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

Town Lot Sales

Frederica Church Delaware Circuit
Frederica Pastors Clerks Treasurers
Assessors Collectors Commissioners

On the part of "St. Collom," that Jonathan Emerson purchased, he laid out, in 1770, a town with streets and lots, each one hundred by one hundred and twenty feet. Zachariah Goforth made the first purchase that is on record, February 13, 1772, and bought two lots, Nos. 6 and 7. The other lots, soon after sold, were as follows:

Town Lot Sales

John Dill, August 24, 1773, lots Nos. 27 and 28;
John Crompton, August 25, 1773, lot No. 2;
Francis Manny, August 27, 1773. lots Nos. 25 and 26;
John Fisher, September 9, 1774, lots Nos. 23 and 24;
Solomon Elmonson, February 6, 1775, lots Nos. 8 and 22;
John Gibson, February 15, 1775, lots Nos. 18 and 19;
Levin Wainwright, November 15, 1775, lots Nos. 9 and 10;
William Sipple, February 24, 1776, lots Nos. 11 and 12.
Zachariah Goforth, August 10, 1774, sold twenty-five hundred and fifty square feet to John Dill, innkeeper of Johnny-Cake Landing.

In 1790 William Berry was a storekeeper in the town.

The idea prevails among some people that one David Leach owned all the land around Frederica, and that there was a small cluster of wooden tenements, with here and there a respectable brick dwelling, the decimated remains of which are still to be seen. This idea so prevalent is all a mistake. David Leach did not come from Somerset County, Maryland, until 1729, and February 20th in that year bought one hundred acres of land in the forest of Murderkill Hundred of Jacob Simmons, called "Simmons' Plumbs," and May 14th the same year he bought fifty acres of land in the fork of Murderkill Creek of John Sipple. He did not own the land on which Frederica stands. "Johnny Cake Landing," the site of Frederica, was east and northeast of Leach s land, and adjacent thereto on the same side of the creek. Frederica lies on the extreme eastern end of Johnny Cake Neck. David Leach died in 1760, and was buried on Briar Bush Hill, and did not, there-fore, lay out Frederica, as is amply proven by the deeds of Jonathan Emerson, dated twelve years later.

The headstone and footstone, marking the site of his grave, on the brow of the hill along the cripple of Murderkill Creek, about fifty yards south from Nathaniel Lank's large building, on his ship-yard, are in a good state of preservation, and bear this inscription:

"David Leach
departed this Life
10th Day January

Many people attempt to discredit the fact of Frederica being at one time called "Johnny Cake Landing," but Survey Book A, in the recorder's office of Kent County, on folios 118 and 183, will satisfy one of the identity of the two names. On folio 118 occurs this language: "A Draught of two parcels of Marsh and cripple, situate in a fork of the Murther Creek in Murther Creek Hundred, in the County of Kent on Delaware: viz. Fig 1. Containing 34 acres and allowance of six percent: and Fig. 2, including Johnny Cake landing and beginning at a corner of David Leech's Land, and of land late of Ebenezer Hathorn, on a point near the N. W. branch of said Creek . . . Containing about 65 square perches."

"Zachariah Goforth says that he, as representative of one Bishop, who formerly owned a considerable part of the Tract called St. Collom, is entitled to ground for a road to 'Johnny Cake Landing' which has always been excepted in every grant made of said part by his ancestors or those he represents."

In this plot, surveyed in 1758 under a warrant granted March 26, 1757, the Northwest Branch of Murderkill Creek, on the north and northwest of the town, Murderkill Creek on the east, and Goforth's Landing about one hundred and sixty-four perches south, and the road connecting them, all prove the location of "Johnny Cake Landing," and his identity with Frederica.

One of the oldest residents of Frederica, who has lived there nearly the whole of his life, is James G. Hendrickson, born Nov. 4, 1801, and to whom we are indebted for many valuable suggestions.

Frederica Church, Meetings were first held in the house of Curtis Anderson, preaching every two weeks; the first building was erected in 1812, and the dedication services were held March 12th of that year by Zedekiah Davis. The building was twenty by twenty-six feet, one story. The original building was used for both a school and church until the erection of the second building in 1836. Benjamin Dill deeded the lot for the first church and Benjamin Smith gave the frame-work. The first trustees were Curtis Anderson, Caleb Mason, Armwell Lockward and Thomas Curtis. The next building was erected in 1836. It was thirty-two by twenty-four feet, two stories high, with side and end galleries. The third and present building was erected in 1856. It is one of the finest church buildings in the State of the denomination. The dimensions are forty by sixty feet. It is of brick, with two stories and a basement, the whole being surmounted with a steeple in which there is a fine bell. The building committee were William Townsend, Caleb Smithers, J. B. Anderson. The present trustees are Hon. John W. Hall, Thomas V. Cahall, Thomas T. Lacey, James T. Postles, Joseph Burchenal and James B. Anderson.

As early as 1773 this territory was connected with Baltimore Circuit, and Barratt's and this neighborhood were looked after by ministers from that place, who were Francis Asbury, Robert Strawbridge, Abraham Whitworth and Joseph Yearby. In 1774 the old Kent County Maryland Circuit was formed, embracing this and all the territory now occupied by the Wilmington Annual Conference, and was supplied in 1774 by Philip Gatch and John Cooper; 1775, Abraham Whitworth; 1776, Nicholas Waters, William Wren, Joseph Hartley; 1777, Martin Rodda, William Glen-denning, Joseph Cromwell, Robert Wooster. In 1778 Kent Circuit was divided and Caroline formed out of it. To the latter were assigned that year John Cooper, Henry Kennedy, William Duke. The next year Delaware Circuit was formed and Caroline merged into it and Kent, and to it came Francis Asbury, Caleb P. Pedicord, Freeborn Garrettson, Lewis Alfrey, Micajah Debruler; 1780, James Cromwell and Caleb P. Pedicord.

In 1781 Delaware Circuit was divided into Kent, Delaware and Sussex Circuits, and to the former that year were sent Roy Cole and John Tunnell. This arrangement did not last long, for 1782 Kent was dropped, and its work assigned to Sussex with William Gill, Moses Park, Henry Metcalf and David Abbot. The Dover Circuit was formed the next year, and the church was in that circuit until 1835, when Camden Circuit was formed, upon which it remained until 1839, with the exception of two years, when it was again upon Dover. In the articles upon the Camden and Dover churches will be found the preachers who supplied this church. In 1839 Frederica was made a distinct charge, with Robert E. Kent as pastor. It remained so until 1841, when Frederica Circuit was formed, with William Connolly as pastor;

1842, William Connolly and Andrew Manship
1843, Joseph Carlisle, Silas C. Palmeter
1844, Joseph Carlisle
1845, John Bayne, John Bell
1846, John Bell, Thomas Numbers
1847, Levin M. Pretty man, Samuel Grace
1849, Thomas Newman, J. Carey
1850, James Flannery, Lewis C. Petitt
1851, James Flannery, Samuel R. Gillingham
1852, Daniel Lamden, Samuel Thomas
1853, Daniel Lamden, William M. Warner
1854, Solomon M. Cooper, Reuben Owen
1855, James B. Merritt, George W. Fisse
1856, James B. Merritt, George F. Hurlock

In 1857 the church was made a distinct charge; it has remained ever since. The Frederica Pastors have been:

1857-58, Jonathans. Willis
1859-60, John Allen
1861-62, Jacob Derrickson
1863-64, Thomas W. Simpers
1865, Alfred T. Scott
1866-67, Henry S. Thompson
1868-70, A. W. Milby
1871-72, Edward B. Newman
1873-75, William P. Davis
1876-77, J. E. Bryan
1878-80, John E. Mowbry
1881-83, W. W. Wilson
1884, J. E. Mowbry
1885, J. S. Willis
1886-87, J. H. Haynes

 The second building erected by the Methodists was built through the exertions of the Rev. Thomas J. Quigley, the preacher in charge in 1836, who also preached the dedication sermon. When the second church building was erected on the opposite side of the street from the old one, the old building was set aside for a school-house.

The third was dedicated in the spring of 1858, on which occasion the Rev. J. B. Merritt, who was the stationed preacher, delivered the dedication sermon. The old building shared the fate of its predecessor and was converted into a school-house, and also a town hall. The basement is used for school purposes, with three departments in active operation.

The first school opened at Frederica was in the year 1810, in the private house of Benjamin Dill, and was taught by William Hatfield.

The first and only Masonic lodge of the town was instituted here about 1827 or 1828. Thomas Clarke or Samuel Grace was Master. The furniture for the lodge was made by James G. Hendrixson, Esq.

Triple Link Lodge, No. 31, I. O. O. F., was instituted June 15, 1860, John W. Boone being the presiding officer.

The Sons of Temperance were instituted about 1856.

In 1887 there were no secret societies in Frederica.

In 1809 there were two resident physicians, Dr. John Mass, formerly from Cambridge, Md. and Dr. George Barratt, a native of the vicinity, both of whom died here and were buried at Barratt's Chapel.

In 1827-28 a military company was organized, under the State militia law of 1826, with Thomas Clarke, captain, and Elijah Barratt, first lieutenant. At the same time a volunteer militia company was organized, with Thomas B. Harrington for captain, and Mark Gregg for first lieutenant.

Prior to the opening of the Delaware Railroad for traffic in 1857, the town of Frederica was a commercial centre of importance. From here was shipped corn, wheat, rye, oats, staves, bark and wood in great abundance. The merchants of the town bought the products of the soil and the forests, shipped them in their own vessels to Philadelphia and other places, brought back general merchandise, and in the general traffic grew rich. In 1844 there were engaged in commerce and general mercantile pursuits, ex-Governor John W. Hall, William Townsend, Thomas Lockwood, Buckmaster & Smithers and Whitaker & Gooden.

There were two brick taverns at this time; the upper one at the northeast corner of Church and Main Streets was kept by Lemuel Carpenter, and the lower one, at the southeast corner of Commerce and Main Streets by Jonathan Carrow. There were at this time two physicians Dr. Lister, who remained only a short time and then went to Philadelphia, and Dr. Albert Whitely, who is still in active practice.

In 1825, Joseph I. Lewis and Thomas Lockwood were actively engaged in the manufacture of silk and fur hats, but in 1844, Lewis alone was engaged in the business.

In 1809, Perry Boon kept tavern; in 1814 he was succeeded by Morgan Williams; and at a later date by George Harris.

Although Frederica, since 1857, has not been engaged in the lumber and bark business, yet other sources of profit and employment have been opened that are as equally beneficial to the inhabitants. In 1887 there were three canneries in active operation. The firm of Reynolds & Postles, successors to Samuel W. Hall, had the largest tomato cannery in the United States. In 1886 a new cannery was started by Hydern & McKnitt, and in 1887 the third one by Carlisle & Co. The firm of Rogers & Sons, extensive manufacturers of fertilizers, has been in existence for fifteen years. There is also a factory for the casting and stocking of plows, and until recently there were two brush factories for the manufacture of mattresses, but both have been burned. In addition to all these there are ten general stores. There is also one clothing house, one coopering establishment, two butcher shops, one hotel, one variety store, one millinery store, one firm of general dealers in farm machinery and hardware, lime and building material and fertilizers, two shoemakers, two wheelwrights and blacksmiths, one carriage builder, three drug stores, and five physicians.

One of the most important pursuits is ship-building. The time whereof vessels and ships were not built here and sent out to all quarters of the world is unknown to the oldest resident, of which there are several from seventy to eighty-seven years old. In 1844 the ship-building was carried on by Nathaniel and John Lank. In 1869 Thomas T. Lacey and Nathaniel Lank the younger carried on the business as partners, and in 1887 Nathaniel Lank was the ship-builder. The business is steadily carried on from year to year and furnishes employment to many persons.

The first steamboat navigating the Murderkill Creek landed at Frederica June 1, 1858, being the "Egypt Mills," with merchandise for James S. Buckmaster, who the same year was the opposition candidate for Governor of Delaware.

The tract St. Collom passed through various hands, and was divided into several parts, and about 1760 was in possession of Zachariah Goforth, William Carpenter, Vincent and Jonathan Emerson, Robert Beauchamp and others. One portion of this tract, "Mott's Field," containing four hundred acres, is in possession of Mrs. Mary Darby, who inherited it by will from her father, Samuel Warren, who died about 1813. Other portions are in possession of Thomas D. Burton, Nathaniel Young, Joseph I. Lewis' heirs, heirs of Robert John Lowber, heirs of Henry Whitaker, heirs of Joseph Smithers, Caleb Smithers and others.

The first attempt to form a corporation for the town of Frederica was made February 9, 1826, when an act was passed by the General Assembly, entitled "An act Directing the Manner of Choosing Commissioners to Regulate and Repair the Streets of Frederica." This act defined the limits of the town as follows: "Section 8, Beginning at the forks of Murderkill and Spring Creeks, and running up Spring Creek to the division line of the heirs of Matthew Lowber and Thomas Lowber's land, thence with a line dividing the lands of said Leech, now Vincent Moore, and the heirs of Thomas Lowber, to the line of Joseph G. Rowland, and with said line to end thereof, continuing said course to Murderkill Creek, and said creek to the forks of Spring Creek and the place of beginning."

Nothing was done under this act, and March 2, 1855, it was repealed, with the exception of the section defining the limits. March 8, 1865, an act was passed by the General Assembly again incorporating the town, defining the limits, and ordering a plot to be made. It named Hon. John W. Hall, William Townsend, James Thomas, John W. Sutherland and Paris T. Carlisle, Sr., ta serve as commissioners until the first Monday in March, 1866. Since that date the commissioners and town officers have been as follows:

Caleb J. Smithers 1866-67
B. Whitely, M.D 1868-73
J. S. Bradley 1874
B. Whitely, M.D. 1876-83
E. J. Green 1884
W. E. Knowles 1885-87
Paris T. Carlisle, Sr 1866
James B. Anderson 1867
William Virden 1868
James Tumlinson 1869
William Virden 1870-73
Paris T. Carlisle, Sr 1866
James B. Anderson 1867
William Virden 1868
James Tumlinson 1869
William Virden 1870-73
W. K. Knowles 1874
N. Lank 1875
B. Whiteley, M.D 1876-83
E. J. Green 1884
W. E. Knowles 1885-87
Joseph Burchenal, Jr 1866-67
Robert Marshall 1868-70
James Thomas 1871
Joseph S. Bradley 1873-74
B. Whitely, M.D 1875-78
Robert Marshall 1879-87
Thomas T. Lacy 1866
Benj. F. Barton 1867
Vincent E. Moore 1868
Wm. P. Cullen 1869
John White 1870
John M. Sutherland 1871
James B. Anderson 1872
John White 1874
V. E. Moore 1875
John W. Boone 1876
J. W. Emory 1877
N. Lank 1878
S. W. Darby 1879
T. H. Lowber 1880
V. E. Moore 1881
H. Pride 1882
Wm. D. Harrington 1883
John Artis 1884
James B. Boone 1885
J. W. Emory 1886
N. Sparry 1887
William Townsend 1866
Paris T. Carlisle, Sr. 1866
John W. Hall 1806
Jas. B. Anderson 1866
Caleb Smithers 1866
Wm. Townsend 1867
James B. Anderson 1867
Wm. E. Knowles 1867
Thomas Reynolds 1867
Wm. Virden 1867
Wm. Virden 1868
Thomas Cahall 1868
Vincent O. Moore 1868
James Thomas 1868
Thomas R. Wingate 1868
James Tomlinson 1869
Alexander D. Green 1869
George Smithers 1869
James S. Downes 1869
Nathaniel Lank 1869
William Virden 1870
Dr. Thomas Cahall 1870
James Wilson 1870
James Tomlinson 1870
John G. Melvin 1870
Wm. Virden 1871
Wm. D. Harrington 1871
James Thomas 1871
James T. Postles 1871
George Smithers 1871
Wm. Virden 1872
James B. Anderson 1872
Wm. D. Harrington 1872
Waitman Sipple 1872
John Artie 1872
Wm. Virden 1873
Wm. D. Harrington 1873
John Artis 1873
J. G. Melvin 1873
J. S. Downs 1873
Paris T. Carlisle, Sr. 1874
James B. Anderson 1874
James T. Postles 1874
Wm. E. Knowles 1874
Wm. T. Hutson 1874
J. W. Boone 1875
N. Lank 1875
S. W. Darby 1875
Wm Virden 1875
Nathaniel Young 1875
1876. Some commissioners
J. W. Boone 1877
N. Lank 1877
S. W. Darby 1877
N. Sparry 1877
S. W. Darby 1878
N. Sparry 1878
N. Lank 1878
T. D. Burton 1878
L. A. Melvin 1878
S. W. Darby 1879
N. Sparry 1879
E. W. Thomas 1879
L. A. Melvin 1879
J. E Maxson 1879
T. D. Barton 1880
T. B. Wingate 1830
Wm. Virden 1880
Wm. Whittaker 1880
S. W. Darby 1880
Nathan Sparry 1881
Nathaniel Young 1881
Henry Pride 1881
Wm. Virden 1881
T. D. Burton 1881
1882. Same commissioners.
Wm. Virden 1883
Wm. D. Harrington 1883
T. D. Conner 1883
Elias Russell 1883
T. D. Burton 1883
S. W. Darby 1884
John Artis 1884
P. T. Carlisle 1884
N. Young 1884
A J. Smithers 1884
N. Sparry 1885
D. H. Mason 1885
J. B. Boone 1885
T. B. Wingate 1885
E. W. Thomas 1885

The following have been postmaster at Frederica, the office has been in existence over sixty years.

John E. Price
James Thomas
William L. Timmons
John H. Carrow,
William Whittaker
William Whittaker, Jr.

Kent County

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

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