Our Village History
The land around Chadds Ford was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians centuries before the Europeans arrived. In 1638 the first European explorers, the Swedes, discovered the Brandywine and by 1700 English Quakers made up most of the population in the area. In 1707 “Ye Great Road to Nottingham,” now U.S. Route 1, was laid out from Baltimore to Chester. It was one of the five main routes from Philadelphia in the early 18th century. During the late 1730s and 1740s when John Chads operated a ferry service across the Brandywine, the crossing place became known as “Chads Ford.” About 1827 a bridge to span the river was built.
On September 11, 1777 Continental troops formed a line of defense along the eastern bank of the Brandywine. George Washington had chosen this spot to halt the British advance toward Philadelphia. General William Howe split his forces to outflank the Continental army in the Battle of the Brandywine. After a day of fierce fighting, the Americans retreated to Chester and the British camped on the battlefield for five days, ransacking nearby homes.
During the 1800s the harnessing of water power for use in mill operations was a major factor in the growth of the area. The mills not only manufactured goods such as gun powder and paper, they also processed grain and timber grown in the area.