Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mid-Week Historical Newsbreak: Animal Anomalies

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a regular feature (at least for a while) here on the Mill Creek Hundred History Blog. For a while now I've had a random assortment of very short historical newspaper clippings, but I could never quite figure out what to do with them. Very rarely have I been able to find out much, if any, additional information about the stories, and, well, you know how I am. I don't usually like to post stuff unless I feel I have something to add, even if it's just pulling a few things together. Because of that, I've only ever posted a few of these clippings here and there, normally when they're somehow connected to a larger story.

A good number of these clippings have come to me from Donna Peters, and recently she sent me another good batch. Since I can't justify holding on to them any longer, here's what I've decided to do. For the foreseeable future, once a week (probably about Wednesday) I'll post one or two of these clippings as a Mid-Week Historical Newsbreak. Depending on the selection, there may or may not be much in the way of accompanying text. Even if so, it may be as simple as, "The farm mentioned was located here", along with a map snippet. I hope you enjoy these brief glimpses of the past.

We'll start out this week with a pair of articles highlighting odd animal behavior, separated by 50 years. The first one comes from the (Washington, DC) Evening Star, dated July 1, 1857. It reports on some strange goings-on regarding local flocks of pigeons in the area of a particular farm.

The farm in question here, belonging to James Denney, is located just south of the CSX railroad tracks, on the west end of one of the Delaware Park parking lots. An old farmhouse still stands there today, probably the same house noted as J. Denny on both the 1849 and 1868 maps. A while back I had incorrectly speculated that it this house might have been that of James Brown, brother of The Farmhouse's owner and apparently later the owner of his own racetrack. After looking again at the maps, it seems obvious that Brown's house was more or less on the infield of the modern racetrack, while the farm to the west was that of James Denney.

The second article this week comes from the November 24, 1907 edition of the New York Tribune. It tells the tale of some strange reactions by rabbits.

The trolley line the article references was the West Chester, Kennett, and Wilmington Electric Railway, better known as the Kennett Trolley. The line went into service in 1903, running from Kennett Square down to Brandywine Springs Amusement Park. A future post will someday go into more detail about this line, which despite its grandiose name, never got as far as either West Chester or Wilmington. It did, however, apparently succeed in scaring the pellets out of MCH rabbits. Would have made for some great You Tube videos, though.

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