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Town of Wyoming, North Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlers Town Treasurers Assessors
Collectors   Town Commissioners
M. E. Plank Church, Pastors

On this tract is located the thriving village of Wyoming, which dates its existence from the 1st of June, 1856, when the Delaware Railroad and Adams Express Company opened their respective offices for business, and appointed John T. Jakes their agent. At the lime of Mr. Jakes' taking possession of those offices there were two dwelling-houses which were occupied by the owner of the grist-mill located on the opposite side of the stream (Isaac's Branch) in East Dover Hundred, and by his miller. In the same year Wm. P. Lindall built a store-house, and entered upon the mercantile business, but in the year following he sold out to John T. Jakes, who has continued the business down to the present date.

Early Settlements

John T. Jakes, merchant at Wyoming, Kent County Delaware, was born November 28, 1833, near Pearson V Corner, Kent County. He is of French Huguenot descent, the name originally being Jacques. Hi& first American ancestor was Henry Jacques, who emigrated from France and went to Virginia and settled. Thomas W. Jakes, his father, married Nancy, daughter of William Anderson, a farmer of Kent County. At the time of this marriage she was the widow of Robert Hargadine, who at his death left two children, William A. now of the firm of Hargadine, McKittrick & Co., importers and wholesale dealers in dry goods in St. Louis, Mo., where he emigrated before he was of age, in the year 1842 (he has been eminently successful and amassed a large fortune, and is one of the leading men of that city); and Julia Ann, widow of Hon. Robert B. Wright, of Kent County, who served one term in the Legislature of the State. Mrs. Jakes was a noble Christian woman. She died July 17, 1863, aged sixty-nine. Thomas W. Jakes, her husband, lived to the ripe old age of eighty-six year, and died March 3, 1885. He was a man of sound judgment, sterling integrity and noted for his honor and excellent character, was never sued for debt during his life, and never sued any person on his own account. John T. Jakes, their only child, and the subject of this sketch, obtained his education at the com-mon free schools in the vicinity of his early home; at the age of seventeen he was taken from school and entered the store of Luff & Green at Camden, Delaware, as clerk in December, 1849, and continued with the firm until they closed business, when he went into the general mercantile business in the town of Camden with Wm. S. Prouse, under the firm-name of Prouse & Jakes, and continued for two years. In 1856 he was appointed agent for the Delaware Railroad Company at then West Camden (now Wyoming), and for eleven years performed the duties of that position with great acceptability to the company and public, until he resigned in favor of N. B. Buckmaster, the present agent In 1857 he embarked again in the mercantile business at his present stand, which is the second house built in the village of Wyoming after the railroad was laid, since which time his business has steadily increased, haying now an extensive and lucrative business. He was one of the pioneers of the new town, and assisted greatly in building it up. He was the leading man to organize a Sunday-school in the village, and was the leading man in building and having the first Methodist Episcopal Church Society organized there. He was also greatly instrumental in securing the establishment of a post-office, and became its first postmaster, appointed January 6, 1866, and held the office continuously until August 10, 1885, a term of nineteen and a half years. He was appointed agent of Adams Express Company when the office was established at Wyoming in 1857, and still holds that position. Mr. Jakes was one of the founders of the First National Bank of Dover, Delaware, was chosen a member of the first board of directors in March, 1866, and has since held that position until the present, and meets with the board every Thursday. In 1869 he became connected with the Surrey Land and Lumber Association, of Surrey County, Va., was elected secretary and treasurer of the company, and spent considerable time and means during the succeeding two years in looking after his interests in that State, having opened a large store and blacksmith shop at Spring Grove, on one of the tracts.

His father accompanied him to Virginia, and while there was appointed postmaster, and served two years as president judge of the Magistrate's Court of that county, and until his return to Delaware.

In 1868, Mr. Jakes was elected Grand Secretary of the State of Delaware by the Independent Order of Good Templars, which he filled with honor to himself and the society. In 1870 he and his wife were elected Grand Representatives to represent the Grand Lodge of North America of that order at its session, held in St. Louis, Mo., of that year, and were present.

He joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1854, and has filled all the offices in the subordinate lodge in which he was initiated Amity, No. 20, located in Camden, Delaware and has filled most of the offices in the Grand Lodge of the State, except the chair of Grand Master. In 1879 he was elected Grand Representative of the State to the Grand Lodge of the United States, and represented the State for four consecutive years at Baltimore, first; the second year (1880) at Toronto, Canada, where he was placed upon the committee to revise the revision of the new ritual adopted at that place and the name changed to the Sovereign Grand Lodge; in 1881 at Cincinnati, and in 1882 at Baltimore. He was also present at the session held in Providence, R. I., in 1883, and at Minneapolis, in 1884, he was appointed Grand Marshal by the Grand Sire-elect Hon. Judge Garey, of Baltimore, Maryland, and at the next annual session, held in Baltimore he served in his official capacity at the corner-stone laying and unveiling of the Ridgley Monument in that city in 1885. He also filled his place at the annual session held in Boston in 1886, and in 1887 he was present at the session held in Denver, Colorado, and was appointed Assistant Grand Messenger to the Grand Body. In 1878 he was made a life director of the American Bible Society and has been treasurer of the Kent County Bible Society since 1872. He was elected treasurer of his lodge (I. O. O. F.) in Camden, Delaware, January 1, 1875, which position he still holds; was also elected treasurer of Dover Encampment, No. 5, located at and meeting in the same hall; was also elected receiver or treasurer of Kent Lodge, No. 8, A. O. U. W., January 1, 1884, located at Wyoming, Delaware. He connected him-self with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1867, since which time he has been one of its trustees and has been continued in an official capacity since its dedication in 1865, and of which his wife is a member and a hard worker for the interests of the church, being at the head of several of the societies belonging thereto. In politics Mr. Jakes is and always has been an ardent Republican and a constant and devoted advocate of the principles of that party, as well as that of the Temperance Reform movement. He was one of the few in Kent County who voted for Abraham Lincoln for President in 1860, and earnestly favored the prosecution of the war. He is also an honorary memory of the Women's Christian Temperance Union of his town, and has been since its organization. At the election of President Hayes the family represented three generations, his father, him-self and his two sons all voting. On the 14th day of February, 1854, Mr. Jakes was married to Mary B. Townsend, daughter of Benjamin B. Townsend, of Camden, Delaware. Their eldest son, William Hargadine Jakes, was admitted to partnership with his father in 1879 in the general mercantile business, and doing business as Jakes & Son. He was married to Mollie E. Jackson, daughter of Thomas Jackson, a farmer near Wyoming, Delaware. They have one son, named John T., who was nursed by and knew each of his great-grandfathers before their deaths. Dr. C. Russell Jakes, the second son, is a graduate of Delaware College and the Medical "Department of the University of Pennsylvania, where he took a regular allopathic course and is practicing his profession successfully. He was married to Miss Laura Ferris, of New Castle County, in December, 1884, and in August following the died, only living eight and a half months. Maggie T. Jakes, the only daughter, is a graduate of Wyoming Institute and has since been a successful teacher until the close of school in December, 1887, when she resigned. Thomas W. Jakes, the youngest son, is at home clerking in the store of his father and brother, at Wyoming.

In 1860 the village, which had been partially laid out by Dr. Isaac Jump, of Dover, was quite a respectable village. It is located three miles southwest of Dover, and one mile west of Camden, and is bisected by the Delaware railroad.

The village of Wyoming was known by the name of ''West Camden" from its inception down to the year 1865, and sometimes as "Camden Station," on account of its being located for the convenience of the people of Camden and the surrounding country.

Sometime in 1866 the Rev. John J. Pierce, of the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, came to "West Camden" and purchased the land from Dr. Isaac Jump and others, and laid it out in building lots. Through the exertions of Messrs. Pierce, Jakes and others, the village received quite a boom in the way of building, and many persons from the Wyoming Valley, and from North Murderkill and West Dover Hundreds, flocked to West Camden, and engaged in business. During the same year a meeting of the leading and most enterprising of the citizens was called to take into consideration the propriety of severing all connection or identity with the town of Camden, and out of complaisance to Mr. Pierce, they agreed that it should be called "Wyoming," after his native valley on the North Branch of the Susquehanna. During the same year, in the midst of the peach season, John T. Jakes started a subscription list for the purpose of putting up a temporary building to be used for a Sunday-school, which had not progressed far before the move-ment developed into a church. Out of the moneys collected was built a plank church, but before its dedication the Rev. Mr. Hamersley of Camden Circuit, organized the board of trustees to receive the edifice in the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Upon the perfecting of this board of trustees they issued the following notice:


"The M. E. Plank Church, or West Camden,

"Located at Camden Station, will ba dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, on Sunday, the 12th inst.

"Rev. Andrew Manship of Philadelphia; Rev. J. J. Pearce, late of Wyoming Conference; Rev. Colclazer, of Philadelphia Conference; Rev. A. D. Davis, of Erie Conference, will officiate. Services to commence a 10 o'clock A.M., and continue at 3 and 7 o'clock p.m. " All are invited to attend, by the

"Pastor & Trustees "Nov. 3, 1866."

 Present board of trustees: John T. Jakes, Thomas Jackson, Thomas Downham, John Leager, Samuel Conner, Wm. B. Wheatley, Wm. C. Longfellow, Wm. A. Lewis, Geo. M. Crossmore. Officers: Samuel Conner, president of board; Thomas Dorenham, secretary; Thomas Jackson, treasurer.

This plank church answered all the purposes of a church and Sunday-school for the people of Wyoming till it became dilapidated, and necessitated the building of a new one. In 1883 the new structure was begun, and dedicated in September of the same year. In 1885, a parsonage for Wyoming Circuit comprising the Wyoming, the Willow Grove, the Union, near Hazlettville, and Asbury near Pearson's Corner was finished late in the fall.

The list of Pastors from the time of organization to the present is here given.

Rev. J. J. Pearce for the balance of the year 1865
Rev. A. D. Davis 1866 and 1867
Rev. John B. Mann 1868
Rev. J. L. Tompkinson 1869 and 1870
Rev. George 8. Conaway 1871 and 1872
Rev. Joe. Dare 1873 and 1874
Rev. D. W. C. McIntire 1876, 1876 and 1877
Rev. W. W. Redman 1878
Rev. A. W. Leighbourne 1879
Rev. S. L. Pilchard 1880 and 1881
Rev. A. T. Melvin 1882 and 1883
Rev. Wm. M. Warner 1884, 1885 and 1886
Rev. Wm. M. Green (the present pastor) 1887

Sometime in the year 1868 a collegiate institute was organized here, under the name of "Wyoming College," and incorporated by the Delaware Legislature, February 16, 1869, with a full corps of college professors, with power to confer all the degrees incidental to a regular collegiate course in learning. The seminary was dedicated April 14, 1868, by Rev. A. Wallace.

The numerous Baptists settled in and around Wyoming, having no place of worship nearer than Dover, and sadly feeling the want of a church, entered into negotiations for the purchase of Wyoming College, which they accomplished in October, 1869, through the efforts of the Rev. O. F. Flippo, who had been sent into the State as an evangelist. The building possessed a chapel, which they used for church services on Sunday, and was furnished for one hundred pupils. In 1875 the institution received a new charter, and the name was changed to "Wyoming Institute." Under the management of the Rev. Moses Heath, principal, the institute was liberally patronized by the people of Camden, Wyoming and the adjacent country. The Rev. Joseph Perry was the last principal, who remained but a short time. The building is not now used for educational purposes. In 1880 (December 18th), the Baptists of Wyoming were incorporated under the name of "The Wyoming Baptist Church. In 1881, under the care of the Revs. James M. Hope and Moses Heath, the Baptists purchased a lot of ground of George Parris, of Dover, upon which they erected a church building in 1881. This lot was in the town of Camden, and in consideration of the erection of the church building upon said lot, Geo. Parris, the elder, in his will, provided that $300 per annum should be paid to the said church for the period of five years. The church organization is now under the control of the Rev. Frank Howes.

"St. John's Reformed Church" had no meeting-house until 1874. In April, 1869, the Rev. Dr. G. B. Russell, of Philadelphia, came to Wyoming and preached for his congregation for more than a year. On July 18th of the same year a congregation was organized, the official act being effected by the Rev. Dr. S. R. Fisher, when twenty-two persons entered into covenant relations. The Rev. C. C. Russell was the first pastor, who began his labors in the fall of 1870, and remained with them until his death, which happened in about one year. For several years there was no pastor. However, on the 9th of June, 1872, the corner-stone for a meeting-house was laid, and on the 19th of April, 1874, the house was dedicated by the Rev. Dr. E. V. Gerhart, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The second pastor was the Rev. W. F. Lichliter, August, 1875, who resigned at the end of the year. He was succeeded by the Rev. E. H. Dieffenbacher, November, 1876, who continued with them until 1880, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Newton J. Miller in Jane of that year who remained until June, 1882. He was followed by 8. F. Laury, who entered upon his pastorate December 1, 1882, and remained with them until March 1, 1886, since which time the pastorate has been vacant. They are supplied with religious services from time to time by visiting ministers from other congregations, principally from the State of Pennsylvania.

In 1875, James B. Marsh, of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and Jacob G. Brown, of "Rising Sun," formed a partnership, and built a large evaporator for the preservation of peaches and other fruits and vegetables. In 1880 the firm of Marsh & Brown was dissolved, and the company reorganized under the name of Brown, Hanson & Co. The company claim to have the largest evaporating establishment in the State, with the capacity of evaporating seventy-five tons of peaches alone. In connection with it is also a canning establishment with a capacity of one million cans per annum.

A post-office was not established here until January 12, 1866, when John T. Jakes was appointed postmaster, which position he held until August 10, 1886.

In 1870 a new school district was formed from the present outlying districts, and a school-house built in the village, which accommodated the children until 1886, when the population had increased so rapidly that a new school building became necessary. In that year a new two-storied building was erected, and the public school organized on the graded system, with two efficient teachers and one hundred and twenty-five scholars.

There are today three general stores, one drug-store, one milliner, one butcher, two blacksmiths, two wheelwrights, one dealer in lumber and lime, two coal dealers, one shoe shop, one harness-maker, one nurseryman and two physicians.

There are two secret societies "The Ancient Order of United Workmen, Kent Lodge, No. 8," instituted in 1883, with twenty-two members; and the Grand Army of the Republic, General Daniel Woodall Poet, No. 11, instituted in March, 1884, with a membership of twenty-eight persons.

Beside the extensive cannery of Brown, Hanson & Co., there are two other small evaporators that do quite an active business in seasons when peaches are plenty and cheap.

Wyoming was incorporated as a town March 20, 1869, and again incorporated at the 1888 session of the General Assembly. George M. Fisher has been town clerk up to the present year, when he was succeeded by Carrol S. Fisher.

Town Treasurers
Hon. C. P. Ramsdell 1869
N. B. Buckmaster 1870-73
S. L. Richards 1874
C. M. Carey 1875
John T. Jakes 1876
N. B. Buckmaster 1877
Robert M. Howes 1878
James R. George 1879-80
Caleb Jackson 1882-88
William McGonlgal 1869
S. R. Meredith 1870-71
S. W Powell 1872-73
William Broadway 1874-75
B. B. Baker 1876
George Ayers 1877
William Broadway 1878-81
John H. Jenkins 1882
A. E. Wetzel 1883-86
A. A. Lawrence 1886-87
Daniel George 1869
D. G. Dewoody 1870-73
George M. Fisher 1870-73
C. M. Carey 1874-76
George T. Miller 1876
C. M. Carey 1877
Robert M. Hewes 1878
James R. George 1879-81
Caleb Jackson 1882-87
Town Commissioners
William P. Lindale 1869
W. W. Meredith 1860
John T. Jakes 1869
William P. Lindale 1870
W. W. Meredith 1870
William T. Alrich 1870
William P. Lindale 1871
M. H. Gross 1871
John Hale 1871
George M. Crossmore 1872
M. H. Gross 1872
Abel Hartson 1872
William P. Lindale 1873
E. B. Baker 1873
William K. Atkins 1873
Milo H. Gross 1874
George M. Crossmore 1874
Floyd C. Ramsdell 1874
G. Nickerson 1875
W. L. Hubbard 1875
William K. Atkins 1875
G. Nickerson 1876
Lewis Raymond 1876
John Hale 1876
Elwood Jenkins 1877
M. H. Gross 1877
C. M. Carey 1877
Elwood Jenkins 1878
John Hale 1878
H. B. Hopkins 1878
Elwood Jenkins 1879
John Hale 1879
William T. Alrich 1879
Elwood Jenkins 1880
John Hunn 1880
William T. Alrich 1880
Elwood Jenkins 1881
John Hunn, Jr 1881
James Montague 1881
Caleb Jackson 1882
Jonas Landis 1882
James Montague 1882
Caleb Jackson 1883
Jonas Landis 1883
James Montague 1883
Caleb Jackson 1884
Dr. T. C. Frame 1884
James Montague 1881
James Montague 1885
Caleb Jackson 1885
John Leager 1885
James Montague 1886
Caleb Jackson 1886
Carrol S. Fisher 1886
D. Mifflin 1887
Caleb Jackson 1887
K. Hubbard 1887

Kent County

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

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