When the Arboretum was a private estate known as Compton, John Morris and Lydia Morris lived with their cook, maid, waitress and driver in Philadelphia on Pine Street. In the spring, the household would visit Compton and then move there for the late spring, commuting into the city for business or charity board meetings.
A team of gardeners and seasonal workers kept the Compton estate operational from March till Lydia's annual Christmas party in December. In season extra help was enlisted to keep the garden at its peak. Flowers were raised in the five greenhouses, fruits and vegetables in the lower gardens. Butter, eggs, chickens and meat were also produced site. In 1924 Compton was winterized and Lydia began to empty the house on Pine Street.
The ode is an excerpt from the Kellner Diaries. Aboard S.S. Lahn, in November 1889 Miss Kellner, a nurse and companion writes that Miss Morris received a poem in blank verse from fellow passenger Rev. Dr. Aberigh Mackay, a Scotsman. " And pleasant memories will gather around this poem, as in after years the occasion and all incidents will be recalled". 2012.7.2
The first fllor plans of the major buildings were captured by the engineernig firm of Pugh and Hubbard which prepared an Atlas of Compton in 1909.
Updated in 1914 this Atlas of Compton detailed the layout of every building, every plant and rock in each garden feature. Click HERE to go to Arboretum Maps and explore.
People of Compton. The gardens, buildings and farm fields flourished with the many hands that cared for it. Find your ancestor or a neighbor then search the year of the transcribed work diaries below for details.
Find the name of an employee at Compton or all employees between the years of 1894 and 1932
Payroll records were kept by the head gardemers. These volumes provide a rich insight into the seasonal gardening tasks, horticultural and agricultural practices, and the seasonal and full-time grounds staff. These diaries were transcribed by Archives & History volunteers: Susan Marshall, Elizabeth Gavula, and others.
John Tonkin's family donated the eleven diaries that he kept as Head Gardener
Click to open a diary, then search for key words or names using CTL + F.
Invoices in the 1920's - A sampling of invoices over a decade at Compton are here, revealing clues to garden and horticulture vendors and life on a Chestnut Hill estate during the 1920's. The full set of invoices can be found in the Archives 2011.10.
|1919||A - D||E - N||O - Z|
|1923||A - B||C - E||F - H||O - S||T - Z|
|1924||A - B||C - D||E - K||L - M||O - Q||R - S||T - Z|
|1925||A - B||C - D||E - K||L - M||O - Q||R - S||T - V||W - Y|
|1926||A - B||C - E||F - L||M||N - Q||R - S||T - Z|
|1927||A - B||C - F||G - K||L - M||N - Q||R||S - T||U - Z|
|1928||B - C||D - I||H - L||M - P||Q - Z|
Lydia Morris' Recipe Book 2012.2.1 included recipes from 1883-1930, Several are transcribed below.