Bradford was organized about 1705, and Richard Buffington was constable for that year. He was succeeded by Robert Jefferis in 1706 and Abiah Taylor in 1707.

In this, as in some other townships, the first settlers were not the first owners of the land, and the first surveys were made for persons who had purchased before leaving England, if indeed they ever came over. Prior to 1686 it had not been surveyed and was an unbroken wilderness existing where now may be seen some of the finest farms in the county. The Welsh tract had been laid out, and its western line afforded a base for further operations, as did also the surveys to the southward, in Birmingham. About the year 1686 surveys were made of nearly all the land south of the Strasburg Road, but some of these were afterwards altered. Among the landowners who became actual settlers, Richard Buffington was probably the first. He was the ancestor of the numerous family of that name, and had settled at Upland (now Chester) before William Penn obtained a grant for Pennsylvania.

At a court held in November of 1731 a petition was presented, signed by George Strode, Joseph Townsend, James Jefferis, Abiah Taylor, Samuel Scott, Richard Buffington, Henry Woodward, James Tull, Isaac Vernon, Abraham Marshall and 14 others, asking for the division of the township and defining of the boundaries, the township was then divided into 2 townships.

Bradford was probably named from Bradford in Yorkshire, or the town of the same name on the Avon, in Wiltshire, England.

East Bradford was reduced in size in 1856 by the cutting off of a portion of its southern end and attaching it to Birmingham. The line between East Bradford and West Bradford was changed somewhat in 1857, so as to make the Brandywine the line at or near Sugar's bridge, adding land of John Pollock to East Bradford.


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Printed in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA, Tuesday, August 9, 1938 PAPER RECALLS EARLY DAYS IN EAST BRADFORD Mr. Daniel Hiester Bradley Writes of Schools of Bygone Years Ownership of Land Editor’s Note: The following paper on the history of Copeland School was prepared by Dr. Daniel Hester Bradley, of Pitman, N.J., a former Copeland pupil, and read at the recent reunion of the pupils of that school. In view of its wealth of historical data of interest to many readers it is published in full.

Last year Joseph Cope, writing for Miss Abernethy, asked me to tell, at the Copeland reunion, what I might know of the history of Copeland School, of the surrounding neighborhood, and of the early schools. I hoped to comply with the request, but at the last moment I was unable to attend the reunion. I know little of interest that is not common knowledge. I cannot be at our reunion this year, and I do not know that there is space on your program for what I may write, but I am sending this to your secretary to be read if, in her judgment, it be of interest.

When the State Public School Law was enacted there were enough schools in East Bradford to permit every boy and girl to go to school.

The schools were private schools, with a tuition fee of about two dollars a quarter. There was provision for the children whose parents were unable to pay the fee. Under the law of 1809 a poor tax was levied providing a fund from which County Commissioners paid the fee. In 1835 there were 79 children in East Bradford for whom the Commissioners paid the fee. There was opposition to the acceptance of the Public School Law. It was thought the building of schoolhouses would increase taxes, and it was believed there was no necessity for closing the then very satisfactory schools.

Friends’ School. The Friends’ School, located on what is now the Howell place, was an excellent school. It had many fine teachers, such as Jacob Haines, Caleb Y. Hoopes, Josiah Whitall, Benjamin Cope, Deborah Cope, Amy Hoopes, Hannah Pyle. The school was founded in 1779, by Birmingham, Bradford and Goshen Friends’ Meetings as a free school for members of the Society of Friends, and supported by the meetings for that purpose, as told to me by my father. He also said that it was the first free school in Pennsylvania. I do not know that these statements are true, but I give them to you as given to me by my father. Those who were not members of the Society were admitted at a small tuition fee. The school was directed by trustees selected from among the neighbors, and probably appointed by the Meetings. Among the trustees in the latter years of the school the following names appear: Joseph Cope, Thomas Hoopes, Abner Hoopes, Caleb James, Aaron James, Joseph James, Isachar Hoopes, Isaac G. Hoopes, Gerard Cope, David Hoopes, Ezra Cope, Samuel Cope, John Cope, Benjamin Cope, serving two or three at a time in any one year. I do not have the names of the teachers in the early years of the school, nor do I know when the school closed, but possibly about the time Copeland opened in 1842. My mother, Caroline Hiester, attended the school in 1837, Amy Hoopes, teacher.

Skelp Level. There was a school at Skelp Level, known in its early years as Meacham School, probably the schoolhouse having been built by George Meacham. Phineas Garrett was a teacher in 1817, and probably for several years; Benjamin Lewis taught 1825-26; my uncle John H. Bradley, 1827-28; John Meacham, 1829-31; Elizabeth Walker, 1834. The names, L.W.Williams, John T. Mason, M.D.Lewis, Matlack Young, William P. Smith and Hannah Buffington appear as teachers, but I do not know in what years they taught. Samuel Starr, Richard Hawley, George Meacham, Benjamin Hawley, Abner Few, Lewis W. Williams, John R. McMinn, Edward Shields and others served at various times in directing the school.

There was a school farther north in the township, of which I do not know the location, probably on the road that now runs north from Copeland, and some miles or so north of the home of Abiah Cope, father of Morris Cope. Benjamin Lewis taught this school in 1825-1826; ____tleton, 1829-30; George ________, William Dunwoody, Samuel Cope, Jr., Jonathan Baldwin, appear as managers of the school.

Brandywine School, in the southern part of the township, in the vicinity of present Sconnelltown, took care of that neighborhood. In 1814 Lewis James was the teacher; S. Harvey and E. Price in 1816; B. Price, Jr., 1824; Mary Jefferis, 1825-26; Sidney Seeds, 1829; Geo. Hamilton, 1830; Hannah Embree, 1831-32; Benjamin Price, Jr., 1832. Hannah Carpenter, Rebecca Woodward, and Ann C. Strode were also teachers, the dates of which I do not know. The managers at various times were John Chamberlain, Richard Strode, Jr., James Gibbons, Joseph Strode, William Davis, John Forsythe, Philip Price, John James, Abraham Martin, John Graves, Jos. Carter, James Forsythe, Joseph Cope, Samuel Cope, Jr., Thomas Millison, Emmor Seeds, William Walter, Joshua Cloud, Caleb Brinton, Jonathan Paxson, Benjamin Price, Jr., Palmer Chamberlain, Jess Fell, Gainer Pierce, Samuel Palmer, Cornelius Rouns, Elizabeth Dilworth.

Schools Built. In 1816 the lands of Benjamin Cope and Joseph Parke adjoined. In 1816 and ‘17 a school house was built in the extreme northwest corner of Joseph Parkes’ land and in 1842 a schoolhouse was built in the extreme northwest corner of the land of Benjamin Cope. This was for Copeland School, so called because it was on the land purchased from Benjamin Cope. Joseph Cope at your last reunion, gave the name “First Copeland Schhol,” to the school on the Parke land. This was an error. The schoolhouse was built jointly by Joseph Parke and my grandfather, Emmor Bradley, Joseph Parke giving the land and lumber, and Emmor Bradley the stone and the labor. The foundation of the building could be seen in recent years in the edge of the woods, less than half-a-mile from Copeland schoolhouse, and near the old road that then ran from Birmingham via Sconnelltown to the Valley in Caln township. The home of Emmor Bradley (now McArdle), built by him in 1809, was close by. Before the road from the now Miss Henry place to the road running north by Copeland was opened in 1848 there was a lane from the Hoopes place, now Abernethy, to the old road near the Bradley home.

This page was updated on February 28, 2009