Islands in the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers Within the Boundaries of Philadelphia

From the Public Ledger Almanac for 1882
Pages 3 and 5

Transcribed by Annie Cheng
PWD Public Education Intern 2003-04
from a copy in the collection of Adam Levine

This is one of three interesting articles from the Public Ledger Almanac, published by what was arguably the best newspaper in the city at the time.
The other two articles can be accessed at the following links:

Changes in the Names of Streams In and About Philadelphia: 1879
Ancient Ferries in Philadelphia: 1882

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
HomeCreek to sewerDown underarchivesmapsAdam LevineLinks

Aharommuny, situate on the Delaware River, below the mouth of the Schuylkill, on the east of Minquas Island. It was conveyed at an early period to Peter Cock.

Aquikanasra or Aquikanasara, an island of considerable size, laid down on Lindstrom's map of 1654 as immediately opposite the ground afterward occupied by the old city of Philadelphia. It was either in front of the present city of Camden or was the ground upon which that city is built, and must have been joined so fast to the mainland that at present no traces of it exist.

Beaver was situate in the Schuylkill River below the present Gray's Ferry, and was of small extent.

Boon's. See Newesingh

Chamber's Neck. See Yocum's.

Drufwe Eyland, Ile des Raisins and Grape Island--so called by Lindstrom, and Greenwich Island at a more recent period-was at the extreme southeast corner of that part of the city east of the Schuylkill bounded by the Back Channel, Delaware River and Hollander's Creek. A considerable portion of it was opposite League Island. This island is now all fast-land, and a part of the First Ward of the city.

Gibbet--sometimes called Gallows--was situated in the Delaware River, northeast of Mud Island and southeast of Little Mud Island. It is laid down on old maps, but has been utterly obliterated, no trace of it now remaining.

Grape. See Drufwe.

Greenwich. See Drufwe.

Hog, called by the Indians Quistconck, and by Lindstrom Keyser Eyland or Ile des Empereurs, lying at the upper end of Tinicum Island, opposite Andrew Boone's Creek, and east of the mouth of Bow Creek. It was bought by Ernest Cock of the Indian proprietor in 1680.

Keyser. See Hog.

League, situate in the Delaware River, stretching eastward from the mouth of the Schuylkill, is laid down upon Lindstrom's map of 1654 in size nearly as large as it is at present. It has no name assigned to it. This island was granted in 1699 to the London Company, which ten years afterward conveyed it to Thomas Fairman. It was simply called in that deed an island, but in the deed of 1671 it was called League Island. It is supposed that its present name was given it because it contained about one league of land.

Little Mud, in the Delaware River, is between Mud Island and the mouth of the Schuylkill.

Long, in the Schuylkill, opposite Sweet Briar Mansion.

Manasonck, at the south end of that part of the city between the Delaware and Schuylkill fronting on the Schuylkill and extending as far as the west point of League Island, bounded by the Schuylkill, the Back Channel and Hollander's Creek.

Mud, situate in the Delaware in front of a portion of State Island, and between Hog Island and the mouth of the Schuylkill. It appears on Lindstrom's map without name. In the beginning of January 1762, after war was declared between England and Spain, the Assembly of Pennsylvania made an appropriation of five thousand pounds for the erection of a fort on Mud Island, to be mounted with twenty cannon. The fortification was called Mud Fort, and it remained one of the defenses of the Delaware at the breaking out of the Revolution. It was defended in 1777 by Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Smith, Maj. Simeon Thayer and other commanders against the British fleets and batteries erected at the mouth of the Schuylkill, from September 27 to November 10. Two hundred and forty-three guns were brought to bear against the work, which was defended at the time when the garrison was strongest by not more than three hundred men. The bombardment was terrific; two hundred and fifty men were killed and wounded. The palisades, blockhouses, parapets and other works were knocked down and the guns disabled by the enemy's attack. Maj. Thayer set fire to the barracks and ruins, and with fifty men safely crossed the Delaware to Red Bank on the night of November 16. The fort was afterward rebuilt and named Mifflin, in honor of General Thomas Mifflin, officer of the Revolution and governor of Pennsylvania.

Musk-Rat, in the Schuylkill, near the eastern shore, opposite Sedgely Point.

Newesingh, or Navisink--so called by the Indians and Minquas, Boon's by the Dutch and Swedes, Province by the English before the Revolution, and State by the Americans after that time--a piece of cripple meadow and marshland surrounded by water, bounded by the Schuylkill River, Booke or Bow Creek, Minquas Creek and Church Creek. It was granted in 1669 by the Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant of New York to Peter Cock confirmed to him in 1681 by Governor Lovelace of New York, and reconfirmed by Penn after his arrival. The western abutment of Penrose Ferry Bridge is on this island. It was the place upon which the first pest house, or hospital for the treatment of pestilential diseases, was erected by the province of Pennsylvania, from which it received the name Province Island. After the State government was formed it was called State Island, for the same reason.

Peters', in the Schuylkill River, above the present Reading railroad bridge, opposite the Belmont real estate. It was so named after the Peters family, the owners of that plantation.

Petty's. See Shakamaxon.

Poor, situate on the west side of the Delaware River and on the north side of Tumanaraming or Gunner's Run, near the eastern line of Shakamaxon. It was surveyed for Peter Neilson May 3, 1680, and contained two hundred acres. It is now part of the fast-land of Port Richmond.

Province. See Newesingh.

Quistconck. See Hog.

Sayamensing, in the Schuylkill, near the mouth of that river, between Mulberrykill and Sayamensingkill, granted by Governor Lovelace in 1671 to Laers Petersen. It contained three hundred acres. It is north of Schuylkill Island, and bounded by the Schuylkill River, Minquas Creek and the branch of Boon's or Church Creek which flows into the Schuylkill.

Schuylkill, at the intersection of Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, on the west bank. It was formed by the Schuylkill on the east, the Delaware on the southeast, Minquas Creek on the west, and a branch of Keyser's Creek flowing into the Schuylkill on the north.

Shakamaxon, in the Delaware River, opposite the portion of the city formerly known as Kensington, was patented by that name for a portion of it by Thomas Fairman in 1684. It was afterward known as Petty's Island-a name derived from John Petty, who was owner between 1740 and 1750, and advertised about that time that he wanted to go to England and had the island for sale. It contained sixty or seventy acres, with a house and barn, and was ploughed fit to raise tobacco. In later years, it has been called Treaty Island, from its proximity to the supposed locality of Penn's treaty with the Indians.

Smith's. See Windmill.

State. See Newesingh.

Treaty. See Shakamaxon.

Windmill, or Smith's, was formed from two banks or shoals which are laid down upon Holmes' map, 1683-85, one opposite Spruce and Pine Streets, the other down below South. They were probably nothing more than mud banks, but were gradually united, and rose above high water. In 1746, John Harding, a miller, took possession and built upon it a wharf and windmill costing six hundred pounds. Harding died before the mill could be put into operation, and his administrators--one of whom was his own son-in June, 1749, conveyed it to George Allen, who in the same year conveyed it to William Brown; the latter occupied the mill. It seems that there was difficulty about the title. Harding had none, but when Brown bought the property Richard Peters, secretary of the province, assured him that the proprietaries would grant him the wharf and as much ground as was necessary for the purpose of that construction. It was twelve years before this promise was fulfilled, but Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton granted the whole island in 1749 to Brown on a lease of ninety-nine years, at an annual rent of one shilling sterling. Windmill Island, according to Scull & Heap's map of 1750, and Clarkson & Biddle's map of 1752, was considerably south of the present locality known as Smith's Island. The windmill and wharf were opposite a point between Spruce and Pine Streets. The island extended southerly, inclining to the east, nearly to Christian Street, and there was a small island on the south. Independent of the island, there was north of it a mud bank, which extended from a point above Spruce Street to one not far below Chestnut. This was covered at high tide.

Yokum and Chamber's Neck rose from a marsh on the west side of the Schuylkill River just above Inckhornskill or creek, which ran into the Schuylkill on the west side of the bend and north of Penrose Ferry. It is now dry and fast-land.


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