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Gumborough Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware

Early Settlements Churches Schools
Industries . Gumborough Village

This is the smallest hundred in the State, and was the first erected. It is watered by the Pocomoke River, which, having its source in Broad Creek, flows nearly centrally through it. The numerous tributaries of that river furnish a convenient outlet for the surplus waters of that section. The inhabitants of the southern section of Broad Creek and Dagsborough Hundreds petitioned the Legislature to erect a new hundred, to be called Gumborough, out of the southern portions thereof, and the petition being presented to the Legislature in 1872-73, an act was passed April 4, 1873, erecting Gumborough Hundred and defining its boundaries as follows:

"That All those parts of Brood Creek and Dagsborough Hundred in Sussex County included within the following limit be and are hereby erected into and established into a new Hundred, to be called Gumborough, to wit: Beginning at a stone on the Delaware and Maryland State line, near the line M. E. Church; thence along the middle of the public road passing by Parsons' store, Whitesville, Tuckerhill school house, to the line dividing Broad Creek and Little Creek Hundreds; thence along the said line to a public road near Bethesda M. K Church; thence along the middle of said road across Terrapin Mill-dam, taking the middle of the right hand public road at that point; thence along the middle of the said road by Elijah Hudson's, the Widow West's to the Bacon or English steam saw-mill; thence leaving said saw-mill to and with the line dividing school districts number 43 and 152 until it intersect with the line dividing Broad Creek and Dagsborough Hundreds; thence with the said line to the public road leading from Lowe's Crossroads to the high house on the land of Tilghman S. Johnson; thence with a straight line to "The Turn" on the long bridge in the cedar swamp; thence with the high bridge till it intersects the Delaware and Maryland line, and thence along the said line to the place of beginning."

The history of Gumborough in general is contained in that of Dagsborough and Broad Creek 'Hundreds, and what follows here relates particularly to its present territorial limits. The land constituting the hundred was originally part of "Dagworthy's Conquest" which, containing in the whole twenty thousand three hundred and ninety-three acres, was re-surveyed for General John Dagworthy in 1776.1

A list of the residents of Dagsborough and Broad Creek Hundreds in 1785, embracing the territory of the present hundred, will be found in the history of those hundreds.

Early Settlements

A large part of this hundred was embraced in the tract of land that in 1776 was resurveyed to John Dagworthy as "Dagworthy's Conquest," and which in smaller lots was granted to him on Maryland patents in 1758. A part of the tract had been taken up earlier, and came to his possession at that time. On the border of Maryland, and also partly in that State, in a neck of land called "Wimbosoccum," Thomas Paramore took up a tract of land called "Friendship," seventy-nine acres of which, on the 18th of December, 1792, he sold to Jona-than Betts, adjoining land of Peter Dolbee's. Another tract called "Mount Pleasant" was warranted on Maryland patent in 1748 to George Parker, who soon after made an assignment to Robert Ginkins Henry. This tract passed to Planner Shores, who, September 25, 1795, sold one hundred acres to Jonathan Betts, who, by purchase before this time and after, acquired considerable land in the vicinity. Planner Shores owned a large tract of land, and sold to trustees of Line Church the land on which the church stands.

Several hundred acres of the Dagsborough land lying in this hundred came to George Frame, ex-sheriff, about 1815, but he never settled upon it. Samuel Short, prior to 1812, settled upon a tract called "Oldfield," lying in the territory formerly be-longing to Broad Creek. In his diary of 1815 he mentions a peach orchard, and that corn was quoted at $167 per bushel. Isaac Short was a resident at the same time.

Joshua Jones took up several hundred acres of land embracing the land on which the old Bevans Mill stood. It passed to Hezekiah W. Philips and John Morris and in 1821 it became the property of George Hearn and was inherited by Lowther Hearn, who also purchased of his father. May 17, 1836, three hundred acres in the vicinity. The property is now owned by his widow and their sons, one of whom, Joseph, was a member of the House of Representatives.

About 1833 Joseph Barnard began the purchase of land in what is now Gumborough and Dagsborough, and in a few years was in possession of several thousand acres of forest land. He made an extensive clearing, which was called "Newfoundland." After his death the land passed to Isaac Short and Ebenezer Gray, both of whom were old residents. The land of Isaac Short is now owned by his sons, Shadrach and Isaac. Gray's tract is owned by his widow.


Old Line Methodist Episcopal Church

On January 31, 1785, Planner Shores granted to Solomon Vinsen, Benjamin Vinson, Thomas Wells, Jacob Jones, John Farlow, William Farlow, Hezekiah Maddox, Jacob Evans and Thomas McClish, trustees, one acre of a tract, "Pleasant Grove," lying partly in Maryland and partly in Delaware. It was conveyed to them for religious uses and soon afterwards a one-story frame, building, eighteen by twenty-four feet, was erected. Divine services were conducted in this edifice until about 1838, when it was replaced by a larger frame structure, about twenty-four by thirty-six feet. Both of these churches stood on the line separating Maryland and Delaware and from this fact arose the name "Line Church."

In 1874 it was found necessary to erect a more commodious building, and the present frame structure, thirty-four by forty-six feet, with recess pulpit, was built at a cost of sixteen hundred dollars. One hundred and twenty-five communicants comprise the present membership. The financial interests of the church are managed by a board of trustees composed of J. G. White, I. N. Hearn, I. T. Hearn, John W. Smith, James P. McFadden, Wm. S. White and Geo. W. White.

In connection with the church is a Sunday-school of one hundred and fifty members, under the superintendence of Eli N. White.

The church was connected with the same circuits and served by the same pastors as the Laurel Church until 1860, when it was annexed to Berlin Circuit. It thus remained until 1866, when it was assigned to Gumboro' Circuit Since 1860 the following pastors have officiated:

Rev. T. W. Hammersley 1860-62
Rev. _____ Quinn 1862-64
Rev. T. S. Williams 1864-66
Rev. Jos. Lewis (local preacher) 1866-67
Rev. Geo. D. Conoway 1867-68
Rev. Joe. Arters 1868-71
Rev. Adam Stengle 1871-72
Rev. B. C. Jones 1872-73
Rev. Geo. D. Conoway 1873-75
Rev. Wm. J. O'Neil 1876-76
Rev. Wm. McFarlan 1876-77
Rev. B, H. Hinson 1877-80
Rev. T. H. Harding 1880-83
Rev. Wm. F. Corckran 1883-86
Rev. D. F. Waddell 1886

St. John's Episcopal Church at Little Hill or Greenville is an off shoot from Christ Church in Broad Creek Hundred, and was founded by the Be v. Hamilton Bell, then rector of Stepney Parish, Md., which embraced Christ Church in its bounds. The Rev. Mr. Bell died in 1811, and in the course of time the frame building became much decayed, and in 1841 the parish was abandoned; but upon a visit to the place by Bishop Lee in 1842, an interest was manifested by the congregation to revive the church and the old building was repaired and remodeled. It was consecrated November 5, 1843, and continued until about 1876, when services were discontinued.

Gumborough Chapel (Methodist Episcopal) was built in 1865, on land donated by Ebenezer Gray. The trustees were Ebenezer Gray, Joshua Hudson, Jacob Gumby and John M. Dale. It originally belonged to the Methodist Protestants, who, having held services there for ten years, sold it to the Methodist Episcopal congregation. The latter moved it to Gumborough, where it now stands. There are now forty-five members enrolled.


Probably one of the oldest school-houses in the hundred is the one known as Battle Hill, about one mile and a half from Gum Hill, which was built before 1813, as in that year it was mentioned as an old house. In that year Thomas Neal Martin was a teacher in the house, and was followed by David Peterkin and other teachers who are mentioned in Dagsborough and Baltimore Hundreds. Thomas Neal Martin taught school in 1816 in St. John's Church. In 1829, when Sussex County was divided into school districts, the territory now Gum-borough was made into Districts 36, 37 and part of 43. Since that time the districts have been divided, and it now has eight other districts and parts of districts, and which contain accommodation for four hundred and fifty pupils, who are reported as in attendance in 1886.


The people of the hundred are mostly devoted to agricultural pursuits, and but little other improvements have been made. On the 22d of March, 1867, the Pocomoke River Improve-ment Company was incorporated, and was composed of William P. Jones, Elisha W. Cannon and Joseph Ellis. The marshy lands along the river were drained by many miles of ditches, which were dug for the purpose, making the land available for agriculture, and which is now largely used for the cultivation of corn. A blacksmith-shop was kept by Ebenezer Hearn from 1814 to 1839. A brandy distillery was operated by Samuel Short in 1816, and the next year a steam saw-mill was built on the land of George Hearn by a Mr. Young, of Philadelphia. It was in operation until 1867, when an explosion occurred at the place, and it was abandoned. Four persons were killed. The mill was afterwards moved to the present site.

Gumborough post-office was established in 1849. Previous to that year there was no mail within fourteen miles. The postmasters were E. H. Hearn, W. H. Betts, Samuel J. Gray, John T. Waples, Jacob E, Wootten and Ebenezer Wootten, the present incumbent. An office was established at Lowe's Cross-Roads in 1867, with Joseph B. Cannon as postmaster. Lorenzo Cannon is the present official.

Gumborough Village

In 1840 this place was described as being a dense pine thicket. William and Joseph Riley late in that year, erected a saw-mill and a dwelling-house for the workmen. The mill was operated seventeen years after which it was run by Nehemiah Short for several years, and then abandoned. Lowther M. Hearn opened the first store, and was followed by W. H. Betts. The place of the former is yet in existence. Ebenezer Gray kept store in 1841. The village now contains a church, school-house, four stores, twenty dwellings and a population of one hundred and forty-six.

1. See Dagsborough.

Sussex County

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

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