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Monday, September 30, 2013

The Whiteman Family Revisited Part 2 -- Henry Whiteman and AJ Whiteman Houses

Henry Whiteman House, 1913
In the last post I began to revisit the story of the Henry Whiteman House, a topic I first covered several years ago. As I noted, there are actually several Whiteman houses near Paper Mill Road, between Smiths Mill Road and Polly Drummond Hill Road. (There are maybe a half dozen others throughout MCH, but we'll focus on these particular ones for right now.) We've covered the oldest of these homes, the Jacob Whiteman House built sometime between 1804 and 1816. The next one, the Henry Whiteman House, sits on what was the southern portion of his father Jacob's original 196 acre tract. Henry purchased this half of his father's land shortly before Jacob's death in 1826, and by 1828 Henry had already erected a stone house on the property for himself and his family. At the time, he and wife Anna (Kinsey) had four children, with the fourth, Henry, Jr., being born in 1827, around the time the house was completed. The couple would ultimately have nine children.

Henry resided here for almost 30 years, up until his death in 1855. At that point, the history as written in the 1999 UD report stated that the house and farm went to his son George. This was another of the points at which I was confused the first time around, since I couldn't find a George Whiteman in the 1850 or 1860 censuses. I now know why, and I also know a bit more about this man.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Whiteman Family Revisited Part 1 -- The Jacob Whiteman House

The Jacob Whiteman House
During a recent exchange of emails (unrelated to this post), a descendant of several local families wrote that she hoped she wasn't boring me with her "little family stories". I quickly assured her that she was most definitely not boring me. In fact, I realized and told her that these little family stories are local history. They may seem inconsequential in relation to "The Big Picture", but they can be important for any of a number of reasons. They can provide a missing piece to a larger mystery, or they can be touching stories in their own right. The stories I received recently relating to the Whiteman family certainly tick both of these boxes. (We'll actually get to those stories in the next post.) They also prompted me to revisit an old mystery.

Almost exactly three years ago, I delved into and wrote a post about the Henry Whiteman House, located on Paper Mill Road and Smith's Mill Road, just north of Foxden Road. In the initial post, I stated that the history of the home and the property didn't seem quite right to me, and I laid out an slightly different scenario which represented my best guess at the time. Even at that, it still seemed like there was something I was missing. I still didn't have a really good grasp on the family or the history of the houses in the area. Now, after being prompted with new information to go back and look at it again, I think that finally I know what the real story is (with only one slight hedge).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brandywine Springs Tour -- September 21

Alright, I hope this isn't too last-minute of a notice, but I think we've come to a consensus. Although I did say I'd do a tour with just a few people, it seems that there are several people who can't make it this week, but can make it next week. Since this isn't anything where there's a reservation or set plans involved, I've decided to wait the extra week in order to allow more people to attend. I hope this isn't a problem for those who said they could come this week. And for what it's worth, the Weather Channel's long-term forecast has it in the 70's with a 0% chance of rain on the 21st. All in all, this seems like the best thing to do.

We can nail down a time that's best for everyone, but since a few seemed to indicate that early afternoon was good, I'm suggesting 1:00 for now. [Edit: See below]The tour should take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, depending on how much I ramble on. As I mentioned before, we'll walk through the park, stopping and talking about the various rides, attractions, and structures present a century ago. There are some signs in the park with pictures (installed over the years by the Friends of Brandywine Springs (FOBS)), and I'll have some additional pictures with me as well. If you don't know much about the park, I think you'll be amazed at what it was like.

In the mean time, there a a few resources available to "bone up" a bit on the history of the amusement park. You can start with my post of a few years ago (good Lord, three years ago), which gives a brief overview of the park. Additionally, FOBS has a website that contains a good history and some pictures. FOBS does now also have an excellent Facebook page, containing LOTS of pictures and features. The page is accessible to everyone -- you don't have to be on Facebook to view it. If you really want to be thorough, you can check out the two posts about the original hotel, too.

Now we've got another week to work out any issues, but if anyone has any questions, concerns, or suggestions, feel free to speak up. Hope to see you there!!

Update 9/18/13: I've now "officially" set the time for 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 21. Weather looks good. If anyone would like to attend but needs directions to the park, just let me know. We'll meet in the near end (closest to the entrance and basketball courts) of the parking lot. We'll talk for a few minutes there, and then work our way down to the amusement park site.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The 1844 MCH Election Flag

This is another item from the cache given to me by Fran Casarino, descendant of the Banks and Chambers families. (The Jabez Banks items from a previous post came from her, as well.) I don't really have a whole lot to say about it, but I thought it was certainly interesting enough to share with everyone. It's a newspaper article from 1959 that mentions an item I had seen referenced once before. One that would have been quite familiar to Mill Creek Hundred residents a century and a half ago.

As seen in the photo on the right, the item in question is a flag, purchased by a group of MCH residents in 1844. The accompanying article, shown below, gives the rest of the story. (Reminder: click on the image to view a larger, easier to read version.) Way back (in this blog's very first post, as a matter of fact), it had been noted that the Mermaid Tavern on Limestone Road (just north of the Pike Creek Shopping Center) was for many years the polling place for the hundred. One of the reasons I chose the Mermaid for the inaugural post was that it was the closest thing MCH had to a town hall or central public location. If this was the de facto town hall, then this banner was the town flag, albeit one displayed only on specific days.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Brandywine Springs Tour and/or Next Gathering

OK, time for me to 'fess up (and for those of you of a certain age, no, this has nothing to do with Davey Crockett). Back when we all met up in February (where has the year gone?), we seemed to decide that we'd like to do some sort of gathering again sometime. A meeting at Brandywine Springs park in the spring was suggested, an idea I liked. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to seeing if I could reserve a pavilion they were all booked for the entire summer. With the demographic range we'd be likely to have present, I felt a reserved pavilion was necessary to ensure that everyone had a comfortable, shaded place to sit. Once the spring sprinted by me, I figured that trying to get a reasonable quorum together during the summer would be tricky. And considering the weather, probably also sticky.

Now that the summer of '13 has been laid to rest (again, wasn't it February like a few weeks ago?), I thought it was a good time to start thinking about group activities again. When the idea of a Brandywine Springs meeting was bandied about, there was a suggestion of walking down the hill and taking a tour of the old amusement park site. I was wondering if anyone was still interested in that? I've given tours of the site before (in conjunction with the Wilmington & Western RR), and it takes about an hour or so. It's all on trails, but there is a decent hill on the way down and back up. The other caveat is that it, of course, would be dependant upon the weather. (I.E., I ain't walkin' around no park in no rain.)