The average person spends 0% of their day wondering why and how Chester County’s borders were established. But that’s why we publish weekly newsletters to educate and entertain. This week’s newsletter will probably do neither. But as the old adage goes, you don’t know what you didn’t know until you know it.
Chester County’s creation story begins all the way back with William Penn. In 1681, King Charles II granted Penn a large piece of land to offset debts he owed Penn’s father. That land would eventually become the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware. To keep things moving, we’ll only touch on the major events and not get into the various land disputes through the years, of which there were many. When William Penn first established the Province of Pennsylvania in 1682, he divided the area into three counties. The BIG 3 were Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks Counties. Chester County, named after Chester England, originally bordered Philadelphia County to the north, the Delaware River to the east, Delaware/Maryland to the south, and the west wasn’t exactly defined but was approximately the Susquehanna River. For perspective, the original Chester County included present-day Lancaster, Delaware, and parts of Berks Counties.
As more and more people started to migrate west and settlement increased, the need to further divide arose. Lancaster County was formed in 1729. The border followed Octorara Creek, then Pine Creek at Christiana, and continued along a north-northeast trajectory to a point just west of Honey Brook. Fun fact: Chester County’s border makes a hard right on top of the Lanchester Landfill. Besides the smell, it’s a great vista point to view the surrounding land.
Berks County was formed from the northern section of Chester County in 1752. This line was designated as a relatively straight line from Honey Brook to Pottstown, which ends at the Schuylkill River. Following the Schuylkill River south, we get the border of the original Philadelphia County which would then become Montgomery County in 1784, all the way to Vally Forge.
In 1789, the southeastern portion was divided into Delaware County. This is the reason why the City of Chester is located in Delaware County rather than in Chester County. The county line meanders through the countryside southwest from King of Prussia to Chadds Ford. It then follows the Brandywine River south to the Delaware state line. Luckily, the accent went along to Delaware County as well.
All kidding aside, Chester County is a great place to live, work, and play. We here at Howell are proud to help shape the future of this area.