Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




Town of Odessa, New Castle Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Early History Churches Town Incorporated
Banking Corbit Library School
Public Hall Hotels Post Office
Banking Industries Societies

Early History

The land on which Odessa is now located was taken up by Alexander De Hinijossa, who was Vice-Director at New Amstel (New Castle), from 1659 to 1663. Upon his retirement from the position he obtained possession of a large tract of land, at Appoquinimin (Odessa), where he signified his intention to reside and engage in trading. He was settled at his plantation but a few months when a change in affairs gave the territory to the British, and his estate was confiscated and granted to Captain Edmund Cantwell in about 1676. Captain Edmund Cantwell was the first sheriff of New Castle County under the government of William Penn. He was also High Sheriff under Sir Edmund Andros in 1676. He died in 1698, and his estate passed to his son Richard. In 1781 permission was granted to him to erect a toll-bridge over the Appoquinimink Creek. The place then became known as Cantwell's Bridge, and was well known as a stopping-place for persons traveling from the Delaware to the Chesapeake. In 1765 a tract of land near the Appoquinimink was purchased by William Corbit, and a tan-yard opened. The house now occupied by Daniel W. Corbit, and the adjoining one, were built, respectively, in 1773 by William Corbit and in 1772 by David Wilson. The Corbit house was built by Robert May & Co., of England. In 1804 Samuel Thomas and James Gibson were merchants in this town. In 1817, when Charles Tatman, lately deceased, came to this town, there were about thirty residences, all of which were situated on the south side of Main Street. Dr. John Smith was practicing medicine at that time. A Scotchman by the name of Osborne owned nearly all of the land extending northward from Main Street. He removed from the place and made no disposition of his property. The land escheated to the State, and, under an act passed February 2,1821, John Merritt, Outten Davis, Jacob Vandegrift, John Reynolds and John Clark were appointed commissioners to lay out the land into lots, with streets and lanes. The services of Jonas C. Fairlamb, surveyor, were secured, and the town was plotted. The plan of the town was accepted by John Lowber, escheator of New Castle County. Lowber, by the authority given him in the act, exposed the lots for sale at public auction, and four of them were purchased by Outten Davis. In 1829 lot No. 5 was owned by John Grim, lot No. 7 by Samuel Thomas, and on lot No. 6 there was a two-story brick dwelling and store, occupied by William Thomas.

In 1825 Cantwell's Bridge was a place of consider-able importance. Charles Tatman and Manlove Hayes were merchants at that time. The hotel was conducted by Ford Mansfield. David Wilson and William Polk were dealing largely in grain. At this time Cantwell's Bridge was the principal grain market for the surrounding country. Grain was conveyed here for shipment from all points within a radius of twelve or fifteen miles. Six large granaries, holding about thirty thousand bushels, standing on the bank of the Appoquinimink, were often completely filled, which delayed the purchase of grain until some of it was shipped to Philadelphia. From 1820 until 1840 there were shipped from this town four hundred thousand bushels of grain annually.

John Janvier, the undertaker, at this time owned a two-wheeled hearse, which was used whenever anyone of wealth or high social standing was buried. On other occasions an ordinary wagon was used. The coffin was placed on the axle and held in position by wooden screws. This was used until 1840. John Aspril was the blacksmith and wheelwright, and the tannery was managed by Daniel Corbit.

As early as 1880 agricultural fairs were held at Cantwell's Bridge, and were largely attended by people from Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The grain at a later time was handled principally by Charles Tatman, John Grim, John Cullin, Crouch & Davis and Polk & Beasten, who were succeeded by Beasten & Watkins. During the busiest seasons, six sloops made weekly trips to Philadelphia, and three coasting schooners went to Boston and the East, besides a large number of transient vessels.

In 1855 it was thought advisable to change the name of the village, and "Odessa" was adopted. It was named after Odessa, Russia, a large grain port on the Black Sea. The construction of the Delaware Railroad opened a now avenue for grain shipment and was a decided injury to the business interests of the village. The grain shipments were confined to the immediate vicinity, and decreased in a wonderful manner, and at present there is but one grain boat, owned by Columbus Watkins, plying between this town and Philadelphia. On July 23, 1856, there was a fire here which destroyed the cabinet-shop of Thos. Enoe, a dwelling of M. Doughten, a dwelling and stable of Misses Catharine Arthur and Elizabeth Hart, milliners, the wheelwright and blacksmith shops of L. Y. Aspril and the dwelling of John Eaton.

In 1873, Odessa was Incorporated Town and endowed with corporate privileges. The town is nicely laid out and is on a slight elevation. Its nearest railroad facilities are at Middletown, which is three miles distant. The steamer "Clio," Captain W. S. Perry, makes two trips per week to Philadelphia, and carries both passengers and freight.

The business interests of the town are represented by the following merchants: F. Duggan, W. A. Rhodes, Jr., Davis & Bro., F. B. Watkins, Mrs. Mary Baker, Hyatt & Co., T. T. Enos, J. G. Armstrong, F. H. Davis, M. Kempel, Miss E. A. Baker, Harry Rose, John Heldinger, George Hahn, Miss Virginia Lord, Christian Griffenberg.

With the exception of the first year the town commissioners were elected for a term of two years. The following persons have served in this capacity:

1873. Wm. Polk, Wm. Ashcraft, Joseph L. Gibson, D. A. Ckirbit, C. Watkins.
1874. T. W. Bose, Joseph G. Brown.
1875. F. A. Hyatt, Wm. S. Vandyke, Joseph L. Gibson.
1876. T. W. Rose, R. L. Mailly.
1877. W. W. Walker, J. L. Gibson.
1878. E. Heller, R. L. Mailly
1879. W. W. Walker, J. L. Gibson.
1880. T. W. Rose, R. L. Mailly.
1881. F. A. Hyatt, Wm. Polk. Wm. A. Rheads, J. F. Croft, J. Panelin.
1882. Alfred Hernick, F. A. Hyatt.
1883. T. T. Knos, D. W. Corbit, Dr. W. V. Woods.
1884. G. W. Polk, K. C. Mailly.
1885. T. W. Rose, F. B. Watkins, J. L. Gibson.
1886. L. V. Aspril, Joseph A. Rhoads.
1887. T. W. Rose, J. L. Gibson, F. B. Watkins.


On the 13th of Eleventh Month, 1703, there was warranted to Joseph England, William Horn and others, by the commissioners of property, ten acres of land "enclosing their meeting-house for a burying place." It was for the use of the people called "Quakers." On this was the "George's Creek Meeting-House." It was situated near the road leading from Port Penn to the State road, on the site of the Friends' burying-ground, now known as Hickory Grove.

Monthly Meetings were held alternately at this place and Duck Creek.

At a Monthly Meeting held at Duck Creek, 23rd of Sixth Month, 1781, the meeting was informed that the ''Friends of George's Creek request the indulgence of this meeting to remove their present place of meeting to Appoquinimink Bridge (Odessa), as being much more convenient to those who at-tend." The records of the Monthly Meeting held at Duck Creek, Sixth Month 20, 1783, states that the "Friends of George's Creek Meeting having now erected a House near Appoquinimink Bridge suitable to their situation and accommodation wherein they now meet agreeable to the indulgence of the meeting." In 1828 there was a division in the church, and the property was held by the Hicksite branch. The church never prospered from this time and was abandoned about seven years ago. The Allstons were the last family to worship here.

Methodism in Odessa Methodist services were first held in Odessa, (then Cantwell's Bridge) in 1831. At that time, as nearly as can be learned, there were but two Methodists, Wessel Aldrichs and his sister, Mrs. Rebecca Pogue, then living in Odessa; these were both members at Union, on Smyrna Circuit.

Presbyterian services were held at old "Drawyer's" and a few families met from time to time in the Friends' meeting-house, but many of the people did not attend any religious service.

In 1830, at a meeting held in Fieldsboro, several young men were converted, among them Benjamin Fields, Nelson Naudain, Elias Naudain, Thomas Scott and J. Y. Moore (the last-named yet lives). These persons determined to make an effort to have Methodist services in Cantwell's Bridge. They obtained from the trustees the use of the school-house. Rev. Richard Greenbank, preacher in charge of Smyrna Circuit, was consulted, and entered at once into the plan and sometime in 1831 the first services were held and Methodism planted in Odessa. Services were held in the school-house for two years, when the house was sold for the purpose of erecting a new school-house. The purchaser being unable to re-move it to the place desired, it was resold and still remains near the Zoar M. E. Church. Among those converted in the meetings held in the school-house was one Joseph C. Griffith, who donated to the little society of Methodists the ground on which the present church stands. He also labored as carpenter in building the first Methodist Episcopal Church erected.

Though the preacher in charge of Smyrna Circuit, Rev. Solomon Sharp, did not view the new appointment with much favor, yet the little band of scarcely more than a dozen thought the time had come to "rise up and build;" hence two committees were appointed. The committee on materials consisted of Philip D. Riley, Benjamin Fields, John Hayes and J. v. Moore; the committee to raise funds, Jesse Lake, P. D. Riley, Joseph C. Griffith, Nathaniel Beauchamp and J. V. Moore.

The committee on materials purchased for one hundred dollars an old brick house standing on the farm of Abram Staats, near Fieldsboro. Notice was given for the people to meet and tear it down, and clean the bricks. At the time appointed a crowd of people with numerous teams were on hand, and the work was quickly done. As this did not furnish bricks enough, another burnt-out brick house, standing on the farm of Samuel Rogers, near Odessa, was donated. Charles Tatman gave the shingles. The carpenter was J. C. Griffith and the mason, Samuel Floyd. The building was thirty by forty feet, one story and whitewashed. During its building, plank seats were arranged, and Rev. R. Green bank preached standing on the carpenter's bench.

The house was finished and dedicated free of debt. Rev. Matthew Sorin, presiding elder, had charge of the services, and Rev. Solomon Sharp preached to an overflow meeting in the school-house. This was about 1883.

The present commodious and handsome church building was dedicated October 28, 1852, during the pastorate of Rev. Joseph Aspril. It is of brick, two-story, having Sunday-school and class-rooms on the lower floor, and audience-room above. It is handsomely furnished, having cushioned pews and carpet and a large and beautiful pipe-organ.

Odessa, which had thus far been connected with Middletown, became a separate station in 1859, with Rev. J. S. Willis as pastor. The pastors since 1881 have been as follows:

Richard Greenbank, 1831-38
William Connelly, 1881
James Nichols, 1882
Solomon Sharp, 1838-85
Robert Anderson 1838
Joseph Osborn, 1838
Benjamin Benson, 1834
Eliphalet Reed, 1885-37
Z. Gaskill, 1885
William Allen, 1836
J. Cunningham, 1887-89
Edwin L. Janes, 1 839-41
B. F. Price, 1841-48
T. B. Tibbles, 1843-44
J. T. Cooper, 1844-45
J. B. Hagany, 1845-47
James Cunningham, 1847-48
John Henry, 1848-50
J. R. Anderson, 1850-52
Joseph Aspril, 1852-54
R. H. Pattison, 1854-56
J. B. Maddux, 1856-57
J. B. Merritt, 1857-59
J. S. Willis, 1859-60
C. F. Turner, 1860-61
J. S. Cook, 1861-63
W. H. Elliott, 1863-65
W. E. England, 1865-67
George A. Phoebus, 1867-70
W. Kenney, 1870-73
J. E. Bryan, 1878-76
J. B. Merritt, 1876-79
W. H. Hutchin, 1879-82
J. P. Otis, 1882
T. R. Creamer, 1885-88

 The present membership of the church is two hundred.

The present officers of the church are: Pastor, Rev. T. R. Creamer; Board of Trustees, John Appleton, L. V. Aspril, J. K. Williams, T. T. Enos, George W. Naudain; Stewards, John Appleton, L. V. Aspril, T. T. Enos, J. K. Williams, E. N. Moore, J. A. Rhodes, Geo. L. Townsend, W. H. Eccles, George W. Naudain, W. H. Voshall, W. E. Appleton, S. F Shallcross, Jr., W. G. Tyson.

Sunday-School Superintendent, Geo. L. Townsend; Superintendent of Primary Department, Mrs. Lucretia S. Enos.

The congregations at the present time are large; the Sunday-school is first class in all respects. The church has lost from deaths and removals from time to time, but others would take their places, and the church today is alive to every interest of Christian effort.


The first industry at Odessa was the tan yard opened by William Corbit in 1765. It was situated near the Appoquinimink Creek and was operated by him until 1810. During the Revolutionary War a lieutenant and a squad of soldiers from General Washington's army came here after some leather. Mr. Corbit refused to negotiate with them, but they demanded the leather and when it was not forthcoming they proceeded to search for it. The leather was stored in the cellar of the house occupied now by Dan'l. W. Corbit. The soldiers found it and took it away with them, leaving Continental currency to the amount of the supposed valuation of the lea-ther. This is still in possession of D. W. Corbit, of Odessa. In 1810 Pennel Corbit took possession of the tannery and managed it until his death, in December, 1819. It was then purchased of his heirs by Daniel Corbit, who operated it until 1854, when the scarcity of bark led to its abandonment. All kinds of leather were manufactured quite extensively. The tannery has since been converted into dwellings still standing.

The manufacture of fertilizers at Odessa, by Lord & Polk, was begun in 1878 in a small building rented for that purpose. The goods manufactured by this firm found ready sale and in 1880 a two-story frame building, seventy-two by fifty feet, was erected for manufacturing purposes. The demand for the fertilizers steadily increased, causing additions to be made at frequent intervals, until the building has attained its present size, two hundred and twenty-five by one hundred and forty-four feet. In April, 1887, a stock company was organized and incorporated as the "Lord & Polk Chemical Company," under which style the business has since been conducted. Twenty thousand tons of fertilizers are manufactured annually and shipped to all parts of the country. The principal brands manufactured by this company are the following: "Diamond State Super-phosphate, "Diamond State Soluble. Bone," "Champion Fertilizer" and "Truxillo Guano."

The company has also erected a building for the manufacture of sulphuric acid, which is extensively used in manufacturing fertilizers. A part of this building is three stories high and sixty by seventy feet, and the remainder two stories high and forty by two hundred and twenty-five feet. The capacity is five thousand tons per year.

The manufacturing is under the superintendence of John Whann and gives employment to forty men.

The officers are as follows: Pres., Victor Lord; Secretary and Treasurer, Geo. W. Polk; Incorporators, William R. Polk, Victor Lord. George W. Polk, J. B. Forad, Columbus Watkins.

The Watkins Packing Company commenced the business of canning fruits and vegetables in 1881. In that year the factory was built, the main building of which is a frame structure two stories high and forty by sixty feet, and the packing-room one story, forty by one hundred and twenty-two feet. Preparations are now being made to enlarge the factory by making the main building forty by one hundred feet, and the packing-room forty by one hundred and sixty-two feet. The establishment is in operation about four months of each year. During a season there is packed here on an average 800 cases of peas, 3500 cases of berries and 20,000 cases of tomatoes. During the pea and berry season employment is given to sixty persons. To pack the tomatoes about seventy women and thirty men and boys are required. From the 1st of March till the 15th of August fifteen men are employed in the factory manufacturing cans. The "Owl" brand of tomatoes is packed here and shipped to cities in the North and East.

In 1867 Polk & Hyatt planted, near Odessa, a nursery covering about five acres. The enterprise proved a success and the increased demand for trees of their production required the enlargement of the nursery from year to year. The two nurseries owned by this firm now cover fifty-five acres and contain all varieties of fruit, shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery. Trees are shipped from here to all parts of this and adjoining States. The annual sales amount to about 100,000 trees. In addition to this, large quantities of fruit are gathered and shipped every year, giving employment to about seventy-five persons.

John Aspril came to Odessa in 1817 and opened a blacksmith shop near the site of the Town Hall. He moved his shop several times and in 1833 rented of Joseph C. Griffith a shop where the present carriage works stand. He was succeeded in 1842 by his son, Leonard V. Aspril, who purchased the property in 1845. The shop was burned in 1856, and in the fall of the same year the present building was erected. The main building is three stories high, thirty by fifty feet, with a one-story building, twenty-five by thirty feet, in the rear. In 1876 Leonard V. Aspril was granted an interest in the business, which has since been conducted under the firm-name of L. V. Aspril & Son. Employment is given to eight men, who, in addition to the repair work, manufacture about twenty wagons per year.

In 1882 William M. Vandegrift began to evaporate fruit in an evaporator which he erected in a stable at Odessa. In the following year he erected a two-story frame building, twenty by forty feet, near the Appoquinimink Creek, and placed in it two evaporators. By means of these three hundred baskets of fruit could be evaporated in a day. Peaches, apples and raspberries were evaporated here and shipped to Philadelphia. Daring the season employment was given to fifteen persons. In March, 1885, the building was burned and has never been rebuilt.

In 1878 Thomas F. Dilworth and T. D. Stewart erected temporary buildings and began to can fruits and vegetables at Port Penn. Their undertaking was successful, and enlarged and permanent buildings were erected. These have been extended, and now cover about a quarter of an acre of land. They can tomatoes principally, and are the manufacturers of the "Delaware Tomatoes," "Stirling Farm" and "Extras" brands. During the canning season employment is given to about one hundred persons. The capacity of the factory is twenty thousand cases. Philadelphia and New York are the principal markets to which these goods are shipped.

Post Office

When the post-office was established at Odessa has not been ascertained. In 1817 John Moody was the postmaster. The mail-stage running from Wilmington to Dover stopped here and left the mail. Since the discontinuance of that stage route, the mail is carried by stage from Middletown. William F. Corbit was appointed postmaster in 1818. Since then the following postmasters have served: Daniel Corbit, Charles Tatman, Benjamin Field, John Whitby, Joseph W. Vandegrift, Josiah Ridgeway, Joseph A. Lord, Henry Bigger and Kate Bigger. Lawrence R. Davis, the present incumbent, took charge of the post-office August 23, 1886. The office occupies a portion of the store-room of Davis & Bro.

The earliest postmaster at Port Penn, in the memory of the inhabitants of that vicinity, was Joseph Cleaver. He was succeeded by his son, Thomas Cleaver. Samuel B. Cleaver, the present incumbent, received his appointment on November 9, 1872. The mail is carried by stage from Delaware City.


Previous to 1854 the banking business of St. George's Hundred was done at New Castle and Smyrna. In March, 1853, the "New Castle County Bank" was incorporated as a State bank. All the preparatory arrangements having been completed, the bank was opened for business April 26, 1854, in the office of Charles Tatman, on the corner of Third and Main Streets. It was shortly afterwards removed to the building now occupied as a store by Davis & Bro. The officers elected at the organization and who served at the opening of the bank were: President, Charles Tatman; Cashier, Dr. B. F. Chatham; Teller, John Zelefro; Directors, Charles Tatman, Cyrus Polk, Charles Beasten, Henry Davis, John Appleton, Garrett Cox, David J. Cummins, George W. Karsner, Richard Seamans.

A lot of land on the corner of Main and Second Streets was purchased and the erection of a building commenced. This was completed in 1865, and since that time has been used for banking purposes. John Zelefro retained the position of teller for only a few months, and was succeeded by John Janvier. The capital stock of the bank was fifty thousand dollars, which was divided into one thousand shares. In June, 1865, it was converted into a national bank and the capital stock increased to seventy-five thousand dollars. The name of the bank was changed to the New Castle County National Bank.

The first officers of the national bank were as follows: President, Chas. Tatman; Cashier, Dr. B. F. Chatham; Teller, John Janvier; Directors, Charles Tatman, John Appleton, Horatio N. Willits, Charles Beasten, William Polk, Henry Davis, Samuel Penington, George W. Karsner, David J. Cummins.

In 1866 John Janvier resigned the position of teller, and was succeeded by Eugene L. Ellison, who filled the position for a year. Joseph G. Brown, the present teller, was elected in 1867.

In January, 1867, Cashier Chatham resigned, and Joseph L. Gibson, the present cashier, was elected.

Charles Tatman served as president from the organization of the bank until his death.

With the exception of George W. Karsner, David J. Cummins and Charles Beasten, the board of directors remains unchanged since 1865. Sereck F. Shallcross succeeded George W. Karsner in January, 1866. David J. Cummins resigned in May, 1874, and John C. Corbit was elected his successor in October of the same year. Charles Beasten was succeeded by Columbus Watkins January 5, 1876.

Charles Tatman, John Appleton and Henry Davis served as directors from the organization as a State bank in 1854. The surplus fund of thirty-four thousand dollars attests that the bank has been skillfully managed by trustworthy and competent officers.

The officers of the bank in 1887 were: President, Charles Tatman; Vice-President, John C. Corbit; Cashier, Joseph L. Gibson; Teller, Joseph G. Brown; Directors, Charles Tatman, John Appleton, John C. Corbit, Sereck F. Shallcross, William Polk, Henry Davis, Horatio N. Willits, Samuel Penington, Columbus Watkins.

Charles Tatman, late president of the New Castle County National Bank of Odessa, was born near Greenwood Station, Sussex County, May 5, 1792. He was a son of Purnell Tatman, a farmer of superior intelligence and character, who was born July 1. 1766, on the farm on which he spent his life, and where he died September 1, 1826. The mother of Charles Tatman was Bathsheba, a daughter of John Griffith, of Sussex County. Purnell Tatman had nine children, six of whom, Cyrus, Eliza, Charles, Purnell, Bathsheba and Eunice, lived to have families of their own.

The grandfather of Charles Tatman, Mitchell Tatman, was also a farmer, and passed his days on the old homestead, which had probably been in the possession of the family from early colonial times. His wife was Mary, daughter of John Collins, of Sussex County, and cousin of Governor Collins, of Delaware. Charles Tatman at five years of age was sent to a pay school kept in a neighboring dwelling, but the greater part of his school education was obtained in a school-house in the neighborhood which had neither floor, windows nor chimney. Mr. Tatman in later life told how the children suffered on winter days, when the ground, even in the school-house, could be soaked with water, and was often frozen solid in the morning. To protect their feet from the ice, the children brought in pieces of wood or anything convenient for a foot-rest. The fire of logs was built at one end of the room on the ground, and the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. At fifteen he left school to work on the farm, doing what he could for the family support until he was twenty-four years old. He then became a clerk in the store of William Polk, the husband of his eldest sister, at Cantwell's Bridge. Here he made his home through three or four years of faithful service to his brother-in-law, after which he engaged in mercantile business with Mr. Manlove Hayes, of that town, under the firm name of Tatman & Hayes. This partnership continued until 1825, when the partners separated and divided their goods. During the next five years Mr. Tatman conducted business by himself, enjoying an unusual degree of prosperity. About 1827 he enlarged his business operations and began to purchase grain, wood, staves and every kind of country produce, shipping his goods in his own vessels to Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere. In all his efforts he dis-played uncommon zeal, enterprise and judgment, and in 1834 his business had attained such proportions that he found it necessary to take a partner, and was happily associated with Daniel B. McKee for nine years, after which the firm was dissolved, and Mr. Tatman retired from active business. He was then but fifty-one years of age, but had accumulated a fortune sufficient to insure him comfort and abundance for the remainder of his life. For several years following he was largely interested in real-estate, and owned considerable property in Odessa, besides numerous farms in the vicinity. He long since disposed of these farms. He kept all his business affairs in perfect order.

From 1851 to 1877 Mr. Tatman was secretary of the Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company; in 1854, at the first meeting of the directors, he was elected president of the New Castle County Bank of Odessa, just incorporated. This office he held until his death.

In political life he was originally a Federalist, afterwards a Whig, and on that ticket was a candidate for the State Legislature in 1842, but was not elected. In 1861 he took strong ground for the Union, and used his means and influence freely to sustain the government throughout the war. Although never seeking political preferments, he was always an efficient and disinterested worker for the welfare of his country and State. From the time of its organization he was an active and useful member of the Republican Party. For a hundred years his family has been conspicuous in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He united with it as a member in 1867, and was long a trustee. Mr. Tatman was married, March 80, 1847, to Mrs. Harriet Brinton Corbit, widow of John O. Corbit, and daughter of Joseph Trimble, late of Concord, Pa., all of the Society of Friends. She had no children, and died March 23, 1873, aged seventy-one. Mr. Tatman retained his sight and hearing to a remarkable degree. After he had reached ninety years he appeared to be a man of much fewer years. The weight of nearly a century of life did not prevent his attendance upon his duties at the bank. He retained his interest in the young, and to such his home was always attractive. For the last forty years he resided in the simple, unostentatious dwelling in Odessa, where he died. He lived under the administration of the Presidents from Washington to Cleveland, inclusive. He died October 21, 1887, leaving behind him an untarnished name. He will always be thought of as one of the most upright and useful citizens of the country. His funeral was largely attended, and his remains lie buried in the same grave with those of his mother in the cemetery of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Odessa. In person, Mr. Tatman was considerably above the average in both height and weight He measured about six feet in stature, and his average weight was about two hundred pounds. He was regular and temperate in his habits, and indulged in no vicious practices. To this prudence is largely due his long and healthful life.

Corbit Library

James Corbit, M.D., by will bearing date June 15, 1856, bequeathed certain loans, amounting in all to nine hundred and fifty dollars, to the School Commissioners of School District No. 61. He directed that three hundred dollars be expended in the purchase of a library for the use of the public school, and that the interest of the remaining six hundred and fifty dollars be applied to making annual additions. By an act of incorporation passed February 27, 1857, it was made the duty of the Commissioners of School District No. 61 to take under their special change the library in said district. This library, from the name of its generous founder, was called Corbit Library. It has also been endowed by the late Daniel Corbit, of Odessa, and his son, the late Dr. Wm. B. Corbit, of Washington, D. C. The former contributed five hundred dollars, and the latter four hundred volumes of well-selected literature. He also made provisions in his will that after the death of his wife the library should receive ten thousand dollars. The library now comprises two thousand three hundred volumes of choice literature, and occupies a portion of the public school building. New books are constantly being added. The library is open for three hours every Saturday, at which time the inhabitants of the district are allowed to take out books subject to the rules adopted by the commissioners for governing the same.

The librarian is Miss Ida Rose.

Public Hall

The Odessa Hall Company was organized in November, 1875, and incorporated in 1877. In the former year a lot of land on Main Street was purchased of Mrs. Martha George, and the erection of a building begun. This was completed in 1876, and was a two-story frame structure, thirty-six by seventy feet. Four hundred shares of stock, each valued at five dollars, were issued and found a ready sale. Much interest was manifested in the erection of the hall, and those unable to contribute money performed manual labor. The first officers were: President, Joseph L. Gibson; Secretary, G. W. Polk; Treasurer, J. G. Brown. The second floor is used as a hall, and although it has not proved a financial success, yet on account of its convenience as a place for assembling and holding public meetings, it has proved a decided advantage to the town. The officers at present are as follows: President, Joseph L. Gibson; Secretary, W. S. Van Dyke; Treasurer, J. G. Brown.

Odessa Loan Association was incorporated February 1 9, 1885. The incorporators were George W. Polk, Samuel B. Warren, William Polk, James T. Shallcross, Turpin W. Rose, Victor Lord, Daniel W, Corbit, Columbus Watkins, Joseph G. Brown, Leon and V. Aspril, Eugene C. Mailly, William M. Vandegrift and Cyrus Polk. The association was immediately organized, and the following officers elect-ed; President, William Polk; Vice-President, Victor Lord; Secretary, Wm. M. Vandegrift; Treasures, Cyrus Polk; Directors, Samuel R. Warren, Turpin W. Rose, Daniel W. Corbit, Columbus Watkins, James T. Shallcross, Joseph G. Brown, Leonard V. Aspril, Eugene C. Mailly, Elias N. Moore.

In July, 1887, Joseph G. Brown succeeded Cyrus Polk as treasurer. In February of the same year Henry L. Davis was elected a director, as the successor of Columbus Watkins.

Three series have already been issued, the first of which was issued February 28, 1885. The whole number of shares at any one time cannot exceed two thousand.

With the exception of the change above mentioned, the officers are the same as when the organization was effected.


Col. John W. Andrews Post, No. 14, G. A. R., was instituted May 28, 1886. The charter members were W. N. Hamilton, M.D., Wm. H. Eccles, M. Gremminger, M. Kantz, Joseph Shetzler, John W. Denny, C. F. Griffenberg, W. P. Rhein, Samuel Saxton, Joseph H. Enos, I. F. Croft, S. M. Enos, M. Kumpel, Edward S. Stevens and Wm. A. Rhodes. The following members were elected as the first officers: P. C, Dr. W. N. Hamilton; S. V. C, M. Gremminger; J. V. C. Jos. H. Enos; Q. M., J. W. Denny; Adjt., Wm. A. Rhodes; Chap., C. F. Griffenberg; Surg., Samuel Saxton.

The membership has increased to fifty-five. Meetings are held every Wednesday night. The post-room contains the flags of the Red Lion Mounted Guards, probably the first company organized in Delaware, which was presented by Captain Chas. Corbit, and the flag of the ship "Constitution," commanded in the War of 1812 by Commodore Hull. The present officers are: P. C, M. Gremminger; S. V. C, T. W. Bucke; J. V. C. I. F. Croft; Q. M., D. W. Corbit; Adjt, Wm. A. Rhodes; Chap., Jos. A. Rhodes.

Appoquinimink Tribe No. 24, I. O. B. M. was instituted at Odessa on the 14th of February, 1887. The charter members were Irvin Rose, John E. Jenkins, Samuel R. Rupp, Robert Pinharlow, W. F. Tucker, Wm. W. Rose, Wm. W. Thomas, John Heldmyer, Jas. A. Parker, C. W. Lloyd, Everett Rose, Geo. W. Rose, Wm. Johnson, Lewis Walker, Arthur Thomas and Wm. Ryan. Meetings are held every Tuesday night in the G. A. R. Post room. The present number of members is thirty. The first and present officers, with the exception of Samuel R. Rupp as S. S., are: Sachem, Irvin Rose; S. S., Robert Pinharlow; J. S., W. F. Tucker; C. of R., Wm. W. Thomas; K. of W., John Heldmyer; W. P., John E. Jenkins.

Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company of St. George's and Appoquinimink Hundreds, was organized at Odessa, July, 1849, by electing the following officers: President, John Janvier, Jr.; Secretary, Charles Tatman; Treasurer, John Whitby; Directors, John Janvier, Jr., Joseph Cleaver, Daniel Corbit, James V. Moore, John Townsend, Wm. Wilson, Jno. P. Cochran.

John Janvier, Jr., remained president until 1851, when he was succeeded by Charles Beasten, whom Charles T. Polk followed in 1854. Daniel Corbit be-came president in 1868, and continued until 1871, when John C. Corbit, the present incumbent, was elected.

Charles Tatman, the first secretary, held that office until 1876, when he was succeeded by John C. Brown, the present officer, who was also elected treasurer in 1870, vice John Whitby. The changes in the board of directors have been as follows:

1851. Charles Beasten, James Kanely and John McCrone, Jr., vice John Townsend, William Wilson and John P. Cochran.
1853. Henry Davis, John Whitby, Edward Thomas and Robert A. Cochran, vice James Kanely, John McCrone, Jr., Joseph Cleaver and James V. Moore.
1854. C. T. Polk, James V. Moore and H. N. Willits, vice Edward Thomas, Robert A. Cochran and Charles Beasten.
1855. Joshua B. Fennimore, vice James V. Moore.
1856. Eli Biddle and Joseph West, vice John Janvier, Jr., and Joshua B. Fenimore.
1863. William Polk, vice C. T. Polk.
1871. Columbus Watkins and John C. Corbit, vice Ell Biddle and John Whitby.
1873. Colen Ferguson, vice Joseph West.
1876. Charles Tatman, vice Daniel Corbit.
1877. Thomas J. Craven, vice Chas. Tatman.
1880. Joseph Roberts, vice T. J. Craven.
1885. Nathaniel Williams, vice Henry Davis.


The first hotel in Odessa stood on the brink of the hill near the residence of Shoemaker. It was a one-story frame building with a hip roof, and was about forty feet square. It was last used as a hotel in 1825, and was torn down about twenty years ago. In 1797 a license for an inn in the village of Cantwell's Bridge was granted to Mary Calhoun, who had kept the hotel for some time. Some of the early proprietors were Morton Hutchinson, Capt. Wm. Brady in 1815, Wm. P. Cochran, Amelia Cooke, Daniel Hains and James Henry, the last proprietor. The house was owned by Morton Hutchinson till 1820, when he sold it to Wm. Polk.

The hotel on the comer of Main and Second Streets was built in 1822 by William Polk, and opened in 1824 by Ford Mansfield. The mechanics employed were Samuel Lloyd and George Metcalf. The building was intended for a dwelling and store, but before it was completed was changed to a hotel. It is a three-story brick building, and is owned by William Polk, the grandson of the builder. For the past two years Charles W. Lloyd has been the proprietor.

The other hotel in Odessa was built about twenty-five years ago by Caleb C. Foster for a carriage fac-tory. Shortly afterward George Kilkoph opened a hotel in it, which he conducted until his death, when his widow became the proprietor. John Wies was the next landlord, and his license was revoked in 1876. In 1882 the hotel was reopened by Calvin Stidham, the present proprietor.

At Port Penn in 1822 there were five hotels. One was where Dr. David Stewart now resides, another where Conrad Zacheis lives, and a third on lot now owned by Samuel Kershaw. The only hotel now in the place, of which Thomas Beard is proprietor, was kept in 1797 and previous to that time by Rebecca Reed.

Religious Matters

When the congregation of Drawyer's Church was organized is not definitely known. In 1708 the Presbytery of Philadelphia was petitioned by persons residing in the vicinity of Odessa for regular ministrations of the Gospel here. Rev. John Wilson, of New Castle, was accordingly ordered to hold services in this neighborhood ''once a month on a week day.'' In the following year he was ordered ''to preach at Apoquinimy once a month till the next meeting, and one Sabbath a quarter until the aforesaid meeting, provided always that the Sabbath day's sermon be taken from the White Clay Creek their time." On May 10, 1711, a site was located and obtained from John Peterson. The erection of a church was immediately commenced, and soon afterwards completed.

Among the elders previous to 1775 are found the names of the following early settlers:

1711, Leonard Vandegrift;
1712, Isaac Piper;
1714, Hans Hanson;
1714, Segfridus Alrichs;
1717, Elias Naudain;
1721, Johnnes Vandegrift;
1724, Abraham Golden, Sr.;
1725, Thomas Hyatt;
1727, Jacob King;
1731, Francis King;
1732, Moses McKinley and Charles Robinson;
1746, Garrett Dushane, David Witherspoon, James McCoomb, Garrett Rothwell, Cornelius King, Joseph Hill, James Anderson and James Vance.

 In 1769, the church being ''unfit to answer the purposes of a house of worship," a subscription was raised for the purpose of erecting a new edifice.

Peter Alrichs, John Hanson, John Hyatt, Jr., James Moore, William Bradford, Duncan Beard, Henry Packard, Jr., and Andrew Brown were appointed a building committee. In 1773 a two-story brick church) forty- four by fifty-six feet, was erected by Robt May A Co., of London. The bricks were burned on the farm of Robert Meldrum, afterwards owned by Samuel Penington. In 1807 there were only thirty-nine members in communion, eight of whom were colored persons. In 1811 a new roof was put on the church, and in 1838 the pulpit and seats were remodeled and the interior of the building improved. The whole sum raised by subscription for the erection of the church was £1105 and 13s., which was donated by one hundred and eighty-eight individuals. The church is still standing, although no longer used regularly for public worship. On the inside of the building, en-graved on marble slabs, are the following inscriptions:

"The Church of the First Presbyterian
Society in this Hundred
Built A. D. 1773.
Rev. Thomas Read, A.M., Pastor
This Stone, The gift of Mrs. Mary Hill.
Serve the Lord with Gladness.
Ps. 100, 2nd."
"This Site Purchased, May 10, 1711.
The First Church Built 1711.
Rev. John Wilson, Pastor, 1708.
Your Fathers, where are they?"

 Rev. John Wilson, the first pastor, was one of the original members of the first Presbytery organized in the United States, and died in 1712.

Rev. Robert Witherspoon, the second minister, was ordained at Drawyer's Church May 13, 1714, and continued its pastor until his death, which occurred in May, 1718. Rev. Mr. Young next ministered here, either as a supply or as a pastor, from 1718 until his death in 1721.

Rev. Henry Hook took charge of the congregation in 1722, and remained until his death, which occurred in 1741.

Rev. John Dick was ordained November 12, 1746, and served this congregation until his death, which occurred the following year.

Rev. Hector Allison was pastor from 1758 until 1768, when he removed.

Rev. Thomas Read, the next pastor, began in 1768, as stated supply, and from 1772 until 1796 was r^ular pastor.

Rev. John Burton commenced his labors here in May, 1804, and continued as stated supply until 1822. He died in 1825, and is buried at St. George's.

Rev. Joseph Wilson, from Nottingham, Pennsylvania, was installed as pastor over Drawyer's, Smyrna and Forest Churches in 1822, and remained until 1830.

On July 1, 1832, Rev. Nicholas Patterson commenced preaching as stated supply, and continued until November.

The church since that time has been served by the following pastors: 1832, Rev. David De Forest; 1833-35, Rev. Warren G. Jones; 1836-39, Rev. Charles Brown; 1839, Rev. George Foot.

The Rev. Geo. Foot began his labors with this church September 8, 1839, and was installed pastor of this and the Port Penn Church November 19, 1839.

The Rev. Isaac W. E. Handy began to supply the church June 15, 1848, and continued as supply and pastor until 1853. He served this church in connection with the Port Penn Church two years, when, by Presbytery, the relation between these churches was dissolved, and Mr. Handy became pastor of the Forest Presbyterian Church of Middletown, in connection with Drawyer's. In 1853 the relation between these churches was dissolved, and reunion with the Port Penn Church was effected. This relation continued till 1854, since which time Drawyer's Church has stood alone.

The Rev. David McClure was ordained and installed pastor of the united churches of Drawyer's and Port Penn November 9, 1853, and continued pastor until October, 1854.

April 1, 1855, the Drawyer's Church called the Rev. H. J. Gaylord, who continued pastor until April, 1861.

The Rev. F. Hendricks supplied the church until 1862. The new church edifice erected at Odessa by the Drawyer's congregation was dedicated May 9, 1861. It is a large and handsome brick building, and cost eleven thousand dollars.

In 1886 the audience room was frescoed and re-carpeted, the wood work repainted, and new pulpit furniture put in, which makes it one of the most comfortable and beautiful audience rooms on the Peninsula.

From 1863 until 1867 the church was supplied by the Rev. Mr. Burdett, the Bev. Mr. Howard and others.

The Rev. John Crowell, D. D., was installed August 1, 1867, and continued his pastorate until 1879.

The pastorate of the Rev. W. V. Louderbough extended from September 24, 1879, to February 27, 1882.

The Rev. James Conway was installed May 30, 1882, and the dissolution of the pastoral relation was effected November 27, 1882.

The Rev. H. A. McLean, the present pastor, supplied the church from May, 1883, until October 2, 1884, when he was installed.

During all these years (from 1842) the church has been served by many able and faithful elders. Notable among these were John M. Woods, A. Snow Naudain, John Aspril, Jesse Higgins, H. G. Whittock and John Janvier. John Janvier and H. G. Whittock were both ordained to the office of ruling elder on the same day, October 12, 1856. The former served until his removal to Oxford, Pennsylvania, in 1866, and the latter until his death, in 1884, a period of twenty-eight years.

The present elders are Dr. W. N. Hamilton, James J. Janvier and F. Theodore Perry. They were all ordained and installed on Sabbath morning, March 10, 1878, and are still one in the support and spread of the Gospel.

The Sabbath-School, organized July 21, 1861, has never been large. Elder James J. Janvier has just closed his four years' superintendency, in which he has shown extraordinary fidelity in the work, and the school is now quite as prosperous as it has been for some years.


The first school-house in Odessa was erected at an early date by the Friends and was under their control. It was a frame building and stood in the lot near the Friends' meeting-house. It was not used much for school purposes after 1817, and at a later period was removed and converted into a dwelling. It is now in the rear of the Zoar M. E. Church and is the residence of the pastor of this congregation.

Another frame school-house was erected, about 1810, near the site of the present school-house. James Latimus, a half-brother of Bishop Scott, and Joseph Stewart are remembered as teachers of this school. It was used for school purposes until 1838, when it was moved away and was converted into a dwelling and has been used as such since that time.

The free school law of 1829 was unpopular with many in this neighborhood. The frame school-house was used for public school purposes for a short time, and in 1833 a new school-house was built This was burned in 1843, and in the following year the present two-story brick building was erected. In 1856 the school was endowed with the Corbit Library. The report of the school for 1886 shows the following state of affairs: Value of property, eighteen hundred dollars; number of pupils registered, one hundred and eighteen; number of rooms, two; number of teachers, two; average attendance, seventy; number of months school was held, ten and a half.

Elwood R. Norny was born in Montgomery County, Pa., near Norristown in 1824, on the homestead farm of his grandfather, General Andrew Norny, who was a soldier of the War of the Revolution, and one of those patriots who endured the severities of that memorable winter in the camp on the hills of Valley Forge. General Norny was the neighbor and companion of Generals Knox and St. Clair, the three soldiers owning farms within a few miles of each other. Soon after the close of the war he was ap-pointed a brigadier-general by the Governor of Pennsylvania. Mr. E. R. Norny's father always followed the vocation of farming, and died at a comparatively early age. His mother was one of the descendants of the old Pastorius family, who, contemporaneous with William Penn, were among the first settlers and founders of Philadelphia and Germantown. At the age of twenty, Mr. Norny began to study law at Norristown with the Hon. John B. Sterigere, an ex-member of Congress. About two years later he abandoned the law for the more active pursuits of business, and, in connection with his brother, constituted a firm which carried on the largest business in the making and sale of lime in the Schuylkill Valley. In this business, which grew to large proportions and included traffic in brick, sand and hair for buildings, he continued for several years, during which the firm traded extensively in Philadelphia and New York. Large quantities of their lime were sold to customers in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland for agricultural purposes, before the era of commercial fertilizers. In 1852 he married Cynthia J. Acuff, a daughter of David Acuff, an extensive farmer of Gwynedd, Montgomery County, Pa. In the spring of 1859, on account of the greatly impaired health of his wife, he sold out his business to Charles Earnest, of Norristown, and located on a farm on the banks of the Delaware, in St. George's Hundred, New Castle County. Here he took a deep interest in the propagation and preservation of the valuable food fish of the Delaware, and was one of the early correspondents and aids of the United States Fish Commission, being the first to discover the food on which the shad feed while off our coast before entering the fresh water. Later he took an active interest in the protection of fish industries of the State, and was largely instrumental in the passage of our fish laws, as well as in their execution on the waters of the Delaware. This brought him to the notice of the people, who elected him a member of the General Assembly of the State in the fall of 1886. In this position he took an active part in all important legislation, and materially aided in the revision and condensation of the numerous oyster laws on the statute books of the State. Immediately after the adjournment of the General Assembly In April, 1887, he was appointed by Governor Biggs State Fish Commissioner, the office which he now holds. In politics, Mr. Norny has always been a Democrat, and took an active part, for a young man, in the election of James Buchanan to the Presidency of the United States in 1856. So active was he in that campaign that His Honor Judge Sharswood, then of the District Court of Philadelphia, and subsequently chief justice of the State, held for him alone a special court at eight o'clock A.M., on the day of the election, to enable him to bring into the city a large number of Democrats from the adjoining county of Montgomery to be naturalized in time to get back to their respective places of voting. While residing in Philadelphia, from 1852 to 1859, he was offered several positions of political preferment, among which was the nomination to Congress in the Fourth District. This honor, because of pressing business engagements, he was compelled to decline in favor of the Hon. Henry M. Phillips, who was elected by a majority over both the Old-Line Whig and Know-Nothing candidates. During the long period of his residence in New Castle County he took no active part in influencing or shaping political nominations until the summer of 1886, when he was elected, in an exciting contest, a delegate to the Democratic State Convention, in which he made the nominating speech in favor of the Hon. Benjamin T. Biggs for Governor.

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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