Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Josiah G. Hulett

Josiah G. Hulett
 This is another one of those posts that I originally had no intention of writing, but I eventually was given and came across so much information -- and interesting information -- that now I feel I have to. This is very much related to the post about the Bailey family, and most of the information for it came from Jeanne Jackson Dell'Acqua, a descendant of both families (Josiah is her great-grandfather). She's been researching her ancestry for almost 30 years, and has found quite a bit of fascinating information, much of which directly relates to the history of Mill Creek Hundred. She's been kind enough to share her findings with us, and through them, will allow us here to get to know a little about a very interesting 19th Century resident of the hundred, Josiah G. Hulett.

Josiah Garrett Hulett was born on April 9, 1839 to William Hulett (1790-1850) and Martha Bailey Hulett (1805-1877). Martha was the sister of John and James Bailey, and the daughter of Amor Bailey. Although it's hard to pin down the exact location, census records hint that William Hulett's farm may have been on Yorklyn road, not far east of the Hockessin Friends Meeting House. William and Martha had five children before William's death in 1850. After his death, Martha was unable to keep the farm, having only small children. As many do, she turned to her family for help. The Huletts went then to live with Martha's brothers, the Baileys. They split between the brothers, and Josiah ended up with James Bailey. (Although to be fair, they were on neighboring farms, so the family wasn't actually very "split up". The arrangement was probably just more practical from a living space standpoint.)

Sometime during the 1860’s In about March 1859 (as this entry in "The American Farmer" shows), Martha and her family got back on their feet, and purchased a farm on Old Wilmington Road, near Loveville. The 78 acre farm was acquired from Benjamin Armstrong (who was moving to Virginia) for $80 per acre. This house (shown on the 1868 map just above “Loveville P.O.”, listed as Mrs. Hewlett) still stands, and is located adjacent to Cokesbury Village retirement community. Around this same time, Josiah was attending the Media Classical Institute, a private Presbyterian school in Media, PA. In addition to studying the classics like Greek, it seems that Josiah also became interested in the field of education. At some point, very possibly about 1857, he began teaching at the Oak Hill School, located in Christiana Hundred on Lancaster Pike (Jeanne has the gavel and hand-held bell he used while there). The exact dates of his tenure at Oak Hill are unknown, but it may have even overlapped with the next exciting, albeit short-lived, chapter in Josiah Hulett’s life.

In the summer of 1864, Confederate Gen. Jubal Early led a series of raids into Union-held Maryland, even reaching the outskirts of Washington, DC. In response to this, and the fear of more raids deeper into the North, a number of emergency units were formed to defend northern Maryland. One of these was the 2nd DE Cavalry, commonly known as Milligan’s Independent Cavalry. In mid-July, Josiah and his horse, Phil, enlisted for a 30 day stint in the cavalry. They saw no combat, but did patrol a wide area, ranging from Wilmington, to Baltimore, to Westminster, MD. After mustering out in August, Josiah and Phil returned home, and in a few years, he would start a family of his own (Josiah, not Phil. Maybe Phil did, too – I don’t know).

Margaret Stotsenburg Hulett

In 1870, Josiah married Margaret Bailey Stotsenburg (1853-1921), who after being orphaned in 1866 had become a ward of Samuel A. Bailey, living in the same house where Josiah had lived after his own father had died. On the 1870 census, Josiah and Margaret are shown on their own farm, on or near Limestone Road between Brackenville Road and Valley Road. By 1880, though, they had moved, and thus brings us to the biggest unsolved mystery in the story. Although he is not listed on the 1881 map, the 1880 census seems to indicate that Josiah, Margaret, and their family were living on a farm in the vicinity of the Bailey family, and the present-day Hercules property. It has been passed down in Jeanne’s family that the farm was eventually sold to Hercules, and that it was near the Baileys, so this seems to fit. We even have a picture of the house in 1920, but it’s unknown exactly where the house was located, or when it was torn down. If any older reader recalls seeing this house near the Hercules/Lancaster Pike area, please let us know.

Josiah Hulett's House near Wooddale, 1920
While living in the area, both Josiah and Margaret were actively involved with Red Clay Presbyterian Church – he was the director of the choir, and she was the organist. About 1887, Josiah retired from farming and moved his family to Wilmington, where he worked first as a bookkeeper, and later as a salesman selling farm implements. He continued to work closely with his new churches in the city, first with Hanover Presbyterian and later with Olivet, where he eventually became an elder. According to a family story, Josiah went to services without an overcoat one particularly warm December day in 1919, contracted pneumonia, and passed away a short time later. He was interred at Red Clay Presbyterian, as is most of his family.

Josiah Garrett Hulett
Josiah G. Hulett is not someone you’re likely to come across in any history book, but it was people like him and his family that are the real story of Mill Creek Hundred. And thanks to Jeanne Jackson Dell’Acqua, her family, and her years of research, we have an opportunity to get to know them a bit. I’ll also mention again that if anyone has any idea where the house shown in the picture above was located, Jeanne would be very happy to know. Her grandmother, Josiah’s daughter Ethel, though whom much of the information and artifacts came, was born in this house in 1881. I hope someday we are able to pin down the location of the home of this farmer, educator, cavalryman, salesman, and family man.

Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
  • William Hulett was obviously a Quaker, since he is buried in the cemetery at the Hockessin Friends Meeting. Martha's family, the Baileys, were Presbyterian.
  • I can't verify it, but Cokesbury Village may actually sit on land once owned by Martha Hulett.
  • It's interesting that both William and Josiah married women much younger than themselves -- 15 and 14 years.
  • Margaret Stotsenburg became a ward of Samuel Bailey because he was her cousin. Their mothers were sisters.
  • Another story in Jeanne's family states that there is a family house that was lost beneath Hoopes Reservoir. While it’s possible, I don’t think that it was this house.


  1. I made a slight edit to the post reflecting information I found regarding the purchase of the farm near Loveville. It shows the approximate date of the sale, as well as the price paid.

    1. Scott, The farmhouse owned by Martha Hulett on Old Wilmington Road later became the scene of the famous "Hockessin Ax Murder", in 1992 I believe. The killer was put to death just last year.

    2. I was not aware of that before, but with a quick look I'm pretty sure you're right.