Thursday, January 28, 2016

More Information about the Trinder and Higgins Farms

The area in 1868
I knew this was going to get a bit rambling to just shove into the middle of the original post, so here’s some additional information regarding and related to the Trinder property. The original post will also be edited to reflect the most current information, although it won't have as much detail as we'll get into here. All of this came from the single piece of information supplied by Donna P. in the comments section on the first post. She told us that she had found the will of Joseph Trinder from 1892, and record of the sale of the property by his executors in 1896. So for one thing, that gives us a closer range for his death.

Donna tells that the Trinder farm was sold to Alpheus Pennock. Alpheus (1849-1929) was the son of Lewis Pennock (1804-1879), who resided just south of the area focused upon here. You can see his name shown on the 1868 map segment above. After Lewis’ death in 1879, the home farm went to Alpheus. The house, which stood until the 1960’s, was located about where the grassy area is behind the Meadowood II Shopping Center and in front of Forest Oak Elementary School. It appears the house was torn down just before the school was built. Alpheus’ brother Pusey was the early 20th Century owner of the Harlan-Chandler Mill property in Milltown.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Trinder and Higgins Farms

Recently a question was posed by a commenter on another post, asking about a couple of properties in the area around St. Marks High School, in southern central Mill Creek Hundred. Unfortunately the original houses are gone from both of these sites, but both have found new life. I was unable to find too much information about one of the locations, but I do have some stuff to share about one of the long-time owners of the second.

The first property in question was located on the north side of Pike Creek Road, about halfway between Upper Pike Creek Road to the west and All Saints Cemetery (and the entrance to St. Marks) to the east. It appears that the house was located on the west side of what's now Calan Drive, in the new development of Milltown Village. The barn is (or was, I've not been over there lately) across the street on the other side.

At this point I've been able to find precious little about this property, save the identity of its owner for the second half of the 19th Century. All of the maps from 1849 to 1893 show the owner as Joseph Trinder, an English immigrant born about 1815. His wife, Jane, two years older than he, was also born in England. This makes me think they probably met and were married there, then emigrated in the later 1830s. A Joseph Trinder is listed in the 1840 Census in Birmingham Township, Chester County (just above Painter's Crossing), so they may have lived there before moving to MCH.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Few Quick Thoughts on the Holidays in 18th Century Mill Creek Hundred

As the title suggests, this is more of a collection of thoughts that just occurred to me than a well thought out post. Why it just occurred to me today, you'll see towards the end of the post. Perhaps some future research could more fully flesh out these ideas, but for now here's some things to think about as we move through what for us today is the back end of the Holiday Season.

I don't believe that I've ever come across any firsthand accounts of holiday celebrations in MCH in the 1700's, but I think we can make some fair assumptions. As we've seen, there were three major cultural/religious groups in MCH in the 18th Century. Yes, there were still some Swedes, Danes, and their descendants, but primarily the area was populated by English Episcopalians, English Quakers, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. In thinking about this, I realized that these three groups celebrated the holidays in very different fashions from each other.

Of the three groups, the "proper" English settlers who still held to the Church of England (the Episcopal Church, in America) celebrated the season in the way that would look the most familiar to us today. The Christmas Season was a religious holiday first, but was also a time of family, decorations, and celebration. A good account of an 18th Century English Christmas can be found here. One interesting note is that for them, Christmas was the beginning of the holiday season, not the end. MCH Episcopalians would have gathered at St. James Church near Stanton to celebrate all of the holy days falling in the 40 day season of Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

John "The Boyne Water Major" Montgomery and Family

The property of John Montgomery
It's a frustrating truth that as much as I'd like to be able to tell the complete stories of the places and people of Mill Creek Hundred, there are some subjects that just refuse to be totally revealed. With a lot of families, for instance, I can trace them back just so far, then they become a confusing jumble. Of all the clans who have frustrated me in this way, few have done so as much as the Montgomerys. There were unquestionably Montgomery families who were prominent in MCH society in the 18th and 19th Centuries, but there is precious little information about many of them, especially as you get deeper into history.

There was, for instance, an Alexander Montgomery who ran the Rising Son tavern in Stanton in the early days. There was also an Alexander who co-founded the first mill in Milltown in 1747. They may or may not have been the same person. A Samuel Montgomery purchased land from the Robinsons near Milltown in 1766, and William Montgomery built the house that still stands along Old Limestone Road, over 200 years ago. Again, these men may or may not (I think they probably were) have been related -- there's just no good data I've come across yet to make a firm connection.

Although all of these Montgomerys deserve to have their tales told (and hopefully I'll be able to do that someday), right now I'd like to focus on a different (and apparently unrelated) branch of the clan. This line of the family has its own rich heritage, and thanks to some typically fabulous work by old deed-miner extraordinaire Walt Chiquoine, we have a pretty decent grasp on who they were and where they lived. And as a bonus, I hope to have an interesting follow-up to this story sometime in the near future.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Couple New Picture Additions to the Collection

William "Dutch Billy" Losien, 1921
I was going to subtitle this "A Hick and a Brick", but decided that didn't sound very nice. Recently, two fellow history aficionados have been kind enough to allow me to post pictures of theirs on the blog, and I wanted to make sure that everyone got a chance to see them. They've been added to the appropriate original posts, but I wanted to make sure they didn't get lost in the shuffle. One image is an old (almost 100 years) photograph of an old man, while the other is a new image of an old artifact. Both are fascinating and I'm thrilled to be able to share them.

The first picture is one you might have seen alluded to in a comment recently, and it kind of blew my mind when I saw it. I honestly never even considered the possibility that we might one day have a photograph of this man, but here we are. The picture was taken near Pleasant Hill (south of Corner Ketch) in 1921, and comes to us from Rob Hobdell, the grandson of the original photographer.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Hanna Family

The Hanna Family, c.1910
On a number of occasions here I've talked about the possibilities and excitement of finding heretofore unseen-by-the-public historical photographs from the area. I know there have to be a good number of them out there, and it's a thrill to be able to find them and share them with people who'll enjoy seeing them. There's only one little problem -- they often come with less than complete documentation.

If we're really lucky, the photo will come with good information as to who or what is shown. A lot of times, though, the accompanying information can be frustratingly sparse. It might give the general location of a house, but not the exact location. Or we might know what family the subject of a photograph is from, but not exactly (for sure) who they are.

These are the issues I ran into with a couple of pictures sent to me a while back by Donna Peters. There's a photograph of an old house, and one of four people (and a dog) on what's obviously the porch of that house. We knew that they belonged to the Hanna family, but, initially, not much more than that. After going around and around for a while (and thoroughly confusing myself in the process, not that that's a high bar), and with the last-minute help of a few additional pictures, I'm confident that I know who the people are. The house, though, is a different matter. We'll get to that in a moment, but first, the people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Magical 1948 Map

Lower left quadrant of 1948 map
Of all the resources I've found for use while researching Mill Creek Hundred history, some of the most useful have been maps. The first one of these I found was the 1868 Beers map (found at the upper right of the page), and it's no exaggeration to say that none of the rest of this would be here without it. There are a few other 19th Century maps that have been very helpful, but very little from the 20th Century. I have a 1904 topographic map, but it doesn't have any names on it like the older ones do. Most of what you'd get are just road maps, and not very detailed at that.

The two exceptions to this that I've come across are the circa 1941 New Castle County Bus Map and the 1948 map shown here. This is actually only a quarter of the entire map, the lower left quadrant to be exact, it doesn't have names of property owners like the earlier ones, but there are several things on and about it that make it interesting enough to take a closer look at.

First of all, it comes from a transitional time in the history of Mill Creek Hundred (and the rest of the Wilmington suburbs, for that matter). 1948 was right near the beginning of the post-war suburban expansion in MCH, and the map reflects that. There are a few new developments shown (Kiamensi Gardens, for example), but not many. You can see the suburbs expanding out of Newport and Elsmere, but for the most part things are pretty clear west of the Red Clay.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mitchell Station -- Part 2

In the last post, Guest Blogger SteamCarriage mentioned an odd artifact found in the fields of Jim Mitchell's Woodside Farm southwest of Hockessin, with the date of 1892 on it. He gave us an excellent background on the creation and evolution of Delaware's (and Mill Creek Hundred's) unique, curved northern border. In this post, SteamCarriage will delve deeper into the events of 1892, and explain exactly how this MCH hill was used. Now, the exciting conclusion of  Mitchell Station...


--Researched and written by SteamCarriage

Stone found in the fields of Woodside
United States Coast and Geodetic Survey
It took nearly 40 more years before another Commission sought out the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (an early version of the US Geological Survey) to resolve the matter.  The Survey appointed William Chandler Hodgkins to lead the project.  The United States Coast and Geodetic Survey published a very detailed report titled “A Historical Account of the Boundary Line between the States of Pennsylvania and Delaware” by W.C. Hodgkins, dated December 1, 1893.   The 52-page report is available online through Google Books and well worth the read for anyone wanting to know the particulars of the survey.  It is part of the Report of the Superintendent of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893 (in two parts).

After initial field work, Hodgkins discovered two circles would best define the northern border between Delaware and Pennsylvania and he proposed a solution to the Commission.  They accepted Hodgkins’ analysis and he completed the official boundary survey in 1892-1893 defining the eastern arc boundary of Delaware and Pennsylvania along with the intersection of the Delaware-Maryland border.  The Wedge became part of Delaware and the Delaware-Pennsylvania arc border is a complex arc defined by two different radius arcs with neither center point at the New Castle Court House (but very close).