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Town of Cambridge, South Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlement Downham George Truitt

Early Settlement

This tract was surveyed for Benjamin Johnson, under warrant of October 9, 1738, and contained three hundred and thirty-eight acres and an addition of fifty-four acres. It is crossed by the upper King's Road to Lewes and is now chiefly owned by Dr. John A. Moore and Thomas B. Coursey. On the southeast of this tract, on Murderkill Creek, is located a grist-mill and saw-mill, owned by Thomas B. Coursey. This mill was mentioned in a deed to Benjamin Gibbs in 1777.

To the west of "Cambridge'' and "Topham's Chance," and adjoining, is located "Fromes Elsworth," a large tract of nine hundred acres, taken up by Daniel Brown and patented to him by Wm. Penn, June 4, 1684. It lies on the north side of Murderkill Creek and is partially embraced by Spring Creek a tributary of Murderkill Creek, and is now in the possession of Caleb Smithers, ex-Governor John W. Hall, Alfred O. Clifton, Wm. Case's heirs, George W. Killen and Joseph H. Boon. On this tract, on Murderkill Creek, about one mile above "The Spring Mills" is an ancient mill-seat, now owned by Joseph H. Boon, called "Boon's Mill," formerly "Jester's Mills." It was owned by Levi Jester, a Methodist preacher, in 1810.

In 1785 the land or mill-site was purchased by Jacob Broom, and at his request was condemned by Assembly for a grist-mill.

To the east of Felton, adjoining "Fromes Elsworth," lies a tract of five hundred and forty-six acres, called "Andrew's Venture." It was patented to Thomas Parke, in 1743, and conveyed by him to James Ringgold, in 1746. About 1815 it was in possession of Vincent Moore. It is now owned by ex-Governor John W. Hall and the heirs of William Creadick.

On the tract known as "Topham's Chance and sometimes as "Manlove's Chance," where the Upper King's Road intersects the road from Frederica to Felton, was built a hotel about 1827, called the "Scrap Tavern." It was built by John Price, who came from Virginia and who had intermarried with the widow of a Mr. Roe, the mother of William Roe, blacksmith. Price also ran a general store in connection with his hotel. This place bad no other building. It was on the line of the stage route to Lewes, and here the coach-driver stopped to obtain a relay of horses and continued his Journey. William Roe, the step-son of Price, bought lands in this vicinity, and about half a mile south of "Scrap Tavern" opened a blacksmith shop and a foundry for plow castings which he stocked and hauled over the whole of the adjacent country, and form which he became rich.

At the head of the "Double Run Branch" (which flows south southeastward about one and a half miles west of and parallel with the road leading from Magnolia to Frederica, and empties its waters into Murderkill Creek at Frederica) is located a tract of land lying partly in North Murderkill and partly in South Murderkill Hundreds, called "Amsterdam." This tract lies in the forks of Thorndyke Branch and Amsterdam Branch, and is crossed by the public road dividing the two Murderkills. It was taken up by Henry Johnson, under a warrant from the Court of St. Jones' (now Kent County), dated March 16, 1680, and contained two hundred acres.

On the 15th of February, 1682, Henry Johnson and Daniel Rutty assigned the certificate of survey to John Courtney, from whom it passed to Peter Lowber, who lived on it and died there in 1698, leaving four daughters and one son, Michael, who settled on the homestead. Peter, the pioneer of the family, came from Amsterdam, Holland; though there are but few of the name surviving, his descendants are scattered throughout the country and in some localities, the Murderkills in particular, comprise a majority of the inhabitants. The old high clock with brass works, that he brought over from Holland, is in the possession of Mrs. Letitia Gruwell, one of his descendant'). The greater part of the tract is now owned by James W. Green, who resides on the site of the old mansion, in North Murderkill Hundred.

To the southwest of "Amsterdam" and resting upon Amsterdam Branch and the Double Runs, was a tract of four hundred acres, named "South Hampton," which was deeded to Michael Lowber by Daniel Rutty about the year 1717. Of this tract, Lowber deeded two hundred acres to Andrew Caldwell, and one hundred acres to his daughter, Susannah, the wife of Benjamin Turbee.

On the other one hundred acres he erected a mill, and on the 11th of February, 1744, under oath before a justice of the peace, when Robert Cummins attempted to dispossess him, said that he was sixty-seven years old, that "in the year 1730, he built a water Mill on the Hundred acres which he had reserved to himself the upper part of said tract, which hundred acres of land and water-mill thereon, he peaceably and quietly possessed & enjoyed," etc.

Lowber dying the same year while the mill-seat was in litigation, Cummins succeeded in gaining possession.

The site of the old mill was about a quarter of a mile farther up the stream than the "Montague Mills," and was by the road that passed by the Double Runs "Presbyterian Meeting-House" to Barker's Landing. This tract is now in possession of Lewis Jackson, Wm. H. Ridgaway, one of Lowber's descendants, and of others. On the west of Double Runs, and south west of "South Hampton" is a tract of land called "Arundale," which was warranted to Peter Baucom, by Wm. Penn, September 17, 1680, and surveyed to him May 5, 1684, containing eight hundred and eighty acres. This tract passed to Ruth Baucom, his only child and heir, who intermarried with Richard James, and from her to her son, George James, who left it to his son, Jacob James.

On the west, and adjoining this tract, is another large tract of seven hundred acres, called "Norridge," taken up under a warrant to Thomas Bannister, and assigned by him to Edmund Gibbon, Feb. 8, 1681. The tracts "Arundale" and "Norridge" lay upon the north side of Bannister's Branch (Hudson's) and seem to have been in possession of the James' in 1747, as in a deed of March 10th, of that year, Jacob James conveyed to Daniel James all his title to two parcels of land on the the north side of Hudson's Branch, so called, or Mill Creek, one called "Norridge," containing seven hundred acres and the other "Arundel," containing eight hundred and eighty acres. On the south side of Bannister's Branch, William Road in November, 1767, owned a water grist-mill, which was known as early as 1729 as Samuel Nichol's mill. In 1722, Nichol's administratrix sold "Nichol's Mill," and one hundred acres of land to Andrew Caldwell. It is now known by the name of "Virdin's Mill" and is owned by Dr. James T. Massey. In 1796, Daniel James divided his home plantation of three hundred acres, lying on the south side of the road from Canterbury to the bay, made up of two larger tracts. "Norridge" and "Arundale," to Edith Saunders, from whom it passed to Wm. Herring, and in 1863 to the Rev. John J. Pierce, who sold the three hundred acres off in smaller parcels to various persons. On the tract "Arundale," north of the Virdin Mill pond resides Charles H. Lowber, a descendant of Peter, who died in 1698. The tract "Norridge" is now principally owned by John L. Pratt, Wm. H. Ridgway, Thos. C. Kersey and John W. Bateman. Adjoining the south side of Hudson's Branch and the tract "Arundale" lies a tract of two hundred and forty-seven acres, taken up by Samuel Mann, under a warrant of February 20, 1741, called "Chance," now owned by John W. Hall, Jr., of Frederica.

"Hudson's Lott," lying upon Hudson's Branch, and almost wholly within North Murderkill Hundred, will be described in that hundred.

Hudson's or Bannister's Branch rises about two and a half miles west of Canterbury, flows eastward past Canterbury, then southeastward into Double Run Branch, about three-fourths of a mile above the junction of Bishop's or Pratt's Branch with the Double Run.

On the south side of Hudson's Branch, and lying on both sides of the "King's Highway," leading up from Sussex to Dover, is a tract of one hundred and fifty acres, called "Double Hill." It was originally purchased by William Manadoe, who devised it to his daughter, who had intermarried with Richard

Downham. It was re-surveyed to Richard Downham, under a warrant of May 15, 1740. It was immediately south of Canterbury, and was the seat of the Presbyterian meeting-house after the abandonment of the Double Runs church in about 1762. The meeting-house was about two hundred yards distant from the King's Road and nearly opposite the Old Maxwell Burying-Vault, which lay to the west, on the opposite side of the road. In 1845 this tract was in possession of Mrs. Sarah Maxwell, who at her death left it to her niece, Mrs. Mary G. Lofland, the widow of the late Dr. James P. Lofland, of Milford, Del. It is now chiefly owned by Dr. James T. Massey, who reside upon it. To the south of this tract lies "Burberry's Berry," consisting of six hundred acres taken up by John Courtney April 21, 1682, and assigned by him to Samuel Burberry January 23, 1683, from whom it took its name of "Burberry's Berry."

This tract of land lay upon the north side of Bishop's Branch, and adjoined another tract of four hundred acres, warranted to Christopher Moore August 17, 1682, under the name of "Showforth." "Burberry's Berry" is now in the possession of Edmond Bailey, William S. Mcllvain and the heirs of John Downham. It was the property of Thomas Berry in 1735, in which year he sold one hundred and fifty acres part of "Burberry's Berry" to James Anderson.

Some time prior to 1818 a large part of the tract was in the possession of Governor George Truitt, who devised it to his grandson, George Truitt Fisher. Upon the part owned by the widow of the Rev. John Downham, a Methodist preacher, is buried ex-Governor Truitt. The burial-place is west of the dwelling-house, in the wagon-yard, consisting of three graves bricked up level with the ground and covered with heavy marble slabs. Upon the slab of Governor Truitt's grave is this inscription:

"This Marble
covers all that was mortal of
George Truitt, Esquire,
formerly Governor of the State of Delaware,
who departed this life
on the 8th of October, 1818.
Aged 62 years.
This distinguished citizen, in the various public stations to which he
was culled by the voice of his Country, always evinced that probity and
fidelity which belong to the soul of the genuine patriot; and his actions,
as a public man, will live in the archives of Delaware, to attest to his use-
fulness, when this perishable marble shall have been mouldered into dust :

As a man and citizen he was happy in possessing the esteem and con-
fidence of a wide circle of acquaintances; and while society
deplores his loss, as one of the worthiest of men, his
family and friends, gratefully mindful of his
virtues, mourn his departure, as the
keenest dispensation of Eter-
nal Goodness."

By his side reposes his widow (the daughter of Joseph and Mary Hodgson), who died February 6, 1822, aged sixty-five years. Mrs. Sarah Fisher, his daughter, the wife of Dr. James Fisher, who departed this life July 15, 1803, in the twenty-third year of her age, lies interred by the side of her mother.

On the northeast side of the Upper King's Road, and lying upon Bishop's Branch, is a tract of six hundred acres granted to Robert Parvis, by the court of Kent, on the "17th day of the 8th month, 1682," named "Gill ford." This land is now owned by John Pennell Emerson and others. On this tract is located the old "Pratt's Branch" School-house, which for many years was the only institution of learning available to the people for miles around. It was incorporated by special act of the General Assembly January 29, 1829, with George T. Fisher, William Roe, William Satterfield, John Bailey and Joshua McGonigal as trustees. It now belongs to the common school system of the State.

Southwest of Canterbury, on the Delaware Railroad, lies what was once known as "Plymouth." It was attempted to be founded by a set of colonists from Massachusetts, who settled in the immediate vicinity, bought lands, divided them into small parcels and engaged in trucking. In December, 1866. Rev. D. B. Purington came to Dover under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, and in February, 1867, began preaching at Plymouth, where were several Baptist families. In the same year the Congregationalists built a church there at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars, but the ground on which it stood having been refused to be confirmed to the society, the congregation disbanded. September 24th, of the same year, the Plymouth Baptist Church was organized with a membership of thirty persons, who used the above-mentioned church for about a year. Revs. J. M. Haswell and Isaac Cole preached occasionally, but many of the members moving away and having no house of their own in which to worship, they became disheartened, and March 22, 1873, disbanded, the members uniting with the church at Magnolia. The church building in 1874 was sold to Hudson P. Haynes, who moved it away to be used as a canning factory. Plymouth was laid out in 1866, and that or the following year the Delaware Railroad put in a side-track and established a station, which did quite a business for a few years. But the people being mostly small truck farmers and the seasons not yielding so abundantly as they had hoped, many sold out and moved away, the place went to decay, the railroad discontinued the station and Plymouth ceased to exist.

Kent County

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

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