Hood, and Solomon Hazard. Soon after, Hepburn’s son-in-law, John Wesley Smothers, took over the hotel and managed it for several more decades.

 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: 

The Magnolia Hotel once stood on the fringes of West Chester, but thrived during the second half of the 19th century.

Here is an account of its owner, Moses G. Hepburn, Jr.

HOTELIER WAS A COMMUNITY LEADER by Catherine Quillman

In the mid-1800s, out-of-towners had their pick of places to stay in Chester County.

The county seat alone had at least five well-established hotels that catered to a wide range of travelers. Some openly appealed to a certain clientele, such as the aptly named Farmer’s Hotel on West Market and New Streets.

All but one of these hotels claimed the best locations – in the center of town.

The 19-room Magnolia House stood on the fringes, but thrived for more than a half-century beginning in 1866. That was when an entrepreneur named Moses G. Hepburn, Jr. obtained his hotel license with the help of a West Chester judge, John Hickman, a former congressman and state legislator who was an early advocate of civil rights.

Hepburn was described in 1897 as the “wealthiest and best-known colored man in Chester County.” He built his brick hotel in 1860 and welcomed all “permanent and transient boarders,” as one reporter put it in 1892, but was best known for hosting “prominent colored personages.”

In the 1998 summer issue of Pennsylvania History, historian Robert Bussel notes that it was described in its early years as “a three-story brick building, containing nineteen rooms, well-furnished and in good condition, and stabling for fifteen horses.”

The building, which still stands at Miner and Adams Street, was then part of a community known as Georgetown named for John George, an abolitionist and early landlord who rented exclusively to blacks.

Hepburn, whose own landholdings in the area would soon exceed George’s, was not the first black business owner to find success in West Chester, but he was clearly the most influential figure in the black community.

Two restaurateurs – Charles Burns and James Spence – were among Hepburn’s contemporaries who contributed to the vitality of the black business community that would, by 1910, earn its own chapter in a statewide directory of “Negro businesses.”

Still, Hepburn, who was born around 1832 in Alexandria, Va., was perhaps the only black resident to have arrived in West Chester supported by a “bequest of several thousand dollars,” according to one account.

Hepburn inherited the money from his father, a former slave. He first came to West Chester in 1818 to attend school and returned in 1853.

Within a few years, he was not only the spokesman for the black community, but he was first to see and acknowledge segregation in the business community.

In an 1868 application to obtain a liquor license, Hepburn pleaded that his should be granted since “the public houses now established refuse to entertain this class of people [blacks] visiting the town . . .”

Prior to opening his hotel, Hepburn briefly ran a restaurant near the courthouse that he later sold to Spence. He also operated an “omnibus” service that brought people to and from the local railroad station.

Hepburn had a lifelong association with leading black Americans. One reporter recalled the time when, around 1880, Frederick Douglass “registered at the Magnolia House and expressed himself quite pleased to find such a fine hotel for the accommodation of the colored race.”

Historian Bussel writes of Hepburn’s “ongoing contact” with such people as Douglass, “the journalist William Howard Day and visiting members of the black clergy,” who all helped him prepare for a “leadership role” within the black community. That included serving as the borough’s first black councilman in 1882.

Copyright 2003 The Philadelphia Inquirer

All Rights Reserved

The Philadelphia Inquirer

100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley (Artists List)

The following is a book excerpt showing the contents page of my “100 Artists” book

Section I: Classic Realists

J Clayton Bright
Allen G Carter, Sr
Caroline Chen
Beth Clark
Linda Clark
Casey Eskridge
WO Ewing, III
Michael Kahn
Tara Keefe
Sarah K Lamb
David Larned
Anna B McCoy
AJ Obara, Jr
Charles Park
Jon S Redmond
Holly Silverthorne
George A Weymouth

Section II:Contemporary Realists

Laura Barton
Claude William Bernardin
Kathleen Buckalew
Susan Curtin
Terry DeAngelo
Cheryl Decker-Sauder
Andre Harvey
Janice I Houck
Robert C Jackson
Jeff Moulton
Dennis Park
Jeff Schaller
Peter Sculthorpe
Dorla Dean Slider
Lin Webber

Section III:
Impressionists & Romantic/Poetic Realists

Annette Alessi
Carolyn Anderson
Mary Beaumont
Roy Blankenship and Lois Showalter
Richard Chalfant
Mark Dance
Lisa Tyson Ennis
Mary Page Evans
Janet Hammond
Peggy Hartzel
Phillip Jamison
Phillip Lang
Ilse-An Munzinger
Susan B Myers
Elise N Phillips
Rea N Redifer
Matthew W Reinert
Shela Roberts
Kerry Sacco
Paul Scarborough
Signe Sundberg-Hall
Sarah Yeoman
The Delaware Art Museum

Section IV:
Magic Realists & Storytellers

Bo Bartlett
Timothy Barr
William M Basciani
Fred Danziger
Jean E Diver
Rob Evans
Michael Green
Karl J Kuerner, III
Ken Mabrey
Adrian B Martinez
Lynda Schmid
Gretchen Shannon
John Suplee
Ed and Ellen Vander Noot
In Memoriam Carolyn Wyeth
Jimmy Lynch

Section V:
Modernists & Colorists

Anna Bellenger
Jacqui Cornette
Bernie Felch
Janis Galbraith Fitch
Barbara Grant
Dennis E Haggerty
Sutton Hays
Greg Layton
Ed Loper, Jr
Judith McCabe-Jarvis
Barbara Neville
David Oleski
Gus V Sermas
Paul Skibinski
Robert Roger Stack
Dane Tilghman
Timlyn W Vaughan
Mary Ann Weselyk
The Howard Pyle Studio

Section VI:
Neo-Realists & 
Symbolic Artists

Margo Allman
LA Bartolozzi
Diane Cirafesi
T Mark Cole
Kirsten Fischler
Bill Freeland
Cris Staley Hutchinson
Clifford W Lamoree
Carla Lombardi
Jeremy S McGirl
Antonio Puri
Brian Richmond
Nancy Rumfield
Donna Usher Valetta
Brett Anderson Walker
Carson Zullinger
In Memorian Tom Bostelle