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Town of Newport, Christina Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Early Settlement General Interests Lodges
Religious Interests

The pleasant borough of Newport is in the southeastern part of Christiana Hundred, on the Christiana Creek, which is here navigable for vessels of light burden. It is also a station on the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, a little more than three miles from the city of Wilmington, which absorbed most of its former business. There are two churches, a good school-house, several stores, a hotel and the various interests detailed in the following pages.

Newport was laid out as Newport Ayre by John Justis, in 1785, on part of the Constantine tract, which had been transferred to Henry Parker, a planter of Cecil County, Maryland. On the 26th of April, 1731, the latter conveyed a half-interest in this two-hundred acre tract to John Justis, reciting that "Whereas Conrad Constantine, by virtue of a warrant, had a tract of land called "Cold Harbour," lying in Christiana Hundred, on north side of Christiana Creek, assigned to Henry Parker, beginning at Christiana Creek at mouth of Rainbow Run, 100 acres.''

Early Settlement

On the 17th of February, 1735, Justis sold eighteen acres of the above tract to Samuel Marshall, who also laid out village lots and sold the same, among his purchasers being, in the latter part of 1737, Neil McNeil and George Stewart, mariner, from North Britain, who paid twenty pounds for two lots on St. John and St. James Streets. Other sales were made to the following:

John Tweggo
Alex. Frazen
Isaac Vernon
Abraham Marshall
George Hutchinson
James Hays
William Sutton
William Passmore
John Heald
Samuel Farra
John Ashmead
Hugh Evans
James McMullin
John Richardson
Joseph Turner
John Read
Owen Owens
Hans Rudolph
Thomas Brown
Joseph Taylor

John Justis sold lots to the following:

In 1736, Thomas Anderson, Thomas Gray, Patrick McKenzie, John Ashmead, John Richardson and Thomas Thompson; in

1737, Morton Justis, Thomas Morgan, Swithin Justis, Benjamin Paulson, Hans Rudolph, Justa Justis, James Steel, William Sample and Samuel Farra;

1738, John Stallcup, Andrew Stallcup and Isaac Vernon;

1739, Augustus Constantine, Thomas Marshall and John Lewis;

1740, Eben Wollaston;

1741, John Marshall;

1743, Morton Justis.

James Latimer first began purchasing lots in Newport January 10, 1752, when he bought a lot of Solomon Hersey, adjoining the home lot of John Justis, the founder of the town. January 1, 1753, he bought an interest in a lot, forty feet square, lying on Christiana Creek and Hutchinson's Run, on which was then the wharf of Joseph Jones and William Sutton, upon which they were to erect a dwelling and a store-house.

On the 16th of May, 1758, he purchased two lots of William Sutton, and is then mentioned as a store-keeper. From this time on he was largely interested in shipping grain and produce to Philadelphia and the West Indies. His store was on the present Groome Corner.

John Latimer, one of the sons, went to China, where he made a fortune in the tea trade. Henry, another son, became a very aged man, dying near Wilmington. After removing from Newport, Latimer built a fine mansion on a piece of fast land, which is still occupied by some of his descendants. It is said that he here attempted to found a city which should be a rival to Wilmington, and, failing in this purpose, the locality became known as "Folly Woods." He was the most active business man of Newport in the period he lived there.

Very many changes in ownership of property took place in the early history of Newport. The place began to decline as soon as the future of Wilmington was assured, and after turnpikes and other improvements directed trade towards the latter place, Newport more fully lost its importance as a commercial point. Before the completion of the Lancaster turnpike to Newport, large quantities of grain were shipped from Newport, and hundreds of teams came from the rich farms of Pennsylvania to unload their produce at this point, and returning were generally laden with merchandise. To accommodate this traffic several wharves and warehouses were built on Christiana Creek, at which half a score of sloops received their freightage. In later years this branch of business was almost wholly discontinued. John McCalmont is remembered as one of the most active shippers of that busy period. He lived in the John A. Cranston house. The names of other traders and shippers may be found in the sketch of Christiana Hundred.

Lewis Stone carried on the tannery business very extensively, having two bark-mills, one on the Tatnall, the other on the present Cranston wharf, where Thomas Seal also tanned. A line of packets left these wharves daily for Philadelphia, one of the regular boats being the ''Hannah,'' having a burden of about forty tons. After she was abandoned she was allowed to founder in the creek, at Newport, where a part of her keel may still be seen. The "Elizabeth" was in the same line, which was owned by Captain Fred Hilyard and others. Aaron Paulsen was a prominent man, living on a farm just outside of the village. Isaac Flinn lived on the present Vincent G. Flinn place. Andrew Justis was a trader in the village, and his son, Aaron, lived on the Dr. Irons place. Robert C. Justis is a lineal descendant of John Justis. Hans Nebiker lived here before the Revolution, his home being near the spring on St. John's Street. Of his seven sons, John has always lived on the place which his father bought in 1803 and where he planted a sycamore tree, which is one of the landmarks of this locality. After 1800 a market-house was maintained on the south side of Market Street, between St. James' and Marshall Streets, but nearly every trace of this building has disappeared. In 1825 Newport was in the flood-tide of its commercial activity, having five good stores and half a dozen inns. These grew less in number each year, and after the completion of the railroad, in 1837, but few had a flourishing business.

Newport had good inns as early as 1788, as the following extract from John Penn's Journal of that date will show: " Newport, within a few miles of Wilmington, has still more houses than Newark, and a good brick tavern which provided proper entertainment for horse and man. The kitchen door being ajar, I was amused by a war of words between Perrins and Rapillius, two rustics completely drunk, and by degrees becoming less intelligible. Each seemed perfectly apprised of the other's, though unconscious of his own aberration from propriety." In 1797 John Miller was licensed to keep this inn. The present tavern has long been the property of the Isaac Miller estate and a part of it was built in the last century. The "Yellow Hotel." kept by Richard King, was many years its rival for business, but has long since been devoted to private uses. At the former hotel General Cadwallader rested after his duel with Dr. Pattison of Baltimore, April 5, 1823, and had his wounds dressed so that he could be taken to his home in Philadelphia. The duel was fought on the Peter Derrickson place, about a mile from the village, and the distance at which the principals stood was twenty-seven feet. At the word "fire," Cadwallader's pistol failed to go off, and in the meantime Pattison fired, his ball taking effect in the pistol-arm of his antagonist, which put an end to the combat. Upon seeing the result of his shot, Pattison thanked God that Cadwallader was only wounded, and a truce was declared, the two men separating with better feelings towards each other.

The old Latimer Corner is one of the most ancient store stands in the village. The present William Duff stand was erected at a more recent period by James Robinson. The Kilgore block was erected in 1882. Dr. M. A. Booth opened the first distinct ding store, in which has been kept the Newport Post-Office since December, 1886, James F. Porter being the post-master.

Among the physicians here located was a Dr. John Morris, who lived on the Robert Lynam place prior to 1887. He was a man of generous impulses, but erratic, and committed suicide by shooting himself. His dying request was that he be buried in a standing position, with his face towards the projected railroad, whose completion he opposed. His wishes were carried out, but subsequently his remains were taken up and elsewhere properly re-interred. Later physicians here have been Drs. Alexander Irons, Isaiah Lukens, Paul Lukens, M. A. Booth and I. M. Flinn, the latter being at present a practitioner.

The Newport National Bank is the successor in business of the old Real Estate Bank of Delaware. The latter was chartered by an act February 22, 1859, and organized fur business May 2nd, the same year. At that time F. Q. Flinn was elected president and served to January 1, 1860, when the old officers were relieved by a new board. This was composed of Caleb Marshall, president; James Cranston, David Eastburn, F. Q. Flinn, Robert B. Flinn, A. Derrickson, Samuel Cranston, John Mitchell and William G. Phillips. The cashier was Thomas W. Robinson and a banking office was established in a building on Market Street, west of James Street. The capital stock consisted of seven hundred and three shares, at one hundred dollars each per share, secured by mortgages on real estate. Assessments were made until the bank had a cash capital of thirty-seven thousand five hundred dollars and was well equipped for business. October 31, 1862, J. W. H. Watson became cashier, and served during the existence of the bank under its old charter, and ever since being a national bank. On the 5th of January, 1864, Frank Q. Flinn succeeded Caleb Marshall as president. The old bank was merged into the present institution May 9, 1865. Its organization had been effected March 25th of the same year, with a capital of fifty thousand dollars and the following board of officers:

Frank Q. Flinn, president; William Haylett, David Lynam, Jacob Rubencame, Edward Mendenhall, William G. Phillips, Robert B. Flinn, David Eastburn, James Cranston, directors; and J. W. H. Watson, cashier.

Business was transacted in the old bank building until January, 1865, when the present house was occupied. It was erected the preceding year and furnished with all the appliances of the modern bank, making it complete in all its appointments. August 8th, the same year, the capital stock was increased to seventy-five thousand dollars and so continues, giving the bank ample means to transact a large and profitable business.

In 1887 the officers of the bank were David Eastburn, president; J. W. H. Watson, cashier; James Cranston, John A. Cranston, John Mitchell, Reuben Satterthwaite and Charles M. Groome, directors.

General Interests

Among the later business interests which have given character to Newport is that carried on by Cranston, Newbold & Co., dealers in builders' supplies and machinery. The business was established many years ago by James Cranston, the father of the senior member of the present firm, which has expanded it to the present fine proportions. This firm was constituted in 1882 of J. A. Cranston and John M. Newbold, G. W. McKee being added in 1887. In 1883 a branch of the business was established in Wilmington, which has also been very successful. At Newport the firm owns well-appointed yards, warehouses, and possess water and rail privileges for shipping purposes. Employment is given to a number of men and the conduct of the business gives the place an active appearance.

Nearby, well located between the railroad and the creek, are the works of the J. Marshall Iron Company.

This enterprise was begun in 1873 by a company composed of Calvin P. Marshall, Joseph P. Richardson and John Richardson, for the purpose of making sheet-iron in connection with the work of the Marshallton Mill. Steam-power was employed to operate a pair of sheet-rolls and there were three furnaces put in blast August 16, 1873, under the superintendence of Simeon S. Myers. In the spring of 1874 a sheet-roll mill, fifty two inches wide, was added and the manufacture of heavy iron begun. Later, galvanizing works were put up in connection and operated by George Danby. In 1878 the works became the property of John Marshall, and in the fall of that year work was suspended. In April, 1879, work was resumed and carried on four years, James Robinson being the superintendent.

In 1881 the present company was formed by Edward Mendenhall and others, with the following officers: Edward Mendenhall, president; John M. Mendenhall, secretary; Joseph W. H. Watson, treasurer; Francis T. Jones, superintendent.

The machinery operated in 1887 consisted of three puddling furnaces, one heating furnace, two anneal-ing furnaces, two pairs of sheet- rolls and one pair bar-rolls. Sixteen hundred tons of metal are manufactured into refined iron, affording work for seventy-five men.

The J. A. Cranston Company manufacturers of super-phosphates, etc., occupy a site which had been used by a pressed brick manufactory, carried on by James & Samuel Cranston, and where later was the wagon-spoke factory of Charles Willard, neither enterprise being continued a long time. The business now carried on was established in 1870, at Chadd's Ford, Pa., by the Whann Brothers. In 1879 they transferred their interests to Newport, associating themselves with John A. Cranston. In 1885 the present company was organized, with J. A. Cranston president, C. Whann vice-president, J. E. Whann secretary and treasurer. The plant of the company embraces five acres of land, about half of which is required in manufacturing operations.

The main factory is one hundred and twelve by one hundred and sixty-eight feet, two stories high. The motive-power is steam, driving a one hundred horse-power engine, and the works are arranged to give a producing capacity of fifteen thousand tons per year, which is readily shipped by boat or steam-car, the works having railroad sidings and an excellent dock. Fifteen men are employed, and the products have a high reputation in the markets.

Newport Incorporated. Corporate privileges were bestowed upon the village by an act of the Assembly, passed April 7, 1883, under which it has since been governed. A previous corporate organization was but a short time maintained, and was not productive of any marked results. Under the last act the bounds were established as follows: "Beginning at a point on the west side of Mary Street at low-water mark, on the north shore of Christiana River, and in a northerly direction along the west side of Mary Street, until it intersects a continuous straight line from the northern boundary of Joseph Killgore's land; then in an easterly direction by the said Killgore's line and lines of Alexander Irons, M.D., to the northeast corner of said Irons' land and Cherry Lane; thence in a westerly direction down said Cherry Lane to the intersection of the Christiana and Wilmington Turnpike; thence eastward along said turnpike to the eastern boundary of St. James' Church lands; thence in a southerly direction on a line parallel with Walnut Street until it intersects the Christiana River; thence with low-water mark on said river to the place of beginning."

The first election was held April 11, 1874, at which time twenty-nine votes were cast, and Joseph Killgore was elected alderman, Robert C. Justis, Lewis Weldin, Joseph W. H. Watson, John W. Snitcher and John W. Killgore commissioners, Alexander Irons assessor, Daniel Green treasurer.

Robert C. Justis was the second alderman, being elected to that office in 1884. The same office was filled, in 1887, by J. W. R. Killgore. Ephraim Myers was secretary of the commissioners; J. El wood Conlyn, treasurer; J. R. Barrett, assessor; and David Himsworth, bailiff.

Since the incorporation of Newport the streets have been much improved and the village given a better appearance generally. About $400 is annually expended in this direction, involving a tax of fifteen cents on a dollar. In 1887 the assessment roll bore one hundred and seventy-five names and the population was estimated at eight hundred, more than double the number when the village became incorporated.

Lodges

Armstrong Lodge, No. 26, A. F. and A. if, was instituted at Newport under a charter bearing date June 27, 1870, with Joseph W. H. Watson, Master; Robert Lewis Armstrong, Senior Warden; Thomas Brackin, Junior Warden. Since that time the meetings have been statedly held in a neat hall in the Killgore block, and in 1887 there were about sixty members and the following principal officers: F. O. Biberstien. Master; James H. Polk, Senior Warden; John E. Whann, Junior Warden; Joseph W. H. Watson, Treasurer; Alexander Irons, Secretary.

The Past Masters of the lodge have been Lewis R. Armstrong, Thomas Brackin, Joseph H. Chambers, Swithin Chandler, John A. Cranston, John Hoopes, Francis T. Jones, Robert C. Justis, John W. R Killgore, John M. Newbold, Thomas Pilling, Joseph W. H. Watson.

Andastaka Tribe, No. 14, I. O. of R. M., This body was instituted September 28, 1874, and meets in a good hall in the lower part of the village. From the beginning it has been prosperous and reported fifty members in 1887. The tribe was incorporated February 3, 1886.

David L. Striker Post, No. 8, G. A. R., was chartered with twenty-three members and held its first meeting in March, 1883. The post statedly meets in the Killgore Hall and is prosperous. The membership has been increased to thirty-three and Daniel Green is the present Commander.

Active Lodge, No. 11, A. O. of U. W., The youngest secret order, a lodge of United Workmen, was instituted May 27, 1885. The charter was granted to Charles H. Davis, John M. Newbold, William A. Mullin and a number of others. In 1887 there were thirty-three members, whose meetings were held in Killgore's Hall.

Religious Interests

St. James' (Protestant Episcopal) Church, The early records of the Episcopal Church at Newport have been lost, but from an old book found in the attic of the courthouse at Wilmington we learn that a lottery was held to raise money for the erection of St James' Church.

This old book was also used to keep the accounts for building material, labor, etc. The dates begin in September, 1767, and the accounts are for brick, lime, boards, scaffold, poles, etc.

The managers of the lottery in August, 1767, were Empson Bird, Thomas Duff, Thomas Ogle, Morton Morton and John Reece.

Contract was made with Henry Vining for the erection of the church. Nicholas Sellers charged for two hundred and eighteen thousand nine hundred brick, which, however, the trustees could not find, as John Byrne, who laid the brick, only brought in an account for laying one hundred and sixty thousand seven hundred and thirteen. The writer says: "I discovered the error at the time of settlement with Sellers and Conrad Grey, but the Committee was deaf to all I could say." The rafters and iron-work for the roof were laid November 9, 1769.

August 14, 1771, cash paid James Adams for printing tickets, "when a Miss was Maid by the Printers."

Plates were put on in October, 1771.

October 15, 1771, cash paid Mr. Marshall for sundries "When Doct. Smith Preach at St. James'."

November 17, 1774, cash paid Henry Vining at a settlement. Capt. Thomas Ogle and Morton Morton were present.

Before this building was completed the War of the Revolution broke out, and in those troublous times it was used to stable a troop of British cavalry. Later, meetings were here again held in the summer in connection with the Episcopal Church at Stanton, the work at Newport being designated as the New Church. In 1787 an unsuccessful attempt was made to incorporate the churches, probably with a view of securing the completion of the building at Newport. In this house the Rev. William Price, rector of the Old Swedes' Church at Wilmington, officiated from 1800 to 1802, but it fell into disuse about 1810, and before this time all Episcopal meetings at this point had been abandoned. In subsequent years occasional meetings only were held by the rectors of St. James, of Stanton, but after the accession of the Rev. Wm. Marshall; in 1857, regular cervices were established in the Protestant Methodist Church. The house was refitted and made comfortable in other respects. The church was admitted into diocesan relation the same year, and in 1859 the vestry were appointed trustees to hold and manage the ecclesiastical property, including the graveyard on the old lot. It was deemed best to dispose of the old stone church, and after the building of the new schoolhouse, in 1886, meetings were there held, the location being more central. But early in 1875 measures were taken to build a chapel, the comer-stone of which was laid June 17th, that year. On the 3rd of October, 1875, the building was so far completed that lay services were held in it by W. Jenks Fell, and it was formally opened on the 11th of November of the same year. The consecration did not take place until September 5, 1877, when Bishop Alfred Lee performed that service. It is a frame building in the Gothic style of architecture, of plain but not unattractive appearance. The lot is large and very nicely located. The membership of the church has ever been small, and since December 1, 1885, the rector has been the Rev. Wm. A. Alrich. Other rectors of this church, or serving in connection with St. James', of Stanton, have been the following:

The Rev. Robert Clay, prior to 1791
Rev. Joseph Clarkson, about 1797
Rev. Robert Clay, 1799 to 1824
Rev. Stephen W. Pustman, 1824
Rev. W. Pardee, 1833-34
Rev. Hiram Adams, 1837
Rev. C. C. Chambers, 1840-43
Rev. W. Mansfield. 1850-54
Rev. G. Sheets, 1854-56
Rev. William Marshall, 1857-72
Rev. Charles E. Fessenden, 1873-74
Rev. Wm. Dent Hanson, 1875-85

Peniel Methodist Episcopal Church of Newport, As early as 1797 the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper and others preached to a small band of Methodists at Newport, holding services usually in the afternoon, after having preached at Wilmington or New Castle in the afternoon of the same day. John Miller was the only male member at this time, but there were six or eight devoted female members, whose zeal caused the society to become permanent in 1803. Six years later a small frame meeting-house was built on a lot of land secured from Thomas Latimer, which he formally conveyed to the trustees, June 22, 1810. This board was composed of Joseph Lynam, John Miller, Dennis Dougherty, Benjamin Hersey and Samuel Wood, and had become an incorporated body May 16, 1810, a week after its election.

In 1864 the old church building was removed and the present brick structure erected in its place, upon the same lot, a part of which is used for burial purposes. The house has sittings for several hundred people, and is plain in its appearance. In 1842 Sybilla Ann Stone donated the brick house on the adjoining lot, and an acre of land on the opposite side of the street, for a parsonage and the support of the church. A part of the old brick residence antedates the century, but it has been modernized within recent years, and made a comfortable residence. The entire church property was valued at seven thousand dollars in 1887 and was controlled by Trustees Vincent, G. Flinn, Wm. R. Flinn, W. A. Weldin, Alexander Irons, Thomas J. Hanna, John Scarborough, George W. Davis, Daniel Green and Ephraim Megargal.

The church has sustained many different relations to the Conference with which it has been connected, but, since 1865, has been classed as a station, and the ministers since that period have been the Revs. Wm. H. Fries, W. H. Bodine, Joshua Humphries, John Allen, John D. Rigg, H. S. Thompson, J. E. Bryan, E. H. Nelson and John D. C. Hanna. As local preachers, Daniel Green and Vincent G. Flinn were reported, both having served in that relation many years.

The church has a large membership, numbering about two hundred in 1887, and also maintains a flourishing Sabbath-school.

The Newport African Methodist Church is a small stone building, north of the village. Originally it was erected by an organization of white Methodists, which had among its members Joseph Lynam, Robert B. Flinn and others. This society disbanded thirty years ago. Later, Episcopal services were there held, and subsequently the property passed into the hands of the present body, which has but a small membership.

Near Newport John R. Phillips erected a house for the holding of religious meetings, but it was never occupied by a regular society, and in the course of years it was torn down and the material used in other buildings. Phillips subsequently became a resident of Newport, and was noted for the eccentricities of his character.

New Castle County

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

 
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