private joshua johnson and the other old souls at ebenezer on bacton hill road in east whiteland

Chester County Ramblings - Wed, 2016-05-04 20:11

Someone asked me what it was that made me want to save the graves in the ruins of the Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland or what old timers in East Whiteland like to call “that old black church”.  What first moved me was the grave you see above of Private Joshua Johnson(1846-1916) who was a member of Company K of the 45th of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War.

How could he just be abandoned by his church? How could the others? These are people’s ancestors – you know like William Reason who died in 1892? joseph Thomas who was born in 1751? (list below at end of post along with very old article excerpts courtesy of a friend.)

The most history we have on Ebenezer AME was compiled by Eagle Scouts. Daniel Baker was one.  In 1989 he wrote History of the Ebenezer AME Church on Baction Hill Road. Another Eagle Scout,   Mathew Nehring also adopted this site in 2010 and documented graves and did a clean up. Nehring put his results on Find-A-Grave .

This summer is the bicentennial celebration of the A.M.E. Church A/K/A Host of the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference, African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is being held in Philadelphia before the DNC.

Oh yeah, I have tried countless times contacting the AME Church regionally and nationally since we discovered they still own the ruins of Ebenezer A.M.E.  When I did a GIANT e-mail I got some responses last year, but never any follow up. Ministers and church officials asking me to send them information and I have…so many times. And NOTHING.

Ok so NONE of these souls moldering in this forgotten graveyard aren’t my people, don’t share my race or religion, but these people belong to some descendants somewhere, right? Surely the big A.M.E church must care about Ebenezer A.M.E. right?

No. Apparently not.  I have reporters who have expressed interest, but mostly it is just regular people like me and the late Chester County poet A.V. (Ann) Christie. Yes, A.V. Christie. That is how I met her. Because of a graveyard abandoned by time and man.  She died April 7, 2016.  Those of us in East Whiteland and elsewhere who are just regular folk would love to be able to honor Ann’s memory by getting this little graveyard taken care of. She had no tie to it either. Like me she happened upon it.  I believe she helped clean it up a few times a few years ago as well.  Ann once lived nearby to the graveyard.

So yes, #thisplacematters too. 1st District A.M.E. Church is on Twitter about the upcoming bicentennial.  @1stDistrictAMEC is their handle. Maybe they need to be tweeted at to remember the ancestors buried here. They have to be someone’s people, right? The most recent local A.M.E. Church elder I sent information to was a Reverend Lett.

He never replied. It makes me wonder why I care, but I do.  These forgotten people deserve to be remembered and some of the names in the graveyard are still the names of some descendants living in Malvern and Chester County today.

A.M.E. Church does still own Ebenezer A.M.E. Someone trying to assist with research wrote to a friend a few months ago “The county still lists the owners as the African Methodist “Episcapal” [sic] Church, with a mailing address as Malvern R.D. 1. You can see then it hasn’t been used in quite a long time!”

I also sent information to Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III Editor of the Christian Recorder. That is the official paper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I have contacted innumerable local ministers of A.M.E. Churches.

Yet there the graveyard rots on the eve of their bicentennial.  Yep, that is some way to honor the past. To honor freed slaves and civil war soldiers.

The Daily Local was kind enough this week to pick up the tale of Linden Hall. Hopefully they or SOMEONE will decide that the dead of Ebenezer A.M.E. are worth a little bit of attention.

Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery is also known as Chester Valley African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, or Valley Hill Cemetery. You can also see tombstone photos on Pennsylvania US Gen Web Archives – someone named Fred Kelso popsted them in 2008. One of his photos shows that in 2008 someone still left a Christmas wreath on the ruins of the chuch.

If you know anything about this cemetery or people buried here, please leave a comment.

And also read this fascinating write up of another cemetery probably long gone in East Whiteland – The Flat Road Amish Mennoite Cemetery.

Here is an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1999:

A Lonely Battle For Black Cemeteries In This County Alone, At Least Six Are Abandoned Or In Serious Disrepair. Regulations Are Sparse, Records Mostly Nonexistent. By Michael Rothfeld and Brooks Barnes, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF

POSTED: August 10, 1999

Lee Carter pressed paper and pencil to the weather-ravaged tombstone inscriptions, laboring in vain to make out the faded names of the dead…..“It breaks your heart,” Carter said. “You devote your time to these things, and after a while it gets to you. You have to walk away.”

African American cemeteries are vanishing across Chester County, despite efforts of a small cadre determined to save them. At least six independent burial sites, and a seventh just outside the county, have been abandoned or are in serious disrepair, and no one knows how many may already be lost.

It is a phenomenon taking place across the country, black historians say, for reasons that include a lack of regulation, the remote locations of land granted to former slaves, and rural-urban migration…

A registry or listing of all cemeteries does not exist, Hardester said. While for-profit cemeteries are regulated by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission and state Health Department, no group or agency regulates older fraternal or church cemeteries – where the bulk of people living in the 1800s and early 1900s are buried.

Limited state legislation exists to protect unmarked cemeteries from development and to force municipalities or churches to care for neglected or abandoned cemeteries. But Hardester said such legislation, which dates to the 1930s, is rarely invoked because it is obscure and fragmented.

So it is often left to persistent individuals to save them – such as Roger Grigson, president of the Downingtown Historical Society…..

cultural traditions may also play a role, noting that maintaining an oral record traditionally was considered more important in black culture than marking graves with elaborate headstones.

“The people who do remember the oral histories are the older people,” she said. “When they die, they take the knowledge of who’s buried where with them. It’s happening all over the place, and nobody really seems to care.”…Grigson said he spent six months calling the A.M.E. Church’s District 1 headquarters in Philadelphia and was all but ignored.

“They didn’t want to cooperate,” he said. “I called the A.M.E. over and over with no response. When I did get somebody, I was told, `Keep your nose out of it.’ ”

Renee Carey, a South Coatesville resident who is trying to create a database of the people buried in forgotten cemeteries, said she also failed to get any information from the A.M.E. Church after sending repeated e-mails to the records office….The remnants of one A.M.E. church stand next to a trailer park on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland. A long-forgotten cemetery surrounds the church, hidden in a jungle-like mix of tall grass, trees, rocks and moss. A headstone has become embedded in a tree trunk.

Many graves there are crudely marked with rocks, which are rounded by rain and embedded like teeth in the ground. The clearest headstone belongs to Joshua Johnson, a Civil War soldier who lived from 1846 to 1916 and whose military unit is etched on his headstone.

Township records say the land belongs to the “AME church at RD 1” in Malvern. Asa McCollum, vice chairman of the trustees for St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church in Malvern, said that the church was not affiliated with his and that the ground belonged to A.M.E. District 1.

Graves identified by Matthew Nehring:

A., H. 54

Bently, James
b. 1819 d. Jun. 12, 1849

Brown, Ann
b. 1811 d. Feb. 5, 1901

Brown, John
b. 1837 d. Apr. 17, 1852

Cogins, Jane
b. 1849 d. 1887

Curtis, Walter
b. 1879 d. Mar., 1880

Davis, Hannah
b. unknown d. Apr. 5, 1898

Edwards, Harriet
b. 1809 d. Dec. 25, 1839

Gassaway, Alice
b. 1867 d. Aug. 28, 1911

H, A E
b. unknown d. unknown

Hooper, Anna E
b. 1821 d. Feb. 23, 1868

Hooper, John
b. unknown d. Apr. 23, 1847

Hooper, Mary Ann
b. 1812 d. Jun. 22, 1889

Johnson, Howard J.
b. unknown d. Oct. 8, 1921

Johnson, Joshua
b. 1846 d. 1916

Johnson, Winfield
b. 1861 d. Jun. 22, 1907

Jones, Clara Bertha
b. unknown d. Jul. 13, 1886

Jones, Sarah
b. unknown d. Jan. 18, 1875

Jones, Sarah J.
b. unknown d. Jan. 12, 1891

Laws, John
b. unknown d. Mar. 20, 1879

Poinsley, William
b. unknown d. Aug. 20, 1906

Reason, Mary
b. 1823 d. Jun. 30, 1888

Reason, William
b. 1817 d. Nov. 26, 1892

Smith, Viola
b. Nov. 30, 1899 d. Mar. 26, 1913

Thomas, Joseph
b. 1810 d. Sep. 10, 1849

Thomas, Joseph
b. 1751 d. Sep. 16, 1840
Trowery, Mabel Bell
b. May 1, 1906 d. Nov. 1, 1906

Trowery, Pauline
b. Apr. 1, 1894 d. Sep. 25, 1906

Williams, Amelia
b. Jul. 11, 1832 d. Feb. 3, 1911

Williams, Ellen
b. unknown d. Apr. 21, 1841

Woodyard, Hiram
b. 1824 d. Dec. 20, 1900

Woodyard, Sarah B.
b. unknown d. Aug., 1896

Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: December 18, 1873


Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rev. Wm. H. Davis writes from Phoenixville, December 8, 1873. MR. EDITOR:

Upon my arrival at my post I found one of my points at the Deep Valley, the church was in a bad condition, about to fall down. We tore it down and rebuilt it gain, and on last Sunday the 7th we had a good time in the Church. As my presiding elder could not be with me, I got the Rev. R. Norris of West Chester who dedicated the church anew on Sunday morning. I tried to preach, 1 Cor. XV, 57. WE took a collection and got the last dollar. In the afternoon having raised in the morning the last dollar owed on the church the Rev. W.R. Norris commenced the grand jubilee in the afternoon and selected for his text Joshua VI, 16, and the Lord blessed us. WE have a church worth two hundred dollars, today at the Deep Valley.
Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: June 7, 1883


Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


PHILA., PA., May 14, 1883.

To the Bishop and Conference: DEAR FATHER IN GOD, AND BRETHREN, -We, your committee, to whom was assigned the sad and solemn duty of considering the life and demise of our brethren and co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, whom death has claimed as his since last session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference, beg leave to submit the following as the result of our labors”

Rev. Shadrach Blackson was born in Christeen, Deleware, in the year 1809. His parents being in bondage, he was born a slave. His master sold him to a Presbyterian minister in East Whiteland, Chester County, Pa., in 1814. Here he received a common religion and joined the A.M.E. Church at Valley Hill, where he held his membership for over 60 years. 50 years of this time he labored as a local preacher and was a local member of the Philadelphia Annual Conference over 39 years. He departed this life on the 18th day of March, 1883, in the full triumph of faith. He leaves a wife and three children to mourn their loss, but their loss is his eternal gain.
Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: November 20, 1890

Title: —– —–

Author: REV. J.M. PALMER, P.E.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Downingtown circuit under Bro. Reuben L. Patterson is showing signs of improvement worthy of one of far more experience. Membership and interest both increasing.

A genuine quarterly meeting was hat at Ebenezer (Valley Hill) recently began Saturday morning, with preaching by five of the brethren. The great spiritual feast on the Sabbath old fathers declared had not been equaled in many years. Downingtown will soon have a new church. We are confident the people have a mind to work.
Morning Republican, January 27, 1894
Revival meetings were started at the Ebenezer A.M.E Church, near Bacton, on Sunday evening. They are being conducted by the pastor, Rev. R. L. Patterson.
Morning Republican, May 31, 1899
The colored people of Bacton will give a strawberry and ice cream festival on Henry Tinson’s lawn, on mile west of Bacton, Saturday night, June 10th, for the benefit of Ebenezer A.M.E. Sunday School. Committe of arrangements: Henry Tinson, Annie Tinson, Lundon Asparagras, Mary Asparagras, Susan Thomas, Ameilia Johnson, Lydia Wilson. All are welcome.
Morning Republican, December 26, 1899
The Ebenezer A.M.E. Sunday School of Bacton will give their Christmas entertainment in Bacton Hall on Saturday night. There will be recitations, dialogues and singing by the school, and tree sharing and treats for the scholars, after which there will be a sale of refreshments and oysters for the benefit of the Sunday School treasury. The committee of arrangements consists of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Tinson, Mr. and Mrs. Louden Asparagus, Mrs. Amelia Johnson, Mrs. Susan Thomas, Miss Lydia Johnson, Miss Laura Jacson (sic), secretary.
Daily Local News, April 11, 1934
Visitors in the Chester Valley speak of the little building which was once well-known as the colored Baptist Church of Bacton. It has been unused for services for some time, but is yet in fair condition, with the old-fashioned box and pews and the coal oil lamps, and beneath the building the groundhogs have been sleeping in comfort during the past winter. Many old stories are told about that church and the enthusiastic meetings held in other days.

Categories: Pennsylvania

quite the gaffe?

Chester County Ramblings - Wed, 2016-05-04 15:22

Stoneleigh in Vanillaillanova PA courtesy of Bryn Mawr College files (

Today for preservationists there was a very happy headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Haas estate in Villanova to be preserved as public garden

Updated: MAY 4, 2016 — 3:25 AM EDT

by Michael Matza, Staff Writer Adding a final jewel to the philanthropic legacy of John and Chara Cooper Haas, their children are donating the family’s Stoneleigh Estate in Villanova to the conservation group Natural Lands Trust, which will manage it as a native-plants garden, open free to the public.

The 42 acres and Tudor Revival mansion on North Spring Mill Road are to be transferred to the trust at a ceremony and luncheon Wednesday on the Great Lawn behind the house….When it opens in about 18 months, the estate will be rechristened Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden……”We’ll build on what’s here and augment it with new materials and new science on the benefits of natives in terms of the bugs, butterflies, birds, and pollinators they attract,” said Natural Lands Trust president Molly Morrison.

Beautiful article, beautiful photography (including of the rabbit totem pole carving done by Chester County carver Marty Long.) But then there is this weird thing. An “embargoed” press release? So if I have this right, the Inquirer got the lead and local papers got well…nothing? Until today? Right before event?



How does that work  exactly?

So I am guessing this is all just a silly coincidence of relationships? I mean why cut out the local media until a half hour before this event?  Surely it is a gaffe? Because it just is not right, and let us not forget for a long time it was solely the local papers on the Main Line which carried this story and followed it and covered it and attended mind and rear end numbing meetings in Lower Merion Township.

And then there are the comments on social media including from members of Lower Merion Township Staff who should really know better.  I saved the actual screen shot of the comment but won’t post so as to not embarrass the author of this particular comment:

The transformation of the Haas Estate was initiated by the Haas family but it took a lot of creativity, hard work and leadership by the local government to realize.

Respectfully, I disagree. Lower Merion got lucky and went on to create an ordinance around it that was given an unfortunate nickname. My former township sometimes shall we say likes to ummm, over improve and over complicate things and is that fair to say?

Local government can’t take all the credit on this one alone, sorry. It is mostly the doing of the family. And the Natural Lands Trust.

Suffice it to say, preservation doesn’t just happen, it has to be planned and supported. Too often it’s not. So I am very glad that one corner of where I used to call home will not be supersized for some sort of development. Because that is the unfortunate reality down there: no one seems to be able to say no to development. What used to be one of the loveliest places around is just one McMansion , Tyvec tacky townhouse development  and condo apartment building after the other.

Stoneleigh is a preservation triumph.  Many thanks to the generosity of the Haas family and the vision and hard work of The Natural Lands Trust.  Our communities need more of this.

This year’s Natural Lands Trust  Stardust celebration is being held at Stoneleigh.  Stardust is an amazingly lovely party, so think about supporting it.



Categories: Pennsylvania

mr. west chester has died

Chester County Ramblings - Wed, 2016-05-04 09:16


How do you write about a man that everyone described as amazing,  kind , giving and generous just for starters?

Suffice it to say that it was really difficult and so wonderful all at the same time to dig into the life of the amazing Dick Yoder, former Mayor of West Chester and institution at West Chester University who passed away a few days ago.

To take this journey, I was guided not only by my editor Lance at Vista.Today but by many present and former West Chester notables like current Mayor Carolyn Comitta (and Tom Comitta!) and former Mayor Tom Chambers and Chairman of the Chester County GOP Val DiGiorgio,, Gneneral Manager Bill Mason of WCHE 1520 AM, and former West Chester Borough Manager Ernie McNeely.

What a guy Dick Yoder was!  I wish I had met him.  I hope my words do him justice. I am only featuring an excerpt of my article here – please visit Vista.Today to read it in its entirety.

Former West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder Dies at 79 Posted By: Lance Knickerbocker Posted date: May 04, 2016

by Carla J. Zambelli

Richard “Dick” Yoder, a native West Chester son and two-term Mayor of West Chester,  passed away last Sunday, May 1. He was 79 years old.

….Yoder ran for West Chester Mayor in 2001 and again in 2005. He was elected both times. After reaching the eight-year term limit, Yoder he was succeeded by Carolyn Comitta in 2010.

Mayor Comitta, who served on Borough Council during Yoder’s tenure as mayor, credited Yoder as her inspiration to seek higher public office.

“When I was thinking of running for mayor I met with him regularly at Gramm’s Kitchen. We would have lunch and I would ask what it was like to be mayor; what makes a good mayor. He was always generous with his time,” Comitta said.  “After I was elected, I continued to have lunch with him regularly. I continued to learn.”

…..Former West Chester Mayor Tom Chambers issued a brief statement about the loss of his dear friend Dick Yoder:

“Dick and I were both born and raised in West Chester and I have known his family practically all my life. We were personal friends. We were also fellow former members of the U.S. Marine Corps……I have lost a good friend and comrade. My condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to his wife, Jean, and his great family. It was my privilege to have known him and I am grateful that he counted me as one of his many good friends.”

Ernie McNeely, Borough Manager during most of Yoder’s tenure and current Township Manager of Lower Merion, described Yoder as a true gentleman.

“Dick Yoder was a dedicated public servant. He transcended any political label as Mayor of West Chester and had broad support from all parts of the community,” said Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Republican Party of Chester County, echoing McNeely’s comments…..WCHE General Manager Bill Mason described Dick Yoder as Mr. West Chester.  “It was literally god, country, family, and West Chester,” Mason said. “To meet him was to become a friend. He was beloved by everyone he came in contact with.”


Also check out this video tribute done in 2015 when he received Citizen of the Year from The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce:

Citizen of the Year-Yoder from The Media Message on Vimeo.

Categories: Pennsylvania

It's a wet, cold honey-do of a week

Heron's Nest - Wed, 2016-05-04 06:13
We are in what is called a 'blocking pattern.'

For those of you who don't hold meteorological degrees - and instead simply have been swearing at the nice folks who deliver the weather on TV - that means it's miserable out.

Cold and wet.

Not exactly the combination I would ask for during the week I traditionally take off to get the house ready for summer.

You know, those lazy, hazy, crazy days when that large orange ball shows up in the sky?

I have not seen the sun since I left the office last Friday night.

The rain is expected to continue falling through Friday.

Cheer up, moms. We're expected to get a break Saturday and Mother's Day Sunday looks pretty good.

A big warm-up is on tap next week, with temperatures soaring into the 80s - just in time for me to head back into the office.

I stopped whining about the weather a long time ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I like it hot & humid. The hotter the better. Humidity hanging around you like a sopping, wet blanket? Bring it on.

Temperatures that struggle to break 50 degrees and showers is not my idea of a vacation.

The list of gardening, deck set-up and planting flowers is still sitting on the table waiting for a break in the weather.

Hey, the Phillies are playing better than anyone expected. So there is that.

I'm reaching I know.

What are my alternatives.

I've already run out of curse words to describe this weather.

I imagine as I walk back into the office Monday before dawn knowing that the sun will be out the temperatures will approach 80 degrees I will likely discover a few more.

Categories: Pennsylvania

tree peony/pœonia mutan

Chester County Ramblings - Tue, 2016-05-03 14:29


Categories: Pennsylvania

Why Republicans Lose In Pennsylvania- a house divided by two-faced, double-talking Political Profiteering self-serving lobbyists

The Liberty Blog - Mon, 2016-05-02 19:46

Political Profiteers Long & Nyquist; Cancer on the Commonwealth; Why Republicans lose in Pennsylvania, a House divided against itself…self-serving crony consultants and lobbyists callously misdirect with half-truths. Two-Faced, Double-Talking lobbyists playing on both sides of the fence.

      Long & Nyquist are undercutting the party by their disingenuousness.

The smearing of Joe Peters and the defeat of the Outsiders in Pennsylvania.


Republican Brian Fitzpatrick has won the Republican primary in Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional district with his claims to be a “corruption fighter” yet he hired two-faced, double-talking union lobbyists Long and Nyquist to run his campaign. 


​    Two-faced, double talking Long & Nyquist pretend to be Republicans advancing goals of limited government, less regulation and lower taxes while representing unions including the very, very powerful Big Government, Big Spending Pennsylvania Teachers’ Union, the PSEA and the anti-free market Wendell Young’s United Food & Commercial Workers Union which opposed sale of liquor stores and defeated efforts to dismantle the liquor monopoly and beer cartel in Pennsylvania.


  ​ Brian Fitzpatrick endorsed by the Deon Poprick Crony Establishment was flown into the district by his brother, the incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick, a Boehner/Ryan Big Government Pro Union loyalist.

Long & Nyquist clients include Pennsylvania State Education Association and and United Food and Commercial Workers   Commonwealth License Beverage Association  Malt Beverage Distributors Association Comcast


In addition he is being investigated for violating the Hatch Act and running for office while still on the FBI payroll, a clear violation of the law

But most troubling is the fact that Brian Fitzpatrick claims to fight unions and corruption but hired Long & Nyquist, the biggest corrupt factors of Harrisburg, to run campaign.


Brad Bumsted wrote an excellent piece but failed to mention that the smear of Joe Peters was engineered by two faced, double talking, deceiving lobbyists/consultants Long & Nyquist who get rich protecting the power their patrons; good for them, not so good for us.Brad Bumsted Tribune Review To what end? The smearing of good guy  Joe Peters.

​  Long and Nyquist unsuccessfully failed to defeat 30 year Marine Corp  vet and good guy  Frank Ryan in the House district 101


Long & Nyquist failed in the 31st Senate district where real deal good guy  Mike Regan will be replacing crony Pat Vance.

Let us see if journalists Dennis Owens and Jon Delano pick up this story.

The liberal, snarky and supercilious John Micek will not offer us any useful information. It is unlikely that  the Philadelphia Inquirer and the southeastern media which are not only shallow, superficial and supercilious but seem to live in a clueless cave can or will report any of this. The Inquirer quoted Charlie Gerow in a recent news/analysis article; any reporter who cites Charlie GID Gerow, a loser who even lost being elected delegate to the RNC convention in Cleveland, opportunistic chameleon, whose last and biggest win, was for Harrisburg Democrat Linda Thompson demonstrates his or her cluelessness as anyone with any familiarity with Pennsylvania politics would know.


​   Long and Nyquist are pretend Republicans who play both sides of the lobbyist fence  as journalist Dennis Owens has reported, lobbying for unions while pretending to advocate for what are presented as Republican Party values. Phonies, double talking, deceiving two faced frauds who smear good Republicans Long & Nyquist engineered this smear of a good man. Long and Nyquist are, also, consulting for Brian Fitzpatrick in Pa 8. Long and Nyquist are Political Profiteers who will make a lot of money losing the Attorney General election yet again. And, of course, Brian Fitzpatrick is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law of violating the Hatch Act.


With the exception of a State Supreme court candidate, nominally a Republican, but with bipartisan support, the Republicans have not won a statewide election since 2009 when Tom Corbett won by big margins before betraying those who voted for him with two tax increases and Pat Toomey walked away from those who supported him from 2004 through his squeaker election in 20009.


There is a reason why Republicans lose statewide;not a single Republican congressman, no matter how liberal or corrupt, has gone down in the April 26 2016   primary.  Trump voters did not vote for the Outsider down ticket. In Pa-16 primary just past, the liberal, party loyalist Lloyd Smucker defeated real deal conservative Chet Beiler. The severely under-financed Art Halvorson came within 1 point of defeating crony insider Bill Shuster. Oddly, with stunning turnout driven by Donald Trump’s dramatic campaign, voters voting for outsider Donald Trump, nevertheless, voted for insiders down ticket!!!!

Do we really want Cronyism in the Attorney General’s Office?  ​

 John Rafferty entwined with Long & Nyquist

It is highly unlikely that bringing Long & Nyquist into the Attorney General’s office will restore integrity to the office.



Categories: Pennsylvania

all that is left are the flowers

Chester County Ramblings - Mon, 2016-05-02 15:25

This weekend was my 35th high school reunion from Shipley. And in a blink and a whir of activity it was over.

A lot of people do not go to their reunions for various reasons.  I get it, but in the end I am always glad that I went.

I have a very diverse class and I think so many have become the most interesting people as we have gotten older.  This year, we had several people who had never, ever attended a reunion decide to attend.  I think that made it even more special.

My class was one of the last of the classes of the boarding department – Shipley as did many schools – used to be a boarding and a day school. So we have people coming from literally everywhere.

Our class always has a good time whenever we get together.  We meld.  We add refugees from other classes every time too, which makes the weekend even more fun! This time was no different. But it was all over so soon!

So today, my classmates are on my mind. I can still hear the sounds of laughter and conversation echoing in my head. It’s really nice being able to hit the pause button and catch up.

But now life returns to normal and all that is left are the pretty flowers and some really great memories of a wonderful weekend.

Categories: Pennsylvania

Weighing the good & bad in the news

Heron's Nest - Mon, 2016-05-02 06:55
Every day I struggle with a common theme. It is this notion of "good news" vs. "bad news."

It's probably the question I get asked more often than any other.

Readers always want to know why there is so much bad news in the paper.

I try to bite my tongue and not answer in the plainest way possible: That's what people read.

It's true. There is a mechanism on our website at that tells us which stories on the site are drawing the most eyeballs. Crime rules almost every day.

That does not mean there is not a lot of good news in the paper as well. Every day we list tons of community events.

But I understand why some readers feel we are portraying a negative view of life here in Delaware County.

I got that feeling again recently when we reported an incident that occurred at Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast High School.

But it was a phone call from a reader that made me look at the story in the different way.

I used it as the basis for this week's print column, my Letter from the Editor.
Categories: Pennsylvania

How sweep it is for Phils

Heron's Nest - Mon, 2016-05-02 06:44
While most Philly sports fans were debating the merits of Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz, the Phillies pretty much remained under the radar.

That is going to be increasingly difficult for this team to do.

The Phils dodged some raindrops and a couple of jams in route to beating the Indians yesterday to take their sixth straight win - as well as their second consecutive sweep.

Pete Mackanin's crew is not 5 game over .500 at 15-10, as they head out on a road trip.

Raise your hand if you predicted this. I thought so.

After that 0-4 start, I wondered in this blog if the Phils would ever sniff .500 again this year.

They've done a little better than that. They're now breathing down the Nationals' backs. You know, that other team they swept - in D.C. - earlier last week.

This still is not a juggernaut. The Phils likely will continue to struggle to create runs, playing small ball. They are getting almost no power numbers from their outfield.

But if pitching is 90 percent of the game, then this team has a chance. They continue to get great starting pitching, as well as very effective work out of the bullpen.

In other words, this might be a very interesting summer.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Shining spotlight on good things kids do

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-04-29 06:34
I got that rare opportunity last night - at least for a newspaper editor.

I stood in a banquet room at the Drexelbrook packed with more than 600 people - almost all of whom were showering praise on the newspaper.

Unless you do what I do for a living, you don't know just how unusual that is.

The occasion was the annual Partners in Education Dinner, put on by the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

At the banquet, the All-Delco Hi-Q team is honored, as well as all the great kids who take part in the nation's oldest scholastic quiz competition. That would include the Garnet Valley High School Hi-Q team. They weren't satisfied with winning the county crown. They went on to take the national title as well.

Also honored are the 19 teachers honored with the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

We had featured the two groups in the newspaper on Sunday and Monday, including the lead spot on our front page.

As I do almost every year, I planned to talk about one of the biggest struggles I have in this job, that being this notion of good news and bad news.

So of course the very first person I encounter when I walk into the room was Ridley Superintendent Dr. Lee Ann Wentzel, who was chatting with Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union boss John Unangst.

Nothing like putting my words into practice.

I wondered what kind of reaction I was going to get from Dr. Wentzel. After all, Ridley had found itself on the front page of yesterday's newspaper, and not in a positive way.

As usual, Dr. Wentzel could not have been nicer. She even quipped that we used a different photo of the high school than the last time we visited this story.

"We knew what day it was, we knew it was coming," she said. Wentzel understands what many people do not, that I have a job to do, and that includes showing both the good and bad in our communities.

During my speech, I also talked about last week's incident at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School, in which several student wound up facing drug charges, and a loaded gun was found inside the school.

The following day, I wrote an editorial saying the story actually had a silver lining, that being the actions of a student who informed school officials that the student had returned to the building - with the gun.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from a parent, a Bonner alum and a father who would be sending his daughter to Prendie next year. He had a very interesting question. First, he suggested we used the wrong word when referred to "several" students facing drug charges after contraband was found in their lockers. There were in fact two.

Then he mentioned something that I can admit I had not thought of.

He wondered why the story focused on the two lockers where drugs were found, instead of the fact that nothing was found in the rest of the student lockers after a sweep by police and K-9 crews.

It's a good question. The answer is one a lot of people don't like to hear. When people are doing what they are supposed to do, that isn't news. It becomes when they do something they aren't supposed to do.

But I respected his opinion, and it certainly gave me food for thought.

So did last night.

It's one of my favorite nights of the year.

I will forever be grateful to Unangst and Harry Jamison, the longtime head of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. They are the ones who first approached me 12 years ago with the idea of an All-Delco Hi-Q team fashioned after the popular All-Delco teams we name after every high school sports season.

There are good stories out there. You just have to look for them.

I met about 600 of them last night.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Democracy in action in Marple

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-04-29 06:08
On our editorial page today, we talk about this notion of democracy, what is involved, and what citizens' responsibility to take part in the process is.

Yes, a lot of people showed up at the polls Tuesday. That is a good thing.

But it does not mean much if citizens don't follow up with action in their communities.

Kind of like what happened last night in Marple.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Eagles get their man, but what about Bradford?

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-04-29 05:53
Let the Carson Wentz era begin.

Right after the end of the Sam Bradford Era.

Only problem is, Bradford is still here.

The Eagles rolled the dice and got the guy they apparently want, with the blue-chip quarterback prospect from North Dakota State. But the Eagles still have not reconciled just what they are going to do with Bradford, who has indicated he wants a trade and will not report for the team's voluntary workouts.

So far Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are sticking to their story, that Bradford is the Birds' starter and Wentz is the face of the franchise in waiting.

If that sounds familiar - especially to Pederson - it should. It was exactly the same situation then-QB Pederson faced back in 1999, when he was the Birds' starter while Donovan McNabb carried a clipboard on the sidelines.

That lasted all of nine games.

I don't expect the Bradford saga to last that long.

Don't be surprised if Bradford gets traded today.

As for the draft, here's what Bob Grotz had to say.

And at least one other person is trying to figure out exactly what the Eagles are doing. That would be columnist Jack McCaffery.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Friday, April 29

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2016-04-29 03:03
The Daily Numbers: 86 people in custody, 20 more still being sought in massive drug raid in Darby Borough.

7 teams of 20 officers each that fanned out across the borough before dawn Thursday.

188 undercover purchases made by officers.

61 suspects with marijuana.

43 with heroin.

38 with crack cocaine

14 with pills.

48,000 dollars, values of drugs seized.

61 townhouses eliminated in revised plan for proposed Cardinal Crossing development in Marple. Also gone are plans for a rec facility and hotel, replaced by 145,000-square-foot office building

9 acres on the 213-acre tract slated for a recreation complex.

2 baseball fields in the plans, as well as 2 mini field, 6 developmental fields, refreshment stand and parking for 150 vehicles.

5-10 years in prison for an 39-year-old Eddystone man convicted in the rape of a girl 10.

2 more V-22 helicopters whose funding may be restored, according to U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

260 new jobs in Glenolden with opening of new ShopRite supermarket.

2 fatal gunshots fired before church service last Sunday in Montgomery County. The shooter was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

3.55 billion price tag for DreamWorks, which was bought by Comcast yesterday.

2, as in the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, used by the Eagles last night to select QB Carson Wentz, from North Dakota State. 3-game sweep of the Nats for the Phillies.

2 games over .500 for the Phils, who now stand a 12-10.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Carson Wentz and a 3-game sweep of the Nats. Not a bad night for Philly sports fans.

I Don’t Get It: I think it’s time people came to grips with the notion that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the students and teachers honored at last night’s Partners in Education Dinner at the Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill.

Quote Box: “Our gang is bigger than your gang.”

- Darby Borough Police Chief Bob Smythe, issuing a warning to those who want to sell drugs on the town’s street corners.
Categories: Pennsylvania

tea and history in tredyffrin!

Chester County Ramblings - Thu, 2016-04-28 17:22

There are still some spots left for this lovely event!

Tea Party with Chester County Women of Historic Distinction this Sunday, May 1, 2-4 PM at Duportail House, Chesterbrook


The tea party will feature presentations from women of the past that either lived or passed through Chester County. The distinguished women of history will be portrayed by members of the Trust and Springton Manor Farm, both nonprofit historic preservation organizations.  The historic characters include Rebecca Lukens, first woman CEO of Lukens Steel, Dr. Ann Preston, first woman dean of the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia;  Hannah Marsh, who ran an Underground Railroad station and Marion Bartol, one of the last residents of Springton Manor.  Tea party guests will also learn about Sarah Carmichael Blair, Indian Hannah Freeman and Ginevera Harrison Potts as well as the significance Mary Todd Lincoln had to Chester County.


Following the historic presentations, guests will enjoy assorted teas, sweets, fruit and savory sandwiches. And Spread Love is doing the catering, so this will be delicious and informative and fun!


This is a joint effort between the Trust and the Friends of Springton Manor Farm, a Chester County park.  Several of the Springton Manor board members, including their current president Robin Spurlino, are participating as historic characters plus Judy DiFilippo (Trust Board member and former township supervisor) will play Mary Todd Lincoln.


Support historic preservation and do something very civilized this Sunday!

Categories: Pennsylvania

Cardinal Crossing on agenda tonight in Marple

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2016-04-28 06:22
No doubt it will be another full house tonight in Marple as the township once again digs into the proposed Cardinal Crossing development.

A revised plan for the development being planned for the site that was home for years of the Don Guanella School - and one of the largest open tracts remaining in the county - will be on the agenda.

The initial plan earned a thumb's down from both the township and county planners.

Developer Goodman Properties has an agreement of sale for the property with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the 213-acre tract. Their original proposal would have turned the wooded site into a huge development of retail, residential and office uses. It would include a new Wegmans supermarket, as well as a movie theater, convenience store/gas station and in the rear part of the tract, as many as 237 townhomes and age-related carriage homes.

As you might expect, this is not sitting all that well with a lot of neighbors and township residents.

Make no mistake, not everyone is opposed to this development, but those opposed certainly have been louder, packing township meetings and even forming their own group, Save Marple Green Space.

The group has gone so far as to seek the intervention of Pope Francis in a letter to the editor this week. They believe the sale of the property by the archdiocese and the planned development runs contrary to the beliefs professed by the pontiff in his encyclical 'Laudato Si," in which the pope argued against over-development of resources.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at Marple Newtown High School.

We'll be there to bring you full coverage. We don't think we'll be alone.
Categories: Pennsylvania

What's going on with Upper Darby High's drumline?

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2016-04-28 06:01
Something is going on with the national champion drumline at Upper Darby High.

I'm just not sure what.

We initially got word that changes were in the works, with some people actually suggesting that the group was being disbanded.

But when our reporter Kevin Tustin took that information to the school district, they put a different spin on it.

District spokesperson Dana Spino denied that rumor, and instead said the program actually was being expanded, becoming part of a new percussion ensemble program that will allow more kids to take part in the award-winning group.

Anything that sounds like a "cut" causes waves in Upper Darby, where a few years ago parents were in full revolt when the district mulled the elimination of much of the music program because of budget cuts.

Drumline actually is funded by the Upper Darby Band and Orchestra Parents organization.

So all is well, right?

Maybe not.

Late last night I received an email from a reader who noticed the story we posted online yesterday afternoon.

He suggested we take another look at the story, insisting the group - at least in its present form - is being eliminated. He suggested the new group is more of a percussion ensemble, but it is not competitive drumline that won a world championship just three years ago. He also mentioned that this year the drumline went to the national championships held every year in Dayton and took first-place honors, beating out 43 other bands.

He believes there isn't a single member of the drumline who is in favor of this new organization.

So which is it?

We'll try to find out today.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The biggest winner in Tuesday's Primary Election

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2016-04-28 05:45
We used our editorial page to point out the real winners of Tuesday's Primary Election.

Oh, sure, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had pretty good nights.

As did Pat Meehan, Mary Ellen Balchunis and Margo Davidson here in Delaware County.

Katie McGinty certainly had reason to smile at the end of the night, less so for our home boy Joe Sestak.

But none of them was the biggest winner?

So who was that title reserved for?

You'll have to read our editorial to find out.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Forget Carson Wentz - how 'bout dem Phils!

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2016-04-28 05:33
We interrupt Carson Wentz mania and the circus-like atmosphere of the NFL Draft to bring Philly sports fans this public service announcement.

Check your calendars. Then check the Phillies' record.

The Phils are over .500 on April 28. Raise your hand if you did not think that was going to happen. Thought so.

The Phils got another impressive starting pitching performance from Jeremy Hellickson, who allowed just two hits over seven innings. A Carlos Ruiz home run provided the offense and the Phils' bullpen slammed the door, with Jeanmar pitching a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save.

The last time the Phillies were over .500 was April 11 of last year. They were 2-2 when they beat the Nats. That streak lasted all of one game. They did not get back to the .500 mark all season.

To find the last time the Phils were over .500 this late in the season, you have to go back to May 4, 2014.

The Phils now sit at 11-10.

A win tonight would give the Phils a sweep over the first-place Nats and leave the Phils just 3.5 games out of first place in NL East. Go ahead, pinch me.

OK, now we can go back to NFL Draft mania.

How 'bout that Sam Bradford!!!!
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, April 28

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2016-04-28 03:13
The Daily Numbers: 2, as in the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft tonight for the Eagles. They are expected to take a QB, likely Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.

1, where California QB Jared Goff is expected to go to the L. A. Rams.

8:20 p.m., when Eagles should be on the clock for their pick.

79, where the Eagles will take their next pick, in the 4th round. They traded 2nd and 3rd round picks in the deal with the Rams.

52, age of Ridley High teacher and coach Gregory Stanczuk, who faces trial on charges of having sex with a former student.

60, age of Villanova professor Chris Haas, who faces trial on child porn charges.

13 million dollar bank fraud scheme, what former ‘Nova and Archbishop Carroll hoops star Barry Bekkedam and an associated were convicted of in federal court.

20 percent showing from Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, which likely cost Joe Sestak any shot at the Dem nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

46,500 vote deficit for Sestak to Katie McGinty in Philadelphia didn’t’ help.

2 cities, Philly and Pittsburgh, proved fatal to Sestak.

15 months in prison for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, convicted in a hush money scam to cover up child abuse allegations.

3-0 win for the Phillies over the 1st place Nats last night in D.C.

2 straight wins for the Phils over Washington. They go for the sweep this afternoon.

2 hits, all that starter Jeremy Hellickson surrendered.

3.81 ERA for Hellickson.

6 saves for Jeanmar Gomez.

5 wins in 6 games for the Phils.

11-10 record for the Phils. Last time they were over .500 was April 11 of last season.

4 of May in 2014, last time they had a winning record this late in the season.

18 straight games in which Odubel Herrera has been on base.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Forget Carson Wen

tz. How ‘bout those Phillies! I Don’t Get It: Dennis Hastert. The guy was House Speaker, 3rd in line for the presidency, is going to jail for 15 months after pleading guilty to a cover-up scam connected to abuse of children.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to voters who jammed the polling places on Tuesday. Now don’t go away. Stick around for those less meaningful elections.

Quote Box: “A serial child molester.”

- How judge described Dennis Hastert.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Why Joe Sestak lost

Heron's Nest - Wed, 2016-04-27 06:40
There is only one thing that Joe Sestak - often described as the 'ultimate political outsider' - did not count on.

Another outsider.

Sestak, who once again thumbed his nose at his own party in seeking the Democratic nomination and a rematch against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, was trounced by a party insider, Katie McGinty.

But it was hulking outsider John Fetterman, the 6-foot, 6-inch mayor Braddock who may have cost Sestak this election. McGinty, the former state Department of Environmental Protection czar, one-time gubernatorial candidate and chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, rolled to a convincing win.

This despite the fact that she consistently trailed Sestak in polling until the final week of the campaign, even while being propped up by none other than President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with other state Democratic heavyweights such as former Philly mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell, Gov. Wolf and the state's other senator, Bob Casey.

McGinty got 42 percent of the vote, to just 33 percent for Sestak.

But the real eye opener in this race was the strong late surge put on by Fetterman, who was the choice of 19 percent of Democratic voters across the state.

How ironic is it that Sestak, who infuriated party officials by rejecting their pleas to step aside six years ago and make way for party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter, to be toppled in part by another anti-establishment candidate, clearing the path to victory by a classic insider in McGinty.

Sestak dug in his heels six years ago, swimming against the tide of Democratic party leaders. He ended Specter's career with a stunning primary win, only to lose a close race to Toomey in the general election in the fall.

Those party leaders did not forget. They all shunned Sestak, who basically started running for the seat the day after his loss to Toomey. They put their names - and their money - behind McGinty.

Still, McGinty's campaign seemed to be sputtering, failing to connect with voters, as Sestak consistently held double-digit leads in polling.

Then two things happened. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made appeared in ads pushing the McGinty candidacy. A late big-money push also helped McGinty.

But it was the presence of Fetterman, who looks like anything but a candidate for U.S. Senate, who connected with a lot of voters as someone who understood their plight, based on his background on what he did for the struggling town of Braddock.

That late combination turned the tide in this fight, and proved fatal to Sestak's hopes for a rematch.

Meanwhile, McGinty and Democrats will now turn their sights on the incumbent, Toomey, who was unopposed in the GOP Primary. That means Toomey is sitting on a huge war chest, which no doubt will be used on an avalanche of TV ads.

Toomey, however, could be vulnerable on a number of fronts. First, there is his allegiance with Republican leaders in the Senate in denying President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing. That is the kid of obstruction that is rubbing Pennsylvania voters - the kind that backed Sestak and Fetterman - the wrong way.

But Toomey's biggest hurdle may appear at the top of both tickets.

He may be running on a Republican ballot with Donald Trump as it presidential candidate, and no one yet knows how Trump is going to play in a general election.

Then there is the likely Democratic nominee. McGinty will be aligned with the possibility of making history, electing the first woman to the White House.

In this race, it could be Pat Toomey who finds himself the outsider.
Categories: Pennsylvania