Saturday, June 30, 2018

James Henry Conoway Retires

Above From the Laurel State Register February 11, 1930

James Henry Conoway did not live long after his retirement in 1930, he passed away in 1931 at age 66.  His wife and him lived on Grove Street. He was born in Georgetown in 1865, the son of John Wingate and Mary E Workman Conoway. He started work with the Railroad in Georgetown about the same time he married his wife Mary Jefferson Chase (1870-1949).  She was the daughter of Edward and Sarah Wilkins Chase. He moved to Delmar about 1915.  The Conoways had as children; Margaret May (1888 - ) who married Harvey Hastings, Helen (1892-1989) who married Harry Wilmer Steele, and John H Conoway (1898-1993) who married Myrtle M. Kerr.  Both John Henry and Mary Jefferson are buried at the Union Cemetery Georgetown, Delaware.

Friday, June 29, 2018


Annual dues are payable in January of each year and cover the period from January 1 to December 31.

Individual Membership - $12.00

Life Membership - $200.00

Student and Senior (62& over) $12.00 

Mail to: Delmar Historical and Arts Society,  PO Box 421, Delmar, Delaware 19940

DHAS Officers

Patsy Bridge, President

Alan Whitley, Vice President

Ginger Trader, Treasurer

Karin Walter is Secretary

The Board of Directors are;

Howard Dickerson, Shirley Martin and Wayne Mitchell.

The Sad Tale Of The Rothe Family of Delmar

In 1919 Benjamin Rothe Sr and Benjamin Rothe Jr purchased a farm outside of Delmar.  Ben sr was married to Claire Hummel Rothe (1864- .)  Ben Sr was born in Wisconsin in 1858.  He married Claire Hummel there in 1882.  They travel to California to Yountville, Napa Valley  California.  In 1896 Ben Jr was born there.  About 1915 they came to Delaware where Ben Jr married and then divorced Blanche Dill.  In 1919 he married again to Camellia Sarah Dantinne in Elkton Maryland.  Camellia parents are John Baptist Dantinne and Mary Seraphina Jackman of Cecil Pa. Camellia had a sister, Mary, who was married to George Quillen of Salisbury.  Both families of Rothes lived outside of Delmar, first on the Maryland side of town and then on the Delaware side of town.  In July of 1921 Ben Sr was arrested for bootlegging and running a speakeasy on Shelly Elliott farm two miles from Delmar.  He had at the time of his arrest 10 gallons mash and 6 gallons of wine. 

In December of 1921 Camellia had grown bored with Ben Jr and Delmar.  She use to drive to Salisbury to watch the movies and there mean Daniel Joseph (DJ) Pabst who convinced her to run off with him.  They head for New York State where she uses the name Ruth Pabst and writes Ben Jr she has been abducted and held prisoner.  She writes this letter to Ben

After about three months the police find the two of them and sentences D J Pabst to five months of hard labor and Camellia to reform prison.  After a few weeks Camellia is returned to Delmar.

 In 1929 Ben Sr is ill and goes into the Peninsular General Hospital for an operation.  It is unsuccessful and he died on October 24, 1929.  He is buried in Delmar’s Mount Olive ( St Stephens) Cemetery.  His wife Claire returns to California, loses her mind and is put in a mental hospital.

Life settles down for Ben and Camellia, in 1944 they put their farm up for sale.  It  was advertised for sale as; 89 acres, 5 room house, 10,500 boilers, 25 ton coal, 2 ½ miles north of Delmar.  The couple moves to Greenwood.

In June of 1955 while driving near Smyrna, Delaware he pulls off on the side of the road and put two .32 caliber bullets in his head killing himself. He is buried at St Stephens Cemetery alongside his father.  Camellia would move to Millington, Maryland and dies in 1979.  She too is buried by her husband at St Stephens Cemetery.

A Little About Electric Power In Delmar

Delmar never had an electric power plant.  It obtained electricity from Laurel.  The timeline for electricity in the area goes somewhat like this; In 1899 The General Electric Company out of Baltimore purchased the grist mill of W. W. Twilley and co with the plans to establish an electric power plant in Laurel.  In March the franchise for electric power was forfeited and the Delaware Electric Company took over. In July the town of Laurel signed up for 52 lights to be provided on the streets of Laurel. In August, 1900 the power plant starts up and in December the old gas lights in Laurel were removed from Laurel with new electric ones replacing them.  The power lines were extended to Seaford and Delmar in 1902. In 1902, the power company asked for their first rate increase.

above putting in a utility pole about 1900, not Delmar, photo from Landsdale Historical society

1906 the Laurel-Seaford Electric Plant plans to extend the pole line to Bridgeville and Greenwood.  The company was purchased by Salisbury business men Wm M Cooper, J. D. Price, Wm T Johnson,F. Leonard Waller and Granville Bacon.  In 1909 it became Sussex Light and Powers company

In 1910 before recycling was a yuppie word the Sussex Light and Power company in Laurel utilized the sawdust and shavings from the Sam Bacon and sons and co milling plant / sawmill next to the power plant to feed the furnace to generate electricity.  They had large pipes driven by fans to blow the shavings from the mill directly to the furnace.

In 1911 the town of Delmar renewed the contract for five years. with Sussex light and Power Company.  At that time Dale Showell, Harry I. Richardson and Torbert Williams worked for the company in Delmar.

1915 consolidated the following power companies;

Sussex light and power company of Laurel, the Salisbury Heat and power Company, The Cambridge Maryland Gas and electric Company, the Georgetown Electric Company The Milton Del Electric Company and several smaller lighting and power companies.  The new company was the Eastern Shore Gas and Electric Company.  The company continued to expand adding smaller electric companies and changing it name as it went.  In 1966 it became Delmarva Power and Light Company.

John Downing, son of William J and Annie Downing from Delmar, went to work for the Salisbury Heat Light and Power Company.  In 1910 he graduated from a electrical school in Washington, DC. and returned to work for the power company.     

When the electric plant was first build it generated direct current, the same as the Delco power systems the farmers used outside of town.  The power also was only on from sunset to sunrise.  In 1912 the power was changed over to alternating current.  About 1913 it changed over to generating power 24 hour a day.  When people first used electricity it was mainly for lighting.  Beyond rewiring, there was little difference in the lighting fixtures for direct current versus alternating current, but the light bulb was another matter.  When the switch was made to alternating current many households who had not taken this problem under consideration and changed to ac light bulbs, had all their light bulbs burnt out when the new form of AC was switched over.

1916 Ad Safety-Comfort Goggle For The railroad Worker

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Virginia Dale Powell

Virginia Dale Powell was sister to Charles Powell.  She also graduated from Cape Charles High School, only in 1929.  Daughter of John Henry and Lillie Dale Powell, she would briefly live in Delmar before moving to Wilmington and teaching for a year at Beacom College. 

After Beacom College she taught at a high school in Wilmington 

Monday, June 25, 2018

1917 railroad ad

Can not step into it - great selling point


Charles Powell

above 1925 The Arrow Yearbook Cape Charles Virginia

Charles Powell (1907-1996) was born in Delmar to John Henry and Lillie Dale Muse Powell. John Henry worked for the railroad in Delmar and about 1922 was transferred to Cape Charles with his wife and seven children; John Henry, Jr,  Charles, James Murdoch,  Arthur, Robert, Virginia, and Irvine.

I have no idea if the nickname "Ching" followed him through life.

about 1931 John Henry was transferred back to Delmar. Charles managed a gas station in Delmar before going in the Army Air Force in World war Two.  After he got out of the service he was a clerk for the railroad. He died at age 90 in 1996.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

1913 Aunt Elvira Gets Ready

Pine Woods Farm

Pine Woods Farm was started by Charles Edgar Thomas (1888-1963).  It appears to have been east of Delmar and operated in the 1920s when the strawberry boom was going on.  It is unclear if Mr. Thomas ever permanently lived here.  He mainly lived in Darlington Maryland.  In 1925 they changed their name to Pine Woods Nursery and included shrubs and other fruit plants in their catalog.

Mr. Thomas married Isabella H Robertson (1887-1975) in 1920 in New Hampshire.  She was the daughter of Samuel Robertson and Isabella Brower Robertson of Illinois.

Mr. Thomas was the son of Charles Yarnell Thomas and Rebecca Smith Edge Thomas of Darlington Maryland.  They were Quakers. Charles Edgar was an Agriculturist and had worked for the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica.  He had served in the Navy in World War One.

The Thomas family had Elizabeth and Charles E Thomas Jr as children.  They also lived and spent their lives on the western Shore of Maryland.  He would work as a carpenter and construction starting in the 1930s.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

1921 Ad

The Pay Car

The N. Y. P. and N. railroad paycar this week distributed the largest sum of money in Delmar that has been placed in circulation here since last summer.  The brakemen who worked a full month, drew over $100 each, the firemen a somewhat larger sum, and the engineers about $165 to $185 each,  The conductors also drew an average of about $160 each.  The present month payroll will also be large.

Above from the Morning News 20 Jul 1912

Payday, Oh what a day! it came once a month and everyone was paid in cash.  Usually dressed in their Sunday best the men collected their money and joined their family to walk around town paying the grocery bill, telephone bill, gas and electric bills and other obligations.  Others headed for the local bootlegger.  Whichever way it went Payday was a big day in Delmar as it was in the other towns where the paycar showed up.

Note none of the photos are of Delmar or the PRR. 

When railroads were built their rail yards were often in isolated places, such as Delmar, that did not have banking facilities so a check would have been useless to their employees.  They paid in cash.  As you may recall Delmar did not have a bank until 1899. 

The paycar sometime was run as a separate special extra train all by itself or it was worked into a regular train that had an extended stop.  The paycar employees were very efficient and could handle 300 employees an hour.  Running the paycar and paying in cash called for a great deal of detail.  In advance of payday each man’s pay had to broken into the proper denomination of currency and coin then totaled up for all employees and withdrawal from the bank the payroll in the correct denominations.  The railroad made sure the highest denomination of currency was twenty dollars anything higher than that and the employee might not be able to cash it.  

The paycar was usually based on a Pullman car and had an anteroom or office with a counter where three men could line up to collect their pay. 

Image of layout

Depending on the railroad and the individual paycar the car could have a kitchen gallery and sleeping bunks in it for the pay employees.  The car would have three men, plus a cook, and a special officer (railroad police). Both the paymaster and the Special Officer were armed.  

Some 1912 News Items

Receptacles for waste paper and garbage are to be placed on the streets of Delmar by the New Century Club of the town.

Above from The Morning News 6 August 1912

Delmar March 15 – As a result of a horse trade between Carl J.  Hearn of Delmar and  Harry E. Marvel of Seaford a referee trial was heard before Justice Stengle at Seaford on Thursday.  The evidence brought out the fact that in trading horses Hearn gave Marvel a check “to boot.”  After taking up the larger part of one day in getting the horse to Delmar, Hearn decided that he had the worst of the deal and stopped payment on the check.  Marvel brought suit and the referees gave a verdict in his favor for the full amount and costs.

Above from The Morning News 16 March 1912

The Salisbury Brick Company has purchased right acres of clay land from John G. Smith, adjoin the railroad, and will enter into the manufacture of bricks on an extensive scale.

Above from  the Morning News  March 1912

Mrs Arthur Jones left today for the Maryland State Sanitarium, in Frederick county, about seventy miles from Baltimore, for treatment for tuberculosis.

Above The Morning News 16 March 1912

Miss Maude Hayman arrived home to-day from Albuquerque New Mexico where she went with hope of being cured of tuberculosis.  She stood the long trip to Delaware well and it is hoped that she will yet improve.  Her brother-in-law, Claude R. Phillips, went to New Mexico, after her, and accompanied her home.

Above from the Morning News 22 Feb 1912

Charles H. Truitt was hit by a pitched ball in a game here yesterday and has lost the use of his left arm.

Above the Morning News 20 July 1912

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sidney Beach

On Saturday last about 6 o’clock as a freight train on the Delaware railroad was passing under an overhead bridge near New Castle a brakeman named Sidney Beach, boarding on Third Street between Popular and Lombard, this city, and whose home is in Delmar, met with a serious accident which will very likely  prove fatal.  Beach was standing on top of a box car with his back to the bridge and it struck him on the base of brain, crushing in the back of his head and knocking him on top of the car.  He was immediately seen by some of his fellow trainsmen and was taken into the caboose in an unconscious condition.  He was brought to this city (Wilmington) and taken to his boarding house.  Dr. Draper was summoned and did all he could to relieve the man. Last night he was resting easily, but no hopes are entertained of his recovery.    

Above The Morning News September 6 1886

Sidney recovered from the head trauma but was never quite right after it.  It was no doubt a major cause of his alcohol problems that continued up until his death in 1926.

Articles such as this 1906 one appeared about Sidney;

Sidney Beach was in another drunken rampage Saturday of last week and was arrested in Maryland and fined one dollar and costs for disorderly conduct which he paid.  Then he went back to Delaware; threaten to burn the property of W B Marvil, for which he was again arrested; taken before Justice James H, Tyre and in default of a five thousand dollar bail was committed to Georgetown Jail.

Sidney was the son of Isaiah and Irene Culver Beach.  Isaiah was a farmer, builder and contractor.  They had a large family.  Known adult children; Joseph, Thomas, Harvey, Kendal, Mary, Sophronia, Amy, Annie and Lola Mae.

In 1884 his father Isaiah Beach whipped a mulatto, Robert Morris, nearly to death.  In 1887 Robert Morris returned the favor by stabbing Isaiah in the stomach.  In 1908 while sleepwalking at his daughters house (Mrs Ralph (Amy) Ellis) he walked off the second story porch and the fall killed him.   

His brother Harvey in 1910 tried to commit suicide with Laudanum while living at his sister’s, Mrs. C. P. Ellis (Sophronia), house.

1924 When Toast Became Breakfast

The 1886 Charleston SC Earthquake Reaches Delmar

Delmar, Del, Sept 1 – The most violent shock of earthquake ever felt hereabouts was experienced about 9:30 o’clock last night.  Many persons were considerably alarmed.  Coal oil in the lamps was shaken and doors slammed. 

Above from the Wilmington Morning News September 2, 1886

This was the effect of the1886 Charleston, SC earthquake.  The shocks from which were felt as far as Boston and out into the Midwest.  On August 31, 1886 at about 9:50 Pm an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 to 7.3 occurred in Charleston and the aftershocks continued for several weeks.  60 people died in the southeast USA from the earthquake and aftershocks.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Mrs. Ross Gordy is seriously ill of Typhoid and the number of cases in Delmar now number nineteen.  Mrs. L. J. Kennerly is the latest person to succumb to the disease.

Above from the Wilmington Morning News 20 July 1912

1897 Delmar Health Report

Dr. C. K. Truitt, Health Officer report made in 1897 State of Maryland Health Report

August 19th, I received complaint from Delmar. Complaint

had also been made to the State Board of Health. At Mr. W.

B. Elliott's, I found the water running into the streets, where it

stagnated. At Mrs. Jane Elliott's, the water was running in the

street, where it became offensive. The Town Commissioners

were notified to clean out the ditch that runs east and west

through the town. People, whose property is next to the ditch,

throw into it dead animals and fowl, spoiled eggs, and all sorts

of refuse.

Thomas E. Hearn empties refuse into the ditch.

W. C. Lecates, W. O. West, W. A. Culver, Geo. A. Waller,

W. C. Truitt, B. B. Gordy, Ulyses Baker, T. A. Veasey, T. A.

Landing, tenant, M. H. German (a block of houses), all run waste

water into the street. Veasey Hotel empties sewer into railroad

ditch, also a sewer from water-closet.

The above places are in Delmar, and owners were notified to

abate nuisances in fifteen days. From later reports I learn that

they have all obeyed the notice.