PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Delaware (State of)
DelawareOriginally the "lower counties" of Pennsylvania, and thus one of three Quaker colonies founded by William Penn, Delaware has developed its own set of traditions and history.

City of Rivers and Rivulets
Philadelphia has always been defined by the waters that surround it.

Sights to See: The Outer Ring
There are many interesting places to visit in the exurban ring beyond Philadelphia, linked to the city by history rather than commerce.

Revolutionary Philadelphia's Patriots
All kinds of people were patriots in 1776, and many of them were all mixed up about what was going on and how they stood. Hotheads in the London Coffee House stirred up about an inoffensive Tea Act, Scotch-Irish come here to escape the British Crown, the local artisan class and the local smuggler class, unexpectedly prospering under non-importation, and the local gentry -- offended to be denied seats in Parliament like other Englishmen. Pennsylvania wavered until Ben Franklin stepped forward with a plan.

Land Tour Around Delaware Bay
Start in Philadelphia, take two days to tour around Delaware Bay. Down the New Jersey side to Cape May, ferry over to Lewes, tour up to Dover and New Castle, visit Winterthur, Longwood Gardens, Brandywine Battlefield and art museum, then back to Philadelphia. Try it!

Railroad Town
It's generally agreed, railroads failed to adjust their fixed capacity to changing demands. It's less certain Philadelphia was pulled down by that collapsing rail system.

New Castle, Delaware

New Castle is easy to get to, but hard to find. It's right on Delaware Bay, at the start of the old National Road (Route 40), next to two huge bridges, a few miles from the main north-south turnpikes, a couple of miles from an airport -- and lost in a sea of suburban housing and highway slums. It's lost, so to speak, in plain sight.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/new_castle_DE.jpg}
New Castle, Delaware

And yet it is a perfect jewel of early American history and architecture. It's just as attractive and historically important as Williamsburg, Virginia, except these buildings are not reproductions, but the real thing. The town says it was founded in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, but Peter Minuit in 1638 could make a claim to be even earlier. Located at the narrow neck of the funnel that is Delaware Bay, it was a natural place to start a colony, eventually to be the capital of the state. The Delaware River makes a rightward turn at that point, and creates a river highway all the way to Trenton. But a few miles upriver at Tinicum, now Philadelphia International Airport, the river started to fill up with islands and snags; was it better to locate upriver or downriver from the narrows? New Castle was placed downriver.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/MD_DE_PA.jpg}
New Castle's courthouse is the epicenter of the arc
from Maryland to the Delaware River.

But in 1777 the British fleet came to visit with hostile intent, and New Castle could look out the windows along the Strand right into the mouths of ships with twenty or thirty cannons pointing at them. Philadelphia, on the other hand, was protected upriver by a series of mud flats and barricades at Fort Mifflin that could quite effectively bar passage to enemy sailing ships. Delaware got the point, and shortly thereafter, the capital of Delaware was prudently moved to Dover, while even the county seat of New Castle County was moved to Wilmington. New Castle had a big fire in 1824; rebuilding afterward accounts for much of the present uniformly Federalist architecture. The final nail in the commercial coffin of the town was driven by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which just by-passed the town. For a century, this little architectural jewel just sat there in the fields, until the narrow neck of the Delmarva Peninsula became such a transportation crossroads that the fields filled up with construction more appropriate to Los Angeles. New Castle disappeared, without moving an inch.

{http://www.philadelphia-reflections.com/images/emanual_episcopal_church.jpg}
100 Harmony St.,
New Castle, DE 19720
(302) 328-2413

For fifty years in Colonial days, the rector of Immanuel Episcopal Church in New Castle was one George Ross. His son, also named George Ross became a lawyer in Lancaster and signed the Declaration of Independence. His widowed daughter, Gertrude Ross Till married George Read, a lawyer in New Castle who also signed the Declaration. And, a third signer Thomas McKean, lived two houses away. George Read had studied law under John Moland, whose house served as Washington's headquarters in 1777.

The northern border of Delaware is a semicircle, with a twelve-mile radius based on the cupola of the New Castle courthouse. It was originally the border of New Castle County, and it proved to be slightly imperfect. In the first place, it extended across the Delaware River into New Jersey, but it was a nuisance to go there, so that segment of land was abandoned to New Jersey. However, the legal border of the State of Delaware therefore extends to the high-water bank of the river on the New Jersey side, rather than running down the middle of the river. The significance of this curiosity appeared when the Delaware Memorial Bridges were built, and all of the tolls go to Delaware, instead of being split between the states as is more customary. The other problem with the semi-circular arc was that three lines meet at the northwestern corner of Delaware, and each was defined in its own way. The Mason-Dixon line goes due east-west, the border with Maryland goes north-south, and the idea was that the semicircular arc would meet the other two lines at a point. However, the instructions could be read in two different ways, leaving a little "wedge" of territory that could be reasonably said to lie in either Pennsylvania or Delaware, depending on the sequence of describing them. This was certainly a circumstance where any decision was better than no decision, but it took until 1921 for the states to harrumph their way to a final pronouncement. In the meantime, the disputed wedge of land was a good place to have duels, cockfights and other matters of questionable legality.


REFERENCES


Lewes, Delaware: Celebrating 375 Years of History Kevin N. Moore ASIN: B006DL8TC6 Amazon

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Further to the above,I'm looking for documentary evidence for John's time in New Castle. I know he lived some eary years in MD and in 1771, married Mary Jackson in Balt. This per his first Son, Thomas John Campbell, who's family bible I have. I'm also looking for doc. evidence of his father, Alexander who was purported to have immigrated from Scotland. Any assistance alonf these lines would be extremely appreciated! DWC
Posted by: DouglasWentworthCampbell   |   Aug 27, 2011 12:22 PM
I believe my 4th Great Grandfather, John Campnell,b.1750, m.1776, d.1803Phila was a resident. He signed up with Col. John Haslet's DE Regiment in Jan. 1776 in Wilm. and was in barracks in Dover in April. He servewd his 9 mo. enlistment and re signed with the Continental Army for another two yrs. His friend in the service was Caleb Prue Bennett, DE's 19th Governor. DWC
Posted by: DouglasWentworthCampbell   |   Aug 27, 2011 12:15 PM
Heard that my Greatgrandfather is buried in New Castle, DE. I'm going to visit to check this out.
Posted by: Sally   |   Oct 18, 2010 8:15 AM
But wait there is more to the story.. ..Delaware is the only state without a National Park...Senator Carper proposed a Park be in Delaware. after a study the National Park Service recomended a spoke and hub park with New Castle as the HUb and spokes going to Wilminton Ddover and other points in the state...Park would "be the colonialization by Swede, Dutch and English thru Independance and Constutition 1787." Secretary of the Interior was in town to look around May 4, 2009 and favorors the Park just need congressmen to get it going.
Posted by: Donald A.Reese   |   Jun 9, 2009 11:04 AM

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