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Bridgeville, Northwest Fork Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware

Bridgeville is the oldest town in Western Sussex, it being the first town in what was formerly known as "New Sussex." On October 22, 1747, James Haile obtained a warrant for ninety-three acres of land, called "Haile's Chance." West of this tract and adjacent, was one granted to Charles Nutter, November 3, 1729.

The present town is located upon these two tracts. The history of the town dates back to the erection of the bridge over the branch, in 1730. The name of Bridgebranch was given to a few hamlets scattered along the State-road, on what is now Main Street. This name was retained until January 30, 1810, when the General Assembly passed an act to establish the name of a village in Northwestfork Hundred, hereto-fore called Bridgebranch, as Bridgeville." In 1812 the tavern of John Wilson, now the Parvis House, was selected as a voting place for the citizens of the hundred. The old tavern was built by Thomas Wilson, the father of John Wilson, mentioned above, and has been owned by John Wilson, Jr., William Morris, John Cannon, Daniel Wilson, Man love Adams, Thomas White, George Willin, Purnel Short, James Pretty man, Samuel Laws, William Cannon and James Parvis.

Across the bridge, Charles Polk, in 1812, kept the "Knife and Fork" tavern for several years. The building was located at the intersection of the road to St. Johnstown and the first as the bridge is crossed.

From 1812 to 1816 the growth of the town was rapid, being far in advance of either Seaford or Laurel, and was the business place for all of western Sussex. Three stores were in operation, the principal being kept by Josiah Cannon. This was probably the first store opened in the village, and is still standing opposite the store now occupied by Mitchell Layton. Josiah Cannon kept this store until 1830, when he was succeeded by Henry and William Cannon (afterwards Governor). In 1857 a new store was built opposite, which, after Governor Cannon's death, was conducted by his sons, H. P. & P. L. Cannon. The old building is still used as a warehouse.

Huett Ross had a store where Governor Cannon's flower-garden is now situated, and Ross & Smith conducted business on Market Street, opposite R. W. Cannon's present store.

Adjoining the bridge, William Hudson had an extensive tan yard, formerly owned by Daniel Laws. It was afterwards run by George Grier, Isaac Lockwood and Robert A. Houston, who closed it in 1840.

In addition to the stores and tan-yard in the town in 1816, Robert Ross lived on the property now owned by E. M. Layton. Rev. Jeremiah Jefferis resided where Mrs. Elizabeth A. Cahall now owns, which is said to be the oldest house in town. Joshua Bradley, who married Dr. John Carey's widow, lived where Robert Hughes owned; and Dr. John Carey where William Layton owns. John H. Van Berg owns the house where Zacariah Hatfield lived. John Jorden's heirs owned a house and lot. Stephen Redden was a tailor and owned a house and lot. John Wilson was the early town carpenter; William Smith, Elijah Victor and John Wilson were also residents.

The town during the period from 1816 until about 1865 remained in a comatose condition. The railroad which was constructed through the town in 1858 gave the place a little boom, which has continued to the present time. On March 29, 1871, the town was incorporated. Its limits were defined and a large number of houses were built in the next few years. At present there are six general stores, one hardware store, two drug stores and two confectionery stores, and about six hundred inhabitants.

The town records are incomplete or lost. The following persons have filled the offices named since the incorporation:

George M. Davis.
William Swain.
Peter Carn
John Jacobs.
E. L. Wilson.
C. R. Stuart.
S. P. Short.

Town Treasurer
James W. Ward.
H. P. Cannon.
O. M. Davis.
Richard W. Cannon.

R. W. Gannon.
C. A. Rawlins.
H. P. Cannon.
S. P. Willey.
B. P. Moore.

Thomas W. Willen.
John W. Rettew.
L. W. White.
Levi Lanshe.
George M. Davis.
John B. Walker.
John Dale.
Caleb R. Stuart.
Joseph P. Stuart.
Peter Gray.
John Keller.
Isaac Watson.
P. L. Gannon.
John W. Killen.
G. W. Stradley.
Peter Carn
R. W. Gannon.
Garrett S. Layton.
Samuel P. Short
Loxley Willey.
James A. Honsel.
Horace Sudler.
A. Ball.
William Hollowell
H. W. Viven.
E. J. Rawlins.
S. B. Hazzard.
G, W. Willey.
H. P. Cannon.

Bridgeville Methodist Episcopal Church, This church is the third in age in Sussex County, and was built in 1805. March 11th of that year Thomas Borden sold three-quarters of an acre of land for ten dollars to Thomas Laws, William Mason, John Carey, Charles Brown, Elijah Adams, Stephen Reddin and William Allen, the first trustees. The old building was of frame twenty by thirty-one feet, and the church membership was twenty-two.

This building remained until December 10, 1871, when the present fine structure was dedicated by Rev. Enoch Stubbs. It is thirty by fifty feet, and is surmounted by a cupola. The membership is rapidly increasing, and at present amounts to over one hundred.

In 1846 the Bridgeville Circuit was formed, and included Zion, Seaford, Wheateleys, Cokesberry and Bethel churches. The first minister of this circuit was Rev. William Spry, who was succeeded by James McCarter, Robert E. Kent and Robert H. Pattison, father of Governor Pattison, of Pennsylvania. In 1847, Bethel, Trinity, Cannon's Ferry, Middleford, Seaford and Onion comprised the circuit. Henry F. Hearn, Isaac R. Merritt, Jeremiah Pastorfield, Thomas B. Miller, Samuel Pancoast, S. C. Palmetry, _____ Dobson, _____ Short and J. H. Prettyman supplied these churches. In 1854 Seaford, Concord, Trinity, Onion, Bethel, Cannon's Ferry, Johnstown and Middleford were in the circuit. The ministers after this were S. Powers, J. F. Chaplain, W. H. Formosa, I. H. McLaughlin, William Tuckett, J. A. Massey, T. F. Plummer, A. Fried, S. J. Conner, J. T. Van Burkalow, James Carroll, R. C. Jones, L. M. Lindale, A. P. Prettyman, W. S. Robinson and Edward Davis.

In 1883 Bridgeville was made a station, and the church has been supplied by L. J. Mutchmore, I. D. Johnson and J. H. Howard. The present trustees are P. W. Short, Mitchell Layton, Thomas Layton, Gilly Moore, H. P. Cannon and Thomas Willey.

First Presbyterian Church of Bridgeville This church is prettily located on Market Street in a grove of trees, and is forty by sixty feet. It was organized December 20, 1866, and dedicated March, 1866, by Rev. Alexander Gulic, of Ohio. The building cost one thousand dollars. The ground embraces a half acre, and was donated by A. G. R. Haile, one of the descendants of the original patentees.

Previous to the erection of the church, services were held in the store-house near the bridge. The trustees are Simeon Pennewill, John Dale, James Hessey and D. S. Meyer. Among those who have ministers are Alexander Gulic, Messrs. White, Todd, E. P. Elcock, Schoefield, Edwards, William Barnes, J. H. Rizor, B. D. Sinclair and Charles Bailey. There is no minister at present.

The African U. M. P. Church was erected in 1877, and is located north of the Branch. It is a neat, substantial structure, costing $800. Rev. George Townsend and Elijah Green have been among the ministers that have supplied the church.

The school north of the town, in District 72, furnished primary education for the children of the vicinity up to 1861, when District No. 90 was erected by the Legislature out of Districts 143 and 72. Aprils, 1883, the Legislature parsed an act incorporating the public schools of Bridgeville, and naming R. W. Cannon, W. C. Rust, P. L. Cannon, S. B. Hazzard and Dr. D. D. Palmer, as a board of education to serve until April, 1884. Alexander Ball became subsequently a member in place of Dr. Palmer. The board was authorized to borrow $2000 to erect a school-house. R. W. Cannon, A. Ball and Mitchell Layton were selected as a building committee. The edifice was completed and opened in December, 1883. It is two stories high, and cost $2500. April, 1884, R. W. Cannon and P. L. Cannon were elected to serve one year as members of the board; M. Layton and S. B. Hazzard, two years; and W. C. Rust and William Gray, three years. The following members have been elected since that time: 1885 T. W. Willin and H. P. Cannon; 1886 John T. Jacobs and Mitchell Layton; 1887 R. W. Cannon and B. G. Moore.

Wellington Pattin, merchant and manufacturer of Bridgeville, is of that class of men who came from the North to Delaware after the war, and by their enterprise and thrift have done so much to develop the country. He is also of that type of men which our free institutions make possible, an essentially self-made man. Born near Fort Plain, Montgomery County, New York, April 14, 1843, he was the youngest child of Erastus and Nancy (Philips) Pattin. At the early age of ten he started out upon the sea of life to earn his own living, working upon a farm until his nineteenth year, during which time he had not been able to secure over three months' schooling. The first two years he worked for no pay whatever; but after that time by industry and thrift he managed to accumulate over three hundred dollars, and with this he decided to secure an education. He entered school; but after nine months, the Civil War having opened, his patriotic impulses would not allow him to remain, and he enlisted in the service of his country in Company F, Second New York Heavy Artillery, being at the time of his enlistment but twenty years of age. He served until after the end of the war, returning in October, 1865, after participating in fifteen engagements. The company went out with one hundred and fifty men on the 15th of May, and after the battle of Ream's Station, Virginia, August 25th, all the company could stack was fifteen arms. Mr. Pattin was wounded at Tolopotomy Creek May 31, 1864. The war being over, Mr. Pattin returned home October, 1865, and having by strict economy succeeded in accumulating one thousand dollars, he decided to engage in business for himself. He came to Delaware at the age of twenty-three, and purchased a farm five miles from Bridgeville, which he still owns. Having a natural taste for a business life, shortly after 1868 he engaged in the manufacture of square berry baskets, being the first to take up that industry upon the peninsula. This business he conducted for two years. In 1873 he purchased a portable saw-mill, and established it upon his farm, and still operates it. This mill has been conducted with profit to Mr. Pattin, notwithstanding the fact that it was blown up in 1879 and destroyed by fire in 1878 and 1880. It has a capacity of sawing five thousand feet of oak timber per day, and gives employment to fifteen hands. In 1881 Mr. Pattin opened his present large general merchandizing warehouse in Bridgeville, associating with him in 1886 Burton G. Moore. Determining to enlarge his business, he in 1884 purchased the grist and saw-mills of Alexander Ball, and removed to his present beautiful mansion, located to the east of the railroad, the grounds embracing seventeen acres tastefully laid out.

Mr. Pattin immediately took an interest in the improvement of the town, and his removal there was the commencement of an era of prosperity. His enterprise and energy made itself felt, and being at the head of the progressive element, he was elected president of the Board of Town Commissioners in 1885, serving two years. During his term of office the town underwent a great many improvements, and to his efforts in the main are these due. His business he continued to extend, and in 1885 he started a basket factory, which gives employment during the season to fifty hands, and has a capacity of four thousand baskets. The grist-mill has a capacity of grinding fifty bushels of wheat and fifty of corn per day. In addition, he is in the charcoal business, and has a large coal-yard.

In all Mr. Pattin's branches of industry he employs in busy season about ninety men, and has a capital stock invested of forty thousand dollars. In accumulating this he has been beset by what would have seemed to most men insurmountable difficulties. Coming to a strange country at the end of the war, he was met on all sides by difficulties and prejudices, and these he has succeeded in surmounting until he has now the largest business in his section of the country, and which is secured upon a firm foundation.

February 7, 1867, he was married to Ellen Frances Hancock, the daughter of Timothy Edwin Hancock and Harriet P. (Gilmore) Hancock of North Attleborough, Massachusetts. The Hancock family descended from one Anthony Hancock, one of the founders of the town of Wrentham, Mass., the adjoining town to North Attleborough. Mrs. Pattin was one of those pathetic and noble women, who went South at the conclusion of the war, to educate the freedmen, remaining but a short time. On her way home, stopping near Bridgeville, she was married to Mr. Pattin. As a result of this union there have been eight children: Edwin Erastus, Henry M., Horace Greeley, Wellington F., Florence E., Charles Hancock, Walter and Nancy.

D. S. Myer and Son have a large nursery on the North of the Branch. The firm give employment to ten hands and ship as high as one hundred thousand trees, principally peach and apple, a year to all parts of the United States. The business was first started twenty-three years ago by D. S. Myer and Lukens Pierce. Mr. Pierce retired in 1867, and Mr. Myer continued the business until 1887, when his son was admitted, and the present firm formed.

H. P. and P. L. Cannon conduct a canning factory employing fifty hands in the busy season and putting up six thousand cans of tomatoes a day.

John W. Keller's evaporator was built in 1882. During the season employment is given to sixty hands a day.

Beidgeville Cemetery. This embraces a neatly laid out plot of five acres on the north of the town. The Company was incorporated February 16, 1875.

The corporators were Daniel F. Ball, David S. Myer, Simeon Pennewill, John Ray, Isaac B. Cotterell, Mark A. G. Coates, Dr. William T. Sudler, R. W. Cannon and H. P. Cannon. A board of managers and officers were elected with President, Daniel F. Ball ; Secretary, H. P. Cannon ; Treasurer, R. W. Cannon ; Managers, J. B. Cotterell, P. L. Cannon, R. W. Cannon, I. K. Wright, J. Ray, D. S. Myer and Jacob Kinder. Mr. Ball has been succeeded by Isaac B. Cotterell as president.

Bridgeville Agricultural and Mechanical Society. This organization is a thing of the past. It was incorporated March 9, 1875, with John L. Richards, M. L. Blanchard, Henry Q. Nicholson, Henry P. Cannon, W. J. Coates, S. P. Raughley, David Lord, H. Clarkson and Dr. William T. Sudler as corporators. Albert Curry was elected president; H. Q. Nicholson, secretary; and W. J. Coates, treasurer. Three fairs were held on grounds north of the branch in the town. The venture proved unprofitable and was abandoned in 1877.

The Bridgeville Conclave, I. O. H., was incorporated April 1, 1885. The first officers were P. A., W. C. Rust; Archon, R. C. Jones; Provost, W. B. Hallowell; Secretary, S. P. Short; Financier, C. H. Rawlins; Treasurer, Dr. D. D. Palmer; Prelate, A. P. Prettyman; Inspector, J. W. Hessey. The present officers are: P. A., J. A. Cam; Archon, J. A. Housel; Provost, G. B. Graef; Prelate, Rev. J. H. Howard; Secretary, Wilbert Layton; Financier, J. B. Carn; Treasurer, R. W. Cannon; Inspector, J. E. Harris; Warden, Jacob Pattin; Sentinel, R. P. Swain. There is a membership of fifty-four.

A branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was organized December 4, 1884. The officers are; President, Mrs. W. T. Sudler; Treasurer, Mrs. R. W. Cannon; Recording Secretary, Mrs. James Raughley; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Welling-ton Pattin. There is a membership of eighteen.

The Grange, at Bridgeville, Was organized April 1874.

Greenwood. The town of Greenwood is an out-growth of St. Johnstown, as the Delaware Railroad Company named the station which it established at this point in 1858. Simeon Pennewill, who owned all the land upon which Greenwood is situated, engaged William Atkinson to lay out a town plot The main street, running east and west, was called Market Street; the one north of it. Minor Street, and three cross streets, Beaver, Church and Maple. Mr. Pennewill named the new town Greenwood, because of the great number of holly trees and other evergreens in the neighborhood. He also built the first store, in 1859, on the corner, where J. R. Ricards & Sons now are and it was opened by Thomas Coates. C. W. Jones opened another store the same year, on the west side of the street, opposite Mr. Pennewill, building on the same ground where Owens & Radcliff now are. The hotel building was erected in 1865 by Ezekiel Jones, and is now kept by J. H. Gorby. Within the past few years the town has grown very rapidly and has become one of the leading business places in upper Sussex. At present there are four general stores, a drug store, confectionery store, harness shop, two millinery stores and two blacksmith and wheelwright shops. The population, according to a census taken in 1887, was two hundred and fifty persons.

Greenwood M. P. Church was erected in 1880, upon ground donated by Simeon Pennewill. The dedication took place August 8th of that year, and Revs. J. M. McFadden, J. E. Nicholson and Thomas Moore participated in the exercises. The society was organized in 1878 and held meetings until the erection of the church building in the old school-house. The building is thirty by forty feet, and was erected at a cost of twelve hundred dollars. At present there is a membership of thirty-five, and a Sunday-school attached, with W. J. Andrew superintendent. The first trustees were N. J. Barwick, Robert H. Willey and W. J. Andrew. The present trustees are N. J. Barwick, W. J. Andrew, J. C. Barwick, E. P. Willey. John W. Morris, Joel Larmor and William H. Richardson. Rev. J. E. Nicholson was the first minister, serving until 1882. Rev. C. S. Arnett followed until 1884; Rev. G. L. Backus until 1886, and then the present pastor. Rev. G. M. Thomson.

Greenwood M. E. Church is an off shoot of the St. Johnstown Church, and was dedicated June 28, 1880, when the sermon was preached by Rev. R. W. Todd, presiding elder of the district. The building is thirty-six by twenty-four feet, and was erected at a cost of one thousand dollars. The trustees at that time were James H. Willey, S. P. Raughley, Abel Spence, N. M. Stayton and J. M. Hollis. The membership at present has reached forty-five, with a Sunday-school of thirty scholars, with J. M. Hollis as superintendent. The trustees are N. M. Stayton, Abel Spence, S. P. Raughley, J. M. Hollis, Samuel Kinnamon, Charles W. Ammerman and Charles C. Ricards. Up to the year 1886 the Bridgeville Circuit supplied the church with ministers, but in that year Greenwood Circuit was formed, with Rev. J. E. Carroll as pastor, and Chaplain's, Trinity, St. Johnstown and Greenwood as the charges.

Two large tracts of land were surveyed for Joseph Shankland, Sept. 17, 1764, upon which he soon after erected a forge. On May 7, 1771, he sold the property to Joseph Earle, attorney of Kent County, Maryland, and Dr. John Boyd and William Buchanan, merchants, both of Baltimore. In the warrants for this property, it is described as being in the forests of Cedar Creek Hundred, in the great neck twenty miles distant from Lewistown, and on waters that flow into the Nanticoke. The deed alludes to one tract of eight hundred and eleven acres called "Shankland's Discovery," on which "is lately erected a double forge and other improvements." The other tract was called "Iron Valley" of two hundred acres, it "being that part of whole survey which is intended to be kept for ye use of the forge aforesaid to supply ye same with iron oar." The property evidently did not remain in possession of this firm long, as in November 1774 suit was brought against Samuel Shankland, as owner of five-sixths of the Unity Forge lands by Daniel Kelley, who owned the lands adjoining. The property remained idle for several years, and for some reason a part at least reverted to the Penns, and after an intermediate tenancy escheated to the State. On October 25, 1793, a part of it, twenty-six acres called "Company's Privilege" was warranted to Charles Polk and Rhodes Shankland, the warrant recited "whereon is erected a forge called Unity Forge." On April 1, 1794, Rhodes Shankland assigned his right to William Shankland, who was operating the forge in 1796, and soon after assigned to John Elliott. Polk and Elliott on the 16th of July, 1811, assigned the forge and property to John Bradley, who ran it for several years. It does not appear on the assessment rolls after 1816.

The tract "Shankland's Discovery" lay on the west side of the branch, and passed with other lands to John Elliott, who died in 1807, and left this property to his four sons, Shadrack, Meshack, Abednego and John. Shadrack, March 19, 1814, sold a part of the tract below Bradley's Forge to Jonas Walker, who January 2, 1815, bought of William Maloney, other lands adjoining his own, formerly owned by Walter Douglas, and which were once the property of the Deep Creek Furnace Company.

Iron Valley, the other tract of the Unity Forge lands, and from which most of the ore was obtained, laid along Gum Branch in Nanticoke Hundred. A portion, amounting to three hundred and fifty-six acres, passed November 18, 1823, to Samuel Richards and Edward Smith. Large quantities of ore were taken from these lands in later years and shipped to New Jersey. Thomas S. Judge also became a purchaser of ore lands in the vicinity, and shipped direct from here. There is no sign of the old forge property now.

Priscilla Ange, November 4, 1761, bought a tract of land on the south side of what was known as Sow Bridge Branch, being a part of a larger tract granted to Jacob Stafford adjoining Griffith Jones. John Ange lived near there and had a mill. October 6, 1775, Richard Tull, John Ange, Jr., and Thomas Ange entered into partnership to build a saw, grist mill and dam where John Ange, Sr., lived. Tull was to build the mills and Ange the dam, which was to have a cart-way on top of it. Thomas sold his share to John March 11, 1780. John sold his interest to John Lasley, March 18, 1794, and on July 20, 1821, the land was sold by Elizabeth Insley, executrix of John Insley, to James L. Wallace. The deed recited that it was of the tract "Courtesy" the site of the old mill which went down while owned by John Insley, Sr.

Elliott's mill is situated one mile from Bridgeville, and was built by Abednego Elliott. The grist mill was built in 1800 and the saw mill in 1818. The latter was rebuilt in 1839, when it came into the possession of John Hendrick, by whose heirs it was sold to E. H. Orton. The mill was afterwards in the possession of Governor William Cannon. The saw mill was abandoned twelve years ago. The grist mill is still running with a capacity of sixty bushels a day.

J. E. Short & Co., (G. Short), conduct a canning factory with a capacity of three hundred thousand cans a year, giving employment to fifty hands. J. C. Barwick and Frank Cole conduct a saw mill which cuts five thousand feet of lumber a day.

Northwest Fork Hundred | Bridgeville | Sussex County

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

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