Sunday, November 25, 2012

Updates and a Bit of Housekeeping

Just a couple of things I wanted to address quickly. First of all, I am aware that the recent comments feature on the sidebar has not been working for the past week or so. Unfortunately this is a third-party gadget, and there appears to be some sort of an issue with it currently. Since this isn't exactly a current events blog (actually, pretty much the opposite), there can be comments made at any time on any of the 180+ posts on here. For this reason, I know the recent comments feature is an important way to keep up with any new information coming into the blog. Because of that, until the gadget is fixed (which hopefully will be soon, since there's no other decent alternative), I'll try to add any new comments here on this post.

Secondly, for those who haven't checked it out yet, I did come up with a new feature for the MCH History Blog Facebook page. Twice, so far, I've posted a This Day in Mill Creek Hundred History feature. While I don't have enough stuff to do this every day, I hope to have something to put up at least a couple times a week. If the item of the day is connected to a past blog post, I'll provide a link to the post. Unless I'm mistaken, everyone should be able to view the Facebook page, whether or not you have a FB page of your own. If you do have your own page, you can comment on the MCH FB page and/or "Like" it, too.

Finally, you may or may not have noticed, but the little counter at the bottom of the page recently passed 25,000 visits to the blog. Now, I realize that not every one of those visits was someone coming here intentionally to read, but on the other hand that count doesn't go all the way back to the beginning of the blog, either. Any way you look at it, 25,000 visits is an arbitrary number for sure, but just as good a reason as any for stopping to say, "Thanks". My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who has contributed to, commented on, or just stopped by to read the blog. It makes it a lot easier and more fun to do this knowing there are others who enjoy this stuff, too. Thanks.

Recent Comments:

Gail Riblett December 4, 2012 6:53 PM

Harry Riblett is my Dad. He is a published author and consultant on airfoil design. He and his brothers are pilots by hobby. I can remember my Uncle Richie landing helicopters...

Anonymous December 4, 2012 11:11 AM

Interesting. As a Dempsey, it is very interesting to learn the history.

Larry T November 27, 2012 7:35 PM
I also grew up in Sherwood 2, I must be older than Vic C. The property on both sides of McKennans used to be state property/ prison farm. After closing the prison farm, the state sold...
Scott P November 27, 2012 10:07 AM
Thanks, Vic. Good to know. So unless the house was small and overgrown, then it sounds like the barn lasted longer than the house did. In either case, it...
Anonymous November 26, 2012 12:45 PM
I grew up in Sherwood Park II. I don’t remember the house but I do recall an old barn back there. Older kids would go there to smoke. We roamed about the overgrown fields quite often. It was...
Anonymous November 24, 2012 12:02 PM
I have been miss spelling the last name. But, when you said the sons name was Francis X. that but a chill down my back. My time with them was from 45-50. What is the Cedars? They moved....
My mistake - this information pertains to the Old Stone Hotel in Stanton.
I knew the clowns, or the group, that burned the barn down and it was in the mid 1980s
From the picture of the lane leading to the former site of the Foote house, one might speculate that a spring house also may have been located nearby. The headwater...
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FootePrints in Mill Creek Hundred

The So-Called (by me) 25 Foote Road
Originally this was supposed to be a very short post answering a simple question and revealing the historical background of a small road-related anomaly I had always wondered about. I happened to stumble upon the answer one day, so I thought I'd write a quick post. The more I dug into the answer, though, the more complicated (and interesting) the associated family became. What started as one site turned into three, all in different branches of the same family. The tricky part came in trying to sort out -- and tie together -- these separate branches. I think I've done a decent job of it now, with the only major speculation confined back to an early generation in the 18th Century. As with all posts, I'd welcome any more information that anyone might have.

The gateway into this whole topic was the small piece of roadway you see above. Many of you probably recognize it --it's on McKennan's Church Road, at the southern end of the Delcastle Recreation Area by the soccer field. During games, there are often cars parked here. It always seemed odd to me, somewhere between the start of a road never built and the beginning of a parking lot never realized. It wasn't until I looked at the old aerial photographs (in conjunction with the old maps) that it occurred to me what it was, although some more "veteran" locals might already know. It was the end of a driveway that led back to an old house! I knew that there was a house there, I just hadn't realized it remained so long, well past when Sherwood Park was built next to it. As the old maps tell us, the house belonged to the Foote* family, leading me to refer to this anomaly as The 25 Foote Road. (That was also an alternate title for the post. Others included "Foote Notes" and "The Post is aFoote!". A truly puntastic name in the wrong hands. Sorry. I'm done.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

MCH History Blog on Facebook

For what it's worth, I finally got around to setting up a Facebook page for the blog. I'm not really sure exactly how I'll use it just yet. Certainly I'll post on there whenever a new post goes up on the blog. I might also add additional content, like some pictures that didn't get into the blog posts. I could also put requests on there if there's specific information that I'm looking for. Maybe intermediate status updates on posts, too.

In any case, maybe it'll make it a little easier for interested people to find the blog. Please feel free to share it, or like it, or comment on it, or whatever the deuce people do with these things. As much as I'm comfortable with blogging and the internet in general, Facebook is new to me, and I'm still trying to figure the dang thing out. Anyway, something new. Yea!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Diamond State Land Development Company

Map from the Diamond State Land Development Company
In the last post, we took a look at Hockessin's John G. Jackson (1818-1897), a man of varying interests who became involved in quite a number of different fields and businesses during his lifetime. One particular venture, though, was only very briefly mentioned in passing. It's something I'm sad to say I don't really have a whole lot of information about, but it interested me enough that I thought it merited its own post. In fact, most of what I know came from just one picture and its associated caption, included in Joseph Lake's wonderful 1976 book Hockessin: A Pictorial History. (Seriously, it's a great book. If you ever see it anywhere, get it.) Probably the biggest reason there's not a lot of information about the venture is that it never got very far off the ground, or past the planning stage. Still, there are a few vestiges of it remaining today, if you know where to look.

The business venture in question was called the Diamond State Land Development Company, and Lake tells us that it was a joint venture between the Jackson and Mitchell families in 1880. I'm not sure exactly who all was involved, but I'm confident that the main players were John G. Jackson and John Mitchell. As detailed in the post about Mitchell, he had already bought, renovated, and resold a number of properties by then (sort like a 19th Century flipper), so real estate was familiar to him. By 1880, both men were 62 years old (they were the same age) and comfortably well-off. Both were raised with strong Quaker morals and both displayed those morals throughout their lives. As they approached their retirement years, it's not surprising that both men would be looking for a way to use their means and talents to better their community, and assist those less fortunate than themselves.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

John G. Jackson

John G. Jackson
In small rural towns and villages, it's probably cliche, but true, to say that pretty much everyone knows everyone else. I think to some extent 19th Century Mill Creek Hundred as a whole can be looked at in this way. With the myriad of familial ties running through it, I've often said that it can almost be thought of as a very spread out small town. This familiarity between residents only grows when you focus your view to an actual village and its surroundings. In this case, where almost no one is a stranger, there is often someone who seems to be even more well-known than everyone else. Over a period of about a half a century, that man in Hockessin was John G. Jackson. Joseph Lake called him "the most famous Victorian to live in Hockessin."

John G. Jackson* was a native son of Hockessin, born into one of the largest landowning families there at the time. He was born in 1818 in the Dixon-Jackson House, which his grandfather James Jackson had purchased in 1771. The child of Thomas (1777-1861) and Jane Griffith (1784-1853) Jackson, John was the second of two sons, two years younger than his brother James C. Jackson (1816-1907). John spent his early years being schooled first at home by his parents, then at the Friends school nearby (the Jacksons, like many of their Hockessin neighbors, were Quakers). Young John had a voracious appetite for knowledge, and supplemented his schooling with hours spent reading books from a local library. It was from these books that he discovered a passion for astronomy that would stay with him his entire life.