|David Eastburn House|
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 E. 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.
For more than half his life, it appears that David kept the family home on Paper Mill Road as his primary residence. He did own some other properties, including the England (Red) Mill from 1836 until 1870 as well as another house further up Polly Drummond Hill Road, but both the 1840 and 1850 censuses list him in the family home with his mother. One reason why it was sensible for him to remain "at home" was that he was a bachelor during this time. That changed in April 1857, when David married Tacy J. Hallowell at the Abington Meeting near her home in Montgomery County, PA. Although the two married fairly late in life (he was 46 and she 44), they would remain together for the rest of their lives, and would enjoy almost 35 years together. Not surprisingly, they had no children.
|David E. Eastburn, probably prior to marriage|
|The house in 1986, before front addition|
|The barn in 1986, part of a working farm|
|What remains of the barn today|
|18th Century Tenant House|
This then leads us to what is certainly the oldest remaining structure on the site -- the one and a half story stone tenant house that sits about 200 feet southeast of the barn. Little is known about this house, except that it almost certainly dates to at least the 18th Century. In fact, this Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) entry states that the left end of the house may date back as far as the 17th Century. If so, that would make it one of the oldest remaining structures in Mill Creek Hundred. Clearly, more research is needed to illuminate the early history of this property.
|An older David E. Eastburn|
Wilmer was the son of Samuel and Rachel Elizabeth Eastburn Fell. His mother, who went by Elizabeth, was the daughter of Amos Eastburn, David's brother. Censuses from 1900-1930 all show Wilmer living in the area, so it seems he did stay on David's farm. Since David and Tacy had no children of their own, it makes sense that the property would go next to a family member who was intimately familiar with it. Although it's possible that ownership went to someone else in the family, and that Wilmer stayed as a tenant farmer, my guess is that it passed from David to him. Either way, Wilmer remained there until his death in 1941.
It's likely that the next owner was the man who is listed as such in the 1986 National register report -- Harry Emerson Eastburn. Emerson, as he was known, was the great-grandson of Isaac Eastburn, another of David's brothers. It seems though that Emerson didn't actually live on the farm -- he lived near Mt. Cuba. The David Eastburn farm was a pretty long hold-out against the encroaching suburbia. It was a working farm up until the late 1980's, when Emerson finally sold it to a developer. The main house, tenant house, barn foundation, and a few late 19th/early 20th Century farm buildings were saved, but the rest of the property was developed. Thankfully, at least some of this historic property remains to remind us of the days when the Eastburns dominated this part of Mill Creek Hundred.
Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
- While the 1850 census clearly shows David in the same household with his mother and other family, the 1840 is a little tougher, since it was the last to list only the head of household by name. However, David is listed as the head of a household with well over ten people, including a woman in the 50-60 age group that has to be his mother Elizabeth.
- The Quaker influence on architecture in the area is something I've thought about before. I've always thought that that's the reason why there were so few big, flashy houses in the Wilmington and New Castle County area. Many of the older houses are beautiful, but it's not until the Quaker influence starts to wane a bit in the later 1800's that some of the homes start to seem a bit showier.
- I just have to say that I love the house-matching birdhouse seen in the picture of the barn ruins. Classic
- At some point I hope to be able to learn more about the early history of the property, and about the tenant house specifically. Judging by the style, I have no doubt it dates to before 1800. The asymmetry of the windows suggests that it may have been built in more than one phase, which the HABS report agrees with. And though the HABS report has more detailed info about the layout and construction of the house, it doesn't have anything more than guesses about it's history.
- In case you didn't notice, or for those who can't follow the link, Wilmer Fell's obit was published on Sunday, December 7, 1941. On page 5 there's a story titled "Firm US Stand Seen Averting Pacific Conflict: Senators Claim Japs Will Not Force Issue". So I guess everything worked out OK, huh?
- Thanks go out to Donna Peters for the pictures of David Eastburn. I don't always have a lot of pictures to use in posts, especially not of individuals, so I wanted to use a lot in this one.