Prior to 1850
Thomas Minshall, Early Media Resident
In 1681, after receiving the colony of Pennsylvania from England's King Charles II, William Penn began selling parcels of the land in the form of a "Lease and Release." One such buyer was Thomas Minshall, who in 1682 emigrated from England and settled on farmland deeded to him by Penn. He had paid for the lease prior to leaving Europe, not knowing the exact location of his land in the colonies. Minshall's farming land was set up outside the town limits of the Village of Providence, which contained a blacksmith, a wheelwright, stables, outbuildings, and a few small houses and farmland areas. The road where Minshall's house stood led to Chester and was known as the Great Providence Road.
Relocation of the Delaware County Seat
Chester City, on the southern border of Delaware County, had long been the county seat. Following the Revolutionary War, a growing public consensus called for the county seat to be moved to a central location, more convenient to county inhabitants traveling on foot or by horse. The idea of a central county seat grew in strength in the early nineteenth century, judging by newspaper editorials and printed comments from residents, officials, and printers alike. Things came to a head in 1845 when the old prison, which adjoined the courthouse in Chester, fell into disrepair. Taxpayers demanded that the new prison be built near the center of the county. At a public meeting at the Black Horse Hotel in Middletown, county residents discussed four new sites: the Black Horse itself, Beaumont's Corner in Newtown Square, Rose Tree in Upper Providence, and the Poor House located in what is now the Borough of Media. Each site had its advocates, and feelings rose to fever pitch. In 1848, the Delaware County Commissioners authorized the "Removal Act," which provided for the present site situated between Upper and Nether Providence. But the new site had to be accepted by the whole county and approved by the State Legislature. It was not until two years later that the State of Pennsylvania by Special Act of Assembly incorporated the Borough of Media, on March 11, 1850. This was the first and only act of assembly in Pennsylvania that both incorporated a municipality and prohibited the sale of malt and spirituous liquors in it. This restriction was enforced until the Federal Prohibition Amendment was repealed in 1933. Many at the time thought that the new town should have a new name. Minshall Painter, a descendent of Thomas Minshall, suggested "Media," a Latin word meaning "middle" or "equidistant from the extremes."
A Planned Town
Media, the highest point in Delaware County and approximately 12 miles from Philadelphia is a planned town. Streets were laid to spread south, west, and east around the spot selected for the new courthouse. Lots were sold at public auctions and the construction of houses began soon after. Churches, inns, and shops followed as well as establishments that included livery stables and blacksmith shops.