CHESTER, PA — Under the leadership of Pennsylvania State Regent Marguerite Fritsch, the Pennsylvania State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (PSSDAR) has chosen the historic preservation of Old Swedes Burial Ground, Chester, as its 2022 – 2025 state project.
Old Swedes Burial Ground, founded in 1643 by Swedish settlers, is situated at Routes 291 and Welsh Street — just across the street from Chester’s City Hall. It is also located along the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, the National Historic Trail that General George Washington and French General Jean Rochambeau took in 1781 when they joined forces to fight the British Army in Yorktown, Virginia, during the last battle of the Revolutionary War, securing America’s independence. John Morton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and great-grandson of Mårten Mårtensson, an early colonist of New Sweden, is among the over 725 buried at this cemetery.
Elected in June 2022, Mrs. Fritsch will serve as the PSSDAR’s State Regent through June 2025. She has chosen “Love of Service to God, Home, and Country” and is coupling her theme with the daisy. “The daisy is a flower of love and symbolizes new beginnings, hope, and motherhood. For PSSDAR, the daisy inspires the new and creative projects we will tackle, our hope for our country, and our maternal love for our communities, and we have chosen to launch our special Daisy Day fundraiser campaign for Old Swedes Cemetery on January 28, 2023, which is National Daisy Day,” said Mrs. Fritsch.
Although most Pennsylvanians in John Morton’s home area of Ridley Township were Loyalists at that time, Morton favored independence. Of the seven Pennsylvania delegates to vote on independence on July 2, 1776, two voted against it, two voted for it, and two did not vote, leaving the decision to John Morton. His decision to vote for independence gave the colony its freedom.
As a result of his vote, friends, neighbors, and even relatives turned against him. By early 1777, he became extremely ill with tuberculosis. As he lay dying, he predicted that one day, people would realize that his voting for independence was the most glorious service he ever rendered his country. He passed away on April 1, 1777, and was interred at the Old Swedish Burial Ground. A memorial obelisk marks his burial site with inscriptions on all four sides, and three plaques, one placed by the Delaware County Chapter of the DAR.
Old Swedes Cemetery, also known as St. Paul’s Burying Ground and St. Paul’s Cemetery, was deeded to the city of Chester in 1957 by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which was initially located on the cemetery grounds. In recent years, this historic cemetery has fallen into disarray and is in dire need of preservation. So, in conjunction with Gene Hough, of the Legacy Marker Program, the PSSDAR is asking its chapters all across the state to work together through June 2025 to restore this American treasure. In addition to fundraising for cemetery conservation, local chapters of the PSSDAR are also fundraising to support educational programs for school children to learn about this historic site in their community.
Sadly, since the PSSDAR’s decision, two cars hit part of the cemetery wall, causing extensive damage. So, along with the Fritsch Administration’s state project working on the restoration and preservation of the Old Swedes Cemetery, the PSSDAR is hosting a special “A Brick to Build a Wall” fundraiser to help with any additional damage that occurred.
It is kicking off this Friday, National Daisy Day! Please help the PSSDAR and its local chapters by buying “A Brick to Build a Wall.” Go to: https://pssdar.org/serviceproject.php to donate. Please also consider covering the transaction cost on PayPal, so all the funds can be used to repair the Old Swede Cemetery. Donations will be taken through June 2025.
If you are interested in learning more about the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit dar.org.
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