|The Aquila Derickson House|
The property on which the house sits was owned, like much of the surrounding land, by John Ball early in the 18th Century. (Ball's home was the original section of the McKennan-Klair House, just down the road.) About mid-century this part of Ball's tract was sold to Charles Williams (1711-1799), then in 1795 to Joseph Burns (1746-1817). Burns (or, Burn) was a lawyer, and at one time, a Justice of the Peace. Although I have not seen them, early 19th Century maps reportedly show Burns' house as being in approximately the same location as Aquila Derickson's later home. Burns' house was originally a log one that may have later been replaced with a frame structure. The property eventually ended up in the hands of Benjamin Springer (1760-1842), probably not long after Burns' death in 1817. Two years after Springer's passing, this tract and an adjacent one were purchased by Aquila Derickson, the grandson of one of the early Swedish settlers of New Castle County.
The record doesn't indicate what, if anything, was standing on the property when it was purchased by Aquila Derickson (1809-1881) and his wife Margaret (1810-1892). [Incidentally, depending on where you look, his name is alternately spelled with one or two L's, and one or two R's. His headstone has one of each, so that's the spelling I'm going with.] It doesn't appear that Benjamin Springer lived here -- I believe he resided in a house at what is now at the corner of New Linden Hill Road and Skyline Drive. It's possible that if a house did still stand on Limestone Road by the 1840's, it was used as a tenement house. In any case, when Derickson bought his part of the Springer estate (here is the decision of an 1848 court case regarding a right of way from Limestone Road to the Springer farm, through Derickson's property -- Linden Hill Road did not yet exist), he quickly set about erecting a new home for himself and his family.
The home Derickson built in 1846 is at once both similar to many of its contemporaries, and different enough to make it, I think, unique in this area. It is a 2-1/2 story home, built of stucco-covered fieldstone, that at first glance appears to be much like the other Georgian-style homes in the area dating from the first half of the 19th Century. However, where a typical Georgian-style house would have an odd number of symmetrical bays (usually 3 or five), Derickson's has six. Within those six are a pair of entrances, centered in the middle two bays. This seems to be the result of a mix between the traditional Georgian "I" house plan, and the older "continental" plan, which was usually a three-bay, side-passage design. It almost seems like Derickson took two continental plan homes and stuck them together to create a larger house more in-line with Georgian ideals. Later, two additions were built onto the rear of the house -- a 2 1/2 story stone ell on the north end, and a 1 1/2 story frame section on the rear of that.
|North rear of Derickson House, showing additions|
The Dericksons had 11 children in all, but only four survived past early adulthood. Three of those were sons, and they all eventually settled in homes on land originally owned by their father. The eldest son, Joseph (1833-1898), moved into a now-gone house across the road from his father. It sat towards the end of what is now (go figure) Derickson Drive. The next son was Calvin (1844-1900), and it was he who stayed in the family home after Aquila's death. There doesn't seem to be any indication of this anywhere, but I would speculate that he also built the ell onto the north end of the rear of the house. Both Joseph and Calvin were involved at one time with the Spring Grove textile mill, which sat on Mill Creek near the foot of Stoney Batter Road.
The youngest son, Bayard (1846-1904), resided in a house just south of Old Linden Hill Road. It appears, without a name, on an 1849 map, so this was likely a farmhouse associated with one of the tracts Aquila purchased in the early 1840's. It may have been the Williams or McDonald farm referenced in the right of way case. As best as I can tell, it sat about where the gravel parking lot for Carousel Park is now. Although the Derickson family once owned numerous structures in the area (including a barn, dating from the Burns ownership, that sat where New Linden Hill Road now meets Limestone Road), the only one remaining is Aquila's beautiful and unique house. Thankfully this one still stands as a reminder of this once important family.