|Lynam House at the Smithsonian|
The house that would eventually bear the Lynam name was first occupied by a member of another of the old Swedish families in Delaware, the Springers. In 1762, a tract of land on the west side of Milltown, part of which is now occupied by John Dickinson High School, was bought by Charles Springer (1728-1814), whose grandfather had come to Delaware in 1685*. Charles married Ann Ogle in 1752, and the couple had five children. He was born in Christiana Hundred, but presumably they moved to Milltown in 1762 when he bought the land along Mill Creek. By 1785, at least part of this tract was likely being worked by Charles' youngest son, Thomas Springer (1763-1804), as he appears in tax records for that year.
In 1787, Charles remarried (presumably, Ann had died), to Elizabeth Rice, the widow of prominent landowner and attorney Evan Rice. It seems that Charles may have gone to live in Elizabeth's larger house, because in 1788, Thomas bought several smaller pieces of land adjoining his own. In 1790, Charles sold a portion of his tract (I believe this was the part south of Milltown Road, later to be owned by the Lindells) to a millwright, and two years later sold the remainder to Thomas. In the 1792 deed, it's noted that Thomas was already living on the property.
There is nothing on or in the small 20 foot x 23 foot log house that indicates when it was built, but the prevailing opinion is that it was erected by Thomas Springer, sometime between 1785 and 1792. I suppose it's possible that it was built earlier by Charles, but Thomas is usually credited with its construction. Thomas remained in the house until his death in 1804. He had only two minor daughters, so after his death his belongings (including four slaves) were divided up and much of it was sold. The following year, the property (148 acres) and the house were sold at auction for $4658 to a 32-year old Quaker from Pennsylvania -- David Eastburn.
In most accounts of the history of the Eastburns, David's tenure at Milltown is usually glossed over pretty quickly, as he only spent about ten years (maybe less) here before purchasing a farm adjacent to his brother-in-law near Pike Creek. Almost never (at least that I could find), is it clarified exactly where he settled for that decade. Luckily, local researcher and Eastburn descendant Donna Peters happened to note one throw-away line in a book that mentioned that it was the Thomas Springer property that was, in fact, purchased by David Eastburn. Now we know that before heading over to start his lime-burning business, the Eastburns settled here, in Thomas Springer's house. In fact, going by the dates, it seems that five or six of their fourteen children were probably born here.
|1817 newspaper ad for Eastburn's Milltown property|
Eventually, though, the Eastburns did move out, sometime around 1815. It seems that for several years, Eastburn retained ownership of the property, renting it out to a tenant farmer. In the book Donna found, it states that after buying the property, "Within a few years, he rented it out to a tenant farmer." This could mean one of two things. It could mean that the Eastburns did only live here a few years, and lived somewhere else between here and Pike Creek. Or, as I think, the "few years" refers to the full decade or so they were in MCH before moving to the Lime Kiln District. In this scenario, they did still leave the farm at least three or four years before they sold it. The above ad from 1817 shows they were attempting to sell it by then.*
Eastburn did finally sell the house and land in 1819, to a man named Francis Denny. Although he owned the property for almost thirty years, I'm unable to find very much about him. I don't even know for sure whether he lived there or not. The only other references I can find, show that he (or someone of the same name) owned the lot on the southwest corner of the crossroads in Stanton. I think it's very possible that he used the Milltown farm as a rental property. Denny died sometime prior to 1847, and in 1848 the little house and its farm were sold again. This time, it would remain in the same family for the next 110 years.
The new owners of the property in 1848 were Robert Thomas Lynam (1822-1888?) and his young wife, Mary Jane (Medill) Lynam (1832-1916). Although the Lynams (like the Springers, members of one of the old Swedish families) may have lived in the old log house for a time after they first bought the farm, they probably didn't live there for long. They soon built (I'm not sure exactly when) a larger home for themselves, and used the older house for their farm laborers. The newer, brick Lynam House still stands on Milltown Road, just west of the entrance to Dickinson High School.
The log house underwent several upgrades over the years, enlarging it from its original one room, one story configuration. Robert Lynam added an upstairs bedroom, as well as a kitchen. Later, his son and grandson would add electricity and plumbing. In addition to enlarging the old log house, Lynam also enlarged his holdings. In the late 1870's, he purchased the property south of Milltown Road, which would later be sold to the Lindells, probably for the use of his older son, Robinson. Interestingly, in doing this, he more or less reformed the original tract of Charles Springer.
|Lynam Log House, as it was being disassembled in 1958|
The property north of the the road eventually went to Robert's second son, Lewis H. Lynam (1855-1938). Again, Lewis, and later his son, Henry Clifford Lynam used the old house as a tenant property, but it was inhabited up until the land was sold in 1958. That year, H.C. Lynam sold his farm to the Conrad School District for the construction of a new high school. When crews arrived to begin building John Dickinson High School, they found the little old log house. Someone contacted the Smithsonian, and in late 1958 it was dismantled and sent to Washington for use in the museum.
|Page from the Feb 1959 issue of the Conrad HS newsletter|
|Aerial view, 1937|