The name Folcroft comes from an Old English word meaning "Leafy Fields". The name was recorded first by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1880s. The state historical marker which was on Chester Pike says "Folcroft: Old English for leafy green meadow/field."
The property was originally part of a land grant given by William Penn to England-born Obadiah Bonsall. Bonsall never lived there but rented the property in 1725 to Thomas Tatnall, and he and his wife Ann bought the property the same year. Tatnall, a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly in the 1740¹s, added another to the property. He died about 1750 leaving his property to his only child Elizabeth and her heirs. Elizabeth had married John Knowles, son of an English immigrant, and Knowles inherited the entire estate upon her death around 1775. Knowles continued to add more property to the farm and by 1776 it totaled over . He was then the largest landowner in the area.
John Knowles died about January 1778. His will provided that his three children, James, John and Hannah, be taken to land he owned in Berks County, "there to dwell and reside during the present troubles in British America." (From the will of John Knowles - 1777 and on file at the Chester County Historical Society)
Not until the American Revolution was over in 1783 did the three children divide the estate.
Hannah Knowles received and married Joseph Shallcross. Together in 1788 they built the house called Poplar Hall at Shallcross Ave. in what is today Folcroft.
The Hahn-Cooke Farm was centered at Cooke Avenue and Chester Pike where the farmhouse still stands. Part of the original Knowles Farm, the parcel was sold to the Justis Family before 1788 and they built a log cabin on the property.
Hahn operated a fruit and dairy farm on the . He died in early 1865 and according to the dictates of his will, his wife Mary sold the farm at a public auction held on Monday, February 13, 1865. The farm was bought by Lewis D. Cooke. Cooke sold the farm to Theodore Lamont of Philadelphia in June 1895. A few months later, Louis Dalmas owned the property briefly, planning to divide the property into building lots.
The property was then bought by the Wood-Harmon Company who were developing Warwick (Folcroft) just south of the farm. Needing access to Chester Pike, Wood-Harmon Co. bought the farm in late 1895 and named it Warwick Annex. Today, Warwick Annex is a part of southeast Glenolden borough and the name Warwick has passed into history.
"Warwick is the name given to the new town adjoining Glenolden borough, and projected by Wood, Harmon & Co., of Philadelphia. 18,750 names were submitted. The first prize, consisting of two lots valued at $250 each, was awarded to Wm. L. Hoppock, of 2510 Turner Street; the second, to Katharine Frick Dill, of 4523 Regent Street, lot valued at $300; the third to Miss Annie Willis, of 1410 South Nineteenth Street, lot valued at $200, all of Philadelphia." (From the Chester Times, April 22, 1895)
The majority of H.K. Mulford Company¹s property was in today¹s Folcroft borough. Originally a New York firm with another office in Chicago, the H.K. Mulford company opened their "Manufacturing Chemists" in 1891 in a Philadelphia office at Market and Eighteenth Streets. Besides marketing medicines, the firm also made liquors & wines.
About 1894 the company moved to the William F. Simes drugstore at 412-420 South Street, Philadelphia. The Simes drugstore was said to be the oldest drugstore in the United States. H.K. Mulford became the first company in the United States to commercially provide the diphtheria antitoxin.
The company soon needed more room for expansion and in 1897 bought of land Simes owned in Glenolden. The firm added part of Ridgeway Farm and a large part of the Glenolden Farm to their holdings which by now totaled over . The Folcroft property was used as grazing land for their numerous farm animals. The horses and cows were needed to produce the smallpox and diphtheria toxins and serums. The would eventually contain 52 buildings.
By 1898, H.K. Mulford Company introduced a smallpox vaccine which was ready to be used in their patented syringe. The company also grew acres of plants used in medical research and some say that marijuana and morphine were grown on the farm for these purposes. In 1929 the Maryland firm of Sharpe & Dohme bought out H.K. Mulford and incorporated under the name of Sharpe & Dohme Inc. The company continued the original work in medical research and experimentation and made many important medical discoveries now in general use.
During World War II, Sharpe & Dohme Inc. was the first pharmaceutical company to produce dried blood plasma for the Armed Forces. When the demand for the plasma became greater than Sharpe & Dohme could handle, they gave other pharmaceutical firms their technique for making the dried plasma and charged them nothing for the information. Sharpe & Dohme also supplied influenza vaccine to the Armed Forces. After the war, Sharpe & Dohme concentrated on animal health and nutrition and discovered thibenzole, a product which de-worms livestock.
In 1953, Sharpe & Dohme merged with Merck & Co. to form Merck, Sharpe & Dohme. With this merger, the company began to sell off their land holdings in the area. By 1957, Merck, Sharpe & Dohme had sold most of their property and moved to West Point, Pa. The remaining property was bought by the Allied Chemical & Dye Co. whose Barrett Division worked on the development of coal and tar products. During this time, the original H.K. Mulford Company buildings were torn down and the California Apartments built on their site.
Chester Pike was a toll road from the 1850¹s until 1921 when the state bought the Road.
Before 1894, students had two public school options. The school district of Darby Township had the "Southern" School on Calcon Hook Road close to Ashland Avenue & the "Western" school on Oak Avenue at Chester Pike. Built in the 1830¹s, the "Western" school was built as a one room brick school, it was replaced by the current building in 1875. Today the "Western" school at 61 Oak Lane, Folcroft, is a day care center.
The Glencroft Baptist Church was originally organized in September, 1946. The first meeting was held at the home of Harry Bowd on Bayard Avenue in Folcroft. Services grew too big for a private house and the church was moved to the three-car garage of Pierce Readler which still stands by Elmwood and Primos Avenues. The Murray Stuart American Legion Post #566 was organized by two veterans and Glenolden residents, Ray Zickel and Dan McGugan, and the charter was signed by 15 members from both Glenolden and Folcroft.
St. John's Lutheran Church was begun as a mission church in early 1934 in the old public school building on Folcroft Avenue. The present building was dedicated in 1949, and the educational-wing extension in 1962. The Board of Home Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America had previously met with 20 area residents and helped to form a Sunday Church School, which first met on April 8 of that year. Seventy children and adults convened for Sunday School in the vacant public school building on Folcroft Avenue (now the home of American Legion Post #193).
At the start of the new year, 1943, the church's indebtedness from the former school building purchase was paid off, and it became apparent that for future growth potential and to fulfill its mission, the church would have to seek a new location. Ground was broken for the new building at the corner of Glen and Folcroft Avenues on January 2, 1949. In June, the cornerstone laying ceremonies were conducted. Upon completion, dedication services for the new building were held on October 9, 1949.
Because of the crowded public school conditions, in the Autumn of 1962 the Folcroft School District began using the church's new educational building for daily kindergarten classes. St. John's provided this service to the community for several years.
The Hilldale Giants, the 1925 Negro League World Series champions played at the old ACME on Cedar and MacDade Boulevard.
Source: August 8 issue of the Delaware County Daily Times. (this needs to be checked. McDade Blvd. is in Glenolden Borough)
On September 1, 3, 4 and 8, 1963, "a white mob rioted after Mr. and Mrs. Horace Baker moved into an all-white housing development of Delmar Village. The mob smashed the windows of the home and attacked police Folcroft had few officer and all were white. perhaps neighboring Darby Township officers arrived, too, officers who arrived to keep the peace" Later mounted State Police were called to maintain order.(Collier-Thomas & Franklin, 1999).
John Russ, who maintains a website called The Best Philly Cheesesteaks says that his choice is Leo's at 1403 Chester Pike in suburban Folcroft, Delaware County.
In the shadow of Philadelphia, you can watch Pintail ducks feeding, Red-bellied turtles basking, butterflies flitting, and foxes play. Bordering Folcroft is the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum Township. With just of marshes, fields, streams and forests, the refuge is small in area but significant biologically. Tinicum's Marshes, along with other wetlands in the Delaware estuary, are the nursery for commercial and sport fisheries along the Delaware River, the Bay, and the Ocean.
Through the grassroots support of local citizens, organizations and politicians, Congress declared Tinicum Marsh a National Wildlife Refuge in 1972. This urban oasis is just one of over 530 national wildlife refuges managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the Lower Darby Creek Area on the National Priorities List in June 2001. The site consists of two landfills: the Clearview Landfill and the Folcroft Landfill and Annex. EPA held a meeting in September 2001 to inform the community that the Lower Darby Creek Area is now a Superfund site.
The Lower Darby Creek Area site consists of two landfills, the Clearview Landfill and the Folcroft Landfill and Annex, along Darby Creek in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties. Clearview Landfill is on the east side of Darby Creek and about two miles (3 km) downstream is the Folcroft Landfill/Annex on the west side of Darby Creek. The Folcroft Landfill/Annex is part of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The two landfills operated from the 1950s to the 1970s and were eventually closed in the mid-1970s. During operation they disposed of a variety of waste including municipal, demolition, and hospital waste.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) owns the Folcroft Landfill/Annex and, accordingly, they will have the lead on cleaning it up. Presently, EPA is in discussions with potentially responsible parties to form a group to perform the RI/FS at the Folcroft Landfill/Annex. Source: http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/npl/PASFN0305521.htm
Delmar Drive was once part of Calcon Hook Road. "Calcon" is the Swedish word for "Turkey," and "Hook is the Swedish word for "Road." Calcon Hook Road literally translates to "Turkey Road Road." The original road was a Leni Lenape Indian trail called "Turkey's Neck Trail," and was no more than four feet wide. (ED Note: This is from another Delaware County Wikipedia srticle:"In early times, Marcus Hook was a major Lenni Lenape settlement that became a Swedish trading post in the 1640s. The settlement was renamed "Marrites Hoeck" after the Dutch conquered the area in 1655. The borough was officially incorporated on March 7, 1892. It is my understanding that the transition was from native American tongue to Swedish to Dutch and then to English))