94-Year Old Relative of Officer Killed in Line of Duty in 1915 Attends Wilmington Police Ceremony

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94-Year-Old Francis J. Tierney, the nephew of Wilmington Officer Francis X. Tierney attended the ceremony. Patrolman Tierney’s end of watch was March 1915.

May 8, 2015, the Wilmington Police Department unveiled a memorial wall honoring the ten members of the Wilmington Police Force who have been killed in the line of duty .  A member of the current police academy, the 96th class, read the roll call of WPD’s fallen officers, as the individual plaques were uncovered.

The young recruit, who will soon be patrolling city streets, solemnly read each name.   About half-way through the roll call he announced in a deep voice, Police Officer Francis X. Tierney, End of Watch, Saturday, March 6, 1915.  Died from gunfire.

Patrolman Tierney, 31, was shot and killed as he and three other lawmen attempted to arrest two suspicious men who were attempting to pawn two watches.  When the officers arrived the men fled and exchanged shots with the authorities.  The patrolmen chased the suspects into a nearby stable where Patrolman Tierney was shot and killed and the other officers were wounded.  The two suspets were taken into custody and the man who killed the patrolman was executed on May 14, 1915.  Patrolman Tierney had served with the agency for only three months.

Wilmington Patrolman Francis X. Tierney, EOD March 6, 1915  source:  Delaware Police Chief's Council  http://depolicechiefscouncil.org/in-memoriam.html

Wilmington Patrolman Francis X. Tierney, EOD March 6, 1915 source: Delaware Police Chief’s Council http://depolicechiefscouncil.org/in-memoriam.html

The recruit added that a relative of the patrolman, Mr. Francis J. Tierney, 94, was present for the ceremony. After the memorial was over I made my way to the front of the room and talked to Mr. Tierney.  He had been named for the young city policeman and we talked about that.

I also inquired so to whether he knew Dr. Helen Tierney and he said, yes that was his sister.  There were 11 children in his family. So I mentioned how much I had enjoyed working with the retired professor and scholar of women’s studies as she returned back home to Newark, DE and eventually started living in the family cottage along the Elk River.  He said, you know I built that house on the River.

At least I had a chance to let him know that in local history circles Dr. Tierney’s work hasn’t been forgotten.

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Maryland Paper Money: An Illustrated History, 1864-1935 Released

MarylandPaperMoney_NowAvailableA new regional title, Maryland Paper Money:  An Illustrated History, 1864-1935, by J Fred Maples has been released.  This 348-page hardcover book documents Maryland’s national currency era of banking from 1864 to 1935.  Among 300 photos of surviving notes are shown, including many rarities from the landmark Marc Watts Collection of National Currency.

The book is available for purchase online at





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History Happy Hour Features Talk about Steamboats on the Chester River

The Chester River.

The Chester River.

Press Release — Historical Society of Kent County

Join us for History Happy Hour from 4 to 6 on Friday, May 1 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street, Chestertown.

The Chester River was one of the earliest rivers on the Eastern Shore to see steamboat service and it was a nearly-daily operation that continued for slightly more than 100 years. On the steamers, passengers traveled in comfort and could even enjoy a first-rate meal while steaming down the river.

Besides passengers, wheat, tomatoes, peaches and other agricultural products of the Eastern Shore filled the freight decks and on the return trip, the steamer would bring back to the Shore needed items from the city such as tools, agricultural implements, fabrics, clothes, and medicines. . In 1923, the steamers made their final voyages between the Chester River and Baltimore.

Jack Shaum is a veteran journalist who is now a reporter for The Bay Times and Record Observer in Queen Anne’s County. He began his journalism career at The News American in Baltimore and then became press aide to the late First District Representative William O. Mills. Following that was a nearly 30-year career as news anchor and reporter for news-talk radio station WBAL in Baltimore. He retired from that position in 2002 and moved to the Eastern Shore and lives just outside of Chestertown. He has been fascinated by Chesapeake Bay steamboats and other ships from a very early age, and is co-author of Majesty at Sea, a history of the four-funneled passenger liners of the early 20th Century. He is also co-editor and co-ghost writer of Night Boat on the Potomac: A History of the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat Company. He is also past editor-in-chief of the quarterly journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America.

Join us for History Happy Hour , 4 PM Friday, May 1 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street in Chestertown and learn more about our history.

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Drys Walk in Dover to Stop the Flow of Booze in 1907

For the first time since 1856 prohibition became the law of the land in part of Delaware, following one of the most exciting elections the State had ever seen at that time.  A question had been put before the voters, asking them to decide whether licenses would be granted to outlets to serve alcohol.  For the license or no license (prohibition) question, the state had been divided into four districts, the three counties and Wilmington.

Each side was sure it was going to win the “local option” decision, but the dry vote carried the day in Kent and Sussex counties.  Thus the governor ordered all hotels, saloons and distilleries to stop the sale and manufacture of liquor.  Forty saloons and hotels and twelve distillers were affected.  In Wilmington and New Castle County a majority for license was cast, so the booze flowed there.

In the days leading up to the vote, Principal Cross of the Wilmington Conference Academy (WCA) “mustered up enough courage to head the procession of students,” having them parade all over Dover to oppose the saloon, hotel and distillery men, The Wilmington Sunday Star reported.  The postcard below shows the W.C.A. marching.

On Thursday the principal wanted to head for Wilmington, but a heavy rain was falling on Dover.  So he called for a hack from the Hotel Richardson to take him to the railroad station.  The Hotel Richardson sent back word that the principal should walk.  “You walked on election day.”

Enforcement in the dry, local option areas of the State was another matter, of course.

Wilmington Conference Academy marches for local option (prohibition) in Dover, Delaware.  source:  personal collection.

Wilmington Conference Academy marches for local option (prohibition) in Dover, Delaware. source: personal collection.

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


The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog http://mchhistory.blogspot.com/

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.

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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.


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Delaware Treated to a Spectacle as Suffragettes Tramp Across State


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

Equal Suffrage Association of Wilmington Banner. source: Delaware Historical Society. http://www.dehistory.org

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. http://sewallbelmont.pastperfect-online.com/36836cgi/mweb.exe?request=record;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

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