Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




St. George Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Early Settlements Churches Industries
Villages Roads Schools
Odessa Port Penn Middletown
Taxable List, 1804

St. George's, the largest hundred in New Castle County, is bounded on the north by St. George's Creek, on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by Appoquinimink Creek and on the west by Maryland. With the exception of a small quantity of marsh on the river's edge, the land is all in a state of cultivation and yields abundantly. At one time a large portion of the hundred was devoted to peach-growing. This enterprise has to a great extent been abandoned and the chief products of the soil are wheat, corn and oats. Numerous small streams flowing through the hundred render the grounds very fertile. Facilities for shipping merchandise by boat are afforded to those living in the northern, eastern and southern parts of the hundred. Those in the central and western portions have railroad accommodations. The climate is healthful and all that can be desired. The population has largely increased from fifty taxables, representing perhaps two hundred and fifty inhabitants in 1683.

Early Settlements

The first settlers in this vicinity were chiefly of four nationalities, Swedes, Dutch, French Huguenots and English. Of the first class were the Petersons and the Andersons; of the second class, the Alrichs, Han-sons, Vandykes, Vandegrifts and Vances; of the third, the Dushanes, Naudains of Appoquinimink, Bayards and the Seays; of the last, the Crawfords and the Taylors. Before 1683 fifty taxable citizens had taken up their residence within the bounds of this hundred. Among these were Henry Walraven, John Foster, John Taylor, John Peterson, Hans Hanson, Adam Peterson, Elias Humphreys, Judith Crawford, widow of James Crawford, and Peter Alrichs. The descendants of some of these early settlers still reside within the hundred, but the names of some have entirely disappeared from the neighborhood.

Probably the first grant of land in the lower part of New Castle County was that made in 1646 by William Kieft, then a Dutch Governor, to Abraham Planck, Simon Root, John Andriesen and Peter Harmensen. Each were granted two hundred acres of land on South River (Delaware), near Bird Island (Reedy), on condition of settlement within one year, with the promise of more land on the condition that they build houses and reside upon the land. They evidently did not settle here or even make a pretense of so doing, as they did not hold the land nor claim any title to it, and with the exception of John Andriesen, the names are not found in this hundred. They, however, settled on the Schuylkill River and farther south in the State of Delaware. The land thus offered to them at a later date came to Peter Alrichs and Casparus Herman. Peter Alrichs was a nephew of Vice-Director Jacob Alrichs, who succeeded Jean Paul Jacquet in 1657, and died at New Castle in 1659. Peter came to this country with his uncle, and at once entered into public affairs and continued during his life a prominent man in the affairs of the colony, both under the Dutch and the English, acting as commander at the Whorekill and as a magistrate for many years. He located land under the Dutch, which was confiscated, and afterwards obtained land from the English, some of which is still held by the family. He took up a large tract of land in what is now St. George's Hundred, extending from St. Augustine Creek to St. George's Creek, and from the Delaware River westward to the King's Road. He also obtained a large tract in the northern part of New Castle Hundred, on the river and at the mouth of the Christiana, where he lived and died. Some of his sons settled at the latter place, and their descendants held portions of the property till 1880, when they sold to the Lobdell Car-Wheel Company. The tract in St. George's was resurveyed to his sons as follows: to Hermanus Alrichs, February 22, 1682, 1027 acres on Delaware River between Great Creek (a small stream emptying into the Delaware) and St. Augustine Creek, the latter being the southern boundary; to Sigfriedus, Wessels and Jacobus Alrichs, September 24, 1702, 2048 acres from the Delaware to the King's Road, between St. George's and Great Creeks. On December 81, 1733, Peter Alrichs was in possession of 127 acres opposite Reedy Island, and embracing Port Penn and St. Augustine Landing. A portion of this land, six hundred feet on the river and six hundred feet inland, including what is commonly called the "Row-ground" and lying north of "Alrich's landing-place" was conveyed April 16, 1774, by Peter and John Alrichs, to Luke Morris, Robert White and William Morrell, wardens of the port of Philadelphia. They were appointed under an act of Assembly of Pennsylvania to erect piers upon the premises for the use of ships traversing the river. The piers remained until 1884, when they were removed. The Alrichs in the State of Delaware are descendants of Peter Alrichs.

A portion of the territory originally owned by Alrichs was covered with a swamp, extending from St. George's Creek and known as Doctor's Swamp. In this vicinity, before the land was re-surveyed to Alrichs, certain other persons settled and took up land. On May 28, 1675, there was surveyed for Dr. Thomas Spry (who was also a lawyer, and the first one admitted to practice in the courts of New Castle), a tract of one hundred and sixty acres. It was known as "Doctor's Commons," and was on a creek called "Doctor's Run," now entirely dried up and forgotten. On February 2, 1680, he sold it to Henry Vanderburg, who conveyed it, March 11, 1688, to Robert Ashton, who had lived on it for some time. On the 24th of December, 1703, he received a warrant for nine hundred acres, lying between Little St. George's and St. George's Creeks, with Doctor's Run and Doctor's Swamp in the rear This land is now in the possession of William S. Lawrence, Z. A. Pool, Z. P. Longland, the heirs of William Kennedy, the heirs of James T. Carpenter and the heirs of Wilson Greene. On October 15, 1675, Edmund Cantwell surveyed for Pat-rick Carr two hundred acres of land on a neck between St. George's and Arenty's Creeks (St. Augustine). This land adjoined Doctor's Swamp, and was conveyed by Carr and Oalla Janson, March 23, 1679. The tract passed through several hands, and June 11, 1792, was purchased by Robert Crow, a surveyor. By him it was conveyed, October 27, 1797, to William Hill, the grandfather of John D. Dilworth, the present owner.

The house was built at a very early date, and from its construction plainly shows that it was built at a time when protection from the Indians was a necessity. The original windows, two of which remain unaltered, are no larger than loopholes. In the basement there is a vault, and from it proceeds a secret passage in the direction of the river; where it leads to is unknown, as it has been walled up many years. A short distance away, on a farm now occupied by Edward Pleasanton, are peculiarly shaped holes, which suggest that they were constructed by the Indians as a rendezvous, hiding-place and winter-quarters.

The ancestors of the Delaware Dilworths went to Ireland with Cromwell, and in the North of Ireland Captain John Dilworth was born about 1750; he came to America when quite a young man, and soon after married Hannah Alrichs, a descendant of Peter Alrichs, above mentioned.

Being a loyal English officer. Captain Dilworth commanded the ship which led the British fleet to Philadelphia in 1779. In passing Fort Mifflin his vessel was severely riddled by cannon-balls, and he received a bad wound in the leg. Knowing the need of his presence, he declined to obey the surgeon's orders to "go below" till the fleet was safely moored at Philadelphia, when he was carried ashore and was ill some time. Captain Dilworth's wife died young leaving an infant son; he soon after went to Florida and married again; many descendants of this marriage are now living in that State.

John Alrichs Dilworth, was born near Macdonough Delaware, in 1778, and at his mother's death was adopted by her sister, a Mrs. Stockton. He was twice married, first to Elizabeth Hill, of Smyrna, who left one son; secondly, to the widow Jefferies, by whom he had one daughter. He was a gentleman of the old school, and noted for his genial hospitality. He died when about forty years of age.

John Ducha Dilworth was born November, 1799, near Macdonough. Like his father, he lost his mother in infancy. Her family having bought the property now known as the Dilworth farm, near Port Penn, he was reared there by his maternal grandmother, receiving his education first at the village school, after-wards under private tutors, and has spent the greater portion of his active life as a farmer. He married, in 1823, Eliza Francis Gordon, of Philadelphia, who died in 1878. They had fourteen children, eleven living to mature age. Eight sons were married, of whom six are still living. Rebecca, one of the three daughters, married Rev. I. W. K. Handy; is now a widow, living with her son in St. Paul, Minn.

John D. Dilworth was elected to the State Legislature in 1830, and served till 1839, four years in each House, was nominated to Congress in 1846, but defeated by a small majority by the present Judge John W. Houston. In 1848 he was nominated Presidential elector as the friend of General Cass; in 1850 he was appointed clerk of the Court of New Castle County, which office he held five years. In 1860, having purchased land in Sussex County, Del., he removed thither; and in 1873 moved again to Worcester County, Md., where he still resides, in his eighty-ninth year, enjoying good health and retaining all his faculties.

Thomas F. Dilworth, fifth son of John D. Dilworth, and only member of the family now residing in Delaware, was born January 16, 1835, in the family homestead, in which he has always lived. Attending the public schools during the winter mouths constituted his education till his eighteenth year; the three winters following he attended New Castle Institute, spending a part of his time during the third year in the office of his father, then clerk of the peace for New Castle County.

Mr. Dilworth had in very early life taken part in the farm-work, and, after assisting his father till the end of his term, he took entire charge of the property, and has devoted his whole energy since to the business of farming. The homestead farm had run down till it scarcely produced bread for the family, but under his management it compares well with the best in the neighborhood. He early began investigating the values of and using artificial manures; engaging in large and small fruit cultivation, especially in peach-growing. Of this fruit he obtained good crops for a number of years.

In 1876 Mr. Dilworth bought the land of Dr. D. Stewart, extending from the Dilworth farm to the river, and also set in peaches, making about two hundred acres in that fruit; since then he has been farming the whole tract, about five hundred acres, as one farm; has erected dairy buildings, stabling for fifty cows and all necessary appliances of a first-class dairy, including the wholesale manufacture of ice cream in summer; ice-houses and ice-pond being needful adjuncts.

Raising vegetables on a large scale, poor markets resulted in the erection of a canning factory, whose capacity he extended to offer his neighbors a market for their stock. Several hundred thousand cans are packed each year, and the business is growing. His idea is to connect with farming everything properly belonging with it.

Mr. Dilworth uses machinery where it is practicable; as grinding food for stock, sawing wood, rails, posts, boxes for the factory, etc., and buys, as well as sells, by wholesale, often furnishing his laborers with supplies at a small advance.

He has never held other than local public offices, not caring to enter at all into political life. He has been a member of the Presbyterian Church for many years. Mr. Dilworth married, in 1864, Henrietta Maria Stewart, daughter of Dr. D. Stewart and grand-daughter of Judge Earle, of the Superior Court of Maryland. They have had three children, Eliza Margaret (who died young), Henrietta Tilghman and Rebecca Francis.

The tract "Chelsey," on the south side of St. George's Creek, being the first firm neck of land, was granted November 5, 1675, to Ann Whale, widow of George Whale. The tract embraced three hundred acres, and was adjoining the land granted to Doctor Spry. The tract was sold by George Moore, son of Ann Whale, to John Ogle, who sold to John Test. The property was next owned by Marmaduke Randall. On the 6th of January, 1681, Roeloff Andries and Jacob Aertsen petitioned the court to grant them this tract, showing that it was forfeited by reason of non-compliance with the regulations, which require that the property be seated and improved within five years. The petition was granted and warrant promised if they complied with the regulations.

On November 5, 1676, "Hampton," a tract of three hundred acres, was patented to John Ogle by Governor Andros. It was on the south side of St. George's Creek and adjoined land of Ann Whale. This was conveyed September 15, 1691, to Edward Gibbs, and in 1723 one hundred and sixty-six acres of it was sold to John Elliott. The present owner is William McMullen.

In 1676 George Ashton surveyed a part of the farm now belonging to the heirs of Christopher Vandegrift. It extended northward to Doctor's Swamp.

Andrew Eliason is a retired farmer of St. George's Hundred. His grandparents, Andrew and Lydia Eliason, came to this country from England, before the War of the Revolution, and settled in Delaware. Seven children were born to them, viz.: Susannah, Joshua, William, Dorington, Rachel, Andrew and Esther. William, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born October 7, 1780. He was married four times, first to a Miss Bunker, who died soon after her marriage without leaving issue; second to Ann Evans, by whom he bad three children, viz.: Joshua, Mary Ann and Andrew, the subject of this sketch; third to Sarah Douglass, the mother of John D. and James J. Eliason, and fourth to Ann Williams, the mother of his youngest child, Charles T. Eliason. He was a quiet, industrious farmer, respected and beloved by all who knew him. He died suddenly January 7, 1827, at the early age of forty-six.

In the latter part of his life he had incurred heavy losses in consequence of having become surety for his friends, and upon his death his administrator, under the then existing laws, sold all of his property, including even his personal effects for the payment of the same. Packed in an old leather-covered trunk, his wardrobe was offered at public sale, and Andrew, then a lad of sixteen years, became the purchaser.

This trunk is still in his possession, a cherished memento of a revered father and of the disastrous period in which he closed a life of honorable endeavor.

This time of hardship and trial, which attended the close of the father's life, was the beginning of a career of signal prosperity for the son.

Andrew Eliason, the subject of this sketch, was born April 80, 1810, in St. George's Hundred, not far from Mt. Pleasant. His mother, Ann Evans, died while he was an infant. Left a penniless orphan at the early age of sixteen, and thrown at once upon his own resources, with no liberal educational advantages, and nothing to rely upon but himself, his prosperous and useful life is a living illustration of what courage and self-reliance can accomplish, when joined with integrity and honesty of purpose.

Andrew's early life was spent on the farm where he now lives. Before his father's death he worked on the farm and helped attend to the stock in the winter. Very little attention seems to have been paid to his education at this period, for he has often been heard to remark that until after his father's death he had hardly been the inside of a school-house.

After the death of his father, in 1827, Andrew found a good friend in Mr. James T. Bird, by whom he was employed to drive teams upon the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, then in course of completion. He went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Bird in 1827, and continued with them two years, driving teams upon the canal for ten months in the year, working early and late. The other two mouths of the year he spent in school, for he seems thus early to have realized the necessity and advantage of an education. He often speaks in terms of affection of Mr. and Mrs. Bird, who were to him indeed a foster father and mother.

At the expiration of the two years Mr. Bird found his services so valuable that he employed him to manage and take charge of his farm, from which he then removed. By carefully saving his money the young farmer and manager was able, by March 1, 1833, to purchase the stock and farming implements belonging to his employer, and continued on as the tenant. On the 21st of the same month he was married to Miss Lydia Ann Cann, daughter of William Cann, of Glasgow, Pencader Hundred. This proved to be one of the wisest steps of his life, for in her he gained a prudent, faithful, self-denying companion and helper, to whose assistance and counsel not a little of his success in life is due.

In 1838 Mr. Eliason purchased; of his two half-brothers, John D. and James J. Eliason, the heirs of their mother, Sarah Douglass, the farm on which he now lives, and on which he has lived continuously since he purchased it.

He has been, all his life, engaged in fanning, to the practical details of which he has given the closest attention. Every step of his life shows evidence of sound judgment and strong common sense. Commencing life as a driver of teams on the canal, he has advanced steadily forward, and, by the exercise of the sterling virtues of industry and frugality, has become the owner of four unencumbered farms, embracing nearly nine hundred acres, in St. George's and Pencader Hundreds.

The old dwelling, purchased with his farm in 1838, and to which he took his young family, was ex-changed in 1856 for the commodious mansion in which he now makes his home.

In politics Mr. Eliason was a strong Democrat until the opening of the Civil War, his last vote for a Democratic President being cast for John C. Breckinridge. During the war he was a pronounced Union man, and since that time he has been an ardent Re-publican and sincere advocate of a protective tariff. He has been three times elected a member of the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware, first in 1864, again in 1866 and again in 1880. While there he was distinguished for his sound views of the real needs of the people and his good judgment upon all public measures. The above is well illustrated by a little incident of the session of 1867: A prominent member of the House came in one morning just as the ayes and nays were being called upon an important bill. As he entered the room he heard his name called, and not knowing what the bill under consideration was, he quickly turned to Mr. Eliason, who was standing near, with the question: ''How did you vote, Andrew? You are always right." Being told "aye" he, without hesitation, cried out: "Mr. Speaker, I vote aye." In the session of 1867 Mr. Eliason originated and introduced into the House of Representatives the first bill securing property rights to married women in Delaware (see House Journal 1867, p. 353), and to his efforts is chiefly due the credit of so molding public opinion as to secure the final passage of the act. On its introduction the bill met with considerable opposition, particularly in the Senate. It was urged that if the old fiction that husband and wife were one person in law were destroyed, and the common law right of the husband to the property of the wife were invaded, it would produce such discord in the family that it would thenceforth be impossible for husband and wife to live together. Against this Mr. Eliason plead-ed the hardship and injustice of a law that took from feeble woman all rights of property upon marriage, and so often gave it to a worthless or improvident husband. Upon his motion three hundred copies of the bill were ordered to be printed. These, by his direction, were distributed all over the State. The bill finally passed the House, but was killed in the Senate. The distribution of the copies of the bill throughout the State, however, created such a public sentiment in its favor that at the next session of the Legislature the bill became a law. To his efforts while in the Legislature are also in great measure due the passage of the law that prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquors in Delaware on Election Day, one of the best laws on the statute-books.

Mr. Eliason is a man of strong religious convictions, having been, from early manhood, a stanch Presbyterian. He has been a member of the board of trustees of the Forest Presbyterian Church of Middletown from its organization, in 1850, and is the only living link connecting the present Presbyterian Church organization at Middletown with the old Forest Church congregation. He was elected a trustee of the old Forest Church in 1840, and is the only surviving member of the board of trustees then chosen.

He is one of the directors of the People's National Bank of Middletown, and has been since its organization.

He is a man of quiet demeanor, modest and approachable. In person tall and erect, though past three-score and ten years. He has eight children and has lived to see seventeen grandchildren.

His children are Mrs. Mary A. Sanborn, widow of the late Dr. Albert H. Sanborn, of Leipsic, Delaware; Mrs. Sallie E. Houston, wife of William H. Houston, Esq., a retired farmer of Middletown, Delaware; Mrs. Lydia E. Rothwell, wife of John M. Rothwell, a farmer near Middletown; Mrs. Catherine Naudain, wife of George W. W. Naudain, a merchant of Middletown; Andrew S. Eliason, a farmer near Summit Bridge, Delaware; James T. and Lewis E. Eliason, lumber and coal merchants, at New Castle, Delaware; and John Franklin Eliason, who is a dealer in merchandise at Mount Pleasant, Delaware, and takes the active oversight of his father's home farm. Of the grandchildren, two young men have reached their majority and are in business. One, Andrew E. Sanborn Esq., is an attorney at Wilmington, associated with Levi C. Bird, Esq., a son of Mr. Eliason's early patron and employer. The other, William Rothwell, is in the employ of James T. Eliason & Brother, at New Castle, Delaware.

In his home circle Mr. Eliason is seen at his best, for there the virtues of his private character most conspicuously shine. Blest still with the companion-ship of the wife of his youth, (with whom he has recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his marriage), he has lived to see his large family grow up, successfully start in business, marry, and settle within a radius of fifteen miles from his fireside. Viewing with complacency the mountains of difficulty over which he has successfully climbed, he, in quiet retirement, on his own broad acres, is now enjoying the peaceful fruits of a virtuous and well-spent life. His character may be summed up in few words, as one of the best types of a self-made man, with the courage of his convictions, of the strictest integrity and honesty of purpose, a good citizen, a faithful friend, and an affectionate husband and father.

The territory embraced in this hundred was all taken up by Augustine Herman, of Bohemia Manor, in 1671, under a claim of title from Lord Baltimore, and extended from the Delaware River, between St. George's and Appoquinimink Creeks, westward to the eastern bounds of Bohemia Manor. This large tract was called "St. Augustine Manor." The title was not valid and was soon after abandoned, at least as far as the disputed territory was concerned. He then made application to the authorities at New York for several hundred acres of land lying on the Delaware on the north side of Appoquinimink Creek, and south of St Augustine's Creek. His rights in this warrant he transferred to his sons, Ephraim and Casparus. The land was surveyed by Captain Cantwell, December I, 1675, and contained four hundred acres. This tract had been granted by Commander John Carr to the Hermans in 1673, but the Dutch soon after seized the territory. The grant, however, was renewed by Commander Peter Alrichs, February 6, 1674, and a patent granted by Governor Anthony Colve, February 16th of the same year. This tract descended to Ephraim Augustine Herman, who, on August 12, 1713, sold it to Hans Hanson, Bernard Jooston, Johannes Vanheklin, William Hanson, John Hanson, Isaac Gooding and Johannes Swart. It remained joint property until February 17, 1717, when they released to each other. Hans Hanson received a tract called "Long Neck," which by his will, bearing date January 25, 1753, he devised to his son Philip together with his dwelling and two other tracts of fast land and some marsh land. Philip Hanson sold his tract to Cornelius Carty, October 30, 1756. Cornelius Carty also purchased the portion of John Gooding which was sold by the sheriff November 13, 1766. He also purchased a large quantity of land in this vicinity which he sold at different times. In 1762 to Gertrude Rothwell; 1764 to John Jones and John Hanson; 1767 to William Hanson and Isaac Gooding, and November 18, 1766, one hundred and fifty acres near Silver Run to Lawrence Higgins, who, February 15, 1775, conveyed the tract to Samuel Smith. The four hundred acre grant of Herman's is now probably owned by E. R. Norny, Edward Bringhurst and John Bailey. On E. R. Norny's property is a fishery which has been there for at least one hundred years.

A warrant dated 23rd of February, 1682, was granted to Casparus Herman for a resurvey of his land and plantation near Reeden Island, according to the bounds of the English and Dutch patents. It was resurveyed June 24, 1686, and was bounded east-ward with the Delaware River, westward by the King's Road, which leads to Appoquinimink, north by St. Augustine's Creek, south by the main stream of Appoquinimink, with a branch called Skunk Kill, containing in all three thousand two hundred and nine acres. Also a tract above the plantation called "Poplar's Neck," eight hundred and fifty-eight acres on the south side of Arrent's Creek or Kill (St. Augustine).

Ephraim, the eldest son of Augustine Herman, of Bohemia Manor, held various offices under the juris-diction of the New Castle County Court. He was clerk of the court, receiver of quit rents, surveyor and vendue master from 1673 until 1684, when upon the death of his father he succeeded to the estates. He moved to Bohemia Manor, where he died about 1690. Casparus, the second son, then living on his plantation in St. George's Hundred, at the decease of his brother moved to Cecil County, whence he was sent to represent his district in the Assembly in 1694. The property of Ephraim Herman was sold to different persons, part to Griffith Jones in 1685. In 1691 the widow of Ephraim Herman received a deed from the administrator for three lots in New Castle and the interest on a four hundred acre tract held with Johannes De Haes and an eighteen hundred acre tract on Duck Creek. Casparus Herman held two hundred acres of land with Captain Edward Cantwell under warrant of March 2, 1681, situated on both sides of Drawyer's Creek, one hundred acres on each side, "It being for ye use of a water-mill which said Cantwell and Herman intered to erect on ye sd branch for ye public good of ye Inhabitants." Whether the mill was built or not is unknown. If so every trace or record of it or its site have passed into oblivion. The common opinion that the mill owned by William H. Voshall & Bro. is the one referred to, as that was built at a later day by John Vance. He also inherited his father's and brother's estates. In 1679 he sold one hundred and ten acres of land on north side of "Arent's Kill" to John Biske, who. May 3, 1680, sold to Huybert Laurensen, of "Swanwyck," (above New Castle.) This was part of a tract of three hundred and thirty acres which he took up March 25, 1676, and was called "ye good neighborhood." It was on the northeast side of Appoquinimink Creek.

A large part of the land lying on the Delaware and along the Appoquinimink about 1707-08 came into the possession of Samuel Vance, who settled upon it, and from him the place known for many years as Vance's Neck takes its name. The principal owners of the land in Vance's Neck at the present time are: Z. A. Pool, James M. Vandegrift, James Gordon and George Burgess. Reedy Island Neck north of Vance's Neck, and extending from Macdonough to the Delaware River between St. Augustine Creek and Silver Run, is now in the possession of Z. A. Pool, Leonard G. Vandegrift, Jr., C. J. Vandegrift, Richard Eaton, Wilson E. Vandegrift, Leonard G. Vandegrift, Sr., and Harry Walter. Samuel Vance also became the owner of lands farther up the stream. He conveyed one hundred and seventy acres to his son John, May 30, 1733. John also-purchased. May 30, 1738, a tract of land known as "Lackford Hall," of Garrett and Anthony Dushane, and received a patent for it March 24, 1740. This was a portion of six hundred and twenty acres of land patented to John Taylor, March 26, 1684, and situated on the north side of Drawyer's Creek, between Taylor's Branch and Snowding's Branch, and was known as "Taylor's Neck." Adjoining on the west, and overlapping this tract, were two hundred and fifty acres of land patented to Walter Rowle, 1st of Tenth Month, 1684, known as ''Rowle's Sepulchre." A triangular piece of land called the Trap, containing sixty-one acres of land, adjoins "Lackford Hall," and is on both sides of the King's road. It is not ascertained by whom it was originally taken up, but it was re-surveyed to Anthony Dushane on warrant of September 17, 1740, and again August 30, 1750, to James Macdonough, to whom it was conveyed by Dushane, November 15, 1748, as part of one hundred and twenty-seven acres. On it was a "new tavern house" which after the Revelation was known as the "General Knox," and is still standing and now in occupancy of William H. Lofland. James Macdonough came from Ireland about 1725. He married Lydia Laroux and had five sons and a daughter. One son was Commodore Thomas Macdonough who made himself famous on Lake Champlain in 1814. He was born at the "Trap" or Macdonough as it is now known. This tract of land is now owned by Z. A. Pool. On it is the private burying-ground of the Macdonoughs. Tombstones mark the last resting-place of James Macdonough, who died January 18, 1792, aged eighty years; Lydia, his wife, who departed this life August 21, 1764, aged thirty-five years; Thomas Macdonough, who died November 30, 1793, aged forty-eight years; Mary M., his wife, whose death occurred November 1, 1792, aged forty-one years and Bridget Macdonough, who departed this life August 4, 1773, at the age of twenty-four.

A large tract of land in the northern part of the hundred, west of the river lands, was originally occupied by Swedes who were there in 1675. Their names were Dirck Williamson, Dirck Laurensen and Claes Karson. For some reason they were dispossessed, and on the 8th of May, 1686, Edward Green took up a tract for two thousand five hundred acres, which upon survey, a few days later, proved to be two thousand seven hundred and forty-two acres. This land he retained until August 21, 1691, when he sold it to John Scott, from whom Scott's Run takes its name. It was bounded on the east by the Herman and Alrichs lands, and on the north by St. Gorge's Creek. John Scott died, leaving an only son and child, Walter Scott, who. May 16, 1707, conveyed the entire tract to Matthias Van Bebber, who, the same day, transferred it to Andrew Hamilton in the interest of himself, George Yeates and David French. He died before the division was made, and the transfers were made by his son, James Hamilton, who, at the request of George Yeates, conveyed a one-third interest to John Inglis, July 4, 1745, and December 4, 1746, conveyed the one-third interest of David French to John Moland. The three, Hamilton, Moland and Inglis, united, November 16, 1750, in conveying the greater part of the two thousand seven hundred and forty-two acres to David Thomas, who also bought of the Sheriff William Golden, February 16, 1753, thirteen and a quarter acres of land on which was a fulling-mill. The thirteen acres were patented December 12, 1744, to Isaac Dushane who sold the tract May 14, 1750 to Alexander Mc Alpine. The quarter acre, also on Scott's run was sold March 12, 1716, by Quin Anderson to John Stewart with liberty "to build or cause to be erected or built a Fulling mill and to dig a race for the use of the sew mill, and to drown as much Land as shall be need full and required," which liberty he took. This also came to McAlpine, who became involved financially and was closed out by the sheriff. This mill was near Fiddlers Bridge, and descended to David W. Thomas, by whom it was sold to Jacob Vandegrift, on the 3rd of April, 1817. On March 15, 1813, Curtis Bowman became the owner. The land on which the mill stood is now owned by George W. Townsend. It was last successfully operated during the ownership of McDowell.

David Thomas in 1761, owned a mill seat in St. Georges, which was owned by the family until the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal was constructed when the property was bought by the Company.

On April 1, 1749, six hundred and twenty-five acres of Green's Forest were sold by some of the proprietors to Abraham Evans. David Thomas, who owned the greater part of the land warranted to Edward Green, had two sons, Enoch and David. The former studied medicine and was heir to the large possessions of his father. After his death the property passed to his son Nathan, who called the place "the Plains." A portion of it, now known as the "Idalia Manor," is owned by Mrs. John W. Osborne, who was a daughter of Nathan Thomas. In 1865 a portion of the tract was sold to Francis S., William A. and John McWhorter, by whom it was conveyed to Richard T. Cann, the present owner.

In 1671 Gov. Francis Lovelace patented to Jau Sieriks three hundred acres of upland and some adjacent marsh. This tract was known as "High Hook," and during the Revolutionary War belonged to John Y. Hyatt, who was taken prisoner from here by the British. It is now in the possession of James M. Vandegrift.

On April 17, 1667, there was patented to Garret Otto two hundred and seventy-two acres of land be-tween two of the branches of Drawyer's Creek. This farm is now owned by William Polk, who inherited from his grandfather, William Polk.

In 1685 there was surveyed for Daniel Smith the farm now owned by Isaac Woods, known as "Strawberry Hill."

In 1684 Amos Nichols surveyed three hundred acres, which included a portion of the farm now owned by George Houston. It was at one time owned by Thomas Hyatt, and at a later period by James Wilson. The portion of Bohemia Manor in the State of Delaware, originally owned by the Hermans, is now principally in the possession of John P. Cochran, George S. Brady and Manlove D. Wilson.

The Vandykes came to St. George's Hundred about 1715, and shortly afterwards purchased a tract of land in Dutch Neck, known as "Berwick." They also purchased, in 1719, two hundred acres of land on Doctor's Swamp, at that time in the possession of John Vanhekle. This land was patented November 5, 1675, to Ann Whale, whose son, George Moore, sold it to James Crawford. In the portion of St. George's Nicholas Vandyke was born in 1740. "Berwick" remained for many years in the possession of this family, the several members of which were prominent in the history of this hundred. It is now the property ef Arthur Coleburn.

The Vandegrifts, an extensive and prominent family in this hundred, came here about 1708. Leonard Vandegrift, an elder in Drawyer's Church in 1711, was, doubtless, the ancestor of the Vandegrifts in this neighborhood. Leonard and Christopher are family names. The homestead of the Vandegrifts is now owned by Eli Biddle.

James M. Vandegrift, a farmer of Macdonough, New Castle County, was born June 15, 1813, near the place where he now resides. His father was Jacob Vandegrift, who was also a farmer of the same county, a man of great integrity, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and a trusted representative of his fellow-citizens for years in the State Legislature. He died, very highly respected, February 1, 1845, in the eighty second year of his age. The Vandegrifts were originally from Holland, and came to this country among the earliest settlers. The grandfather was Christopher Vandegrift, a farmer of St George's Hundred, and his ancestors were owners of land from their earliest history in America. His mother was Jane McWhorter, of New Castle County. She was a devoted Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church. She died November 20, 1829, leaving five surviving children. Mr. Vandegrift received his education at Wilmington and Middletown, having the benefit of a select school first at Middletown, taught by Rev. Joseph Wilson, and afterwards under the tutorship of Professor Belknap, for two sessions in Wilmington. At the age of eighteen he returned home and engaged in farming for two years, with his father on the home place.

He then began agricultural life on his own account at the paternal homestead known as "Retirement," a farm of two hundred acres of land near Macdonough. He followed, quite successfully, the business of farming until 1857, when he removed to the town of Odessa.

In 1860 Mr. Vandegrift removed to "Elm Grange," an estate containing two hundred acres near Macdonough. He rebuilt the house and completed a beautiful and substantial residence for his family. He has devoted his energies chiefly to the raising of cereals and stock, but has given some attention to fruit culture. He owns some of the best improved lands in New Castle County, and is the owner of large amounts of real estate. Mr. Vandegrift has never aspired to political position, and, although holding well defined opinions, is not a partisan. He joined the Presbyterian Church at St. George's in 1842, under the pastorate of Rev. Jas. C. Howe. He has been for many years an elder in that church, and sustains that relation at this time, January, 1888. He served as a trustee of the same church for many years. Mr. Vandegrift was married August 21, 1844, to Miss Mary A. E., daughter of John Cochran, of Middletown. His wife was a member of the Presbyterian Church from early life, and a devoutly pious woman. She died December 14, 1868, in the forty-seventh year of her age, leaving the following children: Olivia C, wife of George W. Dennison, a merchant in Little Rock, Arkansas; Lina, now the wife of Col. B. S. Johnston, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who is associated with a partner, Mr. Dodge, counselor for the Iron Mountain Railroad; and Margaret P., now wife of William P. Mifflin, Esq., a citizen of Middletown, Delaware. Mr. Vandegrift was married a second time, October 31, 1872, to Miss Angeline C , daughter of Mr. Joseph Cleaver, a prominent merchant of Port Penn, and sister of Mr. Henry Cleaver, who succeeds his father in business, and of Mr. Joseph Cleaver, who is engaged in agricultural pursuits near Port Penn.

Leonard G. Vandegrift is the son of Christopher and Lydia Vandegrift, and was born February 9, 1813, near Port Penn, in St. George's Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, and has always lived in sight of his birth-place. After getting what education the common schools afforded, he went to the Middletown Academy, which at that day, under the management of Rev. Joseph Wilson, was an educational institution of considerable strength and standing.

He commenced farming within a year or two after leaving the Middletown Academy, and was engaged in that business until his youngest son attained his majority, when he gave up the original homestead "Rushley" and most of the land belonging to -the present homestead "Geraldville," to him.

Mr. Vandegrift has been three times married. His first wife was a Janvier, of which marriage two children survive, a daughter and a son; his second wife was a Dilworth of which marriage, three sons survive; and his third and present wife was a daughter of his uncle, Abram Vandegrift. There are no issue of the last marriage.

The Vandegrift family was one of the earliest families to settle in St George's Hundred, being undoubtedly of Dutch descent and so referred to by local historians.

The earliest account of their connection with Delaware is probably that in Hazard's Annals of Delaware and Pennsylvania, page 304, where it is stated that Director Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam, now New York, appointed certain men, among them one, Paulus Lindert Van De Graft, old burgomaster of Amsterdam, to go to New Amstel, now New Castle, to inquire into the murder of certain savages on the South, now Delaware River. This was in the spring of 1660.

The earliest land record which is accessible, reaches back only to 1708. By a patent from Thomas Penn and William Penn of one hundred and seventy-nine acres to Leonard Vandegrift, it is recited that six hundred acres in St George's were, on the 16th day of March, 1708, granted by the Commissioners of Property of William Penn to Jacob Vandegrift, Daniel Cormick and Albertus Vanzant.

This grant was in all probability in pursuance of an order made by Governor Lovelace, after the dispossession of the Dutch settlement by the English, to the effect that those settlers "on the Delaware, as well as elsewhere, who held the lands by patent or ground brief of Dutch tenure, and those who have none shall, with all convenient speed apply with or for them, or be liable to penalty by law."

An examination of the old records at Harisburg and Albany, especially the latter, would undoubtedly furnish a valuable history of the Vandegrift family.

There is a will on file in the office of the register of wills for New Castle County, made April 12, 1758, by one, Jacob Vandegrift, who speaks of himself as an "old" man, and this is probably the original patentee above referred to. He had two sons, Leonard and Jacob, to whom, inter alia, he bequeathed his "silver buttons to be equally divided between them,'' and to one of his daughters, Christiana Atkinson, "as much striped holland as would make her a complete gown."

It is hard to say whether the Leonard Vandegrift to whom the one hundred and seventy-nine acres were patented was a brother or a son of Jacob, because the county records show two Leonard Vandegrifts in existence at this time and also a Christopher Vandegrift.

Leonard, the patentee, died four years before Jacob, in 1760, and those one hundred and seventy-nine acres, now known as the Biddle's Corner farm, were devised to Christopher, and have remained in the Vandegrift family ever since, being now owned by Thomas J. Craven whose mother was a Vandegrift.

Leonard Vandegrift was one of the substantial men of his day and took an active part in the Legislature of 1808 and 1809. His son, Christopher, above referred to, the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, lived to be eighty-five years old and died June 8th, 1816.

The family have always been closely identified with the welfare and management of Drawyer's Presbyterian Church and with the St. George's Presbyterian Church, and have also always taken an active interest in the politics of their State and County, often filling important places of trust and honor.

None of them, however, will leave behind a better record for uprightness and integrity than the one of whose life this is, in part, a short account. The public records bear witness to the confidence of the people among whom he has spent his life and their election of him, at various times, to offices of trust and honor, is a further manifestation of their belief in his sound judgment and integrity. He has always been a Democrat and as such, was elected State Senator in 1871 and 1873, which was probably the most important public office he ever filled.

During the leisure time which has so deservedly come to him within the past few years, he has been much of a traveler, and has visited most of the States of the Union. He is now, in all probability, the oldest member of his family, but a careful and temperate life have caused the years to rest most lightly upon him. Reedy Island is a tract of low land lying in the Delaware River opposite Port Penn, which, in 1749, contained one hundred and fifty-two acres and one hundred and twenty-eight perches. This was war-ranted October 25, 1749, to Jonathan Woodland and surveyed for him the following October. On February 17, 1756, he sold it to Charles McKay. The island is now owned partly by the State of Delaware and partly by the United States, and is only used for state and government purposes.

On June 22, 1676, Joseph Chew conveyed to Johannes De Haes four hundred acres of land on Appoquinimink Creek. This was the "Walnut Landing" tract and was afterwards owned by Henry and John Vauleuvinigh by whom it was sold to Thomas Noxen. It is now in the possession of Merritt N. Willits and Horatio W. Pharo.

On August 8, 1684, there was warranted to George Geady a tract of two hundred acres on St. George's Creek between Joy and Crystal Runs. This land is now owned by Mrs. L. G. Clark.

In 1684, there was patented to John Walker and Joseph More one hundred and ten acres called "Mill Neck," on which there was a mill on Drawyer's Creek. No further record of this tract has been found.

The following is a Taxable List of St. George's Hundred in the year 1804. Those marked with a star {*) own a home and lot.


The earliest road in St. George's Hundred was laid out in 1660 and was known as "Herman's cart road." It extended from Bohemia Manor to the Appoquinimink Creek, near the present site of Odessa. The next roads of importance were the upper and lower "King's Roads" laid out in 1762 and still in use, the one passing through Odessa, and the other Middletown.

In 1785 a petition was made to the Levy Court for a road review from Port Penn and Augustine Landing to the county line. The road from Port Penn was to extend westward, passed the Quaker meeting-house at Hickory Grove, and at "Rockwell's House" it met the road from Augustine Landing, which passed through Macdonough, which at that time contained five houses, one of which was a hotel kept by James Macdonough. After the two roads united they extended past Mount Pleasant and crossed the Choptank road to the Maryland line. The Choptank was a very old road which formed the eastern boundary of Bohemia Manor.

Other roads have been constructed at various times, and at present it is impossible to find more convenient and excellent highways than are afforded by this hundred.


In 1788 John Vance purchased a tract of land, which he conveyed to his father, Samuel, September 21, 1759, and on which, at the latter date, was erected a grist-mill. On May 19, 1766, John Jones purchased the mill of Samuel Vance. On May 1, 1799, it was purchased by Ebenezer Rothwell of Sheriff Bines, who sold it as the property of John Burgess. On March 25, 1800, it was sold by Rothwell to William Vandegrift, who erected a new mill. It was next owned by John Cannon, who sold to Vandergrift and Eccles about 1845. They operated the mill until 1860, when they conveyed it to Charles F. Smith, by whom it was sold to William H. Voshall & Brother, in December, 1886. It was enlarged by them and fitted up with a complete set of rollers. It is now a three and a half-story building, thirty by forty feet. It has a capacity of forty barrels in twenty-four hours. They are now prepared to do both merchant and custom work.

On May 13, 1769, Jonas Preston petitions the court for a condemnation of mill land. He says in his petition that he has a tract of land on the north side of the main branch of Drawyer's Creek and adjoining the same, whereon he doth intend to erect and build a ''water grist-mill" and cannot secure sufficient water-rights without condemnation. A condemnation of six acres on the stream, at the place desired, was granted. The mill was erected by him, and at his death devised to his wife, Ann, who afterwards married Isaac Eyre. By them it was conveyed to Robert McMurphy, August 1, 1776. On August 29, 1811, Samuel Thomas became the owner, and, after his death, it descended to his son, Samuel, and afterwards to David W. Thomas, who sold the mill to Israel Townsend. In 1844 it was operated by Cyrus Tatnam, who also conducted it for some time afterwards. On May 26, 1868, it was sold by Sheriff Herbert as the property of Jno. B. Lewis, and purchased by James A. Barton. Barton, in October, 1873, sold the property to J. B. Deakyne, who conveyed it to J. Fletcher Deakyne, the present owner, in February, 1882. It is a two-story brick building, with basement and attic. The capacity is twenty-five barrels of flour and two hundred bushels of feed per day of twenty-four hours. A twenty-five horse-power engine is attached with which to run the mill when the water is low. The grinding is done by burr, and the products are mostly consumed in the vicinity.

In 1882 Parvis & Biggs commenced manufacturing phosphates near the depot. In the following year they erected a building, thirty-six by seventy feet, about a mile north of Middletown. In 1884 Nathaniel J. Williams purchased Biggs' share, and the business has since been conducted by Parvis & Williams. Several additions have been made and the present building is one hundred and thirty by one hundred and seventy feet. The present capacity of the manufactory is ten tons per day. Employment is given to eight men. The principal brands are "Delaware Wheat Grower," "Globe Guano," "Soluble Bone and Potash" and "Delaware Soluble Bone." They ship throughout Delaware and the adjoining States.

The brick-yard at Armstrong's Corner has been conducted for the past ten years by Benjamin Arm-strong, who first opened it. Employment is given to three men for seven months per year. The average number manufactured during this time is 100,000, all of which find a home market.


Formerly there was a church on Pearce's Run, on the road leading from Odessa to St. George's, known as Asbury Methodist Episcopal Chapel. In it both white and colored people worshipped until Methodist Episcopal Churches were built in Port Penn and St. George's, when it was abandoned. The records of the church have been lost.

About 1822, Benjamin Boulden erected a building in the northwestern part of the hundred, to be used for church and school purposes. The eastern end of the building was for the school, and the remainder for the church. It was intended as a place of worship for all denominations. At his death he devised it to the trustees of the Second Baptist Church of Wilmington. The devise being void on account of its being made too short a time previous to his death, it vested in his heirs, when his sister, Mrs. Davis, knowing his wish, conveyed it to the trustees. Occasional services have been held in this building by the Baptists, and previous to the erection of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Summit Bridge regular services were held in it by the Methodists.

At the present time no religious organization worships in the building. School is held in the portion set aside for that purpose.

On April 23, 1871, a few of the active members of Forest Church opened a Sunday-school in a private room at Armstrong's Corner. The number of attend-ants, few at first, soon increased and gave encouragement to the work. The people in the vicinity became interested, and on July 22d of that year D. L. Dunning presented to the board of trustees the deed of Benjamin Armstrong and wife for a lot of land eighty feet square at Armstrong's Corner, for the purpose of erecting a building for a Sabbath-school. The corner-stone of the building was laid August 24th, and the house dedicated September 17, 1871. The prosperity of the Sunday-school led to the organization of a church on May 30, 1877. It was known aa "Forest Second," but as it never had other than a feeble existence, it was abolished as a separate church in April, 1886. Since that time it has been conducted as a mission school of the Forest Church.

D. L. Dunning is the superintendent of the Sun-day-school, with a membership of fifty-five.


The residents of St George's Hundred were not behind the inhabitants of the other hundreds in the establishment of schools. The advantages of a good education were as well-known and highly appreciated by them as any other class of people long before the public school system went into effect, private schools were held in private residences and improvised school-rooms. The names of William Jackson, James Nowland, John Dilworth, Mr. Dean and Mr. Pippin are remembered among the pioneer school-teachers of this hundred. Curtis B. Ellison is also known to have been one of the first teachers under the public-school system. Shortly after the passage of the act of 1829 new school-houses were erected, and old ones that had been used for private school purposes were converted into common schools, where whoever desired it might obtain knowledge without respect to their pecuniary condition. As a general rule, the law was received with favor by the inhabitants of this hundred. The old school-houses have in all cases been replaced with new ones, better adapted for imparting instruction. All advancements in school work have been recognized, and to-day an excellent education can be obtained in the common schools. As the necessity of the case has demanded it, the districts have been divided and extra schools created until at present there is no cause for com-plaint either as to the convenience of location or the advantages of the schools.


The land on which Mount Pleasant is situated was owned in 1705 by John Davids. It was owned during the Revolutionary War by William Bird, and descended to his daughters, Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. Mary Scott. At an early date there was a hotel here kept by Zachariah Jones, but it has not been used as such for sixty years. The land on which the village is located is a water-shed, the waters west flowing into the Chesapeake, and the streams east into the Delaware. In 1845 there were four houses, all of which are now torn down. At present there is a railroad station, a post-office, two stores (kept respectively by J. F. Eliason and Mrs. Eliza Devereaux), a blacksmith and wheelwright-shop and thirteen residences. It is situated in the northwestern part of the hundred, on the line of the Delaware Railroad, from Wilmington to Middletown.

Armstrong's Corner is a small village situated be-tween Middletown and Mount Pleasant. It contains a store kept by W. H. Science, a brick-yard, a Presbyterian Chapel, a wheelwright and blacksmith-shop and about twenty dwellings.

Macdonough, formerly called the "Trap," is a hamlet near the centre of the hundred. It occupies a portion of the "Trap" farm. It was so named in honor of Commodore Macdonough, who lived here. At one time there were three hotels here. The most famous one was kept by William and Patrick McConaughey, but has not been in existence for the past thirty year". The village now contains a post-office, a store (kept by Harrison Vandegrift), a wheelwright and blacksmith-shop, a school-house and about eight residences.

St. Augustine Piers is a famous summer resort and picnic-grounds. The hotel was first built in 1814 by Grier & Aiken, and operated for some years and then abandoned. It is a three-story brick building, forty by sixty feet. In 1868 Simeon Lord purchased the property. Since it has been in his possession a new dining-room, dancing pavilion, bar-room, wharf and one hundred bath-houses have been erected and the premises improved generally. It is conducted as a hotel, and has a good summer patronage. The steamer "Thomas Clyde'' makes a daily trip between here and Philadelphia. Port Penn is three-quarters of a mile distant.

The post' office at Mount Pleasant was established about 1867. Harrison Vandegrift, the first post-mas-ter, was succeeded April 8, 1880, by J. Frank Eliason, the present incumbent. The office occupies a portion of his store-room.

Port Penn Grange, No. 9, P. of H. was organized in the Hickory Grove Schoolhouse April 21, 1876, with a membership of thirty-one. The first officers of the society were: Master, Thomas F. Dilworth; Overseer, Joseph Cleaver; Lecturer, T. J. Graven, Chaplain, H. Price; Steward, A. O. Osborne; Assistant Steward, John McMullen; Treasurer, L. G. Vandegrift; Secretary, James McMullen.

The society met in the school-room for about a year, and then in a room in the house of George Cleaver, whence they moved to Port Penn in 1881. In 1884 they erected a half near the residence of James McMullen, about four miles from Port Penn. It is a two-story frame building, twenty-eight by forty feet, and cost twelve hundred dollars. The lodge is now in a flourishing condition, and numbers fifty members. It is officered at present as follows: Master, D. W. Corbit; Overseer, James McMullen; Secretary, Mrs. E. M. Dilworth; Treasurer, H. Price; Steward, D. C. Vail; Chaplain, G. W. Townsend.

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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