Friday, October 22, 2010

Forgotten Communities -- Loveville


Beers 1868 Map, with the Loveville area circled
 Whenever you're trying to tell the history or story of an area, whether it be a city, county, state, or a hundred, one of the most important aspects will always be the communities in that area. As you know, Delaware, unlike many states, is not carved up into countless towns, villages, and townships. In fact, Mill Creek Hundred does not currently contain any officially incorporated areas. Probably the closest we have to any towns now would be Hockessin and Marshallton, but in most areas residents would identify more with their neighborhood than with any nearby community. This, of course, was not always the case. Through the years, Mill Creek Hundred has been home to numerous small communities. Over time, most of these communities have faded from memory, their names kept alive in some cases only by road names or vague, general area designations. Some of these have been gone so long that it's hard to remember that they were at one time real places, populated by real people.

These communities usually sprung up around crossroads or large employers (mills or factories), and were often named for prominent local residents or businesses. Unfortunately, for many of these old communities there is precious little information available -- too little for a full post. So what I'd like to do is occasionally stop and take time to look at a couple of these communities, and pass along whatever information I can find about them. As always, if you or someone you know has any more information on the topic, I'd love to hear about it.

The first forgotten community I'd like to look at is one whose name is familiar to most only from the name of the road that once ran through it -- Loveville. The settlement got its name not from the kindness of its residents, but from the name of one -- Reverend Thomas Love. Rev. Love was the pastor of Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church from 1825-1862, and owned a farm on Lancaster Pike, just southeast of its intersection with Newport-Gap Pike. His house is still standing, and it and Rev. Love I'm sure will appear again in other posts. [He has. It's here.] There is evidence that the house served as a tavern in the early days of the turnpike, but that was certainly done by the time Rev. Love purchased the house in 1829. In either late 1830 or early 1831, Rev. Love was appointed postmaster of a new post office -- only the second one in MCH (the other being in Stanton). If I had to guess, I'd say the placement of the post office had more to do with its location on the Wilmington (Lancaster) Turnpike and the prominence of Rev. Love than it did with the size of the community. I also think it's reasonable to say that this is when "Loveville" was coined -- the post office had to have a name, so they named it after the postmaster.

Reverend Thomas Love
In a bit of serendipity, I was sent a copy of a letter by a reader while I was working on this post. The letter dates from 1850, and was written in Loveville. I'll have more about it in another post, but I think it sheds a bit of light on the area. As for the post office, evidence points to Rev. Love serving as postmaster until 1851, when Aaron Robinson built the other extant house in the area and took over as postmaster. This may not seem like a big deal, but as this 1851 listing shows, there were still only three other post offices in MCH at the time (Stanton, Pleasant Hill, and Mermaid). By 1868, as the Beers map shows, there was a post office in Hockessin, and I think that one eventually pushed out Loveville's. On a map from 1881, there is no post office is listed for Loveville.

Loveville never grew large or dense enough to gain the necessary momentum to achieve town status. Mostly, it was just an area with a few services in it. Its listing in this 1874 state directory details the craftsmen and services in "the village", but it makes it seem more impressive than it really is, since it includes a fairly wide area, including neighboring Brackenville. However, it does give an insight into who was there at the time, and it does confirm there was still a post office in 1874. Eventually, Loveville was bypassed by larger roads and an evolving region, and ceased being a distinct community. Now, about the only reminder of this forgotten community is the road that bears its name.

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