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Town of Leipsic, Little Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlement Merchants Churches
Aldermen Town Commissioners Town Clerks

Early Settlement

In the old records there is the conveyance of a tract of land called the "Weald" by Edward Boesll to James and George Gano and Jacob Stout, April 30, 1723. The "Weald" contained 300 acres, and had been patented originally to John Hillyard October 10, 1687. Shortly after the conveyance to Stout and Gano, Stout laid out the town of Fast Landing, the name being given for the reason that it was the only fast ground above the bay. January 24, 1814, an attempt was made to name the place Vienna, and the bill had passed the Legislature, but on January 28th, of the same year, the present name of Leipsic was given it, as it was a great shipping-point for furs. Hon. Jacob Stout, who lived there in a house which still stands on the bend of the road from Dover to Morton, was instrumental in giving the place its name. The town in 1836 was one of the most important on the Peninsula. The wharves were hives of industry and the boat-yards employed, large numbers of men. Large quantities of lumber, grain and oysters were shipped to all parts of the world. Daniel Palmer, Charles Harper & Brother and Robert H. More kept large general stores in the town. As many as twenty- four vessels loaded at one time at the wharves. The boat-builders were James G. Waples, Wilson L. Cannon and George Parris. The latter had a saw-mill and several granaries. Mr. Cannon is still living in Dover. He began building boats in 1886. Among the vessels built by him were the "Louis," "Mary" and "Fairman" (lost on the Irish coast), and in 1854 he closed his yard, after building the last vessel launched at the town. February 2, 1839, the Leipsic Navigation Company was organized to improve the creek, with W. L. Cannon as president; Wm. Collins, secretary; and Joseph P. Palmer, treasurer. Three canals were cut, at a cost of two thousand eight hundred dollars, to shorten the distance to the bay. The Smyrna, Leipsic and Philadelphia Steamboat Company was incorporated February 3, 1839, but did not organize until 1853, when W. L. Cannon was made president, B. F. Chatam secretary and John McClary treasurer.

The company first ran the steamers "Diamond State" and "Lamokin," but the management has now-passed into other hands, which placed on the route the "Maid of Kent and "David Reed." The domestic trade of the town is quite large, and a profitable business is done in the shipping of marsh hay, grain and oysters.

Merchants

John W. Fenimore, merchant at Leipsic, was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, March 1, 1830. His grandfather, John W. Fenimore, was an officer in the Revolution, and after the war lived and died near Burlington. George W. Fenimore, his son, and the father of the subject of this sketch, married Eliza Scott. She died in 1837, leaving three sons and one daughter, and he married his second wife, Mary Reeves, in 1839. He soon thereafter bought a farm of two hundred and eighty acres in Little Creek Hundred, near Dover. The following year, 1841, they moved to Delaware and began the cultivation of the farm, on which there was then a small orchard of five hundred peach trees. He immediately set out another orchard of ten acres and shipped the first crops to Philadelphia by boat from Short's Landing on Smyrna Creek. He had just began to prosper as a general farmer and fruit-grower when he died, in 1844, and the farm was sold by the administrator a few years after to R. B. Jump, of Dover.

John W. Fenimore, their son, attended school at Leipsic and Smyrna, and then learned the trade of bricklayer and plasterer and diligently followed it until 1862, when he was appointed by the Levy Court collector for Little Creek Hundred. He served in that position for three years. In 1865 he bought out the store of Samuel Hargadine at Leipsic, then kept in a building immediately south of his present store building. As a merchant Mr. Fenimore prospered and his trade increased. He added to the business the purchase and sale of grain, coal, lime, fertilizers and general produce. He has since successfully continued the mercantile business and runs a steamboat from Leipsic to Philadelphia, making three trips a week in summer and two in winter to facilitate his own business and for the general trade of the community.

Mr. Fenimore represented Little Creek Hundred in the Levy Court of Kent County four years. Since 1877 he has been a trustee of the poor, was made treasurer of the County Board of Trustees of the Poor the same year and has since continued in the same responsible position. He served as school commissioner for several years. He owns a farm of two hundred acres of valuable land adjoining Leipsic.

Mr. Fenimore was married October 24, 1852, to Margaret Taylor, daughter of Henry Taylor, of Kent County, a descendant of one of the oldest families in the county. The children of this marriage were Matilda, married to William Hazel, now in business at Dover; John W. Fenimore, Jr., in business with his father at Leipsic, married to Jennie Wilson, of Kent County; Arthur married to Ida Clements in the spring of 1885, both dying of typhoid fever within four weeks in the fall of the same year. The two youngest sons, Henry and George Fenimore, live with their parents. Mr. and Mrs. Fenimore are members of the Methodist Protestant Church at Leipsic.

The post-office was established in 1836 with Robert H. More postmaster, who has been followed by Gilbert Crisfield, George Spicer and James D. Moore.

The Leipsic Canning Factory is the largest in the State. It was started in 1873 by Samuel W. Hall, of Dover, with a capital invested of fifty thousand dollars and a capacity of one million cans and employment for one hundred and twenty-five hands. In 1874, I. M. Lavin purchased the factory and since his death it has been conducted by his sons, under the firm-name of I. M. Lavin's Sons. Captain J. H. Fleming started his phosphate factory in 1877 and has been running since that time with a capacity of two hundred tons a year. The Hoffecker Mill, four miles from Dover, on Little Creek, is one of the oldest in the county, having been built in the early part of the present century.

Leipsic now has about four hundred inhabitants. It was incorporated as a town in 1852, and the first commissioners were Alexander Laws, George W. Spicer and Westcott Campbell. David Crockett surveyed the town limits and Thomas P. Wall was the first alderman. The town records are missing from 1852 to 1803. The following is a list of officials since the latter date:

Aldermen
Thomas Walls 1863-73
James P. Lamb 1875-74
Thomas P. Walls 1874
Henry M. How 1875
Thomas P. Walls 1876-82
H. M. How 1883
Thomas P. Walls 1884
Henry M. How 1885
Wm. F. T. Hudson 1887
Town Clerks
Edward E. Palmer 1863-64
H. M. How 1865
Morris Conoway 1870
H. M. How 1873
James Elderdice 1874
James P. Lamb 1875
H. M. How 1876
H. Raymond 1878
Thomas Reed 1879
H. M. How 1881
Robert Collins 1883
G. E. Putter 1884
James Story 1885
John White 1886
H. Raymond 1887
Town Commissioners
James Snow 1863
John Marley 1863
Thos. Kirkley l863
John Marley 1864
H. T. Hoffecker 1864
R. M. Hopkins 1864
Rees Taylor 1866
P. Campbell 1866
W. H. Morris 1866
P. Campbell 1866
Jas. Boggs 1866
John Parker 1866
Samuel Hargadine 1867
Wm. Freestone 1867
John Parker 1867
Wm. Freestone 1868
Peter Campbell 1868
John G. Scotten 1868
Robt M. Hopkins. 1869
J. W. Wilson 1869
Chas. Padlay 1869
H. T. Hoffecker 1870
John Parker 1870
Wm Fox 1870
H. T. Hoffecker 1871
John Parker 1871
Wm. Fox 1871
H. T. Hoffecker 1872
John Parker 1872
Samuel Marshall 1872
Peter Campbell 1873
Robert Rawley 1873
Jae. Kirkley 1873
James Potter 1874
Thos. R. Boyer 1874
John Parker 1874
Thos. R. Boyer 1875
Farris Potter 1875
D. C. Hoffecker 1876
Wm. Freestone 1876
Thos. R. Buyer 1876
D. C. Hoffecker 1876
Wm. Freestone 1877
Wm. H. Rawley 1877
Jeff. L. Campbell 1877
Farris Potter 1878
Wm. H. Bawley 1878
Thomas Parker 1878
H. W. Stout 1879
Wm. H. Rawley 1879
John J. Werser 1879
H. M. How 1880
Wm. H. Barley 1880
W. W. Parvis 1880
Morgan Traux 1881
Wm. H. Rawley 1881
H. L. Wilson 1881
Robt. Rawley 1882
Wm. H. Bawley 1882
Wm. C. Ford 1882
P. Lynch 1883
R. P. Collins 1883
H. L. Wilson 1888
Wm. H. Rawley 1884
Jeff. D. Campbell 1884
M. Truax 1884
H. L. Wilson 1885
Thos. P. Walls 1885
R. O. P. Wilson 1885
John M. Knight. 1886
P. Campbell 1886
Samuel Marshall 1886
John M. Knight 1887
James Dillen 1887
Chas F. Hoffman 1887

Churches

The Muddy Branch Methodist Episcopal Church was established about 1800, a short distance from Leipsic, and was abandoned about 1837, when the church was built in Leipsic through the efforts of Rev. John S. Fury. The old building went into decay rapidly, and in 1849 the only trace left was the graveyard. The building of 1837 is still standing, and forms the main church of the Leipsic Circuit. Prior to 1868 the Leipsic Church was a part of the Smyrna Circuit. The ministers of the church will be found in the list of ministers of the same circuit.

The Leipsic Methodist Protestant Church was organized June 3, 1865, with W. M. Smith, John G. Scotten, W. H. Moore, John Slaughter, Matthew Hutchinson, Samuel Butler, B. F. Hamm, Isaac Slaughter, Rees Taylor, Peter Campbell, Ferris Porter, T. P. Walls, George W. Clothier and Henry Wilson as the first trustee? Two thousand dollars were immediately raised for a church, and December 31, 1865, was fixed for the dedication of the new building. There were present Rev. J. D. Valient (who preached the first sermon). Rev. Thomas Downs, Rev. D. F. Ewell (minister in charge), and Rev. J. B. Merritt. The weather was unfavorable, and the dedication was postponed until January 28, 1865. Rev. J. B. Murray preached the dedication sermon. The building is forty-six by thirty-two feet, and cost $2300. Immediately upon opening the church a revival meeting was begun, and eighty persons were enrolled as members. The church was supplied with ministers from the Kenton and Clayton churches until 1883, when a separate station was established, and the following have preached here: Revs. George Smith, J. D. Lucas, McM. Thomson and B. W. Kindley. There is a graveyard attached to the church.

Rev. M. Marselles attempted to form an Episcopal Congregation in Leipsic May 10, 1869, and the following officials were elected for what was called Immanuel Church: Senior Warden, Andrew Spear; Junior Warden, G. W. Spicer; Vestrymen, Messrs. Clements, Eager, Wilson, Lamb, Hoffecker, Hopkins and Denney. Bishop Lee confirmed a number of persons as members; but the congregation was dissolved after a few years.

Kent County

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

 
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