Blogging Along the Brandywine: A series of disjointed ramblings

Once upon a time in the 1940s, in the tiny village of Chadds Ford, there was a little boy named Arthur Cleveland, III – but everyone just called him “Casey.”

Casey and his family were friends with all the people who lived in the village, like the young artist Andy Wyeth and the old historian Chris Sanderson who taught everyone about the Battle of the Brandywine.

Casey’s parents, lived on a farm in an old house that had been owned by the Quaker, Gideon Gilpin in the 1770s. In fact, Andy Wyeth had painted a picture of the massive sycamore in front of Casey’s house and another picture of Casey’s father standing in a bedroom of the old house.

Casey’s father had a bazaar sense of humor. He even bought a surplus WW II tank and would roll down the old Baltimore Pike to save people whose cars were stuck in the mud, flood or snow.

For Casey, there were high hills to climb, streamlets to jump across and trees to dream under.

But one day in 1947 when Casey was 11 years old, the Prince of the kingdom on the Susquehanna wrote his parents a letter telling them their farm was being condemned for a Brandywine Battlefield State Park. This was a new word for Casey, but he soon learned it meant his family would have to leave the old farm where he lived.

Casey’s parents wrote the Prince telling them something everyone in Chadds Ford knew in those days of yore…that the Battle of the Brandywine didn’t really happen on their farm, but further north all around the Birmingham Friends Meeting House, and north of Street Road in the land called Radley Run and that there were many hundreds of open acres of real battlefield they should save instead.

But the Prince replied, “We do not want to save the battlefield – we want a park on a state highway!”

And so Casey and his family had to leave the house and the old farm.
The Prince’s men rebuilt the Benjamin Ring house that had burned down in 1931 and called it Washington’s Headquarters. They renamed Casey’s home Lafayette’s Quarters because one tiny newspaper article written in 1825, almost 50 years after the battle, mistakenly said Lafayette had stayed there.

Soon, people came to the new park on the highway and after many years, two generations had grown up thinking that the largest land battle of the American Revolution had happened at the park …on the old farm …where Casey used to live.

Then some of the old farmers who owned the land where the battle took place sold their big farms, so people could build new houses on land where men had died for our freedom.

But now, the people in the kingdom on the Susquehanna have said they don’t have enough money to take care of their park …on the old farm …where Casey used to live.

Well boys and girls, I don’t have an ending for this story because there are many possible endings that only you can write. And like all fairy tales it needs heroes, so we can help save the park …on the old farm …where Casey used to live.

About Sally Denk Hoey

Sally Denk Hoey, is a Gemini - one part music and one part history. She holds a masters degree cum laude from the School of Music at West Chester University. She taught 14 years in both public and private school. Her CD "Bard of the Brandywine" was critically received during her almost 30 years as a folk singer. She currently cantors masses at St Agnes Church in West Chester where she also performs with the select Motet Choir. A recognized historian, Sally serves as a judge-captain for the south-east Pennsylvania regionals of the National History Day Competition. She has served as president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates as well as the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford where she now curates the violin collection. Sally re-enacted with the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment for 19 years where she interpreted the role of a campfollower at encampments in Valley Forge, Williamsburg, Va., Monmouth, N.J. and Lexington and Concord, Mass. Sally is married to her college classmate, Thomas Hoey, otherwise known as "Mr. Sousa.”

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