Thornbury Township Historical Commission - Home

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Boards & Minutes > Historical Commission

Thornbury Township Historical Commission



The Historical Commission meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm.

Contact: Eric Miller
Chairman: Eric Miller
Vice Chair: John Miller
Members: Dennis Hunsecker
  Dave Miller
  Dewey Yesner
THS Liaison: Ted Jacquet

From the Spring 2017 Newsletter:

When our area was first settled… two of the most important aspects of survival were food and shelter. Precious seeds were brought from Europe as there was no source for the needed crops. Today, Burpee and other companies offer varieties and quantities of seeds that would boggle our ancestor’s minds. Shelter had to be gleaned from the forests and fields, through hard physical labor. No power tools, no Home Depot, no drone deliveries from Amazon. Shelter has evolved from caves, tents, barns, log cabins and rapidly progressed to houses as we know them.

These changes were a result of our ability to adapt; knowing if we did not our future would be difficult at best.

In the mid 1960’s the demolition of the beautiful original Penn Station, gave rise to the architectural preservation movement in the United States. New laws were passed to restrict such demolitions and those laws brought about Historic Resource Preservation ordinances.

On June, 19 1996 Resolution No. 6 of 1996 the Thornbury Board of Supervisors created our Historical Commission. Our Commission’s tasks are to recommend, to the Supervisors, how to preserve and promote our rich historical past and work hand in hand with the owners and protectors of our 204 Historic Resource Properties with their 488 associated resources. 

After Penn station was demolished it was realized that unless this nation adapts its thinking toward logical preservation practices, those first shelters and subsequent improving ones, along with their level of importance to our lives, would be lost forever. To not adapt would erase our heritages and that was not an option.

From the Winter 2016 Newsletter:

Home Sweet Cave?

“They were only holes digged in the ground”

Mid to late 1600’s… A passenger boarding a ship in England would have no idea the time length their voyage would be to America. History indicates voyages varied from 47 to 138 days. Eight miles an hour was top speed when there was a promising wind. The Mayflower, moving an average of about five miles an hour, took 66 days to cross. Of primary importance to Pennsylvania’s first settlers was shelter. The most primitive of all shelters, the cave, became home to those who could not find family to stay with while a cabin was being built. The families of Joseph Gilpin and William Brinton, original Settlers of our area, separately took shelter in caves in the sides of hills near Dilworthtown. The location of the Brinton cavestead is said to have been paved over by 202 and is in the area across from the Super Wawa at Dilworthtown.The most common usage of cave dwellings was in Philadelphia, near the Delaware River.

In 1683, Francis Daniel Pastorius, a first Settler of Philadelphia and founder of Germantown, described his early shelter: “The caves were only holes digged (sic) in the ground, covered with earth, a matter of five or six feet deep, 10 or 12 wide and about 20 long; whereof neither the sides nor the floors have been plank’d. Herein we lived more contently than many nowadays in their planted and wainscoted places. I myself purchased one for 5 pounds—in the midst of Front Street at Philadelphia.”


Award Winning Historic Timeline @ Thornbury Park. View slideshow of Historic Timeline! Order your engraved brick at Thornbury Park today to commemorate the Township's 325th anniversary!  Brick Order Form

From the Summer 2016 Newsletter:

Inspiration Education Preservation Civic Duty Honor National Pride …what do those words mean to you…

The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge    World War II just ended and the lessons learned inspired this 1949 birthed non-denominational, non-political, non-profit idea. The 72 acre campus, intentionally situated next to historic Valley Forge National Park, epitomizes this article’s title words.  Filled with monuments of National symbolism, the public is encouraged to visit.  Of special interest, the Medal of Honor Grove, a tangible representation of responsible citizenship, reverently occupies 52 acres. A living memorial to honor the 3,497 recipients of our nation’s highest military decoration, the Grove is nestled in natural woodlands with comfortable walking paths and rest areas.

The greatest threat to our Nation today is Apathy. The Freedoms and rights we enjoy as Americans only exist if its citizens assume the responsibilities that come with Freedom. From inception, through its residential education programs for teachers and students, the Foundation has pursued its mission to inspire Responsible Citizenship by educating about Rights and Responsibilities, Honoring Acts of Civic Virtue and challenging all Citizens to reject apathy and get involved.  

Freedoms statistics are telling. Since 1949 over 2 million students have been inspired and impacted by Freedoms citizenship programs. More than 76% of their students volunteer in their community (national average is 22%).  More than 85% of their students register to vote (national average is 50%) and annually more than 4,000 participate in Freedoms History encounters, educational tours and their programs and activities.

Three websites for further education:,,

From the Fall 2015 Newsletter:

Our Commission is tasked with helping to preserve the historical heritage of this Township. We do that by educating our residents about our past to help preserve that past for all of our futures. Once something is gone, it’s gone. Pictures of what was are not the same as what still is. Some of our buildings are over 300 years old.

The future of the above mentioned preservation lies in the hands of our children. History, if taught well, can be addictive and fun. Recognizing this fact, the past few years have seen an increasing number of history books written for children to learn in a more entertaining and thoughtful way. To reinforce this fact, we have provided two websites for you to visit. The first site will show you three books written by Rush Limbaugh. No politics are in these books and the author was the winner of the 2014 Children’s Choice Book Award for author of the year ( html). The second site is a series of biographies for kids from Penguin Books (www. The Rush Revere series is three books and the the biographies for kids are over 80 books.

The Oral History program will now include a history of the Township Quilt, (explained in the Spring 2015 Newsletter). The second phase of the Frazer Ruins Stabilization project, has been completed. Lastly, Ben Franklin’s summer home on Stoney Bank Road is still standing and well preserved.

From the Summer 2015 Newsletter.

How many acres do you need to live comfortably? Family Acreage Requirements in the 1700’s During the 1700’s James Lemon, a researcher who studied southeastern Pennsylvania extensively, constructed a table of what a family of five would require to live comfortably in this region. Based on his calculations, a family of five would need six acres devoted to cultivation of wheat and rye. Lemon determined that the average yield for wheat and rye was 10 bushels per acre which meant the family had 60 bushels of grain for its bread production during the year. In addition, two acres would be needed for a garden, orchard and flax bed to produce enough vegetables, fruit and clothing for the family over the year. An additional 65 to 70 acres was necessary for the raising of five pigs, a steer, five cows, eight sheep and four horses. Thus about 75 acres was required to support a family of five.

From the Thornbury Historical Society: 

The Luckenbach Service Award is presented to someone who distinguishes her/himself in the preservation, protection and promotion of the history of our community.  In May 2017 the Thornbury  Historical Society (THS)  held its annual dinner. During that dinner Margie Pendergast, daughter of Dick Luckenbach, presented  the Luckenbach award. The 28th recipient of this award is Marinella Kelly.  Marinella was greatly thanked for her in-depth involvement and service with the THS and the Thornbury Township community. Her longtime support helps to strengthen THS and make successes of their various events. Marinella is a charter member of the THS House Tour and the Barn Dance committees. Her artistic and graphic talents are known well and have been showcased though our posters, tickets and publicity.   Congratulations Marinella, and thank you!

Lee C. Brown Memorial Award Recipient:

On September 14, 2016 the Delaware County Historical Society held its 2016 annual meeting and awards ceremony. One of the four recipients of the Lee C. Brown Memorial Award was Ted Jacquet. This award is given to a very select few to honor the Delaware County’s outstanding volunteers who serve countless hours and demonstrate enthusiasm, commitment and dedication to the historic sites, historic organizations and societies that preserve Delaware County History. Ted volunteers on the Board of Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, is the Liaison between our Historical Commission and the Thornbury Historical Society and is Chair of our township’s Sewer Committee.  He has a long record of volunteering for our township.

Check out this link to see what is going on with the Brandywine Battlefield Preservation Plan!

From the Spring 2015 Newsletter:

Hallowed ground…you don’t know what you have till it’s gone

Our commission is involved in protecting our historic resources and educating the public of our areas history.   Ground is a piece of history we all most likely, take for granted.   Years ago, the Brandywine Battlefield Task Force of the Chester County Planning Department, together with the Delaware County Planning Commission, formed Committees to discuss protecting, preserving and educating the public… you… of the significance of our resources. These committees have evolved since their inception and are generally comprised of members of the Historical Commissions of the 15 townships around us.  These townships contain the battle routes and battle sites of the Battle of Brandywine.  In other words, they contain …hallowed ground.

What does hallowed ground have to do with this?    How often have you viewed  an open piece of ground, you looked at it for years… and then it’s swallowed up with houses. Ever think what might have happened on that ground and how preservation of the site might be more important than a development?  How would you go about trying to preserve it? 

In 2014, as quoted from The Civil War Trust Organization  “ Congress reauthorized a highly successful federal matching grant program for preservation of Civil War Battlefields. In addition, the bill expands that existing program to provide grants for acquisition of land at Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields”. Go to  …  for more information.   We will keep you apprised of this preservation effort in future additions of our newsletter.

Oral Histories

The program is still proceeding on schedule and we shall keep you updated in subsequent newsletters. 

Newsletter Articles:

*Some sources for HC newsletter articles, sometimes almost verbatim, come from a large library of books, articles, newsletters, websites and Wikipedia.

Useful LInks: