Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Mill Creek Hundred Blanket, or Banner, or Something

In a recent post I lamented the fact that as far as the Mill Creek Hundred area goes, there often seems to be a limited amount of information out there to be found. Many a time an investigation has stalled because that key piece of information just can't be tracked down. With the size and historic population density of MCH, it stands to reason that the same limitations hold true for items and artifacts, too.

In a perfect world, I'd have time to scour through yard sales, resale shops, and antique shops looking for MCH-related items (and have the money to buy them, but one fantasy at a time). With the mental catalogue I've put together the last few years, I'd have a decent chance at recognizing relevant items. I'd mostly have to be looking for recognizable structures (in photos) and names of businesses and families to link them to MCH. You wouldn't normally expect an item to just have "Mill Creek Hundred" written across it in big letters, right? Except, of course, for when it does. Like now.

As you can see, the item above has exactly that. A little while back, Tom Gardner posted the above photograph over on the blog's Facebook page, asking if anyone might know what it is. So far, no luck. Where he found it, he was told it might be a horse blanket that once belonged to the fire company. Since he happens to belong to the fire company himself and hadn't seen anything like it before, he was skeptical. For what it's worth, I am, too.

I haven't seen the item in person, nor am I a horse person, so I can't really say for sure whether it is or is not a horse blanket. Several things, though, lead me to believe that it doesn't have anything to do with the fire company. For one, the Mill Creek Fire Company was founded in 1927. While I suppose it's possible that they may have had a ceremonial one, they didn't use horses so wouldn't have had need for an embroidered blanket. Secondly, unlike, say, the Brandywine Hundred Fire Company, there's no "Hundred" in Mill Creek's name. So if it were theirs, it had the wrong name on it.

Somehow I feel that if we can determine what this item is, we may find it to be an important artifact. The reason it's so unusual is the fact that it has "Mill Creek Hd." written on it. And while we may tend to think of MCH as a distinct area, remember that it's not an incorporated town, city, or village. There was no Mill Creek Hundred council or anything like that, and no real need to have anything with the name on it. In fact, the only other item at all like it that I can think of is the 1844 Election Flag. I can't even think of any other group, business, or organization that would need anything like this.

As far as wild speculation goes, if it is indeed a horse blanket, the only thing I can think of is maybe it was made for the hundred's tax assessor, or maybe used by a census enumerator. Beyond that, I'm stumped by this one, and I'm willing to entertain any ideas that anyone wants to throw out here. Can you think of what this might be? Who might have made it? Have you seen anything like this anywhere else?


  1. From the photo, it indeed looks like a horse blanket, but a ceremonial one used on a harness horse. Could be from some group, brigade, troupe for parades and the like. Too fancy for everyday use. It seems to be in good shape too, which indicates it was not used often. Nice find.

    1. That all sounds about right to me. The question that gets me is who would need something like this? AFAIK there's nothing else on it, so it doesn't seem like it's the MCH branch of a business or group. Just MCH. But MCH isn't thing that would have a ceremonial horse blanket, right? What I'd really love to hear is, "Oh yeah, we've got a similar one here in Christiana Hundred, and it's for_____." I'll keep thinking, though.

  2. Scott, Regarding your comment about items and artifacts concerning MCH. Some years ago I went to the auction of the possessions of Nancy Churchman Sawin when she was moving into an assisted living facility. One of the items shown on the website for the auction that I wanted to see and maybe bid on was a book. I think they called it a Tax Book or an Account Book for MCH. I believe it covered a period of years in the 1840s. When I got to the auction I could not find the book and asked someone there about it. I was told that someone from the State of Delaware had come in before the doors opened and confiscated the book saying that it was the legal property of the State and it was going to the archives in Dover. I thought you might like to know about it and check it out next time you can make it to the DPA. Donna