|Possible Ruins of William Brackin's Barn|
As was mentioned in the first of these posts (about Loveville), Mill Creek Hundred, like most of Delaware (or at least, New Castle County), does not have a lot of officially recognized communities, like towns, townships, or boroughs. Instead, there have been a few "larger" groupings -- like Stanton, Marshallton, and Hockessin -- and a lot of smaller communities, most lost to time in all but name. These small hamlets usually grew up around a mill or factory, a crossroads, or, like Brackinville, a tavern or hotel. This particular hotel, of course, was operated by the Brackins for almost 50 years. During its lifespan several other related buildings and several homes sprung up in the area, enough that the area was referred to as "Brackinville". Now, all that's left of this quiet little hamlet (besides the road of the same name) is one house and the remains of a barn.
You can't talk about Brackinville without first talking about the Brackin family (or at least, I'm not going to. see * below). The first of the Brackins to come to America was William Brackin (1671-1749), who arrived in Philadelphia in 1699. He soon settled in MCH, records indicating he was in the area by at least July 1702. Of the seven adult children William and his wife Hannah raised, most ended up moving out of the area. One went to York County, PA, but most moved to North Carolina, apparently to the same area as the Hadleys and Dixons. Of the three sons, the only one who remained in MCH was Henry (1704-1779), who had at least two sons of his own, William (?-1792) and Henry (?-1813). In the 1804 tax assessment, a Henry Brackin is listed as having a grist and saw mill. This is likely Henry, Jr., grandson of the first William.
From the available evidence, it seems that Henry's home (and maybe the original home of William Brackin) was on the north side of Stoney Batter Road, just west of Middleton Drive. Although Henry had eight children, it seems that the line we're interested in came from his brother William, who lived somewhere nearby. William and his wife, Sarah, had a son named John Brackin (1758-1792). John lived on and worked a farm on Limestone Road -- where, I don't know. He served as a private in the Revolutionary War, and came to an untimely end in a farm accident in 1792. Before passing, though, he and wife Elizabeth had several children, including sons Benjamin and William. Benjamin (1790-1862) later moved to Wilmington, where, among other things, he ran the Washington House Hotel for a time.
John's other son, William Brackin (1788-1859), is the one who finally ties us into Brackinville. In 1809, William purchased a farm north and east of his family's holdings, along the road running from Wilmington to Lancaster. He farmed his new land for almost ten years until he entered into another venture, which he would run for the remainder of his life. (He also served as a private in the War of 1812 during those years.) In 1818, spurred by the opening of the Wilmington Turnpike (today's Lancaster Pike) the same year, William Brackin open a hotel which he named the "Peace and Plenty". The hotel stood on the northwest corner of Old Lancaster Pike and Brackenville Road, and was torn down sometime before 1937. It's interesting to speculate as to whether or not this was Brackin's plan from the start. The Wilmington Turnpike Company was formed in 1809, the same year Brackin bought his new property. Also, there was a John Bracken who ran the Mermaid Tavern around 1800, so he may have been exposed to the idea then. (This John Bracken was not his father, but might have been his uncle, the son of Henry, Jr.)
As happened around the Mermaid (and countless other taverns/inns/hotels), several other businesses and a small community sprung up. A wheelwright shop and a blacksmith shop were built on the south side of Brackenville Road, to service the wagons and horses passing by on the turnpike and lodging at the hotel. Cattycorner from the hotel stands the only complete structure remaining -- the house of Thomas J. Chandler. I don't know more about this house at this time, except that Chandler lived there for many years and was the father of Dr. Swithin Chandler. Also, there was an Odd Fellows Hall that stood just north of the intersection. (Here is the official incorporation of the lodge, then located at the Peace and Plenty.) In fact, the Hockessin Methodist Church first met in the wheelwrights shop in 1881, then moved for a short time to the Odd Fellows Hall, before building their own church in 1883. (However, the church's website says they first met in the blacksmith's shop, then moved to the hotel. The picture they have is of the Chandler house, not the hotel.)
|Headstone of William Brackin and son Richard. St. James Church|
* I'll say up front that this post may seem a little disjointed, and in fact, it took me a while to decide how to write it. I started by researching the Bracken family, which turned out to be fruitful, and difficult. Fruitful in that I found a lot of information, difficult because of the family. First, the name is spelled in various places as, Bracken, Brackin, Brochon, Brachen, or several other variations. The most common spelling ended up being Bracken, but since Henry Jr. and his family used the Brackin spelling, so have I. Second, the family really liked a small handfull of names, like William, Henry, and John. It makes it hard sometimes to keep the different lines separated. Since I had just done the Justis family post, I hesitated to center this one solely on the family again. However, there isn't much information about the hotel or the community, either. So, I decided to do it as a "Forgotten Community" post, but using much of the Brackin family history I found. Frankly, I just didn't want to waste it.