Henry C. (Henry Clay) Conrad.

History of the state of Delaware (Volume 1) online

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Published by the Author

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Printers and Binders,

Lancaster, Pa.



Map op Delaware * Frontispiece

Portrait of Author Frontispiece

Portrait of Lord Delaware 9

Portrait of David Pieterson De Vries 12

Landing Place of First Settlers, Lewes 15

Landing Place of First Swedish Settlers 20

Portrait of Governor Peter Stuyvesant 39

Portrait op Anneke Bayard Stuyvesant 39

Portrait of William Penn 57

Portrait op Thomas McKean 101

Views at Cooch's Bridge 131

Ratification of U. S. Constitution 154

Portrait of Henry Latimer 157

Portrait of Colonel Samuel B. Davis 165

Portrait of Commodore Thomas Macdonouqh 169

Medal of Commodore Jacob Jones 173

Portrait of Admiral S. F. DuPont 218

Portrait of Eli Saulsbury 225

Portrait op J. Frank Allee 250

Court House at New Castle 286

New Castle County Almshouse 289

State Hospital for the Insane 291

Whipping-post and Pillory, New Castle 294

Wilmington City Hall 303

Wilmington Postoffice (old) 303

Wilmington Postoffice (new) 305

Bridge over Brandywine 307

Rev. Eriscus Tobias Biorck aot) his Church 309

First Friends Meeting House, Wilmington 311

AsBURY M. E. Church, Wilmington 313

First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington 313

Portrait of William A. Reynolds 320

Wilmington High School 327

Portrait op Henry G. Banning 344

Portrait of George W. Bush 361

Portrait op E. Tatnall Warner 364

Portrait of George G. Lobdell 374

Portrait of Peter J. Ford 388






With an extreme length from north to south of ninety-six
miles, and a breadth varying from thirty-five miles at the
widest part to less than ten at the narrowest, the territory of
the State of Delaware comprises a total of 2,120 square miles,
or 1,356,800 acres, bordered by Pennsylvania on the north,
by Maryland on the west and south, and the Atlantic Ocean
and Delaware bay and river on the east. The State is divided
into three counties — New Castle, Kent and Sussex — each ex-
tending from its eastern to its western boundary, and all with
township subdivisions called "Hundreds." Delaware derives
its name from that of its bordering river and bay which, al-
though previously discovered by Hudson while in the service
of the Dutch, received the final name of Delaware in honor of
Lord De La Warr (Sir Thomas West) who, it is claimed, dis-
covered the bay in 1610 while on his voyage to Virginia, of
which colony he was the first governor.

THE aboriginal TRIBES.

The native red men found in the State belonged to the
general family known as the Lenni-Lenape or Delawares, who
comprised in all about forty tribes and were so ancient and
extended in range as to have been acknowledged by other
tribes as the " original people," and bore the familiar name of
the "Grandfathers" of the red men. Of this great Indian
family the tribe of Nanticokes, or " Tide-water people " occu-
pied the lower part of Delaware and the eastern shore of
Maryland, and were distinctively a fishing and trapping peo-



pie rather than great hunters or warriors. Among the hills
of northern Delaware dwelt kindred tribes of the same great
race who were proud to own as their chief the renowned and
noble Tamanand, whose most permanent residence is believed
to have been in the northerly vicinity of Wilmington. Al-
though the first European settlement in lower Delaware w^as
cut off by the savages in revenge for the white man's hasty
violence, subsequent dealings with the red men were peaceable
and prosperous. The Swedes who settled here seven years
after the massacre of the De Vries colony, anticipated Penn's
just and kind treatment of the Indians and lived ever in un-
broken friendship with them. All the tribes disappeared
from the State during the first half of the last century, the
last remnant of the Nanticokes having left the neighborhood
of Laurel, in Sussex County, in the spring of 1748.


The geology of the State comprises Archean, Cretaceous,
Tertiary and Quaternary formations with their respective
divisions, the oldest Archean rocks in a general way occupy-
ing all that portion of the State which lies north and west of
the line of the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Rail-
road, where they are overthrown and tilted in such exposed
confusion as to afford an interesting field for the studious
geologist. This area includes, with other rocks, hornblende
and feldspar, as well as deposits of kaolin which have been
utilized with good results, while throughout half of the
Archean area rocks of great practical value abound, including
the celebrated Brandywine granite, a beautiful dark blue stone
of great density and firmness, of which vast quantities con-
tinue to be quarried for use and export at Bellevue, near the
Delaware, and in the vicinity of Wilmington. Immediately
south of the Archean region and extending across the State
the Cretaceous formation affords inexhaustible masses of
plastic clay suitable for terra-cotta manufactures. This belt
also contains marl beds of the several kinds, which although


practically limited to St. George's Hundred, are found there in
quality and quantity promising extensive future means for the
durable fertilization of the soil. South of the Cretaceous area
the whole State is underlaid by the Tertiary of both the
Miocene and Pliocene age, of which the northern portion, and
including all of Kent County, is underlaid by a drab or white
clay deposit of highly plastic quality, which in places abounds
in fossils, but which, in its purer forms is probably well suited
to the potter's varied uses ; while further southward and under-
lying the whole of Sussex County is a later deposit of the
Tertiary with an uppermost layer of blue clay and an under
deposit of pure white glass sand of good quality which would
be of much practical value were it less deeply overlaid with
gravel and loam.

Iron-ore beds have long been known to exist in New Castle
and Sussex Counties, official records in the former showing
references to them as early as 1661. At Iron and Chestnut
Hills, abrupt elevations along the northwestern boundary of
the State, mining and smelting operations were begun early
in the eighteenth century and at various times have since
been extensively prosecuted. As early as 1725 a forge and
furnace were built at Iron Hill, which after being operated at
intervals, with changes of ownership, came at length, with ad-
jacent property, into possession of the proprietors of the Prin-
cipio Furnace beyond the State's border in Maryland, by
whom they were operated for many years.

These ores are known as the "dome" variety, while bog
ores of the " layer " kind abound in Sussex County near the
sources of the stream flowing westwardly into the Chesapeake
bay. From these large quantities of iron were produced
and shipped to England prior to the war of the Revolution.
Operations were arrested by the exigencies of that exhausting
contest but were resumed near the beginning of the last
century. In recent years nothing has been done with these
ores with the decline of the visible supply, but with new dis-
coveries there will probably be a resumption of operations as
well as of the fair profit which formerly accrued to the State.


Overlying the several geological formations of Delaware
and forming its soil is a broad surface deposit of sand, loamy-
gravel and clay which in New Castle County generally em-
braces two layers, an upper firm clay called Philadelphia
brick clay, and an under one of red sand and gravel. The
upper layer varies from the stiffness of pure brick clay to a
friable loam of great fertility which generally characterizes
the cultivated surface of New Castle County.

In Kent County the surface layer of brick clay becomes
more sandy in character, assuming the general nature of a
sandy loam widely celebrated as the rich peach land of that
region. Continuing southward, the two Quaternary gravels
merge into a single deposit of a mingled sand, gravel and
loamy nature which marks the soil of Southern Kent and all
of that of Sussex County.


The topography of Delaware may be briefly said to embrace
two quite unequal areas, divided by a line following the gen-
eral course of White Clay and Christiana creeks. Northward
of these winding streams long, bold hills and pasture valleys
varied with wooded slopes and rocky knolls extend in pictur-
esque succession to the northern circular boundary. South-
ward of this small hilly section, embracing two-thirds of New
Castle County and all of Kent and Sussex, the country is uni-
formly level or gently undulating, nowhere elevated more
than seventy feet, and attaining that altitude only on the
sandy ridge of table-land passing north and south through
the State. In this table-land, the water-shed of the peninsula
between the two bays, most of the rivers and streams take
their rise and flow eastwardly into the Delaware and west-
wardly into the Chesapeake. These streams are fed by
swamps and tributary brooks, and, deepening in their course
to the sea on either hand, become navigable for small craft in
many places far enough inland to aff'ord cheap and easy
transportation of farm products. The land being free from


stones and other rugged obstacles, and the soil of a sandy
nature, easily tilled, the cheap farms obtainable in the two
lower counties offer rare inducements to cultivaters of small
means. Indeed with a warm, quick and kindly soil adapted
to every product of the temperate zone and with a climate
softened by the soft-water influences of the bays on either
hand, which insure early springs, this whole region, with the
eastern shore of Maryland, forms a central peninsula which
for all the purposes of agriculture and especially for its finer
products with reference to both their ready production and
consumption, affords greater facilities perhaps than those of
any other equal area on the Continent.

While yielding excellent crops of wheat, corn and other
products of ordinary farming, the position of this region be-
tween the great markets of Philadelphia and Baltimore, as
well as the conditions of its climate and soil, renders it pecu-
liarly adapted to trucking and fruit growing on a large scale.
Its early vegetables, its fresh strawberries and other luxuries
and table delicacies find ready sale in all the surrounding
cities. It has long been famous as the great peach region of
the country, and it is equally noted for the quality and abund-
ance of the oysters and fish and other products of the numer-
ous tidal creeks and the estuaries, inlets and sheltered coves
indenting its shores.

In the northerly portion of this peninsular region agricul-
ture of a more general character is pursued, and many noble
farms, notably in the latitude of Middletown and Delaware
City, afford commendable examples of high-class farming.
Southward of this vicinity the land steadily grows more level
and sandy to the southern boundary of the State which runs
through the noted Cypress Swamp, twelve miles long and six
wide, and abounds in evergreen shrubbery and a tangled
growth of trees, mostly cypress, affording a cover for game of
all kinds.

The immediate bay coast is low and marshy, while further
south the Atlantic coast is marked with sand beaches which


frequently enclose shallow bays or lagoons. The largest of
these, Rehoboth and Indian river bays, have each a surface
of twenty-five square miles with a depth of four or five feet in
the latter, while the former admits vessels of six feet draft.
The other topographical division is the small remainder of
the State spanned by the area of its northern boundary and
extending southward to the creeks Christiana and White Clay,
before named as separating it from the greater alluvial region
of the State below. This hilly section is free from swamps
and alluvial levels, and much diversified in appearance and
products. Rolling in surface and well watered by springs
and streams its productive agriculture and substantial farm-
buildings, as well as its landscapes and people, are similar to
those of the adjoining Pennsylvania Counties of Delaware
and Chester, so justly celebrated for thrifty and intelligent

Hardly less famous is this region for its pastoral sylvan
and romantic scener3^ The wooded highlands skirting the
Delaware river in the northeast afford openings of cultured
fields alternating with luxuriant groves and grassy slopes so
charming as to have long ago become the chosen abode of
successful artists and other lovers of the beautiful. Further
inland the country is moulded in longer undulations, and
while in the absence of mountains the State has scarcely the
element of grandeur in its scenery, its landscapes near the
westerly end of its circular northern boundary are both nobly
and quaintly picturesque.

Majestic elevations at places reaching a height of over 500
feet and crowned with stately woods, terminate graceful up-
ward slopes checkered with groves, grain fields and orchards,
wherein nestle farm-houses overlooking sunny brooks meander-
ing through valleys dotted with brushy copse and pasturing
cattle, altogether forming pictures of both near and distant
beauty. This section embraces the somewhat noted Hockessin
valley, and the charming features of the neighborhood have
been vividly depicted in the graceful verse of Bayard Taylor,


whose residence was a few miles distant. This highland
quarter is crossed and watered by a succession of swiftly
flowing streams with rocky beds and wooded banks. Mill
and Pike creeks, White and Red Clay creeks and other
streams, besides the historic Brandywine — which with lesser
runs and rills afford views of picturesque charm, while the
larger streams in addition afford water-power for numerous
manufacturing establishments on their banks. Further east,
ward are other streams with rugged beds and romantic
features, among which are Naamans and Quarryville creeks
entering the Delaware in the Northeasterly corner of the
State, and the rocky Shellpot with its rustic branches, enter-
ing the Brandywine at Wilmington.


The largest stream in the State aside from the Delaware
river is its tributary, the Christiana, which is navigable for
vessels of eighteen feet to central Wilmington, three miles, and
for smaller vessels three miles further to Newport, while still
lesser craft ascend about four miles beyond to the head of tide
at Christiana, from which place flour was once largely shipped
by water, while Newport was an ancient and extensive ship-
ping port for breadstufis hauled from distant inland mills.

The Brandywine, from its entrance into the Christiana, is
navigable for about two miles for sloops and schooners, by
means of which extensive foreign and domestic shipments
used to be made of breadstuffs manufactured at the large
flouring mills at the head of tide, which were of world-wide
reputation and of such vital importance that Washington
ordered the removal of their stones to prevent grinding flour
for the supply of the British army while occupying Philadel-
phia during the war of the Revolution.

Appoquinimink creek is navigable for about seven miles
from the Delaware, steamboats ascending as far as Odessa,
formerly Cantwell's Bridge, which was once the shipping
centre of a large and productive farming country whose pro-


ducts have since found speedier transit by rail. Duck Creek,
which divides New Castle and Kent Counties, is navigable to
Smyrna, in all about eight miles, reaching the bay through
Thoroughfare channel. Blackbird, Little Duck, Murderkill
and Broadkiln Creeks are each navigable for small craft for
various distances not exceeding ten miles. Mispillion Creek
admits steamboats, schooners, and large sloops ten or twelve
miles to Milford, while St. Jones Creek is navigable for steam-
boats and vessels of two hundred tonnage through its tortuous
course of twelve miles to Dover the capital of the State. Other
streams flowing into the bay, some of them more or less navig-
able, are Cedar, Drapers, Slaughters, Primehook, and Lewes

Line, Middle, Herring, and Guinea Creeks flow into Reho-
both bay. Pepper, Vine and White into Indian river and bay,
and many other small streams, as well as ponds, marshes and
other water deposits take an easterly course more or less di-
rectly to Delaware Bay and the Atlantic, while water com-
munication from Seaford and other points is found through
the Nanticoke River and its tributaries westwardly into the
Chesapeake Bay. The Pocomoke River rising in the State
flows southward into Cypress Swamp, while further north the
Wicomico in Sussex County, the Chester, Choptank and
Marshy Hope in Kent, and Back Creek, the Bohemia and
Sassafras Rivers in New Castle, all have their source in the
sandy, swampy table-land along the western boundary of
Delaware, most of which streams are navigable far enough
inland to aff"ord additional facilities for the transportation of
Delaware products.


The waters of the Chesapeake and Delaware bays are con-
nected by a capacious canal extending from Delaware City on
the river Delaware to Chesapeake City on Back Creek, a navig-
able branch of Elk river flowing into Chesapeake bay, in
Maryland. The canal is thirteen and a half miles long,



sixty-six feet wide at the top and ten feet deep, allowing the
passage of large coasting vessels and steamers from bay to
bay. Through the highest dividing ridge which is four miles
wide there is a cut of ninety feet, and the canal is provided with
two tide and two left locks. The work was completed in 1828
at a total cost of $2,250,000, and has been of great value in
enlarging the practical outlet of both States to the markets of
the large cities. Its gross annual receipts are about $160,000.
There is a prospect that the work will soon be so enlarged as
to admit the passage of ocean ships of large dimensions.

An inland water-way has been begun to extend seventy-five
miles from Lewes to Chincoteague Bay on the eastern shore
of Maryland and Virginia, which by producing a current
through connecting waters is expected, besides promoting
navigation, to make available seventy-five square miles of
oyster grounds, capable of adding to the present capacity of
the oyster plant products estimated now to be worth $20,000,-
000. As connected with the promotion of commercial naviga-
tion the State has a friendly interest in the Government
Breakwater and accompanying works on the coast near Lewes,
where vast quantities of stone from Delaware quarries and
large sums of money continue to be employed in perfecting
studied plans for the protection of life and property.


It is claimed that so far back as 1524 Verrazano, the Flor-
entine, touched land somewhere about the latitude of Wil-
mington, but this is a matter of antiquarian rather than his-
torical interest. More to the purpose is it that Hudson in 1609
entered Delaware Bay, although the claim of discovery was
afterwards made for Lord De la Warr. Hudson's reports of
the New World led the Amsterdam merchants to hope for a
rich trade, although the agricultural possibilities of the country
were scarcely noticed.

This is not surprising. A trading post can be defended by
a few armed men, while a sloop-of-war in the offing may warn


pirates to keep their distance. Settlers who press their way
inward beyond the sight of the coast, beyond the signals of
friendly ships, incur greater risks than the merchants on the
shore. Retreat is practically impossible, the perils from the
savages increase, and the dangers from wild beasts become
more serious with every league.

At all events merchants and speculators in London and
Amsterdam expected to draw great stores of wealth from across
the ocean. Sailors knew there was a large river which the
Indians called Poutaxat, Chichohockee, Mariskitten, Moherish-
kitten and Lenape Whittuck ; Dutch writers spoke of the
Nassau River, Prince Hendrick's River, Charles River, and
the Zuydt or South River ; New Swedeland Stream tells of
another origin, and Arasapha, once famous, is as dead as any
of Jefferson's pet names for Western States. Newport and
Godyn's Bay are also known to antiquaries, but the English
tongue is in the ascendant, the bay and river bear the name
of Delaware, and that name will apparently remain.

The London and Plymouth Companies enjoyed the favor of
King James the First, and received large grants of American
territory. North Virginia extended from the forty-first to the
forty-fifth degree of north latitude ; South Virginia from the
thirty-fourth to the thirty-eighth degree. The Plymouth
Company was lord of North Virginia, the London Company
of South Virginia, but the intervening district, from the
thirty-eighth to the fortj'-first degree, was open to settlement
by both companies, provided neither came within one hun-
dred miles of the other. In other words, all of Delaware and
Maryland, the main part of Pennsylvania, nearly all of New
Jersey, Manhattan Island, Staten Island, and the greater part
of Long Island, was common ground for the two English cor-
porations. As maps were poor, boundaries uncertain and In-
dians still more uncertain, this opened all sorts of possibilities
to commerce and combat. The royal grants were made before
anybody in England knew that the Delaware River existed,
and those who know anything about the wranglings of mod-


ern corporations will perceive that friction over landmarks
was not a rare occurrence.

In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was chartered for
a term of twenty-four years, the government of Holland mak-
ing the corporation a handsome present, besides buying a
large number of shares of stock. The company was given
the sole right of trade, so far as the natives of the United
Netherlands were concerned, with a large part of Africa, with
the West Indies and the American continent, and with por-
tions of the East Indies ; it could make treaties and contracts
with native princes, build forts, appoint military and judicial
officers, plant colonies, and, in short, its powers were very ex-
tensive. Yet common sense led the home government to
keep a great deal of power in its own hands, and the company
was not permitted to declare war, while it was plainly given
to understand that if it engaged in war it must pay a large
share of its own expenses. Reports were required, and the
new corporation began with a sense of its importance, coupled
with a sense of responsibility. Trade was its chief object, yet
it was recognized that without colonies great trading opera-
tions would be impossible. As there were five branches or
chambers in different parts of Holland, it is evident that
thrifty merchants expected a large business.

As is always the case, little craft sail before large ones.
Hendrickson in the " Onrest " or "Restless" had in 1616
sailed up the Delaware and landed on Delaware soil. He
bought three natives, giving in exchange bottles, beads and
merchandise. Trading privileges had been granted to some
Dutch navigators, but there is no evidence that they actually
carried on commerce along the banks of the Delaware. The
charter of 1621 points to a genuine not a fictitious commerce,
and human nature being the same then as now, it is not sur-
prising that the English immediately began to complain of
Dutch encroachments, both commercial and territorial. From
the Virginia Company the English protest sounded to their
privy council, and from the privy council it was carried by


Sir Dudley Carleton to the State of Holland. All New York,
New Jersey and Delaware, with part of Connecticut, were
claimed by the Dutch under the general title of New Nether-

Online LibraryHenry C. (Henry Clay) ConradHistory of the state of Delaware (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 35)