Blogging Mill Creek Hundred History While Piecing Together Puzzles About the Past


The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog

The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog (MCHHB) published by Scott Palmer contains interesting narratives about notable buildings, people and places in this part of Delaware.  This platform, a virtual treasure trove of wonderful stories, is the place to learn about the Hundred’s past, as it fills in an “information gap.”  It also provides a public commons as Scott invites readers to converse while sharing information, photographs, documents and good stories.

I have read the weblog for a couple of years, learning lots about the past in the Mill Creek area. And I particularly enjoy following his approach to local mysteries, as he puzzles together hard to uncover fragments of evidence.  Scott takes a very precise methods approach to these investigations, summarizing what he knows and outlining whatever fragments of evidence he has unearthed.  From that framework, he suggests possible answers, contemplates the gaps and inconsistencies, and considers additional ways to find fresh clues to validate the hypothesis.  He also crowdsources his inquires, inviting others to contribute to the process.

Most bloggers sharing stories about the past in our communities produce concise, informative narratives.  It’s almost as if in the style of that voice of unfolding history,  Walter Cronkite, we say “that’s the way it is.”  That is fine and adds great value for all of us interested in the past, especially as a new generation turns to the web to share memories and do research.  It is so important that we broadly share our heritage stories and there are many excellent regional weblogs I follow using exactly this approach.  Each of us working “in the past lane” comes at the work we enjoy so much in our own unique way, and I value this broad sharing of accounts.

But Scott frequently adds to these valuable narratives by sharing the unfolding, investigative process.  Anyone who does analytical interpretations knows that matters aren’t always tidy.  They are complicated and can be problematic, especially if we are critically assessing something or examining untouched subjects (there are many), as we struggle to puzzle together a fresh source based narrative.  It isn’t always perfectly clear, nor is some of the evidence we want available or accessible.

MCHHB is currently mulling over a question about how Stoney Batter Road was named, which is what got me to thinking about the way Scott approaches his skilled passion for heritage studies.  On this one he writes:  “Due to the nature of the history in Mill Creek Hundred, and of the information available about it, almost never in these posts do we get all the facts or the whole story about any given topic. However, I’m usually able to cobble together a good framework of facts, even if some of the details are still a bit fuzzy.   The one story that seems to consistently buck this trend though is the origin of some local place and road name” as they often elude attempt to pin things down.

Additional information frequently surfaces as people read the item and share the knowledge they have.  Or Scott’s cold case work yields additional clues, after the original posts goes up. But for this particularly problematic question he writes:  “I wish I had a good, definitive answer for you, but as of now I don’t.”

Moving on from the knowns and unknowns related to this inquiry, he uses a professional approach to the investigation, saying that he has at “least three separate, inclusive theories.”  He outlined those and worked on cobbling together a framework of facts to support each hypothesis, even if some of the details were a bit fuzzy.

It didn’t take long before the power of the crowd yielded some more good pieces of evidence, and MCHHB had a second post on the matter.  But there’s still more work to be done.

Thanks Scott for sharing your knowledge of Mill Creek Hundred with all your readers and for the professional way you approach questions, as you post thorough and thoughtful columns that explore the events, people and place in Mill Creek, and the process of interpreting the story.

At the Wilmington & Western Railroad at Greenbank Mill.

At the Wilmington & Western Railroad at Greenbank Mill.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learn About Life for Young Ladies in the 1860s Through Dance, Games & Music of the Period

The Hannah More Academy returns to Middletown August 3-7, 2015, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The focus this year is the life of women during the American Civil War, with an emphasis on the arts.

The camp is geared for ages 10-14 and 15-18, as they step back in time to learn about life in the 1860s through dance, games and music of the period.  The camp meets at “Grace OP Church in Middletown.

Contact Abigail Harting, Headmistress,

Grace OP Church, Middletown, DE for additional information.

Phone 302-299-3682.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Delaware Treated to a Spectacle as Suffragettes Tramp Across State


Equal Suffrage Association of Wilmington Banner.  source:  Delaware Historical Society.

Equal Suffrage Association of Wilmington Banner. source: Delaware Historical Society.

After a more than 60 years of struggle to give women the right to vote, things were coming to a head during the second decade of the 20th century.  The suffragists had won battles in a number of states, and were slowly converting indecisive politicians.  But to keep the pressure on the holdouts, the more radical activists descended on Washington, D.C. for a massive march, picketing, and clever publicity stunts.

As the day neared for the big rally, March 3, 1913, Delaware was treated to a unique spectacle as a band of determined suffragettes tramped across the State, advancing on their objective, the occupation of Washington D.C.  These feminists were determined to get the nation’s attention on the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.   And to maximize publicity, the stalwarts had carefully mapped their route along paths George Washington traveled between New York and the Potomac.

On February 18, 1913, the suffrage army stepped sprightly into Delaware to the tune of “Marching through Georgia.”  The first person to officially greet them was the Claymont postmaster, Eben H. Baldwin.  A little ways down the road at the Robinson Mansion, Jeff Davis, a gentle bulldog adorned with “votes for women” strode confidently up to General Rosalie Jones.

vote why did repulican party fail in de 1913

Why did the Republican party fail in Delaware? This banner was used by the National Woman’s Party during picketing. A leg was added to the one R at some point. Source: Sewall Belmont House Collection.;id=B958B27F-B580-4572-8576-081674616648;type=101

At the Philadelphia Pike tollhouse William J. Whiteford, met the chief scout of the army, Olive Schultz.  The scout car driver received an animal mascot, a kitten, donated by Mrs. Whiteford.  Olive named it “Scouty” and said he would occupy a seat of honor when the brightly decorated vehicle rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3rd.  Also at the tollhouse were Mrs. A. L. Steinlein, president of the Arden Suffrage Club and her supporters.  For 10 years women had voted on village affairs.

Wilmington suffragettes met the pilgrims at Shellpot Park, to accompany them to city hall.  Just beyond the park a fire engine rolled from the station house and whistled its salute, and all along the way sirens on fire engines and chiming bells echoed through the streets.   “Seldom have Wilmingtonians turned out to welcome a set of propagandists as they did yesterday when the Pilgrims for Women Suffrage on their hike from New York to Washington arrived here,” the Evening Journal Reported.

Mayor Harrison W. Howell warmly greeted the Army of the Hudson at city hall.  While welcoming the troops, he wanted it understood that he was not in entire sympathy with the cause as he said that few were in favor of extending the franchise.  “May this city be the garden spot in your memories.  While I cannot say I am heartily in favor of your views, I admire your pilgrimage,” he remarked

The weary hikers set up camp at the Hotel DuPont, while staying busy, seeking converts and spreading the word.   At a noon meeting near the Pullman Car Company and that evening at the Harlan and Hollingsworth Corporation people heard campaign speeches.  Also that evening they were guests at the Garrick Theatre, the manager W. L. Dockstader having invited the pilgrims to make an address.  Alternating between five-minute suffrage speeches and the scheduled vaudeville acts, both types of performances were applauded, the News Journal reported.

Lausanne the suffrage mare pulling the ammunition wagon had been working hard on this tiring journey.  So General Jones had a veterinarian check out her condition.   The animal had been bought in Newark, NJ for $59.98 to pull Elizabeth Freeman’s literature wagon, and her fame was spreading.  The vet said she was fine.

Having been well received in Wilmington over two days and following a final good night’s rest, they shouldered their knapsacks and escorted by Patrolmen Purcell, Barr, McGillin, and Chalender, started marching toward Newport.  General Jones tried to persuade Mayor Howell to go with them, but he declined.

As they reached the top of the hill outside Newport, schoolboys from town greeted the hikers with supportive homemade signs.  The bells on the church, school house and the fire station rang out as they marched into town with 30 pupils, where the Newport Equal Suffrage Club welcomed them.

With all of Newport turning out to welcome the activists, the women were joined in some roadside speechmaking by Martha S. Cranston and Elwood W. Johnson Commissioner of town schools.   The inquisitive youngsters had plenty of questions when the general asked for them.  “Why don’t you take the cars to Washington?” a small boy inquired.  “The women must keep the cause before the public,” the General replied.  “Are you a Democratic?” asked another.  The speaker explained that like Susan B. Anthony she had not party until she had a vote.  “Aren’t there enough men to vote?” another inquired.  There were enough, but the important thing was that there were no women voting in some states,” was the reply according to the Baltimore Sun.

After that it was time to occupy Newark.  The determined troops were on the outskirts of town when the Delaware College Cadet Corps sighted them.  They had cut class in order to be able to escort the footsore commandos downtown.  The college tried to continue with studies, but since so many scholars were missing they finally gave in, letting classes out in body.   “Votes for Women” banners were seen all over Newark.

As the General led the troops, 175 uniformed cadets stood at attention in formation while their officers welcomed the hikers.  They then fell in line and escorted the pilgrims to Deer Park.  There the cadets withdrew to one side as the weary women, their spirits heightened by the greeting, went inside.   The corps presented arms, then turned to march back to the college with the cadet’s band playing “the Girl I left Behind.”

General Jones was greeted by several local advocates and there was plenty of speechmaking in Newark.  In response to a small boy’s question, “Do you want a women to become president the general laughingly replied,  “I don’t expect to live to see it, but if the time should ever come I believe she would fill the position well,” a war correspondent reported.

Promptly at 4 o’clock the bugle sounded and the party fell into line for the tramp to Maryland, where they were to rest for the night.

Continued — Occupying Cecil County.

The route of the Suffrage across from New York to Washington, D.C.  source:  Sunday Evening Times, Philadelphia, February 16, 1913

The route of the Suffrage across from New York to Washington, D.C. source: Sunday Evening Times, Philadelphia, February 16, 1913

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Popular History Happy Hour in Kent County Features Chilling Murder Story

9781626199422_274d9b05e4be6b4cd1a312d3e4574338The popular “History Happy Hour” at the Historical Society of Kent County is rolling around again as we prepare to flip the calendar over to April.  For the April 3rd program Kevin Hemstock, talks about his new book, “Injustice on the Eastern Shore – Race and the Hill Murder Trial.”

A chilling crime shook the County in 1892 when Dr. James Heighe Hill was murdered outside of Millington, as he was on his way to treat a patient.  The community was outraged and the authorities charged nine African-Americans with murder.  Lynching rumors simmered while the prosecutor presented the case, trying Hill’s alleged assailants as a group.  Although some were bystanders, all but one were convicted and sentenced.  Four were executed by hanging, while the rest died in prison.

The former editor of the Kent County News has been investigating this sensational crime for years, examining court records, pouring over old newspapers, studying primary sources, and interviewing people.  He will share the tragic and compelling story “of justice denied on Maryland’s Eastern Shore” during the “history happy hour.”

Copies of the book will also be available for sale at the time.  The cover price for the book is $19.95.

Stop by between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the first Friday of each month for a laid-back history program with great wine and fabulous cheese, before starting out for an enjoyable evening in Chestertown.  The program is free and open to the public, but donations from no-members are appreciated.

The April 3rd program takes place at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street, Chestertown, MD.

Kevin Hemstock

Kevin Hemstock


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Suffrage Army Occupies Harford County

Maryland is invaded.  General Rosalie Jones and her army cross the state line.  source:  Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

Maryland is invaded. General Rosalie Jones and her army cross the state line. source: Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

Part I — Cecil County

After an overnight stay at their Army’s first Maryland headquarters, the Howard House in Elkton, the company of suffragettes broke up camp and headed for Harford County.  At Perryville they were met by the Bayside Brass Band and a large delegation of citizens from Havre de Grace escorted the hikers across the bridge, where they were “greeted by half the town.”  Completely “tired out and foot sore,” the troops “remarked that the worst piece of public road in the United States was between Perryville and Elkton,” the Havre de grace paper reported

But the tired army was closer to its objective, a show of strength and solidarity for the first massive national civil rights parade in the nation’s capital, so  spirits were high.

Before they could get a good night’s rest at the Harford House, the hikers were escorted to the Mayor’s office, where congratulations were exchanged and addresses made.  In the morning a big crowd accompanied the ladies for a distance as they hiked to Bel Air.

A few miles outside town, the general received a note from Scoutmaster A. B. Hollock of the Bel Air Troop saying:  “I warn you against continuing your march tomorrow.  Such action would work against your cause in Maryland, where you need all the good will you can win.  It would be a grave mistake, for Maryland people are Sabbath keeping people.  So I earnestly request you to rest tomorrow in Bel Air.”

The “Army of the Hudson” camped in the county seat that Saturday night (February 22), twenty-two miles straight out the pike from Baltimore.  Despite the scoutmaster’s warning that the fourth commandment was strictly observed, the Sabbath journey was taken as the troops marched on.

“Roosters were really the objection to spending a day of rest in Bel Air,” the Sun reported.  “At Havre de Grace and Elkton the hikers declared they were awakened at 5 o’clock by vigilant chanticleers [dominant roosters] crowing, “Votes for women, votes for women.”  Village curiosity was another contributing cause.

Thieves followed the pilgrims, collecting pocketbooks, overcoats, and suitcases, so the Harford County police were on alert.  In Havre de Grace, the chief recognized three pickpockets in the camp with whom he had trouble at the last racetrack meet.  He warned them away and telephoned Chief Jackson of Bel Air and Marshall Fernance of Baltimore to be on the lookout.

There were some curiosities on this leg of the mission.  “The old home of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth his brother drew much interest.  Of even more interest was Chief of Police John Jackson, 78, and for 23 years a Baltimore Deputy sheriff.”  He is a veteran of the Civil War and when Lincoln was shot Chief Jackson was sent out from Washington with a squad of 42 men to Booth’s home to search for him, the Baltimore sun reported.

The chief was on the fence concerning the suffrage question, but when challenged by the militant, Miss Freeman, his only definite position was this:  “if women folks do get the ballot,” they would need separate polling booths” because of Jim Crow laws, the Sun reported.  “Miss Freeman had not considered the southern point of view and decided to think it over before commenting, an unusual thing with suffragettes,” the Sun’s remarked.

A largely attended meeting was held at the Masonic Hall, while they were in town.  “Rev John L. Yellott presided.  His speeches were humorous and appreciated by both audience and suffragette speakers.”

Among the suffragists of Bel Air who greeted the pilgrims were Margaret Lake of Forest Hill, Mrs. Henry D. Harlan, wife of Judge Harlan, whom they met on the road; May Hanna, daughter of John B. Hanna, Mrs. A. F. Van Bibber, Mrs. J. Wilson Moore of Fallston an officer of the Harford County Just Government League, and Col.  and Mrs. Herman Stump of Waverly, Bel Air who have visited General Jones at her Long Island Home.

On  Sunday, the “Army of the Hudson” moved out, prepared to occupy Baltimore.

The first picture of the suffrage hikers on Maryland soil.  source:  Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

The first picture of the suffrage hikers on Maryland soil. source: Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dan Coates Presents Results of Archaeological Study of the Susquehanna Canal

The Susquehanna Canal on the eastern sid

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

e of the Susquehanna River in Maryland aided navigating, permitting arks and rafts to navigate around the rocks and falls in the river.  Opened in 1802, it was never a financial success, and was sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1817.  Once the Susquehanna and Tidewater, stretching from Wrightsville to Havre de Grace,   opened on the western shore of the Susquehanna in 1840, its history was largely sealed.

Until late in the 20th century, people believed the remains of the Susquehanna Canal Locks were lost to modernization and the passage of time, especially with construction of the Conowingo Dam.  But in 1984, three locks of the canal were discovered near the Octoraro Creek.

Over a past few years the Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake has done a couple of investigations there, concentrating on the three locks around Octoraro Creek.  The investigations revealed three building foundations, a concentration of lithic materials and more than 600 artifacts, largely dating from 1820 to 1860.

Dan Coates, President of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake presented the story of these investigations and this historic site for the Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace on March 19, 2015.  The lecture was part of the speakers’ series at the Museum, which brings interesting and timely topics to the community.

Dan did a superb job.  He carefully summarized the broader history of canals along the Susquehanna, outlined the history of this route around the river obstacles, and presented the research study.  There was lots of interest and questions for Dan, and he obviously drew some canal specialists based on the questions they had for the archaeologist.

Thanks Dan and Susquehanna Museum for this excellent and informative program.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock.  source:  Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock. source: Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archaeologist to Discuss Field Investigation of Susquehanna Canal March 19th.

Dan Coates at a dig near Lewisville, PA.

Dan Coates at a dig near Lewisville, PA.

Dan Coates, President of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake (ASNC), will be the speaker for the Elsworth Shank Lecture series sponsored by The Susquehanna Museum at the Lockhouse this Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 pm. The program will be held in the Council Chamber of Havre de Grace City Hall on Pennington Avenue just south of Juniata.

Dan’ topic will be about the ASNC’s field investigations of the Susquehanna Canal, just north of Octoraro Creek.  The 2008 activity, supervised by Ann Persson Bennet, will be the focus of ASNC’ first published MiscellaneousPaper. The Canal was the first such constructed in the United States and chapter members, under Dan’s direction, cleared the undergrowth and saplings that covered it to reveal much of the structure in good condition.

Press Release Provided by Bill McIntyre, VP ASNC

A member of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake at the Lewisville, PA area dig.

A member of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake at the Lewisville, PA area dig.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment