Crozer Family Left Name And A Legacy John Price Crozer Bought A Textile Mill On The Banks Of Chester Creek In 1845.the Rest Is Local History.

Posted: December 19, 1993

UPLAND — After losing his three textile mills in Rockdale to the flood of 1843, John Price Crozer was looking to start over again.

He chose 66 acres on Chester Creek, where he bought a mill in 1845 and opened a business with 150 looms and 46 tenant employees.

Not only was he starting a business around which a town would be incorporated, his family would leave a legacy that now, nearly 150 years later, lives on in the names of area institutions.

"As his business prospered," local historian Karen Taylor said of Crozer, ''so did the people who worked for him as he built better mill houses and later as the workers prospered and moved into their own single homes."

Although the last Crozer died in 1926, and all of the original family mansions are gone, signs of the family's presence can still be seen throughout the tiny borough, which incorporated in 1869.

The mill buildings still stand in a half-circle at the creek bed. Several homes that once belonged to Crozer family relatives remain on the grounds of the Crozer-Chester Medical Center. And in neighboring Chester, the library is named after a Crozer.

John Price Crozer, who named the community Upland, was born on Jan. 13, 1793, in a home on what is today the Swarthmore College campus, according to Dorothy MacQueen, a local historian.

"The town grew up around his mills," MacQueen said. "Before that time there were large tracts of land, but not too many people."

Taylor said Crozer built his second mill in 1855 and his third in 1865.

She said the growth of the town can been seen in the style of the houses and the development from the small mill houses at the edge of the creek to twins and single homes on streets further out in the community.

Taylor said Crozer was concerned with his workers' well being. As such, she said, he supported their Sunday attendance at the Upland Baptist Church and often gave financial assistance to needy families.

Crozer's home, which was probably on Front Street, was torn down by the turn of the century and the mansions that his children once occupied have also disappeared from the landscape, Taylor said.

The home of his son and textile partner Samuel Crozer was at 704 Main St. Today, that's the site of Main Street Elementary School.

Upland Shopping Center stands on the property of J. Lewis Crozer, a son of John Price Crozer, Taylor said. His home, Braeside, was at Hill Street and Upland Avenue. In 1870, MacQueen said, J. Lewis added a decorative pond to the ground surrounding his home.

"There were swans in the pond and people used to stop and watch them," MacQueen said.

Another famous Crozer mansion was owned by George K. Crozer, another son.

His home, Netherleigh, was built in the late 1870s. It was a large, three- story gray stone home of more than 20 rooms in what today is Camp Upland Park, off Sixth Street. In 1881, George added an art gallery to the home to house his collection.

"He took great pride in his home and his artwork," MacQueen said. "He opened the house to schoolchildren every year in order to increase their appreciation of art."

While under renovation by Historic Upland, the mansion burned to the ground in June 1990, Taylor said. Its former grounds are today part of the county park system.

A home built before the arrival of the Crozers, but once a Crozer residence, is the Cheshire House. It still stands at 1200 Main St.

It was built in the early 1800s by the Marris family, and was sold in 1895 to another Lewis Crozer, whose specific relationship to John Price Crozer could not be determined.

Now owned by Carol Fireng, another local historian, the three-story stucco mansion offers a reminder of the Crozer era.

The 21-room home has six working fireplaces, foot-deep windowsills and walls and a servants' quarters.

In tracing the history of the home, Fireng found that it was originally part of a 600-acre farm and that the Lewis Crozer family owned the home from 1895 to 1920.

Between 1900 and 1907, Lewis Crozer hired Clarence Bell Sr., a carpenter and the father of State Sen. Clarence Bell Jr., to add a ballroom and additional bedrooms, Fireng said.

She said she often rented the home for weddings and corporate luncheons and hoped to bring school children to the house as part of a local history lesson.

"It's hard to believe no one from the family (Crozer) who made this town still lives here," Fireng said standing in the front hall of the mansion. "I want people to know how important it is to preserve their history. I had nothing to do with building the home; I'm just holding it till the next owner takes over."

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