Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




Red Lion Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Early Settlements Schools Industries
List of Taxable, 1787 .. Town of St. George's

This hundred, the smallest in the State, is bounded on the north by a creek of the same name, on the south by St. George's Creek, on the east by the Delaware River and on the west by Pencader Hundred. The soil is rich and productive, and some of the finest farmland in the State is to be found within its borders. In 1831, it is said, the first peach orchards in the State were introduced in this hundred, and they yielded abundantly for about thirty-five years, but since that time have been a failure, and are no longer planted. Much of the land is marsh, and requires embankments to prevent the river from overflowing, and ditches to drain it. Large parts of it were used in early times for grazing cattle. The village of St. George's extended partly in St. George's Hundred, and to remedy the inconveniences thereby occasioned, an act was passed for the extension of the boundaries of Bed Lion Hundred, on March 1, 1875.

The territory thus added to this hundred is described as follows:

"The said enlargement or extension shall begin at a point on the Ches. & Del. canal, at the line dividing the lands of Jno. P. Hudson from the lands of Jno Hudson; thence and with said division line in a southerly direction to the public road leading from Summit bridge to the town of St. George's; thence in a northeasterly direction with the middle line of said road to the road leading from Odessa to the said town of St. George's; thence crossing said road to the line of the lands of Mrs. Letitia How, being the northern boundary of the road dividing the lands of the said Letitia How from the lands of Mrs. Margaret A. Osborn; thence and with said line and road to the line dividing the lands of the said M. A. Osborn from the lands of Francis McWhorter and Brother thence with the line dividing said lands to Scott's run; thence down said run to the Ches. & Del. canal, and thence with said canal and with the original division lines of said hundreds to the place of beginning."

Early Settlements

In 1661 Jacob Young, who was residing at Upland, eloped from that place with the wife of the Reverend Laurentius Laers, and went to Maryland and resided at or near Bohemia Manor. While there he obtained, by warrant and purchase, land in Red Lion and St. Georges Hundreds. On the 6th of November, 1675, a warrant was granted to him by Governor Edward Andros for a tract of one thousand two hundred and eighty acres known as "St. George's Neck," situate on the north side of St. George's Creek and extending to Dragon's Run. By the death of Jacob Young the land vested in his two sons, Jacob and Joseph. They, by separate deeds, dated November 10, 1700, granted a portion of the estate to Charles Anderson and the remainder to John Cocks. Four hundred and thirty-seven acres of this was sold by Anderson and Cocks on July 20, 1708, to Joseph Neall. At the decease of John Cocks his land passed to his sons, Charles, John and Augustine Cocks. By partition and survey, made by George Deakayne, October 20, 1720, the estate was divided among the three sons, each receiving two hundred and thirty-four acres. Augustine's was the eastern part, Charles the middle and John the western part. John sold his two hundred and thirty-four acres June 24, 1729, to Francis Land. He died in June, 1731, and left some other land, westward of the above tract, to his wife, Rebecca, and his son, Gabriel Cocks. This large tract has, since the purchase of John Cocks, in 1700, been known as "Cocks Neck," a name still familiar to the residents of Red Lion Hundred. Augustine Cocks died soon after his father, and November 20, 1730, his executors sold his share to Jacob Gooding.

Lawrence Higgins, an Ulster Presbyterian from Belfast, was the first of his family to settle in America. He emigrated in 1750, and married a Miss Susan Wilson, of the Welsh emigration. Her family moved to Virginia shortly after her marriage, and further knowledge of them is lost. He died in 1789. His son, Jesse Higgins, was the executor of his will. He first owned a farm near Port Penn, and afterward that now owned by John C. and Anthony Higgins, bordering upon the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the town of Delaware City. He is known to have been an ardent Whig in the War of the Revolution. He was resident agent for the purchase of supplies for the Continental army, and speedily exhausted both means and credit in his zeal for the cause of independence. His surviving family were four sons, Jesse, Anthony, Samuel, David and a daughter who married one Armstrong, and went to Ohio.

Jesse first married a niece of George Read, the signer, a daughter of his brother. Their son, John Read Higgins, lived to the age of ten. Jesse Higgins early became a widower, and married Mary Witherspoon, daughter of Thomas Witherspoon, of Middletown, who was treasurer of Drawyers Presbyterian Church in 1764, and upon the committee which built the present church, upon or near the site of an older one in 1772. His uncle, David Witherspoon, was a member of the Council of Delaware in 1762. He was a native of Londonderry, in Ireland, and was a trustee of Drawyers Church in 1746. He died in 1763, leaving his nephew, Thomas, his heir.

Susan, the wife of Thomas Witherspoon, was the daughter of Dr. Sluyter Bouchelle, whose wife, Mary Ann Bayard, was the sister of Peter, Samuel and James Bayard, who were the sons of Samuel Bayard, who settled on Bohemia Manor about a. d. 1700.

Samuel was the son of Peter Bayard, the son of Nicholas Bayard, whose wife, Anneke, was the sister of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, who, with her sons, accompanied him from Holland to New Amsterdam in 1647.

John M. O. Rodney has a French psalm-book which she brought with her, and which has descended in seven generations to him.

Dr. Sluyter Bouchelle was the son of Dr. Petrus Bouchelle, who was the son of Legede Bouchelle.

Dr. Petrus Bouchelle was the son-in-law and favorite heir of Petrus Sluyter, the leader of the Labadists, who settled on Bohemia Manor in 1684.

Jesse Higgins lived at Damascus, a mill-seat on the Dragon, one mile north of St. George's. He was a man of intellect and deep research, a logical and impressive public speaker, and probably the most influential man of his day of the laymen of the Jefferson Democrats. He was often invited to become a member of the bar, but in his settlement of Dr. Bouchelle's estate he had to bring and resist law-suits, and was thus involved in litigation. He conceived a strong antagonism to the profession of the law, believing that '' an honest man could not be a good lawyer."

In pursuance of this feeling he wrote a pamphlet entitled "Samson against the Philistines," in which he sought to prove that arbitration could be properly, cheaply and effectively substituted for suits at law. The edition was promptly bought by the lawyers, as far as possible suppressed, and another was not issued. Its publication in the Aurora gave it a wider circulation. William Duane, the editor and publisher of the Aurora was also the publisher of the pamphlet. As a vigorous and sincere expression of views it is not without interest now after the lapse of nearly a century. The following letter from Mr. Duane will better describe Jesse Higgins than any present testimony:

"Washington, Nov. 18th, 1804.
"To Mr. Jesse Higgins, St. George's Delaware;

"Deas Sir,
My son has forwarded to me yours of the 28th of October.

"The pamphlet, you know, I proposed not to publish before the first week or fortnight of the meeting of our Legislature. Accordingly, I brought it with me to this place, where I can under my own eye see it printed. The thirty-second page proof I read this morning and shall have the whole ready as proposed. In about ten days I shall begin to advertise it so as to prepare the minds of readers for its reception.

"You will have seen an essay in the Aurora signed "More,' which I wrote for the same purpose to meet our legislators at their own homes before they set out to Lancaster.

"The Lawyers of Pennsylvania have agreed to run me down! so that it is now, who shall! And tho the force is formidable, you must know, from times past, that I am not easily dismayed.

"I had a conversation with your excellent Rodney yesterday. He asked me who was the author of the essay signed Mure! did not tell him. He said "there is an extraordinary man in our state; I am told he has sent several things on that subject to your paper; his name is Jesse Higgins. When you want any discussions on that subject apply to him, for, to my knowledge, he has been more than once more than a match for Bayard. He spoke highly of you as a man of virtue and intellectual power and confessed that he believed you're going into the legislature would produce a very serious change in the state" In this place we will have nothing new beside what you have seen in the papers, the happy state of things under our general government."
I am, with great esteem, yours,
Wm Dyabe

But whatever may have been the "happy state of things" at Washington, the fight at home between Federalist and Democrat was a warm one, and from the above it appears that in those heated political controversies Jesse Higgins met from time to time, and was not worsted by, the most brilliant Federalist of that era.

Old men described to the generation just gone the great meeting at Glasgow, when these men met in alternate speeches.

Jesse Higgins' daughter, Susan, married Henry Fromberger, and their daughter, Susan Maria, married Thomas M. Rodney, son of Caesar A. Rodney, and by this domestic tie further cemented the friendship of the previous generation.

A son of Jesse Higgins bearing his father's name became a midshipman in the navy. He was upon the "Essex" with Commodore Porter, and a diary now extant gives a history of his experience upon that historic ship.

The second prize taken by the "Essex" was an English vessel from Liverpool for New Brunswick. A George Pearce was appointed prize-master, and Jesse Higgins his next officer. They sailed for Boston, but were captured by the English sloop-of- war "Atalantis," and sent to St. John's, N. B.

They were placed upon the prison-ship for a few days only, were paroled, and permitted the liberty of the town within certain limits for a few months, and then paroled until exchanged. They were in all respects kindly treated during their stay at St. John's and on August 31, 1812, left for Boston, in a schooner which they had purchased for four hundred pounds. Quite a large American colony were included in this shipload.

Only six weeks later, October 20, 1812, Jesse Higgins, Jr., died of pneumonia, contracted during his voyages of a few months.

Anthony Higgins, second son of Lawrence, succeeded his father and became one of the foremost farmers of his time, leaving six hundred acres to his children. He was a man of great mental and physical energy, of iron will, yet genial and social in disposition. He had an unusually fine voice and musical talent. His Revolutionary and hunting songs were the delight of his generation, and some of them have been handed down to his descendants. He delighted in the music of hounds and made the chase a double factor in his life, as it gave him the exercise which his tendency to corpulency made a necessity. His hospitality was largely extended.

Anthony Higgins was twice married, first to a Miss Rankin, of which marriage there was no issue. On March 22, 1792, he married Martha Witherspoon, the sister of the wife of his brother Jesse. Three sons, John, Thomas .Jefferson and Anthony Madison, and a daughter, Harriet, survive their parents. John Higgins, the oldest, was born in 1794, and died in 1848. He married Ann Sawyer, daughter of Capt. Joseph Sawyer, of New Castle. They lived for twenty-five years at Fairview, built by his father and now occupied by his nephew, John C. Higgins. He was the father of the public schools of Delaware City, giving them unwearied attention, although himself childless. He was a colonel of militia, member of Legislature, always a patriotic and public-spirited citizen, and popular and beloved to a rare degree. His brother, Thomas J. Higgins, did not marry. He led a quiet, thoughtful life, was keenly alive to the political situation of State and nation, and was the only man who voted for Fremont in Red Lion Hundred in 1856. Their sister Harriet was long the relict of John Dushane Eves.

David Higgins, third son of Lawrence, left a son William, who married Elizabeth Reynolds, of Middletown, who has long survived her husband and lives with her children in Missouri.

Of the names mentioned in this sketch, Lawrence Higgins, Dr. Sluyter Bouchelle and Thomas Wither-spoon are known to have suffered pecuniary loss in the cause of American Independence. Dr. Bouchelle was a trustee of the Forest Presbyterian Church, at Middletown, upon its erection in 1760. He left a large estate, principally in land, a part of which lies in Burke County, North Carolina. He removed thither and died there in 1796.

The first land purchased by Lawrence Higgins, the first settler, was on the lowest point of Cocks' Neck, bounded on the south by St. George's Creek, and on the north by Dragon Run, and afterwards the land now owned by John C. and Anthony Higgins. On this latter place he built a house which was standing in 1840 and bore the words "Our Grandfather's Log Cabin, a Whig of '76." It was soon after torn down.

Jesse Higgins, the eldest son of Lawrence Higgins, was born in 1763. Soon after arriving at manhood he purchased a farm adjoining his father's, and built a residence within three hundred yards of an old landing for vessels at the head of navigation on St. George's Creek. This landing was a great convenience to the people in this vicinity and afforded the only outlet for water conveyance to Brandy wine Mills or Philadelphia for more than one hundred years previous to the permanent enclosure of St. George's Creek.

On the 19th of February, 1790, he purchased a grist-mill, brick mansion and a plantation of one hundred acres, which was known as ''Damascus," and the place still retains the name. It was situated one and a half miles north of the town of St. George's and was sold by Sheriff Thomas Kean as the property of Jacob Cannon. The Cannons were a prominent family who came to this hundred in 1724. In November of that year Isaac Cannon purchased "Damascus" of Samuel Griffith, who purchased it October 16, 1719, when it was sold by Sheriff Rowland Fitzgerald aa the property of Henry Hanson. After the death of Jesse Higgins "Damascus" passed into the hands of his son-in-law, Henry Fromberger. Shortly afterwards the dam broke and was never repaired. "Damascus" is now owned by Mrs. George H. Smith.

He subsequently purchased the paternal estate and devoted his time to farming and grazing, in some years selling as many as sixty bead of cattle to the butchers of New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. In 1822 he built a brick house within two hundred yards of the place where he was born, which, on account of its location, he called "Fairview." He died in 1823, leaving a widow and six children, three sons and three daughters. He devised legacies to his daughters and his estate to his sons, to be divided when the youngest should arrive at age.

Anthony Madison Higgins, of Red Lion Hundred, a prominent citizen of Delaware in his day, was born November 22, 1809, on the place and near the spot where he died. This place is known as Fairview. His father, Anthony Higgins, and grandfather, Lawrence Higgins, had cultivated the same farm, and it is now owned and tilled by John C. Higgins, his eldest living son. For several generations the family has lived in Red Lion Hundred, not far from Delaware City. The subject of this sketch, after preparatory courses of instruction, first with Rev. Wilson, of Middletown, then with the late John Bullock, of Wilmington, and subsequently at the Newark Academy, entered Jefferson College, at Cannonsburg, Pa., in 1829, and received his diploma from that institution in 1831. As a student and as a member of the Literary Society of his choice, he stood in the foremost rank, giving promise to his friends by his collegiate achievements of future eminence in some field of literature.

In those days railroads did not exist among the mountains of Pennsylvania, Living steeds were the main dependence for transportation of travelers and freight. Romantic interest and peril, in the more sparsely- peopled places, would therefore attend a journey at that time on the routes from Wilmington to Western Pennsylvania. In order to enjoy the scenery along the way and gratify his taste for natural enjoyments and equestrian exercise, Mr. Higgins, after graduating, in company with four college mates, Messrs. David D. Clark, of Cumberland County, Pa.; Maxwell Kennedy, of Lancaster County, Pa.; L. P. Bush, M.D., of Wilmington; and Hon. Addison May, now of West Chester, Pa., of whom the two last named were classmates, returned home on horseback. Each member of the party left his companions at the point on the route which was nearest to his own home. This agreeable journey from his alma mater was remembered and mentioned in after years with genuine pleasure. His standing and activities in class and society, while at college, had led his acquaintances to suppose that after graduation he would devote himself to the profession of the law, but his rural environments and tastes controlled his choice and decided his career for the farm. Hence college life was to him but a more complete equip-ment and preparation for life as an agriculturalist. He gave his cultivated energies, both of mind and body, to the culture of his farm. He settled upon a place situated north and west of the village of St. George's, and almost adjoining his paternal estate. Here, for more than thirty years, he pursued actively his chosen vocation with signal ability and success. He then withdrew from the active labors of the farm, and for twenty years enjoyed the life of a retired country gentleman, at his home at Linden Hill. Much of this time he devoted to reading, in which he took great delight. He traversed a wide field of literature with a desire for knowledge that was apparently insatiable. In this domain, his acquisitions, on almost every subject of general interest, were large. On all matters of local and domestic interest he was an encyclopedia. These two decades of his life were notably happy years, yielding memorable pleasures both to him and his family and his friends. In these years the personal traits of Mr. Higgins, which preeminently constituted his individuality, were freely developed and plainly seen. Conspicuous among them was an unselfish, even self-sacrificing fairness towards others with whom he dealt. To observers he seemed to forget himself in his scrupulous care for the interests of others to an extent which made him appear in a transaction as more careful of their welfare than of his own. He was highly favored in his marriage relations. His wife was a woman of rare courage and force of character and was a potent factor in the successful life of her husband. Her death deprived him of his most efficient coadjutor and left a void that was never fully filled and a sorrow of no ordinary kind. Although capable as a writer to an unusual degree when he chose to use his pen, Mr. Higgins has left comparatively little to indicate his skill in this particular. He devoted himself so completely to his agricultural interests that he had but scant time or inclination to put his thoughts upon paper. The most that he did as a writer, upon subjects of general interest, was done for the Department of Agriculture at Washington City, for which he prepared, by request, several valuable communications on topics relating to the agricultural resources and industries of New Castle County. In the last two years of his life he was overshadowed by another deep grief, occasioned by the death of his eldest daughter, to whom he was devotedly attached, and who, after the death of her mother, had done what she could to supply her place. Alter this bereavement his health and comfort became so much impaired that be abandoned Linden Hill as a home, and spent his remaining days at the homes of his children.

Mr. Higgins was not one of the class of men who are content with inferior methods when better may be employed. He believed in going forward to the attainment of the best possible results. Hence, it is not surprising that he made the farm which he tilled advance from an inferior condition to the very front rank of handsome and productive rural estates. He was devoted heartily to his calling and labored in it intelligently and with assiduity. As an intelligent citizen he always took a lively interest in the public welfare. But he did not abandon his life work to do so. In politics he was originally a Whig, later in life he was known as a Republican. He was always in earnest in whatever he did, having clear and decided convictions upon all questions which his duty required him to consider. Twice he took upon him the cares and responsibilities of public official position, once as a trustee of the poor of New Castle County, and once as a member of the State Legislature.

The latter position he held as the choice of the people in the stormy period of 1860, when his name was placed on the Lincoln Bell fusion ticket. In the Legislature he did much by his consistent, intelligent, conscientious fidelity towards preserving his native State in the position which she had been the first to take in relation to the National Constitution. As public offices were not congenial to his tastes, he served but one term in any official position, and returned willingly to his agricultural pursuits when public duty permitted. Possibly the conspicuous candor and unsuspecting truthfulness of his character may, in part, explain his reluctance to engage in the competitions of political life. He was married, in 1833, to Sarah C. Corbit, a daughter of Pennell Corbit. His wife died on the 28th of February, 1871. Five children survived their father, John C. Higgins, near Delaware City; Anthony Higgins, attorney-at-law of Wilmington; Thomas Higgins, a merchant of New York City; Pennell C. Higgins, a journalist of the same city and Mary C, wife of Daniel Corbit, of Odessa. His oldest daughter, Martha, died in February, 1886, at Nassau, New Providence, Bahama Islands, where she had been taken by her father for her health.

Mr. Higgins died July 29, 1887, and was buried in St. George's Cemetery near the centre of the enclosure, in the family plot, and in full view of the beautiful home which he had established more than half a century before he died. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and his obsequies were conducted according to the ceremonies of that denomination. Mrs. Higgins, his wife, (Sarah Clark Corbit,) was a granddaughter of Governor John Clark, son of Captain William Clark, whose valor was well proved at the head of his command in the Revolutionary Army. He led into the battle of Monmouth a company of seventy-five men, raised principally between Smyrna and Cantwell's Bridge. Forty-five of these brave men perished on the field. In a hand-to-hand conflict Captain Clark killed with his sword a British officer who had attacked him. The sword with which he had saved his life and vanquished his antagonist was long retained and highly valued among the heirlooms of the family, but was eventually stolen by some person who was supposed to have coveted its mountings.

Mr. Higgins is remembered as an intelligent, energetic farmer; a man of unswerving rectitude and purity; a generous friend, a patriotic citizen, an unusually well-informed Christian gentleman, interested in all his active years in every good work that he could personally aid, and always a warm advocate of every worthy enterprise. Such men do not die, they only pass to other spheres beyond.

"Tho human forms to primal dust return,
Their deeds, perennial, live from age to age."

On February 2, 1788, during Jesse Higgins' first term in the Legislature, a supplementary act was passed for stopping St. George's Creek, and draining a quantity of marsh and cripple on both sides of the creek, being about three thousand acres, situate in Red Lion and St. George's Hundreds, and for keeping the dykes and drains in good repair.

Henry Ward Pierce and Mathew Pearce were the owners of a portion of this tract. On the 18th day of April, 1796, they conveyed thirteen hundred and seventy-eight acres to Solomon Maxwell, William Guier and Adam Diehl, wealthy merchants of Philadelphia. In 1799, Maxwell sold his interest to Joseph Clark. While this tract was in their possession the hotel at St. Augustine Piers was erected and managed by them for more than twenty years. The marsh was enclosed and ditched and converted into pasture land, on which numerous cattle were fattened, and found a ready market in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The tract was divided into three portions or farms and assigned by lot. Joseph Clark became the owner of the farm in St. George's Hundred; Adam Diehl drew the middle farm; and William Guier received the upper farm, which extended as far north as the present location of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. Clark's property was at a later period purchased by John Barney, and is now owned by Wm. S. Lawrence, of New Jersey. The William Guier farm is now owned by Arthur Coleburn, of Philadelphia. In 1828, Adam Diehl sold his farm to Captain George Maxwell, who, in 1843, conveyed it to J. J. Henry. John P. King was the next owner, and he sold it in October, 1861, to William Beck, the present owner, who came from England in 1848. St. George's marsh now comprises some of the finest farmland in the State. On this tract, in 1831, the first peach orchards in the State were planted. The tidal wave in 1878 swept away the entire embankment and since that time $37,000 have been spent in rebuilding and repairing the banks and ditches along this marsh.

In 1872, for the better draining of this land, there was stationed on it a thirty-six-inch pump with a capacity of twenty-five thousand gallons per minute. It was operated by an eighty-five horse-power engine.

John Moll, of whom a more complete history is given elsewhere in the chapter on " Bench and Bar," in 1676, bought of William Currier and William Goldsmith a tract of six hundred acres, which was patented to them January 13, 1675. On June 27th of that year this land was surveyed to him, and an additional four hundred acres ''which had been seated for several years with good stock and good improvements thereon." A patent was granted to him for these one thousand acres on the 8th of August, 1679.

This tract, known as "The Exchange," was situated on the Delaware River, south of Red Lion Creek, and extended to Dragon Swamp. It was adjacent to the "Reeden Island" tract patented to Henry Ward. Articles of agreement for the sale of "The Exchange" were drawn up Sept. 3, 1683, between John Moll and Gabriel Rappe, who was acting as agent for Daniel Duthy, a merchant of London. The terms of the contract were not complied with, and the land was awarded to John Moll by a board of arbitrators. On the 19th of March, John Moll sold this land to Hans Hanson, who, on July 7, 1685, took out a warrant for a tract of land called "Lowland," situate on the south side of Red Lion Creek, and containing four hundred and twenty-five acres of fast land and marsh. Below "Lowland" was a tract which at this time was owned by Lewis Davis, and afterwards became escheated and was granted to Joseph Hanson, son of Hans. On December 25, 1701, it was surveyed to him in two tracts containing four hundred and three hundred acres respectively. At his death, Hans Hanson devised all of his property to his two sons, Peter and Joseph, who then owned nearly the entire northeastern portion of Red Lion Hundred. This land has passed through various hands and is now principally owned by the Reybolds and Clarks.

A small stream called "Cedar Creek" flows through this tract, and in some parts the land is marshy. From an early date a bank has been necessary along the Delaware to prevent the river from overflowing the land in this vicinity. In 1784 the bank was in need of repair, and on February 5th of the following year an act of Assembly was passed enabling the owners of meadow marsh and cripple on Cedar Creek in Red Lion Hundred, and County of New Castle, to erect a new bank in part, and to keep the residue of the old bank, dams, sluices and flood-gates in repair. On February 5, 1811, a supplement to the act of 1785 was passed. By it Francis Haughey, Benjamin Merrit, William Kennedy, Dr. David Stuart and Adam Deighl were appointed commissioners to go on Red Lion bank and view the situation, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it were advisable to repair the old bank, or build a new one on another site. Andrew Jamison, Peter Hanse and Thomas Marsh Foreman were appointed managers to superintend the repairing of the old bank, or the erection of a new one and the laying out of sluices.

The commissioners met at Red Lion Inn on April 30, 1811, and made their report. They recommended the erection of a bank to be five feet high, measuring from high-water mark, and sixteen feet wide at the base. They advised the building of a wharf forty rods long, and parallel to the bank, for the better protection of eighty perches of the most exposed portion of the bank. They also directed that forty rods of the bank be protected by piles arranged in rows at the base of the bank, and that a sluice ten feet wide and five feet deep, with flood-gates, be made where the old sluice was.

The suggestions of the commissioners met with approval, and the work was performed. At frequent intervals since that time the embankments have been rebuilt, and new sluices dug.

In 1701 Joseph Hanson sold a portion of his estate to John Boyer, who in 1703 conveyed it to Henry Packard (Piker). At his death he devised his estate to his wife, with remainder to his children. On May 27, 1730, George Hadley leased two hundred acres of the heirs of Henry Packard. Hadley came from New York City, at which place he owned considerable property. He died at Dover while there attending to some business. He was reported as being immensely wealthy, and rumor said he had buried a large quantity of treasure before taking this trip. Numerous were the requests made by different persons, who claimed they had dreamed concerning this wealth and where it was located, for permission to examine certain places on the premises. According to tradition almost the entire farm was overturned in the search. It was never discovered, or, if so, was enjoyed in silence. By his will, bearing date December 28, 1732, he devised his estate to his wife, Mary, who the following year married John Clark. Clark was a mariner and surveyor and was the son of a captain of a boat that sailed between New Castle and New York. He purchased other land in this hundred and at the time of his decease owned four hundred and ninety-one acres, valued at £1359 2s. 6d. The estate was taken at the valuation by John, the oldest son, who died in 1791, and by his will devised one-half of his real estate to George, his eldest son, and a life estate in the other half to his wife, with remainder to George, who was to pay certain legacies to the other children. William D., Levi H. and James C. Clark were sons of Major George Clark. He died December 6, 1838, and devised to his youngest son, Levi H. Clark, all of his real estate subject to the legacies of the other children. Levi H. sold some of the land, and March 28, 1863, conveyed the remainder to his brother, John C. Clark, who, July 28, 1865, granted it to his son, James H. Clark, the present owner. The Clarks of Red Lion Hundred are all descendants of the John Clark who married Mary Hadley, and are influential citizens of this hundred. The old home-stead, except the kitchen, on the James H. Clark property was destroyed by fire on St. Patrick's Day, 1857.

In 1875 William D. Clark erected a granite shaft near the old kitchen with the following inscription:

"John Clark.
Mrs. Mary Hadley.
Both Born 1711.
Married 1733
John Clark.
Mary Adams.
Married 1766.
Geo. Clark
Rebecca Curtis
Esther Bryan
Here they lived and
died and here was
my mother's room.
These memories to me
are precious.
Wm. D. Clark.

The estate on which William D. Clark resided until his death was also a portion of the John Moll tract. In 1802 it was conveyed by Henry Ward Pierce to Joseph Holmes and Clayton Earl. On May 16, 1810, the executors of Joseph Holmes sold his one-half interest to Clayton Earl, who, June 9, 1819, conveyed it to Hugh Exton, whose executors granted it to William D. Clark March 15, 1837. The estate is now owned by the heirs of William D. Clark.

Peter Hanson, who was grandson of Hans and son of Joseph, and inherited half of his father's estate, by will dated April 5, 1729, devised his property to his children, Hans, Magdalen, wife of Michael Butcher, Rachel, wife of Thomas Tobin, and John Hanson. Michael Butcher and Magdalen, his wife, conveyed their portion to Hans and John, and Patrick Porter purchased the share of Thomas Tobin and Rachel, his wife. The land was divided and the portion received by John descended to his two sons Nathaniel and John. On March 28, 1776, Nathaniel sold his land to Alexander Porter, whose daughter, Mary, married Thomas M. Foreman, and inherited portion of this land. On January 1, 1820 Philip Reybold purchased six hundred acres of Thomas M. Foreman.

Major Philip Reybold, of Delaware City, Red Lion Hundred, a man of more than ordinary physical vigor, and endowed with strong common sense and indomitable energy, was descended from Dutch ancestors, of whose history no record remains. He was born in Philadelphia, May 5, 1783. His father dressed sheep for the Philadelphia market, and from his only son, Philip, required and received, even in his childhood, such aid in his business as proved him to be a boy of remarkable capacity. Although but ten years old when his father died, he had an intelligent under-standing of the situation in which his mother, his sister and himself had been left. With characteristic courage, foresight and energy, he struggled with the adversities that confronted him, and managed to obtain favor, employment and some compensation. Sometime after his father's death, his mother married Dr. Albertus Shilack, a physician of some means, in Philadelphia. She did not long survive her second marriage and left no additional children. Aided, no doubt, by the step-father, Philip continued to work at the business that he had learned, in its rudiments, with his father, and, in the absence of better facilities, he wheeled his dressed sheep to market on a hand-cart or wheel-barrow, and sold his meat to his customers. Thus he continued to work with increasing success until October 25, 1801, when, in his nineteenth year, he was married to Elizabeth Dilcart and laid the foundation of a home which was afterwards blessed with surprising prosperity. Major Reybold continued to acquire means by diligent attention to his occupation in Philadelphia until about 1810. At this time his family had been increased by the birth of his four eldest children. Having a decided taste for rural occupations, stock-raising, grazing and such pursuits, he thought about this time that he would do well for himself and his growing family by removing to the country and engaging in agriculture. Accordingly, after inquiry, he decided to remove to a farm in Red Lion Hundred, Delaware, which he purchased on equal shares with one Worknot, from Clayton Earle. The tract thus bargained for contained over one thousand acres, and included lands now embraced in the estate of the late William D. Clark, also in the property of George F. Brady, in Jefferson Clark's estate, the Delaware City Cemetery, and in fields now belonging to many others. Such a venture on such a scale gives some idea of the courageous energy of the man. To realize what was invested and obtain additional profit demanded extraordinary skill and vigorous effort, perhaps more than his experience at that time prepared him to exhibit, though not more than he was capable of displaying under favorable circumstances. Fortunately or unfortunately, he was handicapped by his partner, Worknot. Whether the name had significance or not, his partner did not make his payments as promised, and as the result, the farm was lost to Messrs. Reybold and Worknot by a foreclosure of the mortgage held by Mr. Earle. Not discouraged, however, by this event, Mr. Reybold subsequently rented the same property from Mr. Earle, and, unembarrassed by a partner, he embarked in the business of raising merino sheep.

By diligence and prudence his plans prospered, and Mr. Reybold gradually advanced in means and influence. To purchase the property that he had lost, through the failure of his partner, Mr. Reybold had sold his half-interest in the estate of his step-father, which, after the death of his mother without additional heirs, had been left to him and his sister, their step-father having died previously. Having lost all his own early savings and his patrimony, by the disastrous termination of the Worknot partnership, the situation would have been discouraging to a faint heart. But to Major Reybold it afforded chiefly an incentive to greater effort; for his heart was not of the ''faint" kind. Robust energy that knew not how to faint or fail and was determined not to learn to do either, was, more than in most men, his predominant characteristic. After a profitable experience in raising merino sheep, Mr. Reybold rented what was known as the Newbold property, on part of which Delaware City now stands. On this farm he gave attention to raising and pressing castor beans for oil. The making and sale of castor oil proved so profitable that from what it and his other farming operations produced, he was able, in 1819, to purchase the Marsh Mount property, upon which, in 1820, he finished building the large and commodious mansion, in which he resided for more than a quarter of a century, and which is now occupied by his son, William. After removal to Marsh Mount farm, of which eighty acres was woodland, he gave the most particular attention to the improvement of it. Here, besides maintaining all the ordinary work of a cereal farm, he raised choice stock and conducted the culture of castor beans on a large scale. He had over four hundred acres under complete cultivation, of which he devoted fifty or sixty acres to beans for oil. The product of these acres was exceedingly profitable. Major Reybold, so far as is known, was the first castor oil producer who used the cold pressure and put the famous cold-expressed castor oil in the market.

While engaged in these industries, the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal was projected. Mr. Reybold and John C. Clark entered into a contract with the canal company to build that part of the canal which lies between Delaware City and St. Georges. This section offered to contractors the greatest difficulties to be encountered along the entire line, as so much of it lay through heavy marsh land. The company had tried in vain to obtain a suitable person to supervise the work on this section. It required a man who could successfully control rough and reckless workmen, as well as know what they must do. Mr. Reybold had the necessary qualifications. He was sagacious, prompt and physically large and strong. He exceeded six feet in height, and was well proportioned. He succeeded to that part of the work of which John Randel had been in charge, and remained on it until the canal was finished. While carrying on his part of the excavation and construction, he also contracted to supply meat and bread to the men on the entire line, from Delaware City to Chesapeake City, and filled the contract successfully. The magnitude of this undertaking is more easily imagined than described; but the difficulties were all surmounted and satisfactorily overcome. After the completion of the canal, he gave attention to the manufacture of brick, and carried it on upon an extensive scale. He supplied, under contracts, the brick for buildings erected by Girard & Ridgeway, of Philadelphia; also for the almshouse of that county on the west side of the Schuylkill. Many of his brick were sent to New York, as he was able, because of superior facilities for their manufacture, to supply them at cheaper rates. His transactions in this industry reached up in value to millions of dollars. He was also largely engaged in peach culture, being personally interested and occupied in it, more or less, from 1885 to about 1850. Although a very busy man through all these years, he found time between 1840 and 1845 to erect a new house for his residence at a place about a mile from Marsh Mount. To this new home he gave the name of Lexington, at the suggestion and in honor of Henry Clay, whom he greatly admired and who visited him here, in company with Hon. John M. Clayton and other prominent public men. Mr. Reybold had removed from Marsh Mount to the Lexington country seat in December, 1846, and his distinguished visitors, just mentioned, came to see his large, productive peach orchards in August, 1847. Their visit gave him great pleasure.

Mr. Reybold was, without doubt, a masterful man, full of energy and resources. That he was a man of no ordinary mould may be judged from his portrait, as well as from his achievements. His face and figure will suggest to an observer of the oil-painting, which preserves his features, a by no means remote resemblance to Washington. In enterprise he was nothing small. He was gigantic. It enlarges one's conceptions of things merely to recite his under-takings and remember the disadvantages under which he labored, both in his individual deficiencies of equipment in early life and in the absence of mechanical facilities, which since his day have become so abundant. But as a strong man who delights to run a race, those things which might discourage less energetic persons seemed to be stimulating incentives to him, and he literally strode through and over stupendous obstacles with a sort of Herculean vigor. There are such men, and he was one of them. It is willingly conceded by those who knew him that he was the leading pioneer in improvements of a practical kind in the neighborhood where he lived. In these he was equally fertile and skillful both on the land and the water. Canal, river, bay, boats, barges, wagons, cars, farms, fruits, grains, herds, flocks and people all felt the force of his genius and the value of his directing skill. And the evidences of his efficient labor remain and are apparent still, both on the land and waters of the State of Delaware. After removing from Marsh Mount to his new country-seat at Lexington, the infirmities of age began to be felt, and he withdrew more and more from active life. He felt a desire and need for rest. He was blessed with a true wife, who was also a faithful 'mother. She was a true and efficient helpmeet, and contributed largely to her husband's success. She died in August, 1852. Both his wife and he were members of the St. George's Presbyterian Church, of which at the time Rev. Mr. Howe was pastor. They raised a family of twelve children. Of these three sons survive (1887). They are William and Barney Reybold, of Red Lion Hundred, and Anthony Rey-bold, of Wilmington. The Major died February 28, 1854, leaving behind him the memory and proofs of a life that abounded with energy, skill and usefulness. In the foregoing sketch it has been impossible to do more than give the most condensed account of this busy, enterprising man. The half has not been told. And he was never concerned so much about what might be said of him as he was about the work that he had in hand. To this he gave himself with unreserved energy, preferring that his works should be his record and his monument.

Patrick Porter also purchased one hundred and eighty acres of land sold by Sheriff Duff as the property of Thomas Dunn in 1765. On this property there was an old fulling mill. At his death, Patrick Porter devised his estate to his son David, who died without issue. The property then passed into the hands of his two sisters, Mary and Janet. Mary married Whitehead Jones and had two children, John and Mary. On this farm there was a saw-mill operated for several years by Whitehead Jones. The land was next vested in Purnel Veach. After passing through several hands it is now owned by James Gray. Samuel McCall also owns a portion of the Porter land.

Henry Vanderberg was the owner of considerable laud in Red Lion Hundred. On October 1683, a war-rant was granted to him for six hundred and four hundred acres, called New Utrecht, situate on the north side of main branch of St. George's Creek, "above ye bridge adjoining Dragon Swamp." A tract of four hundred and forty acres patented the 30th of the fifth month, 1684, to John Harins was assigned to him by Harins. On June 4, 1696, he sold this tract to John Donaldson. On November 17 of the same year he sold four hundred acres at St. George's Creek to Richard Asken.

A List of Taxable in Red Lion Hundred as returned November 27, 1787, by John Thompson, assessor.


Among the private schools in the hundred previous to the adoption of the public-school system, the Randall Hall and Franklin schools were well known. The Randall Hall School was situated about a mile and a half from Delaware City, and was attended by pupils from that town. The Franklin school-house was built in 1820, by Major George Clark and Major Philip Reybold, of bricks manufactured by Major Reybold on his farm. Frank Brine was one of the earliest teachers. The adoption of the free-school system was the cause of consider-able complaint by some of the citizens. The necessary school buildings were erected, however, and school opened in them for all classes. This system has gradually improved and is now highly valued. At present there are several school houses in the hundred, and instructions given to a large number of pupils.

The three schools for colored children have enrolled one hundred and ninety-nine pupils, and an average attendance of one hundred and thirty-eight.


With the exception of the creamery and canning factory there are no industries in this hundred. On August 21, 1732, Samuel Clements purchased a lot in Red Lion Hundred, on the north side of St. George's branch, containing one acre and thirty-two perches, also a part of the land on which "Hugh Watson now dwells, and which may hereafter be overflowed by a mill-pond, intended to be made by Clement." If there was a mill erected it was in existence but a short time, as no mention is made of it afterwards. The mill at St. George's was undoubtedly the first industry in the hundred, and was last conducted by Enoch Thomas, in 1825. On the assessment list of 1804 there are three mills, owned respectively by Enoch Thomas, Jesse Higgins and Whitehead Jones. Jesse Higgins owned the "Damascus" mill seat, and the mill was run only a short time after his death. The Whitehead Jones saw-mill was a small affair on the property now owned by James Gray, and has not been in operation for many years. In 1838 Dr. James M. Sutton built a mill which was used as a saw-mill and afterwards converted into a mill for grinding plaster and feed. It has not been in use for some years. Smoking tobacco was prepared by Sutton and Harvey, Harvey and McWhorter (successors to Sutton and Harvey), and finally by John P. Belville, from 1869 till 1873 in St. Georges. The factory had a capacity of one thousand pounds per day, and gave employment to ten persons. There was another grist-mill in the town of St. Georges, erected in 1838 by William Hudson, and afterwards owned by George W. Townsend. This was operated for a few years and then discontinued. It is now used as a wheelwright shop. Bricks were manufactured by Major Philip Reybold from 1820 until 1832. About two and a half million were shipped annually to Philadelphia; some were used in building the Blockley almshouse, and others were purchased by Stephen Girard.

On April 4, 1887, a creamery was opened by Webb Brothers, about two miles from Delaware City, on the farm of Theodore F. Clark. The Deleval system of separating the cream from the milk by centrifugal force was adopted and has since been used. The capacity of the creamery is about one thousand pounds per day, but only one hundred and fifty pounds are made, on account of the inability to get milk for more. The butter is all shipped to Philadelphia.

On April 4, 1883, the St. George's Fruit Packing Company was incorporated with the following members: James Garman, Mark H. Pierce, Geo. W. Simpler, John C. Stuckert, Joseph Heisel, Alfred Hudson, John P. Hudson, Jr., Clayton M. Riley and W. S. Smith. The canning establishment was erected the same year on Main Street, on the south side of the canal. The main building is forty by sixty feet and the packing house is a one-story frame forty by eighty. Tomatoes are canned principally, and during a season 20,000 cases are packed. Employment is given to one hundred and twenty-five persons for two months of the year. The company manufactures its own cans and employs ten men at this work for nine months each year. Contracts are made this year for the tomatoes grown on one hundred and fifty acres. New York and Philadelphia are the markets for the goods packed in this locality. The present officers are, president, Jas. Garman; vice-president, A. L. Hudson; secretary, Geo. W. Simpler; treasurer, J. C. Stuckert.

New Castle County

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

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