|Statue of William Penn|
New Castle, Delaware was first settled by the Dutch in 1651. In 1654 the Swedes seized it. The Dutch took it back the next year. In 1664 the English seized it, giving it its name. The Dutch took it back in 1673 only to give it back the next year in the Treaty of Westminster. In 1680 the Duke of York gave it, along with what is now Pennsyl- vania, to William Penn as payment on a debt the Crown owed him.
Penn arrived in 1682, setting foot in New Castle near here. . . .
Penn arrived in 1682, setting foot in New Castle near here. . . .
New Castle holds a special connection for me. In 1737 my ancestor, William Shields, arrived in New Castle as an nine-year-old whose father and brother died on the voyage from County Amagh, Ireland. I don't know if he had a mother with him or if he was taken in by relatives already here. All I know about William's early years is that he lived in New Castle County for six years before coming to Maryland where he eventually helped survey and lay out the town of Emmitsburg, not far from where I live now. About 1786 his daughter, Agnes, would marry Jacob Gilleylen, my 4th great-grandfather. One of William's sons also married into the Gilleylen family. Jacob migrated south when he was granted 250 acres in South Carolina in 1786 for having served in the recent rebellion. My father's ancestors would eventually end up in Mississippi. I lived there for part of my childhood before we moved north. The fact that my marriage brought me to Maryland and I eventually ended up in the same county as my ancestors, always amazes me since I did not become aware of this fact until I'd lived here 27 years.
We went on four different historic house museum tours during the 24 hours we were there. This is when I learned, for the first time, that Delaware had once been part of Pennsylvania! It is also why they are known as the First State because in 1776 they were the first to declare their independence from Great Britain, as well as from Pennsylvania. For me this is the best way to learn history--connecting the people (via the houses they lived in) with the events that have become a part of our nation's history.
We arrived just after noon and checked in at the Terry House B&B. . . .
The Inn is owned and operated by 94-year-old Mrs. Deemer (that is not a typo!). She said the house was started in 1860 but took several years to complete because of the Civil War. Later the housekeeper told us that Mrs. Deemer had been a chemist for the DuPont Company. Our room was just up these stairs to the left and up a few more steps. . . .
Can you believe that it only cost $100 a night which includes breakfast. I loved the decor. . . .
Just a couple doors down was Trader's Cove Coffee Shop where we had lunch. This building, circa 1682, is purportedly where William Penn spent his first night. . . .
|photo credit: Website|
This was one of the quotes by William Penn on the wall in the gift shop at the front of the Coffee Shop. . . .
It was such a gorgeous Autumn day that we ate out in the garden. . . .
Our next stop was the Arsenal (the building in the background) where we would purchase tickets for two of the tours. The Arsenal was built in 1809 to serve as a repository for ammuni- tion storage for the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. . . .
We had about an hour before the first tour so we walked around the town. The following are all houses in the residential area. I particularly liked this yellow house with the red berries in the foreground. . . .
At the end of the street---where William Penn would have landed---is a little park overlooking the Delaware River. I will be going there to catch the sunrise in the morning. . . .
I love the windows in particular of this house. . . .
Upstairs sailing ships in each window. . . .
The cobble-stone streets in many cases are original. Bricks line the gutters. . . .
Here are two views between the houses looking toward the river. . . .
"Packet" alley, which led to the wharf where the ships would dock, runs along side this house. . . .
Here are some of the famous people who would have come up this alley. . . .
This large house backs up to the river. . . .
In 1786 this was the Rising Sun Tavern. . . .
This house is one of the few houses with wood siding that I saw. . . .
The building with the cupola was the Court House, which we'll tour the next morning. The building in the foreground to the right is the Sheriff's House (1857). . . .
The American Holly is Delaware's State Tree. . . .
From there we walked through another garden to the next block and down the street to the Amstel House. . . .
Amstel House was built in the 1730s by the town's wealthiest landowner. Over the centuries several prominent families have lived in the house. We were not allowed to take photographs inside except for this fireplace. . . .
George Washington attended a wedding in this house in 1784 and stood at this fireplace, which was later commemorated with this etching on the hearth . . . .
We had hoped to dine at the David Finney Inn where we'd lunched several years ago, but soon discovered it was closed down and for sale. There has been a tavern on this site since 1683. The oldest parts of the Inn are thought to date to 1732. George Washington was a frequent guest since travelers passed through New Castle on their way to Philadelphia. . . .
|photo credit: Internet|
So we dined at Jessop's Tavern just down the block from the B&B. The building dates back to 1674. In 1724 a cooper named Abraham Jessop had his barrel-making business here. The staff wore period costumes which added to the quaint atmosphere. . . .
In the evening we attended the Loreena McKennitt concert at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. I wrote about it in Out and About - October. . . .
When we arrived back at the Inn we noticed a car that had been following us parked nearby. The occupants began to follow us to the Inn. When they looked like they were going to follow us up the steps I turned and said, "Were you at the concert, too?" Yes! And they were from Annapolis, Maryland! They'd sat just a few rows behind us it turns out.
The next morning I'd planned to get up before sunrise, but overslept. But I was still able to get some wonderful photos of the sun rising over the river. It was brisk out. Only a few brave souls were out and about as I walked the city block down to the riverfront. . . .
The sun reflects off the window of the old train depot. . . .
The remains of the former ferry dock can be seen along with one of the barriers put in place during WWII to protect the area from enemy ships that might come up the river from the Atlantic. . . .
The Delaware Memorial Bridge crossing over to New Jersey. . . .
More of the deteriorating barriers. . . .
Hurricane Sandy carried away this bit of wharf extending out into the river in Battery Park. . . .
My shadow looms large as I take the path along the river. . . .
I came back to the Inn through the park behind the Inn. The windows to our room are on the second floor balcony to the right. . . .
It was time for breakfast by now. I was able to get a photo before everyone arrived. . . .
Soon the table was filled. We had a delightful hour of first getting to know the couple from Annapolis (right side) who were first to arrive. The couple behind them we found out came from San Francisco. They are all smiling because that gentlemen had just said in response to my "Is it OK if I take your photo?" with the announcement of, "No" because he was in a witness protection program (ha ha! I took it anyway and he didn't wrest the camera from me afterwards). The couple on the left it turned out were also from San Francisco (but did not know the other SF couple) while the couple at the far end were from Munich. These last two gentlemen were here for their 50th high school reunion. The SF fellow was originally from France so we discussed speaking the French language and my attempt a few years ago to learn it. I told him about our French high school student we hosted for 3 weeks a few summers ago. The Munich gentlemen decided to stay in Germany after serving in the US military there. We were able to talk about our son's plans to visit Munich after Christmas. We learned that the German Ben speaks will not be the same German spoken in Munich. It was rather amazing how everyone seemed to find a connection with one another in some way or another. . . .
After breakfast we checked out and crossed the street to tour the Court House Museum. This building dates back to 1732, but the original building had been erected in the 1660s. The link above has a short video on its history--very interesting. . . .
There was time for one last house tour--the Read House. . . .
A side view of the house from the garden. . . .
You can see the river from the house. This is the front gate that you enter the garden through. . . .
The Historical Society has made this very nice video about New Castle's history and shows you the inside of the House Museums and more of the town. . . .
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