Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The David Eastburn Farm

David Eastburn House
Author's note: This was the original post about the David Eastburn farm. For a much more detailed history of the property itself, a follow-up post can be found here.

It's been a while since we've focused directly on the Eastburn family (although it's hard to stay more than two or three steps away from them), so we'll now return to northern Mill Creek Hundred and take a look at a farm anchored by a mid-19th Century home, but with elements a good deal older than that. I started thinking about this property while revisiting the Josiah Hulett House recently. While there are not too many examples in the area of the mid-century architectural styles that featured square-shaped houses, the David Eastburn house is a good one. Located on the northeast side of Corner Ketch Road, partway between Paper Mill Road and Doe Run Road, the farm dates back to the time when the Eastburns were the preeminent family in the area.

Although there are older structures extant on the property, the Italianate Style (as best as I can determine) house was built in the mid 1850's by David Jeanes Eastburn (1811-1899), probably at the time of his marriage in 1857. David was the seventh child (of fourteen!) of David and Elizabeth Jeanes Eastburn. The elder David was, along with brother-in-law Abel Jeanes, the co-founder of the Eastburn-Jeanes Lime Kiln business. After the younger David's father died when he was only 13, he, like most of his siblings, stayed in the area to help run the family business and farm the surrounding land.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Stanton Hotel

The Stanton Hotel, c. 1900
A while back, we looked at the hotel that, during its time, was usually looked upon as the "main" hotel in Stanton -- The Riseing Sun. And while it was likely the site of the first hotel/tavern/inn in Stanton, it was not the only one in town. Across the street from the Riseing Sun, operating for almost 100 years, was another hotel, whose memory -- and whose very name -- has almost been lost to history. Whereas there's been a decent bit written about the Riseing Sun, the Stanton Hotel has been nearly forgotten. To be honest, I wasn't really able to find to much more than some basic facts, and a long list of probable proprietors.

The hotel (or much more likely, hotels) sat on the northeast corner of Limestone Road and Main Street in Stanton, next to where the palm reader is now. I believe it was probably centered right about where the sign is in the grass on the corner. Although this fact is only ever alluded to as far as I can tell, it seems as if there were two different structures that served as the hotel over the years, and only vague references as to when the old one was razed and the new one built. It's not even clear who actually owned the property. And to make things even more confusing, for much of its history the hotel seems to have been operated by a long list of different proprietors. Seriously -- everywhere I look, there is a different list of operators, with almost no overlap of names.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Josiah G. Hulett's House -- Found

Josiah Hulett's old house, 1939
Over the summer, I did a post about Josiah G. Hulett which included information about a house that he and his family resided in for about ten or fifteen years. Thanks to Josiah's great-granddaughter, Jeanne Jackson Dell’Acqua, we knew a little about the house, but not everything. Jeanne was fairly sure that the house stood somewhere near (or most likely, on) the Hercules property off of Lancaster Pike and Hercules Road, but we didn't know for sure exactly what its location was. Now, we do. It was exactly where I thought it was -- I just couldn't find any proof until now.

The picture above is a close-up of an aerial photo taken in 1939 by the Dallin Aerial Survey Company, many of whose pictures can be found on the Hagley Museum website. Luckily for us, probably due to its connection with the DuPont Company, the site includes several pictures of the Hercules property dating to the late 1930's. Luckily, again, the pictures are of a fairly high resolution, which allows you to zoom in pretty tight. To refresh your memory, the picture below was the one of the house provided by Jeanne, and taken about 1920.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brandywine Springs Video

Over on DelawareOnline, there is a nice little video piece focusing on the Brandywine Springs Amusement Park. You can find the video here. The two men featured in the video, Mark Lawlor and Mike Ciosek, are without a doubt the two foremost experts on the park and its history. Lawlor is the author of the book Brandywine Springs Amusement Park: Echoes of the Past 1886-1923, which is the only comprehensive work on the history of the park (and an invaluable resource). In the early 1990's, spurred on by his research, Lawlor co-founded the Friends of Brandywine Springs with Mike Ciosek, who has served as its president for nearly 20 years. (Mike has also served, among other things, as the lead in all the archaeological digs at the park, and certainly knows more about how it was built than anyone else alive.)

I happen to know a good deal about the park myself, so if you have any questions about anything mentioned in the video (which can also be found after the jump), or about any of the wonderful pictures used, feel free to ask. Other than that, enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Curtis Paper Mill -- The Curtis Years

Curtis Paper Mill, 1880
 In the last post, we took a look at the early years of the paper mill on White Clay Creek just east of Newark, and followed it from its beginnings around 1789 to the departure of the Meeteer family in 1843. However, only those well-steeped in local lore are likely to know the site as Meeteer's Mill, or the Milford Paper Mill. That's because even though the mill seems to have been all but falling down in 1848, after the brief ownership of Joseph Perry, the site was far from finished. In fact, under the name of the new owners, the Curtis family, the site would continue to manufacture high-quality paper for almost another 150 years.

It's not known what drew Solomon Minot and George B. Curtis to Delaware, but the brothers from Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts must have seen the potential in the old Meeteer mill. If anyone could, it would be them. Minot (as he was known) and George were two of nine Curtis brothers in the papermaking business, all following their father. When they arrived, the brothers borrowed $7500 from their new Newark neighbors to purchase the mill at a sheriff's sale and almost completely rebuild it. The only salvageable pieces were the waterwheel and the papermaking machine. The following year, they borrowed another $3067 from a Philadelphia firm to install a more advanced papermaking machine. The brothers obviously knew their business, because within 10 years they had repaid their entire debt, an occasion they celebrated by throwing a dinner for their former creditors at the Washington House Hotel in Newark (later the site of the Stone Balloon, where I'm sure at least a few readers have also "celebrated", and now the Washington House Condos ).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Curtis Paper Mill -- The Meeteer Years

Curtis Paper Mill, c.1915
Way back, in one of the first posts on this site, we looked at the Meeteer House on Kirkwood Highway, just east of Newark. Now, we'll focus on the source of the Meeteer's wealth, briefly mentioned in the earlier post -- their paper mill. First built during the early years of our nation, rebuilt twice and upgraded numerous times over the years, high-quality paper was produced at this site almost continuously for over two hundred years. When production finally ceased here in 1997, the Curtis mill was the oldest operating paper mill in the country -- and that was the one built halfway through the site's history!

Although the final years of the mill are well-documented and remembered, the details of its beginnings are a bit hazier. What we do know is that in 1789, Thomas Meeteer of Birmingham Township, PA purchased land on the east and north sides of White Clay Creek from Samuel Painter, Jr. Though there are no direct references to a paper mill being present then, the deed does apparently reference "Edward Meter's mill dam". What Edward's relationship to Thomas was and kind of a mill he had are unclear.*[Update below] Assuming there was not one there already, Thomas Meeteer likely erected his paper mill very soon after acquiring the site, although the first known reference to it wasn't until 1798.