Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Introduction to a Special Series of Guest Posts

If there were such a thing as "Sweeps Week" for blogs, the next few posts are the ones I'd put up during it. I'm so excited about it that I'm confining my introduction to this separate post, for fear of getting in the way. Those of you who are regular readers of the blog are probably familiar with Walt Chiquoine (usually Walt C. in comments) and what he's brought to numerous discussions and topics in the past. I've talked before about how most people who stumble across the blog have a specific area of interest in addition to a general love of history. Walt's area of expertise is the early history of property ownership in Mill Creek Hundred. His modest goal is to map out, as completely as possible, all of the original land grants and purchases in MCH. I've seen his work, and he's well on his way to completing it. I daresay he has a better understanding of who owned what 300 years ago than anyone since then, if even then.

What makes Walt's work so impressive, reliable, and valuable is that he deals largely with primary resources, not other people's work. He's spent so much time in the archives in Dover that I'm surprised they haven't comped him a room there, or at least given him a parking spot. Over the years he's learned how to read and understand the 17th and 18th Century property documents there as well as anyone, professional or not.

One trait that Walt shares with any good researcher is being bothered by something that doesn't seem to make sense. When something doesn't look right, even if others tell you it is, you feel the need to dig into it until it finally does seem right. I think this is what may have started him out a few months back in looking into the early history of the Greenbank Mill. In this case, the more he dug into it the less the "official" history seemed to add up. What he ended up with after countless hours of research is what I think is far and away the most comprehensive (not to mention accurate) history of the early ownership of what came to be the millseats at Greenbank and Marshallton. The topic ended up being extensive enough that his work will be published here in three posts over the next week or so. After the last post is up, a slightly more complete and more illustrated version of the paper will be available as a single PDF document if anyone wishes to download it. At that point I may add a few thoughts of my own and highlight what I think are the most important points Walt has made.

I want to thank Walt for all his hard work, and for allowing me to post his work here on the blog. I happen to think that what he's convincingly come up with here is a very significant part of our local history. Any time someone contradicts the conventional wisdom or long-held "truth" of a topic, there's bound to be some disagreements. In this instance, however, I think Walt's made a pretty tight case for his narrative. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did!

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