Monday, December 17, 2012

Brown's Track -- Forerunner to Delaware Park?

Sunday Morning Star, August 15, 1909
I know I've threatened before to put up "short" posts, only to have them end up being longer than I expected. This one, though, really will be short. I have nothing more than what I found, and a vague thought. What I found (while wandering through the old Sunday Morning Stars that are online) is the paragraph you see to the right. This appeared in the August 15, 1909 edition, at the bottom of a column reporting on horse races elsewhere in the state. What caught my eye, obviously, was the mention of Stanton.

I've never before seen a mention of a horse track in the area in the early 20th Century. I've also not yet found any more information about this, but from the listing of Stanton and the name Brown, I have to guess that this is connected to the Brown family highlighted in the post about The Farmhouse. *(See below) James Brown, the brother of John who lived in the Farmhouse property, owned the farm to the south, just below the B&O (now CSX) tracks. What I believe was his house is still standing, just off of one of the parking lots for Delaware Park.

That, of course, was the other thing that jumped out at me. If the "Brown's track" mentioned in the paper was on James Brown's property (and it does seem to have been), then it was basically where Delaware Park was built less than 30 years later. I don't know much about the history of Delaware Park, but I wonder if one of the reasons why it was placed there was because there was already a tradition of racing at the site? DP was the first "official" racetrack in the state, but horse racing had been popular for years, often at makeshift locations. Whatever Brown's track was, it was prominent enough that the newspaper noted upcoming races there. I hope at some point more can be found about the exact location and history of this sporting venue.

Updated 12/20/12:

From the Sunday Morning Star, May 9, 1909

After searching through some more newspapers of the time, I was able to find one more mention of the track. This one does mention James Brown by name, so that seems to solidify his connection. It also mentions the Stanton Driving Club, which was apparently an area group that likely created and maintained the track. The mention of a driving club seems to imply that the racing done here was some type of harness racing (so it may have been more like Brandywine Raceway that Delaware Park, at least in style). So add "The Stanton Driving Club" to the list of local mysteries (at least for now). The Delaware Horse Show Association, by the way, was a larger organization that held meets at the track at Wawaset Park, outside of Wilmington.

1 comment:

  1. I found another newspaper mention of the track, this time with James Brown's full name. I Feel Good (like I knew that I would). Sorry. Anyway, I've updated the post.

    Relatedly, I have a couple of other updates to do to other posts, which I hope to get done sometime in the next week. Keep an eye out for those. Both are to recent posts....