Part of the American History and Genealogy Project




Nanticoke Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware

Early Settlements Land Owners Assessment Rolls
Churches Schools Villages
Industries Mills

The Hundred of Nanticoke is situated in the northwestern part of Sussex County, and is bounded on the north by Kent County, Cedar Creek and Georgetown Hundreds; on the east by Cedar Creek, Georgetown and Dagsborough Hundreds; on the south by Broad Creek Hundred, and on the west by the Nanticoke River, which divides it from North-west Fork and Seaford Hundreds. Its greatest length is fifteen miles, and width, eight miles, embracing an area of about ninety-seven square miles, and a population, in 1880, of two thousand two hundred and forty-eight.

The hundred takes its name from the Nanticoke River, the source of which is here. In old grants of land, bearing date of 1760, the land on the Deep Creek is referred to as being in Deep Creek Hundred, and land on Maryland grants, Nanticoke Hundred The hundred being the dividing line of the disputed territory of the Penns and Lord Baltimore, grants were made indiscriminately by both of these proprietors, and in many instances were for the same land When the line was finally confirmed, the Maryland name was given to the land embraced in both the old hundreds.

The soil is a sandy loam, and in the northern part there is a good clay sub-soil. The Nanticoke and its branches, the principal of which are St. John's, Gum Gravelly, Deep Creek and Tuska, traverse every section of the hundred, and furnish excellent irrigation. A peculiarity of these streams is that their north and west banks are hard clay or a stiff soil of clay and sand, while the south and east banks are very loose and sandy. The small fruits are cultivated and raised in abundance. The com yield is very large. Large quantities of iron ore exist, but there being fifty per cent of foreign matter, its mining is unprofitable. The settlement is sparse, and, as a result, there was a number of large farms, a great deal of which have not been cultivated to any extent. The division of these lands into smaller tracts has already shown good results. All the land west of Deep Creek was for many years a vast forest of pine and oak. Much valuable timber has been taken out and shipped, a great amount of land has been cleared and is under cultivation, but large quantities of pine still remain.

The cultivation of peaches and apples is not engaged in to the same extent as other near localities. In 1796 there were several large apple-orchards. John Sharp, with three hundred trees; Peter Jackson, one hundred, and William Jones, Elisha Evans, and Isaac Fisher were among the growers. From these apples large quantities of apple brandy were manufactured, several of the growers named having distilleries, and shipping north. Tobacco and sugar-cane were produced quite extensively, but their cultivation has been discontinued since the early part of the present century.

Nanticoke was one of the principal slave-holding localities from an early date. The assessment roll of 1796 shows two hundred and ninety-seven males of age, and that of 1816, over four hundred. At the time of the breaking out of the late war the number was small, most of whom were engaged in domestic occupations. The hundred is without railway and water communication. The line of the proposed Sussex Midland Railroad passes through it.

Early Settlements

It is with considerable difficulty that the early settlers and their locations in this hundred can be ascertained. Being disputed territory, grants were made both by Lord Baltimore and Penn; and its boundaries being uncertain, grants about the banning of the eighteenth century were made as being in Cedar Creek and Broadkiln Hundred, which evidently, by bounds extended westward, embraced this territory. Prior to 1706 there were very few settlers, if any, in the hundred. The first grant of land of which there is any record is one on a warrant from Lord Baltimore, July 15, 1695, to George Layfield. It was for five hundred and forty acres of land "on the main branch of the Nanticoke, in a neck called Great Neck, formerly Smith's Neck and adjoining Francis Newbold's Unity Forge Tract. The land was called 'Truthful Plain,''' and March 19, 1777, Charles Polk purchased it of Isaac Layfield. He also purchased one hundred and seventy acres of it from Sarah Newbold, January 26, 1793. This land is near what was known as Polk's Bridge, which crossed Gum Branch near the farm now owned by Sewall C. Biggs. A few years ago a large portion of this tract came in possession of Mrs. S. M. Layton. On this Layton land is the old brick mansion built by Charles Polk, who bought of Layfield, and who was the father of Governor Charles Polk, and himself a lieutenant in Col. David Hall's regiment of the Revolutionary Army. Following this warrant were two from William Penn, one dated May 80, 1705, to John Lofley, for two hundred acres of land "lying on ye head of ye beaver dam, which proceedeth out of Nanticoke," and another of September 10 of the same year to John Bennett, for 200 acres, described as being "in forest, and lying between ye heads of Sowbridge Swamps and ye Swamps of ye Bever dam of Nanticoke." This land was formerly owned by James Carlisle. Both Bennett and Lofley were from the eastern part of the State; and many who settled in this hundred were early settlers in the older and better known parts of the State. But those who settled under Penn warrants only occupied small tracts near the lines of Broadkiln and Cedar Creek Hundred. The western part, or nearly three-quarters of the area of the present territory embraced, was settled by old families from Maryland and Virginia on Lord Baltimore's patents. The Polks, Laytons, Adamses, Nutters, Ricords, Richards and Jacobs, whose names appear so often in grants of land in this and Northwest Fork Hundreds, and who are still numerous in the State, are of this class. Of the Polks, who were the largest holders, an account will be found in the chapter on Northwest Fork Hundred. The Polks, Laytons and Adamses had settled in Virginia as early as 1660, and about 1725 they immigrated here, and an old family tradition says that the reason of their migration was that a number of Indians in that section of the country had been in Virginia and furnished glowing accounts of the fertility of the soil and told wonderful stories of the great timber and its rapid growth. The settlers purchased some of their lands from these Indians, and then secured patents from Lord Baltimore. When the line between the States was definitely settled, in 1775, it became necessary for all these old settlers to have warrants of resurvey granted by the Penns, and when doing this they took up large tracts of vacant land, which, at the time, embraced one-half of the hundred. The settlement of the line also brought a large number of new settlers from the North, the bay shore and from England, and families which are now well-known and numerous first appeared about this time.

On November 10, 1722, Charles Nutter, the pioneer of that family, obtained a warrant from Lord Balti-more for two hundred and forty-three acres of land called "Noble Quarter," situated on the Bee Branch that issues out of the northwest side of the northeast fork of the Nanticoke. This land was resurveyed to Tilghman Layton in 1796, and renamed Tilghman's Regulation. This land is still in the possession of the Layton family.

"John's Venture" was surveyed March 31, 1727, for John Caldwell, who came from Somerset County, Maryland. There were five hundred and eighty-six acres in the tract, and it is described as being 'on the south side of Tusky Branch that is south out of the north-east fork of the Nanticoke River." Eighty-six acres of this tract came into the possession of John Richards in 1827. This tract is the same that was lately owned by N. Ratcliff and Mrs. J. A. Hall. "Double Purchase," adjoining "John's Venture," was surveyed for Philip Richards, October 16, 1781, on the north of the "Tusky Branch," and "Conclusion" also to him, and adjoins "Double Purchase," May 9, 1744.

Joseph Shankland, in 1734, was granted two hundred acres on the east side of Green Branch, one of the branches that lead out of Deep Creek, and is known by custom as Indian Cabin Branch, and was adjoin-ing the lands of John Davis, Jacob Stockley and Daniel Prentice, and extended to a branch called Little Neck Branch. These lands came into the possession of Charles Polk, and were sold by him to Samuel Richards and Edward Smith, November 18, 1823, who procured them with a view of taking out the bog ore Adjoining "Double Purchase," May 9, 1744. David Polk had the tract Limbrick, containing three hundred acres, surveyed to him March, 1750. This land is on the side of the Walker Mill Pond, and is now in large' part owned by A. B., S. C. and W. D. Fisher.

February 27, 1767, Jonathan Vaughan & Co., the iron masters (a full account of whom is given), took out their patents for the following tracts: Indian Cabbin Branch, one hundred and twenty six acres; Stony Branch, one hundred and thirty -seven acres; Iron Works, five hundred and sixty acres. John Caldwell must have had an interest in these lands at one time prior, for the patent recites "that John Caldwell did, on the 2nd of April, 1728, assign to Levin Yates, Major Robert King, of Somerset County, Maryland, Archibald Smith and Alexander Draper, of Sussex County, interests in all these tracts The company brought large numbers of laborers with them, who settled about here, the land still being in their hands, at the time of the division of lands, January 28, 1802, when the company lands passed to the following persons: "Ezekiels' Chance," ninety-seven acres, to Jordel Lane; "Ingram's Lot," fifty acres, to Jacob Ingram; "Smith's Lot," one hundred acres, to David Smith; "Chance," one hundred and fifty acres, to Thomas Jones; "Brown's Inheritance," fifty acres, to Charles Banister; Banister's Addition, forty-six acres, also to Banister; Forked Neck, three hundred acres, to I. Jenkins; "Iron Works," five hundred and sixty acres, to John Caldwell; "Indian Cabin Branch," one hundred and twenty-six acres, and "Willen's Adventure," fifty acres, to Charles Willen. These lands were originally taken out on Maryland warrants that had become escheated, and are the same as those now owned by William Fleetwood, Edward Heard, Elijah Oliphant, S. A. Lamden, Mrs. John M. Rawlins, of Georgetown, Mrs. Sally Jones, Thomas A. Allen, J. C. Short and B. H. Tindall.

A tract described as in the extreme southwest comer of Cedar Creek, called "Gum Neck," was warranted March 19, 1747, to John Collins. This land is on the Gum Branch of the Nanticoke, and contains one hundred and fifty-three acres, parts of which are owned by Isaac C. Webb's heirs and Samuel Clendaniel.

Robert Moody, on a patent bearing date September 4, 1754, took up the tract of "Lynn," located near Knowles' Cross Roads. This land passed into the hands of Philip Marvel, who, with several other members of his family, had come from Indian River and Lewes and Rehoboth Hundreds about 1760. This tract is now owned by Josiah P. Marvel. Sev-eral small tracts adjoining this were taken up by the Marvels between the years 1760 and 1790.

The family represented by Josiah P. Marvel is of English extraction, and has been identified with the settlement and development of Lower Delaware for over two hundred years, owning large tracts of land in Sussex County, and being among its leading, most intelligent and enterprising citizens.

Josiah P. Marvel, to whom this sketch is chiefly devoted, is the grandson of Philip Marvel, and son of Josiah Marvel and Sovy, daughter of Charles Tindal. He was born on the ancient family tract where he now resides, in Nanticoke Hundred, on August 24, 1825. His early experiences were those of the customary farmer's son, his time being divided each season in laboring upon the farm and in attendance upon the local schools of the neighborhood. Upon attaining his majority he went to New Orleans, where he passed four years of his life. He then returned home on a visit to his mother, and finding her in poor health, deferred to her wishes and was induced to remain in Delaware, locating upon his present farm in Nanticoke Hundred in 1850, and being continuously engaged there since In farming and fruit-growing. He now owns about one thousand acres of land, and has erected a handsome residence upon the old place, and surrounded himself with those evidences of comfort, convenience and thrift which betoken the progressive, successful and enterprising agriculturist. He married, on August 1, 1850, Harriet Ann, daughter of David and Naomi Pepper, of Sussex County, and has had thirteen children, of whom ten are now living, to whom he has furnished the opportunity of obtaining liberal educations, either by sending them to colleges or academies of high order. His own limited opportunities for receiving an education in early life have been supplemented by an extensive course of reading and study, so that he is now recognized as one of the best informed men in the county. He has always manifested a deep interest in the public schools, and served as school commissioner in his district for about thirty-five years, most of the time, by careful supervision, giving to his school the highest place for general excellence among those in the county. His friendly counsel and aid have been of great benefit to many who were seeking a higher education, and who are now standing high in their professions, and give the credit of their success to him.

With religious affairs Mr. Marvel has ever been in earnest and active sympathy, and although not a member of any church, he has contributed liberally to the construction of several houses of worship, and gives yearly to the support of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches. His integrity and uprightness as a man have never been called into question, and he enjoys the respect and esteem of many people throughout the State. He has always been interested in politics, and worked earnestly and efficiently for the success of the Democratic Party, with which he has long been identified. He has been a delegate to nearly every Democratic County and State Convention for forty years, and often served as a member of the County and State Central Committees. He was elected treasurer of Sussex County, and later, in 1870, sheriff of the county by the largest majority of any man on the ticket. He filled both of those responsible offices with fidelity and ability, and to the satisfaction of all the citizens of the county.

Mr. Marvel is possessed of a genial and happy temperament, which makes him universally liked, and with a certain plainness and quietness of manner and speech combines an amount of energy, industry and executive ability which few would suspect. He deserves the highest credit for the manner in which he has overcome the disadvantages of his early life, and succeeded in rearing and educating as he has so large a family of promising children.

Daniel Boyce was granted, October 16, 1760, a tract called "Boyce's Luck," afterwards resurveyed as Long Ridge. It was adjoining a tract called "Fancy," and contained three hundred and eighty-three acres. This land is now partly owned by J. B. Swain. On the 16th of July, 1760, Nehemiah Stayton received a grant for three hundred and eighty-nine acres of land in the northern part of the hundred. This land remained in the Stay ton family until a few years ago, when it was sold to Isabella Hayes, John M. Collison, Frank Hayes and George Cordry.

In 1776 Hazzard's Addition, "Goodwill," part of "Stayton's Folly" and "Clifton's Lot," were all re-surveyed to Nehemiah Stayton, and were described as a short distance below Stayton's Causeway, afterwards Teatown and now Staytonville. T. C. Stayton, Amos Stayton, J. W. Clifton and Moses Harrington own portions of these tracts. Thomas Evans had a warrant for four hundred and fifty acres granted him August 16, 1765, on the road that then led from "his saw-mill to Andrew Collins'" saw-mill. His brother Elisha five years before had obtained the mill site on a grant of a tract called Buckingham, containing fifty-nine acres. These lands are owned, in whole or in part, by J. B. Swain, J. C. Short and S. M. Morgan.

Ezekiel Conoway received a grant of ninety acres February 20, 1776, on John's Branch, and adjoining the plantation where he then lived. This land is now in the possession of William Sulzer. "Hunting Ground" was granted March 4, 1776, to William Carlisle for one hundred and fifty acres, and was be-tween the line of Alexander Laws and John Polk's land, and joining Josiah Hunt's land in Cedar Creek. This land remained in the Carlisle family until a few years ago, when it was sold to John Stevens.

Richard Jefferson, December 20, 1741, received a grant of two hundred and fifty-three acres, called Poplar Ridge, and located on the Tuska Branch. This land is now the home place of Miles Messick, and is called "Pleasant Plain."

Miles Messick, farmer, of Nanticoke Hundred, was born in Broad Creek Hundred, September 14, 1815. He is the eldest son of Samuel Messick, who was also a farmer, being possessed of an estate of nine hundred acres, and was one of the leading men of his day, and was born October 28, 1791, and died April 16, 1841. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Philip and Luranah (Wingate) Matthews, who died March 1, 1871, aged seventy-seven years. They had ten children, eight of whom grew to maturity, Miles, John, James, Luranah (who married Robert P. Barr, both now deceased), Samuel T., Sarah Elizabeth (wife of Rev. William W. Morgan), Julia A. (widow of John C. Cannon), and Eliza Jane (who died in August, 1852, having previously married Rev. J. Pastorfield, of the M. E, Church).

Samuel Messick was the son of Covington Messick, also a farmer, who occupied the old homestead, which has been in the possession of the family for over one hundred years. Covington was born in 1755, and died December 17, 1828. He married Hannah Tin-dal, and by that marriage had nine children, all of whom grew to maturity, their names being Minos T., Lovey (third wife of Adam Short), Covington, Jr., Miles, Samuel, Leah (whose first husband was Jacob Bounds; second, John Matthews), Nancy (who married Thomas Knowles, and moved to the West), Betsey (who was burned to death in early womanhood), and Holland (who married Matthias Penton, and removed near Winchester, Illinois).

Isaac Messick was the father of Covington, and the first of the family to reside in Delaware, moving there from Wicomico County, Maryland. He died in April, 1779. By his first wife he had two children, Luke and George; by his second wife, Ann Windson, he had eleven, John, Nehemiah, Joseph, Covington, Isaac, Sarah, Alse, Ann, Constant, Priscilla and Bethany. The subject of this sketch attended the district schools of the neighborhood in the winter, and worked on his father's farm in the summer, until he was twenty-one, and to complete his education he attended one session of the Laurel Academy when twenty-three. For three years after this he had charge of the farm of his uncle, Kendall M. Lewis, near Laurel. At the end of this time he was married, December 3, 1840, to Miss Sarah Eliza, daughter of Wm. and Lavinia Bell, of Broad Creek Hundred, Sussex County. Immediately after his marriage he purchased a farm, in the lower part of Nanticoke Hundred, from his father. This tract was a portion of the estate of his great-grand-father, Samuel Tindal. For this farm he gave his obligation for its full value, paying for it the same price his father paid for it five years before. His father died intestate two months after this transaction, and this obligation he paid the estate, with courage rarely equaled under the circumstances. He made a deed of gift for his interest in an estate of six hundred acres of his father*s other lands, and his share of the personal property to his brothers and sisters. Upon this farm Mr. Messick lived twenty-seven prosperous years, and in 1858 he purchased the farm "Pleasant Plain," to which he removed December 24, 1867. It consisted at first of three hundred and twenty-three acres, but he has increased it until it now numbers thirteen hundred and seventy acres, divided into seven farms. Much of this land, by industry and skillful farming, he has brought to a high state of cultivation, and obtained a reputation of being one of the leading agriculturalists of the State.

In politics both Mr. Messick's father and grand-father were Federalists and he trained in the same line, remaining a Whig until 1860, since which time he has acted with the Democratic Party. He was appointed constable when quite a young man, without application.

In 1864 he was elected a member of the State House of Representatives, by a vote larger than that given to the electors on the same ticket. In 1870 he was appointed a trustee of the poor for Sussex County, and in 1875 was elected treasurer of that body, receiving eight votes out of thirteen, with three other candidates opposing him. In 1877 he served a second term in the Legislature, and in 1880 he was United States supervisor of election and registration. In 1875, Gov. Cochran appointed him one of his aids, with the rank of colonel. He was in 1884 nominated as State Senator, upon the Temperance Reform ticket. Mr. Messick has never sought office, but his fellow citizens felt called upon to recognize his ability. As an example of his character he willingly freed a colored woman he held, upon her simple request, and paid her full wages.

He has always been a temperance man, having been one of the pioneers of the cause, engaging in the work in 1883. He has always been a faithful worker in the interest of temperance, and is now president of the Sussex County Temperance Alliance, and also of the Sussex County Bible Society, both of which offices were unsought by him. Mr. Messick's ancestors were all Methodists, and he united with that denomination in 1841, and was for many years a trustee of Asbury Church, and also steward at that appointment until his removal from the neighborhood, and was for eighteen years superintendent of the Sabbath school, and is at this time a trustee of Chaplin Chapel, in New Castle Hundred. Mr. Messick is the &ther of six children, the first of whom died in infancy; second, Miles Edwin, born September 15, 1848, died June 23, 1863; and William Kindal, born March 22, 1847, died October 4, 1852; Willard Irvin, born January 14, 1855, died August 22, 1876. Two are now living, Samuel Harrington, born March 23, 1852 who graduated from Delaware College in 1881, delivering the salutatory; and Albert Messick, born April 30, 1860.

John Laws received a grant for a large tract of land on John's Branch, February 19, 1776. This land was described as located on the main branch of the Nanticoke, and adjoining land of Joshua Polk, John Jessep and Alexander Laws in said county. This land is now in the possession of Albert Carry, John Robert Ricords and William Carlisle. On the Carlisle tract is the old Laws burying-ground.

Adjoining this land Joshua Polk, May 13, 1776, on a resurvey, took up a large tract called Tyrone. The greater part of this land is owned by Mrs. Margaret Ricords and William Sulzer.

Ephraim Polk, as early as February 5, 1747, had taken up a tract of two hundred and twenty-nine acres near this, and on the east side of the Gum Branch, and now owned by David R. Smith. "Prospect Hill," now owned by William Sulzer, was taken up April 6, 1776, by Jeremiah Wright

The following were persons owning two hundred acres or over in Nanticoke Hundred in 1796:

Land Owners

Alexander Argo 470
William Carlile, esq 444
Jacob Coverdale 270
John Collins, esq 4336
Elisha Brane 341
Issac Fisher 280
Joseph Griffith, Jr. 270
Edmund Hurley 400
Zachariah Harris 200
William Jones 874
Saxa Gotha Laws, est. 336
Mary Laverty 200
John Langrall
Matthew Morrine 320
Mary Polk (widow of Charles esq) 1796
Susa Polk (widow of John) 1000
William Boice 287
David Cavender 260
Jonathan Dawson 287
Robert Barrs 341
John Evans 600
Nehemiah Fleetwood 200
Moses Griffith 200
Richard Watson 610
John Jefferson 245
Peter Jackson 498
John Laws, est 1625
Clemont Laws
Humphrey Brown, est 900
Jane Owens 600
Mary Polk (widow of Joshua, est.) 427
Eli Parker est 427
William Passwaters, est 360
William Ratcliff 300
Elsy Spicer 317
John Short, of Daniel 300
John Spicer 431
Dennard Short 300
Pumal Tindall 309
Pumal Tatman 397
William Turner's est. 945
Cloudsbourgh Warren. 500
John Polk 480
William Shankland 500
John Sharp 445
Adam Short 250
Charlton Smith 285
Pumal Short 274
Samuel Tindal 680
Clement Turner 410
John Willey, Jr. 650

Assessment Rolls

The following names appear on the assessment rolls of Nanticoke Hundred for the year 1785:

Adams, Abraham.
Adams, George.
Adams, Jacob.
Anderson, Wm.
Argo, Alexander.
Argo, Joseph.
Boyce, Benj.
Boyce, Joseph.
Boyce, Joshua.
Brooke James.
Carlisle, John.
Carlisle, Zachariah.
Cavender, Jacob.
Cavender, Arthur.
Clifton, Pemberton.
Clifton, Richard.
Clifton, Tabitha.
Collins, Andrew.
Collins, John.
Collins, Johnson.
Collins, Elijah.
Conaway, Philip.
Conaway, John.
Conaway, Isaac.
Conaway, Jacob
Coverdale, Charles.
Coverdale, Israel
Coverdale, Jacob.
Coverdale, Levin.
Coverdale, Luke.
Coverdale, Matthew.
Coverdale, Nathanial.
Coverdale, Richard.
Cox, Moses.
Crockett, Mary.
Crockett, Elizabeth.
Crockett, Richard.
Creighton, Matthew.
Crockett, Winder.
Cunningham, Jester.
Douglass, James.
Donahoe, Truitt
Derwin, Richard.
Dolby, Isaac.
Evans, John.
Fisher, Elizabeth.
Fisher, George.
Fisher, Isaac.
Griffith, John.
Griffith, Joseph.
Griffith, Moses.
Griffith, Robert.
Griffith, Salathiel
Griffith, Samuel
Hall, James.
Hammons, Jonathan.
Hammons, John.
Harris, Zachariah.
Hart, Jonah.
Hart, Robert.
Hayes, Nathaniel.
Hines, Nathaniel
Hinson, John.
Houston, Charles.
Hurley, Edmund.
Hurley, Joshua.
Hurley, Levin.
Ingram, Isaac.
Johnson, Christian.
Johnson, Elias.
Johnson, Jacob.
Johnson, John.
Johnson, Josiah.
Johnson, Whittington.
Jones, Isaac.
Jones, James.
Jones, Matthew.
Kelley, James.
Kenney, Joseph.
Knox, Charles.
Knox, Daniel.
Knox, James.
Knox, John.
Knox, Thomas.
Lair, John.
Laverly, Samuel
Laverly, Thomas.
Laws, Alexander.
Laws, John.
Laws, Wm.
Lindar, Joseph.
Link, John.
Long, Solomon.
Loring, Elisha.
Luatt, Elijah.
Luatt, John.
Lynch, Absalom.
Lynch, Abraham.
Lyons, Daniel.
Maney, Isaac.
Mares, James.
Marine, Matthew.
Marvel, Rachel.
Massey, Job.
McCauley, Robert
McLane, Moses.
Marvel, Joseph.
Marvel, Philip.
Marvel, Thomas.
Messick, Isaac.
Messick, Comfort
Messick, Jacob.
Mooney, Charles.
Morgan, Daniel.
Morgan, Elijah.
Morgan, Joshua.
Morgan, Wadberry.
Mullinix, Wm.
Newbold, Thomas.
O'Day, John.
O'Day, Owen.
Owens, Daniel.
Owens, John.
Owens, Robert
Owens, Samuel.
Owens, Wm.
Parker, Ell.
Parks, Wm.
Passwater, Richard,
Passwater, Samuel.
Passwater, Wm.
Phipps, Absalom.
Polk, Avery.
Polk, Charles.
Polk, George.
Polk, Isaac.
Polk, James.
Polk, John.
Polk, Joseph.
Polk, Joshua.
Pollock, James.
Radcliff, Wm.
Reed, John.
Right, Jay.
Ross, John.
Row, Truman.
Samuels, Haris.
Samuels, Saul.
Samuels, Thomas.
Sharp, John, Jr.
Short Abraham.
Short, Adam.
Short Adam.
Short, Allen.
Short Ell.
Short Isaac
Short James.
Short John.
Short John (of Daniel).
Short, Purnel.
Spicer, Elay.
Spicer, Philip.
Smith, James.
Smith, Joseph.
Smith, Mitchell.
Smith, Stephen.
Smith, Stouten.
Smith, Wm.
Stafford, James.
Stayton, Horatio.
Stayton, Nehemiah.
Stevens, Avery.
Swain, Wm.
Talmore, Roeael.
Tatman, Nehemiah.
Tatman, Wm.
Taylor, Solomon.
Taylor, Stephen.
Tindall, Charles.
Tindall, Samuel.
Turner, Wm.
Truitt, George.
Truitt James.
Truitt, John.
Truitt, Peter.
Truitt, Samuel.
Truitt, Sarah.
Truitt, Thomas.
Truitt, Wm.
Veach, Thomas.
Vinson, Lavin.
Vinson, Thomas.
Walker, James.
Warren, Cheeseborough.
Warren, Solomon.
Welsh, John.
White, George.
Willey, Edmond.
Willey, Robert
Williams, Chas.
Williams, George.
Williams, Isaac
Williams, John.
Williams, Thos.
Willing, Thos.
Willis, John.
Winsor, John.
Withens, James.


The Methodist churches here have been supplied from circuits in other hundreds. They were all originally with the exception of Johnstown, in the Milton and Laurel Circuits, which included Asbury, in Bethel, and Shortly and Cokesberry, in Bridgeville; Georgetown, Lincoln, Ellendale, Shortly and St. Johnstown, in Felton. Asbury and Cokesberry now form a separate circuit. The list of ministers will be found in the hundreds where the circuits are located.

The oldest Methodist Episcopal Church is Cokesberry, located near the old Evans mill-pond, and on the road from Bridgeville to Georgetown. The first building was erected in 1803. December 17 of that year William Swain conveyed to Dennard Short, Purnel McCaulley, John McCaulley, Jonathan Allison, John Duncan, Moses McDoneal, James M. Bound, Jesse Tindal and William Smith, trustees, a ''lot of land on Petrikin's Branch, near Evans Mill, embracing sixty nine feet front," to superintend and furnish and keep up a school-house and Methodist Episcopal Meeting House. The school was the first free school in the neighborhood, and was maintained out of the funds of the church. The old building was partly of logs and was described as a very neat and attractive building" by the early divines who visited it. The old building had gone pretty nearly to decay, when, in 1869, the present structure was erected. It is about twenty-five feet by forty feet and of native pine and oak, one story in height, and cost thirteen hundred dollars to erect it. The present trustees are John C. Short, Baptist Conwell, Noah Isaacs, Joseph Wilson and John B. Swain. There is a large and flourishing Sunday-school.


This church is near the old Tindal Mill and on the road from Georgetown to Laurel, and about seven miles from Georgetown. Since it has been on a separate circuit it has had Wilmer Jaggard, J. W. Gray and J. B. Anderson as ministers. The first building was erected in 1812. March 12 of that year Covington Messick, John Cullen, Purnel Tindell, Levin Conoway, Robert Barr, Minos T. Messick, Southy Culling, John Tam and William Morgan were elected trustees and incorporated as such by the General Assembly. On May 16 of the same year the first step toward the erection of a house of worship was taken by the purchase of eighty-four square perches of land of Minos Tindall.

By fall a pretty frame building twenty-four by twenty-six was erected and occupied. This building was in use until 1867, when the present edifice was erected at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars. The building is a one-story frame structure, about thirty by forty feet, and is on the site of the old house. A large cemetery on both sides of the road contains the remains of many old members. The Sunday-school has twenty scholars with Joshua Rawley as superintendent. There are fifty-five members in the church, the present trustees being William Tindall, Benton H. Tindall, Theodore Carey and Edward Salmons.

St. Johnstown is located less than a quarter of a mile below the old town of St. Johnstown on the road to Bridgeville. Previous to the erection of the church meetings were held in the woods on the spot where the church now stands, by John Marim, an old local preacher. The first steps toward the formation of a church were taken by the Legislature incorporating March 6, 1822, John Fowler, David Pennewill, William Griffith, Joel Carlisle, William Fowler, Thomas Curry and Eli Coverdale as trustees of the St. Johnstown meeting-house. March 15, of the same year, they bought of Samuel Stephens seventy-two perches of land "on which the Methodist meeting-house now stands" as the deed relates. The old building was replaced September 28, 1872, by the present structure, the largest and handsomest in the hundred. The building is of frame, and cost $8500. It is thirty by sixty feet, and finished first-class throughout. Since the creation of the Circuit the ministers have been William Connolley, Elam J. Wars, James Carroll, W. S. Robinson and R. C. Jones. There are about one hundred members. The present trustees are Albert Curry, George W. Elliott, Amos J. Stayton, Robert D. Owens and William J. Carlisle.

Chaplain's Chapel
Prior to the erection of this church there was built a church known as Onins, in Gully Swamp about two miles east. This building only stood for twelve years when it was abandoned on account of its out-of-the-way location, and the present building built in 1859. The land was deeded by Charles Macklin and Fisher Willis, and the church took its name from John Chaplain, the minister at the time of its erection. The trustees then were W. W. Sharp, Joshua Sharp, Charles Macklin, Charles A. Rawlins, Bayard Sharp, Benton Sharp and L. B. Brown. The building is of frame and one story in height and thirty by forty feet and cost $1600. There is a membership of fifty. The Sunday-school has forty scholars, E. F. Johnson, superintendent. The present trustees are W. W. Sharp, Miles Messick, S. H Messick, G. M. Macklin, J. T. Macklin, E. F. Johnson, Benton Sharp and Joeiah Prettyman.

Gravelly Branch Baptist Church has long since gone down. It was located near Coverdale's Cross Roads and was organized July 30, 1785, through the efforts of Revs. Philip Hughes and Elijah Baker and was the seventh church organized by them. The church building was erected in 1801. The land comprising one-half acre, conveyed September 16th of that year, by Samuel Lafferty to Philip Hughes, Isaac Fisher and John Willis, Sen. The constituent members were Edward C. Dingle, Comfort Boyce, Marjery Hiris, Priscilla Carter, Isaac Fisher, Elizabeth Fisher, Milber Dukes, Rachel Dukes, John Willis, Ann Willis, Matthew Marine, John Hinson, Richard Crockett, Elizabeth Crockett, Anna Crockett, John Graham, Ann Graham and the Negroes, Rachael, Francis, Mariam, Bonny and Jenny. In 1788 there was a revival and thirty-five persons were added to the church. In six years the membership increased from twenty-three to sixty-nine. The Revs. Baker and Hughes labored there for several years and were succeeded by Rev. Jonathan Gibbins, who was followed by the Rev. John Benson. For many years they worshipped in the house of John Willis, but later built a church which has long since disappeared and the congregation dispersed.

Pergamos Chapel
On the farm of William Carlisle, less than a quarter of a mile from St. Johnstown there was formerly a brick Protectant Episcopal Church. The building was erected prior to 1786, fur at that time William Laws devised by will three-fourths of an acre of land near St. Johnstown to the Society of the Church of England for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.'' The will recited that the church stood on the lot and if the church was discontinued the lot was to revert. In 1810, Samuel Griffith, Tilghman Layton, William Carlisle, Pemberton Clifton and William Fowler were incorporated as the trustees of the church. The building is described as being one story, twenty-five by thirty feet and a high ceiling. Services were discontinued about the year 1800 and forever fifty years the only vestige of the old church or its congregation is a hollow where the building formerly stood.


At the division of the county into districts in 1829, the original districts in this hundred were Nos. 53, 54, 55. 56, 61, 62, 65, 76 and 77. In all these districts school-houses were erected in 1830 and 1831. Prior to this time there were three or four subscription schools, which were run three months in the year. At present there are fourteen schools in the hundred, employing fourteen teachers, and an attendance of three hundred and twenty scholars.


St. Johnstown

This hundred has never had any town in its borders of any size. The oldest settlement is St. Johnstown, which ranks as one of the oldest in the northern part of the county. It is situated about one mile from Greenwood, and five from Bridgeville. The earliest mention made of the town is an old record of 1776, when, in the description of a tract of land, it is described as being near the old school-house at St. Johnstown. In 1810, Pemberton Purnell opened a store there and was succeeded about 1830 by Philip Jones. John Spence also had a general store. John Sorden had a store about 1840, and was the only postmaster the village ever had. About the year 1812, there was considerable business done in the town, being on the route of the stage lines of the day. Two hotels were in operation, one kept by Samuel Stevens and the other by Parker Robinson. It was the place then for large political gatherings, and several of Delaware's public men made their first speeches here. The Robinson House did not continue for very many years. But the other was conducted by Philip C. Jones, Edward Morris, Benjamin Hearn and Stockley Elliott, and others. About ten years ago, after Mr. Elliott left, the hotel was closed. The town of Greenwood, since the building of the railroad, has taken all the business away, and now there is no business interest whatever. The school-house of District 76, or the Johnstown school, was built in 1880, on land given by William Carlisle. The old building is still in use. Among the early teachers were Joseph Russell, John R. T. Masten, Jonathan Tharp, Dr. James Fisher and James Carlisle.

Coverdale's Cross Roads

This place, consisting of five houses and a store, has had many names. It was originally known about the year 1800 as Bethel Cross Roads, it was then changed to Passwaters and successively Collins, Coverdale's, Lafferty's, and now its original name Coverdales. At the establishment of the polling-places in the year 1811, 'the house of Boaz Coverdale, in Passwaters or Bethel Crocs Roads,' was designated as the voting-place of Nanticoke Hundred. This gave the place its first importance. Priscilla Coverdale opened a tavern, and continued to keep it until 1818. In 1816 there were two taverns, Samuel Stevens opening one that year. In the year 1833, Nathaniel Short had a store there. In 1858, Isaac M. Fisher and C. A. Rawlings, who kept in the old store building from 1852, had the place made a post-office, January, 1857, and it continued one until 1862, when he retired from business. In 1869 the old Coverdale tavern was closed. Among its proprietors were Joseph Salmons, Jacob Carpenter and Miles Tindall. Jonathan Hill was the last proprietor.

Knowles Cross Road

This little hamlet is on the old tract of Lynn that was originally granted to Philip Marvel. It was known by the name of Marvel's Cross Roads for years until Daniel Knowles opened a store there in 1856, and ran it for a long while in the building now occupied by William F. Jones. Opposite this store, on the northeast corner, Thomas Marvel about 1811 had a tavern; he was succeeded by his son Philip. The building was burned about 1848. A short distance above the cross roads, William Jones and later his son William had a tavern. This was closed about 1847. The old building is still standing and was known as the Greentree.


Bog iron abounds in Nanticoke Hundred and many tons have in late years been shipped to New Jersey to mix with magnetic ore. Before the Revolution the presence of ore at the heads of the streams in the vicinity attracted capitalists from abroad, who established companies, purchased large tracts of land, built furnaces and forges, mined ore and conducted large businesses. The names of various works were Deep Creek Iron Works, embracing Deep Creek Furnace, in Nanticoke Hundred and Nanticoke Forge at Middleford, Pine Grove Furnace, on the present site of Concord, Unity Forge in Northwest Fork Hundred, Collins, Polk and Gravelly Delight Forges and the furnace and forge at Millsboro.

Deep Greek Iron Works
The first company to organize was Jonathan Vaughan & Co., under the name of "The Deep Creek Iron Works." The members of the firm were Jonathan Vaughan, of Ash ton, Chester County, Pennsylvania, iron master; Daniel McMurtree; Persifer Frazer, of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, iron master and merchant; William Douglas, of Kent County, Delaware, iron master; John Chamberlain, iron master and Christopher Marshall, of Philadelphia, merchant. The company took up on warrants from Pennsylvania on escheated Maryland patents a large tract of land on Deep Creek at a place known now as " The Old Furnace," where they erected a furnace which was named " Deep Creek Furnace;" they also took up several tracts of land on both sides of the head of the tide water of the Nanticoke at what is now Middleford, which were named "Venture," "Brother's Agreement" and "Company's Lott," and on one hundred and sixty- eight acres of these tracts on the east side of the stream they built the forge named "Nanticoke Forge." On the 28th of January, 1763, the company applied to the proprietors of Pennsylvania for a warrant for five thousand acres of vacant land in the vicinity, ''near their works on Nanticoke, on which timber was growing proper for their use in the production of iron." This was granted and the land was surveyed by John Lukens, Surveyor-General of Pennsylvania. On the 8th of February, 1768, they bought two hundred and ninety-nine acres in Cedar Creek Hundred of Daniel Nunez, sheriff, and on February 4. 1764, purchased of Samuel Pettyjohn, one hundred and fifty acres of land in the forest of Broad Kiln Hundred lying in Care's Neck on the south side of Gravelly Branch, and June 29, 1764, one hundred acres of land of Philip Conaway called Pleasant Meadow.

For some reason the company was re-organized May 18, 1764, and William Wishart and Jemima Edwards became members of the company. The articles of agreement recited " for the enlarging, completing and finishing the said Deep Creek Furnace and Nanticoke Forge," about seven thousand acres of land had been purchased in all, and necessary buildings, dwellings, grist and saw -mills were erected, and a large force of men employed as miners, wood-choppers, charcoal-burners, teamsters, furnace men and millers, and the place for miles around was a busy scene. A road was built straight from the furnace to the junction of the Deep Creek and Nanticoke River, a distance of four miles, at which place a stone wharf was built, a few of the stones still remaining. The land at the junction, was a tract of land called "Old Meadow," which name the company gave to the iron which they brought to this place and shipped direct to England. The breaking out of the Revolutionary War, and the blockading of the Chesapeake Bay, caused a suspension of business at all the furnaces and forges in the vicinity, and upon the call for troops, these forces of unemployed men enlisted in the army under Colonel Mitchell Kershaw and Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Vaughan, and served during the Revolution. The iron business was so much demoralized, that it was not again resumed. The mills, however, were continued, as being of constant local use. The Iron Works property remained in the hands of the company until an act of the Legislature was passed, January 28, 1802, for its partition. At that time William Wishart was the only one living of the original members of the company under the articles of agreement of May 18, 1764. The property was divided into six parts, of which William Wishart, heirs of Richard Edwards, heirs of Jonathan Vaughan, heirs of William Douglas, heirs of Benjamin Christofer and Charles Marshall (their father, Christopher Marshall, having conveyed his interest to them Nov. 12, 1772) and the heirs of Joseph Pennell, each received their interest. Nanticoke Forge and other lands in the division came to the heirs of Jos. Pennell who, January 11, 1805, sold it to William Huffington, Jr., and Thomas Townsend. The furnace tract and other lands on Deep Creek, to Walter and William Douglass, grandsons of William Douglass, who sold it August 10, 1810, to Gen. Jesse Green, when the mills were refitted and operated by him for several years and he was succeeded by William Green, his eldest son. In 1836, George Green, also a son, took charge and conducted the mills and store for several years, and was succeeded by Isaac Fooks, who bought the property and operated the mills for ten or fifteen years, and sold to Isaac Conaway, and a few years since they were sold to Heam. The saw-mill is still operated but the grist-mill very little, and the whole is now offered for sale.

The foundation and piles of cinders, about the site of the old Nanticoke Forge, were to be seen as late as 1825. The mills and distillery were on the northwest side of the main stream, and three races led from the pond to the stream below. Maps show by dots the old abandoned roads that led to the ore beds.

The other lands, in a few years after the division, passed to other parties, and so ended the first effort to establish iron works on the lower peninsula.

Gravelly Delight Forge
A large tract of land called Brown's Manor was taken up about 1775, by William Brown, on the east side of the Nanticoke River, above the Nanticoke Forge lands, and at the mouth of Gravelly Branch. Early in the year 1808, Shadrach Elliott bought two hundred and six acres of land of Eggleston Brown, son of Humphrey Brown, and grandson of William, it being parts of several tracts, which were "Delight," taken up on a Maryland Patent; "Brown's Manor," a Delaware Patent; "Piney Marsh Addition," a Maryland Patent, and all of a Maryland patent originally granted to Winder Crocket. These lands lay at the mouth of Gravelly Branch.

On the tract called "Delight," on the north side of the branch near the head of the Middleford mill-pond, Shadrach Elliott built in the year 1808 a forge, as in a survey of October 22d is shown as "new forge," milldam and dwelling-house. In 1816 it was operated by John and Shadrach Elliott About the year 1820, they were abandoned, and nearly all evidence of the old forge is obliterated. Shadrach Elliott sold part of the lands above the forge August 4, 1812, to Clement Carroll.

Collins Forge
This forge was in operation within the memory of many citizens. The land on Gravelly Branch, on which it was located, was a tract of six hundred acres, which was taken up on a warrant by Samuel Pettyjohn, December 16, 1757, and assigned to William Douglass, and in 1764 was purchased by the Pine Grove Furnace Company, whose furnace was located on the site of Concord. After various changes it passed to Seth Griffith and William E. Hitch. Captain John Collins, on April 17, 1794, purchased it of them. He soon after erected a mill and built a forge near Coverdale's Cross Roads and purchased other lands adjoining, and in 1798 was in possession of fourteen hundred and sixty-five acres of good land and eleven hundred and eight acres of swamp, and four-teen slaves. He died in 1804, and the property was divided, three hundred and fifty acres of land and two hundred and fifty acres of swamp, mill-pond and branch and one-third of mill to John Collins, Esq., afterwards Governor Collins; six hundred and ninety-six acres of land and one-third of mills to Sarah Collins, his widow; and three hundred acres of upland and one hundred and sixty-seven acres of swamp and one -third of the mills to his son, Robert Collins; and one hundred and thirty-seven acres of land and one hundred acres of swamp to the heirs of Nancy Polk, his daughter. John Collins, Esq., about 1812, erected upon the Gravelly Branch, about three-quarters of a mile above Coverdale's Cross Roads, a charcoal forge, the ore for which was obtained from a tract lying east about three miles, and a mile from the road leading from Georgetown to the forge. Mr. Collins was elected Governor in 1821, and died in April, 1822. The forge passed to his son, Theophilus, who continued it until about 1850, and then abandoned the forge and continued the grist-mill until his death. This was sold a few years ago by John Collins, son of Theophilus, to William Downing, of Delmar, and is still running.


There are very few mills in the hundred al present compared with those in operation in the early part of the present century. The men working at the various forges made the demand for flour greater, and there was much more timber to cut than at present.

Among the old mills that have gone down are those of Daniel Baker, formerly located on Tindal's branch of Deep Creek; Conaway mill, on the same branch; the Bell flower grist-mill, condemned about ten years ago and operated by a company; Evans' mill, which was one ef the oldest, having first been built in 1760, and continued in the family for years, the last owner being _____ Millmann; and Luke Huffington's saw-mill, which went down seventy-five years ago.

Crockett Mill
This mill was built about 1776, by Joseph Crockett. It is located on Tindal's Branch, near where it enters the Deep Creek. Among its early owners were Lewis Spicer, Isaac N. Fooks and H. Tindall. Since 1869 it has been operated by the firm of Fleetwood, Jones & Tindall. Charles Fleetwood, Thomas Jones and H. Tindall compose the firm. The capacity is about forty-five bushels of com a day. The saw-mill is not worked continuously.

The Dolby Mill was erected about 1838, and is above the Crockett mill on the same stream. Isaac Dolby was the first owner. It came into the possession of Hiram and William James about 1837. In 1850 it was owned by B. D. James and J. H. Messick, and was run by them until 1883 as a saw-mill, when it was condemned. Among the other mills in the hundred are the Russell mill, owned by the J. Russell heirs, which was built by William Russell, in 1820, and the Cannon mill and Owen Mill, both built in the early part of the present century.

Sussex County

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

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