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Villages of Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Stanton Marshallton Hockessin
John G. Jackson Hotels Brandywine Springs
John Mitchell

Stanton is the oldest village in Mill Creek Hundred and was formerly called Cuckoldstown. When Stephen Stanton became the owner the name was changed to Stanton. It is situated in the south-eastern part of the hundred, near the junction of White Clay and Red Clay Creeks and about a half-mile distant from the depots of the Baltimore and Ohio and Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroads. It contains three churches, a school-house, post-office, hotel, three general stores, millinery store and about four hundred inhabitants.

Marshallton is situated about a mile and a half north of Stanton. It was so named in honor of John Marshall, who started the rolling-mills at this place. It has grown rapidly since the enlargement of the mills by J. R. Bringhurst, and some of the residences are lighted by electricity. Two depots of the Balti more and Ohio Railroad are within five minutes' walk of the village. It contains three general stores and has a population of three hundred and fifty.

Hockessin is situated in the northern part of the hundred, on a portion of an eight-hundred tract of Letitia Manor granted to John Houghton August 2, 1715. The name is an Indian word, said to mean "good bark," and was so called on account of the excellent quality of white oak found in this locality. The village has grown considerably since it has railroad facilities. It at present contains three churches, five stores, a hotel, post-office, school-house, station on a branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and about four hundred inhabitants.

Milltown, Greenbank, Loveville, Brackinville, Mermaid, Corner Ketch, and Pleasant Hill are small hamlets containing a few dwellings.

John G. Jackson, surveyor, civil engineer and astronomer, was born in New Castle County, Delaware, September 8, 1818. He was the second son of Thomas and Jane Jackson, who at that time occupied one of the oldest farm homesteads in the fertile valley of Hockessin, an aboriginal name of uncertain derivation, but said by some to mean "Good Bark Hill." Anthony Jackson, of Lancashire, England, immigrated to Ireland in 1649. Among his children was Isaac Jackson, who, with his wife, Ann Evans, became the parents of a large family and immigrated to America in 1725, and settled at Harmony Grove, in Chester County, Pa., which has continued to be the residence of descendants of the family until this day. To use the Scriptural phrase, Isaac begat William, William begat James and James begat Thomas, the father of John G., who thus appears to be the sixth generation from Anthony Jackson, of Lancashire, England. A sesqui-centennial of the tribe of Jackson was held at Harmony Grove, Eighth Month 25, 1875, and John G. Jackson had the honor of presiding. From his address the following is an abstract: "Our worthy progenitor, Isaac Jackson the elder, whose notable advent with his family into this beautiful part of Pennsylvania, one hundred and fifty years ago, we this day join in celebrating, was a member of the Society of Friends, called Quakers, and such his descendants have largely been. It would appear that not alone as Quakers were the ancestors of the Jacksons noted as representative men, of strong religious convictions, with firm individuality and independence of character, hard to drive against their consciences, persistent in effort The martyr blood of Ralph Jackson, burned at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary, 6th month 27, 1556, and the boldness with which his friend, John Jackson, another dissenter, about the same era, withstood priestly dictation in matters of religious faith, fully indicate the spirit of our re-mote ancestors. Even the armorial bearings of the ancient feudal Jacksons, when warlike qualities were at a premium, 'the greyhound and the dolphin,' 'swiftness by land and sea,' was no mean device as indicating their standing before kings and princes."

Jane Jackson, the wife of Thomas Jackson and mother of James C. Jackson and John G. Jackson, was the daughter of John Griffith, of Quakertown, Bucks County, Pa., and was of almost pure Welsh ancestry, descending direct from Llewellen Griffith, said to have been one of the last native princes of Wales, and occupying a castle on the coast of County Cardigan. They, too, are of the Quaker strain, and members of the Griffiths as well as of the Jacksons have been prominent as preachers and leaders in the Society of Friends. While John G. Jackson is not now a member of the Society of Friends, he is an ardent admirer of the simplicity of their lives and practical integrity of character. He is proud of their record as defenders of individuality of thought and true liberty of conscience. For himself he is now only ambitious to be known as a member of the great human brotherhood, and a seeker after truth in all its highest and purest manifestations. He says that the pursuit of science has revealed to modern minds an infinite cosmos; that the more it is studied the more plainly does it indicate one grand unity of universal nature in the perfect co-existence and co-adaptation of the material, the mental, the spiritual, seemingly pervaded by one Supreme Divine intelligence that, "without variableness or shadow of turning," controls the whole by, and through, the maintenance of laws above, and that of these controlling laws, the law of growth and development is one of the most persistent and important. Being thus impressed, it follows that the subject of this sketch should join the thousands of philosophic minds who lament the conservatism that clings to the religious theories and dogmas of people less developed by growth, and possessing less knowledge than those of today. Instead of seeking salvation in the schemes and inventions of men of a more barbarous age than this, he advocates the seeking of it by acquiring a knowledge of and a yielding due obedience to the Divine and inexorable laws of our own being. Instead of reading the ancient histories of the peoples of the past and regarding them as the "Word of God," histories that scholarship is continually proving to be less and less authentic, more and more mythical and legendary, he pleads for the reading of the "Word of God" in the great book of nature, the grand cosmos of co-adapted material, mental and spiritual being, and in that grand, ever-open book the finding of confirmation of all truths of the past worth preserving and the condemnation of all errors that should be out-grown.

The early tuition of Mr. Jackson in the "three R's" was received from his parents at home and in the neighboring schools at Hockessin. This was supplemented by a library of the neighborhood, whose books he read, and he acquired his first taste for the study of astronomy from the works of Robert Ferguson found therein. His mother stated that when a small boy he boasted that he would become an almanac-maker when he became a man. About 1882 he was sent to Westtown Boarding-School, in Cheater County, Pa., an institution established in 1799 by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, and which is now being rebuilt, enlarged and improved. There he was under the instruction of Enoch Lewis, a noted mathematician and philosopher, and after remaining a few terms as a scholar he became an assistant teacher. Finally, about 1838, he was appointed teacher and lecturer on astronomy and other branches of natural philosophy. In 1837, with the aid of the best tables of the planet Venus then accessible, he made the needful calculations for the projection of the transit of that planet across the sun's disk to occur in 1882, forty-five years thereafter. This last phenomena had last been observed in the United States by David Rittenhouse in 1769, the one that occurred in 1874 was invisible here, and was then and is now, though in somewhat less degree, regarded as very important, as one of the few means of determining the parallax, and thence the vast distance of the sun, so needful to be known as the grand unit of measure of the solar system, and of the immensities of the stellar spaces.

Leaving Westtown on account of failing health, Mr. Jackson was compelled to enter upon an active out-door life, and about 1839 procured the needed outfit and commenced the business of a surveyor and conveyancer, after reading Blackstone and serving a brief apprenticeship with Thomas Williamson, a prominent conveyancer of Philadelphia. In the autumn of 1840, in company with another young man, he drove from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, requiring nine days travel, a distance now requiring scarcely more than nine hours by express train. Then they took a boat at Pittsburgh and passed down the Ohio River to Cincinnati and spent the following winter at the United States Land Office in that city, in transcribing the field notes, and constructing maps of government surveys in Northern Ohio, then only being first surveyed into townships and sections for location. In the spring of 1841, after having witnessed the departure of General Harrison by steamer from the levee at Cincinnati, he joined with an enterprising school-teacher of Hamilton County in a tour through some of the counties of Southern Ohio, lecturing on philosophical subjects, and hauling through the deep spring mud a respectable set of apparatus for illustrative experiments, such as electrical machines, air-pumps, etc. They did not make a fortune on their lecturing tour, and in the June following Mr. Jackson purchased a house in Cincinnati, and rode in the saddle diagonally across the southeastern Counties of Ohio, fording the river at Wheeling, and thence over the mountains of Virginia and Pennsylvania to his home at Hockessin.

On the Ninth [Month 15, 1842, John G. Jackson was married at the Friends Meeting-house at Parkers-ville, Chester County, Penna.. to Elizabeth Baily, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Parker Baily, sister of Judge John P. Baily, late of West Chester, and formerly civil engineer in the United States service, and engaged on the construction of what is now the great Pennsylvania Railroad system, and other branch lines; sister also of the late Hon. Joseph Baily, of Perry County, formerly State treasurer, a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, and a member of Congress during the administration of the honored and lamented Abraham Lincoln; sister also of Abraham, Ephraim, Jacob, Jr., Mary, Susan, Eleanor and Sarah Baily, all persons of strong character. Abraham was a contractor on the construction of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, and Sarah was for many years a useful teacher in the Westtown School.

The young couple located at the old homestead at Hockessin, where he became a surveyor, writer and farmer, and assisted in the opening and development of the limestone quarries and kilns, which soon be-came famous, and which furnished the Jackson lime, largely used for building and manufacturing purposes in Wilmington and other parts of New Castle County, as well as the contiguous counties of Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1848, the old homestead having become antiquated, he built a substantial stone house on [the hill above the mists of the valley, and for twenty-seven years it was the home of himself and family.

In 1856 the ominous murmurs of political troubles that culminated in the War of the Rebellion and the overthrow of American slavery grew louder and more influential. Mr. Jackson was one of the three hundred and seven voters of Delaware who cast their ballots for Colonel John C. Fremont and William L. Dayton for President and Vice-President of the United States in that year. It was an era that marked the spontaneous disintegration of the old Whig party, and the equally spontaneous growth of the Republican Party. At the outbreak of the Rebellion be was exempted from military duty by age, and having been educated in the schools of a sect whose standard testimony was against all wars, he took no part in the contest beyond the furnishing of material needed in the extended operations of the government At that time he was operating a large steam saw-mill in connection with his lime quarry and kilns, and he sup-plied large quantities of lumber for the building of cars, ships, etc.

About 1857, through the influence of Jesse Chandler, a family connection and a prominent Democrat, and a friend of Governor Peter F. Causey, Mr. Jackson was commissioned a notary public. After exercising the functions of this office for a term of seven years, in connection with his business as a surveyor and conveyancer, he was reappointed by Governor Cannon, March 12, 1864, the late Samuel M. Harrington, Jr., being then Secretary of State. Shortly afterward he was unexpectedly nominated and elected as a Republican to the State Legislature, and consequently resigned his office as notary. After attending the regular session of 1865, and the extra session of 1866, he was elected State Senator for four years, and served in that capacity in 1867 and 1869. Although in the minority in both Houses, he was a working member and exercised considerable influence in matters of legislation, especially in the line of various railroad corporations, then incipient, but which have since become important factors in the internal progress of the State. Among these was the Wilmington and Western Railroad Company, and after the expiration of his Senatorial term he actively assisted in its organization, and was a member of its first board of directors, of which the late Joshua T. Heald was president. He was active in this capacity until elected chief engineer of the road, and he held that position until it was completed in 1871. The general financial depression that followed affected railroad interests especially, and proved fatal to the financial success of the new road. It accordingly passed into new hands, and was reorganized as the Delaware Western, and as such was operated until its purchase by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, since which time it has been operated as the Landenberg Branch of the Baltimore and Philadelphia Railroad. From 1871 to 1880, Mr. Jackson, though financially embarrassed, continued his lime quarries and kilns, and finally disposed of the quarries and land adjacent. In the autumn of 1878 there was an effort made to organize a Greenback party in Delaware, and after solicitations by a committee ap-pointed for the purpose, and an interchange of views, Mr. Jackson consented to allow his name to be placed on the Greenback ticket as a candidate for Congress. There being no Republican ticket in the field that year, he received about one-fourth of the vote of the State. This he esteemed a special honor, since he believes it was largely owing to the confidence his Republican friends felt in his integrity of intention. Had there been an active canvass made at that time, his chances of election, with other parts of his ticket, would doubtless have been good. He has no regrets that, without expecting an election, he allowed his name to go upon that ticket and to go down to posterity with the many good men, dead and living, whose views corresponded with his own, that a limited metallic basis for currency is not conducive to the completest industrial health of the world, and that well-regulated representative money, founded upon the whole wealth of a State, in quantities kept duly proportioned to population, is the true medium of exchange for civilized, established and enlightened people.

Though Mr. Jackson is now in his seventieth year, and has retired somewhat from life's activities, he is still at times actively engaged in the field as a surveyor and engineer, in his office as justice of the peace and notary public, or in his observatory as an amateur astronomer, watching the sun, moon, planets, comets and stars unnumbered, in the depths of infinitude. In 1882 he accurately observed the transit of Venus, co-operating with other amateurs, and being encouraged and assisted by Professor Harkness, of the Washington Naval Observatory, who was president of the Transit Commission. He has also figured to some extent in the field of literature. In addition to several poems that have attracted attention, he has been a pungent prose writer, and a voluminous contributor to the local newspapers on the current topics of the day.

Recently he has built for his wife and himself, on a small piece of the old Jackson land, a home which they call Sunset Cottage, appropriately named not only on account of its pleasant southwestern exposure to the setting sun, but also because it will probably be the place that shall witness the sunset of their lives on earth, and in which they are waiting until. "The shadows have a little longer grown." He and his wife have been married forty-five years, and have seen their only two sons well established in life. William B., the elder, owns the homestead erected in 1848, with the larger part of the farm then belonging to it, situated on one of the main frontages of the Hockessin Valley. Thomas, the younger, after giving efficient assistance to his father in the engineering of the Wilmington and Western Railroad, obtained a position in the engineering corps of the Pennsylvania Company in charge of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad. He has continued in that employ ever since. Having married Anne R., daughter of Spencer Chandler, of Hockessin, in 1875, he and his wife lived for a time at New Brighton, Pennsylvania. Now they own a fine residence at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Thomas is engineer of maintenance of way on the western division of the road from Crestline to Chicago, and apparently enjoys the full confidence and respect of his employers. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are justly proud of their four grandchildren, worthy scions of the Jackson and Chandler name that gather around their fireside. One of them is named after the martyr, Ralph Jackson, and though the days of martyrdom are past, they predict that he will prove a worthy descendant of the Jackson blood.

Hotels

At the present time there are only two hotels in Mill Creek Hundred, one at Stanton and the other at Hockessin. As early as 1797 Peter Springer obtained a license for a hotel at Stanton. The hotel was kept in the stone house now owned by Solomon Hersey. The hotel was next kept by Joseph Springer, William Simpson, David Johnson, Thomas Beatty, Thomas Pierce, Levi Workman and William Anthony, and has been abandoned for many years. The present hotel was built in 1808 by James Stroud, and opened as a hotel about 1830 by Abraham Boys. He was succeeded by Springer McDaniel, John Moore and Jacob Hyatt, the present proprietor.

The hotel at Hockessin was opened about ten years ago by Daniel Creeden. After his death the license was revoked for several years, but was again granted to his widow, who conducts the hotel at present

There was also a hotel at Mount Pleasant, which was opened for over a hundred years. Robert Montgomery was proprietor in 1797. Jacob Hopple and Samuel Miller have also been proprietors. The hotel was closed in 1885. William Reese was the last proprietor.

On "Polly Drummond's Hill" there was a hotel kept for several years, about 1834^ by Robert Graham.

The hotel at Mermaid was closed in 1869. It was opened about 1830 by Brackin, and was afterwards conducted by William Ball, John Chapman, George Walker, and was closed by his widow.

About 1818 a hotel was opened at Brackinville by William Brackin. It was managed by him until his death, and then was run by his widow until 1876, when it was closed.

Brandywine Springs is situated in the western part of the hundred. It is a beautiful summer resort and picnic-grounds. The place was first improved and a hotel erected by Matthew Newkirk about fifty years ago. The old hotel was a five-story building, capable of accommodating one thousand persons. It was burned in the winter of 1852, while in use as an academy for military cadets, under the command of Captain Smith. Henry Clay and John Q. Adams were said to have rusticated here for some time. Nothing was done with the property until about fifteen years after the conflagration, when the private residence of Matthew Newkirk was enlarged and converted into a boarding-house. The present house is a three-story building, forty by one hundred and twenty feet, and spacious enough to accommodate three hundred persons. The grounds are laid out in walks and plentifully supplied with rustic benches and pavilions. The three springs contain sulphur and iron, and flow several hundred gallons per day. The building was enlarged by James Coil. The heirs of Franklin Fell are the present owners, R. W. Crook has been proprietor for the past two years. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad have a depot on the grounds.

John Mitchell, farmer, who lives near Brandywine Springs, Mill Creek Hundred, was born in the hundred where he now lives in 1818. He is the son of Joseph and Sarah Harlan Mitchell. The family is of English descent and are all members of the Society of Friends. John Mitchell's grandfather, Thomas Mitchell, was born in Bucks County, Pa., Fourth Month 7, 1750, and on arriving at the age of man-hood married Lucy Headley, of the same county. They had two children, Joseph and Hannah, and in 1797 they removed to Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, where he became a landowner. Hannah married William Chambers, of Chester County, Pa., while Joseph, father of the subject of this sketch, married Sarah, daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth Harlan, of Chester County, Pa. To them were born eleven children as follows: Elizabeth, who became the wife of Daniel Gawthrop, of Chester County, Pa.; Thomas, who married Sarah Greenfield, of the same county; Stephen, who married Elizabeth Taylor, of his native hundred; Hannah, who became the wife of Samuel Cranston, son of Simon and Hannah Cranston, of Stanton, Delaware; John, the subject, who married, in succession, Sarah and Margaret, daughters of David and Elizabeth Eastburn, of New Castle County, Delaware; Harlan, Joseph and Harlan (2nd,) all of whom died in childhood; Abner, who married Jane, daughter of Daniel and Jane Thompson, of New Castle County, Delaware; Joseph, who married Hannah, daughter of William and Elizabeth Cloud, of Chester County, Pa.; Sarah, who became the wife of Stephen, son of David and Sarah Wilson, of Hockessin, Delaware.

Sarah Mitchell, the mother of these eleven children, died Fifth Month 14, 1834 at the age of forty-two years. On the 17th of Third Month, 1836, Joseph Mitchell was married to his second wife, Martha, daughter of Ephraim and Susan Jackson, of Hockessin, Delaware. He was the owner of three hundred and seventy-five acres of land and lived to see all five of his sons who reached the age of manhood engaged in agricultural pursuits on adjoining farms. He was a consistent Friend, held high offices in the meeting and died Fourth Month 22, 1876, in the ninety-third year of his age.

John Mitchell married, Third Month 17, 1847, Sarah, daughter of David and Elizabeth Eastburn, formerly of Montgomery County, Pa., but now of Mill Creek Hundred. Of this union came seven children as follows: Elizabeth, who died in the fourteenth year of her age; Thomas C.; Stephen H., who married Mary T., daughter of Samuel P. and Mary Dixon, of Ashland, Delaware; William J.; Anna M., wife of Irwin D., son of Matthew and Susanna Wood, of Delaware County, Pa.; Henry E., who died in the twenty-sixth year of his age; and Mary R., who died ' at the age of three months. In 1861 the wife and mother was removed by death and the little flock of children was left to the father's care. In 1864 he married Margaret Eastburn, a sister of his former wife, by whom he had two children, Sarah E., who died in the fifteenth year of her age; and John C, who is still living. He has also three grandchildren his daughter, Anna M. Wood, has two, named Wilmer and Sarah, and his son, Stephen H. Mitchell, has a daughter named Alice. All his sons are farmers, making four successive generations engaged in agricultural pursuits. No member of the family ever uses tobacco or intoxicating drinks.

The subject has had an active business career for a man who has devoted almost his whole energies to agriculture. In 1847 he purchased the Mendenhall farm, near Brandywine Spring, where he remodeled the house, built a new barn and made other extensive improvements. Next he bought a farm near the Mecannon Church, on which he also built a new barn and an addition to the house. Having sold it he bought the Dr. McCabe farm, where, as usual, he made many improvements, enlarging his barn, etc. This in turn he sold, and bought the fine farm (with a large deposit of kaolin, which is now worked) on which he now lives, near Hockessin. Afterwards he bought the Jackson place at Hockessin, where he overhauled the house, built an addition to the mill, put in a steam-engine and started a creamery. Since then he has purchased the Dixon farm, on which he has repaired the tenant-house and made other improvements. For twenty years past he has been a director in the Newport National Bank and has also been a member of the School Board, besides making the general assessment of Mill Creek Hundred.

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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