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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Strange and Tragic Tale of Samuel Allcorn

Yeah, it's that weird
Much of the digital ink of this blog is given over to specific historical sites, whether they be houses, schools, churches, mills or other types of buildings. Often, in connection with these structures, we may look at the families associated with them. If a specific person is the subject, he or she is usually an "important" person like a politician or a doctor or a major business owner. This story, however, is about none of those things. It's about a man who should have been a pretty average late-nineteenth century resident of Mill Creek Hundred. So average, in fact, that prior to seeing the first article about him, I didn't even know who he was. I'd mentioned his father once in an old post, but until recently I knew nothing about the strange and sad tale of Samuel Allcorn.

I guess the fact that Samuel Allcorn lived an unusual life should come as no surprise if one first looks at the life of his father, George P. Allcorn. George was born in Cecil County, Maryland in November 1799, but later moved to the Milltown area. He lived there and worked as a shoemaker for the rest of his long and very productive life. In 1823, the 23 year old Allcorn married 18 or 19 year old Elizabeth Montgomery (no, not the TV witch). Elizabeth was the daughter of William Montgomery, whose house still stands on the west side of Old Limestone Road. They then got to work. Over the next 25 years or so, the couple would have ten children, the last (or next to last) being Samuel, born in 1847.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Razing of the Jacob Derickson House

I have here a wonderfully quick follow-up to the Dericksons of Kiamensi post. In that post I came to the conclusion that the house owned by the Highway Department and shown in a 1941 photograph must have been the original Derickson house in this area. I also guessed by looking at it that it may very well have dated all the way back to Jacob Derickson in the 1820's. Finally, I estimated that the house had been torn down by the state in the early 1960's. Turns out I was right on almost every point.

Hours after I posted the story, newspaper-story-finder-extraordinaire Donna Peters sent me this article, taken from the March 15, 1958 edition of the Wilmington Morning News. It details the Highway Department's destruction of the building to allow for expansion of their Kiamensi Yard. The article confirms that this was, in fact, the Derickson's house. The writer claims that it had been standing for 150 years. If literally true, then it would predate Jacob Derickson's purchase of the property. My guess, however, is that "150 years" was an off-the-cuff estimate. If it were Jacob's, it would certainly be more than 100 years old by then, closer to 130. That's close enough for me. Below is the rest of the article, which also mentions the "old Pilling mansion", which is the Mansion House we know. It sits on the south side of Kiamensi Road, just east of Powell Ford Park. You can click on the article to see a larger version.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Dericksons of Kiamensi

The Jacob Derickson House
Since I write this blog for fun and on my own time, I have great flexibility in choosing topics to research. Basically, I just write about whatever interests me at that given moment. Sometimes ideas come from me just poking around. The most satisfying situation, though, is when a seemingly simple question ends up taking me in directions I didn't expect and to answers I didn't know I'd be looking for. It's even better when, as in this case, the question comes from someone asking about their own ancestors.

The original query was simply from a woman looking for more information about her great-great grandfather Cornelius Derickson, and his son-in-law, her great grandfather Morris Highfield. I'd come across the Highfield family before but not, to my knowledge, Morris. I've definitely written about the Dericksons, but I was pretty sure Cornelius was not a part of their line. Certainly related, but I didn't know how. I did know, however, that on the old maps there was a C. Derickson whom I had neatly danced around in previous investigations into the Marshallton and Kiamensi area. It turns out that it was time to get to know the Dericksons of Kiamensi.