Friday, May 29, 2015

William H. and Anna Walker Photos

William Hicks Walker
A while back I put out an open-ended request for any old photographs that anyone might have that pertained to people or places connected to Mill Creek Hundred. Since that time (although in a few cases not necessarily because of the plea) I've been fortunate enough to have had several people forward some old pictures to me. In some cases they relate to prior posts, and in some cases they don't. Where there are pre-existing posts that the photos are connected to, I'll add the new pictures to the old posts. If the subject is a new one, I'll put up at least a short new post about the pictures.

However, since I think all of these photographs are fascinating in their own rights, I want to at least give a very short post to even the photos going onto old posts, just to make sure everyone is aware of the new additions. I'll be putting some of these up over the next week or two, starting now. The first new pictures we'll take a look at are of folks mentioned (or at least, he was) in a post from three years ago, about a family that was the source of an unusual place name in MCH.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ward-Dudkewitz House

The Ward-Dudkewitz House
couple posts back we were introduced to the fascinating little 1857 newspaper article relating the story of how General George Washington held a "council of war" in a house in Milltown, just prior to the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777. In that post I mentioned that the article raised two separate issues, and that I was at the time dealing only with the question of whether such an event actually took place as claimed. (We decided that there's no real proof either way, but for various reasons the story is very plausible.) Now it's time to tackle the other issue -- just a throw-away line in the article -- which turned out to be every bit as interesting as the Washington angle.

Instead of reprinting the entire article again, I'll refer you back to the original post if you're interested in the whole thing. Right now, we're essentially only concerned with part of one sentence. After mentioning that the house where Washington met was "the old Harlan property, now belonging to Mr. Allen Ward", it tantalizingly notes that "...the present owner has erected a substantial brick dwelling adjoining...". So I started thinking -- Harlan property in Milltown, brick house built in the 1850's....it must be the recently fire-ravished Abram Chandler House! It's usually given a build date closer to 1870, but there's a fair bit of ambiguity about the property in that time period. My second thought was, "Who the crap is Allen Ward?" We'll get to that second, elegantly phrased question in a moment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Diamond State Kaolin Company

We all know that Mill Creek Hundred never had any sort of densely populated area like a city or even a large town. There were numerous small mill towns and crossroad hamlets, places like Milltown, Loveville, Corner Ketch, Milford Crossroads, and Wooddale. There were, however, only three locales that I would elevate even to Village status, each having its heyday at a different point in MCH's history.

First there was the milling and shipping center of Stanton (or Cuckoldstown for you oldtimers), prominent in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. Then, as it started into decline, the manufacturing village of Marshallton (along with nearby Kiamensi) rose for a time in the mid to late 1800's. Finally, although it had been around in some form since the early 1700's, the northern MCH village of Hockessin became the "place to be" in the later 19th Century. Two of the biggest reasons for this Hockessin Golden Age had to do with the land, namely what was under it and what was built across it -- kaolin clay and the railroad. Recently I ran across a photo of an artifact that sits squarely in the intersection of the two. (Thanks go to Bob Wilhelm for identifying the background of the company involved.)