Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




West Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware

Early Settlement Churches Manufactures
Villages .. Schools
Post Office and Postmasters

West Doter Hundred was erected February 7, 1877, and is bounded on the north by Gravelly Run, a branch of the Choptank River, and the headwaters of the northern branch of St. Jones' Creek, and Kenton Hundred; on the east by East Dover Hundred, from which it is divided by the road that runs from Seven Hickories southeasterly, crossing the northern branch of the St. Jones' Creek at the Buckingham farm, through Cassonia to the Allaband Mill Pond; on the south by North Murderkill and Culbreth Ditch, and west by Maryland. The western part of the hundred, as well as of the State adjacent to the Maryland line, is elevated fifty-five to sixty feet above tide-water and is the highest plane in the State, forming a water-shed between the eastern and western slope.

All the ditches on the western slope are branches of the Choptank and flow into the Chesapeake, and the eastern slope drains eastward into Delaware Bay. The western part of the hundred was for over a hundred years in dispute and uncertainty, and most of the lands were granted under Maryland warrants and patents, and were settled by Mary landers. Early warrants had been granted by Delaware for many of the tracts included within what is now known as West Dover Hundred, but the titles lapsed and they were warranted and resurveyed under Maryland titles. The boundary line between Maryland and Delaware was run in 1763, and fully confirmed in 1775, which brought into the jurisdiction of Delaware the greater part of the disputed west half of the hundred, which had been claimed by Maryland.

Early Settlement

Among the lands patented by Maryland were "Scotten's Outlet," which was surveyed for Richard Scotten December 7, 1737. A portion of this tract was sold in parts to Arthur Farman and others. The original home tract (sixty acres) is owned by Thomas H. Milbourn.

Part of the original tract adjoining the homestead contains one hundred and thirty acres, and is owned by Sarah, the wife of Spencer Scotten, deceased, who was the son of Merritt, to whom the land was left by his father, Richard Scotten. Philemon Scotten, who was born December 23, 1823, is the owner of another tract which adjoins that of Spencer. He was a member of the Legislature in the session of 1886, and is the father of twenty-four children.

The first home of the Scottens was an old log house built by William Scotten, and is still standing on the farm of Thomas H. Milbourn. ''Smiths Outlet," a tract of one hundred and two acres, situated in the western part of the hundred, near the Maryland line, was taken up April 2, 1746, by Samuel Robinson on a Maryland warrant. It was resurveyed in July, 1770, for Richard Smith.

Within the six years following, Richard Smith had purchased "Holly Island," "Smith's Advantage" and "Long Ridge," which names were merged into that of the original tract. On February 5, 1745, Richard Smith had taken up several other tracts on and near the Maryland line, part of which is now owned by Thomas Culbreth, of Dover. These lands, at his death, were left to Richard Smith, Elizabeth, later the wife of William Culbreth, and to Mary, the wife of Moses Boon. By leases and releases under date of November 12, 1767, William Culbreth and his wife obtained part of the lands which are now in part owned by the family. Culbreth's marsh adjoining was drained in 1800. A tract of two hundred and twenty-four acres, called "Penelope's Advantage," was taken up February 14, 1745, by Penelope Freeman. In 1779 the wife of Martin Irons transferred one-half acre to Rev. Wm. Thomas, which is now the site of Thomas' Chapel.

Martin Irons, whose body is buried in the Presbyterian Church-yard at Dover, was a descendant of Simon Irons, who located large tracts of land in Duck Creek, and Little Creek Hundreds, and lived on or near Simon's Creek or Dona before 1700.

The original tract of Martin Irons is owned by John Jarrell, who lives on the old homestead, Edward Hubbard, E. M. Booach, Thomas Rash, Emory Scotten. Margaret Nicholls, George T. Voshall and John D. Voshall, sons of Obadiah. The latter married Elizabeth Williams, who died in February, 1887. William D. Voshall was a justice of the peace and postmaster of Hazlettville.

"Proctor's Purchase" was the name of a tract taken up by John Durborrow on a warrant dated December 3, 1734, adjoining "Sipple's Adventure." By his request it was transferred to Thomas Proctor, who sold it to Henry Forman August 6, 1779. Heron Point, a tract within the "Purchase," on which Hartley is situated, was surveyed for Richard Mannering.

On June 23, 1748, a tract of land was taken up on the north side of the Furness Branch (now called Powell's Branch or Culbreth's Ditch), on Choptank River, by Peter Lowber, which passed to Michael Furbee, who sold it to William Price, to whom it was surveyed May 23, 1767. Hugh Durburrow on August 19, 1737, took up "Springfield," containing one hundred and forty acres on the north side of Culbreth's Ditch. Morris Freeman and Owen Cains then owned land adjoining.

"Tappahanna" was a large tract of five or six hundred acres on Tappahanna Creek, from which it took its name. In 1763 Waitman Sipple was the owner of it and from him it parsed to Henry Elbert, William Brown and George Syburn respectively.

The Tappahanna Ditch Company was incorporated in 1800 and the ditch was soon after opened.

"Burrowfield" a tract of two hundred and twenty-seven acres, which was taken up at a very early day, in 1790 was granted to John Day, who bought another large tract on the north side of Tappahanna, called the "Home Tract." Burrowfield and the Home Tract adjoined each other and are adjoining the Tappahanna tract.

Burrowfield and the Home Tract were left to Matthias Day (who in 1817 was the owner of both tracts). At his death it was left to C. H. B. Day, of Dover, and Rebecca Day (later Mrs. Thomas Clements), and now (1888) belongs to Dr. Thomas O. Clements, of Dover. The Home Tract passed to the three younger children and is now owned by James Hutchins and the heirs of John Cleaver. The old Day House, built in 1775, is standing on this place, being occupied by Mrs. John Cleaver.

A tract of land called Beaver Swamp, lying on a branch of Choptank River called Tanner's Branch or Culbreth 's Swamp Branch, was warranted in 1747 by Waitman Sipple and re-surveyed to Henry Wells in 1767, who also in that year took up two other tracts adjoining Tanner's Branch. These lands were a short distance southwest of Hazlettville. On February 13, 1765, Wells sold the lands, then containing five hundred and fifty one acres, to Charles Lyons, Thomas Bond and William Morton, and on March 9, 1779, Lyon and Bond sold to Joseph Burchenal. The latter came from Maryland where his father, Jeremiah Burchenal, had lived for many years. The land of Joseph Burchenal remained in the family many years, but about 1817 it passed to John Slay, who still owns part of it.

A tract of land called the "Hour Glass," from its peculiar shape, years ago came into the possession of the Virdins, who still own it.

Of the tracts in the eastern part of the hundred, Canterbury and Hopewell join Proctor's Purchase, and extend a considerable distance in East Dover Hundred. The former was taken by Benjamin Shurmer, who was prominent in the county from 1700 to his death in 1736. It contained five hundred acres and passed to his children. The greater part of the "Long Reach" tract, containing one thousand acres, situated on Isaac's Branch, is in East Dover, and embraces the old Allaband property.


Thomas Capel The first church or chapel built by the people of West Dover, who later became Methodists, is known as Thomas' Chapel. Penelope Freeman (later the wife of Owen Irons) donated the land for the use of the people from the tract "Penelope's Adventure," to the Rev. William Thomas, who, on December 24th, 1779, conveyed it to Stephen Black, Thomas Seward, Daniel Wheeler, Nathan Harrington, Richard Shaw, Thomas Scotten, Nathan Bailey, Edward Callahan and Stephen Black, Jr. The first chapel was built of logs, and was known as the "Log Chapel."

It had been erected upon the half-acre of land before the title was conveyed, as in the deed mention is made of the half-acre, "together with a preaching-house or chapel erected thereon." The logs were dove-tailed together, and tradition holds that it "had not a nail in it."

In this old chapel, Francis Asbury (later Bishop), Freeborn Garrettson and others preached many times. It is related in an old newspaper that on the 13th of May, 1781, after Asbury had preached in the old chapel, "Harry, a Negro, preached upon the "Barren Fig-Tree.'" Asbury says: "The circumstance was entirely new, and the white people looked on with attention." This was probably the first instance a Negro had preached to whites.

It is held in the neighborhood, among the old citizens, that the pulpit was a large stump sawed square upon the top, and set up evenly upon its roots. The Log Chapel was removed about 1798, and a frame building erected in its place. The latter was dedicated by the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, then traveling through this part of the country. The present chapel was built of brick, in 1825, and rebuilt in 1877.1

The dedication sermon of the first brick church was preached by the Bev. Solomon Higgins. It is situated on the Dover road, about a half-mile west of Chapeltown (Westville). Among those who preached in this church previous to 1850 are James Bateman, Eliphalet Reid, Joseph Mason, Joshua Humphries, Samuel S. Hare, Ignatius T. Cooper, William L. Gray, Enoch B. Williams, Goldsmith D. Connell and Charles S. Thompson. It has now about sixty members, and is in Marydel Circuit.

The burial-ground attached to the chapel covers three-fourths of an acre of ground. It was once open to both bond and free, and, were it not for a few recently erected headstones, would be almost unrecognizable.

Union M. E. Church, "There are no early records which can lead to an authentic history of this church, nor does the recollection of its members serve to throw any light on it. The first house of worship erected by its members was a frame building, which was bought in 1859 by William Slay, who moved it to its present position on his farm, where it is now used as a bam. The earliest board of trustees of which there is any account was composed of seven members, viz.: George Jones, William Slay, William Lewis, John Aarons, John Seward, Nathan Jones, Powell Aarons. The present building is also frame, having been dedicated December 25, 1859, by Bev. John B. Mann. The membership numbers about fifty. The society originally belonged to the Dover Circuit, but it is now embraced in Wyoming. In the burial plot attached to the chapel is the grave of "John Seward, the first placed in this yard, and who died February 23rd, 1847."

McElwee's Chapel (Methodist), now called Asbury Chapel, was built before 1829. On the 10th of October in that year Joseph Bash sold one hundred and twenty square perches to Myers Carson, Joseph Clark, John Jones, John Townend and Robert Hargadine, as trustees of McElwee's Chapel. It is on the Smyrna Circuit and is served by the ministers of the charge. Its name McElwee was derived from a minister of that name, who was on the circuit at the time it was built.

Bethesda Church (Methodist Protestant) was built in 1864 and rebuilt in 1883. Before the erection of the chapel the members met and worshipped in the Tappahanna Marsh School-house. The ground was given the congregation by Mrs. Annie J. Cox, daughter of Judge Joseph J. Bowland. William Virdin, J. D. Voshell, P. D. Marvel and William Slaughter were the first trustees. Dr. Daniel Ewell preached the dedicatory sermon. It has now a membership of seventy.

Wesley Chapel (Parker's) was founded in 1880. This is one of the two churches supported by the colored people of this hundred, the other being the Lockwood. Joshua Parker contributed the land, with the provision that they use it also for school purposes. This was done, and the school is now taught by colored teachers.

Hawkins M. E. Church, Hartley, was founded in 1840. It is the outgrowth of a series of meetings held at the house of Thomas Landman. A rapid increase of the members necessitated more commodious quarters than were found in Jones' School-house, where they held services every Wednesday. In 1840 they built and occupied a new chapel, in which services were held until September 18, 1886, when it was sold to Frederick Mask, who now has a blacksmith and wheelwright shop in it. The present chapel stands about fifty yards east of the old one. The ground for the former was donated by Walter Clark. The society belongs to the Marydel Circuit, and has a membership numbering sixty.

Southern M. E. Church, Marydel, is embraced in Beaver Dam Circuit. The congregation at the organization, in 1868, worshipped in the Marydel School-house, with twenty-five members. The members separated and the church soon declined. The trustees at its organization were Joshua Downs, W. H. Whitely, David B. Heather and W. H. Colscott. Since its dissolution the surviving members have identified themselves with the Old Side Church of Maryland.


In 1843, the plant of an iron foundry was erected by Thomas Lockwood and John Slay, but ceased operation a year later. Its estimated capacity was ten plowshares per week. The means of heat was furnished by a large blast-furnace, into which the air was forced by large bellows, the motive-power being supplied with the aid of horses. The thick woodland thereabouts was utilized for fuel.

A packing-house was enclosed and operated in 1835 by Isaac Lockwood, who was succeeded by Henry Scott and Joseph Green.

Kersey's wagon-works were established in 1848 by John S. Kersey, who, upon being elected sheriff in 1850, sold them to his brother Jonathan. The latter operated the works until his death in 1886, when they passed to his nephew, Powell Green. This is the largest works of its kind outside of Wilmington.

There is also a saw-mill at Hazlettville which was erected in 1884 by William George. It has a manufacturing capacity of two thousand feet of lumber a day.

The "Canning House," for the packing of fruits and vegetables, was built in 1872 by a stock company, of which Wesley Temple was president. It was operated but one season, after which it remained idle until 1879, when it was rented to William Knowles, who operated it one year. In 1881 it was occupied by F. Slemmer, who is the present proprietor.

The capacity of the establishment is fifteen thousand cans of goods per day.

Westville and Pierson's Cross-Roads are hamlets in the hundred.


Hazlettville is a promising hamlet, situated about nine miles west of Dover. It has had three names, respectively, Sewardville, Georgetown and the present, which was conferred by the Legislature in 1854 in honor of Governor Hazlett, who died in 1823. Nothing authentic concerning its first settlement can be learned, except that its site is part of a tract once owned by John Kersey. His son, who was sheriff in 1851 and 1852, is still a resident of the place. The first store was opened in 1806 by James Bedwell, being followed two years later by another, kept by John Lord, both of which were abandoned in a short time. Others were started in succession and failed in a like manner.

Dr. Thomas Hubbard in 1850 built a house and store, in which was also kept his office. He was a practicing physician in this place for thirty years, moving away in 1880, since which time William George has continued the store. Dr. John M. Towns shortly after the war opened the store in which is located the post-office. He is the present postmaster, having been appointed in 1872.

Dr. Downs is the only physician in this locality. During the war he served as surgeon in the army and was stationed a short time at Port Deposit, Maryland.

Marydel (Halltown) is situated in the south-west part of the hundred. It is wholly within the jurisdiction of Queen Anne County, Md., there being but six dwellings, a school-house and a fruit and vegetable canning establishment on the Delaware side. The first settler on this site was a colored man named Williams, who built a log-house and worked out by the day. William Hall, a shoemaker, moved here about 1850, and, buying between two and three hundred acres of ground, improved it for farming purposes. After the completion of the railroad, in 1865, through the town, he disposed of his property. At that time William Clarke built a hotel, which was burnt down five years later.

Hartley (Arthurville or Butterpat) is located three miles north of Marydel on the Delaware & Chesapeake Railroad. The land was originally part of "Proctor's Purchase,'' taken up by John Durborrow December 3, 1734, and subsequently transferred by his representative to Thomas Proctor. The earliest habitation directly on the site, of which we have any knowledge, was a log-house, built by James Foraker. William Arthurs, moving here from Murderkill, took up a tract of land and erected a house, which is now in use as a stable, owned by Walter Clark. William Mallalieu then built a second frame-house, in which he started a store, which is now (1888) kept by Charles Purcell. In 1882 there were but two houses in the village. Since the establishment of the railroad station, in that year, Hartley has expanded to its present proportions.

The Hartley Hotel was built in 1883. It will accommodate twenty-five guests.

The post-office was established in the same year, when Richard Grant was appointed postmaster, he being succeeded by the present incumbent, S. C. Jones. It has now a population of about one hundred and five persons.

Slaughter's Station was established in 1866. In the fall of 1873 it was burnt down, but was replaced with the present building the same year. Since the establishment of the passenger station at Hartley it has been used exclusively for freight. The store at this place was built by William Slaughter in 1866, and is at present kept by R. A. Davis. "Dodd's Saw-mill," having a capacity of two thousand feet of lumber per day, is located to the right of the station. It originally stood on the farm of William Slaughter, by whom it was built in 1860. After its sale to the present proprietor, William A. Dodd, the latter moved it to its present site.

Post Office and Postmasters

Hazlettville post-office was established in 1836. The postmasters have been William Slay, Henry Pratt, William D. Voshall, Dr. J. M. Downs (fifteen years). Pierson's Cross-Roads post-office was established in 1861. The post-masters have been Jonathan Thomas, Joseph H. Thomas and John H. Lord. Slaughter's Station post-office was established in 1868, with William Slaughter, Joseph Poore, James Messick, H. C. Coffman and Robert A. Davis postmasters. Hartley post-office was established in 1883, with Richard Grant and S. C. Jones postmasters.


 William Dickey, who came from Ireland early in the eighteenth century, was undoubtedly the first teacher in this part of the State. There being no school-houses established, he taught as many as were in approachable distance of his house. His body was also the first placed in the burial-ground of Thomas' Chapel. In 1825 a log school-house was erected on the Kersey tract (embraced now in Hazlettville) by Thomas Lockwood and John Stant. Sessions were held in the old log school-house until 1836, when, the districts being created, they were held in Pratt's school-house. Its next use was for lumber storage, being taken away shortly after to make room for other improvements. The names of a few teachers within the recollection of old citizens were Dr. Thomas Hubbard, John Slay, William Slay, John Lockwood and James Wolcott. The Day School was erected by Matthias Day in 1828, on the Burrowsfield tract. Shortly after the free districts were created it was moved about a quarter of a mile below its original site. Among the early teachers were Hon. Eli Saulsbury, ex-Governor Gove Saulsbury, William Rome, James Temple, John Whittaker, John Hopkins, Caleb Burchner, Dr. Cahill, John Powell, John Streets, Isaac Owens, Alexander Jackson and Martha Clarke. In 1830, under the established school system, the Tappahanna School (46) was opened. The list of teachers contains the names of Dennis Emery, P. K. Meredith, Louisa Slaughter, Lydia Sharpless, Emma Sharpless, Ellen Virdin, William Virdin, Alexander Virdin, Mary Voshall, William Johns, Thomas Johns, Powell Johns, Powell Melerson, John Hawkins, George Hawkins, Dr. T. O. Clements, Oliver Bowe, Richard Allee and James Griffith

Hose Valley (79) On April 14, 1869, the voters of this district met at the house of Dennis Connor and decided that "there being 86 scholars, the lawful number, in that vicinity, the establishment of a separate District is made necessary."

In that year a school-house was erected and sessions were held there until 1880, when it was destroyed by fire. In the fall of that year the present house was built at a cost of seven hundred and ninety-five dollars. James B. Powell, the present clerk, has held the office continuously since 1859. The following is a complete list of teachers: Garrett Louis, Miss H. A. Casson, F. M. Hawkins, Martha F. Powell, Martha Janvier, George B. Reynolds, Babcock F. Sharp, Susan Jump (five years), M. A. Clarke, W. T. Moore, J. H. Babbitt, A. M. Cubbage, E. Cooper, W. H. Willis, A. M. Gooden, T. K. Jones, Flora A, Webb, Ella Putnam, E. B. Slaughter, William P. Taylor. Flora B. Cahoon, William L. Gooding and Maggie Kersey. The highest number of pupils at one session was forty.

Hawkins' School (96). This district is composed of parts taken from 15, 16, and 46, and was surveyed by John Slay and John M. Foraker, who were appointed by the Levy Court in 1864. That year a school-house was erected, fifty pupils attending the sessions. This was used until 1886, when, by an act of the Legislature, an appropriation of one thousand dollars was granted for a new one. The latter was finished in July, 1887, and the sessions were held there in the following term.

1. Part of this Information was obtained from Miss Charlotte Voshell, great-granddaughter of Panelope Irons.

Kent County

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

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