Thursday, January 28, 2016

More Information about the Trinder and Higgins Farms

The area in 1868
I knew this was going to get a bit rambling to just shove into the middle of the original post, so here’s some additional information regarding and related to the Trinder property. The original post will also be edited to reflect the most current information, although it won't have as much detail as we'll get into here. All of this came from the single piece of information supplied by Donna P. in the comments section on the first post. She told us that she had found the will of Joseph Trinder from 1892, and record of the sale of the property by his executors in 1896. So for one thing, that gives us a closer range for his death.

Donna tells that the Trinder farm was sold to Alpheus Pennock. Alpheus (1849-1929) was the son of Lewis Pennock (1804-1879), who resided just south of the area focused upon here. You can see his name shown on the 1868 map segment above. After Lewis’ death in 1879, the home farm went to Alpheus. The house, which stood until the 1960’s, was located about where the grassy area is behind the Meadowood II Shopping Center and in front of Forest Oak Elementary School. It appears the house was torn down just before the school was built. Alpheus’ brother Pusey was the early 20th Century owner of the Harlan-Chandler Mill property in Milltown.

So far, all of this information was readily available with just some cursory research. However, before moving on, I decided to look for Alpheus Pennock in a couple of censuses. It seemed pretty obvious that he had purchased the Trinder farm as a secondary property, since it didn’t make sense that an almost 50 year old farmer would abandon his family's farm. When I found Alpheus in the 1920 Census, this is what I saw:

Pennock family in the 1920 Census

You can see Alpheus and wife Margaret there in the middle, but look at the other two names in their household -- Kelley and Higgins! As soon as I saw that, I knew there was more to the story. We'll start first with the second name, what appears to be Isthle Higgins, age 61. She's listed as being Alpheus' widowed sister-in-law, which means she was either married to his brother or Margaret's brother.

As it turns out, although I'm still not sure what name is supposed to be on the 1920 sheet, that she is Isabella (Little) Higgins, the widow of Thomas Higgins, Jr., the son of the former owner of the upper farm. She was the sister of Margaret Little Pennock, Alpheus' wife. The Littles had lived on a farm on the southwest corner of Upper Pike Creek Road and Old Coach Road, just a short ways from both the Higgins farm and the Pennock's home. Sometimes it seems like the dating philosophy at the time was "If you have to walk more than 15 minutes to find a wife, it's just not worth it." Both Margaret and Isabella, incidentally, were aunts to Lora Little, whose father was their brother William.

These familial connections also brought to light another fact, which is that it seems that the Higgins family remained on the upper (St. Marks) farm longer than I had thought. In the first post I noted that Runk said that Thomas Higgins' son John was running the farm, but that I had found him in Maryland beginning with the 1900 Census. What appears to have happened is that Thomas, Jr. may have taken over when John moved out. Thomas' first wife, Leah, passed away in 1905. Then, sometime between 1905 and 1910, he wedded the yet-unmarried Isabella Little. Whether that was a marriage of love or convenience we may never know. It now appears that it wasn't until after Thomas' death in 1913 that the farm passed out of the Higgins family. (William Kelley's widow Catherine, by the way, may have remarried. In 1880 she's listed in the household of Robert Taylor, who lived on the east side of Upper Pike Creek Road immediately west of this property, as his Step-Mother. I have a feeling that she might have actually been his mother-in-law. Taylor's wife "Anna" is the exactly same age as "Hannah" Kelley, William and Catherine's daughter.)

Section of the 1900 Census, showing Higgins,
Pennock and Little families

As for the lower, former Trinder farm, I also have a different take on its occupation as well, and much of it comes from the 1900 Census seen above. Going from the top, you can see Thomas Higgins and his first wife, Leah. Listed next is Alpheus Pennock and family. This indicates to me that he was living on the former Trinder property, and not his old home by Meadowood. To further place his residence, reading down you can see several Little families, including the one with Isabella still residing with her parents. This greater Pennock presence makes sense when you look closer at the map segment I included with the first post. You'll notice that not only is there a Pennock Road, but Bing Maps, at least, labels the whole area "Pennock".



To be honest, I'm not really sure what the exact point of all this was, except to bring the story of these two farms a bit further ahead into the 20th Century. It also goes to show that with these familial links, the two properties were even more tied together than I had thought. I won't say it's the only remaining mystery in all this, but one point I've been having trouble pinning down is the identity of the Katherine Kelley seen living with the Pennocks in 1920. I feel like she must be related somehow to William and Catherine, but I have not been able to make a concrete link. If so, it would be a good bookend to link together pretty much all of the families involved. As always, this is a continuing investigation, and more information will be provided if it comes up.

7 comments:

  1. The Littles had lived on a farm on the southwest corner of Upper Pike Creek Road and Old Coach Road, just a short ways from both the Higgins farm and the Pennock's home. Is that the stone foundation behind the park sign?

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    1. Ok, I give up, I can't find it. Which park where? Even if this isn't it, the idea of a foundation I might not know about excites me. And yes, I know I should probably talk to someone about that.

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  2. I don't know whether this will help, or not. Isabella was sister to a man named Alpheus Pennock Little, of Blackbird. I went looking for him as he was described to me as "crazy uncle Bill's son, Alpheus." by my elderly uncle. Crazy Uncle Bill was William G. Little, whose brother, George Washington Little, was my great grandfather.

    The old coach road Little Farm was the farm of William F. Little, Isabelle, William, and George Washington Little's father. (I'm missing a couple, Margaret and Sarah?) so it looks to me as if the families were close enough that Bill named his only son after his brother in law. I have a side bet, by the way, that William G. will turn out to be William Gordon. The next generation in my line is Harry Gordon, and Harry Gordon Jr., and they seem to be retentive of names.

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    1. Good info to know, thanks! I tried quickly to settle your bet, but no luck. I found the birth cert for Geo Wash, but not William G.... His marriage and death certs both just have the G, no full middle name.

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  3. My great-grandfather, George Carson Boyd, a Wilmington florist, bought a farm in Mill Creek Hundred from Isabella Higgins, widow of Thomas Higgins, in 1938. I found this blog when I googled her name. The farm was sold to the Catholic church when he died in 1952. My mother remembers the farm from her childhood, but not where it was. I have always been curious about its location. The deed mentions Joseph Trinder, Joseph Taylor, and William Richardson as neighbors. Is there still an old house on the school's property?

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    1. Thanks for the info, Carolyn!!! I found the 1938 deed and I'm sure it was the same farm (Higgins, where St. Marks was built). I have a few feelers out trying to get some more info on it, and I think I'll write up a short follow-up about it. I might even have a photo of the house. And just to confirm, was George Carson Boyd the founder of Boyd's Flowers? And from the census it looks like Boyd's house in Wilmington was at Delaware Ave and Broome Street. It was directly across the street from the house Joshua T. Heald built. If you find the Heald post on the blog, in the picture of Heald's house (the gray one), Boyd's would be directly behind you. Another question -- since I assume Boyd leased the farm, does your mother recall the name of the tenant(s)? If it's easier, feel free to email me at mchhistory@verizon.net

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  4. Hi Scott, I don't believe they leased the farm. My great grandfather had a man who ran the farm for him. He was indeed the founder of Boyd's Flowers. He had a beautiful rose garden and also a vegetable garden. I dont know if he had any crops. I will ask my mom. During WW2, they would go there instead of Rehoboth because of gas rationing. Yes, his home was at 1400 Delaware Ave. It was sold by the Boyd Estate in the 1950s. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the home in the 1980's.

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