By: Karen Kendus
As spring slowly trickles into the Delaware Valley, I cannot help but dream of being outside for longer than a brisk walk to the mailbox. For me, the dawning of spring means more sunlight in the evenings for running outside, the start of Farmer’s Market season, and general happiness as my poor deprived body soaks in that glorious sunlight. At the first sign of warmth, I dust off my running sneakers and venture out into the budding green landscape, anxious to see how winter changed my favorite trail. Spring is truly a rebirth, not only of life in nature, but also of my motivation to actually move around, exercise, and stop curling up on the couch under a mound of blankets.
Luckily, this area of Pennsylvania has plenty of running trails, walking paths and parks. In addition to the paved path at Concord Township Park, the dog park off Bethel Rd and the walking trails around the township building on Thornton Rd, the citizens of Concord Township and the surrounding areas can always find a place to be outside. Another beautiful park is found nestled in the southern part of the township in an area called Beaver Valley.
Beaver Valley is an area that covers parts of Concord and Chadds Ford Townships, as well as Brandywine Hundred in New Castle County, Delaware. Today, most of it is preserved land, with trails that connect to Brandywine Creek State Park and a number of historic structures visible from the trail. Originally, the portion in Concord Township was settled in 1689 by Thomas and Margaret Green from Wiltshire, England. They acquired 400 acres, 150 of which was part of Beaver Valley. Thomas passed away by 1699, but his sons managed to grow the farm into a staple of society at the time. They built a commercial saw mill, powered by Beaver Creek, which meandered through their property. They also operated a smokehouse for them and their neighbors. They also built the oldest surviving bank barn in 1772 (found in present day Chadds Ford Township).
In 1815, the Green property was parceled and sold off under the direction of the Orphan’s Court to accommodate the growing number of Green children and grandchildren. Many of the children were already settled around the property and the Orphan’s Court simply made the arrangements legal. Isaac Green, a grandson, received 50 acres on the north side of Beaver Valley Road, between the farms of his brothers, Thomas and Daniel. Isaac grew Indian corn, oats, potatoes, and hay to feed his livestock and his family. He was also able to produce 300lbs of butter per year, which was enough to sell at market after keeping a portion for his family. Isaac was profitable enough to build and improve several additional structures. He expanded the federal dwelling house he inherited and replaced a plank barn with a large stone barn. The house is still standing today, and one can still see the stone barn foundations. Isaac and his family remained on this property until the 1890s.
Another member of the Green family, Thomas (Thomas and Margaret’s grandson), received the smallest parcel from the Orphan’s Court ruling in 1815. He inherited a log home, which he replaced in 1809 with a 2.5 story stone home. This house still stands today. We believe he also inherited the mill, found along Beaver Creek, to account for the small acreage he received in the Orphan Court settlement. In 1844, this property passed to the Twaddells, who lived there until 1908. It was sold to the Boulden family, who remained until 1967, at which point Woodlawn Trustees acquired the property.
Beaver Valley remains an area of Concord Township frozen in time. While people still reside in the houses found in this area, much of the landscape remains how it looked before farmers tilled the land. Many of the structures from the Green family inhabitants also remain and offer a glimpse into their past. The volunteers at Concord Township Historical Society has put together a captivating exhibit on Beaver Valley, its natural resources, and its history. This display can be found in the Concord Township Historical Society Museum found in the Pierce Willits house on Smithbridge Road. Please stop in when the museum is open to review the lovely artist renditions of the landscape and additional information on this gem of Concord Township.
Michel, H. John Michel and Pam Rizzo. 2014. Beaver Valley: A Framework for Historical Analysis.
The Beaver Valley Conservancy. 2017. Accessed: 2/15/17 http://savebeavervalley.org/