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  • Writer's pictureMarta Driscoll

The Drayton House Legacy

Women's Suffrage - Yes, please.

Gin & Sugar - No thank you.

The story of a home is not contained in the bricks and mortar but in the stories of the people that walked and lived their lives within its walls. It is often the distance between us and the past that fuels our fascination with these historic homes; the older the home, the greater the distance in time, the deeper the intrigue. Take for example the George Drayton House. This majestic home stands in its quiet elegance greeting you as you round the corner at St. Thomas The Apostle on Valleybrook Road traveling through Chester Heights.

The Home

This Gothic Victorian home built by George Drayton in 1881 is situated on 7 acres nestled between two historic properties. Constructed of bricks imported from England by George Drayton and laid by a local Lima, PA contractor a Mr. John W. Graul. It features wide plank yellow pine floors, period brass fixtures, plaster ceiling medallions, curved staircases, ornate woodwork throughout, and a 1912 iron stove. This 15 room house sits on a 5 room unfinished basement. Many of the rooms in the house having been originally servants’ quarters each with their own staircase. The merry-go-round of doors throughout the rooms on the first floor which were common to the period used to control airflow and temperature of the home.

Biography of George Drayton

The American Dream

In 1820, when George Drayton was 2 years old, his father, a shoemaker by trade, took the ultimate risk and left his home of Lincolnshire, England immigrating to America settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By all accounts, George was a self-made man. Rising from the bottom up. His first venture of becoming a farmer was earned working for others on their farms, then renting them and creating his own business and finally purchasing his own land. As he learned, his business interests expanded. From his Philadelphia office, he invested in and owned businesses in the lumber and coal industries making money in real estate along the way. Mr. Drayton served as a Sergeant in the Delaware Guard during the Civil War and served patrol at the Battle of Antietam. Once he secured an interest in coal and lumber local to his home he moved his office closer to Chester Heights. In 1887 he divested his businesses and became the President of the National Charter Bank and Trust Company in Media, PA. Four years later, he helped establish the Media Title and Trust Company and took the helm as its President.

Yes to Women’s Suffrage – No to Gin and Sugar

George Drayton was also active in the political scene yet his aspirations were more of a moral battle rather than for a political gain. He chose an affiliation with the Prohibitionists known as The Third Party rather then the Democratic and Republican parties dominating politics at the time. In August of 1888, he was nominated by the Delaware County section of the Prohibitionist Party, also known as Cold Water Men as a Candidate for Congress. His nomination announced in a special telegram to the Times concluding that George Drayton “as a public speaker he is a full team and he dislikes Tom Cooper as a politician as he does gin and sugar.”

On August 26th, 1891 the State Prohibitionists held the Third Party Convention where they condemned the two political parties, announced their platform in favor of female suffrage and total abstinence from alcohol, and nominated George Drayton for the State Treasurer's race. The election vote count in his favor was light, to say the least. Nevertheless, he continued supporting the prohibitionist cause and stories of him addressing the community at the Chester Heights Camp meeting in support can be found in newspapers of the time.

Personal Life

Mr. Drayton was twice married. He married his first wife, Judith Flounders in 1840 at the age of 22. They had three children, two girls, and a boy. His son died at the age of 4. He married his second wife, Charlotta, in 1899, when he was 82 years old. George Drayton died at home on May 14, 1909, at the age of 91. He was buried with military honors at Cumberland Cemetery in Lima, PA.

The Legacy of Community Values Continues

The Tucker Family

George Drayton’s widow, Charlotta, sold the home to Claude E. Tucker of Philadelphia on December 31, 1918. Mr. Tucker and his wife Charlotte raised their four children (Charlotte, Elizabeth, Nancy, and John) in the house. Charlotte Tucker died in 1959 and Claude sold the house to his son John in 1961. Claude Tucker died in November 1963.

John Tucker and his wife, Carol Getz Tucker raised their four children (Martha, Anne, Susan, and Mark) in the house. Mr. Tucker was an active member of the Chester Heights community, serving on the Borough Council and a founding member of the Garnet Valley School Board. John died on October 8, 2013.

John’s daughter Anne Tucker Searl purchased the home in August 2014. Anne and her husband, Tim, are currently living in the house with their two children, Emily and Justin. They continue the traditions of the home. Anne as a founding member of the Chester Heights Neighbors Alliance and Tim as a member of the Chester Heights Fire Company.

The home has been in the Tucker family for 101 years and has seen four generations of the family raised there. It is a truly unique and special historical home in Chester Heights!

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Links to Articles RE: George Drayton and his Political Career

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