Monday, January 01, 2007

Your house location in historical context

I have always been fascinated with what was where my house is before my house was there. The last house I lived in was built on land that belonged to a cemetery. They didn't have to move the bodies, because as far as I could tell they had never buried any on the land.

My current house is a lot younger than that one, but is quite close to another cemetery that has some historical significance for Delaware. In 1687 Valentine Hollingsworth, a contemporary of William Penn, and a early settler of Delaware (then part of Pennsylvania!) donated one-half acre for a burying place, “being some already buryed in ye spot.” The plot was near the Newark Union Meeting of Friends (Quakers).

Valentine Hollingsworth himself is supposedly buried in the cemetery, and there is a monument, erected in 1935, to commemorate him.

The earliest readable gravestones I could find were in the 1800's. I did find a stone in the wall surrounding the cemetery which reads 1787.

The Delaware Geological Survey, headquartered at the University of Delaware has links upon links of Delaware information and also has maps of the Delaware Hundreds. Hundreds are an old way of dividing the state. I found the Newark Union Cemetery on the Brandywine hundred map from the Pomeroy and Beers Atlas of 1868 (.pdf link). Here is an excerpt (the square labelled Cem Union Ch at right).

Having a historical marker as far back as 1687, which is almost as far back as you can go in Delaware, plus the geographical marker of Shellpot Creek right out back makes it convenient when locating the house location through history. I can just imagine Hollingsworth crossing the Shellpot Creek right where my house is now, all those hundreds of years ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your site and the location house. As one of 32,960 known decendents of Valentine Hollingsoworth, I m always interested to learn more about the guy and the location of my first folks to come to this wonderful land.

Thanks for the site and material.
Larry Taylor
Springfield, Arkansas