Bits of History
We will be posting articles on this page offering insight into various events and times in the history of Delaware and Pencader Hundred. Be sure to visit often to see the latest articles. For even more information come visit us at the Pencader Heritage Museum.
WHEN WASHINGTON CROSSED THE DELAWARE ...it was with the help of URIAH SLACK as one of the oarsmen.
Uriah married Jane Job of Newton, Bucks Co. Pennsylvania on October 4th 1779. They moved to Pencader Hundred in 1780, purchasing land where I-95 now crosses Ott’s Chapel Road. Their nine children were raised on that land. The children Amos, Mary, James, Enos, Uriah, Jr., Daniel, Lewis, Richard and William left many descendants in the area.
Of Uriah’s many descendants, two have been indispensable in the operation of Pencader Heritage Area Association and Pencader Heritage. Long-time Pencader stalwarts, Jim Lee and John Slack, are proud great-great-great-grandsons of Uriah, through his son Enos.
Uriah is buried in Welsh Tract Church cemetery and has a marker. His wife is also buried there but, has no gravestone.
The name Slack, originally Sleight, derives from the Dutch.
HELP IN CASE OF ACCIDENTS
Burns and Scalds: cover with cooking soda and lay wet cloths over it. Whites of eggs and Olive Oil; Olive or Linseed Oil, plain or mixed with Chalk or Whiting.
Lightening: Dash cold water over a person struck
Sunstroke: Loosen clothing. Get patient into shade and apply ice cold water to head.
Mad Dog or Snake Bite: Tie cord tight above wound, suck the wound and cauterize with caustic or white-hot iron at once, or cut out adjoining parts with sharp knife.
Venomous Insect bites, etc.: Apply weak Ammonia, Oil, Salt Water or Iodine.
Fainting: Place flat on back, allow fresh air, and sprinkle with water.
Cinders in the Eye: Roll soft paper up like a lamp lighter and wet the tip to remove, or use a medicine dropper to draw it out. Rub the other eye.
Fire in one’s Clothing: Don’t run - especially not down stairs or out of doors. Roll on carpet, or wrap in woolen rug or blanket. Keep the head down, so as not to inhale flame.
Fire in a Building: Crawl on the floor. The clearest air is the lowest in the room. Cover head with a woolen wrap, wet if possible. Cut holes for the eyes. Don’t get excited.
Fire in Kerosene: Don’t use water, it will spread the flames. Dirt, sand or flour is the best extinguisher, or smother with woolen rug, table-cloth or carpet.
Suffocation from inhaling Burning-Gas: Get into the fresh air as soon as possible and lie down. Keep warm. Take Ammonia, twenty drops to a tumbler of water, at frequent intervals.
Did you ever read an English newspaper? Here’s your chance to read a really old one.
Abstracted verbatim from an original English newspaper on loan to Pencader by board member James Stone. The battle at Cooch’s Bridge is mentioned. The whole paper is four pages and it’s framed so you can see the first page. Ironically it was published in the English town of Newcastle (one word) from whence our New Castle probably got its name.
The Newcastle Courant
Printed and sold by T. Saint and Co. in Pilgrim-Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Saturday December 6, 1777
Copy of letter from General Sir William Howe, to Lord George Germain, dated Head Quarters Germantown, October 10th, 1777.
In my last dispatch on the 30th of August I had the honor to advise your Lordship of the army having landed on the west side of Elk River and of its being afterwards divided into two columns; one under the command of Lord Cornwallis at the head of Elk, and the other commanded by Lieutenant General Knyphausen at Cecil-Court House: I am therefore to give your Lordship an account of the operations from that period, wherein will be included two general actions, in both of which I have the satisfaction to promise that success has attended his Majesty’s arms.
On the 3rd of September, Major General Grant with six battalions remaining at the head of Elk to preserve the communication with the fleet, the two columns join at Pencadder, (sic) laying four miles to the eastward of Elk, on the road to Christien Bridge. In this days march the Hessian and Anspach Chaffeurs, and the second battalion of light infantry, who were at the head of Lord Cornwallis’ column, fell in with a chosen corp of 1,000 men from the enemy’s army, advantageously posted in the woods, which they defeated with the loss of only two officers wounded, 3 men killed, and 19 wounded, when that of the enemy was not less than 50 killed and many more wounded.
RATIONING IN WORLD WAR II
Suppose you couldn’t buy something even if you had the money? That’s what happened during WW II when a lot of consumer products were rationed. Gasoline, tires, meat, sugar, butter, and leather shoes were among rationed items, a purchaser having to pay in applicable ration stamps with their money. These restrictions were in place to free up as many such products and materiel’ as possible to supply American armed forces. This writer was pre-adolescent during the war, but remembers one incident when being taken to buy shoes at Pilnick’s Shoe Store in Newark and her mother didn’t have to turn in a shoe stamp. Someone had put shoes on lay-away, with the stamp, a good while previously and never came back to get them, so the clerk passed over the stamp for our purchase.
Every citizen over six months old had an individual ration book for food purchases. Gasoline, tires and fuel oil were some of the products rationed which required special stamps. Extra sugar rations were available for those who canned their own food.
Farmers could have additional supplies of gasoline and tires for their machinery, but someone who could walk to work, for examples, was in Category A and got three gallons of gas a week. The gas rationing was more to save tires than gasoline as the Japanese had captured 90% of the raw rubber producing areas in the world. The nationwide speed limit was set at 35 MPH and everyone was required to sell all unmounted tires to the government.
By April 1942, an empty toothpaste tube had to be turned in to buy a new tube. Toothpaste tubes were made of metal so these and other scrap metal such as tin vegetable and fruit cans were collected for the war effort.
No new cars or household appliances were manufactured after February 1942 as plants were converted to military vehicles and armaments.
People being what they are, a thriving black market soon sprang up for ration stamps on especially scarce items.
WILLIAM COOCH, SR.
William Cooch, Sr., born 5 June 1762, was in the first generation of Coochs born in America. His grandfather Thomas and family had emigrated in 1746 from England where the family had been millers. He was living with his grandfather on the family homestead at Cooch’s Bridge when he ran away from home and enlisted on a privateer shortly after the September 3, 1777 battle of Cooch’s Bridge. He was captured and imprisoned in England until the end of the war. As the British had burned the Cooch flour mill which sat in front of the house he built a new one very near the bridge on the other side of Christina Creek in 1792. The white frame building there today is built on the foundation of William’s mill. To operate the mill, he built a dam across the Christina and a smaller one across Purgatory Run. A larger brick mill was built further back on the creek in 1816 and it was destroyed by fire on October 6, 1822. This mill, rebuilt in the 1830s, was later purchased by J. Irvin Dayett and it is the Dayett Mill as we know it today.
William Cooch was a prosperous and well respected man. He owned considerable land, was an incorporator of the Delaware & Chesapeake Canal in 1801, helped establish the Glasgow Grammar School in 1803, was a Trustee of the Newark Academy, and appointed to the committee managing a lottery to raise $50,000 toward establishing Delaware College, now University of Delaware. He was elected to the State Legislature three times.
By accounts he was a tall, handsome man, with a fine commanding presence. His buff and blue suits were adorned with massive knee buckles, as were his shoes. The family preserved some of the buckles and one is on display at Pencader Museum. His portrait, painted by Jon Tangondoafer shortly before Mr. Cooch’s death in 1837, is on display also at the museum.
William married Margaret Hollingsworth (1766-1833) November 25, 1789 and they had a family of four: Zebulon Hollingsworth born 1790, Thomas born 1794, William, Jr. born 1796 and Levi Griffith born 1803. The family attended Welsh Tract Baptist Church. William, Sr. died September 25, 1837.
THE GADSDEN FLAG - 1776
The uniquely American rattlesnake became a popular symbol in the American colonies and later for the young republic. In the first American cartoon, published in 1754 by Benjamin Franklin, the original 13 colonies were depicted as a snake divided into nine pieces, the head representing all of New England, over the motto: “Join or Die.” The image was a popular one used in many newspapers and journals. When fighting broke out, the rattlesnake, with and without the defiant slogan, appeared on money, uniforms and a variety of military and naval flags, reflecting the change among the American people from an era of disunity to one of resolve. As part of a committee of the Continental Congress, Christopher Gadsden was directing the preparation of ships for the American defense. To provide a striking standard for the flagship of the first Commodore of the American Navy, Gadsden chose the rattlesnake for his design. Later he presented the design to South Carolina’s Provincial Congress, who ordered the elegant standard hung in their meeting hall.
Source: A replica of the flag is on display at Pencader Heritage Museum and the above is from the legend which accompanies the flag. This and other historic flags are on loan to Pencader from the Delaware National Guard.
DYES FROM NATURAL INGREDIENTS
These are easily available to us today and suitable for Easter eggs.
A verbatim copy of the law regarding collection of taxes,
issued to the White Clay Creek Hundred tax collector in 1874.
This is probably very similar to what would have been issued for Pencader Hundred.
To the Collector of White Clay Creek Hundred, Greeting
We command you, that you collect from the Several Persons named in the Duplicate annexed for their Poor, County, and State Taxes for the year 1874, the following rate per centum on the amount of their respective assessments and so pro-rata, that is to Say the rate of eight cents per Hundred Dollars for the Poor tax. and the rate of Twenty cents per Hundred Dollars for the County Tax and the rate of Ten cents per Hundred Dollars for the State Tax. and if any person named in Said Duplicate Shall not pay the Said rates in ten days after you have demanded the Same, we command you in Such case that you levy and make the Said rates or the part thereof remaining unpaid with lawful cost in the manner prescribed by Law and if goods or chattels, lands or tenements of Such person cannot be Sufficient to Satisfy Such rates with cost in Such case that you take Such person and convey him to the common Jail and deliver him to the Keeper thereof who is commanded to receive him and Keep him in Safe custody till the rates with cost be paid or Such person Be legally discharged and we further command that you pay the amount which according to this warrant and the annexed duplicate you are required to collect in the manner and within the time prescribed By Law in this Behalf, hereof fail not at your peril
Given at New Castle By order of the Levy Court and under the hands of us, commissioners of Said Court the twenty-first day of May A.D. 1874.
Sereck T. Shallcross & Wm. R. Bright, Commissioners.
Attest: Jno. P. Springer, C.P.
INDOOR WINTER ACTIVITIES IN THE OLD DAYS
Carding of wool, spinning yarn, weaving of cloth to be made into clothes and bed linens
Corn shelling – corn had to be shelled by hand before being taken to a grist mill for grinding into meal
Peeling wild cherry bark to sell. Logs were brought into the house to be worked on. The bark was used to make cough syrup.
Whittling/carving of wooden items as needed, i.e. axe & shovel handles, scoops, spoons, toys, etc. Perhaps even building a banjo.
Shoe repairing, most farmers could repair leather shoes
For the young people: taffy pulls (making molasses candy as a group)
SAME AILMENT - DIFFERENT NAME
Diseases As Our Ancestors Knew Them
Pencader residents who grew up prior to 1950 vividly remember that Old Baltimore Pike was paved only on one lane from Rt. 896 to the Maryland line. Memory says both lanes were paved by 1956-57.
Ott’s Chapel Road also had only nine feet of paving.
Rt. 72 or Sunset Lake Road (then called Purgatory Swamp Road) was paved on one lane from Rt. 13 to Rt. 40 and dirt from there to Newark
Driving a nine foot road was a small adventure, especially for the novice driver. Travelers who should have been on the gravel side were prone to use the paved lane most of the time, as traffic was not heavy. One needed to be alert for on-coming traffic and be prepared to take evasive action.
Pencader was not the only area with nine foot roads. Some small remnants remain in other areas of Newark.
Source: Personal recollections
NEWARK PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION
In the 1890s horse stealing had become a major problem around Newark. Men from Newark and surrounding areas were looking for ways to protect local citizens from thievery as well as recover stolen horses. Interested men met August 29th in town council chambers where Dr. A. R. Neal explained how residents of Dover had formed a group to cope with the problem. The Newark Protective Association was formed with over 50 charter members and proved its worth shortly thereafter.
On December 1, 1894 a horse was stolen from John McCarns whose farm was situated near where Suburban Plaza now stands. The thief was captured the next day near Stanton and the Newark Protective Association was here to stay. The Association’s Constitution stated its mission: First: “The recovery of property which has been stolen from its members.” Second: “The detection of the thief or of any person who has committed a depredation upon the person, family or property of a member.” There was a post card sent to remind members of meetings, with a fine for not appearing.
A riding committee was formed with each member given a specific area to cover. When informed of a theft, the members immediately set out to travel their assigned area, stopping at every farm, rural home, tavern, and town, always searching for the missing horse.
Mary Cooch’s 1894 diary mentions the thievery: August 29, “Blair Pie` had a horse stolen last night, the 3rd from Newark lately.” August 30, “Dan (transcriber’s note: the hired man) slept in the stable last night.” September 3, “An electrician put an alarm bell from the stable to the house to protect the horses.”
As horse stealing declined, the association evolved into a social group, still meeting once a year to reminisce over dinner. The last meeting was October 29. 1961, at which time the treasury balance was distributed with $100.00 to Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Co. and $323.90 to Ebenezer Church.
Source: Newspaper clippings and Association minutes
1670 MAP OF CHESAPEAKE BAY AND DELAWARE BAY AREA
Original by Augustine Herman
Details drafted from copies of original map in the British Museum
by Edward H. Richardson Associates, Inc.
Augustine Herman (1621-1686) worked for ten years on his map, at the time the definitive picture of the area. Lord Calvert, royal governor of the area, awarded Herman with about 15,000 acres of land for the map and fulfilling other duties as assigned by Lord Calvert. Herman named his estate Bohemia referring to the place of his birth in the kingdom of Bohemia at Prague. The land is in Cecil County, Maryland around Chesapeake City and several place names reference Augustine Herman and Cecilius Calvert.
The Herman map is very detailed showing even the Christina River where, coincidently, Pencader is now located. A large replica of the map is on display at Pencader Museum. Of interest is the fact that so many names of counties in Maryland are as we know them today.
Source: Information which accompanies the map
DELAWARE PLACE NAMES
Did you ever wonder where Cedar Gut, Hazletville, or Fire Hook is in Delaware? Or any other unusual Delaware place name you might have come across in an old deed or newspaper. Come to Pencader Museum and have your question answered. In our reference library we have a book Delaware Place Names prepared by the US Department of the Interior Geological Survey, 1966. It’s a fun read even if you’re not looking for a particular place. It also gives names and numbers of the Geological Survey quadrangle topographic maps which are available from Department of the Interior and can be useful in locating old cemeteries or watercourses.
1894 DIARY OF MARY EVERTS (WEBB) COOCH
Mary Cooch apparently kept a daily diary for years although the only one surviving is for 1894.
Mary was the daughter of Edward Webb (1819-1898) and Nancy Allyn Foote (1825-1902) who were missionaries. She was born 18 June 1849 near Passumalie, Madura, southern India and married 12 April 1871 at Pencader Presbyterian Church to Joseph Wilkins Cooch (b. 23 June 1840 d. 26 Mar 1917). Mary died 10 July 1933, Pokomoke City, MD and is buried in Welsh Tract Church Cemetery.
Children: Caroline b. 1872; Francis Allyn b. 1873; Levi G. (1875 lived only a few days); Edward Webb b. 1876; Levi (Lee) Hollingsworth b. 1877. Mary recorded every letter, with date and to whom sent, those received with date and writer, in the back of the diary: written 167, received 156 in the year 1894.
Her husband was Joseph Wilkins Cooch who was the County Recorder of Wills during this time period. He and their eldest son took the train to Wilmington every day to work, usually from the Cooch Station along the track at Old Baltimore Pike. The track is still there, but no sign of the station.
The diary was transcribed by Mary’s great-granddaughter, Patricia Logan (Hardwick) Woods, in 2015. The original diary is on display at Pencader Museum and copies of the transcription are for sale.
In the diary Mary briefly described the weather each day, happenings on the farm which we know as the Cooch house and property on Old Baltimore Pike, some family activities and a few local items of interest.
DELAWARE 1ST MILITIA
Although the flag was made for the Delaware 1st Militia, it is commonly known today as the Dansy Flag. While the British were still in the area after the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in September 1777, the flag was taken from the home of Col. Samuel Patterson of Christiana by British raiding parties. Capt. William Dansy took the flag home to England as a trophy where it stayed until 1927 when the Historical Society of Delaware purchased it from the Dansy family and returned it to Delaware.
The flag was on display for about 50 years at the Historical Society, until its fragile nature led to it being returned to storage. Later, due to generous donations from the Colonial Dames in Delaware, Sons of the Colonial Wars, and the Delaware Heritage Commission, the flag underwent restoration and is now occasionally on display.
Conservation work showed the Dansy flag had never been attached to a pole nor had any unit insignia sewn onto it although replicas of the flag accompanied Delaware Militia throughout the War for Independence.
DELAWARE "BLUE COATS"
On December 9, 1775 the Continental Congress authorized formation of the Delaware Continentals as part of Gen. George Washington's army. Led by Col. John Haslet, the unit marched from Dover Green in the summer of 1776 to join Gen. Washington’s troops in the War of American Independence. Unlike most of their Revolutionary comrades-in-arms, who wore into battle clothes of their civilian life, Haslet’s men were known to history as one of the best uniformed and equipped in the early Continental Army.
Their coats were blue, faced and lined with red, thus earning them the name Delaware Blue Coats. White waistcoats, buckskin breeches and white woolen stockings completed the uniform. The uniform buttons of the rank and file were pewter, for officers buttons were gilt. They wore high-peaked leather hats inscribed “Liberty and Independence”.
The 800 well-dressed Delawareans arriving on Staten Island may have been from the smallest colony, but were the largest battalion to join Gen. Washington’s army. Col. Haslet wrote to Thomas Rodney, “….the regiment on its arrival in New York was highly complemented on our appearance and dexterity in the military exercises and manoeuvres” (sic).
Sources: “1776” © by David McCullough, 2005, pg. 149
“The Delaware Continentals” © by Christopher Ward, 1941, pg. 17. Published by Historical Society of Delaware.
DELAWARE STATE SEAL
The state seal was first adopted on January 17, 1777, carrying the state coat of arms and the motto “Liberty and Independence.” The seal has been revised several times, lastly on April 29, 2004.
The coat of arms has also undergone several changes, although keeping the basic elements: