History of Cumberland Cemetery
Compiled by Eileen Fresta, Pennsylvania State University American Studies Major
1682 — William Penn grants 1250 acres of land to George Willard. The 1250 acres are comprised of several different pieces of land within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A portion of Willard's land is a 250-acre plantation called "Cumberland." An 1882 map of Middletown Township shows "Cumberland Plantation" in the approximate location of Penn State Brandywine and adjacent to the Cumberland Cemetery. The original "Cumberland" Plantation is most likely the origin of the cemetery's name.
1687-1839 — Another settler named Roger Jackson purchases two hundred and fifty acres of the Cumberland Plantation from George Willard. The Cumberland Plantation is gradually divided and eventually sold to different parties. A portion of the original Cumberland Plantation becomes the property of the Worrall family.
1839 — Thomas Pratt marries Mary Worrall of Middletown Township. Thomas inherits a 3/4 interest in a 70-acre piece of property in Middletown Township from Mary's father. This 70-acre farm includes land that was part of the original Cumberland Plantation and other property including the land that comprises the Cumberland Cemetery today. Over time, Thomas Pratt adds to this farm, expanding his property. An 1870 map of Thomas Pratt's property indicates that he owned a sizeable portion of the original Cumberland Plantation.
1854-1859 — Dates of earliest burials at "Pratt Cemetery." These dates are taken from handwritten records at the Oliver H. Bair Funeral Company office. It is not possible to determine if Thomas Pratt himself kept the records, or if they were reconstructed at a later date. Thomas Pratt is using a portion of the Middletown Township property as a burying ground.
1860 — Earliest newspaper record of a burial at "Cumberland Cemetery."
April 1870 — Mary Worrall Pratt dies, leaving behind seven children and her husband Thomas Pratt.
June 1874 — Thomas Pratt marries Sarah Johnson of Middletown, Connecticut.
July 8, 1880 — Thomas Pratt signs his Last Will and Testament, leaving the following specific bequests to each of his seven children:
February 16, 1883 — Thomas Pratt signs a Codicil to his Last Will and Testament, revoking the 26.5-acre land bequest to his son Thomas and stated that the land would instead pass to Sarah Pratt upon his death.
March 5, 1883 — Thomas Pratt dies.
March 9, 1883 — Obituary from The Chester Times:
March 6, 1883 — Sarah Pratt is granted Letters Testamentary, naming her as sole Executrix of the Estate.
March 31, 1883 — Sarah Pratt files an Inventory and Appraisement of the estate's personal property (the appraisal is certified by professional appraisers). The total value of personal property is claimed as $3,182.48. The real estate holdings will be appraised by December 1884.
February 4, 1884 — Sarah files an inventory with the Delaware County Orphan's Court. The inventory lists items of Thomas' personal property that she is electing to keep for her own use — a widow's exemption allowed under law. Total declared value is $300.00 and includes preserves, jellies, washtubs, potatoes, furniture, beds and mattresses, etc.
September 1884 — Two of Thomas' children from his first marriage — William H. and T. Minshall — acting as Administrators of the Estate of their mother Mary Pratt, file a complaint against Sarah Pratt and the Estate of Thomas Pratt. A description of the case follows, taken from The Chester Times issue dated September 23, 1884:
December 1, 1884 — William H. and T. Minshall Pratt are awarded a judgment against Sarah Pratt and the Estate of Thomas Pratt in the amount of $14,596.60.
December 29, 1884 — Thomas Pratt's real estate holdings are appraised for $17,591.00. Real estate and personal property combined are valued at $20,773.48. Sarah lists the expenses, debts owed, etc. with a total of $24,992.70 — a shortfall of about $4,100.00. The $14,596.60 judgment against the Estate is included in the list of Estate debts.
December 31, 1884 — Sarah files a Petition in the Orphans' Court, stating that the personal estate of Thomas Pratt was insufficient for the payment of his debts, and asks the Court to " ... order the sale of such part or so much of the said Real Estate as to the Court shall appear necessary for the payment of the debts of the said decedent ... ".
January 5, 1885 — The Orphan's Court of Delaware County issues an Order and Decree allowing Sarah to sell the real estate in an attempt to raise $17,500.00.
January 6, 1885 — from The Chester Times:
February 26, 1885 — Sarah Pratt begins to sell property at public auction.
February 27, 1885 — A description of the auction taken from The Chester Times of February 27, 1885 follows:
March 5-April 14, 1885 — Sale is finalized for Thomas Pratt's 3/4 interest in the 70-acre "plantation" in Middletown. Thomas Pratt's children from his first marriage finalize the sale of the remaining 1/4 interest in the property. This 70 acre segment of the Pratt Plantation was purchased by a group of five businessmen: Horace P. Green, Townsend F. Green, James M. Smith, Thomas J. Sharpless, and John J. Tyler.
March 12, 1885 — from The Chester Times:
April 1885 — Articles of Incorporation are filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State for The Cumberland Cemetery Company.
May 2, 1885 — James Smith, Thomas Sharpless, John Tyler, Townsend Green, and Horace Green transfer ownership of a seventeen-acre parcel of the Pratt Plantation to the Cumberland Cemetery Company for the sum of $1.00.
May 1885 — The Cumberland Cemetery is officially open for business. The following article appears in a May 13, 1885 issue of The Chester Times:
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