Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Washday

When you have a whole lot of ironing to do

1941 Dennis Station and Restaurant

J. A. Dennis

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Railway Post Office (RPO) or The Mail Car

Early on, the postal service decided that with the bad roads that existed transferring mail between cities by horse drawn wagon was just to slow so by 1850 they started using the railroad to carry the mail.  Mail cars came in two types; baggage cars devoted to carrying bags of sorted mail and the Railway Post Office cars - RPO.  The RPO cars were railroad owned but unstaffed and assigned to mail service with all doors locked by a postal Department employee.

The Railway Post Office - RPO was equipped to handle most back-end postal processing functions.  The mail was sorted, cancelled and bagged for the post offices along it’s route.  There was even a mail slot on the mail car for people who wanted to save time not going through their local post office instead they could walk down to the station, find the mail car and post their letter.  In a time when there was twice a day mail delivery this could be a time saver.  The railroad made money from hauling the mail and it made the difference between a marginal rail line that was about to be dropped and one that continue to provide service on that rail line because the mail contract subsidized the freight and passenger service.  When roads got better and trucks and commercial buses were more efficient in delivering the mail the post office started dropping railroad mail contracts.  In 1956 the postal service dropped the two night trains to Cape Charles.   In 1958 with the removal of passenger service from Delmar to Cape Charles the last mail train was removed.  The mail service did continue from Delmar to Philadelphia. In 1965 both scheduled passenger and mail service from Delmar to Philadelphia was stopped.

The Philadelphia to Cape Charles mail delivery train was train number 455 it would leave Philadelphia at 12:20 AM arrive Delmar 4:40 Am and arrive in Cape Charles at 7:30 Am when it return to Philadelphia it became train number 454. Train 455 and 454 were also passenger service trains.

The photographs are from the Norman J. Elzey collection at the Nabb Research Center Salisbury University.  Norman James Elzey born August 1, 1893 was the son of Harvey Penn Elzey and Mary Tubbs Elzey from the Jersey Road section of Wicomico County.  His wife was Margie Pauline Baker from the St Martin Worcester County area.  She was sister to Mrs George White of Delmar, Delaware.  Previously she had married James Porter Townsend Jr.  They had only been married a short time when he died on November 1, 1919 of Spanish Influenza while stationed in Philadelphia with the Army. Margie and James had one daughter Margaret Virginia Townsend.  Norman Elzey would raise her.  She would marry William Mitchell Day from Wicomico County.  Norman and Margie would have two sons; Norman Joseph Elzey and Robert Edward Elzey.  Norman James Elzey would serve in World War One with Company I and in the Mexican border war of 1910 to 1919.   He joined the railway mail service and in he retired in 1957 after 43 years of service. He died April of 1978.

August 1950 waiting for train #455 in Delmar going to Norfolk

The two train people E. L Poulson Flagman (center) might well be Ernest Lee Poulson (1890-1972) and J. F. Long Conductor (on right) might be John Frank Long. Norman Elzey is the one in light clothing

Norman Elzey sorting mail, He was the Clerk-In-Charge and as such he was required to carry a regulation pistol while on duty because of mail theft.  As we can recall in all the old westerns when the train was robbed they always robbed the mail car.

At the door of the mail train  two men stand behind the barrier and the mail catcher hook

With the train often operating at 50 mph or more, a postal clerk would have a pouch of mail ready to be dispatched as the train passed the station. In a co-ordinated movement, the catcher arm was swung out to catch the hanging mail pouch while the clerk stood in the open doorway. As the inbound pouch slammed into the catcher arm, the clerk kicked the outbound mail pouch out of the car, making certain to kick it far enough that it was not sucked back under the train. An employee of the local post office would retrieve the pouch and deliver it to the post office. As you can see from their dress it was not clean desk job work. 

Inside RPO train 455, smoking was allowed but it was not clean work

 Below on the Ferry

On board The "Elisha Lee" Ferry in 1948 going to Norfolk. Norman Elzey (on left) and the ferry boat oiler Rippon who could be Charley Belvin Rippon (1922-2000) from Cheriton, Va., notice mail room in back of them.  

Philadelphia, PA and Norfolk, VA RPO  July 1, 1950
Listed By Seniority No and  Name
1 Howard S Clark
2 Arthur R. Reed
3 Toy T. Neves
4 Norman J Elzey
5 John T. Shannon
6 Oscar T. Roberts
7 Newton Tushoph
8 Martin K. Grier
9 James J. Morano
10 Levin R. Lowe
11 Burton R. Raughley
1 Joseph V. Michael
2 Walton Letherbury
3 Harry M. King
4 Clarence J. Stoneback
5 Earl F. Townsend
6 Claude J. Dashiell
7 John Urban Jr
8 Robert Brennan
9 William D. Spangler
10 Samuel W. Nock
11 James S. McAllister
12 Herman R.  Fleetwood
13 Charles A. Copple
14 Jefferson Trader
15 Hugh L. Owens
16 Albert Brownlee
17 Roland R. Hamilton
18 Henry R. Strzalkowski
19 Charles A. McCarraher
20 William W. Reed Jr
21 Frank O. Delong
22 James e. Raughley
23 Martin Baitman
24 Paul W. Windsor
25 Raymond J. Amato
26 Robert F. Hoch
27 G. Mitchell Boulden
28 Edward Hearn
29 Samuel W. Conway
30 Stephen b. Hopkins
31 George S. Corazza
32 Ernest H. Wahl
33 John J. Walling
34 William E. Farwell

1966 Triglia's Package Store

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nichols Restaurant

In 1923 Frank Truitt and Howard B. Nichols bought Moraine’s Restaurant in Delmar.  Frank Truitt had worked at the Delmar Post office for several years and Howard Nichols had been working at Arthur Brewington’s automobile dealership.   Howard Nichols was 20 years old at the time. 
above 1925

The restaurant was a 24 hour operation since the trains rolled through town 24 hours a day. With a 24 hour restaurant come disturbances from fights to robberies. 

above from the Democratic Messenger April 14 1938

The Blue Laws in Delaware like other states at the time, had strict laws governing Sunday trade.  Retail operation would stay closed on Sunday besides the obvious ones that sold strictly luxuries such as candy stores and cigars stores and certainly liquor stores, but also Gasoline stations, bakeries, dairies, hotels, restaurants, drug stores, and roadside markets were to be closed.  You were expected to go to church and spent the day with your family.  Amusements such as baseball, football, basketball, tennis, and golf were prohibited. It was felt that restraint is necessary in a society.  In 1941 the dislike for the blue laws in Delaware came to a head and the government felt the best way to get rid of an unpopular law is to enforce it, so state troopers started writing citations for anyone open for business in Sunday.  In 1941 they hit Delmar, Delaware and wrote up five filling stations and Nichols restaurant for being opened on Sunday.  Howard Nichols was taken to court where he paid his $50 fine (in today’s money this would be about $800).

The Truitt and Nichols restaurant changed locations a number of times.  Mostly facing Railroad avenue or State Street, but at one time it was a tea house over on Chestnut Street. 

In addition to the Blue laws restricting him, in 1943 in spite of overwhelming railroad customer traffic from the war effort the restaurant had to cut back from 24 hour operation to 6am to 10 pm because they could not find people to work at the restaurant.  The restaurant was located across from the railroad station.

A restaurant is probably one of the larger employer of people in a small town .  Due to the turn over of waitresses and clean-up people many people over the life of a restaurant work at them.   Nichol’s Restaurant employed many people over it’s life.

Unable to locate a photo of the restaurant this photo shows the top of restaurant over the top of the car. At least that much is available. The photo is from Barbara O'Neal and the two women are Erma Smith and Elizabeth.  The restaurant appears to be a one story building

This is a more recent photo shot from close to the same location 

A restaurant is more than a place to eat, it is a place for civic clubs and organizations to meet and hold banquets, Christmas parties, retirement parties, wedding receptions, and meetings.  Nichols restaurant was very popular for that

In 1946 the old building was torn down and a new building erected.  The new building would have a meeting place for civic clubs on the second floor.   I have no idea why but perhaps just due to a cut back in railroad traffic or he overextended him self remodeling or ill health but in 1950 Howard Nichols lost the restaurant at a sheriff’s sale.

Howard Beauchamp Nichols would pass away in 1970.  He was born in 1903 to Ernest and Annie Beauchamp Nichols .  He would marry Mildred E. Johnson, daughter of Ollie and Clara Johnson.  They would have four children; Clara Ann ( Ring), Howard Johnson., Richard Lee, and Fred Beauchamp.   He would finish up his working career as a cook at Stokley Mentally Retarded Hospital.

I have been unable to track Frank Truitt, his partner for many years in the restaurant, as there are just too many Frank Truitts to determine the correct one.

In 1950 Hollis Wright of Wright’s grill has taken over management of Nichol’s restaurant,  Nichols had recently been bought by Frank Collins at the Sheriff’s sale.   Wrights Grill was at the corner of Grove and Railroad.  The restaurant is now called The Delmar restaurant and Mrs Dorothy Wright is operating the business.  By 1951 the Delmar restaurant closes and the operators Mr and Mrs Wright do not give a reason.  They continue to run Wrights Grill.
The downtown in 1950 with remodeled restaurant

The building in 1951 became the Avenue restaurant owned by Claude E. Bennett, managed by Robert Lee Alford and it had on the second floor the Tropic night Club. 

The second floor was changed to an apartment in the 1960s and the restaurant became a bar bearing a number of names over the next 50 years from Tim's Bar and Restaurant,

above 1975
In 1981 it became Red Dogs owned by Edward and Peggy Downes

Today It is the Sports Nut Restaurant and Pub 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Charles T. Wilson Goes To France

1918 Pvt Charles T. Wilson Nr65 of Company A 312 Machine Gun Bn leaves from Hoboken NJ. to France  His mother Mrs. Laura M. Wilson lives at 408 East St Delmar MD

Charles Thomas Wilson (1891-1951) would work on the railroad as a brakeman and in 1923 he would marry Nora Gordy.  His father was George R. Wilson. Charles would die in a car accident around Chester PA.

in France he would be stationed in the Avocourt Sector; Meuse-Argonne; Troyon Sector; Meuse-Argonne

Luther W. Mitchell

Luther Wilson Mitchell (1913-1995) was another major business owner in Delmar.  He was the son of William Edward Mitchell and Bessie Hearn Mitchell and was born in Delmar.  He would marry Sara Ellen Smith in 1939.  They would have two sons; Luther jr and Edward.

above in 1964

Mr. Mitchell was known for laundry service, coin-operated laundries and coin-operated car washes up and down Delmarva.  He said he had opened and sold over 100 coin-operated laundries.

He entered business in 1940 as an employee of Sunshine Laundry and Dry Cleaning.  He went to the Silver Springs Dry Cleaning school in Silver Springs, MD.  In 1941 he opened his own business called the Spotless Cleaners in Salisbury.

In 1943 he enlisted in the Army where he was in the Army Quartermaster corp in Camp lee Virginia teaching laundry.  He rose to Sergeant in rank.

After he got out he opened Elite Cleaners in Delmar in the old Frank Brown Building.

above 1947 employees

In 1959 he opened his first coin-operated laundry and coin operated car wash.  Eventually he moved from the Frank Brown building across the state line into a coin-operated laundry.  This would be one of many he would sell and eventually operated out of Salisbury.  While in Delmar he gave employment to a large number of people and with the coin-operated laundries he gave small business ownership to a large number of people.  With his wife he continued in business until his death.  Over the years he had poor health and suffered from a heart attack and like a number of business had business setbacks. He would die April 6, 1995 at age 81 in Salisbury.
Mr and Mrs Mitchell in 1994

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Delmar High School Blackboards Recycled

The Genealogy Society I belong to took a tour of T J Mumfords place outside of Hebron.  He has a number of old buildings he rescued from other places and move to his place. Including the brick potato shed above.

He pointed out that the floor is made up of the blackboards that were at the Delmar High School. When it was torn down he obtained them and is now using them for a slate floor.

school tear down 2000

Passing Thru Delmar

S. T. Tate Trainmaster 16 August 1972 Daily Times

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

James Franklin Brown (J. Frank Brown)

James Franklin Brown was born September 6, 1887 in Harnett County, North Carolina (between Raleigh and Fayettville) to John William Brown and Flora Ann Campbell. He had a large number of brothers and sisters.  Of note his age would vary depending on what documents he was filling out so the birthdate may be more like 1884.  By 1905 he was in Delmar, Maryland working for the railroad and the 18 year old swept 23 year old Sallie Mamie Sirman off her feet and he married her in that year. He gave his age as 23 on the marriage certificate.  Sallie was the daughter of William Sirman who was one of the town founders and an influential businessman.  J. Frank Brown in the 1910 census is living with his father in law and working as a locomotive engineer on the railroad.   His brother Joseph down in Youngsville NC also worked for the railroad at this time. 

By 1916 J. Frank Brown had moved on to what he seemed to love best – automobiles.  He built a garage in 1916 called Brown’s  garage in which he sold Ford Motor Cars and did repairs.  From about this point forward he was a mover and a shaker in Delmar.  Rarely did an issue of the local papers not have a mention of him or his wife entertaining, going on trips, boating, fishing etc. 

In 1920 his wife Sallie (1883-1920) died of Uremic poisoning.  She is buried in St Stephen Cemetery. They had no children.

In 1922 Frank Brown remarried.  This time to Mildred Lewis of Salisbury.  She was the daughter of Maggie White and stepdaughter of Stansbury White of Pittsville MD.

above from the Democratic Messenger July 29, 1922

Again J. Frank Brown continued to make the news.  He was one of the charter members of the Delmar Volunteer Fire Company created in 1922.  He served as President of the Fire Company.  He was elected Commissioner of Delmar Maryland in 1924. 

And in one of the stranger news articles he was mentioned in is this one.

above from The Morning News 19 Sept 1925

By 1927 things had taken a turn for the worst for Frank.  He had given up his garage and was manager of the Standard Oil Filling station at the intersection of Bi-State and State Street in Delmar. His wife left him and returned to live with her mother and stepfather in Pittsville.  They had no children.  His name is mentioned in the newspapers now only in foreclosure notices and tax sales.   

In 1942 when he filled out his WW2 Draft Card he has no permanent address only a Post Office Box in Salisbury and he notes that he is unemployed. (this is at a time when there is huge demand for workers for the defense industry) he gives as a contact who will always know where he is – his brother, Joseph Leonard Brown in North Carolina.

By 1945 no one seems to know where he is as this ad appeared in the Salisbury Times

Salisbury Times March 6 1945

The next mention I find of him is in 1956 when he died in the Gov. Bacon Health Center in New Castle Delaware.

Salisbury Times December 1 1956

The obituary says he was buried in Delmar but I have found no headstone. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Brown's Garage 1920s

Brown's Garage is located on the Maryland side of town in spite of the ink blotter says.  The building still stands on First Street.  It is another example of the molded concrete block construction that was popular in this period.  In the 1920’s Frank Brown had a Ford Motor Car business and garage in this building on First Street between East Street and State Street.  The building was built in 1916.   Sometime about 1929 he went out of business and that building sit empty for a while until 1940 when it was used by a produce broker. Later in June of 1946 Luther “Luke” Mitchell started a dry cleaning and laundry plant in the Frank Brown building. The business went under the name “The Elite Cleaners”. He had previously had the Spotless Cleaners in Salisbury but in 1942 he was drafted and he had to sell the business. In the Army he was assigned to the Quarter Master Laundry Service, so the man had a lot of cleaning experience.

It is unclear at what time it happened but at some point he appears to have moved his business to the laundry (Nu Way) next to St Stephens Church on the Delaware side of town.

The Frank Brown Building stayed vacant a while and then a used future store, Furniture Plus, moved in it in the 1980’s.

Delmar Road Rural Telephone Company - 1910

On August 20, 1910 an agreement was signed between The Diamond State Telephone Company and The Delmar Road Rural Telephone Company.  The agreement was for the Delmar Road Rural Telephone Company to buy from The Diamond State Telephone Company two and one-fourth miles of #12 B. W. G Galvanized Iron Wire Circuit on 100 poles for $45.00.  The Delmar Road Rural Telephone Company consisted of 16 people including D. J. Richardson acting as their agent.   It was Signed by; D J Richardson, Dewitt Rounds, Z E Ennis, S. B. Marvil, Walton Figgs, Enoch J. Evans, C. A. Hastings, H C Hurley, H T Davis (or C S Davis), William  R Ellis, E n Shockley, B T West, T L Adkins, J A Jones, Harry Littleton, and J G Farlow.

Now for what reason these people would form their own very small telephone company I do not know.  Most lived on Jersey Road where the two and one-fourth miles of line was.  I found no other mention of this company anywhere other than the agreement.  Perhaps at the Maryland public service Commission there is an old record. 

Note: B. W. G. stands for Birmingham Wire Gauge.

Monday, April 23, 2018

1940 Delmar Maryland High School Graduates

Front Row Seated; Margaret Hastings, Vera Jane cropper, Doris Parsons, George Elliott, Maver Robinson, Doris Venables, Frances Hall, Nancy Stokes

Second Row Standing; James Hitchens, George Oliphant, Wilson Davis, Lloyd McCaine, William Morris, Melvin Williams, Howard Phillips, Wilmer Brittingham

From The Tommy Young Photo Collection

1966 Republican Women's Conference Washington DC

This was in a time when married women went by their husbands name unless the husband was dead.

From Delmar; Mrs. Marvel, Mrs. Aydelotte, Mrs. John Collins, Mrs. Frank Collins, Mrs. Margaret Wootten, Mrs. George Moore, Mrs. Jonathan Wheatley, Mrs. Albert Phillips, Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Floyd Samis and Mrs. Florence Stephens.

1921 Standpipe For Delmar Water Supply

The first actual water system for Delmar Delaware and Maryland was created on October 9, 1911 when the Maryland and Delaware councils gave a franchise to Hugh T. Downing of Philadelphia to create a water works in the two towns. By July 1913 the Delmar Water Works system was in operation. The well and storage tank was located in the North West part of Delmar Delaware (same location as today). My guess is this location was selected because of an existing ice plant, built in 1907 next to the railroad. The ice plant supplied ice to the rail cars loaded with produce. Since an ice plant needs good water to make the ice they must have had an existing well that supplied that “good” water and the Delmar Water Works decided to duplicate that supply source.

The system in 1923 had a 100,000 gallon storage tank (standpipe) that was 12’ by 115’, a 20’ by 40’ pump house, four wells, two Deming Triplex pumps, 44 fire hydrants and five miles of pipe. It was know as the Delmar Water Works. There were smaller water systems in Delmar prior to this one but they served very localized areas and not the entire town. The standpipe served the town from 1913 until about 2000. As with any water tower it was a landmark and reference point for the town. The water mains serves both sides of town. Each town at that time was approximately one half square mile in size.

Since fire was a driving force for the water system (The town had two major fires, one in 1892 and another in 1901) scattered thru out the 1911 franchise are references to the fire department requirements; “The system of water works constructed under the franchise proposed to be granted shall be built so as to provide for an ample protection against fire…”, “would be 33 pounds per square inch of water pressure for domestic purposes and water pressure to throw a stream of water through two hundred feet of hose with a one inch nozzle to a height of at least 30 feet.” “a standpipe will be constructed to insure sufficient pressure of water in case of the breaking out of fire”, and “20 Fire Hydrants will be supplied”

The water rates spelled out in the 1911 franchise were;
The town will pay $20 per fire hydrant, per annum
Individual Customers would pay;
For one spigot, per annum $6.00
For each additional spigot, per annum $1.00
For stationary wash stand, per annum $1.25
For bath tubs, per annum$2.50
For horse trough per annum $4.00
For stables (first cow or horse) , per annum$1.00
For stables (each additional cow or horse) , per annum $1.00
By Water Meter per 1000 gal. per annum $0.30

While doing research at the Nabb Research Center (Salisbury univ) in Salisbury I came across a small report done on the old 1913 Elevated Water Storage tank in Delmar. The report is titled "Historic Structure Report Elevated Water Storage Tank in Delmar, Delaware" by Edward Heite of Heite Consulting.  The State of Delaware (Delaware State Historic Preservation Office) decided it was a potentially significant historic structure and before the Town could tear it down the town had to pay for a report on the structure. The report at the Nabb Center was the outcome of the paid study. I assume somewhere the town has a copy. It is an interesting report that has a little information about the water system in Delmar when it was installed and a lot of filler information. The top part of the Storage tank was cut off and the town was to retained it for future historical purposes but as frequently happens the top of the tank has gone missing.

The current building left standing is a nice looking building with a good color scheme.  it is currently used as offices for the public works department.

in 1996 the standpipe was still there as can be seen in the background. The two girls are Ashley Callahan and Susan Dickerson

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Stone House

It is hard to believe that this empty space which looks like a parking lot/drive way once held the The Stone House Hotel. 

In 1904 Theodore A. Veasey opened his hotel on the Delaware side of State Street.  The hotel sit on a 47 ft front on State street and and an 84 ft deep lot.  The property previous had the home of Mr and Mrs Benjamin Smith.   The bottom half of the hotel was constructed of molded concrete blocks, so living in a land without stone in which concrete is the closest thing to stone the locals called it the Stone House.  The molded block was a popular construction medium at that time.  For more discussions of it use in Delmar.
Theodore Veasey had previously managed a hotel on the corner of Railroad and State street on the Maryland side of town.  Wicomico county voted to become a dry county putting Mr. Veasey’s bar in the hotel out of business, so Mr. Veasey built his stone hotel on the Delaware side of town which was still “wet”.   The new hotel had a new bar, a new restaurant area and a ladies parlor on the first floor. The second and third floor had about 40 rooms to rent out.  The Veaseys lived in the hotel.
Theodore Veasey did not receive his liquor license right away. There were a number of people in town who did not want a bar in town.  Eventually in about 1906 he received his liquor license as the majority of people figured that liquor would be sold anyway so it might as well be in a legal licensed establishment.  In November of 1907 the residents of Sussex county Delaware voted to have Sussex county a “dry” county.  Mr. Veasey closed up his bar again but kept the hotel/rooming house going. 
Theodore A. Veasey (1857-1923) came from Milton Delaware.  His parents were William Wallace Veasey and Arcada C. Atkins Veasey.  Theodore would marry Mary Augusta Culver (1867-1926) in Wilmington on Sep 19, 1894.  Theodore A. Veasey was a wheeler dealer of his time in Delmar.  He was involved in a number of enterprises and held a number of different positions.  He was game warden.  He sold automobiles and real estate.  He ran unsuccessfully for Sussex county Sheriff.  He tried for the Post Master job in Delmar unsuccessfully.
Theodore A. Veasey was connected with the Delmar Lumber Manufacturing Company and in 1913 when it went bankrupt, the property of the other directors (F. G. Elliott) and the property of Theodore Veasey was sold to make good on the debts of the company.  The Stone House was put up for auction and Mrs. Veasey purchased the hotel for $6,500.
Since the bar was no longer being used as a bar in 1916, Mrs. Veasey leased that area out to the Delmar Post Office.  The Post Office would remain in this building until 1959 when a new building was built.   In 1918 improvements were made to the building and now all 40 rooms and the post office had hot and cold running water and steam heat.  Besides the post office on the first floor there also still existed the restaurant.

In 1923 Mr. Veasey at age 65 would pass away followed by his wife Augusta in 1926.  Mr. R. Ray German would buy the building at an estate sale.  He leased to Fannie German and Julia Bryan the restaurant operation and the rooming house operation.  They operated under the business name “German and Bryan”.   Fannie and Julia were sisters, they were daughters of Levin Lowe and Mary Ellen Waller Lowe.   Fannie German was Mrs. Mary Frances German (1865 -1941) and Julia Bryan ( -1937) was her sister and she was married to George Bryan. Referred to as Aunt Fannie, Fannie German was well known to the railroad people that rented her rooms and ate at her restaurant.   Fannie German had been married twice; once to William Thomas Gillis and second to Harvey German.
The restaurant was a 24 hour business and at 4:30AM on a Saturday in 1921 it was robbed when a masked man came in with a gun and told Mrs. Bryan to hand over the money.  She did but the robber got very little as Mrs. German had taken the deposit to the bank earlier.

 above 1931 sanborn fire insurance map of Delmar.

above the white building in back of the homecoming parade band is the stone house after it was converted to apartments.

The building continued in operation as a rooming house or apartments until February 2003 when a fire closed it down and the building was removed.