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Seaford Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware

Early Settlement List of Taxables Religious Societies
Middleford Oak Grove Reliance
Seaford   Woodland

Early Settlement

This hundred was created by an act of the Legislature passed March 11, 1869, which provided that Northwest Fork Hundred should be divided into two hundreds, and that all that part in the lower North-west Fork Election District should receive the name of Seaford Hundred. In the division the bounds established for the election districts, by the act of February 12, 1761, were to be followed. These were:

"Beginning in the middle of the old State road, at Walker's milldam, and running thence westerly, by the centre of said road, between the old Frank Brown farm and the farm of the late Daniel Gannon, over and by Cannon's Crossing, to its intersection with the road leading from Federalsburg to Bridgeville; thence by the centre of said Federalsburg and Bridgeville road, past Horsey's Cross Roads, to the eastern boundary of Maryland. All that part below the said line was to be known as the Lower North West Fork District, and its elections were ordered to be held at the academy in the town of Seaford."

The bounds of the hundred, thus being deter-mined by streams and by highways laid out for the convenience of the early settlers, are irregular, excepting the Maryland line. The surface has a level aspect, but is in most localities undulating enough to afford natural drainage. Tho greater part of the original forest growths has been cleared away, and some fine farms have been made. In other localities, abandoned plantations, overgrown with scrubby timber, give the country a dreary appearance. The soil is generally a fertile sandy loam and appears to be especially adapted for fruit culture, to which large areas have lately been devoted. The streams are small, but have been made useful factors in the communities where their mill sites have been improved.

Being for many years after its settlement claimed as a part of Maryland, no warrants or surveys were granted by the Penns. After the title was decided and confirmed in 1775 re-surveys were made by Pennsylvania. Among the principal tracts described were the following:

The "Nanticoke Manor" of the Penns was laid out February 26, 1776, to extend four miles down the river from Brown's Bridge and half a mile from the river-side. John Lukens, surveyor-general, was ordered to make this survey and to report all who had titles to lands within these limits. On the same day, "Hubbard's Regulation" of five hundred and seven acres was resurveyed to Peter Hubbard, on the north-west side of the Nanticoke River, near to Hubbard's store-house and adjoined a tract called ''Cannon's Regulation," near Mulberry Landing, where Lewis or Turtle Greek falls into the Nanticoke.

These lands were warranted on Maryland Patents, one tract "Spring Hill, July 1, 1728, to James Cannon; "Luck," to James Brown, March 19, 1740; "Clarkson's Lot" and "Clarkson's Meadow," to William Clarkson, April 10, 1750. On March 18, 1776, a warrant for a resurvey was granted to John Cannon for the following tracts before granted and surveyed by the authorities of Maryland.

"Helpmate," March 3, 1747, 74 Acres.
"Covington's Advantage," July, 1741, 40 Acres.
"Covington's Inter," July 24, 1741, 60 Acres.
"Huckleberry Swamp," 1760, 70 Acres.
"Cannon's Advantage," August 16, 1760, 210 Acres.

When resurveyed, they were found to contain six hundred and ninety-nine acres, all northwest of the Nanticoke. Hudson Cannon's land, called "Cannon's Conclusion," embraced the whole of the above. He owned it in 1797, at which time there was a grist and saw-mill on it.

The site of the town of Seaford was known as "Martin's Hundred," or "Hooper's Forest," and was owned by Henry Hooper as early as 1720. A part of this tract, above Seaford passed into the hands of John Tennant, who married into the Hooper family, and this subsequently became the property of Governor William H. Ross. A part of the land and other tracts in that locality, including the mansion of Governor Ross are now in the farms of James J. Ross, his son. They aggregate more than eight hundred acres, and form one of the finest estates in the State. On these farms many thousands of peach trees are growing. East of these places are the fine farms formerly owned by W. H. Cannon and Curtis J. Ross, which have passed into the hands of James H. Brown and William H. Ross.

Nearer Seaford is the old farm of Captain Charles Wright, which has a distinguishing landmark in several rows of stately cedar-trees along the highway.

Jacob Kinder, a native of South Holland, where he was born in 1736, became a resident of the Hundred after 1770, living first on the farm of Isaac Bradly, near Cannon's Station. Here he took up a tract of land called "Jacob's Choice," walking to Philadelphia to buy it. In 1777 he moved to his "Kinder's Effort," near the Bethel Church, where he died in 1790. His descendants became useful and well-known citizens. West of this place Joshua Noble settled, coming from Maryland and buying the old Kirk farm, near Bethel Church. Twelve of his children reached mature years, and many of their descendants attained prominent positions in this State and in new homes to which they removed. Lemuel Davis lived in Maryland, near Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church. He was married to Mary Ann Noble and reared a large family, whose descendants are very numerous. Several members of the family became ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

For many years the Kinder, Noble and Davis families constituted the principal part of the population of the northwestern part of the hundred. In the same locality White Brown built a good brick house as early as 1781, but the family has become extinct in Seaford Hundred.

Below the town of Seaford Dr. Julius Augustus Jackson was settled, on the Nanticoke River, before 1775, as in that year, March 18th, he took warrants under Governor Penn for lands which were resurveyed to him. One tract, of two acres, was "on Hudson's Island, at a place where the said Jackson hath built a wharf and a house.'' Another was of forty acres, lying at the lower end of the island, on the north side of the Nanticoke and between the river and Turtle Creek Branch; also thirty acres on the north side of the Nanticoke; also two acres on the south side of the Nanticoke, from a place called "Shadpoint," up the river to the "Brig Landing;" also a large tract called "Long Lot," lying between the branches of Turtle Creek and Twin Pen, which had been granted on a Maryland warrant to Abraham Covington. This last tract he conveyed, November 5, 1783, to his son, Jeremiah Rust Jackson, also a physician.

April 22, 1792, Dr. J. A. Jackson bought of Thomas Loockerman two tracts called "Gibraltar" and "Straight," lying on Nanticoke River, adjoining his other lands. In 1793 he took up, on warrant, two hundred acres; in 1794, four hundred acres; in 1795, thirty acres, called "Jackson's Discovery," and one and three-quarter acres called "Jackson's Wharf;" in 1796, twenty acres, an addition to "Gibraltar;" and in 1801, the year of his death, twenty-nine acres, called "Little Help." His will was probated October 8, 1801, in which he left to his son, Jeremiah Rust Jackson, and to his son, Peter, both physicians, his medicines, instruments and medical books, and to his widow, Sally, his dwelling-house during her widowhood or single life, and to his son, Thaddeus, the other lands and also the dwelling upon death of his mother. The lands that came to Thaddeus were sold by him, in 1810, to Sally Obier and John Rust.

Dr. Jeremiah R. Jackson bought of his father, in 1788, "Long Lot," as mentioned; and in 1792 warranted two hundred acres, and in 1794 "Venture" of twenty acres; in 1795 one hundred and seventy acres of "Jackson's Regulation," and December 11, 1795, he took out a patent for fifty-five acres between John Cannon's mill and Turtle Creek, originally surveyed for Levi Safford on Maryland warrant; in 1776, to John Baptist, called "Baptist Projection.'' Many subdivisions of these surveys and changes of ownership have taken place, some of the above families being no longer represented among the inhabitants of the hundred. In 1840 the Taxables of the whole of Northwest Fork Hundred, which then included Seaford, were as follows:

Business Interests

In the early history of this section the mill-seats were well improved, and were important factors in the development of the country. In the north-eastern part of the hundred, on the tract called "Shankland's Discovery" Unity Forge was in operation about 1771, and was worked quite extensively soon after, having double fires. In 1815, John and Shadrack Elliott owned the property, consisting of three hundred acres of land, a forge and mill, the latter being in Nanticoke Hundred. Later, Jonas Walker became the owner ef part of the property, and a mill was afterwards built on the Seaford side, which became widely known as Walker's. The present mill was built in 1885, by Cotteral, Trout & Green, and is a three-story frame. Its machinery is first-class, there being a Victor wheel and eight sets of rolls, making it one of the best mills in this part of the country. The mills on the other streams are small, the one on Herring Creek, below Clear Brook, having had many owners, and being known as Ross's, Cannon's, and by other names. In 1879 it was rebuilt, and was in 1887 the property of Marcellus Heam. On Chapel Brook was the old Jackson mill, which was abandoned about fifty years ago, and on the same stream the Flowers, later Dulaney mill, is still operated on custom work. Other small mills on this stream have passed away. On Harris Brook, Edward Harris had a saw-mill which was later owned by Thomas H. Brown, and is now the property of William F. Hastings. Though of small capacity, the mill has done good service, and when the store nearby was carried on, this was an important business point. Besides some of the mill owners, Robert Frame, Jacob Bounds and Thomas Short were also here in trade. Near Woodlands, on Mud Brook. W. W. Wright and others operated small mills for brief periods.

In the southwestern part of the hundred, the old Wallace saw-mill passed into the hands of Gillis S. and William Ellis, about 1850, and has since been owned by the Ellis family. In 1887 it was the property of William and E. J. Ellis. The latter was also a vessel owner.

In the main, agriculture has formed the principal pursuit of the people, and many fruit farms have been opened within a dozen years. Those of Col. E. L. Martin, J. J. Ross and W. H. Boyce are among the largest of the State, each containing many thousands of peach trees. Charles Wright, T. B. Giles, T. H. Brown, J. W. Wiley, Jacob Bounds, M. J. Dickerson, J. F. Oday and George H. Houston are also extensive fruit growers and orchardists.

Middleford

The lands in this vicinity were taken up on a warrant in 1764, as "Brothers' Agreement," "Venture" and "Company's Lot," by Jonathan Vaughan and Co., who built the "Nanticoke Forge," on the west side of Northwest Fork of the Nanticoke, at the head of tide water. A store, grist and saw-mills were also built at this place and were in active operation before 1770. The forge was abandoned early in the Revolutionary War, and, being a part of the Nanticoke Furnace property, the lands were divided by act of the Assembly, passed in 1802 and sold in 1805 to William Huffington, Thomas Townsend and James Huffington. The place was at that time already known as Middleford, the mills, store and other interests having been carried on after the first forge had been abandoned. A new dam was built three hundred yards below the old one, by the above firm, and a forge for making blooms was again placed in operation and worked on until 1825. Be-fore this time the property had passed to Thomas Townsend, and in 1825 he rebuilt the mills so that they could be operated on a very extensive scale. From him these improvements passed to his son, Barclay, and were next owned by Robert Houston, William and Michael Stewart. Soon after Townsend built the new mill at Middleford, in 1825, he invented a process of kiln-drying corn meal so that it could be sent abroad, and ground and dried large quantities. He shipped it to the West Indies from the mill, and had a very large trade. Eight coopers were employed making puncheons and barrels. A distillery was also at this place before 1825, but it was abandoned after the extensive milling business was established.

About 1840 the property came into possession of Lott Rawlins, and the mill was destroyed by fire in 1846. It was not rebuilt by him, but the property passed to his sons, John M. and James Rawlins, who, in 1857, built the present grist and saw-mill. In 1859 a carding-mill was built, and since 1864 a small planing mill has been operated, these interests remaining the property of the Rawlins Bros.

Stores have been carried on at Middleford since the place was opened for settlement, usually by the mill owners. But after 1830 this was one of the most active trading places in the county. At one time there were stores kept by William and Michael Stewart, Lott Rawlins, William Twiford, George Hall, John Windsor and James and Joseph Copes. All did a good business. After the large mill was burned down the place began to decline, but William and John M. Rawlins and the Stewarts remained in trade a few years longer. In 1887 there was but one small store, which was kept by Edward Owens, the post-master.

The village being off from the main lines of travel has steadily dwindled since the building of the railroad, and the dozen or more buildings remaining show signs of decay, a number being unoccupied. At this place were located as physicians. Dr. Edward Huffington and Dr. Joseph Copes, in 1882, and a few years later, Dr. William Stewart was located a short time after 1840, and was the last practitioner residing at Middleford.

Woodland

The hamlet of Woodland, formerly called Cannon's Ferry, is on the Nanticoke River, half a dozen miles below Seaford. Although still a place of importance in the hundred, its commercial position is not as great as sixty years ago, when it was one of the most widely-known points in the southern part of the State. The ferry across the river has been maintained more than a hundred years. In 1793 the right to operate a ferry was granted to Isaac and Betty Cannon for fourteen years, which right was renewed upon the expiration of that term, so that the name of the Cannon family was widely associated, not only with the ferry, which was on the principal highway to the lower peninsula, but also with the place where the sons of Betty Cannon, Isaac and Jacob, amassed large wealth. In 1816 these sons, as a firm, owned four thousand five hundred and seventy-three acres of land, stores, warehouses, and a large number of slaves. In later years their business became even more extensive, embracing a system of banking or money-loaning, which was characterized by its exacting methods. The partners were of opposite dispositions, yet the complement of each other in a business sense, and in this small counting house, attached to their store, many shrewd transactions were recorded. Their uncompromising ways made them many enemies, and caused the death of one of the members in a tragic manner. This was quickly followed by the natural death of the surviving brother, which also brought about the close of their extensive business. As the result of a dispute about some trivial business matters Jacob Cannon was killed by Owen O'Day on April 10, 1843, on the wharf of the ferry just as he was returning home from a visit to the Governor of the State, whom he had seen with a view of asking his protection against the assaults with which he had been threatened by those whom he had helped to distress. Young O'Day, having the sympathy of most of the community, succeeded in effecting his escape, fleeing first to Baltimore and thence to the West. The death of Isaac Cannon followed May 6, 1843, at the age of seventy-three years. Jacob was but sixty-two years old when he was killed. Betty Cannon, the mother, had died in 1828, aged eighty-six years. For many years these three persons owned the only residences on the street parallel with the river. The lower, or ferry-house, with its brick ends and wooden sides, was erected in the last century. The ferry having become the property of the county, this house passed with it, and remains the home of the ferryman, who has been William B. Ellis since 1883. He reported that ten thousand persons availed themselves of the use of the ferry in the year ending December, 1886.

The house of Jacob Cannon, a large frame, in a spacious yard, was the next up the river. After being completed and furnished it stood more than a score of years without an occupant, and was never inhabited by him for whom it was built. That house also remains, and is occupied by heirs of the Cannon family. The House of Isaac Cannon was destroyed by fire, and the store next above that has been some-what changed. Most of the warehouses have been removed. In 1824, H. B. Fiddeman, at that time seventeen years of age, entered the store of Cannon Brothers, where he remained four years, and then became a member of the firm of Powell & Fiddeman, which traded in a small red store building, in the upper part of the hamlet, and for seventeen years transacted a heavy business in merchandising and shipping, having a wharf near their store. Here were located later Joseph Neal, Charles J. Smith and Samuel Messick, but the building has long since been unused for business purposes. Another store near the wharf, owned by William W. Wright, was removed, and subsequently burned down. In the old Cannon stand, William Jones, of Baltimore, traded about 1845, and in later years. Charles J. Smith and Wm. T. Moore followed, and W. C. Hearn was the merchant in 1887. Another store was carried on by W. C. Carpenter, in trade since 1870, at a stand which was discontinued about 1882, when, also, was discontinued the Cannon's Ferry post-office. The place was without mail privileges until 1882, when an office was established with the name of "Woodland," which has been continued with six mails per week. W. E. Carpenter is the postmaster. The hamlet has had, since 1882, the same name as the post-office, and although its business has been somewhat revived, there was, in 1887, but little of the activity of the times when a large scope of country, north and south, was tributary to this point as its shipping and trading centre. The Nanticoke here affords a channel fourteen feet deep, and there is a good wharf, but shipments are light, the more active railroad towns having absorbed that branch of business.

In the place are a neat Methodist church, a school-house and about twenty residences, occupied by a conservative class of citizens, and the moral tone of the community is spoken of as being an improve-ment on that which pervaded the place before the Civil War.

Reliance

This is the name of a post-office established at Johnson's Crossroads, on the Maryland line in March 1882. Charles M. Phillips was appointed post-master, and still holds that position. The hamlet which is also officially known as Reliance, is pleasantly located in a rich farming country, and consists of two stores, a church, masonic lodge, shops and a few residences. About one-half of these interests are located in the State of Maryland. This locality came into prominence sixty years ago as the head-quarters of persons engaged in the unlawful slave trade, the victims of which were here rendezvoused preparatory to their shipment to southern markets. The principal actors in this species of crime were Joe Johnson (for whom the cross-roads were named) and his mother-in-law, Patty Cannon. The latter was the moving spirit, if not the originator of the schemes which made both of them notorious, attached a stigma to this neighborhood, and caused untold suffering to many captives, as well as death to some who conspired with them to carry the poor unfortunates into involuntary servitude. This wicked woman appears to have been fated to live a life of crime, which justly ended in a felon's death.

Her ancestry is somewhat obscure, as she came to Delaware an alien. It is believed that her maiden name was Lucretia P. Hanley, and that she was the daughter of an Englishman of good birth, but whose dissolute habits led him to marry a scheming woman of ill-repute. For this offense he was ostracized by his family, whose honor he still respected, and for whose sake he immigrated to Canada. A purpose to reform and lead an honorable life in the new world, was soon overcome by his unscrupulous wife, who was dissatisfied with the means he could acquire by honest toil, and she urged him to abandon his occupation and ally himself with a band of smugglers, whose acquaintance she had formed. This he did, and was under the tutelage of his wife, soon recognized as a leader among those daring spirits. His offenses culminated in the crime of murder, whose penalty was paid by his death on the gallows.

Mrs. Hanley, being left with a family of daughters, some already following her in the paths of an impure life, appears to have had one good purpose; to marry off her daughters to sons of respectable, well-to-do families. With this view she was constantly on the look-out for such an alliance, and, when Lucretia P. was but sixteen years of age, succeeded in marrying her to Alonzo Cannon, of Sussex County, who had become a guest of her house while travelling through the St. John's country, where she then lived and kept an inn, and who had been well-nursed by the family, through a long illness. When fully able to travel he returned to Delaware with his young wife, whose career in this State now began. At this time she is spoken of as a handsome, vivacious young person, brilliant in conversation and fond of gay society. The tame life she was obliged to lead in her husband's quiet home soon became distasteful to her, and against his wishes and to his great sorrow she formed associations with some lawless characters, who soon resorted to her home with such frequency that the life of her husband became a burden to him. In the course of a few years he died, it was supposed of grief, occasioned by his unfortunate marriage, but, as it was later believed, of poison administered by his wife. She now took her daughter to a home on a small tract of land, about six miles from Seaford, on the Maryland line, when she became more dissolute than ever. She plied her arts to win the allegiance of her companions in crime, and seemed to exercise complete control over them. Keeping a sort of a public-house, numerous opportunities for robbery were offered her and many a traveler was relieved of his valuables after he had left her place, pleased with the winsome hostess, and the hospitable entertainment he had received at her hands. If suspicions were aroused, which traced these crimes to her door, she cajoled or threatened, as the case demanded, until no further attention was paid to them. To belong to her gang was to secure immunity from punishment, and hence she has always found willing tools to do her bidding since they could thus, also, with more freedom follow their own crimes.

One of her followers was Ebenezer Johnson, who was apprehended and punished for a crime instigated by her. His son Joe subsequently married Patty's daughter and built a house at the crossroads, in Maryland, and about seventy-five yards from the Delaware line. Her own house was above this nearly a fourth of a mile, and about one hundred yards from the Maryland line, thus giving the family the advantage of practically living in both States, or in one or the other, as circumstances might demand. This condition was found very useful in her criminal career, when she and her son-in-law became the head of a band of kidnappers.

The Johnson house was a large frame building with a steep roof, which, contrary to the fashion of that day, had no dormer windows. This was the most celebrated kidnapper's tavern along the whole border and contained a prison whose miseries rivaled those of the Black Hole in Calcutta. In the centre of the attic a dungeon about twelve feet square was constructed, the walls being made of plank firmly spiked together and containing staples to which the kidnapped Negroes were sometimes shackled. Often as many as ten persons, of either sex, were crowded into this small space, where they were kept days at a time without a sufficient allowance of food and barely enough air to sustain life. Then they would be taken, usually, to Galestown, Maryland, and placed in the hold of a small vessel to be borne to a plantation in the South. So artfully was this dungeon concealed from the uninitiated that its existence, although suspected, was not revealed for many years, and not until almost every species of crime had been committed by this gang. If a charge was lodged against any of the members, by the authorities of one State, they took refuge in the other, thus evading arrest.

At length the operations of the desperadoes became so bold that, in spite of the influence they commanded, a purpose was formed to break the band up. Joe Johnson, having already placed his family in a new home in the South, sought safety in flight, and Patty Cannon became the hostess of the kidnapper's house. She also remained the owner of the farm-house in Delaware, living there part of the time, if she could better carry out the deception by so doing. It was also believed that she buried her ill-gotten wealth in the orchard of this farm. Her career ended in 1829, when she was arrested, convicted and confined in the jail at Georgetown, where she died before the date for her execution.

The kidnapper's house was subsequently occupied by Michael Milburn, whose business was cut short by his arrest as an illegal slave dealer and conviction as a kidnapper. Later a respectable old couple by the name of Moore lived in this houses keeping a country inn, but it was long ago changed to a private residence. In 1886 this structure was entirely rebuilt by C. M. Phillips, who owned the property, and its attractive appearance gives but little evidence of the fact that it stands on the site of the infamous old prison pen. The entire community seems also to have been changed, being one of the most orderly in the Peninsula, progressive in all things tending to its enlightenment.

Prior to 1854, Batson Adams here opened the first store in a building which stood in Maryland. In 1863, M. U. C. Wilson put up a new store in which C. M. Phillips has traded since 1879. The year previous William B. Houston erected a store building on the Delaware side, where several firms traded, but which has not been occupied since 1885.

Gethsemane Lodge, No, 28, A. F. and A. M. was organized at Reliance under a charter granted October 6, 1875. A neat lodge-room has been provided in the second story of the Gethsemane Church building. In 1887 there were seventeen Master Masons and the following principal officers: Master, Isaac S. Warren Â. S. Warden, M. H. Hackett; J. Warden, S. M. Gordy; Treasurer, J. N. Wright; Secretary, L. H. Le Cates; S. Deacon, J. F. Wheatley; J. Deacon, W. L. D. Tull.

Oak Grove

Not quite six miles northwest from Seaford is Oak Grove Station, on the Cambridge Branch Railroad, where a small store was opened in 1869, and a post-office established. Here have been, as business men, John Dulaney, Isaac Warren and L. H. Le Gates, the latter in 1887.

Horsey's Cross-Roads (name authorized by the Legislature in February, 1878, to be changed to Atlanta) was established as a business point by Nathaniel Horsey. It is on the Northwest Fork line, on the Federalsburg Road, and was formerly a brisk, country trading place. After the removal of Horsey it became less important, but a store has been kept up by different parties. The post-office was not long continued.

Cannon's Station, on the main line of the railway, in the northern part of the hundred, has been an active shipping point since 1879. The railroad company has a wood yard at this point. J. W. Ward is the agent and merchant and H. C. Adams the post-master of an office established in recent years. There are, also, a few residences, including a Methodist Episcopal parsonage. The surrounding country has been much improved within the past six years, a number of fine buildings having been erected on the farms in this neighborhood.

Religious Societies

The aggressive ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church early labored among the people of Seaford Hundred, whom they found willing hearers and ready to accept the faith they proclaimed. The seed sown found permanent lodgment, the churches established more than a hundred years ago having been continuously maintained, and in 1887 all the societies in the hundred belonging to some branch of the Methodist Church. The eldest of these is Bethel Church, near the Maryland line, in the northwestern section. It was built in 1781, under the direction of White Brown; hence also became known as Brown's Chapel. In that work he had the assistance of Lemuel Davis, a local preacher, and Jacob Kinder; and their descendants have ever since been among the leading members of the church. Rev. Mr. Davis' grandson, William Davis, was also a local preacher of recognized popularity in his neighborhood, marrying more than two hundred couples during his ministry. A grandson. Rev. Samuel Davis, was in 1885 the pastor of a Methodist Church. Later the Noble family also furnished many members of the church at this place, and the official positions have been held chiefly by these families.

The church building, erected in 1781, was a large frame, whose seating capacity was increased by having three galleries, so that six hundred people could be accommodated. It was so substantially constructed that up to August, 1881, when its first centennial anniversary was celebrated, not more than seven hundred dollars had been spent in repairs. Its location is in a pleasant grove, and the grounds have been enlarged to embrace three acres, a portion of which is devoted to the burial of the dead. Many interments have here been made.

The chapel, although fitted for occupancy in 1781, was not fully completed until 1806. On the 6th of March, the following year, it was incorporated as Bethel Church, with Trustees Tilghman Davis, George Graham, Caleb Davis, Lemuel Davis, Curtis Jacobs, William Wheatley and Isaac Kinder. It has sustained many circuit relations, and, in connection with other churches, has had a long line of ministers. In 1888 it was a part of Cannon Circuit. Freeborn Garrettson, Bishop Asbury and other pioneers of Methodism preached at this place, which was one of the focal points from which missionary effort was put forth almost a century ago.

In the southern part of the hundred an Episcopal chapel was erected prior to the Revolution, which seemed to interrupt the services held there. This chapel was later wholly abandoned, and only a traditional account of it remains. From its existence in that section the brook took its name. Here, in 1804, John Cannon and Jeremiah Rust Jackson deeded one acre of land for a Methodist Church. This lot was on "the main road that leads from Seaford over Chapple Branch and to the westerly end of the old Chapple, between that and a mill pond of Jeremiah R. Jackson.'' The trustees named were John Handy, Captain Thomas Pretty man, Jeremiah Brown, Augustus Brown, Matthew Cannon, Jeremiah R. Jackson and William Davis. After the church at Seaford was built, under the direction of this board of trustees, the old "Beacham Meeting-house" on this lot, was not so frequently used, and afterwards passed into the hands of the Methodist Protestants, who moved the building to Seaford.

In 1843 Mrs. Bolling and her son, Jacob C. Nicholson, exerted themselves to build a small house of worship for the Methodist Episcopal persuasion at Cannon's Ferry. A lot was deeded, adjoining the Cannon burial-ground, on which this building stood about forty years, when it gave place to the present church. This is a frame building, thirty-eight by forty-five feet, which cost one thousand three hundred dollars, and was dedicated in August, 1888. The committee charged with its erection was composed of W. E. Carpenter, E. J. Ellis, Josephus Collins, W. H. Allen and Thomas Houston. There are here about fifty members, and the church forms a part of the Galestown (Md.) Circuit.

At Middleford, Thomas Townsend donated a lot upon which a house of worship might be built by the community, about 1830. Meetings by Methodists and Presbyterians were then stately held in it, but after 1846 the former denomination only occupied it with any degree of regularity, the appointment being a part of Concord Circuit. The house is in poor repair and has been but little used since the completion of Brown's Church, one and a half miles northwest from this place. This is a frame structure, thirty by forty feet, with a vestibule and recessed pulpit, and cost one thousand five hundred and fifty dollars. The ground on which it stands was donated by Mrs. Catherine Cannon. The church was erected by a committee composed of George Burton, James Wood, Samuel B. Pusey, Marcellus Hearn and Robert Brown, and was dedicated in October, 1883. Eighty members worship at this place. The church is a part of Gannon Circuit, which was formed in 1886 out of the old Concord and Bridgeville Circuits, and which had Rev. Edward Davis as the first preacher in charge. Rev. William Valliant was appointed in 1887, the charge including the churches at Concord, Brown, Bethel and Wesley.

The latter was built in 1882, on a main road three miles northwest from Seaford. It is very much the same kind of a building as Brown's Church, and was erected under the supervision of John Kinder, W. J. Cannon, Jesse Allen, James Ward and Robert L. Brown. Previous to its dedication, in the fall of 1882, meetings were regularly held in the school-house, in this locality, which was sometimes called Little's Chapel. It was built in 1861 with a view of accommodating both schools and religious meetings. In 1887 there were seventy members at the Wesley Church. Rev. B. Wheatley was reported as a local preacher at Cannon, where was also the parsonage of the circuit, built in 1887.

Gethsemane Methodist Protestant Church is at Reliance, on Johnson's Cross-Roads. It is the lower part of a two- story building, the upper part being a Masonic lodge-room. This house was erected in 1872, by a committee which had as members William Ellis, Jacob Nicholson, John N. Wright, James Harris and Daniel Field. James Gordy and others were abo active to secure a new church in place of the small, old building which had been in use since 1850, and which was removed to make place for this house. The church has had the same ministry as the appointment at Seaford, with which it has always been connected in its relation to Conference.

 

Sussex County

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

 
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