This Month in Delaware History - Please scroll down to see previous entries.

And don't forget to check out Object of the Month for a peek into the Society's constantly growing collections!

 


July 2017

Portrait of Oliver Evans;  Plate from “The Young Mill-Wright and Miller’s Guide”On July 13th in 1805, inventor Oliver Evans, a native of Newport, Delaware, finished building the world’s first high-pressure steam powered vehicle. Although primitive in design, Evans’ vehicle was the first self propelled amphibious wagon and technically the world’s first ‘automobile’. Evans received little formal education early on in life. As a teenager he became a wheelwright’s apprentice and later went into business with his brothers in Philadelphia. The concept of creating and perfecting automated mills and devices fascinated Evans. His visionary designs for automation, such as conveyor belts and bucket chains, were crucial to the expansion of the Industrial Revolution during the following decades. It is difficult to exaggerate Evans’ engineering genius. In addition to designing an early steam engine and the first automobile, he also designed the first refrigerator, a perpetual baking oven, a machine gun, solar boiler, dough-kneading machine, and processes for water salvaging and for urban gas lighting on streets.

It seems Evans was not blessed with a pleasant disposition however, from personal accounts, and this is likely the reason he is not better known. His lack of social graces caused his financial investors to be few and led to his contributions often being ignored or attributed to others who came after him.Oliver Evans had seven children; three sons and four daughters. He died and was buried in New York City in 1819 at the age of 63.

The Delaware Historical Society possesses a rare first edition of a book published by Evans in 1795 entitled “The Young Mill-Wright and Miller’s Guide. In Five Parts-Embellished With Twenty Five Plates”. This book is available for public review in the research library of the Delaware Historical Society.

 

 


June 2017

Grave of Caesar Rodney_DHS Photograph Collection CEM20On Sunday June 26, 1784, Caesar Rodney, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, statesman, soldier and patriot, died at the age of 55. Rodney was born on October 7, 1728.  At 27, he became high sheriff of Kent County and later held office as register of wills, recorder of deeds, clerk of the Orphans Court, clerk of the peace, and justice of the peace. He was speaker of the Delaware General Assembly in June, 1776 when it declared independence from Great Britain.  Later in 1778 he was elected president of Delaware. Caesar Rodney is perhaps best remembered for his famous and grueling ride on horseback from Dover to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through a lightning and thunder storm, to cast the deciding vote from Delaware for Independence.  Sadly, Caesar Rodney’s specific grave location is a mystery. It is very likely on what was the Rodney family farm in St. Jones Neck, Kent County. Among the Society’s rare photographs is this image of his gravesite, before its location was lost to time.

 

 


May 2017
 

Old Swedes’ Church. Etching by Benjamin Ferris, c. 1860. DHS Print Collection Box 9, #5On May 28th, 1698, the cornerstone of what is said to be the oldest church building in the United States still used for worship as originally built, was set in place. Old Swedes’ Church was built at the burial grounds of the former Fort Christina, which anchored the colony of New Sweden in 1638. The church and graveyard, which is reported to be the final resting place of over 15,000 souls, is located at 7th and Church Streets along the Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware. Lutheran Church services held in the Swedish language were given at Old Swedes’ from its foundation well into the 18th Century. Later, Old Swedes’ joined the Episcopal Church and  the name “Old Swedes’” merged with “Holy Trinity”.  Philadelphia’s Old Swedes’ /Gloria Dei Church was founded roughly 30 miles away and built within a few years of Wilmington’s Old Swedes’.

Tours of this venerable church,  its graveyard and the adjacent Hendrickson House are given by volunteers of the Old Swedes Foundation. For information visit 
http://www.oldswedes.org/

Right:Old Swedes’ Church. Etching by Benjamin Ferris, c. 1860. DHS Print Collection Box 9, #5

 

 


April 2017

Cannons used in defense of Lewes during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Copy of etching by M. Caldwell. DHS Oversize Photographs 5.38On April 6th and 7th of 1813, the town of Lewes, Delaware was bombarded by British warships for refusing to provide supplies demanded by the British commander of the vessels. The War of 1812 had been festering for nearly 10 months and the British were in need of provisions which the residents of Lewes were pleased to deny. The resulting bombardment was ineffectual, as no one was injured. However, word of the petulant attack became national news. One of the cannonballs flung at Lewes can still be seen today, embedded in the base of the historic “Cannonball House” which is now the home of the Lewes Historical Society’s maritime museum.

Right: Cannons used in defense of Lewes during
the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Copy of etching by M. Caldwell.
DHS Oversize Photographs 5.38

 

 


March 2017

Delaware's First Trolley at 10th and Market Streets, 1888. DHS Collection RA144In early March of 1888, the first electric street car in Delaware was put into operation. It ran through the heart of Wilmington, Delaware along Market Street between 4th and 10th Streets, where is connected to horse drawn cars.

Right: Delaware’s First Trolley at 10th and Market Streets, 1888.
DHS Collection RAI44

 

 


February 2017

Machine shop at Delaware State College, ca. 1900. DHS Collection SCH52In early February, 1892 the State College for Colored Students- today’s Delaware State College - first opened its doors to students in Dover, Delaware.  Five courses were offered which led to a Bachelor’s Degree: Agriculture, Chemistry, Classical, Engineering, and Science.

Image: Machine shop at Delaware State College, ca. 1900.
DHS Collection SCH52

 

 
 


January 2017

Excerpt from the January 8, 1861 “Delaware Gazette” Newspaper. DHS Periodical Collection.In early January of 1861, Delaware legislators politely declined an invitation from Mississippi Commissioner Henry Dickinson to join the Southern Confederacy. The primary reason given by the legislators for refusal concerned talk of secession from the Union in response to national difficulties, which Delaware found completely unacceptable.

Right: Excerpt from the January 8, 1861 “Delaware Gazette” newspaper.
DHS Periodical Collection.


 

 


December 2016

Dover’s Old State House on the Dover Green, built 1787.  Site of Delaware’s ratification of Constitution of the United States.  DHS Postcard Collection.On December 3, 1787, thirty delegates representing all three counties of Delaware met in Dover to discuss the ratification of the document finalized at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a few months earlier, on September 17. Four days later, on December 7, 1787,  Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. It is for this reason that Delaware is known as The First State.  The U.S. Constitution bears signatures of the following five Delawareans:  Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, and George Read.

Right: Dover’s Old State House on the Dover Green, built 1787. Site of Delaware’s ratification of Constitution of the United States.  DHS Postcard Collection.

 

 

November 2016

Mason Dixon Marker, Delaware Historical Society Photograph Collection_HIS39In November of 1763, English scientists Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to begin the task of clarifying the north- south border between the colonies of Maryland and Delaware. Mason and Dixon required just under 5 years to complete the 83 mile boundary. Also in the month of November, a final, undisputed report based on the calculations of Mason and Dixon was issued by the commissioners of Maryland’s Lord Baltimore and the Governor of Pennsylvania, William Penn’s grandson John Penn, in 1768.

 

 


October 2016

On October 15th, 1913, The Playhouse Theater, located in the luxurious Hotel DuPont, first opened its doors. Known then and now as “Delaware’s Broadway Experience”, the theater was originally a venue for previewing new shows which were on their way to Broadway in New York City.  The first show was a battle-of-the-sexes comedy entitled Bought and Paid For. Ticket prices ranged from .25 cents in the gallery to $2.00 in the orchestra. The Playhouse is known today as The Playhouse on Rodney Square. Numerous well known Broadway shows are presented regularly in this beautiful hub of live entertainment. Later this month, The Playhouse will showcase the 20th Anniversary Tour of the Tony Award winning musical Rent.

 

 


September 2016

DuPont Highway near Red Lion Creek, 1934.  T. Coleman DuPont standing on the highway which bears his name, c. 1920In early September of 1924 the DuPont Highway ( Route 13 ), which runs the entire north-south length of Delaware, was fully completed. This important transportation artery was financed and gifted to the State of Delaware by T. Coleman DuPont. The road is named in his honor. DuPont personally spent $3,917.004 on the construction of the highway, which comes to $44,000 per mile.

Images: DuPont Highway near Red Lion Creek, 1934.  DHS Photograph Collection ROA41
T. Coleman DuPont standing on the highway which bears his name, c. 1920.  DHS Photograph Collection PPLD136

 

 

 

 


August  2016

Dover Air Force Base, 1960. DHS Postcard CollectionIn early August, 1944, The Dover Army Airfield, first known as the Dover Airdrome and now known as the Dover Air Force Base, officially opened to the public. At the conclusion of WWII, the base became temporarily inactive. It reopened in 1950, again in early August, in response to the outbreak of the Korean War.

Dover AFB is home to the “Eagle Wing” of the Air Mobility Command and the “Liberty Wing” of the Air Force Reserve Command. It was the only base to solely operate two active flying squadrons (the 3rd & 9th Airlift Squadrons) and two Air Force Reserve flying squadrons (the 326th & 709th Airlift Squadrons).

Traditionally, the Dover AFB has been used for the reception of military personnel killed in both war and peacetime. The remains of those killed overseas are brought to Dover before being transferred to family. It was also a major site for identifying the remains of military personnel killed in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. During the night of October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama visited Dover AFB to receive the bodies of several American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, before making a decision to commit additional troops to Afghanistan.

The Dover AFB is also the home of the Air Mobility Command Museum.

 

 


July 2016

In July of 1802, a French chemist fleeing the French Revolution bought land along the Brandywine River where he founded one of the most commercially successful companies in United States history. Eleuthere Irenee du Pont de Nemours began manufacturing gunpowder as a response to European superiority in that particular industry in the decade following the American Revolution. By the American Civil War, the DuPont Company was providing half of the gunpowder used by the Union Army.


In the 20th century, DuPont expanded even further its commercial dominance of the chemical industry by developing a host of polymers including Nylon, Mylar, Teflon, Kevlar, Neoprene, Tyvek, Vespel, and Lycra. The original location of the DuPont Company is nestled along the rolling hills northwest of Wilmington, Delaware along the Brandywine River. The site today is a museum- the Hagley Museum and Library.

Site of the first  Du Pont Powder Mills. DHS Postcard Collection, Museums

Diorama of the black powder press house in the Du Pont Mills. DHS Postcard Collection, Museums

 

 


June 2016

Governor Russell PetersonOn June 28, 1971, Governor Russell Peterson signed the Delaware Coastal Zone Act into law. The Act is designed to protect Delaware's coastal area from pollution and other negative consequences of heavy industrialization and bulk product transfer facilities. The law is intended to safeguard the natural environment of Delaware’s River and Bay areas and to promote recreation and tourism along Delaware coastal line.

Heavy, large scale industrial development is prohibited anywhere in the Zone as are offshore bulk product transfer facilities outside the Port of Wilmington. The Act allows new light manufacturing facilities into the Zone and the extension of pre-existing light manufacturing plants and heavy industrial uses in the Zone by receiving a Coastal Zone Act Permit from the Secretary of the DNREC.

In 1997, Governor Thomas Carper helped to strengthen the Act by gathering several Delaware business representatives and environmental advocates with the purpose of clarifying concepts for a new set of coastal zone regulations. This referendum resulted in more predictable regulations, more efficient permit requests, and the re-assertion of the core value of environmental health for Delaware’s coastal region. On May 11, 1999, a new set of regulations became effective which provide guidance to the business community, State officials and the general public as to what is expected of them concerning the Delaware Coastal Zone Act.

The Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge, just south of downtown Wilmington, Delaware, was named in honor of Governor Peterson for his stewardship of the original Delaware Coastal Zone Act and for his commitment to the environmental protection of Delaware’s coast.

 


May 2016

 Swaanendael Museum, built 1931, Lewes, Delaware. DHS Postcard Collection/ MuseumsDuring this month in 1631, the first colonists of European descent set foot on Delaware soil in what is today Lewes, Delaware. The fledgling colony was from Holland and called itself Swaanendael (aka Zwaanendael), meaning ‘Valley of Swans’. It was, however,  a tragically short lived settlement. Although the land had been lawfully purchased from local Native Americans along the Delaware River, a horrible misunderstanding brought about the massacre of the entire village. Although no one survived, Nanticoke Indians explained what happened to David Pietersen de Vries when he arrived a year later from Holland with a second group of colonists. The massacre had been motivated by vengeance:


De Vries : “He then showed us the place where our people had set up a column to which was fastened a piece of tin, whereon the arms of Holland were painted. One of their chiefs took this off, for the purpose of making tobacco-pipes, not knowing that he was doing amiss. Those in command at the house made such an ado about it that the Indians, not knowing how it was, went away and slew the chief who had done it, and brought a token of the dead to the house to those in command, who told them that they wished that they had not done it; that they should have brought him to them, as they wished to have forbidden him not to do the like again. They went away, and the friends of the murdered chief incited their friends, as they are a people like the Indians, who are very revengeful, to set about the work of vengeance. Observing our people out of the house, each one at his work, that there was not more than one inside, who was lying sick, and a large mastiff, who was chained, - had he been loose they would not have dared to approach the house, - and the man who had command standing near the house, three of the stoutest Indians, who were to do the deed, bringing a lot of bear-skins with them to exchange, sought to enter the house. The man in charge went in with them to make the barter, which being done, he went to the loft where the stores lay, and in descending the stairs one of the Indians seized an axe and cleft his head so that he fell down dead. They also relieved the sick man of life, and shot into the dog, who was chained fast, and whom they most feared, twenty-five arrows before they could dispatch him. They then proceeded towards the rest of the men, who were at work, and, going amongst them with pretensions of friendship, struck them down. Thus was our young colony destroyed, causing us serious loss.”  


The massacre was a significant factor in de Vries decision to launch a settlement further north, at New Amsterdam, today’s New York City.

Source of de Vries translated commentary:  "Voyages of De Vries." New York Historical Society Collection (new series), vol. iii. page 23

 

 


April 2016

Blue Hen, DHS Print Collection, Box 24, Print 1

Blue Hen, DHS Print Collection, Box 24, Prin 1

On April 14, 1939, The Blue Hen Chicken was officially adopted as Delaware’s State Bird.  The connection of the Blue Hen to Delaware originates from the Revolutionary War.  Men who served under Captain Jonathan Caldwell of Kent County, Delaware were fond of fighting game chickens as a pastime between battles with the British.  Caldwell’s chickens were tinged in blue and noted for their ferocity, a quality which Delaware troops were pleased to adopt as a reputation.  Today, the most well known Fighting Blue Hens are those of the University of Delaware’s athletic programs. Super Bowl XLVII Champion and MVP Joe Flacco was one.

 

 

 


March 2016

Ellerslie Mansion c. 1890, DHS Garrett Collection, Box 3

Ellerslie Mansion c. 1890, DHS Garrett Collection, Box 3

A fascinating but largely forgotten episode of Delaware’s cultural history concerns the man who coined the term “the Roaring 20’s” . In March of 1927, celebrated literary giant F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, a creative force in her own right, moved into a magnificent Greek Revival mansion known as Ellerslie along the Delaware river in Edgemoor, Delaware. Fitzgerald had just finished his masterpiece The Great Gatsby and began his next novel, Tender Is the Night , while at Ellerslie. His college chum and roommate at Princeton University, John Biggs, a Wilmington lawyer, suggested Ellerslie as an abode to the Fitzgeralds. The couple lived there for roughly two years. Grand ‘Roaring 20’s’ style parties were thrown at Ellerslie. The most famous visitor was Ernest Hemingway who, along with his wife, stayed overnight in the Fall of 1928 after watching a Princeton-Yale football game with the Fitzgeralds. The Hemingways departed from the Claymont Train Station.  Wilmington’s ‘Ernest & Scott Taproom’ is named in honor of this meeting of the two famous writers in Edgemoor.

Sadly,  Ellerslie mansion no longer stands. Despite the obvious significance of the residence to Delaware’s cultural heritage, the mansion fell into permanent disrepair  and was torn down in 1973 after being used as an office by the Krebs Chemical Company for approximately 40 years. It was located beyond the southeastern tip of Edgemoor Road. Trees which surrounded the mansion can still be seen today.

 

 


February  2016

During February of 1829, Delaware’s capital, Dover, was formally incorporated. Five elected town commissioners were chosen to steward the city. Also during February the first capital of what would become Delaware, namely the city of New Castle, was officially incorporated in 1875 by the Delaware General Assembly. New Castle was Delaware’s formal seat of government from 1704 until 1777 when, due to British harassment of the town, Delaware’s government relocated to the more strategically defensible city of Dover. For four years the seat of government shifted from place to place until 1781 when Dover became the permanent capital.
 

 

'The Green Or Market Plaine Laid Out By Petrus Stuyvesant, Dutch Governor, 1666. On This Green Stood The Old Jail And Gallows. Here Were Held The Great Fairs And Weekly Markets From Early Times.’

‘The Green Or Market Plaine Laid Out By
Petrus Stuyvesant, Dutch Governor, 1666.
On This Green Stood The Old Jail And Gallows.
Here Were Held The Great Fairs
And Weekly Markets From EarlyTimes.'

‘Ye Dover Green, Laid out 1717, Dover, Delaware’. Postcard note by original owner on margin:  “My mama, I am the best boy you ever did see and sleep fine and don’t cry. Your boy.”

 ‘Ye Dover Green, Laid out 1717, Dover, Delaware’.
Postcard note by original owner on margin:
“My mama, I am the best boy you ever did
see and sleep fine and don’t cry. Your boy.”

 

 

 

 


January 2016

During January in 1682, William Penn asserted his authority over his three “lower counties” (the future to Sussex County  in honor of a town and county with those respective names in England. He also changed the name of St. Jones County to Kent County, again in honor of a county in England.
William Penn, Age 22. DHS Print Collection Box 8, #12
William Penn, Age 22.
DHS Print Collection Box 8, #12

 

Sussex County Bank In Lewes, Delaware. The DHS Gordon Pfeiffer Postcard Collection
Sussex County Bank In Lewes, Delaware.
The DHS Gordon Pfeiffer Postcard Collection

 

Front Street in Lewes, Delaware. DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Cities & Towns
Front Street in Lewes, Delaware.
DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Cities & Towns

 

 


December 2015

George Washington. DHS Print Collection, Box 8, #7
 

During this month, on December 16th, 1783, our nation’s first president, George Washington, was greeted in Wilmington, Delaware by an enthusiastic throng of citizenry. Among the many state and local residents in attendance that day was Jacob Broom, who delivered a speech praising Washington’s heroism and leadership on behalf of Wilmington’s City Council.  Washington, in turn, expressed his gratitude to the crowd.  A transcription of Washington’s speech appears in Wilmington’s Sunday Morning Star newspaper of February 22, 1942. A copy can be found in the research library of the Delaware Historical Society.

 

Left: George Washington.
DHS Print Collection, Box 8, #7

 

 


November 2015

52 years ago this month, President John F. Kennedy visited northern Delaware to dedicate the opening of Highway Interstate 95 at the Delaware and Maryland border.  The ribbon cutting ceremony to open the 4 lane, 43 mile ‘I-95’ to the public occurred at 4pm on Thursday, November 14th, 1963.  The ceremony was his last public appearance.  Just 8 days after the ribbing cutting (pictured below), President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  Between the Delaware State Line and the Baltimore City Line, I-95 is known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway in honor of our nation’s much beloved 35th President.

President John F. Kennedy cuts the ribbon to open I-95 alongside Delaware’s Governor Elbert Carvel, Maryland’s Governor Millard Tawes and other dignitaries.  DHS Collection ROA65

President John F. Kennedy cuts the ribbon to open I-95
alongside Delaware’s Governor Elbert Carvel,
Maryland’s Governor Millard Tawes and other dignitaries.
DHS Collection ROA65

 


October  2015

Exactly 150 years ago this month, one of Delaware’s  first formal baseball teams formed and played its’ first game. Founding members of the Diamond State Base Ball Club met in early October, 1865 near Sixth & Market Streets in Wilmington, Delaware (approximately 100 feet from Old Town Hall) to assign team duties and to issue a challenge to St. Mary’s College for a baseball match.  The Civil War and the future National Pastime are indelibly linked. When the war ended, the fledgling sport blossomed in cities and towns across the country.  A modern descendant of the Diamond State Baseball Club exists today. For more information on this vintage baseball club visit:  http://www.diamondstatebaseball.com

Excerpt of minutes from the first meeting of the DSBBC. Delaware Historical Society Manuscript Collection Page from original scorebook of the Diamond State Base Ball Club. Delaware Historical Society Manuscript Collection
Excerpt of minutes from the first meeting of the DSBBC.
Delaware Historical Society Manuscript Collection

Page from original scorebook of the Diamond State Base Ball Club.
Delaware Historical Society Manuscript Collection

 

 


September  2015

In September of 1832, the first trip by a locomotive train occurred in Delaware. The New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad was the first railroad in the First State, and one of the first in the United States. It opened in 1831. For roughly one year the train was horse-drawn before switching to steam engine for power in 1832. The rail originally meandered southwesterly from New Castle, Delaware to Frenchtown in Cecil County, Maryland. The original ticket office for the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad can still be seen in New Castle’s Battery Park. Left, 1832 New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad Ticket Office before (top left) and after (bottom left) restoration. DHS Photograph Collection/ Railroads.Center, Advertisement for the New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad. DHS Collection/ Railroads.Right, Excerpt from Rules and Regulations for the Management of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad. DHS Rare Book Collection. RBK BUS R152
  Left, 1832 New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad Ticket Office before (top left) and after (bottom left) restoration. DHS Photograph Collection/ Railroads.
Center, Advertisement for the New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad. DHS Collection/ Railroads.
Right, Excerpt from Rules and Regulations for the Management of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad. DHS Rare Book Collection. RBK BUS R152
 


August  2015

During this month in 1795,  Delaware’s first commercial bank, the Bank of Delaware, opened to the public for deposits. The bank was originally located at the northwest corner of Fourth and Market Streets in downtown Wilmington, today known as Lincoln’s Square.

Engraving by P.F. Goist depicting the National Bank of Delaware at 4th and Market Streets in Wilmington, Delaware; shows exterior facade and inset view of Director's Room. From A.J. Clement's "Wilmington, Delaware," 1888.  DHS Print Collection, Box 1  #16

Engraving by P.F. Goist depicting the National Bank of Delaware
at 4th and Market Streets in Wilmington, Delaware;
shows exterior facade and inset view of Director's Room.
From A.J. Clement's "Wilmington, Delaware," 1888
.
DHS Print Collection, Box 1  #16

Twenty Dollar Bank Note, Bank of Delaware, October 17, 1795.  DHS Currency Collection

Five Dollar Bank Note, Bank of Delaware, January 1, 1863.  DHS Currency Collection

Top: Twenty Dollar Bank Note,
Bank of Delaware, October 17, 1795.
DHS Currency Collection

Bottom: Five Dollar Bank Note,
Bank of Delaware, January 1, 1863.
DHS Currency Collection

 

 

July 2015

The first Delaware State Fair occurred this month in 1920. Opening night for the fair, which took place then as it does today in Harrington, Delaware, was July 27. It ran four days through July 30.  The idea for the fair was born in Harrington’s train station, which was a popular meeting spot for local civic-minded men and women.  The festivity was originally known as the Kent and Sussex County Fair and offered  horse racing, live stock, agriculture & poultry exhibits, local art, and “8 Big Shows, 3 Riding Devices, Free Acts, 30 Concessions and Plenty of Music”. 

Left: advertisement in the july 28, 1920 State Sentinel newspaper, published in Dover, Delaware; Right: aerial view of the Delaware State Fair, Harrington, Delaware, c. 1970, DHS Postcard Collection.

 

Left: July 28, 1920 Advertisement in the 1920 State Sentinel newspaper, Dover, Delaware and Right: Aerial view of the Delaware State Fair, Harrington, DE, 1970.
 


June 2015


In late June of 1919, the Delaware regiment which fought in World War I, the 59th Pioneer Infantry, set sail for home from Europe after victory by the Allies. Over 9,000 Delawareans served. After training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, the regiment was sent overseas aboard one of the largest ships in the world at the time, the USS Leviathan,  on August 28th, 1918.  The troops arrived in France on the evening of September 7, 1918 and were rushed to the front lines within a month.  The 59th Pioneer set sail for home on June 28th, 1919 upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles- the peace treaty which cemented terms set forth six months earlier at the armistice which ended the actual violence between Germany and the Allies.

In recognition of the centennial of the start of WWI,  individual Delaware soldiers who fought in the Great War are highlighted each Monday on our blog This Morning is History.

 

 

 

Top left: Cover of "History of the 59th Pioneer Infantry 1918-1919"  Bottom left: Private John Fontello of Wilmington, Delaware  Right: List of Field and Staff Officers
Top left: Cover of "History of the 59th
Pioneer Infantry 1918-1919"
Bottom left: Private John Fontello of Wilmington, DE
Right: List of Field and Staff Officers
 
 


May 2015

In the month of May, the Peach Blossom, the American Holly, and the Strawberry were officially adopted by the Delaware General Assembly as the State Flower (in 1895), State Tree (1939), and the State Fruit (2010),  respectively.  Along with Georgia,  Delaware has been referred to as the “Peach State”. Before a massive blight known as “the yellows” struck in the late 19th century, Delaware was the leading producer of peaches in the United States. At its peak In 1875, Delaware produced 6 million baskets of peaches commercially which were shipped to market by railroad.

Greetings From Delaware! The DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Agriculture

Strawberry Fields, Bridgeville, Delaware, May 28, 1925. Delaware Historical Society Collection, AGR40

Strawberry Fields, Bridgeville, Delaware, May 28, 1925.
Delaware Historical Society Collection, AGR40
   

  Peach Market in Wyoming, Delaware, 1908.  The DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Agriculture

   Greetings From Delaware!
The DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Agriculture

  Peach Market in Wyoming, Delaware,
1908.  The DHS Purnell Postcard Collection, Agriculture

 


April 2015

April is an important month to Delawareans who enjoy escapades to the Jersey Shore. It was in April of 1945 that the Delaware State Highway Department was authorized to construct and operate a bridge over the Delaware River between New Castle, Delaware, and Pennsville, New Jersey. The first span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge took six years to complete. It opened in 1951.The Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the Delaware Memorial Bridge form the two principal travel links between Delaware and New Jersey, and are therefore popular gateways to the long string of beaches along the Garden State’s coast.

View of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Purnell Postcard Collection, Delaware Historical Society


 

View of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Purnell Postcard Collection, Delaware Historical Society

 

View of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  Purnell Postcard Collection, Delaware Historical Society
Three views of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Purnell Postcard Collection, Delaware Historical Society


 

 


March  2015

Delaware’s Popularity With Corporations Began This Month
A tide of laws favorable to opening a new business began to emerge on the east coast in the United States in the late 19th century.  During this month, in 1899, Delaware stepped to the forefront of the trend in corporate-friendly legislation.  On March 10th, 1899 the Delaware General Assembly passed  ”An Act to Raise Revenue For The State By Taxing Certain Corporations”.   In the decades to follow, Delaware emerged as a major haven for corporations due primarily to a relatively streamlined, unencumbered process of incorporation and to the rapid growth of case law which provided legal sign posts for new companies.  Today, half of all publicly traded U.S. corporations (companies owned by individuals in the general public in the form of shares and stocks) and 60% of Fortune 500 Companies are incorporated in Delaware.


Delaware Court of Chancery, 200th Anniversary, 1992.  Oversize Photograph Collection 5.53.1. Delaware Historical Society Collection.

Delaware Court of Chancery, 200th Anniversary, 1992.
Oversize Photograph Collection 5.53.1. Delaware Historical Society Collection. 

 


Title Page of the Laws of the State of Delaware, 1899, in which an act regarding taxes on corporations appears.
Title Page of the Laws of the State of Delaware, 1899,
in which an act regarding taxes on corporations appears.

 
 


February  2015 (Click on image for item description)

In honor of Black History Month, we highlight the opening of Delaware State University which occurred on February 2, 1892 . Originally called the State College For Colored Students, the school offered five different courses of study leading to a baccalaureate degree in Engineering, Science, Classics, Chemistry, and Agriculture.

To view more images, click here.


Students sitting on steps at Delaware State College in Dover, Delaware, circa 1900.  Cropped image from larger original photograph.  DHS Photograph Collection SCH52
Students sitting on steps at
Delaware State College
in Dover, Delaware, circa 1900.
Cropped image from larger original photograph.
DHS Photograph Collection SCH52

 

 

 

Prospectus of State College For Colored Students and Report of the President, 1908.  DHS Periodical Collection  

 

Title page of the Charter and By-Laws of the State College for Colored Students.  DHS Periodical Collection

 

Pages 14 & 15 of Prospectus, with terms of admission.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of the 1980 Delaware State College Yearbook. DHS Periodical Collection

 


January 2015

A massive military funeral procession in honor of the passing of our nation's first President, George Washington, took place in New Castle, Delaware on January 6, 1800.  Shown here is the announcement and description of the procession as seen in the January 4, 1800, Mirror of the Times newspaper.

 

George Washington's funeral procession announcement, Mirror of the Times newspaper, January 4, 1800.

George Washington's
funeral procession announcement,
Mirror of the Times newspaper, January 4, 1800.

 

 

Portrait of George Washington from the rare book "Monuments of Washington Patriotism," published in 1844 by Franklin Knight. Delaware Historical Society Rare Book Collection

Portrait of George Washington from the rare book
"Monuments of Washington Patriotism"
published in 1844 by Franklin Knight.
Delaware Historical Society Rare Book Collection.

 

 

     

 

 

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