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Town of Camden, North Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlement

Assessment List, 1785 Churches
Camden Circut Clerks Treasurers
Assessors Collectors Commissioners
Schools .. Societies

Early Settlement

Daniel Mifflin (the son of Daniel, of Accomac County, Virginia), the grandfather of Samuel H. Mifflin, now of Camden, seems to have settled upon his tract of one hundred and twelve acres about the time he purchased. At that time two roads crossed on the tract, at the junction of which Daniel Mifflin built a tavern, now standing, and a storehouse. To the cross-roads he gave the name of "Piccadilly," which name it did not hold a long time, but became known as "Mifflin's Cross-Roads."

Sometime between 1783 and 1887, Mifflin laid the land out in building lots. In 1783 he sold to James and Jabez Jenkins nearly eleven acres, including dwelling-houses and a large frame shop. On March 5, 1785, he sold to Nimrod Maxwell six acres. On February 8. 1780, Edwin Cole bought a lot and built a brick house in the forks of the road, which later was occupied by Samuel Williams, a. hatter, and sold August 15, 1787, to Peter Lowber, tanner. In 1787 he sold the following lots: to Peter Lowber, nearly six acres, August 15th; to James Millis, nearly two acres, November 28th; to James McClyment, ten acres, November 27th; to Henry Ennals, three-fourths acre, July 23, 1788.

In one deed in 1786 one parcel is described as being "near unto the village now called Piccadilly, but more commonly called and known by the name of Mifflin's Cross-Roads."

In another deed, in 1788, a lot is described as being "at the Cross-Roads called Piccadilly, below Dover." The first mention we meet with of the name of "Camden" occurs in a deed from George Truitt and wife to Zadock Truitt, dated December 11, 1788. In that deed the property is described as being in the "Village some time heretofore called Mifflin's Cross-Roads (alias Piccadilly), but now called and known by the name of Camden."

Camden, a long time previous to the opening of the Delaware Railroad in 1856, was a place of considerable mercantile and commercial importance.

In 1860, and a long time previous, vast quantities of cord wood, staves, black oak and Spanish oak bark and grain were bought by the merchants and shipped from the " Forest Landing" and Lebanon to Philadelphia and New York.

In 1860 there were James Lord, Edward Lord, Grarrett Luff, James Green and Thomas and Daniel Mifflin engaged in the mercantile business, who bought the products of the forest and the field and paid their owners in cash and goods. But with the advent of the railroad in 1856 all this changed. The people, who had before hauled their products ten, fifteen and even twenty miles to find a market, now found a market at their very doors. In those days there were two hotels. The hotels were mainly indebted to the old stage line between Lewes and New Castle, and the stage line to Dona Landing and to Short's Landing, in connection with steamboats to Philadelphia.

There is now one hotel, three general stores, four groceries, one cannery, one saw-mill, one lumber-yard, one boot and shoe store, two drug stores, two butchers, two undertakers, two flour and feed stores, one stove and tin-ware store, three physicians and one real estate conveyancer.

Churches

The first Methodist Episcopal Church at Camden was built in 1796. On July 27th of that year, Daniel Lowber deeded one-half acre of land to Elijah Barratt, Wm. Bostick, Thos. Purnell, Peter Lowber and Benjamin Brady, trustees, for the people called Methodists in and about the village of Camden, on the road from Dover to Canterbury. On April 24, 1813, Benjamin Brady, Thos. Paine, and George Temple deeded to the trustees of Whatcoat Chapel, Camden adjoining their lot, on which a preaching-house is erected, one-half acre more. The land on which the church stood was also used for a burial place, where many people are still interred.

The church edifice, about eighteen by thirty feet, was used for a place of worship down to 1857, when it was abandoned and pulled down, and the congregation took possession of their new and more commodious brick structure farther up town, which had been built at a cost of seven thousand dollars, and was dedicated July 26, 1857.

The Camden church was supplied with ministers from the Dover Circuit until 1836, when it was formed into a separate circuit. The ministers who served the circuit in 1835-36 were John Henry, Thomas J. Quigley, John Henry and W. C. Thomas.

In 1867 the circuit comprised Camden, Bethbrier, Canterbury, Magnolia, St. Jones, Gum Swamp and Leipsic. It has now been reduced to but two charges.

Camden Circut

Robert W. Todd 1857-58
J. E. Smith 1857-58
J. E. Bryan 1857-58
James Flannery 1859
T. E. Skinner 1859
James Flannery 1860
_____ Bell 1860
J. L. Houston 1861
N. B. Durrell 1861
J. L. Houston 1862
J. D. Ayers 1862
J. B. Merrill 1863
W. T. Tull 1863
J. B. Merrill 1864
_____ Jump 1864
James W. Hammersley 1865
J. B. Merrit 1866
James W. Hammersley 1866
John Downbam 1866
S. T. Gardner 1867
G. W. Schreck 1867
J. 0. Sypherd 1868
G. W. Schreck 1868
J. O. Sypherd 1869
James Conner 1869
J. Wilson 1870
_____ Smith 1870
J. O. Sypherd 1870
J. E. Bryan 1871
J. E. Willey 1871
J. E. Bryan 1872
William Raughley 1872
E. G. Irwin 1873
A. M. Green 1873
E. G. Irwin 1874
T. E. Terry 1874
E. G. Irwin 1876
_____ McMichael 1876
H. H. Bodine 1876
William T. Talbot 1877
Charles Hill 1877
William T. Talbot 1878
E. L. Hubbard 1878
Henry S. Thomson 1879
E. C. Adkins 1879
James Robinson 1879
James Robinson 1880
L. E. Andrew 1880
James Robinson 1881
James A. Brindle 1882-83-84
E. H. Hynson 1885-86-8

The trustees of the church at present are Frisby Clark, A. K. Boggs, J. M. Richards, Amos P. Hinsley, G. H. Gildersleeve, Dr. E. W. Cooper and E. A. Shilling.

St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church was organized July 17, 1868. Daniel P. Barnard, Jr., was elected senior warden, and Philo H. Kent, junior warden. John G. Graham, James Lord, Dr. George G. Harmon, Dr. John W. Sharp, Alanson A. Lawrence, Samuel B. Wales and John Antrim were elected vestrymen. The congregation has built no church, but hold their services in Sarde's Hall, and are attached to Christ's Church, Dover.

In 1881 the Baptists (new school) built a meeting-house under the auspices and liberality of the late George Parris, of Dover. The structure is a neat wooden building.

 Camden and the surrounding country is peculiarly a Quaker settlement. Here the Mifflins, the Hunns the Nocks, the Jenkinses, the Lowbers, the Dolbys, the Howells, and many other families, settled and took up the laud, much of which is still in the possession of their descendants. Much of the religious history of the Quakers centers in and near the town of Camden, which has ultimately absorbed the other societies of the Friends in this county. The first notice we have of them is from an abstract of the minutes of their meeting at Duck Creek:

"The Tenth Month 19th, 1705. This day was held the Monthly Meeting of Friends at Duck Creek; it being the first Monthly Meeting, by approbation and order of the Quarterly Meeting of the people called Quakers, at Chester, for the establishing and keeping up the good order of Truth." The Friends of Duck Creek Monthly Meeting held a Monthly Meeting at the house of Widow Needham, at Murderkill Creek, the 18th of Sixth Month, 1712, at which time Robert Porter was appointed overseer of the Weekly Meetings of Murder Creek.

A record of Duck Creek Monthly Meeting, under date of 17th of Fourth Month, 1728, contains the following: "Friends of Murderkill request that they may have a Preparative Meeting, to be every fourth day next before the Monthly Meeting, which this meeting approves of."

The time of erection of a meeting-house on the site of the old burial-place on the road from Dover to Magnolia is not known. A deed for the land was made by William Jackson, May 12, 1760, to John Bower, Benjamin Warren, Samuel Dunnen, Thomas Nock and Jonathan Emerson, and was part of a larger tract of land called * Folly Neck.' "It comprised one acre" by the Branch at the going over of the King's Road." That a meeting-house was erected there, and was burned in 1760, the record fully discloses.

At a Monthly Meeting of Duck Creek, 22d of First Month, 1759, "Ezekiel Nock requests for himself and several other families about Tidbury to have liberty to hold a meeting for worship on the first and week days, during the winter season at house," which was granted.

At a Monthly Meeting of Duck Creek, 26th of Fourth Month, 1760, it was reported that the meet-ing-house of Murderkill was lately burned." The, Friends in the vicinity of Tidbury, who had privilege of meeting the year before, at this meeting brought forward a claim " that the members being few, some of them inclined to have a house built that might accommodate them and their friends settled about Tidbury, who lye remote from any meeting, with which this meeting concur." While the action of this meeting appears in favor of Tidbury, a committee appointed to examine the matter appears to have decided in favor of the old site, as a brick meeting-house was built upon it and used until about 1844, when, being much dilapidated, it was sold to Henry Mcllvain, who tore it down, since which time the place has remained as an old burial-place.

The Camden Friends' Meeting "was the last to be established in Kent County, and is at present the only one in active operation. This Meeting has absorbed all the others, and the old records from 1705 to the present time are in possession of Samuel Howell Mifflin. In 1805 or 1806 the Society of Friends determined to erect a building for school and meeting-house purposes, and circulated a petition to that effect.

In the deed of conveyance occurs the following recitations:

"Whereas, a number of persons members of the Society of the people called Quakers, for a considerable time past have had in prospect the erection of a Building to be occupied as a School-house and as a meeting-house for the members of that Society; for which purpose a subscription paper hath been circulated, and the following-named persons, members of the Society aforesaid, did subscribe; and have engaged to pay the several sums to their names affixed, viz , Daniel Mifflin, Jonathan Hunn, Samuel Howell, Jabez Jenkins, William Dolby, Thomas Jenkins, Thomas Berry, Warner Mifflin, Elias Jarrel, Joseph G. Row-land, Daniel Mifflin, Jun'., Samuel Edmonson, Samuel Mifflin, Henry SI. Godwin, Thomas Nock, Jonathan Jenkins, John Dolby, Oliver Nock, Sarah Russell, Hannah Alston, Sarah Mifflin and Ann Hunn Jun', (now Mifflin). And whereas the above-named persons have appointed Samuel Howell, Warner Mifflin and Joseph G. Rowland, as trustee in their behalf to take and receive a Deed or Deeds for a Lott of ground in or adjoining the Village of Camden given by Jonathan Hunn, for the uses above-mentioned conformable to the conditions hereinafter specified."

In pursuance of the foregoing recitations Jonathan Hunn and Patience, his wife, July 6, 1806 [Book I, 2, 348], conveyed and confirmed " unto the said Samuel Howell, Warner Mifflin and Joseph G. Rowland, as Trustees as aforesaid (upon this express condition, that they, the contributors, and their heirs, are to possess a right in said Lott and Building in proportion to their Contributions so long as they retain a right of Membership amongst Friends, otherwise called Quakers, and no longer). All that Lott or piece of ground situate, lyeing and being in or near the Village of Camden, on the Main Road leading from said Village to the Poor-House."

In 1828 the Motherkill Monthly Meeting was united to Duck Creek, and in 1830 the Monthly Meetings of Duck Creek and Motherkill were united under the name of "Camden Monthly Meeting," and held alternately at Camden and Little Creek, the latter of which was organized in 1810, and but recently abandoned. Camden Monthly Meeting is the only Quaker organization now existing in the county, and at present number about fifty persons.

Schools

"The Union Academy," a brick structure about twenty by forty feet, was organized in 1815. On the 20th of June, of that year, Samuel Newbold deeded fifty-three square perches of land, "adjoining to the Methodist meeting-house lot," to Dr. James Fisher and Samuel Edmondson in trust for the purpose therein named. On the 13th of January, 1816, the academy was incorporated by act of General Assembly, with Samuel Edmondson, Nathaniel Coombe, Henry Molleston, James Fisher, Joseph G. Rowland, Samuel Mifflin, Thomas Latchem, Thomas Coursey and Cornelius Battell as trustees. This institution for a long time was one of the most successful in the State. There the young people of Camden and the adjacent hundreds received a classical and academical education at the hands of some of the best instructors in the United State. It continued in successful operation down to the year 1857. About that time the public district school-house was burned, and the com-missioners rented the old academy building, which they still occupy, and now own. On the 7th of March, 1885, the trustees of "The Camden Union Academy," viz.: Edward Lord, Dr. John W. Sharp, John G. Graham, William H. Sarde, Andrew K. Baggs, Frisby B. Clarke, William B. Clarke, Jonathan H. Lowber and Alexander Jackson, Jr., conveyed the right and title of said trustees in said academy to "United School Districts Nos. 22 and 99," and it is now the public property of the State for school purposes.

Camden, during the recent Civil War, raised a company of seventy-eight men which were mustered into service at Wilmington, May 4, 1861, with James Green captain, and Enoch J. Smithers and Samuel Simpson first and second lieutenants, respectively.

Societies

Amity Lodge, No. 20, I. O. O. F., was instituted at Camden, June 6, 1849. It held its meetings in a rented building on Main Street the first year. The next year, 1850, it built an elegant hall on Commerce Street, where it has since been domiciled. The lower floor is used as merchants' stores, and the upper rooms are used by the Odd Fellows and by "Fruitland Grange," of the Patrons of Husbandry. The Odd Fellows were incorporated by the General Assembly.

In connection with their order they purchased and laid out one of the most eligible and beautifully located cemeteries in the county, just east of Camden, on the road to Magnolia, which is described in the tract of land "Great Geneva."

At one time there was a flourishing lodge of Good Templars, which is now superseded by the "Woman's Christian Temperance Union," and their auxiliary societies, the Young Women's Christian Temperance Union, and by the juvenile branch, all of which are in good working order.

Fruit-canning commenced at Camden in 1856, under the auspices of George M. Stetson and William Ellison. They were very extensively engaged in the business and carried a heavy stock. In 1884 their extensive buildings, which had been enlarged from year to year to meet the exigencies of their growing business, were destroyed by fire. In the conflagration Stetson & Ellison lost their cannery, Ellison also his dwelling, and Charles W. Lord his hardware establishment, their several losses aggregating from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars. Stetson & Ellison, nothing daunted by their loss, the next year erected a still larger and more commodious building, on a more eligible site, and entered upon their career with still greater energy and activity.

The only other serious fire occurred here July 9, 1875, in which the drug-store of Dr. George G. Harmon, the general store of John W. Stevens, the grocery of Daniel L. McBride, and the double building owned by Mrs. Richard Ward were destroyed, the loss aggregating about 110,000. This fire was the work of incendiaries.

There is also an old church here, built about 1853 by the colored people belonging to the old side Methodist Episcopal Church. About 1863 a division took place between the colored people of this church, but the schismatics being in the minority, they allied themselves with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has its own colored bishops, and built a meeting house near "Green's Mill," which they named the "Star of the East," and use for both church and school-house. There is also another colored school here which was instituted under the patronage of the Freedman's Bureau, and which continues in successful operation nearly the whole year. There is also another colored people's church here, built in 1883, called "St. James' Chapel," belonging to the colored Methodist Episcopal Church (South). Brecknock is now divided into many small lot". The largest divisions are those in the possession of John W. Stevens, Camden Union

Camp-Meeting Association, and the heirs of Thomas H. Howell. Brecknock is the name of one of the shires of Wales, and was evidently imported by Humphreys and bestowed on this tract.

The town of Camden was incorporated by an act of Legislature passed February 16, 1752. By the act it was provided that a town-meeting should be held on the first Monday in March next, for the election of three resident freehold commissioners, and that a plot and survey of the town should be made and recorded in the recorder's office in Dover. It was again reincorporated March 4, 1869. The charter was again renewed and amended at the 1888 session of the General Assembly. The town officers since 1852 have been, viz.

Clerks
Jabez Jenkins 1852
Ezekiel Jenkins 1853
Thomas Simpson 1854-57
Nathaniel Tucker 1858-59
B. B. Register 1860-61
A. Jackson, Jr 1862-66
A. Dudley 1866
Thomas Simpson 1867
W. S. Prouse 1868
James Lord 1869-71
W. H. Sards 1872
Albert Dudley 1873-74
William B. Nock 1875-87
Treasurers
Thomas Simpson 1852
Garrett Luff 1853
Edward Lord 1854-57
Williams. Prouse 1858-65
John G. Graham 1866
John Reynolds 1867
J. W. Stevens 1868
John O. Graham 1869
Alexander Jackson, Jr 1870-83
C. W. Smith 1884-87
Collectors
Isaac Dolby 1852-53
William Tindale 1854
William H. McBride 1855-57
Thomas Simpson 1858
William H. McBride 1859-60
W. H. Sarde 1861
A. Jackson, Jr 1862
W. U. McBride 1863
J. P. Coombe 1864-65
William S. Prouse 1866
Robert Sarde, Jr 1867
William G. Townsend 1868
Assessors
John P. Coombe 1852-57
Thomas Simpson 1858
John P. Coombe 1859-63
W. n. Sarde 1864
Thomas Simpson 1865
William H. McBride 1866
John P. Coombe 1867
William S. Prouse 1868
William B. Stubbs 1869
Jonathan N. Gildersleeve
1870 David J. Richards. 1871
William H. Carter 1872
David J. Richards 1873
John W. Stevens 1874
W. H. Sarde 1875-81
C. W. Lord 1882-86
Thomas Simpson 1887
Commissioners
Benj. B. Townsend 1852
Edward Lord 1852
H. Jenkins 1852
Benj. B. Townsend 1853
Edward Lord 1853
Alex. Jackson 1853
William H. Lockwood 1854
Garrett Luff 1854
Jabez Jenkins 1854
John Louden 1856
Daniel S. McBride 1856
William K. Lockwood 1855
David H. Stayton 1856
William H. McBride 1856
Benj. B. Townsend 1856
William K. Lockwood 1857
William H. McBride 1857
James Hawkins 1857
William B. Clark 1858
Thomas Martindale 1858
James Hawkins 1858
Daniel McBride 1859
Thomas W. Halrgrove 1859
William H. McBride 1859
James Hawkins 1860
John Reynolds 1860
Robert Sarde, Sr 1860
Robert D. Simmons 1861
John Reynolds 1861
Robert Sarde, Sr 1861
John P. Conwell 1862
Henry Clark 1862
Alex. Jackson, Jr 1862
Thomas P. Nock 1863
W. H. McBride 1863
Alex. Jackson, Jr 1863
Daniel L. McBride 1864
Avery Draper 1804
John W. Stevens 1864
William Lewis 1865
Matthias Jerman 1865
Solomon Townsend 1865
Elijah B. Register 1806
John Woodale 1866
Alex, Jackson, Jr 1866
Avery Draper 1867
Jonathan Carrow 1867
William H. McBride 1867
Daniel L. McBride 1868
Solomon Townsend 1868
David J. Richards 1868
Daniel L. McBride 1869
Matthias Jerman 1869
David J. Richards 1869

In 1869 commissioners were elected under the new act of incorporation for three, two and one years, respectively.

John Woodale 1869
Edward Lord 1869
Matthias Jerman 1869
Matthias Jerman 1870
William Slay 1871
Edward Lord 1871
William K. Evans 1872
John Woodale 1874
Matthias Jerman 1873
Dr. George G. Harmon 1874
William L. Caulk 1875
Stephen Postles. 1875
William L. Carter 1875
Dr. A. G. Harmon 1876
Charles G. Temple 1876
Charles G. Temple 1877
Daniel L. McBride 1878
James W. Catts 1879
Stephen Postles 1880
George Knight 1881
W. Ellison 1882
Stephen Postles 1883
C. A Jackson 1884
Thomas W. Hargrove 1885
C. W. Lord 1886
William Ellison 1886

Under the act of 1887 five commissioners were fixed for the town, and E. O. Raymond and I. H. Hinsley were elected for three years, W. R. Postles and D. L. McBride for two years, and E. A. Shilling for one year.

On "Brecknock" is located "Hanson's grist-mill," which was deeded by James Clayton and wife to Thomas Hanson and Joshua Gregg, millers, January 31, 1761, for the purpose of building thereon a grist-mill. June 12, 1766, Gregg deeded his title in the same to Thomas Hanson, in whose possession it continued until his death, which occurred in 1783. In his will, proven June 3, 1783, he devised to his son-in-law, Samuel Howell, his mansion, plantation, mill, etc., and the use of two hundred acres, purchased of Joseph Rogers, during his natural life. The mill property is still in the possession of his descendants, the Howells.

Upon this tract is located, on the southeast side of the public road from Camden to Dover, and lying upon Isaac's Branch. "The Camden Union Camp-ground for the Methodist Episcopal Churches of Delaware and Philadelphia," incorporated by act of the General Assembly, February 3, 1859, and re-incorporated February 19, 1879. This camp-meeting ground consists of one of the most beautiful groves of forest trees on the Peninsula, and possesses numerous springs of purest water of unfailing flow. Here the people from different parts of the State and from Maryland assemble together for ten days in the hottest weather of summer, living in board tents and receiving their friends from abroad. On Sundays, from the influx of the surrounding country and of strangers from abroad, the numbers on the ground often reach ten thousand persons.

"Dundee" is a tract of nine hundred acres taken up by James Wells, for whom it was surveyed December 24, 1680. It adjoins Brecknock and "Little Geneva." In 1771, Richard Jackson was the owner of one hundred and fifty acres. In 1783 the greater part of this tract was in possession of the heirs of James Gardner. In 1887, two hundred and nine acres of this tract is in possession of the heirs of the Rev. Ignatius T. Cooper. Other parts are owned by Thomas Saxten, Thomas Downham, the heirs of Walker Mifflin, the heirs of Thomas L. Madden, by Philo A. Kent, Abram N. Brown, Thomas Jackson and other.

Kent County

Source: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf, L. J. Richards & Company, Philadelphia, 1888.

 
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