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Schools & Societies, New Castle, New Castle Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

New Castle Female Benevolent Society
Public Library
St. John's, No. 2, A. F. and A. M
Washington Lodge, No. 5, I. O. O. F
Harmony Castle, No. 6, K. of G. E
Adelphi Lodge, No, 8, K. of P
Captain Evan S, Watson Post, No, 5, O. A. R
General David B. Birney Post, No, 12. G. A. R
Seminole Tribe No, 7, Improved Order of Red Men

Evert Petersen is spoken of as "the schoolmaster" as early as 1658, and a lot was to be set aside for a school-house. Later Abelius Zetscooren was the schoolmaster. In November, 1663, the people at Upland desired his services; but the New Amstel authorities would not give him up. On June 13, 1772, an act was passed ''setting aside a part of the State-house lot of land in the northwest corner of the grave-yard of Emanuel Church, on which to erect a school-house, the inhabitants at that time intending to build thereon. David Finney, John Thompson, George Read, Thomas McKean and George Monro were appointed trustees for erecting the school-house, to be for that use forever." On this lot a house was built in 1800, which was incorporated January 30, 1801, as follows: "Whereas inhabitants of New Castle and vicinity have, by voluntary contribution, erected an academy in the town upon a lot of ground in the public square, which lot was vested in trustees for school purposes, as above." This act of January 30, 1801, provides as "Trustees of the New Castle Academy," Kensey Johns, James Booth, George Read, Archibald Alexander, James Riddle, James Caldwell, Nicholas Van Dyke, James McCalmont and John Bird. The former trustees were empowered to convey the lot to the trustees here mentioned; and on the 6th of June, 1808, Thomas McKean, the surviving trustee, made such a conveyance "for one cent, lawful money." The schools taught in this building were generally under individual control, the trustees having charge of the house only. Samuel Jacquett was thus a teacher many years, as were also Samuel Hood, James Riddle and others. Later the school was known as the New Castle Institute, and A. B. Wiggins was the principal. William F. Lane held the same position subsequently, also being the head of the public schools after the Free School System was adopted. He was a thorough instructor, and prepared young men for college.

The old academy is still used. The other school-house in the same locality was erected as a United States arsenal, but, after 1831, was a garrison for the troops stationed at Fort Delaware, pending improvements. It has been occupied for school purposes many years.

In 1887 there were nine schools in New Castle, which had an enrolment of four hundred and ninety-five pupils, and J. E. George as principal. The board of directors at the same time were, William Herbert, president; E. L. Wilson, secretary; J. D. Janvier, L. E. Eliason, George W. Eckles, William J. Ferris, James Rice, W. Worthington and S. A. Stewart.

William Herbert, president of the School Board of New Castle and State treasurer of Delaware, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., July 9, 1829. He is a son of John and Eliza Herbert and removed with them to New Castle in early childhood. There his father, who was by trade a cooper, engaged in fishing and was drowned while plying his occupation on the Delaware, June 1, 1840. The widow was left with two daughters and two sons, William being the youngest and less than eleven years of age. Although so young, the little fellow manfully resolved to help his mother, borrowed twenty-five cents and began his career as a newspaper boy, being the first that ever sold a newspaper on the streets of New Castle as the agent of the Philadelphia Ledger. He also engaged in other enterprises and left no stone unturned to earn an honest penny. Soon after his father's death he even accomplished the feat of driving a drove of cattle to Philadelphia, being compelled, on account of the sickness of his assistant, to make the latter part of the drive alone.

The attention of the late John M. Clayton was called to the boy and the eminent lawyer proposed to educate him for the law. Although ambitious, the lad proudly declined the offer and determined to stand by his mother, and educate his sister. At the age of fourteen he apprenticed himself to the New Castle Manufacturing Company, of which the late Andrew C. Gray was president, to learn the trade of a machinist. Then he borrowed money and bought his mother a home, which he had paid for at the expiration of his apprenticeship. Meanwhile he studied hard and became an expert mechanic. It was he who put the engine in the first hoop boat built for the California trade. So pleased was the captain of the steamer that he offered young Herbert the position of engineer of the vessel. Some months of his apprenticeship were still due, and Mr. Gray declining to release him, the proposition could not be accepted.

Soon after attaining his majority he engaged in the grocery business, and entered upon a prosperous business career, which he continued until 1866, when he was elected the first Democratic sheriff that New Castle County had had for ten years, defeating Samuel Allen, a very popular Republican candidate. As sheriff he made himself popular with all good citizens and was vigilant and fearless in the discharge of all his duties. Among the many notable instances of his nerve and energy was his prevention of the famous Collyer-Kelly prize-fight on Delaware soil in 1867. A ring had already been pitched about a mile from Newark, and everything was ready for the fray, when the plucky little sheriff stepped into the ring and, despite the threats of the sluggers and ruffians that had thronged to see the mill, compelled them to pull up their stakes and leave. That the fight shortly afterwards took place over the line in Pennsylvania was no fault of his, for it was beyond his jurisdiction. Of the three hundred and sixty-seven prisoners entrusted to his care during his term not a single one escaped, though the New Castle jail has been a very leaky institution at various periods. So valuable were his services that he was induced to remain as deputy under his successor, Jacob Richardson.

From his early boyhood Mr. Herbert has taken an active interest in political affairs and has participated in every campaign, wielding probably a greater influence than any man in his section. His first official position was that of collector of taxes for New Castle Hundred. For thirty years he has been a member of City Council and many years its president. At present he is president of the Board of Education, of which he has been many years a member. On May 14, 1869, he was elected a trustee of the New Castle Commons, and has been treasurer twenty years. In 1875 he was elected county treasurer by the Levy Court, and served by successive re-election until after his election as State treasurer, by the State Legislature, January 20, 1887. In these capacities he has been a regular "watch-dog" of the treasury.

For at least thirty-five years he has attended every Democratic County and State Convention and also attended the National Democratic Convention of 1880, at Cincinnati and 1884, at Chicago, in the interest of Thomas F. Bayard for the Presidential nomination. Mr. Herbert was prominently pushed forward by his friends as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1886, and received seventy votes against one hundred for Benjamin T. Biggs, his successful competitor in the State Convention.

In civil life he has been just as active, and no man in New Castle has done more to promote the interests of the city than he. Every public improvement has found in him an active promoter. To his efforts, in great measure, are due the building of the Grand Opera House, of which he is president of the board of trustees; the establishment of the New Castle water works, of which he is a director; and the formation of the New Castle Fire Company, of which he is a member. Mr. Herbert donated the ground for the erection of the Red Men's Hall, saved the colored M. E. Church of New Castle from the hands of the sheriff, and has done much to assist worthy men in their business relations. He is secretary and treasurer of the Tasker Loan Association and is treasurer of the New Castle Loan Association. For about thirty-five years he has been a member of Washington Lodge, No. 5, I. O. O. F., and its secretary for thirty-one of the fifty-four years of its existence, during which it has had but two permanent secretaries. He has been a representative to the Grand Lodge of Delaware, and has attended the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the United States. He has been a member of St. John's Lodge, No. 2, A. F. A. M., of which he is the treasurer.

Mr. Herbert was married to Miss Annie E. Crow, of New Castle, June 4, 1852, the ceremony being per-formed in the Town Hall, in the presence of a large concourse of people. Of this union there have been born eleven children, as follows: William Black Herbert, marshal at the Consular Court of the United States at Kanagawa, Japan; Frank Edwin Herbert, notary public, conveyancer and accountant at New Castle, and assistant to the State treasurer; Edwin Mandeville Herbert, a farmer of New Castle Hundred; Allen Lee Herbert, who died in infancy, about twenty years ago; Evan Bayard Herbert, who died October 6, 1885, in his nineteenth year; Harry Warne Herbert, an apprentice clerk in the United States Fish Commission; Annie Virginia, wife of Edward F. Kemp, of Syracuse, N. Y.; Kate May, Agnes Johnson,. Carrie Vandever and Bessie Lechler, all single and living at home.

The New Castle Female Benevolent Society was incorporated January 28, 1817, with Ann Johns, Anna McCalmont, Sally McCalmont and Mary Riddle as trustees, for the purpose of establishing a charity-school. The project was not successful. A number of private schools have been opened, but few were continued more than a few years.

Public Library

An effort was made soon after 1800 to establish a library at New Castle, and in January, 1812, the New Castle Library Company was chartered by James Rogers, James R. Black, James Couper, Jr., George Strawbridge, Thomas Stockton, Alexander Reynolds and George Read, Jr. There was additional legislation January 24, 1832, whereby the company was empowered to hold books, papers, etc., not to exceed eight thousand dollars in value. The original president was James Couper, and Wm. B. Janvier was secretary, November 30, 1819, when a catalogue was issued embracing nineteen classes of standard books, carefully selected. The library was placed in the academy building, where it has since remained. An effort was made to build a library hall. An act was passed by the Legislature, in 1812, ''for raising by lottery a sum not exceeding eight thousand dollars, for the purpose of erecting a building for the accommodation of St. John's Masonic Lodge and the New Castle Library Company." James Rogers, Thomas Stockton, George Read, James Couper, Jr., and Evan Thomas were named as managers. The first floor of the building, when completed, was to be used by the library company and the second floor by the Masons for the meetings of St. John's Lodge, No. 2. Nothing ever resulted from this movement. The organization of the company has been kept up continuously, and the yearly subscriptions have not only been sufficient to secure the current standard books for a library of this nature, but have contributed to a building fund, which will make the erection of a library hall possible in the near future.

In 1887 the library contained five thousand volumes, which were accessible to the public twice per week. Since 1877 W. J. Ferris has been librarian. Alexander Cooper held the same position many years. The officers and trustees of the company at the same time were Samuel Guthrie, president; R. G. Cooper, secretary and treasurer; John H. Rodney, George F. Tybout, John T. Black and Samuel M. Couper, directors. The library has been one of the most valuable educational institutions of the town.


The first organization of a secret character in New Castle, of which any account has been preserved, was a Masonic Lodge, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, under authority of the Grand Lodge of Great Britain, April 3, 1781. The meetings were alternately held at New Castle and Christiana Bridge, and the principal officers were; Joseph Israel, Master; Joseph Kilkead, Senior Warden; and John Clark, Junior Warden.

St. John's, No. 2, A. F. and A. M., was chartered June 27, 1848. It has over eighty members. The following are Past-Masters: Hiram R. Borie, Edward Dalby, George W. Ellicott, Gardner L. Jemison, W. Wood Lesley, P. G. T., John B. Lefevre, Robert S. Martin, George A. Maxwell, P. D. G. M., Thomas M. Ogle, P. G. T.

For many years the meetings were held in the old City Hall, but, since the fall of 1880, a handsome lodge-room has been occupied in the Masonic and Odd Fellows' Block. This building was erected under the direction of a joint committee, consisting of William Herbert, M. N. Wier and Ira Lunt, Masons, and Jacob Herman, B. B. Groves and George F. Deakyne, Odd-Fellows. The comer-stone was laid in 1879, and the dedicatory ceremonies were held September 13, 1880. The building is an imposing three-story edifice, fifty by one hundred feet; the lower floors are business-rooms; the second story contains the grand opera-house, and the third story two lodge-rooms for the Masons and the Odd-Fellows respectively, having separate entrances and ante-rooms. The total cost was $30,731.10. In 1887 the trustees of the Masons were, William Herbert, John W. Coffman and John Walls.

Washington Lodge, No. 5, I. O. O. F., was instituted at New Castle, October 16, 1833, the charter having been granted to Lucien M. Chase, William D. Chestnut, David L. Moody, William H. Stayton and John McIntire. The meetings were held in a small brick house on Harmony Street until 1846, when a room was secured in the City Hall until September, 1880, when the lodge occupied its present quarters in the Masonic and Odd Fellows' Building.

In the first fifty years there were admitted four hundred and ten members, and sixty-three died. The relief of sick and disabled members cost $1491.50. In 1887 it had a membership of ninety, and the trustees were Louis R. Hushebeck, B. F. Lancaster and George W. Eckles. Since 1856 the secretary of the lodge has been William Herbert, and his only predecessor was Lucien M. Chase, whose services extended from 1833. Many of the members have held important offices in the higher councils of the order.

Seminole Tribe No, 7, Improved Order of Red Men, was instituted February 25, 1869, with the following charter members: Robert H. Palmer, Squire Isherwood, Alonzo R. Wright, John B. Vining, Travis Taylor, James Darling, Richard Bond, Joshua Greaves, Edward Lever, William H. McAllister, Robert Conway, William L. Point, John Haywood, William T. Sutton, and the officers elected were: Prophet, Robert H. Palmer; Sachem, Richard Bond; Sr. Sag. Travis Taylor; Jr. Sag., John B. Vining, Jr.; C. of R., W. H. McAllister; K. of W., James Darling. The tribe met originally in the old courthouse, and afterwards in the lodge-room occupied by the Masons and Odd Fellows, when, finding the room too small for their membership, they, in May, 1881, built a wigwam corner of Union and South Streets, on a lot of land forty by one hundred and twenty-five feet, which was donated to them by William Herbert. Gardner L. Jemison was the builder, and Graham & Son, Wilmington, were the architects. The building committee were George E. Temple, James H. Whitelock, Samuel T. Lancaster, Edward S. Monkton, David M. Castlow, William H. Perry and James B. Lancaster. The wigwam cost $8400, and was dedicated May 1, 1882, by the Grand Council of Delaware.

The first story of the building is occupied by the city as an engine-house, the second story is a public hall and the third is the lodge-room, occupied also by other societies as tenants of Seminole Tribe. In 1885 the tribe was incorporated by act of Assembly. The trustees are George W. Cline, W. G. Wright and George E. Temple. Thomas T. Tasker is the Prophet of the tribe, which has a membership of one hundred and twenty-three.

Harmony Castle, No. 6, K. of G. E., was instituted in May, 1883, with forty members, and has now about seventy-five members. The meetings are held in the old Odd Fellows, Hall, and the board of trustees is composed of Frank Pattou, George Williams and Frank H. Pinkerton. The Past Chief is Delaney Williams.

Adelphi Lodge, No, 8, K. of P., instituted October 15, 1868, has about sixty members. Its meetings are held in a hall comer of Delaware and Union Streets, in a three-story building erected by the lodge, at a cost of $12,000, and dedicated May 1, 1885. This block was subsequently sold, a lease of the lodge-room only being retained. In this building also meet Division No. 3, Ancient Order of Hibernians which has a growing membership, and Riverview Assembly, No, 6146, Knights of Labor, which was instituted in March, 1886, and newly chartered in August, of the same year. The latter body has several hundred members.

Captain Evan S, Watson Post, No, 5, O. A. R, was chartered, December 20, 1881, with twenty-five members, James A. Price, Commander, and Joseph E. Robertson, Adjutant Until July, 1887, seventy-three members had been mustered, and at that date the post had thirty-five members, with William M. Walls, Commander, and Edward McDonough, Adjutant. The post meets in City Hall. The trustees are Robert S. Martin, George M. Riley and Edward McDonough.

General David B. Birney Post, No, 12. G. A. R. was mustered in September, 1888, with twenty-eight members, John J. Gormley, Commander; Joseph E. Vantine, Adjutant. Since that time eight new members have been received, and thirteen have died or resigned. In July, 1887, there were twenty-three members, with Joseph E. Vantine, Commander. The post meets in Herman's Hall.

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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