Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




Villages of Brandywine Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware

Rockland Talleyville Beaver Villey
Claymont Hanby's Corner Grubb's Corner
Grubbs Landing   Glaymont
George W. Churchman
Edgemoor Buoy Depot

Since Brandywine Hundred sustains a suburban relation to Wilmington and Philadelphia, no large towns have been built within its bounds. Nevertheless, the points named below are centers of interest in the localities in which they are located, which make them worthy of notice in these pages.

Rockland has a picturesque location on the Brandy-wine, five miles from Wilmington, and is situated on both sides of the stream. Its principal activity is the paper-mill of Jessup & Moore, whose employees constitute a large proportion of the population. There are about two hundred inhabitants. Methodist and Presbyterian Churches are maintained. Alexander Colquohoun is the merchant of the village.

Talleyville is a small but pleasantly located hamlet on the Concord Pike, one and a half miles from the Pennsylvania line, and derived its name from the Talley family, early residents in this locality. Among its business interests was a public-house, called the "Spread Eagle," which has been discontinued. William Day had a store and kept the Talleyville post-office in a building which has been converted to private uses. Later the office was kept at the house of Rev. John Talley, a local minister. After this the office was discontinued and Graceville post-office established near Grace Church. Within the past few years Talleyville post-office was re-established with John McCray as postmaster, and a daily mail supplied. Below this place John Fraim is engaged in merchandising. There are also several mechanic shops and a fine grange hall.

Since the spring of 1886 Dr. Francis Harvey Day, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania that year, has been a medical practitioner at this place, having his office on the homestead, which has been in the possession of the family six generations. Dr. Williams and others also practiced medicine at this point.

The "Blue Ball" inn, on the Concord Pike, below Talleyville was one of the best known public-houses in the hundred. Its history antedates the century, but no authentic account of the time it was first opened can be given. In 1809 George Miller was the keeper, and public elections were there held. At this time it was a fair-sized stone house, whose capacity was taxed to accommodate the teamsters going to Brandywine Mills. Robert Galbraith and Isaac Anderson were later keepers. Many years ago the building was enlarged and converted into a farm-house, thus removing this old landmark.

Above Talleyville, where Naaman's Creek road crosses Concord Pike, James Dutton was the keeper of a popular old-time inn, before 1820 and later. In subsequent years this became the property of Oliver H. Perry, who very much enlarged the house and preserved its popularity until his death. It is still kept for tavern purposes, but the former public-house of Thomas C. Smith, in the same neighborhood, is now a common farm residence. East from this was formerly Graceville post-office.

Beaver Valley is a hamlet on Beaver Run where that stream crosses the Pennsylvania line. The place is also locally known as Chandler's Hollow, being situated in a deep vale, through which flows the run to mingle its waters with those of the Brandywine, a short distance below. The improvement of the mill-sites of this small but precipitous stream gave this locality much importance in former years, but the failing water-power has caused these interests to decline. Half a century ago a woolen-mill was operated above the hamlet, which was swept away by a freshet August 5, 1843, and the power has since been idle. Daniel Ferris and others improved the next lower power, which is now in use to operate the manila paper-mill of Frank Tempes. The capacity is small, but a good quality of paper is produced. A small woolen-mill was on the next power, but in the course of years Stephen Broadbent there manufactured Turkey carpets. The building was next occupied as a clover-mill, but, about thirty years ago, was used as a plow factory by William Morrison, Amor Jeffries, Horace Mousley and others. The water-power was made to operate a trip hammer and other heavy work, the plows being finished at a cooperating factory in Pennsylvania. This industry was discontinued about fifteen years ago.

The flouring mills of Joseph Brinton and Isaac Smith occupied the lower sites and were well known in the early part of the century. The mill so long owned by the Smith family is now the property of William P. Talley, and though not operated extensively, is still a public convenience. Above it, in Pennsylvania, was Twaddell's Forge, which was in operation as early as 1780. Smith's bridge, across the Brandywine at this point, was built on piers in 1816. Six years later a freshet swept it away. It was rebuilt and again swept away in 1828.

Amor Chandler had the first store at Beaver Valley. In 1835 Charles and Martin Palmer were in trade. Lewis Talley followed later and with some partners manufactured shoes in connection with the store. John Chandler was also in trade, and since 1876, A. H. Chandler has been a merchant here. These merchants have also been postmasters of the Beaver Valley office. The hamlet has about a dozen houses and shops.

Hanby's Corners, on the Naaman's Creek road, two and a half miles from Claymont, is a hamlet of six or eight buildings. Richard G. Hanby here made the first improvements of a business nature, building mechanic shops. Alfred D. Hanby engaged in merchandising, but the store was discontinued ten years ago, and there is but little to distinguish the place from a farming community.

Grubb's Corners are a mile south of the above place and not quite three miles west from Grubb's Landing, on the Delaware. In this immediate neighborhood are Grubb's mills. At the hamlet are a few houses, shops and an Odd Fellows' Hall. In the latter Thomas Phillips has merchandised since 1882 and kept Grubb's post-office since 1884. The first improvements of a business nature were the mechanic shops of Samuel Grubb and others of that family.

Gruhb's Landing, on the Delaware, was one of the first shipping points in the hundred. Here sloops touched and carried away the produce of the early settlers, bringing in the simple commodities at that time in use in a sparsely inhabited country. It was originally the property of John Grubb, who lived on the banks of the river, a short distance below, until his death in 1757. In the times of the Revolution British sloops sometimes landed here and on one occasion a cannon-ball was fired from the deck of a sloop which passed through the walls of the old "Practical Farmer" inn. For some time a wharf was maintained at the landing, but it has long since ceased to be used by the public. The property is now known as the summer residence of Colonel John H. Taggart, but the name is perpetuated in the flag station of the Philadelphia and Wilmington Railroad here located. Nearby is Holly Oak station, on the same railroad, where fishing clubs have erected a number of buildings for the accommodation and diversion of their members.

The "Practical Farmer" Inn, on the hill over-looking Grubb's Landing, was a very noted tavern one hundred years ago. It was erected before the middle of the last century. From its midway location, on this turnpike, it became one of the most popular stopping-places for stages and teams between Chester and Wilmington, and had the patronage of many noted travelers of that period. After the steam packet came in more general use, the character of the inn changed somewhat, becoming the centre of local gatherings, such as horse-races and "watermelon fairs." The latter were occasions of orgies and hilarities, which often continued several days, and were participated in by many Jerseymen and Pennsylvanians. The latter brought cattle to be sold or exhibited and loads of whiskey were on hand to be exchanged for the watermelons of the Jerseymen, who seemed to have had a peculiar fondness for the distilled grain of the Keystone farmers. The horse-races, on the course in the old Indian field, attracted thousands of people; and here some of the best horses of the country were speeded. The track was one and a quarter miles long and cedar trees grew on the outside, giving it an attractive appearance. It was obliterated nearly half a century ago.

In 1803 the inn was the property of a Mrs. Trevans, the widow of a refugee from the Island of San Domingo, who lived in a mansion on the opposite side of the road, but it soon after passed into the hands of James Grubb, Esq., who was a popular landlord. In time it became the property of his son, James, and while owned by him the old building was destroyed by fire, July 4, 1872. The present inn was then erected by him, but it possesses little of the fame of the old house. South from the "Practical Farmer" was the "Swan Inn" of Charles Truitt, by occupation a piano-maker. After his death his daughter, Ann, had charge of this place, which she made popular by the dinners she provided. Henry Williamson was a later landlord. The house has long since been used as a residence.

Glaymont is a hamlet, post-office and station on the Philadelphia and Wilmington Railroad, where the turnpike crosses Naaman's Creek. The latter name was applied to the locality until 1852, when the present title was appropriately selected. The soil here is of a clayey nature and the surrounding country is beautifully undulated, affording many fine sites for suburban homes, which have been well-improved by citizens of Philadelphia. The scenic beauty of the Delaware in the Glaymont neighborhood is net excelled by any other point in the county. Much of the land below the station was long owned by William, John and Enoch Gray, but their fine farms have been subdivided and the old landmarks can no longer be traced. Near Naaman's Creek are several old buildings, antedating the period of the Revolution, One is a part of the present Frank Ford place and was long the home of General Abraham Robinson. General George Washington was a frequent guest at this house, and, it is said, that on the occasion of one of his visits, he was so much pleased with a new seedling pear that it was named for him, and that thus originated the celebrated Washington pear. "Mad Anthony" Wayne was also a guest of the Robinson family. About 1800 this property and the brick mansion, erected in 1790, on the opposite corner, belonged to Colonel Thomas Robinson, and were soon after sold by him. The latter house has since been modernized.

The history of the old mill at this place dates from the beginning of the eighteenth century, as in the survey of the circle line in 1701. The grist-mill and house of Jasper Yeates are shown as being on Naaman's Creek at this place. A part of the present building was put up in 1749 by Samuel Hendrickson, and appears to have been originally a one-story stone. Later, and at different periods, two stories of brick were added. Before the water-power became so feeble the mill was extensively operated. Large quantities of grain were brought from long distances, and having been converted into flour, were loaded on sloops lying on tide-water at the mill and taken to the Philadelphia market; and to facilitate this work a brick warehouse was erected on the creek. From 1835 on, Robert and George W. Churchman carried on business extensively, operating also a large lumber mill. The latter has been abandoned, but the grist-mill, supplied with improved machinery, is still in operation. Among the former industries of this place were the old mill of the Robinson family, at a point higher up Naaman's Creek, where ruins of the dam may still be seen, and the quarrying and shipment of blue stone. The former has long since passed away, and work on the latter was also suspended many years ago.

George W. Churchman, for a third of a century the most prominent lumber merchant in the State of Delaware, was born at Darby, Pa., May 12, 1811, and died in Wilmington, February 24, 1871. He was of the sixth generation in direct line of descent from John Churchman, a native of Saffrin Waldren, in Sussex, England, who, in 1692, at the age of seventeen years, immigrated to America and settled in Pennsylvania under William Penn. The distinguished mathematician and philosopher, John Churchman, born 1753 and died in 1805, was a descendant of the same John Churchman. His brother, George Churchman, was a noted minister among a Society of Friends, and was the first person to make a complete map of the peninsula comprising Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

George W. Churchman, the subject of this sketch, grew to manhood at Darby, Pa. He was the second son of Caleb and Martha Churchman. Their other children were: John S., Frances, Ann, Rebecca, Henry L., Sally and Martha. Their father was a farmer and cattle dealer; he also owned a bark-mill at Darby and was a neighbor and intimate associate of Stephen Girard.

George W. Churchman early in life acquired many of the excellent business methods of that great financier. After leaving school he engaged in business at Darby with his father, until he reached the age of twenty-one years. In 1832 he purchased the historic saw and grist-mill property at Naaman's Creek, now the site of Claymont, and the same year moved to Delaware and took charge of his mills. He engaged in the manufacture of lumber, and also bought in much of the grain from the surrounding country and ground it into flour for the trade. He prospered in all his business operations, and soon enlarged and improved the entire mill property, making it the most complete industry of the kind in the State.

In 1838 he became interested in the development of the lumber interests of Central Pennsylvania. He purchased large tracts of timber-land in Cameron and Clearfield Counties, in that State, and at once began operations. He spent much time in the lumber region, superintending the work of felling the trees, hewing the logs into square timber and forming the rails which were conveyed down the Susquehanna. He was very successful in this business and soon made a fortune, all of which was lost by a freshet on the Susquehanna, the entire production of one year having floated down the river. Much of his valuable timber lands were yet uncleared and his credit was good. He went diligently to work, and within a very few years recovered from his disaster. He continued with great success in the business and, at the time of his death, owned pine and hemlock timber lands in Central Pennsylvania to the value of two hundred thousand dollars.

The preparation of this timber for the market was an exceedingly interesting and profitable business, and in the early years of George W. Churchman's career was one of the chief industries of the great State of Pennsylvania. The timber came out of the mountain districts down the small streams in rafts to Lock Haven, then the greatest lumber market in the United States. From this point they were floated in charge of pilots, with the current down the Susquehanna to Marietta, where new pilots took charge and safely steered them through the dangerous rapids of the river to Peach Bottom. From thence other men piloted them to Port Deposit, the place of delivery, and the head of tide-water on the Susquehanna. From this point the rafts were towed down the Chesapeake Bay, up Elk River into Back Creek, where they were made into "dockings'' of sufficient size and length to readily pass through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal and its locks, to Delaware City and thence up the river. Nearly all rafts were sold by their owners at Lock Haven or Marietta, both of which were lively business towns, during the rafting season of the early spring months of each year. George W. Churchman prepared thousands of rafts on his lands in Pennsylvania, and sold them to the trade in New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington and elsewhere. The rafts sold in New York were towed up the Delaware to Bordentown, and from thence taken through the Delaware and Raritan Canal to their place of destination. A large amount of his own timber he conveyed in rafts to his saw-mill on Naaman's Creek, and there manufactured them into lumber on orders from nearly all of the leading ship-builders and manufacturing establishments in Wilmington and the surrounding country. He also sold square timber and lumber to the Philadelphia and Chester market.

His extensive business operations brought him into close relation and intimacy with a great many prominent business men of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, in all of which States he was known as an upright man of the highest honor and most sterling integrity. His indomitable energy, rare tact and comprehensive knowledge of the lumber trade made him one of the most prominent business men of his day in Delaware. In 1867 he moved to Wilmington, though he continued his interest in his timber trade until his death.

He was one of the organizers and became a director of the Mechanics' Bank of Wilmington, and was one of the promoters in the establishment of the First National Bank of Wilmington, which institution he lent his best influence, to further its growth and development.

In politics George W. Churchman was originally a stanch Whig, and later was the founder of the Know-Nothing party in Brandywine Hundred. When the Republican Party was organized, he became an earnest advocate of its policy and principles, and continued a member of that party through the remainder of his life.

The lottery business, which bad long been conducted in Delaware, contained many obnoxious features to the citizens of the State. Mr. Churchman was one of the foremost in advocating the passage of the law to abolish it In November, 1858, with that object in view, he became a candidate for the Legislature to represent Brandywine Hundred, with the avowed purpose of attempting to secure the passage of the required legislation. A bill was introduced and during the same session was passed, accomplishing the object desired. The efforts of Mr. Churchman in this work were appreciated by the people, and in 1860 he was re-elected to the same office and served as a member of the Legislature of Delaware during the first two years of the Civil War.

He was a member of the Society of Friends, and inherited the strong traits and marked characteristics of that religious people. With all his neighbors and associates, of all political parties or religious sects, he was universally popular and very highly esteemed. Especially was this the case in Brandywine Hundred, where he spent most of his useful life. He was instrumental in securing the establishment of a post-office and railway station at Naaman's Creek (now Claymont) and erected nearly all of the first houses in the village.

George W. Churchman was married January 31, 1838, to Ann Eliza Shull, of Delaware County, Pa. Their children were; Caleb, Frederick A., William H., George, Maria S. and Charles (deceased).

Amos H. Slaymaker and Benjamin Hartley merchandised many years ago at this place. Joseph McNamee was long successfully in trade, and was succeeded by George W. Lodge and others. This old and well-known stand is now occupied by Robert Casey, Jr. Claymont post-office is kept at the station by E. N. Baldwin, holding his appointment since 1885. The railroad through Claymont was completed in 1838, but a regular station was not established until many years later.

Since 1845 Dr. J. T. M. Cardeza has been a practicing physician in the hundred, and has been located at Claymont the past forty years. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1842, as also did his son. Dr. J. D. M. Cardeza, in 1877, and has been associated in practice with his father since that time. Since 1850 the elder Dr. Cardeza has been engaged in the collection of geological and numismatic specimens, having, in 1887, one of the finest collections in the State. He has separate buildings containing scores of casts and thousands of specimens, whose value has been placed at twelve thousand dollars.

At Claymont were fought several duels of historic note, and which created unusual interest at the time of their occurrence. The most important was fought Sunday morning, March 21, 1830, by William Miller, an attorney from Philadelphia, and Midshipman Charles G. Hunter, of the United States navy. The place was on the present Ford farm, near the State line. Miller fell mortally wounded, and his death was greatly deplored, since he had been drawn into the contest by his friendship for one of the principals of the quarrel. Hunter was dismissed from the navy by order of President Jackson, but was subsequently restored to his former rank, and distinguished himself by his service in the Mexican War. Nevertheless, his life seemed blasted, and he died a dis-appointed man. He also acted in the duel out of friendship's sake, and the fact that he had no enmity against poor Miller caused many of the leading men of the country to condone his offense and to unite in a petition for his restoration. Miller was at that time one of the most promising young lawyers of the city of Philadelphia, and very respectably connected.

The next duel was fought near where the turnpike crosses the State road, on the 4th of June, 1843, by General James Watson Webb, of New York City, and the Hon. Thomas F. Marshall, of Kentucky. This was brought about by a political quarrel in Congress, and had been anticipated some time before it occurred. Both parties cherished bitter and hostile feelings, and met with a purpose to do deadly work. Webb was wounded in such a way that the fight could not be prolonged beyond the first fire, much to the disgust of Marshall, who insisted upon having another shot. Through the intervention of friends the principals retired with their sense of honor partially satisfied, and, in time, the breach was still farther healed.

Another duel was fought on the State line, near the large beech tree, on June 9, 1845, by Washington Keith and Morris Meredith, both of Philadelphia. At the first fire each was wounded, though not fatally, when a settlement was effected, and they retired nominally friends.

The Edgemoor Buoy Depot, of the Fourth District, is on the Delaware, below du Font's wharf. The improvements were begun in 1880, and completed two years later, some of them being transferred to this point from the Christiana lighthouse. They consist of a wharf four hundred feet long, on which is a fog-bell and light-house of the fifth order; a depot building fifty by one hundred and forty feet; and a keeper's residence, on three acres of land. This is occupied by W. W. Simmons. The buoy depot was opened in 1881, and placed in charge of Capt. N. L. Henderson, who is still in control of the interests connected with it. This yard is the general depot of the district, which has forty-two lights within its bounds, placed from Barnegat, N. J., to the Virginia coast. About three hundred buoys are kept in stock at the depot of Edgemoor, some of them being sixty feet in length. The general supplies of oil and wood are also here kept, making it one of the most important stations of the kind on the coast.

Du Font's wharf, next above the Buoy Depot, was established in the early part of the present century. But it has been important for a less period of time on account of the immense quantities of powder shipped from the du Pont works, about five miles distant. After 1825 several brick magazines were erected, from which the vessels transporting the powder were laden.

These are still in use, but on account of better shipping facilities near the works, most of the transportation has been diverted to those points.

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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