Friday, August 31, 2018

1983 Gas Prices going Up


Evelyn Wise, Block Operator For Railroad

In 1965 Evelyn Wise retired from the railroad and moved back to her home in Cape Charles.  She was a block operator and a ticket agent in Delmar, plus she handled calls for the Delmar volunteer Fire Company.  At the time she was one of two female block operators on the Delmarva line, the other being Virginia Gladden who worked in Cape Charles on the evening shift.  A block operator controls the movement of the trains in his/her "block. "  She had radio communication with all the trains and they could not move unless she gave permission or the all clear for them to move. 

Evelyn was born in Delmar in 1901 to Harland E. Lowe and Clara Delma Honey Lowe.  Her father worked for the railroad and shortly after her birth the family was transferred to Cape Charles. She started work for the railroad (Norfolk division ) in 1919 as a switchboard operator.  In 1954 she became a block operator in Cape Charles.  She had taken a furlough from the railroad from 1928 to 1943.  Shortly after being made a block operator the Cape Charles office closed and her and her husband were transferred to Delmar.  They kept their home in Cape Charles.  She had married John Vernon Wise in 1922.  He also worked for the railroad.  He died in 1962.  They had no children.  She would die in 1983.

Trivia on Delaware Vehicle tags

In 1907 the state required vehicles to register annually (more revenue) 
Prior to 1909 vehicle owners made their own license plate.  Issued a number by the state they would buy numerals at a hardware store and affix them to a piece of leather that they would nail to the vehicle.  
above homemade tag

In 1909 the State of Delaware begin to issue to tags for vehicles, prior to that the vehicle was register and given a number for the year and the owner made his own tag for the vehicle.

Prior to 1909 non-resident automobilists were allow ten days before they had to purchase a Delaware rag.  Otherwise vehicles from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey that entered Delaware had to have a Delaware license plate on their vehicles.

In Delaware, it was not until 1915 that the word Tag for a license plate came into general use. The use of the word Tag for a license plate seems to be restricted to the United States 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The McNelia Family In Delmar

 Delmar has a number of families of Irish descent.  Most came here by way of the railroad.  Over the years there have been Sullivans, Collins, McLearys, Curdys, McNelias and Clearys, The two McNelia brothers who came to Delmar were George and John.  George was a farmer and John worked for the railroad.  Their mother was Margaret Ann (Maggie) McNelia (1838-1912).  The first name of Mr. McNelia is unknown but he was born in Ireland and migrated here.  Maggie would give birth to John in 1868 and George in 1870.  They lived in the Millsboro, Delaware area at that time and Mr. McNelia leaves from the family picture about that time.  George was “let out” to Morton Russell and John was “Let out” to Joseph Lingo.  Morton Bates Russell (1846-1914) and Maggie would marry about 1877.  They, with George McNelia (spelled McNealy), are shown in the 1880 census as living in Dagsboro hundreds on his farm.  Morton and Maggie would have a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, in 1878.  John F. McNelia (spelled McNealy) was in the household of Joseph B. Lingo in 1880 in Indian River Hundreds.  He is show as a ten year old farm laborer.  In looking at the 1900 census Maggie would have a total of nine children only of which three were alive in 1900. Joseph Lingo gave John McNelia food and shelter while he worked for him and little else.  In order to have some money John when he had to take the ox team to Georgetown with farm items would participate in wrestling contests for prize money.

John started work with the railroad about 1884 at the age of 16 as a laborer at ten cents an hour.  He worked on the section crews and as a gandy dancer. His brother, George Washington McNelia, had moved to the Delmar area and worked a small farm.  In 1889 George married Annie Laura Johnson (1869-1934).  They lived east of Delmar out toward Smith Mills.

Morton Russell and Maggie would move to the Delmar/Laurel area to be with George and John about 1900.  He would work as a miller. One place he worked as a miller was at Chipman Mill east of Laurel.  
above Chipman Mill

The Chipman Mill is one the oldest in the section.  The lumber used to build the 1772 Old Christ Church which stands close to the mill was sawed at the mill.  At one time the pond supplied the power for a saw mill, a grist mill and a carding mill (used for carding wool). Later the sawmill and carding mill operation would stop but the grist mill continued.  The spillway has a road across it that was part of the old stage route. 

Most people in the vicinity of a grist mill will take their grain to the closest mill, however if the mill was dirty or infested with bugs and rodents they would drive a little farther to the next mill.  A water powered mill had the added problem of frogs, rats and snakes.   Frequently the miller would allow a couple of snakes to live in the mill to handle the smaller frogs, insects and rats.  A miller had to try and keep the places clean in spite of the inherent problem of grain dust or otherwise the farmer would take his grain elsewhere.  It is no wonder that in the oral history of McNelia family it is mentioned that one day when George McNelia was working with Morton Russell at the mill he spit on the floor and Morton Russell was really mad about it.   It is also mention in the oral history that Morton’s fingernails were turned back from handling the rough grain bags.    

Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Russell (1878-1938), had married John J. Burton (1875-1922) in 1899.  The Burtons would move to New Jersey by 1920.

In 1894 John was made a fireman on the railroad and his pay advanced to $1.95 a shift.

George McNelia and Miss Florence White were married at the M. P. parsonage, Wednesday evening by the Rev. J. L. Straughm.

Above Feb18 1899

John McNelia (1868-1956) would marry on February 15, 1899 Florence E. White (1878-1900).  Florence was the daughter of Greensbury T. White (1851-1919) and Sarah E. Bailey White (1853-1924).  Greensbury was a railroad worker.   It is assumed that while giving birth to Hollis Franklin McNelia that Florence died, as both the child and she are shown as dying in 1900.  They are buried in Hastings cemetery outside of Delmar in a plot next to her parent’s cemetery plot. 

Barbara and John McNelia

On December 20, 1902 John married a second time to Barbara Ellen Beauchamp (1883-1976) daughter of Levin Greensbury Beauchamp (1836-1911) and Julia E. Phillips Beauchamp(1845-1901), Barbara was the youngest of five children and was fifteen years younger than John. Levin Beauchamp was a miller and had worked at Double mill and Leonard Mill. .

They would have as children;

Joseph Clyde McNelia (1903-1906), Amos (Beach) Beauchamp McNelia (1908-1981) and Vivian Alberta McNelia (1914-1914).  Joseph and Vivian are buried at St Stephens Cemetery.  
above JFM is John Franklin McNelia

In 1906 he was a steam engine engineer.  Once married to Barbara, John had an extended family that connected with several of the prominent families in Delmar at the time; Beauchamps, Hearns, and Nichols.

John McNelia would work on the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk railroad in Delmar through World War One.  They lived on State Street (Maryland side) with Levin G. Beauchamp living with them until Levin’s death in 1911.  Levin and Julia Beauchamp are buried in Hasting Cemetery.  Living next to the McNelias on State Street is Barbara’s bother-in-law and sister, Ernest and Annie Nichols.  John and Barbara children would be born in Delmar. About 1912 he was one of the first people in Delmar to buy an automobile.  It was a 26 horsepower Maxwell touring car and he drove it like he drove his locomotive.  They were active in Mt Olive Methodist Protestant Church, where he taught Sunday school.  The Sunday school would meet in their kitchen at his house.

Barbara was frequently referred to as “Aunt” Barbara.  She was an excellent cook and seamstress.  She was well known for bonnet and quilt making.  She would work in a garment factory for awhile, this would allow her to collect social security after John died.  With that and her part of John’s railroad pension it allowed her to live on her own for a number of years.  As people grew older and could collect social security they encountered a problem as birth certificates had not been issued in the time frame they were born in.  Barbara would go to the social security office and vouch for their age. She was also a teetotaler, campaigned against alcohol and was a big fan of Carrie Nation.  It is not recorded if she attended the Carrie Nation talks in Salisbury in 1910.


I felt invincible. My strength was that of a giant. God was certainly standing by me. I smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet.
Carry Nation

From the Salisbury Advertiser November 1910
Tells Them a few Things At Parson Opera
Pool Rooms Declared Great Evil

Carrie A. Nation, who has been classed as the modern Don Quixote has been making a tour of the Eastern Shore, reached Salisbury this week and for two evenings made the Welkin ring in Parson's Opera House on the smashing question. A number out of curiosity were present to hear her deliver her addresses. It is to be presumed that she found conditions fairly satisfactory here as we have heard of no places being smashed or any raids being made. Despite her national reputation she was not greeted here with the overwhelming enthusiasm that some had expected. The chief evils found on the Easter Shore seem to be the pool rooms and bottle business chiefly carried on by the colored population.

From the Salisbury Courier Nov 5 1910

While Barbara was talking against alcohol, John was out in the garage making wine in stone crocks.  He had a large mustache and it would give him away if he came in from drinking wine in the garage as it would be stained purple.

In World War One the Railroads were taken over by the Federal Government (United States Railroad Administration – USRA) so supplies and troop movement would be given a priority and labor problems (strikes) would be reduced.   Very little maintenance was done on the equipment in those 26 months and this would create problems when control was transferred back to the railroad companies.

A little after the end of World War One John transferred from Delmar to Crisfield. The Eastern Shore Railroad Company had a rail line from Princess Anne to Crisfield known as the Crisfield Secondary Branch.  It was brought under the Pennsylvania Railroad control by 1908 but still ran as a separate railroad.  John transfer to Crisfield had him leave the Delaware division of the railroad and enter the Norfolk division of the railroad.  This affected his seniority. 

The McNelias lived in Crisfield on West Chesapeake Avenue from about 1918 to about 1935.  They attended Mt Pleasant Church and he continued to teach Sunday school. 
sunday school class in Crisfield John McNelia far right
His driving continued to be fast and in 1921 he rolled his vehicle on a curve in Hopewell and it turned over twice.  His wife was injured (broken back) and he suffered broken ribs and internal injuries. His son escaped injury by being thrown from the car before it rolled.  Barbara would wear a stiff ribbed corset the rest of her life due to the injuries she suffered.  

John and Barbara In dark clothing and the Maxwell

His son Beach (usually spelled Beecham in the Crisfield news paper) would graduate Crisfield High School class of 1925 and in 1926 he would marry Edna Ester Thomas, daughter of Robert E. Thomas, in Princess Anne. She was related to Joshua Thomas of Tangier Island.

For a while Annie Culver lived with the McNelias in Crisfield.  She was the daughter of Barbara’s niece Georgia Nichols Culver.

After the war increased competition came from trucks and automobiles.  The railroads no longer enjoyed the monopoly of moving people and freight that it had prior to the war.  But business continued to be good as oysters were being shipped from Crisfield by the ton and Marion station was famous for being the world's leader in strawberry production earning the title "Strawberry Capital of the World." Several hundred ice refrigerated railroad cars, fully loaded with berries left the Marion Station each day during the peak of the season. One could see trucks and wagons loaded with strawberries lined up for over a mile waiting to go through the "auction block" located in the center of town.  Between that and the normal white potato harvest plus the cutting of timber for mine props the railroad was busy.  In 1929 the depression hit, the strawberry market had gone bust. The economic upheaval of the Great Depression coincided with the depletion of the Chesapeake Bay oyster beds as a result of overfishing, bringing a halt to Crisfield's economic development and an end to the railroad's prosperous years.

In 1932 John McNelia and everyone else on the railroad took a temporary 10% pay cut for one year so the railroad could have money to make improvements to the system.   Even with the pay cut, wages for railroad workers, when they worked, were good during the depression.  Although 40% of the employees were laid off, those who did work received a wage of $1,067 per year for maintenance of way workers; passenger brakeman received $2,161; freight conductors $2,893 per year; and passenger engineers $3,458 per year.  John McNelia would have had enough seniority that he would have had a full paycheck most of the time. 

About 1936 they moved back Delmar and he retired from the railroad in 1937.  They lived at 206 State Street, they continued to be active in the church and enjoyed their large backyard garden.  William Larimore was his neighbor.  He was a brakeman with the railroad and an avid gardener.

John enjoyed fishing and would take off with his neighbor (Wilber Adkins) and other friends such as Frank Tappen to surf fish at Slaughter Beach and Rehoboth.  On those trips they would pack for lunch their fisherman sandwiches (Peanut butter, cheese and jelly.)  Behind his house, his neighbor was Wilbur Adkins, a barber, who would hang a “gone fishing” sign on his shop when he traveled with John surf fishing.   

One of the stores the McNelias liked to go to was Figgs store east of Delmar on Line road.  The store was run by Herba Odel Figgs and his wife Gertha.  It was known for the quality of the churned butter and eggs brought to the store by local farmers.  John also would buy live chickens there to rise in his backyard.  The Figgs sold the store about 1958.

In 1956 John F. McNelia died.  He had suffered a number of strokes and was put in the Eastern Shore State Hospital in Cambridge. Aunt Barbara as she was known in Delmar died of kidney failure bought on by cancer in 1976.  Both are buried at St Stephens cemetery.

As for the rest of his siblings;

George Washington McNelia (1870-1950) lived out in the Smith Mills area east of Delmar, on the road from the MD/DE line to Smith Mills.  He was a farmer.  In 1889 he married Annie Elizabeth  Johnson (1869-1934).  George and Annie McNelia are buried at Smith Mill Cemetery.  George would marry a second time to Laura Ann Parker widow of Clarence Elliott. 
George Washington McNelia and Wife Annie

Family Oral history says Annie was a great cook and cooked great dinners on the wood stove at their house.  Whenever the boys, Larry and George,  came home from New Jersey she would cook really large meals for them.  

George was a fiddle player and played at the local square dances. 

They had for children; Emory Franklin (1891-1972), Larry Washington (Lawrence)( 1892-1962), Horace Linwood (1895-1964), George Morton (1897-1971), and Harry Theron (1900-1991).  The second marriage produced a number of step children; Annie Louise Elliott Carey (1909-1992) (husband Dennard Charles Carey) 

Emory was a carpenter who lived in the Delmar area and married Daisy Ellen Lowe.  They had as children Harland and Margie.

Larry would live in Woodlynne New Jersey and work as a maintenance man at the Camden YMCA.  He was married to Mary L. Krown and was a Methodist minister.  This story is from the family oral history

Larry would be asked to pray,   Larry was long winded and after one of his blessings  Uncle Horace said  “Larry, that was right good, but I thought I’d have to get me a sandwich before you got done!”

Horace married Elizabeth Marvel.  He worked at Messick ice Plant in Salisbury. 

George Morton McNelia would live in Woodlynne New jersey where he would be a councilman and mayor.  He married Margaret A. Kilroy and they had for children; Margaret and George Edward. He worked at the Camden forge Co. When he died Woodlynne had a five day period of mourning and flags were flown at half staff.

Harry T. married Pearl Ellegood Hearn.  They had as children; Robert Frederick and Byard.  Harry worked at the Diamond coal co. in Salisbury.

John McNelia’s half sister, Mary Elizabeth, who had married John J. Burton (1875-1922) in 1899 and moved to New Jersey, would die in 1938 in Vineland, NJ.  At the time of her death her children listed in her obituary were; Walter J Burton (1899-1972), Harvey A. Burton (1901-1973), Charles A Burton (1901-1973), Charles W. Burton (1903-1970), Ida P. Burton (1907-2004), Calvin E Burton (1911-1990), and Leroy Burton (1912-1995).

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mary Wheatley Business Woman

above 1957 Salisbury Times Photo Mary Wheatley and Maggie Parker

Mary Jane Wheatley (1891-1966) was the daughter of James Franklin Wheatley (1856-1910) and Tamsey B Williams Wheatley (1857-1937).  The Wheatleys lived in the Galestown/ Sharptown area.  Mary Wheatley started her career as a school teacher in Sharptown and in 1912 started work as a clerk at R. H . Lowe store in Delmar.  She replaced Harper Wright as the clerk.

R. H. Lowe ran a store in Delmar Delaware at State Street and 4th street since 1894.  He started with a grocery store and as times changed he transition the store to a floor covering and furniture store and then to  woman's ready to wear clothing, shoes, notions and yard goods store.  When he died in 1958 Mary Wheatley open a woman's wear store in the building.  Gertie Figgs Hastings worked for Bob Lowe and Mary Wheatley and continued on to the Sterling Shop.  The building was torn down in 1966 and a used car lot put in its place. Her Woman's Wear shop became the Sterling Shop and move uptown to Railroad Ave.

Mary Wheatley not only worked for Robert "Bob" Lowe for years, she boarded with his wife and him in their home.

Mary's sister, Amy, married Andrew Horsey in 1910.  He worked for the railroad.  Amy died in 1958.  In 1959 at age 68, Mary married Andrew Horsey.  Andrew would die in 1961 and Mary would die in 1966.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Phone Company and Mrs Mattie Harris

The Telephone authorities are busy making changes in their wiring system preparatory to entering their new office on East Street.  The new building is of the colonial type  and was built by J Frank Brown of this town, and leased to the company  Mrs. Mattie Harris, chief operator, will make her home in the building.

above from News Journal 29 October 1927 Delmar News

Mattie Harris was Martha E. "Mattie" Purnell daughter of William Quinton Purnell and Mary Layton Purnell.  Mattie would marry Walter H. Harris.  She would divorce him in the 1920s.  They would have as daughters; Margaret and Kathleen.  Mattie was the Chief Operator of the Diamond State Telephone Company in Delmar. Her daughter, Kathleen Layton Harris, was the assistance operator at the Delmar Exchange.  Mattie had been in failing health and died in 1932 at age 42.  She is buried in St Stephens Cemetery.
Kathleen would marry Ralph T Messick in 1933.
Margaret (1909-1997)was a registered nurse and would marry John Caskey Cotton

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

1947 Engine Trouble

 1947 Engine 2445 has trouble three miles north of Greenwood Del R. Melvin Engineman

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Hastings Cemetery

In 2015 Perdue Agribusiness purchased 18 acres between RT13 and Old Stage Road in Delmar.  On that property is the Hastings Cemetery (one of several by that name).  Abiding by Delaware law concerning cemeteries  (protection of unmarked and marked remains) Perdue hired Edward Otter Inc to research and survey the property.  Otter Inc found the property was part of and dated back to 1754 when it was granted to Mitchel King and was called Kings Lot (located in Somerset County at that time).  The property was later acquired by John Parker who sold it to Elijah S. Hastings in 1785.  The property would be willed to his grandson Archelaus Hastings (son of Frederick Hastings)  in 1843.  In turn it went to Joseph W. Hastings the son of Archelaus.  On John W. Hastings death it was sold at public auction by his two sons Joseph W and Ernest Guy Hastings . The property left the Hastings family after 150 years.   See this address for an additional note on Ernest Guy Hastings.

"During the 1920's Walter G. Tatnall transcribed tombstones throughout Sussex County, Delaware.  The Works Progress Administration contributed further in the 1930's.  These records are useful since grave stones often go missing or simply weather over time.  The Hastings Cemetery is recorded in Tatnall's Collection as #206 and #206a.  The cemetery was located on Joseph W. Hastings' Farm, located two miles northeast of Delmar.  

 Twelve gravestones were recorded in the Tatnall Collection:  These consist of headstones and footstones.  Tatnall Records Collection identifies twelve tombstones and names of the individuals they are associated with.  

1.   Frances E. Hastings  1st wife of J. W. Hastings  born Dec 1st 1848  died Jun 12th 1874
2.   Archelaus Hastings  died Jun 25th 1861  Age 52 - 6 - 1
 3.   Eliza C. wife of Archelaus  died Sep 1st 1888  Age 82 - 5 - 11
4.   Adelia Hastings  daughter of Archelaus  died Mch 28th 1861  Age 10 - 3 - 5
5.   Marietta Hastings wife of J. W. Hastings & daughter of B. B. & Sarah Gordy    born Jan 6th 1854  died May 12th 1887
6.   Archlaus B. son of W. N. & Margaret E.  died Jan 4th 1874  Age 12 - 9 - 27
7.   J. W. Hastings
 8.   W. N. Hastings
9.   Margaret E. Hastings
10.  Infant daughter of Wm. & Mar E. Hastings  died Jul 26, 1865  Age 6 da
11.  B. B. Gordy
12.  Sarah J. Gordy wife of B. B. Gordy "

Edward Otter Inc found the Hastings Cemetery contains at least 19 marked and unmarked burials within an area measuring approximately 50 feet by 70 feet.   There was no way to identify all of the people.

The engineers for Perdue have said Perdue is thinking of making the cemetery a monument to farmers as those are the people they serve and the Hastings were farmers.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Descendents of Elihu and Jerutha Jane Hastings 1929

1929 Family Reunion

Elihu Hastings (1839-1913) was the son of Moses Hastings.  Jerutha Jane Cordry Hastings (1833-1898) was the daughter of Elijah Aaron Cordry and Mary "Polly" Collins.  As with most Hastings family trees there is some confusion on them.  Elihu had three wives, the last he married in 1900; Eliza Emily Workman who had previously been married to James Ellis, and Nancy Hastings.  So there is always the chance of step children by different wives entering the picture when you say the descendents of Elihu and Jerutha Jane.  They married in 1851.  She had at least 15 known.
Frank Hastings (1852-1852)
George W. Hastings (1854-1909)
William Edwatd Hastings (1855-1909)
Maria Katherine Hastings (1857-1929)
John W. Hastings (1858- )
Charles Allison Hastings (1858-1917)
Alice Hastings (1859-1862)
Elihu Thomas Hastings (1860-1936)
Mary "Doll" Jane Hastings (1864-1947)
George Darius Hastings (1866-1943)
James Roland Hastings (1868-1905)
Harvey Webster Hastings (1870-1944)
Quincy E Hastings (1871- 1953 )
Ella Sophronia Hastings (1873-1955)
Hermus Elton Hastings (1875-1917)

So with this many sons and daughters the reunion would be quite large. 

Elihu Hastings also owned the land where todays State Street Park is.

above 1940 Salisbury Times 

Crab Flakes

above from the shellfish menu of the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis 1910

first they are using Crisfield Crabs
second no where do you see a crab cake

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Armina Elliott

above from the 1962 Delmar Bi-State Weekly

Armina “Mina” Ethel Chipman Elliott (1886-1962) was the daughter of John Henry Chipman (1851-1888 ) and Mary Jane Gordy Chipman(1850-1928 ).   Her father ran Chipman Mill outside of Laurel and after his early death she received a share of it. She would marry in 1908 to William Norris Elliott (1887-1915). They would have as children: Ethel Mae Elliott (1909-1997) who would marry William Howard Workman, Joseph Norris Elliott ( 1911-1999) who was a farmer, and Carlos Woodrow Elliott (1913-1975) who was a feed and lumber merchant.  Armina spent more time as a widow then married. 

She lived on Ralph Store Road and had a farm.  She was known for hard work.  She had a number of foster children living with her after William Elliott passed away.  Both Paul Carey and Marshall Carey lived with her on the farm.  They were her nephews, sons of George Raymond Carey and Stella “Elsie” Chipman Carey. She adopted Howard Elliott (Harold Ames).  There is not much know about Howard, he was five years old in the 1910 census and was shown as an adopted child born in New York State.  He may not have been adopted in the legal sense but merely “taken to raise” and his last name changed to Elliott.  He was adopted prior to Armina having her own children. 

Her brother, John Emory Chipman, was the principal in the Delmar school.  He committed suicide as did some other Chipman relatives of hers. Her grandson, Joseph William Workman, committed suicide in 1985.

Friday, August 3, 2018

1929 Radio Ad Whayland Drug Company

1929 From Laurel State Register
The radio was viewed as being so important that a question on the 1930 census was "Do you own a radio?"

1957 George Leong

1957 new teacher George Leong comes to town - from the Bi State Weekly Newspaper

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Oakland Park 1880


On July 3, Wicomico Tribe, I. O. R. M., of Laurel, will celebrate the Fourth by a picnic at Oakland Park, at that place.  Speeches will be made.  The Sabbath Schools of Laurel will also participate.

Above from the Wilmington Morning News 19 June 1880

Oakland Park was a grove of trees on the west side of Delmar with a pavilion.  The below 1877 map of Delmar shows where it located.

Pennsylvania Railroad Dining Car Place Setting