Various philosophers have said “if you don’t know where you came from, you can’t know where you’re going.” In order that Newark knows where it came from the Post will be publishing Out of Our Past, as a companion to Out of the Attic. Content of Out of Our Past will be excerpts from the earliest city government records. These handwritten records frequently have questionable spelling and no punctuation. That’s fun to see, but for easier reading this deficiency has been rectified in the transcription by Barbara White. For our readers’ enjoyment this account from the past will be published every week and is being made available through the generosity of Pencader Heritage Museum.
Published: Oct. 18, 2013
With the first few pages missing, Book 1 begins on page 9 with certifying the April 10, 1866, election of John H. Evans, William Reynolds, John F. Williamson, James Armstrong and John Pilling as Town Commissioners. The commissioners met in various places such as Odd Fellows Hall, stores or private offices of members.
By June 20th they had elected officers among themselves, designated 2 members to prepare a property assessment, set a tax rate to clear at least $500, named Ephraim Blackwell Tax Collector, and petitioned the Road Commissioners of White Clay Creek Hundred to have control of all town streets turned over to the town.
Published: Oct. 25, 2013
On estimation the first tax levy would raise $611.52. Collector Ephraim Blackwell was bonded and took up his duties. The town was divided into districts each with a Commissioner. West from Newark Trust (now Catherine Rooney’s): J. W. Evans and William Reynolds; from the Bank east: J. F. Williamson, John Pilling and James Armstrong. The latter three to oversee paving Pilling’s Row which ran north and south.
After apparent rowdiness July 4, 1866, a special meeting July 6 passed a resolution: “any person or persons firing or causing to be fired any cannon, swivel gun, pistol, firecracker or other article of such nature on the public streets of Newark shall be deemed guilty of an infraction, fine not to exceed $5.” Street repairs progressed but the request to gain control of town streets had not been answered by White Clay Hundred Road Commissioners.
September 1866 to March 1867 no meetings were recorded. Commissioners elected April 1867: William Reynolds, J. W. Evans, John Pilling, James Armstrong and George Williams. Town divisions remained the same and the treasury held $40.88. Jesse Russell was appointed Tax Collector.
The Commissioners were dealing with “numerous complaints made by citizens respecting various disorders & misdemeanors.” Committeemen were appointed to “draft a set of ordinances for the better regulation of order.” A request was made to have the sidewalk paved from the Village Presbyterian Church (now site of St. John’s RC Church) to the Methodist parsonage.
Published: Nov. 1, 2013
First reading of new ordinances in June 1867 included: remove snow from sidewalks within 10 hours after storm or
be fined $1; no horses, cattle or swine to roam free, owners fined one dollar for each offense; speed limit
6 mph, subject to fine of $1 to $5; no one to impede progress on sidewalks or streets; no boisterous singing or
undue noise or behavior within town limits, fine two dollars first offence. Jesse Russell, Town Bailiff,
empowered to arrest for all violations his compensation half of all fines collected.
Some cows were impounded and owners had to pay fines. A suit filed by
Commissioners against George P. Miller, Esq., for speeding was dropped on a technicality through the
"matchless eloquence of G. M. Murphy, Esq.," on Mr. Miller’s behalf. The tax levy for 1868 was $0.10 per
hundred dollars’ valuation. At the end of 1868 the town treasury held $249.
The 1869 Board of Commissioners included John Pilling, Saul Darlington, S. B. Wright, E. Butterworth and
George W. Williams. The tax rate for 1869 was $0.25 per hundred dollars’ evaluation. A committee was charged with
finding a room suitable for a Station House and “lockup.”
After assessment of town property each year, the assessment was displayed in two prominent places
in town and a date set for citizens to appeal. Sometimes the assessment was reduced, but not always.
In August 1870 pavement and gutter bridge repairs on Chapel Street, Main Street and Depot
Rd. were completed
Published: Nov. 8, 2013
Only three 1871 Commissioners are listed: B. Caulk as president, John Pilling secretary/treasurer and a Mr. Thornly. There was $1 in town coffers. Gilbert Russell was hired assessor and collector of taxes with the tax rate again $0.25 per one hundred dollars’ valuation.
Elected in April 1872 were John W. Evans, Benjamin M. Caulk, William H. Walker, William B. Thornly and George W. Williams. John W. Choate was made Town Bailiff and Tax Collector.
Citizens on the west end of town complained of fire danger from the smokestack of C. W. Blandy’s foundry, resulting in a request that Mr. Blandy place a spark catcher on the stack.
The yearly election in 1873 saw some new names appear: J. H. Ray and George Rambo. John Lemon was named Town Bailiff and Tax Collector with Hosea T. Riddle as his security. Another committee was appointed to expedite getting a “lockup” built, an effort ongoing since 1869. Nathan Landers was appointed street maintenance supervisor and ordered to buy quarry stone and brick for the streets and sidewalks.
James Springer was new on the board and Saul Darlington returned in 1874. In 1875 Nathan Landers was newly elected to the Board and James Armstrong returned. John Lemon was Bailiff and Collector of taxes and fines. A bond held by his wife as security was assigned to the town as collateral. Mr. Lemon was paid $30 for his year’s work as bailiff and the tax collection was $765.
Published: Nov. 15, 2013
In 1877 streetlight installation was being discussed, “buy 5 lamps as cheaply as possible and cedar post at no more than $1 each.” A caretaker of the lamps would be needed.
Jacob Flippen, W. T. Colmary, and Patrick Murphy were hired at $2 each to assist the Bailiff on Halloween night.
A gate post on D. W. Caskey’s property was vandalized and a $50 reward offered by the Commissioners to find the culprit.
The sidewalk from Clemens property to the upper school house was ordered curbed and sanded and if funds available the front sidewalk of Combs & Ray’s property to have same.
New ordinances were enacted: for any goose, goat or hog found running loose the owner “shall pay a fine of fifty cents and costs for each and every one so found”; “five dollars fine for digging of sod, gravel, sand or dirt from streets; no drunkenness or profanity on streets; no tossing, pitching, kicking or throwing balls, bats, clubs, slingshots or other missiles on town streets.”
By May 1878 the Commissioners decided 20 street lights would be needed and had received an estimate from Baltimore Gas Light Co. to furnish oil at $0.15 per gallon. City Secretary George Williams went to Camden and Chester investigating gasoline street lights, but reported them too expensive for Newark.
Tax collector for 1878 was Mr. L. Wier and the first Monday night of each month to be Board of Commissioners’ meeting night.
Published: Nov. 22, 2013
Summer 1878 found Newark being improved. A. H. Cunningham was hired to maintain, light and furnish oil for 20 street lights for 10 months at $224. Sidewalks in front of M. C. Daniel, the Presbyterian parsonage, and #41 school to be curbed and paved.
There had been some robberies in houses and stores so the Commissioners put up $50, provided store owners matched it, as a reward to solve crimes.
Makeup of the board after April 1879 elections was John Atkinson, John H. Hill. W. Thomas Singles, W. H. Griffith, George Williams. The new streetlights were not proving satisfactory so a committee went to Chesapeake City to see their gasoline lamps.
Other items of business: wages reduced to $1 per day for laborers; Town Bailiff ordered to be around W. H. Russell’s corner on Saturday nights maintaining order; broken stone for streets was ordered by the freight car load.
In 1880 Peter Legates named Town Bailiff and Tax Collector at $30 per year. Pennsylvania Gas Light Company’s contract with the town for street lights was renewed at $1.50 each light/per month, the company to replace wooden poles with iron ones as needed.
The town sold the frame “lockup” built for that purpose and 2 new cells were built in the basement of the Exchange Building, rent contracted with building trustees at $20 a year for 10 years.
Published: Nov. 29, 2013
June 1880: gutters were ordered cleaned in front of the Misses Motherwell’s and the bridge at Lewis’ to be repaired immediately; Theo Armstrong notified not to block the sidewalk while unloading wagons.
October brought a dispute as paving began in front of Wright and Pilling properties. Mr. Pilling claimed Main Street should be 40 feet wide. A committee sent to the courthouse in New Castle would find no reference concerning street width. Choate Street was graveled and a crossing ordered on Chapel Street near Jacob Kurtz’s shoe
Town Charter changes were being considered: town financial statement to be published and a town voter had to be current on taxes.
The 1881 Board consisted of J. H. Williamson, John R. Hill, James Hossinger, Joseph B. Lutton, George Williams. Peter Legates was appointed Town Bailiff, provided he move into town limits.
Edward Wilson contracted to provide stone from his quarry at 35 cents per 2-horse cart load delivered to the streets. John Pemberton was approached concerning the “awful stench constantly arising from his slaughterhouse.” George Lindsey was paid $4 cash for Newark shinplasters from Neil Walls. (Note: Shinplaster was slang for any paper money worth less than one dollar. Samples can be seen at Pencader Museum.)
Delaware Legislature passed a law stating towns should set up Boards of Health. Those appointed to Newark’s board were Dr. C. Henry, Theo Armstrong, D. W. Caskey, Samuel J. Wright, George G. Evans.
Published: Dec. 6, 2013
September 1881 - Railroads are coming to Newark!! Delaware & Western and Baltimore & Ohio Railroads made application for crossings on College or Creek Road and on Main Street at the Deer Park.
A petition to the Board asked for extension of Choate Street from Lutton’s shop to town limits. Signers were Messrs. Thornly, Handy, Cornog. Wright, King, Roberts, Butterworth, Bradley, Hains, Vandergrift, Kurtz, Wilson, Choate, Moody, Lilly, Pilling, Pennington, Landers, Quinlan, Harrigan, Jeffery.
In April 1882 Dr. C. Henry vaccinated 35 people and Dr. Kollock 30 people at 50 cents each. The Board of Health now consisted of George Evans, David Caskey, Saul Wright, Lewis Allen and Dr. Columbus Henry.
Tax rate set at 30 cents on 100 dollars’ valuation. Dean Brick Company supplied bricks at $11.50 per thousand delivered anywhere in town. Joseph Johnson offered to lay brick pavement for $2.50 per thousand.
Wilbur Wilson contracted to survey north side of Main Street in front of Vandergrift property establishing the 40-ft. width between curbing. Four new streetlamps were ordered, 2 each on Choate and Main.
After the 1883 election the Board consisted of Miller Barton, James Wilson, Richard Pilling, Theodore Armstrong and George Williams. The Board was willing to pay $10 per year rent for a permanent place to meet instead of moving around each month.
A notice went to the public “not to haul slops on the pavements, but to keep out in the streets.”
Published: Dec. 13, 2013
August 1883 40 people signed a petition requesting be Delaware Avenue extended from Depot Road (now South College) to Academy Street. It would go through property owned by the Lewis, Zigler, Hossinger, Pemberton and Maxwell families; Damages paid to property owners for loss of land ran from $20 to $125. Another 30 people petitioned to have a new street laid out running east and west from Choate Street to Chapel Street, but it was denied due to the ongoing process for Delaware Avenue.
James Morrison was notified to put spouting on his carriage shed and to secure the open cellar way near the pavement.
In June Joseph Willis, Claud Pierson, James Gilmour, Alex Penny, Edward Ganer, Joseph Smith and William Gamble were deputized as extra police as “there was fear of a riot” due to disturbance by men building the new railroad.
The town borrowed $500 at 5% from A. H. Streets for three months. Cyclists were notified not to ride on sidewalks or pavements after dark or risk a fine of $1 and costs.
In 1885 A. J. Mote became Town Bailiff at $50 per year. Twenty-six people again presented a petition for a new street from Chapel to Choate with the addendum “then west to College Avenue.” The tax rate was to be $0.50 per $100.
The “lockup” was ordered cleaned out, whitewashed, and benches put in. The power of the town to tax Newark Academy was being investigated.
Published: Dec. 20, 2013
In 1885 the B & O Railroad was notified to “move its workers and their shanties outside town limits as their conduct and mode of living had become a nuisance.”
A move was started to extend Cleveland Avenue through lands owned by James Ray’s heirs and S. M. Donnell.
The Commissioners in 1886 began investigating electric streetlights. A committee was appointed to visit West Chester to see the Edison Incandesant Electric Lights in use there, reporting back favorably. However it was decided to wait and see how Middletown fared with electric lights. In the meantime seven new gas lights were approved.
George Evans, T. R. Wolf, Dr. C. Henry, Dr. L. M. Whistle and A. A. Curtis were to serve as the new Board of Health. Miss Hannah Nathan loaned the town $500 for two months.
A motion was made to consider widening the east end of Main Street and straightening the lines. Street repairs were constant.
A public meeting was called in March 1887, to consider expanding the town limits and revising its Charter. A motion carried to divide the town into 3 districts with 2 Council members (as they were to be called) elected from each district. The suggested Charter changes were presented to the Delaware legislature, where they failed to pass.
Council began renting a room from the Odd Fellows’ lodge for $1 per night to hold meetings.
Published: Dec. 27, 2013
1887 – Street lights were costing $45.00 per month and the railroads were requested to provide safety gates at town crossings. Drainage ditches behind properties of Dr. E. W. Haines, James Wilson, and Newark Academy were repaired. Dr. L. Whistler, Robert Gregg, John Pilling, Theo Wolf, and W. Simpers were appointed as Board of Health.
Flagstones were ordered for crossings on Elkton Road and opposite Pusey Pemberton’s shop. Three carloads of crushed stone from Avondale cost $112.50. Councilman Gotlieb Fader was allowed an old street lamp to use at his new Delaware Avenue home
1888 – Rules of order for Council meetings were drawn up. Letterhead and envelopes were ordered for the first time.
How to get business to move to Newark? Advertise and induce them with railroad facilities, suitable locations, “healthfulness”, etc. Inquiries from 3 businesses were received in response to ads.
A public water supply was the first order of business with over 40 residents signing a petition. All of Council went to check out Middletown, Dover, Smyrna and Havre de Grass’s water systems. A well-attended public meeting was held concerning types of public water system. Smyrna’s system was judged to be best suited to Newark. A special election was held as to whether Newark should build a water supply and sewage disposal system and give Council the authority to borrow $25,000 to build them.
The vote was 963 for, 55 against.