Monday, February 28, 2011

Brown's Garage

Last night at Mason Dixon Auction I acquired this advertising Ink Blotter for Brown's Garage. A few years back I had made a post on The Frank Brown Building. This ink blotter has a photo of the building in the first quarter of the 1900's when it was a car dealership for Ford.

The building is on First street about a half block in from State street. It is on the Maryland side of town and this is the second advertisement I have seen that gave the address of Brown's Garage as Delmar, Del. I don't know why.

The building has housed a number of different businesses over the years and like the house beside it has been added on to and covered up with various siding.

I am sure there is a number of people out there asking themselves what is an ink blotter? God that makes me feel old. Go here for that history and description

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society News

From the Tasley Eastern Shore News

ONANCOCK -- The Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, which was formed in 1957, has experienced some very interesting turns of events over the years. Now, as it approaches its sixth decade of existence, the society will host several concerts --free and open to the public -- in honor of one of its founding members, Amine Kellam.

Funded entirely by private donors, The Amine Kellam Music Series will be an opportunity to pay tribute to one of our Shore's most generous and honorable citizens and one of the Historical Society's most influential presences.

Though many great accomplishments on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and throughout the state can be attributed to Kellam due to her tireless efforts toward improving the environment, her contributions to the Historical Society during its formative years are significant.

As a founder, a member, a board president and now as an honorary member, her leadership, energy, generosity and persistence have left an indelible mark on this cultural institution. It is no doubt that her devotion to the society served as the catalyst for its growth and success. Kellam loved music and often hosted concerts at Ker Place when the society was just forming. This music series was created in her honor for all the work she has done.

The Amine Kellam Concert Series will kick off on Saturday at Ker Place with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra performing as well as setting up an instrument petting zoo for all members of the community. The next concert is April 1 with famed jazz talent Jae Sinnett of Norfolk playing with his ensemble. More concerts are planned and will be announced as their dates draw near.

1890 Special Census Delmar, Wicomico County

In 1890 a special Civil War Veterans and Widows Schedule was created, and enumerators asked whether a person had been a Union or Confederate soldier, sailor, or marine during the Civil War, or was a widow of such a person. I went thru and listed the below people, in the Wicomico County Part of the Census, who had a Delmar address.

Campbell, Charles H., Private, 9th Delaware infantry
White, James G., Private, 1st Delaware Infantry
West, Jacob, Private
Smith, John W., Colored
Parsons, Wm J., Private, 3rd Maryland Infantry
Melson,, Thomas I. S., Corporal, 9th Delaware Infantry
Downs, Joseph, Private, 1st Delaware Infantry
Bishop, Peter W., Private, Maryland Art. Colored Exempted
Parsons, Nathaniel, Private, 9th Maryland Infantry Colored
Wailes, Sandy W., Private, 19th Maryland
Truitt, Benjamin T., Private, 1st Maryland
Freeny, William, Private, 9th Maryland
Wilkins, James, Private, 2nd Maryland
Furey, John, Corporal, 7th reg. of cav.
Vincent, Peter W., Private, 1st Delaware
Melson, Thos Asbury, Sargent, 1st delaware
Bensing, Wm, Private, 58th Massachett
Farlow, Benjamin W., Private, 1st Del Inf.
Mitchell, George, Private, 19th Reg. C Vol.
Dashiell, George, Private, 9th Maryland

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Delmar 1929 Railroad Caboose

The Delmar 1929 Penna Railroad caboose arrived in June of 1976 in time for the Bicentennial. Like most things getting it here didn't happen by itself. It took the efforts of a number of people to make it happen. George Truitt and Grover Lecates were two. They had been trying for 20 years to get a caboose into Delmar to use as a Railroad Museum. In 1976 with the help of the Delmar Bicentennial Committee they were able to succeed in that dream. The caboose cost in 1976 $1,000 ($3,793 in 2009 dollars) and the money was raised by fundraising events and the sale of cookbooks. I came across one of those cookbooks at a flea market and snatched it up. Anyway, with that effort the caboose arrived in June of 1976 covered in plywood painted the yellow color of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. It also had some damage to it. When the plywood was remove the familiar red of the former Chesapeake and Ohio was still on the caboose. In 1976 the caboose was considered obsolete and parts to replace the damaged sections were hard to find, but the damage was repaired and the caboose was ready for the 1976 Bicentennial.


Send your check to Delmar Historical and Arts Society
C/O Wilmington Trust Co.
38716 Sussex Highway
Delmar, Delaware 19940

$5.00 Individual Membership
$10.00 Institutional Membership
$2.50 Student and Senior (62 and Over)

Support from our members is the lifeblood of the Society. DHAS thrives because of Individual support from valued friends like you.


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Nine Foot Road

In reading about local history one of the confusing things you come across is the name of streets and roads. Over time they change, and if you are not aware of what the same road was called in 2008, or 1950, or 1875 it can greatly add to your confusion and mislead you. Now we tend to think of roads as always being there and we may have an ideal that at one time they were just dirt but in American history roads and road systems are relatively new. With the wide spread use of the automobile/truck, roads in America developed between 1915 to 1930. There was another burst of road building in the 1950’s with the interstate highways but the main road building was in the early 1900’s.

The basic road width of that time was the nine-foot road. Thru out the United States there are roads still named the Nine-Foot Road and this tends to show the age in which they were originally built. In Delaware there are roads still named the Nine-Foot Road at Shaft Ox corners, Greenwood and somewhere around Newark. Altho we tend to be more familiar with the Nine-Foot road that runs between Shaft Ox Corner and Dagsboro, locally the Whitesville road was, until recently, called the Nine-Foot Road.

Like most of America, Delaware in the early 1900’s, recognized the need for roads, and road systems. Prior to this to travel a long distance by road you went to the next town and found the road leading to the next town after that, repeating this until you reached your destination. There were no road maps as we know them today. It also recognized that with the spread of the motor truck, locations that were not on a rail line could now have an important economy benefit to the state.

Between 1915 to 1925, Delaware built farm to market roads thru out the state. Not only did Delaware see the need for stronger roads due to the motor truck they realized that on a paved road a farmer could haul a load of five to six thousand pounds with a pair of mules as opposed to a two thousand pound load on a dirt road. An improved road also increased the value of the farms on the road, thusly increasing property taxes. Altho referred to as nine-foot roads they were for the most part a road with two nine foot wide lanes. One lane was paved and the other lane was dirt. The dirt lane was intended for use in dry weather. Some times we will see the old concrete section of a nine foot road off on the side of a “New” road after the “New” Road had been straighten or it’s course changed.

In 1957 a group of local residents went to the Delaware Highway Commission to complain about the Nine-Foot Road from Bacon to Gumboro. They wanted it widen and both lanes paved. It had, for the most, part, survived the last thirty years in it’s original one lane paved and one lane dirt condition.

As America started to build road systems the nine-foot road was the basic building block. When the Dixie Highway was built in 1918 it was a nine-foot brick paved road going from Chicago to Miami. Likewise for the Lincoln Highway which was the first highway to cross America. Today it seems strange but at the time most of the larger highways were paved with brick, although I can think of none in our area.

So how did the nine-foot width come about? It is a question I have found no clear cut answer to. From logic I would have to say the nine-foot width developed the same way railroad gauges developed. It was a common measurement for transportation roads. The Romans in their laws of the Twelve Tables specify that a road shall be 2.45 m (8 ft) wide where straight and 4.90 m (16 ft) where curved. In England, Henry the first decreed road wide enough for two carts or six armed knights side by side (two lane road). In a 1555 act cartways (single lane road) were required to be 8 foot wide. In America in the early 1800’s the National Road was constructed from Maryland to Illinois. It was eight foot wide. I can only guess that like food serving in America as time progressed road widths were supersized and became nine-foot in width instead of eight-foot. So that said please do not ask me about Sixty-Foot Road in Wicomico county.

Holloway Town

Holloway Town is a development built by Elijah (Lige) N. Holloway about 1925. It is located north of the Delmar Elementary school on the Maryland side of town. The original plat called for twenty lots on Spruce Street between what is now Pennsylvania Avenue (use to be Railroad Avenue) and Second Street.

The original plat is recorded in book JCK 140/261 at the Wicomico County Courthouse. The lot sizes were basic 50 ft by 150 ft. The homes that were built were of the 800 to 1000 sq ft size. I understand he initially built all the homes and used them as rental property before selling them around 1931.

Elijah Neimiah Holloway was born March 10, 1883. He was a very successful produce buyer and produce broker. He was the son of E. E. and Mary Covington Holloway. He was married first, in 1914 to Della Brown. She died in 1941. He married a second time to Pauline Elizabeth Elzey in 1943. They had a daughter Phyllis E. Holloway. He died at 75 on June 19, 1963 at Spring Hill Sanitarium and was buried at Parson's cemetery. Brothers and sisters were; Charles Edward Holloway, George Thomas (Tom) Holloway, Marion Holloway, Helen Ryall, Lena Walker, Lillie Mae Pruitt. His brother Charles had a plant nursery in town.

1944 Delmar Auction Block

Iron Hill Distillery - 1905

From the State Register January 7, 1905

For Sale.- "The Iron Hill Distillery" offers for sale its entire outfit for distilling, which is the best equipped in the District of Maryland, outside of Baltimore city. Will also close out entire stock of pure old apple, peach and grape brandies. These goods are strictly pure and have been in the Government Bonded Warehouse for five years. Anyone wishing pure old brandy for medicinal purposes can secure the right thing by addressing, T. A. Veasey, Proprietor, Iron Hill Distillery, Delmar, Del.

1963 - Greenway Inn

Delmar News July 1900

From the Salisbury advertiser July 21, 1900

Delmar News

The M. P. and M. E. churches will give an excursion to Ocean City, Wednesday July 25. Train leaving here at 8 A.M. and returning 7 P.M.

The young men of the town gave a delightful strawride on Wednesday of last week. Those who enjoyed the pleasant ride were Misses Blanche Marvil, Ethel Hastings, Pearle Lowe, Blanche Reninger, Ethel Hayman, Daisy Culver, Bertha Sturgis, Lillian English, Messrs Jno. Elliott, Oscar Sharp, Harley Elliott, Loran German, Claude Phillips, Arthur Ellis, William Marvil and Harry Herman. The company after meeting at the home of Miss Blanche Marvil drove around and then started for the picnic at Zion. All reported having a most delightful evening.

The young gentlemen of the town met Tuesday evening to organize a band. The following gentlemen handed in their names; H. Sipple, T. L. Barker, L. Allie Melson, Sam'l Culver, A. German, L. German, H. German, H. Collins, Horace Benson, J. W. Elliott, S. M. Ellis, Vernon Hastings, Geo. W. Nichols, Claude Phillips, A. B. Elliott. the people should welcome the band and do all they can to help them make a success.

For several days the temperature has been hovering around 100 degrees and some farmers have abandon field work.

Peaches are coming in plentifully but the quality is poor. Peaches are selling here at 15 to 30 cents a basket.

Blackberries are selling at three to four cents per quart and many are being shipped to Cape Charles City.

The Delmar Zoo

The Martha Washington Hotel in 1922 with Winder and Martha Culver standing by the gas pumps. Route 13 is in front of them

A few days ago Gary Horseman stopped by and asked me why I didn’t do something on the Delmar Zoo. Now, as I have said before, I didn’t move to Delmar until the late 1970’s and I had never heard about a Delmar Zoo. Well in looking into it and based on information from Gary Horseman and Buddy Perry here is what I found out.

In the 1920’s and up into the early 1940’s, on the corner of Pine Street and what was than Route 13 stood the Martha Washington Hotel. Now RT 13 was of course the major artery down the peninsula, so all the traffic went thru Delmar and by the Martha Washington Hotel. The Martha Washington Hotel was run by Louie and Virgie Culver and later, as with any family run business their daughter, Martha, helped out,. Besides renting out rooms, The Martha Washington was a General Store, restaurant, gas station and most important of all it had a zoo behind it. Now today this would be referred to as a classic roadside attraction, but back in the depression people made their living doing what they could and it was a business. Some of you may remember trips to Florida before the days of the interstate and flashy theme parks, where you would stop at a gas station/restaurant and they would have a collection of animals caged in the back you could see for a quarter. Well this is that type of a zoo but you didn’t have to go to Florida, it was right here in Delmar.

Louie Culver and his family were enterprising people. The menagerie had a bear, a monkey, ponies, geese, Billy goats, foxes, squirrels and other indigenous animals. You paid a price to see the animals and you could buy pet food to feed the animals. You could also pay to ride the ponies. The photos (from Buddy Perry) below show some of the animals. Now we have all seen goats, foxes and ponies but what is interesting is the background of the photos. You can see RT13 and how lightly traveled it was. The photo with the fox shows it was tethered right along side RT13. You can see Mr. Culver also had the Dixie Barbecue and what appears to be a mobile sandwich wagon on an early truck. The man was busy.

Just before Christmas in 1942 the Martha Washington Hotel caught on fire and was destroyed. It ended the zoo and the rest of the operation. Virgie Culver died about 1946 and Louie Culver died about 1954.

One story Buddy Perry told me was his grandfather, Louie, once sold gas at eight gallons for a dollar. He had cars lined up from his station to the Old Maryland School (where the Catholic Church is now).

As an interesting side note, the town of Delmar Delaware acquired the cage the bear was kept in. The cage was stored in a garage the Delaware policeman used on First Street. The Policeman used the bear cage as a holding cell for prisoners he picked up.

the Fox by RT13

Pony Rides


Pony rides

The Monkey Cage with Mr. Culver in it with monkey

The Gas Pumps

The Billy Goat with Barbecue Pit In Back

How Squirrels Came To Delmar

In 1940, the Delmar Lions Club purchased six squirrels from Virginia and set them free in what was then called the "Delmar Park" (today's State Street Park). The Mayor of Delmar Delaware, Leroy Lockerman, had signs made notifying motorists on Grove and State Street to be careful in driving to avoid killing the squirrels. The squirrels were productive and today we have them everywhere.

The Lions Club purchased "Delmar Park" plus additional land in 1941 to be used as a park for the citizens of Delmar. In 1947 they deeded the park over to both towns. The park was part of the Elihu Hastings land and had never been built upon. It had been used as a park since the town inception in 1859. When the Lions Club purchased the land it was owned by Mrs Minnie Melson, who was a descendent of Elihu Hastings.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Delmar - The Town Of Gas Stations - 1942

From The Bi-State Weekly July 24 1942

Delmar has been nicknamed the town of gas stations. There are ten stations on U. S. Route 13 within the city limits which is approximately a one and one-half mile stretch.

1914 Delmar Postcard

Out on Ebay is a 1914 postcard of the train station. I assume the original postcard image had been retouched quite a bit as no one believes the town looked that clean.

Delaware Gives Us Federal Income Tax - 1913

Today in 1913 Delaware was the final state to ratify the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution bringing income taxation to the United States.

The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

In 1913 less than 1% of the population paid income tax at the rate of 1%.

In 1895 the Supreme Court had declared a federal income tax law unconstitutional. In typical government manner, not getting what they wanted in 1895, they rewrote the law and tacked an amendment on to the constitution granting them the power to do so. This amendment reversed that decision and authorized a tax on income

Rodbell Bros - 1951

Chester Hall - 1951

From The Salisbury Times February 5, 1951


DELMAR, Feb. 5 - Delaware State Police today were investigating the death of Chester Hall, 61, a negro, in a fire in a shack near here.

Hall's charred body was found near the shack late Saturday. It had burned to the ground by the time firemen arrived.

It was on Ford Warrington property on the Delmar-Millsboro road. Hall was an employee of Warrington, according to State Police. Hall was believed to have been alone when the fire started. The probable cause was an overheated oil stove.

Delmar firemen got two calls for the shack fire. The first sent them to the Pepper Box area but they found no fire in the place described by the caller.

Then a second call came in. The caller said someone would be along the road to direct firemen to the burning shack. It was in a lonely wooded area. The shack burned during the Saturday snowstorm.

Four other alarms kept Delmar firemen busy. An oil burner caused an alarm at the Desmond Apartment on North Second Street No damage was reported. This was Friday.

Later Friday an alarm sent firemen to the old brickyard where a trash fire was getting out of control. Then in the afternoon chimney sparks set the roof ablaze on the home of Albert Waller, Chestnut St. Damage was estimated at $25. Saturday morning little damage was reported in a chimney fire at Fed Cooper home on the Delmar-Sharptown highway.

The Blue Moon - 1951

Problems With Creating Modern Family Trees

Family is Family and Genealogy is about families and their histories. In creating a family tree it should be an easy thing after all everyone has a mother and everyone has a father - right? Enter the modern world in which you have single parents, same sex marriages and partnerships, multiple marriages, multiple divorces, adoptions, polygamy, sperm donors, a wide combination of half siblings, sex changed parents, surrogate mothers, and the situation of the Delaware Gore Family in which a woman adopted her ex-husband as her child. In other words the non-nuclear family.

Under the old system you didn't mention any relationship that was not a blood legal relationship and if the mother wasn't married at the time of birth that fact was glossed over. It was, let the reader figure it out or let Aunt Beth tell them the facts of life.

Interestingly as late as the early 18th century, among rural farm families, you will sometime find the first child born before nine months of the marriage ceremony. There was a very sound reason for this, namely to insure fertility before marriage was contracted. This was to be certain the spouse was capable of providing an heir to inherit the property and children to work the property in the parents' old age. It may not have been openly condoned, but was well recognized.

Today people want to scream their weird familial scenarios to the world and insist the family tree reflect those facts. If you are using a commercial software problem to do your family tree you will find it is impossible to use or certainly a challenge. Oddly, well maybe not too odd, the Morman family tree software has a utility for polygamy. For same sex marriages there seem to be more commercial programs that can handle this such as Family Tree Builder. With other commercial software the only way to handle it is in the notes section (they usually allow notes on each person in the tree) something like; the mother and father you're tied to aren't your birth parents they used a surrogate mother and a sperm donor so you can call anyone you want you mother or father as those people you presently call your mother and father don't have a clue.

You may have to go to simply using a word program and create your own free flowing tree from that. In all cases however it is YOUR family tree so include whoever you want in it. It may not be recognized by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution required you to prove lineal, blood line, descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence) but for your purposes it will be fine.