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Title: Once Upon a Time in Delaware
Author: Pyle, Katharine
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: MAP of DELAWARE]



    _Katharine Pyle_


    _Edited by Emily P. Bissell_

    _Drawings by Ethel Pennewill Brown_


To All Delaware Children

Dear Girls and Boys:

These true stories are written just for you. They tell how once upon a
time brave men and women came across the ocean and landed here in the
wilderness, among the Indian tribes; how they made farms and towns and
cities and formed a state; and how they fought for the freedom and the
peace that Delaware now enjoys. Only thirteen out of the forty-eight
states of our Union are original colonies, and Delaware is one of these
famous thirteen. You are the young citizens, therefore, of an historic
state. To you it will fall, some day, to uphold the honor of Delaware.
May you be as patriotic and as brave as the Delaware settlers who
conquered the wilderness and the Delaware soldiers who laid down their
lives for liberty and right.

                             THE DELAWARE SOCIETY OF THE

                                         COLONIAL DAMES OF AMERICA.

Editor’s Preface

This book is published by the Delaware Society of the Colonial Dames of
America for the use, primarily, of the children of Delaware, in school
and out. Its style and matter are therefor chosen to suit young readers.

Many historical points in these stories are more or less disputed.
The original sources do not always agree. In preparing these stories
of Delaware for children’s reading, it has been thought best to use
anecdotes and interesting traditions whenever they could be found. The
result is a substantially true set of stories, which do not however,
undertake to settle the facts in any disputed case, but are designed to
leave in a child’s mind the broad outlines of Delaware history.

The stories have all been read and revised by the Hon. Alexander B.
Cooper of New Castle, to whom the thanks of the Colonial Dames are here
expressed for his wise and constant help. The Rev. Joseph B. Turner, of
Dover, has also kindly read over several of the stories.

Table of Contents














How Once Upon A Time The Dutch Came To Zwannendael.

[Illustration: The “Half-Moon” in Delaware Bay 1609]

IT was a clear warm day in May in the year 1631, and the sunlight shone
pleasantly on a little Indian village of the Leni Lenapes on the banks
of the broad Delaware river.

From the openings in the tops of the wigwams—openings that answered in
place of chimneys—the smoke of the fires rose toward the cloudless May
sky. Kettles were suspended over these fires, and from their contents
came a savory smell of cooking—of game, of fish, or of a sort of hasty
pudding that the squaws make of corn, which they have ground to meal
between stones.

A number of the young men had gone off to the forest in search of
game, or had paddled away in their canoes to distant fishing grounds,
but some of them were still left in the village. Now and then a brave
stalked with grave dignity among the wigwams; and the three chiefs,
Quescacous, Entquet, and Siconesius sat a little withdrawn, and in the
shadow of some trees, smoking together.

An Indian youth who was setting a trap down by the river paused, when
he had finished his task, to look up and down the stream for returning
canoes. There was none in sight, but what he did see caught his
attention and brought a startled look of wonder to his face. He bent
forward in eager attention and gave vent to a low guttural exclamation.
Down toward the bay two objects such as he had never seen before moved
slowly over the surface of the water. They moved like great birds with
wide spread wings; but they were no birds, as the Indian knew well.
Whatever they were, they were the work of human hands, and they were
coming toward the village.

Once satisfied of this, the Indian turned and sped back to the wigwams
to carry the news.

What he had to tell was enough to arouse not only the interest of the
younger Indians, but of the braves and the chiefs as well. Soon a group
of natives had gathered on the shore, all gazing down toward the bay.

And a marvellous sight it must have been to those Indians that May
morning when the two ships of the first colonists who ever settled in
Delaware came sailing up the river toward them. In the lead came a
vessel of eighteen guns, her sails spread wide to the light breeze, the
flag of Holland floating from her masthead. Following her was a smaller
yacht named the _Walrus_. Over the sides of these vessels leaned the
sailors and the colonists, blue eyed and fair haired, dressed in cloth
suits and glittering buttons.

These immigrants gazed with wonder at the strange natives gathered on
the shore—at their painted faces and feathers; and they saw with joy
the beauty of this new land. For five months these ships had sailed the
trackless ocean, now beaten by storms, now driven on by favoring winds;
and now at last, under their leader, DeVries, they had reached their

They were not the first white men who had sailed these waters. Long,
long before, Hudson had come this way on his search for a north-east
passage to China. In 1612 Hendrickson had ventured up the river in his
little ship _Restless_, but neither of these had set foot on the land,
unless it was to seek a spring for water to drink. These men under
DeVries in 1631 were the first who ever made an attempt to settle.

Very joyously these first colonists landed in Delaware. Flags were
flying and music playing. The cannon of the ship boomed out a salute
across the water. It reverberated solemnly over the wild and lonely
country where such a sound had never been heard before. The colonists
were so delighted with the peace and the beauty of the land that they
named the point where the boat first touched, _Paradise Point_. It is
the little projection of land at the mouth of what is now known as
Lewes Creek.

The three chiefs, gorgeous in paint and feathers, came down to meet the
strangers and conducted them up the shore to the village. Here they
motioned to them to seat themselves around the fire and smoke the pipe
of peace.

The various small tribes of Indians in Delaware all belonged to the one
great tribe of the Leni Lenapes.

DeVries, on his side, was very anxious to establish friendly relations
with them. He believed that if the natives were treated fairly and
kindly there would be no trouble with them.

We do not know how the bargain was made between the Indians and the
white men, whether by signs or whether through an interpreter sent down
from the New Netherlands (New York) which had been settled some time
before. But we are told in the old documents that this first tract of
land, thirty-two miles along the bay and river from Cape Henlopen, was
sold by the Indians for “certain parcels of cargoes,” probably kettles,
cloth, beads and ornaments.

After the bargain was made, DeVries again took ship; and the three
chiefs sailed with him up to New Netherlands, where a solemn deed
was made before the three chiefs and signed and sealed by the
Dutch Governor and the Directors, Council and Sheriff of the New

Down in the newly purchased land the colonists immediately set about
building shelters for themselves. Their possessions had been landed
with them—their chests of clothing, their farming tools, and the seeds
they had brought from home. They must begin to prepare fields, too; for
it was time the seeds were planted.

The spot they selected was near the mouth of the creek, where there
was a spring of delicious cool water; and, because of the wild swans
that were sometimes seen there, they named their little settlement
Zwannendael. The river they called Hoornekill in honor of DeVries,
whose native place was Hoorne in Holland.

The natives watched with wonder the strange work of these colonists,
and the square houses with doors and windows which they made, and which
were so different from the round wigwams woven of boughs and barks.

Beside separate cabins the settlers built themselves a general house
to serve as defense in time of need. They called it Fort Uplandt; but
DeVries placed such extraordinary confidence in the Indians that the
so-called fort was only a house, larger and stronger than the cabins,
and surrounded by a high fence.

So diligently did the settlers go about their work that by the middle
of the summer they were quite well established.

DeVries was anxious to go back to Holland and bring out more settlers,
so he appointed Giles Hosset[2] Director of the colony and then made
his preparations to sail.

It was with heavy hearts that the little band of colonists saw the ship
that had brought them from home spread its wings and sail away.

They watched it until it was only a speck in the distance, until even
the speck had disappeared. Then they turned again to their work with
a new feeling of loneliness. They were so few in that great land of

They had provisions enough, brought from home to last them a year and
there was some comfort in the fact that the yacht _Walrus_ was left
behind. She was anchored just off shore in the river, and from there
she could keep guard over the little colony like a mother bird guarding
her nest. If danger arose, the settlers could retreat to her. But what
danger was there to fear when the Indians seemed so peaceable and

For some months after DeVries left them, all went well; and then
trouble arose. The trouble was over a very little thing, no more nor
less than a little square of tin.

One of the first things the colonists had done after settling their
farms, was to erect a pillar, and place on it a piece of tin carved
with the arms of the United Provinces, as Holland was called. Those
arms, set high above the village, were to them a constant reminder of
their old home across the sea; and often, as they went to and fro about
their work, their homesick eyes would turn to it for comfort.

But one morning when the colonists arose to go to their daily toil, the
piece of tin was missing. Evidently, someone had wrenched it from its
place in the night.

Angry and excited, the colonists began to make inquiries. For a time
they learned nothing of how or why it had been taken, but at length
they found it had been stolen by an old chief to make tobacco pipes.
Then the colonists were more angry than ever. It seemed an insult to
their country that her arms should have been put to such a base use.

The natives were much alarmed when they found how angry the settlers
were. They did not understand why they set such value upon the arms.
Was the piece of tin something sacred—something that the pale faces
worshiped? Out in the river lay the _Walrus_, seeming to threaten them
with its presence; and soon the great sachem DeVries would return,
unless they could make their peace with the pale faces.

A few days later some of the natives came to the settlement, bringing a
gift to the white men—a gift that they hoped might soothe the anger of
the settlers. It was the bloody scalp of the old chief. They had killed
him and brought this as a peace offering.

The settlers, with Giles Hosset at their head, were overcome with

“What have you done!” Hosset cried, “Why did you not bring him to the
fort? We could have reproved him, and told him that if he did such a
thing again he would be punished. But you yourselves should be punished
for this. It is a bloody and barbarous act!”

The Indians heard him with sullen look. They in their turn were
enraged. They had thought to please the white men by killing the white
men’s enemy, and now the white men were more angry than ever. The
natives dissembled, however; they went away with calm looks, but black
rage was in their hearts.

Giles Hosset was deeply troubled.

“Evil will surely come of this,” he said. “Innocent blood has been
shed, and something tells me that more will follow.”

However, the next few days passed peacefully. Giles Hosset’s fears
began to die away. The Indians were apparently as friendly as ever,
and the whole tragic event seemed to have been forgotten. But it was
not. There were friends of the chief who remembered and blamed the pale
faces for his death, and whose hearts were full of hatred and revenge.

One morning the little ship _Walrus_ drew up its anchor and sailed down
the bay and out into the ocean to look for whales. There were said to
be a great many along the coast, and an Indian had brought them news of
one that had been spouting outside at dawn.

The colonists were gathering in their crops, and the little cluster of
cabins lay peaceful and deserted in the golden autumn sunlight. Two
people only were left in the strong house. One was a man who was sick
and so unable to work; the other was a stout, strong fellow who stayed
there on guard. A great brindled mastiff was chained to the wall by a
strong staple. He lay asleep, sometimes rousing himself to snap lazily
at the flies. The guard was sharpening some farm implements; the man on
the bed lay watching him, and now and then they chatted idly.

Suddenly the great mastiff lifted its head and listened. Then it sprang
to its feet, struggling against the chain and growling ominously.

“What is it?” asked the sick man.

The guard went to the door and looked out.

“Indians,” he answered.

“Indians?” repeated the sick man, “I like not that they should come
here when all the others are away and out of call.”

However, it seemed that these Indians had come on a matter of barter.
They had with them a stack of beaver skins, which they wished to
exchange for cloth or provisions. They spread them out on the floor,
and the white men grew quite interested in examining them.

Presently they made their bargain, and the guard said he would go up to
the loft and get certain of the stores that were kept there.

One of the Indians followed him up and stood around as he selected the
things he was to exchange for the skins. Then, as the guard started
down the ladder, swift as lightning the Indian struck him with an axe
he had picked up, and crushed in his head. The man had not even time to
cry out.

Immediately, and as though this sound had been the signal, the natives
fell upon the sick man and killed him. Others rushed upon the dog, but
there they met with such a fierce defense that they fell back. The
brave beast pulled and struggled against the chain, and a moment later
he fell pierced by a shower of arrows.

When nothing was left alive in the strong house, the Indians went out
to where the colonists were quietly at work in the fields, guessing
nothing of the tragedy that had just been enacted at the strong house.

The Indians approached them tranquilly, their weapons carefully
concealed. So friendly were their looks that the white men felt no
fear; but only Giles Hosset, remembering the death of the chief,
watched them with some uneasiness. But even he had no faintest
suspicion of the bloody work so soon to begin.

When the Indians were quite close to the settlers, their friendly look
suddenly turned to one of ferocity and hate. Weapons were flourished,
they burst into their terrible war cry and fell upon the defenseless
colonists. So thorough was their work that, when it was ended, not one
white man was left alive to tell the tale of the terrible massacre of

Meanwhile, out in the ocean, the _Walrus_ had cruised about all day;
but the sailors had seen no signs of the whales the Indians had told of
and at evening they came sailing home.

What was their surprise, as they approached the settlement, to see no
signs of life. They could not understand it. Only when they reached the
strong house and saw the bodies of the men and the dog, did they begin
to guess at the terrible tragedy of that day.

They hastened to the field where they had left their friends cheerfully
at work that morning. Not one was left alive.

Filled with despair, the survivors hurried back to their ship. The
native village too, was empty, the Indians had disappeared; but the
white men were afraid to stay on the shore. They spent the night on the
_Walrus_, and the next day set sail for Holland to carry the sad news
to DeVries.

We are told that DeVries had almost finished his preparations and was
expecting soon to return to Zwannendael, but that when he heard the
tidings he was overcome.

The return voyage was given up, for the new colonists were afraid to
risk the fate of the others. And so, in the massacre of Zwannendael,
ended the first settlement ever made on Delaware soil.

Yet still the land had been possessed by the Dutch. It was not, any
more, unclaimed land that belonged to any man that came along. When the
King of England gave away all the land along that part of the coast to
Lord Baltimore, only three years later, he could not give this land of
Delaware, because it had already been settled by DeVries for Holland.
Our state began when the Dutch colonists first stepped ashore on
Paradise Point.

[Illustration: Monument at Lewes to first Dutch Colony under


[1] Bancroft says, “The voyage of DeVries was the cradling of a state,
and that Delaware exists as a separate commonwealth is due to the
colony he brought and planted on her shore. Though the colony was swept
out of existence soon after, this charter, three years before the
Maryland patent was granted Lord Baltimore, preserved Delaware.”

[2] Giles Hosset in this position as Director of the Colony may well be
called the first Governor of Delaware.


How Once Upon A Time The Swedes Built A Fort.

[Illustration: Old Swedes’ Church · Wilmington 1698]

SPRING had come again. The sun shone as bright and clear as when, seven
years before, DeVries and his Dutch settlers had sailed up the Delaware
and landed on its shores.

That was in 1631. Now it was the year 1638, and two other vessels[3]
were sailing up the broad river. But these ships were not Dutch; they
carried the colors of Sweden, and the men who crowded to the sides of
the vessels to gaze at the unknown shores were Swedes.

Six months before, these men, fifty in all, had started out from
Gottenburg to journey across the sea to this new land. For six months
they had been tossed and beaten by many storms upon the ocean, but now
at last they had reached the promised land.

Slowly they sailed up the river and past the mouth of the
Hoornekill.[4] The colonists stared in silence at the spot where the
little settlement of Zwannendael had once stood. Nothing marked the
place now but a few blackened ruins; and these, wind and storm were
slowly eating away.

The Swedes did not stop there, but sailed on up the river. Their
commander, Peter Minuit, had once been with the West India Company
at New Netherlands, and knew something of the country and had a
clear idea of where he wished to start his colony. Some miles above
the Hoornekill, Minquas Creek (now our Christiana) emptied into the
Delaware. Two and a half miles from its mouth, a point of rocks[5]
jutted out into the stream and made a sort of natural wharf. It was
upon this point that the Swedes made their landing.

Stores and implements were carried to the shore, and soon the silence
of the new land was broken by the sound of the ax and the voices of the
settlers talking and calling to one another.

Lonely and deserted as the country had seemed to the new settlers,
their coming was quickly known to both the Indians and the Dutch.

The first to visit them was an Indian Chief named Mattahoon. He and
some of his braves stalked in among the colonists one day, with silent
Indian tread, and stood looking about them with curious, glittering
black eyes. Minuit gave them some presents, and they seemed much
pleased. Then Mattahoon told Minuit that the land belonged to him and
his braves.

Minuit wished to buy it from him, and the Sachem agreed to sell it for
a copper kettle and some other small articles. These were given to him,
and he and his braves went away, well content with their bargain.

The next visitor to come to them was a messenger from New Amsterdam.
He told them that Director General Kieft, the Dutch Governor, had sent
him to ask why they had settled on land that belonged to the Dutch. The
Dutch had bought it from the Indians long ago, at the time DeVries had
settled on the river.

Minuit answered the messenger very civilly. He gave the Dutchman to
understand that he and his Swedes were on their way to the West Indies,
and had only landed on this shore for rest and refreshment.

The messenger believed what Minuit said, and was quite satisfied, and
the next day he returned to New Amsterdam and told Kieft there was
nothing to fear from these strangers; they were only passers-by and had
no wish to settle upon the river.

However, not long after this, a Dutch ship sailing up the river saw
that the strangers were still there. Moreover, they were building
houses and something that looked like a fort, and gardens were laid out.

Kieft, the Dutch Governor was very angry when he heard this. Again he
sent a messenger in haste, to ask why the Swedes were building, and to
demand that they should re-enter their ships and sail away.

Minuit paid but little attention to this second messenger. He was very
busy. The fort was almost finished. Reorus Torkillus, a clergyman who
had come from Sweden with him, had already held services in it, and
had prayed for the welfare of their little settlement of Christinaham,
for that was what they had named it. The fort itself was called Fort
Christina, in honor of the Swedish Queen, and the name of the creek was
changed from Minquas to Christina.

It was of no use for the Dutch to send messengers now. The Swedes were
well established. Moreover, they had made friends with the Indians.
Minuit had given them a number of presents—kettles, cloth, trinkets,
and even fire-arms and ammunition.[6]

With these presents the savages were delighted; and they signed a paper
with their marks, giving to the Swedes all the land from Cape Henlopen
to Santican, or what is now called the Falls of Trenton. When the Dutch
heard this, they were indignant for they claimed that all that land had
already been sold to them.

Reorus Torkillus, the Swedish minister for the little settlement, did
what he could to keep peace with both the Dutch and the Indians. He was
an earnest, pious man, and his great hope was that he might convert the
savages to Christianity. He regularly held Divine service in the fort.
He also had a plot of ground fenced off to serve as a burying ground
when such might be needed.[7]

The Indians understood but little of the teachings of Torkillus; but
there was one thing that they did understand, and that was that the
Swedes gave them many presents and paid them better for their furs and
skins than the Dutch did. Minuit, indeed, was always careful to find
out what the Dutch were paying them and then to offer a little more. In
this way he secured all the best and choicest of the furs—a cause of
fresh anger to the Dutch.

But with all this friendly feeling between the Swedes and the Indians,
the settlers were obliged to be on their watch with the savages. The
Leni Lenapes, to which the Delaware tribes belonged, were for the most
part a peaceful people; but there often appeared among them Indians
from another tribe, probably Iroquois, whom the settlers called
“Flatheads.”[8] These strange Indians were both cruel and treacherous,
and they made it dangerous for a settler to venture out of sight or
hearing of the settlement. Often they would hide in the woods and fall
upon some lonely wanderer, and kill or stun and then scalp him.

The scalping itself was not always fatal. There is a story of a drunken
soldier who fell asleep across his gun. When he awoke, he had a strange
feeling in his head. At first he thought it was the effect of what he
had drunk, but presently, to his terror, he found he had been scalped.
And there is a story too, of a woman who had gone into the forest
to gather fire-wood. She was struck down, stunned, and scalped by a
Flathead, but she lived many years afterward. Her hair, however, never
grew out again, except as a fine down.

There was another thing about the Indians that, as time went on, made
the settlers more and more anxious. In order to keep them in good
temper, it was necessary to continue to give them presents. At first it
was easy for the colonists to do this, for they had brought with them
from Sweden a large store of things for that very purpose. But as time
went on, their stores dwindled away. They had expected ships from home
to bring them a fresh supply, but no ships came.

Week after week and month after month passed by; the home land seemed
to have forgotten them. Their cloth was all gone, their clothes were
threadbare, and many of their cattle had died. The Indians came to
Christinaham, expecting presents, and went away with angry looks and
empty hands.

In the year 1640 the Chief Mattahoon called together a great meeting
of the sachems and warriors of Delaware. The meeting was held deep in
the wood where no white man could come. All the chiefs and braves were
gathered there, old and young. They ate and drank. Then Mattahoon spoke
to them. He asked them whether it would not be better to kill all the
Swedes. He said:

“The Swedes live here upon our land, they have many forts and houses,
but they have no goods to sell us. We find nothing in their stores
that we want. They have no cloth, red, blue, or brown. They have no
kettles, no brass, no lead, no guns, no powder. But the English and
the Dutch have many things. Shall we kill all the Swedes or suffer them
to remain?”[9]

An Indian warrior answered:

“Why should we kill all the Swedes? They are in friendship with us. We
have no complaint to make of them. Presently they will bring here a
large ship full of all sorts of good things.”

With this speech all the others agreed. Then Mattahoon said:

“Then we native Indians will love the Swedes, and the Swedes shall be
our good friends. We and the Swedes and Dutch shall always trade with
each other.”

Soon after this the meeting was dissolved, and all the Indians returned
to their own villages.

The Swedish settlers knew nothing of this meeting, but they had felt
that they were in danger. It was in March of that year, 1640, that they
decided, with sad hearts, to give up their little settlement and remove
to New Amsterdam. Preparations were made for abandoning Christinaham.
Tools and provisions were packed, and the boats made ready.

The Dutch heard with joy that the little settlement was to be given up.
At last they would be rid of their troublesome neighbors.

However, the very day before the Swedes were to leave, a vessel arrived
from Sweden, bringing them cattle, seeds, cloths and all the things of
which they were so in need. The ship also brought a letter from the
wise Swedish Councillor Oxenstiern and his brother. In this letter, the
colonists were encouraged in their undertaking and told to keep brave
hearts. They were also promised that two more vessels should be sent
out to them in the spring.

When the colonists heard this news, they shouted for joy. The household
goods which they had packed with such heavy hearts were now unpacked,
the houses were opened, and the work of the village was taken up again.

The Indians were greatly pleased. Now they saw how wise they had been
to have patience and wait, instead of killing all the Swedes as they
had been tempted to do. The Swedes were again their best friends, and
the givers of many gifts.

The Dutch were obliged to swallow their disappointment as best they
could, for now the Swedes were more firmly settled than ever. Fields
were tilled, and orchards planted. Later on they built forts at the
mouths of various Creeks, so as to prevent the Dutch from trading with
the Indians.

When, in 1643, Lieutenant Printz came out from Sweden to take the
position of Governor; he built a handsome house on Tinnicum Island,
just above Chester, and also a fort and a church.[10] The principal
Swedes built their houses around this fort, and the village that arose
back of it was called “Printzdorf.” Thus the capital of New Sweden was
removed from Christinaham to Tinnicum Island.

The Governor held absolute power over the little colony, and all
matters were decided by him according to his own will.

There were, at this time, two kinds of people upon the Delaware;
the freemen, who owned their own land and farmed and traded, and
prisoners, who had been sent over from Sweden on the earliest vessels,
and who were employed in digging ditches and hewing and building, and
were treated as slaves. In fact, there was no lack of laborers in the

Rich cargoes of furs and tobacco were now sent back to Sweden. The
Dutch were in despair. They saw all the Indian trade being taken out of
their hands; but Sweden was too powerful both at home and abroad for
them to dare to interfere with her, and from this time until Stuyvesant
came out to be Governor of the New Netherlands the Swedes ruled supreme
along the Delaware.

The spot where the Swedes first landed is still preserved, and
is marked by a portion of the original rock, placed close to the
landing-place on the bank of the Christiana. This rock bears an
inscription, and is enclosed by a low iron railing. It may be called
the Plymouth Rock of Delaware, for it is taken from the natural wharf
of rocks on which the Swedes first stepped, and marks the first
permanent settlement made in Delaware.

[Illustration: Portion of Swedes’ Rock


Site of Fort Christina



[3] The ships were the _Key of Kalmar_ and the _Bird Grip_ or _Griffin_.

[4] A landing was made a few miles above the Hoornekill at a point
between the Murderkill and Mispillion Creeks, in Kent County, but the
Swedes only stopped there for a short time for rest and refreshment.
The place was so beautiful that they named it Paradise Point.

[5] This point of rocks marked the foot of what is now Sixth Street, in

[6] Giving or trading fire-arms or ammunition to the Indians was
afterward forbidden on pain of death. The arming of the Indians was
considered too dangerous.

[7] Upon the site of this burying ground the Old Swedes Church now
stands; and somewhere beneath it lie the bones of Reorus Torkillus.

[8] So called from a curious flattening of the crown of the head.

[9] This account is given by Campanius.

[10] The present church of Old Swedes at Wilmington, was not built
until 1698, so this church on Tinnicum Island was the first one built
by the Swedes. In Minuit’s time, Torkillus had held Divine service in
the fort.


How Once Upon A Time Governor Stuyvesant Had His Way.




Old Tile House

New Castle 1687]

PETER STUYVESANT was a tall, red-faced Dutchman who came out to the New
Netherlands in 1647, to take the place of Kieft as Governor of that

Governor Stuyvesant had fought in many battles, and in one of them had
lost a leg. When he came out to New Netherlands he had a wooden leg;
and as it was fastened together by rings of silver, it was often called
“the Governor’s silver leg.” Stuyvesant had also a very violent temper;
and, when he was angry, he stamped about with this leg as though it
were a club and he were beating the floor with it.

At this time, in 1647, the Swedes claimed all of Delaware as theirs,
and called it New Sweden. They had driven many of the Dutch away, had
torn down their buildings, and had kept them from trading with the
Indians. Every little while news of fresh wrongs to the Dutch was
brought from Delaware to Governor Stuyvesant; and every time a letter
or messenger arrived, the Governor had a fresh fit of rage. He believed
that the Dutch were the real owners of the river; and, if he could,
he would have gathered his soldiers together and sailed down to New
Sweden, and have done his best to drive every Swede out of the country.

This he could not do, however; for the Directors of the West India
Company, who had given him his position as Governor, had told him to
keep peace not only with the Indians, but with the Swedes as well.

This was a hard thing for a hot-tempered man like Stuyvesant to do.
Now the story would be that the Swedes had destroyed more of the Dutch
buildings along the Delaware; again, that the Swedes had incited the
Indians to try to surprise and massacre the Dutch; and Hudde, the
Dutch commissioner in New Sweden, wrote that a Swedish lieutenant and
twenty-four soldiers had come to his house one day and cut down all his
trees, even the fruit trees.

Stuyvesant stamped about louder than ever when he heard this. The
insult to the Dutch commissioner seemed the worst thing that had yet
happened; and he made up his mind to sail down to New Sweden and
remonstrate with the Swedish Governor Printz himself.

Governor Printz lived in a very handsome house called Printz Hall, on
Tinnicum Island. All about it were fine gardens and an orchard. There
was also a pleasure house, and indeed everything that could help to
make it comfortable and convenient. Governor Printz received Governor
Stuyvesant very politely in the great hall of the house, and presently
the two governors sat down and began to talk. Stuyvesant complained
bitterly of the treatment the Dutch had received in Delaware. He
repeated that by rights the Dutch really owned the land; they had
bought it years before from the Indians, and their right to it had been
sealed by the blood they had shed upon its soil.

Printz himself was a very violent man, and often gross and abusive; but
this time he kept his temper and answered the Dutch Governor civilly.
Stuyvesant, though, gained nothing by his visit, and all his talk
and reasoning. Printz was determined to keep all the land along the
Delaware, and to govern it as he pleased. As to cutting down Hudde’s
trees, he said he had had nothing to do with that matter, and was sorry
it had happened.

So Stuyvesant went back to his own fine house at New Amsterdam, and the
Dutch in New Sweden were no better off.

However, he was not one to let the matter rest at that. He kept it
in his mind, and at last, as the result of his thinking, he sent
messengers to all the Indian sachems along the Delaware, inviting them
to come to a great meeting at the governor’s house in New Amsterdam.

The meeting was set for early in July; and, on the day appointed, the
Indians came. They were grave and fierce looking, in spite of their gay
paint and feathers. Stuyvesant received them in the hall of his house;
and after they had all arrived, they sat down there in council.

The first thing Stuyvesant wished to learn from them was exactly how
much land they had sold to the Swedes.

The Indians told him they had not sold any land to the Swedes, except
that upon which Fort Christina stood, and ground enough around it for
a garden to plant tobacco in.

“Then will you sell the land to us?” asked Stuyvesant.

The Indians were quite willing to do this. They were always willing to
sell anything, even if they had already sold it; but what they wished
to know was what the Dutch would give. The price finally agreed upon
was, if they had only known it, an absurd price indeed; but the Indians
were quite content with it. It was;—12 coats of duffels (a kind of
cloth), 12 kettles, 12 axes, 12 adzes, 24 knives, 12 bars of lead and 4
guns with some powder; besides this, the Dutch to repair the gun of the
Chief Penomennetta when it was out of order, and to give the Indians a
few handfuls of maize when they needed it. This was the price for which
the Indians sold to the Dutch all the land along the Delaware River,
from Fort Christiana to Bombay Hook.

The Indians then went away, very much pleased. Governor Stuyvesant,
too, was in high good humor. Now he would show Printz who was the real
owner of the land.

In the year 1651, Stuyvesant set about having a fort built at New
Amstel, (now New Castle) about five miles south of Fort Christina. The
name of it was to be Fort Casimir.[11] This fort was of great value to
the Dutch, and Stuyvesant felt that he had taken the first step toward
recovering Dutch possession of the Delaware.

Printz, as soon as he knew what Stuyvesant was about, protested against
the building of the fort; but he was not strong enough to prevent it.
He had grown very unpopular, because of his violent and coarse temper.
He was hated not only by the Dutch and the English, but by his own
people as well. Things began to grow more and more unpleasant for him,
so that at last he begged to be allowed to go back to Sweden; and in
1653 he left the shores of New Sweden and his house on Tinnicum Island,
and sailed away not to return.

But Stuyvesant was well pleased. He felt that it was he, with his
building of Fort Casimir, who had driven the Swede away. He smiled
comfortably to himself as he sat smoking his pipe, and made fresh plans.

But in June, 1654, news came to Governor Stuyvesant that made him leap
from his chair and clench his hands and stamp up and down as though
he would break his wooden-silver leg to pieces. _The Swedes had taken
Fort Casimir!_ And they had taken it without a single blow having been
struck by the Dutch. The taking of the fort was in this way:—

Rysing, the new Swedish governor, had arrived at Godwin Bay early in
May. He came sailing up the South River in the good ship _Aren_, and
with him came a number of new settlers, bold and resolute men, about
two or three hundred in all.

As they came near Fort Casimir they fired a royal salute, dropped
their sails, and anchored. This was May 31, 1654. Gerritt Bikker, the
commander of the fort, immediately sent to ask their business in these
waters. Bikker was a very weak and timid man.

The messengers soon returned, bringing word that it was a Swedish ship
with the new Governor, and that he demanded to have Fort Casimir handed
over to him, as it was on Swedish land.

Bikker was amazed at this message, and was about to write out an answer
when he was told that a boat from the Swedish vessel was coming toward
the Fort, with about twenty men.

Bikker thought that they were bringing some further message, and
politely went down to the beach to meet them. The gate of the fort was
left open.

The Swedes landed; but, instead of stopping on the beach, they marched
straight to the open gate and into the fort. Then, drawing their
swords, they demanded the surrender of the fort. At the same time two
shots were fired from the Swedish vessel, and the Swedes in the fort
wrenched the muskets from the hands of the Dutch soldiers. The whole
thing was so sudden that the Dutch were unable to make any resistance,
and in a moment they had been chased from the fort, and the Swedes had
taken possession of everything.

All this happened on Trinity Sunday, so the Swedes now changed the name
of the fort from Fort Casimir, to Fort Trinity.

The Dutch living near the fort, took the oath of allegiance to the
Swedish crown, and it seemed that Stuyvesant was to lose everything he
had just gained in Delaware.

It was felt to be very important at this time to gain the friendship of
the Indians, so, very soon after the capture of Fort Casimir, Governor
Rysing asked the Delaware sachems to come to a meeting at Printz Hall.

The Indians came to Tinnicum Island in answer to his message as, a
short time before, they had gone to New Amsterdam when Stuyvesant sent
for them. They were seated in the great hall of the house and waited
gravely to hear “a talk made to them.”

Rysing began by telling the Indians how much the Swedes respected them.
He reminded them of the gifts they had received from the Swedes—many
more than the Dutch had ever given them.

The Indians replied that the Swedes had brought much evil upon them;
that many of them had died since the Swedes had come into the country.

Rysing then gave them some presents, and after that the Indians arose
and went out.

Presently they returned; and the principal sachem, a chief called
Naaman, “made a talk.” He began by saying that the Indians had done
wrong in speaking evil of the Swedes; “for the Swedes,” said he, “are a
good people; see the presents they have brought us; for these they ask
our friendship.” He then stroked his arm three times from the shoulder
down, which among the Indians, is a sign of friendship. He promised
that the friendship between the Indians and the Swedes should be as
close as it had been in Governor Printz’s time.

“The Swedes and the Indians then,” he said, “were as one body and one
heart” (and he stroked his breast as he spoke), “and now they shall be
as one head,” and he seized his head with both hands and then made a
motion as though he were tying a strong knot.

Rysing answered that this should indeed be a strong and lasting
friendship, and then the great guns of the fort were fired.

The Indians were delighted at the noise and cried, “Hoo, hoo, hoo;
mockirick pickon!” which means, “Hear and believe! The great guns have

After more talk great kettles were brought into the hall filled with
_sappawn_, a kind of hasty pudding made of Indian corn, and all sat
down and fed heartily, and then the Indians departed to their villages.

Rysing had thought that as soon as Stuyvesant heard that the Swedes had
taken Fort Casimir, he would try to recapture it; but day after day
and week after week passed peacefully by. Rysing began to believe that
Stuyvesant meant to let the matter rest.

But the hot-tempered Dutchman had far other ideas than that. He still
remembered that he had been told to keep peace with his neighbors, but
he wrote an account of the whole matter to the West India Company at
home. Then he had to gather together all his patience and wait, for an
answer from across the ocean. What he most feared was that he would be
told still to keep the peace.

But when Stuyvesant’s letter telling how the Swedes had taken Fort
Casimir reached Holland, the people were aroused at last. The roll of
drums sounded in the streets of old Amsterdam. Volunteers were called
for. A ship, _The Balance_, was fitted out with men, arms, ammunition
and provisions, and set sail as quickly as possible for New Netherlands.

Great was the joy of Stuyvesant to receive such an answer as this. He
too had called for volunteers, and he had gathered together all the
vessels he could; he had even hired a French frigate, _L’Esperance_,
which happened to be lying in the harbor of New Amsterdam at that time.

About the middle of August, 1655, the little Dutch fleet sailed out
from the harbor of New Amsterdam-seven vessels in all and carrying
almost seven hundred men. Stuyvesant himself was in command.

They sailed down to the Delaware Bay, in between the capes, and up the
river to a short distance above the fort. Quietly as Styuvesant had
moved, the Indians had learned his plans some time before, and had
carried the news of them to Rysing.

Rysing had immediately sent what men and ammunition he could spare to
Fort Trinity, and had told Captain Sven Schute, its commander, to fire
on the Dutch if they attempted to sail past the fort. This, Sven Schute
did not do. He allowed the Dutch to pass by without firing a single
shot, and so all communication with Fort Christina was cut off.

Stuyvesant landed the Dutch soldiers on Sunday, September 5, 1655, and
sent Captain Smith with a drummer to the fort to demand that Captain
Schute should surrender it, as it was Dutch property.

Schute, however, asked time to consider, and also to be allowed to
write to Rysing.

This was refused; and Schute was again called upon to surrender, and so
spare the shedding of innocent blood.

A second time he refused, and a third time he was asked to surrender;
and the third time he agreed and opened his gates to the Dutch. So it
was that within a short time after leaving New Amsterdam, the Dutch
marched to the fort with music playing and banners flying; and so, a
second time, Fort Casimir (then Fort Trinity) was captured without a
blow having been struck or a drop of blood shed.

After capturing Fort Casimir, Stuyvesant sailed up the river to Fort
Christina and surrounded it. Rysing had only thirty men, and around him
camped almost seven hundred Dutchmen.

Stuyvesant sent him a message by an Indian, bidding him surrender the

Rysing, by the same Indian, returned a letter begging Stuyvesant to
meet him and talk the matter over.

This Stuyvesant agreed to; but he treated Rysing in such an insolent
way that it made matters harder than ever for the Swedish governor to
bear. Rysing laid before him all the Swedish claims to the river, and
begged him to withdraw his soldiers. This, Stuyvesant refused to do,
and again demanded the surrender of the fort.

Rysing would not agree to this and so returned.

On the twenty-fourth of September all the Dutch guns were turned upon
Fort Christina, and Rysing was again called upon to surrender.

This time, seeing how useless it was to try to defend the fort with his
small force, he agreed. Such terms as he could, he made with the Dutch.

He and his troops were allowed to march out with drums beating, fifes
playing, and colors flying, and they were also allowed to keep their
guns and ammunition and all effects belonging to the Swedish Crown. It
was agreed that no Swedes were to be kept there against their will; but
any were to be allowed to stay one year if they wished, in order to
arrange their affairs. Rysing and his Swedes were also to have a ship
to take them back to Gottenburg in Sweden.

Thus, on September 25, 1655, our state became the property of the
Dutch, and Swedish power ended forever on the banks of the Delaware.

[Illustration: Stone at New Castle·

Fort Casimir was built by the Dutch in—1651 · and recaptured by them
from the Swedes—1655·]


[11] The spot where Fort Casimir (or Trinity) once stood, is now
covered with water, the Delaware flowing over it. It was a little
north of where the town of New Castle now stands. A boulder with
an inscription has been placed near the shore, on the road, by the
Colonial Dames, to mark the vicinity of the old fort.


How Once Upon A Time William Penn Landed In New Castle.

[Illustration: William Penn’s Ship—the “Welcome”—off New Castle Oct

IT WAS in the year 1682, and Delaware had seen many changes since Peter
Minuit and his little band of Swedes had landed on her wild shores.
During those years the Swedes had been driven out by the Dutch, and the
Dutch had afterward surrendered to the English; then the Dutch, growing
stronger, had driven out the English; but again the English had taken
possession and now owned all of what had once been New Netherlands
and New Sweden. New Netherlands was now called New York, and it was
the English Directors, (living in the town of New York, formerly New
Amsterdam), who made the laws for Delaware.

Only a few English, however, had come to Delaware to live. The people
of Wilmington (once Christinaham, or Christina Harbor) and of New
Castle, were principally Dutch and Swedes. They were simple farmer
people, raising crops and cattle and chickens, and they were very
willing to keep the laws that the English at New York made for them.
The Indians were still troublesome at times, but the settlers had
their block-houses or forts to retreat to and were generally able to
protect themselves.

But now it had come to their ears that a new governor was coming out
from England to rule over them, and they wondered anxiously what sort
of man he would prove to be. Governor Printz had been coarse and
violent; Governor Stuyvesant, hot-tempered, ambitious, and overbearing;
and terrible tales had been told of the cruelty of Governor Kieft.
There had been a long line of governors since Minuit’s time, both in
Delaware and in New York; and few of them had seemed to care for the
good of the poorer people. And now this new man was coming and, for all
they knew, might be the worst of all.

The name of the new Governor was William Penn. The Duke of York had
given Delaware to him, and King Charles the Second, had given him a
great tract of land farther to the North, which he called Pennsylvania.
More than this, the people did not know; but they often talked about
the new governor and wondered what he would be like, and when he would
come, as they sat around their fires in the early fall evenings.

Then they began to learn more about him; for his cousin, Captain
William Markham, came out to America to act as Governor till Penn could
come himself. They learned that Penn belonged to the Quakers—a strange,
new religious sect; and that it was the rule that Quakers must dress
very plainly and say “thee” and “thou” to people instead of “you” and
take off their hats to nobody, not even the King himself. That seemed
a strange thing indeed to the settlers, and they wondered how the King
liked it.

Penn had bought the land from King Charles, and his brother the Duke
for an absurd price—a price so small that the poorest farmer among them
all might have bought it if he had had the chance.

For all of Pennsylvania, with its wooded hills and fertile valleys and
well-stocked streams, he had paid only twelve shillings[12] and, at
Michaelmas, was to pay the King five shillings more.

For Delaware, he had paid ten shillings to the Duke of York; and every
Michaelmas he was to pay to the Duke, a rose. He was also to pay over
one half of the profits he drew from the southern part of Delaware.
Yes, any of the honest farmers might have bought the land at that
price, but then, the great people most probably would not have sold it
at all to anyone but their friend, William Penn.

Captain Markham was buying for Penn, from the Indians such rights as
they had in the land, and was paying them well—better than they had
ever been paid before—so perhaps the new governor was a generous, fair
minded man after all.

So, in talk and wonderings, the days slipped by. September had passed,
and October was almost gone, before the governor’s English ship, the
_Welcome_, was sighted coming up the river from the bay. The news of
its coming spread from house to house, and from farm to farm, and even
back into the country to the villages of the Indians.

All work was laid aside, and the people of New Castle and the country
round about gathered down at the shore to watch the approach of the
vessel. Captain Markham himself was there, gorgeous in his English
uniform, having come down to New Castle to meet his cousin.

Nearer and nearer came the ship, looming up bigger and bigger, stately
and slow, its sails spread wide, and the English colors fluttering at
its masthead. Then it came about, and the great anchor dropped into the
water with a splash. Boats were lowered, and the people of the vessel
clambered down into them and were rowed toward the shore. In the very
first boat came William Penn himself.

He was a tall, noble looking man, with large, dark, kindly eyes, and
hair that fell in loose locks to his shoulders. He was very simply
dressed, as were all the men with him. The only way in which his dress
differed from theirs was that he wore a light blue silken sash around
his waist. He was worn and thin, and some of his companions looked even

This was not to be wondered at, for he told his cousin that soon after
they had set sail from England, smallpox had broken out on board the
_Welcome_. Of the one hundred men who had started with him, almost
one-third had died on the voyage. The colonists heard afterward of
the goodness of William Penn to the sick. He himself had never had
smallpox, but everyday during the voyage he went down to the bedsides
of the sufferers. He gave them medicines, talked with them and cheered
them, and ministered to the dying.

It had indeed been a terrible voyage. Fortunately, the ship had been
well stocked with provisions of every kind, and many luxuries.[13]
Still, these could ease but little the sufferings of the sick, shut up
for two months in that rolling, tossing vessel. A blessed sight the
shores and wooded hills of Delaware must have been to those sick and
weary voyagers.

As Penn landed, Captain Markham came forward eagerly to greet him. It
was a strange and varied crowd that had gathered there to meet their
governor—Swedes, Dutch, Germans and Welsh, many of them dressed in
their national costumes, and back of them the tall, red skinned Indian,
Sachem Taminent, with his party of Leni Lenapes in their paint and

Penn was escorted by his cousin and the principal men of the village,
to the house that had been made ready for him, there to eat and rest
after his long journey.

The next day, October 28, 1682, the new governor went to the Courthouse
to speak to the people. The room was thronged with those who crowded
in to hear him. Before he began, however, two gentlemen, John Moll and
Ephraim Herman, performed what is called “livery of seisin;” that is,
they gave to Penn earth, water, a piece of turf, and a twig, in token
that he was ruler there of land and water and of the fruits of tree and

After that, Penn spoke to the people with such kindness, that their
simple hearts were filled with joy. He bade them remember that they
were “but as little children in the wilderness,” and under the care of
one Father. He told them that he wished to found a free and virtuous
state in which the people should learn to rule themselves. He promised
that every man in his provinces should “enjoy liberty of conscience,”
and have a voice in the ruling of the colony.

The people listened to him in deep silence; and when he ended his
speech, they had but one thing to beg of him, and that was that he
would stay among them at New Castle and rule over them. This he told
them he could not do; and then they begged him to join their territory
to Pennsylvania, that the white settlers might have one country and one
ruler. He promised to consider this, and then he bade them good-bye and
returned to the ship.

The sails of the vessel were spread wide like great wings of peace, the
wind filled them, and slowly the ship began to move. The colonists upon
the shore still lingered there, gazing after her, and straining their
eyes to see, as long as they could, the tall man that stood there in
the stem with a light blue sash around his waist At last they could see
him no longer, and then they turned and went back to their daily toil.

Penn did not forget them or his promise to them. At the first General
Assembly held at Chester, it was declared that the two provinces were
united, and that the laws that governed one should be for the other too.

In 1701, Penn visited New Castle again and was received with joy by its

A few years later he made the town a gift of one thousand acres of land
lying to the north of it, to be used as a public commons by its people
and to belong to them.

This tract of land still belongs to the town of New Castle, but since
1792 it has been rented out in farms, and is no longer a public commons.

William Penn did much to bring the Indians into truer friendship
with the settlers. He treated them justly. He trusted them and went
among them unarmed and unprotected. He walked with them, attended
their meetings and ate of their hominy and roasted acorns. One time
it happened the Indians were showing him how they could hop and jump,
and after sitting watching them for a time, the Governor rose up and
out-jumped them all.

Penn’s word was trusted by Indians and settlers alike, and they knew
their interests were as safe in his hands as in their own.[14]

New Castle has just cause for pride in the fact that William Penn’s
first landing in America was made upon her shore.

[Illustration: Tablet to Wm. Penn Old Court House—New Castle

Penn first landed in America at New Castle—Oct 28 1682]


[12] About two dollars and a half.

[13] In a list of creature comforts put on board a vessel leaving the
Delaware, on behalf of a Quaker preacher, are enumerated:—32 fowls, 7
turkeys and 11 ducks, 2 hams, a barrel of China, oranges, a large keg
of sweetmeats, ditto of rum, a pot of Tamarinds, a box of spices, ditto
of dried herbs, 18 cocoanuts, a box of eggs, 6 balls of chocolate,
6 dried codfish, 5 shaddock, 6 bottles citron water, 4 bottles of
Madeira, 5 dozen of good ale, 1 large keg of wine and 9 pints of
brandy, as well as flour, sheep, and hogs.—_Dixon’s “William Penn.”_

[14] Among the articles used in trading with the natives was rum. The
colonists at that time did not seem to see how dangerous it was to let
them have it. Several years later, however, the Friends (Quakers) had
a meeting with the natives, in order to put a stop to the sale of rum,
brandy, and other liquors. There were eight Sachems present, and one of
them made this speech.

“The strong liquor was first sold us by the Dutch, and they are blind,
they had no eyes, they did not see it was for our hurt. The next people
that came among us were the Swedes, and they too sold strong liquors
to us; they were also blind, they had no eyes, they did not see it was
hurtful to us to drink it, although we knew it was hurtful to us; but
if people will sell it to us we are so in love with it that we cannot
forbear. When we drink it, it makes us mad; we do not know what we do;
we then abuse one another, we throw each other into the fire; seven
score of our people have been killed by reason of drinking it. But now
there is a people come to live among us that have eyes, they see it be
for our hurt, and are willing to deny themselves the profit of it for
our good. Now the cask must be sealed up, it must not leak by day or
night, in light or in the dark, and we give you these four belts of
wampum to be witnesses of this agreement.” One bargain made with the
Indians, included the gift of one hundred jew’s-harps.


How Once Upon A Time Caesar Rodney Rode For Freedom.

[Illustration: Independence Hall: Philadelphia

Liberty Bell]

YEARS passed, and the Counties on the Delaware,[15] under the wise
laws of William Penn,[16] grew and prospered. Dover was laid out and
settled; New Castle flourished; Lewes became a town. Instead of the
rough buildings of the early settlers, handsome country houses and
comfortable farms were to be seen.

The manners and customs of the people were still very plain and simple.
Very few foreign articles were used in this part of the country.
Clothes were woven, cut and sewed at home. Beef, pork, poultry, milk,
butter, cheese, wheat and Indian corn were raised on the farms; the
fruit trees yielded freely, and there was a great deal of wild game;
the people lived not only comfortably but luxuriously.[17]

The Counties on the Delaware were very fertile, and very little labor
was needed to make the land yield all that was required. The people
had a great deal of leisure time for visiting and pleasure. They
were always gathering together at one house or another, the younger
people to dance or frolic, and the older men to amuse themselves with
wrestling, running races, jumping, throwing the disc and other rustic
and manly exercises.

On Christmas Eve there was a universal firing of guns, and all through
the holidays the people traveled from house to house, feasting and
eating Twelfth cake, and playing games.[18]

So for years, life slipped pleasantly by in these southern Counties,
and then suddenly there came a change. There began to be talk of war
with England. News was eagerly watched for. There was no mail at that
time. Letters were carried by stage-coach, or by messengers riding
on horseback from town to town. In the old days, the people had been
content to send their servants for letters. Now, when a messenger, hot
and dusty, came galloping into the town, a crowd would be waiting, and
would gather round him.

And it was thrilling news that the dusty messengers carried in those
days, the days of 1775. England was determined to tax her colonies, and
the colonies were rising in rebellion. Boston had thrown whole cargoes
of tea into her harbor rather than pay the tax on it.

Then the first shots of the Revolution were fired at Concord and
Lexington. At the sound of those shots the Counties on Delaware awoke.
Drums were beat, muskets were cleaned, ladies sewed flags for the
troops to carry; men enlisted, and the militia drilled. But still it
was hoped by many that things would settle back peaceably.

But worse and worse news came from the north. Boston harbor had been
shut up by the English. The people were starving. War ships from
England had brought over more troops (many of them hired Germans), and
had quartered them on the town. All the country was hot with anger over
these things. Food and clothing were sent to Boston. General Washington
raised troops of a thousand men, at his own expense, and marched north
to her relief.

General Caesar Rodney was one of the important men of Dover at that
time. He was a tall, pale, strange looking man, with flashing eyes, and
a face, as we are told, “no larger than a good sized apple.” He was a
general in the militia, and was heart and soul for independence. He
rode about the country, calling meetings, speaking to the people, and
urging them to enlist, and urging them, too, to raise money to give to
the government. He was at this time suffering from a painful disease,
but he spared neither strength nor comfort in the cause of freedom.

Mr. George Read of New Castle, was a very important man in the
colonies, too. He was a patriot, and belonged to the militia, but he
was very anxious not to begin a war. He argued that England had spent a
great deal of money on her American colonies, and that she had a right
to try to get some of it back by taxing them. He agreed that the time
might come when the colonies would have to be free, but he thought that
time had not yet come. He hoped that when it did, the colonies might
win their freedom peaceably, and not by battle and bloodshed. He was a
calm, quiet, learned man, rather slow of speech, and different in many
ways from his quick and fiery friend, Rodney.

A third man who was important in Colonial times was Mr. Thomas McKean.
He was a lawyer in New Castle, and was a friend of both these men. Like
Rodney, he was for freedom at any cost.

In 1776, when the Colonial Congress was called to meet in Philadelphia,
these three men, Rodney, Read and McKean, were sent to it as delegates
by the Counties on the Delaware.[19]

This meeting of Congress in the summer of 1776 was the most important
meeting that had ever been held. From north and south the delegates
came riding to it, from all the thirteen colonies; and they met in the
Committee Room of the State House in Philadelphia.

Many serious questions were to be decided by these delegates this year.
But the most serious of all the questions was whether the Colonies
should declare themselves free and independent states. If they did
this, it would mean war with England.

While the question was still being argued about in the committee
room, Caesar Rodney was sent for to come back to the Counties on the
Delaware. Riots and quarrels and disturbances had broken out there,
and no one could quiet them as well as Caesar Rodney. He was very glad
to go, for it seemed as though it might be a long time before the
delegates would decide on anything, and he hoped to be able to raise
some money for the government.

He started out early one morning on horseback, cantering easily along
through the cool of the day. It was eighty miles from Philadelphia to
Dover, and he broke it by stopping over night at New Castle, which was
rather more than half way home. The road he took was the old King’s
Highroad, which ran on down through the Counties on Delaware, through
Wilmington and New Castle and Dover, as far as Lewes.

General Rodney found a great deal to do down in the Counties. The Whigs
and Tories had come to blows. One Tory gentleman only just escaped
being tarred and feathered, and carried on a rail. Caesar Rodney
was the one who had to quiet all the troubles. Beside this he made
speeches, raised moneys and helped get together fresh troops of militia.

But busy though he was, he managed to find some time for visiting about
among his friends. Especially he found time to visit at the house of
a young Quaker widow named Sarah Rowland. Mistress Rowland lived in
Lewes. She was a Tory, but she was very beautiful and witty, and Caesar
Rodney was said to be in love with her. He might often have been seen,
between his busy times, cantering along the road that led to Lewes and
to her house. Mistress Rowland, as a Quaker, believed all fighting to
be wrong, but she was always friendly with the General. Perhaps she
hoped in some way to be able to help the Tories by things the General
told her, or by having him at her house. At any rate she always made
him welcome.

Now, while General Rodney was still busy down in the Counties on the
Delaware, with his work and pleasure, great things were happening in
Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was finally drawn up and
written out.

It was laid on the table before the Colonial Congress, and the
delegates were given five days to make up their minds to agree, whether
they would sign it or not. They considered and discussed it in secret
behind closed doors.

One after another, the delegates from various colonies agreed to sign.
At last, only the Counties on the Delaware were needed to carry the
agreement. They could not sign the Declaration, for they had now only
two delegates present at Congress. Of these, one (McKean) was for it,
and one (Mr. Read) was against it, so it was a tie between them, and
Rodney, whose vote could have decided the matter, was down in the
Counties on Delaware, eighty miles away.

McKean was in despair. He sent message after message, down to Delaware,
begging the General to return to Philadelphia and give his deciding
vote, but no answer came. The fact was that General Rodney did not
receive any of these messages McKean sent. He was visiting Mistress
Rowland in Lewes at the time, and she managed to keep the letters back
from him. She hoped that he might know nothing about the Declaration
until it had been voted on and the whole matter decided. Even if all
the other Colonies decided to sign, it would weaken the union very much
if the Colonies on the Delaware did not sign.

On the third of July, McKean sent a last message down to Rodney,
passionately begging him to come to Philadelphia. The vote of the
delegates was to be taken July the fourth, and if the General was not
there the vote of the Counties on Delaware could not be cast for the
Declaration of Independence, and it might be lost.

On this same day, July the third, 1776, Caesar Rodney was chatting with
Mistress Rowland in the parlor of her house at Lewes. It had seemed
strange to him that he had not heard from McKean lately, but he felt
sure that if anything important was happening at Philadelphia he would
receive word at once. So he put his anxieties aside and laughed and
talked with the widow.

Suddenly, the parlor door was thrown open and a maid-servant came
into the room. She crossed over to where General Rodney was sitting.
“There!” she cried. “I’m an honest girl and I won’t keep those back any
longer!” and she threw a packet of letters into the General’s lap.

Rodney picked them up and looked at them. They were in Mr. McKean’s
hand-writing. Hastily he ran through them. They were the letters Sarah
Rowland had been keeping back,—the letters begging and imploring him
to hasten north to Philadelphia.

Without a word, General Rodney started to his feet, and ran out to
where his horse was standing before the house.[20] Sarah Rowland called
to him, but he did not heed her. He sprang to the saddle and gathered
up the reins, and a moment later he was galloping madly north toward
Dover. It was a long ride, but a longer still was before him. The heat
was stifling, and the dust rose in clouds as he thundered along the
King’s Highroad.

At Dover, he stopped to change his horse, and here he was met by
McKean’s last messenger, with a letter, urging him to haste, haste.
Indeed, there was not an hour to waste. Philadelphia was eighty miles
away, and the vote was to be taken the next morning.

On went Rodney on his fresh horse. Daylight was gone. The moon sailed
slowly up the sky, and the trees were clumps of blackness on either
hand as he rode.

At Chester, he again changed horses, but he did not stop for either
rest or food. Soon, he was riding on again.

It was in the morning of July fourth, that the rider, exhausted and
white with dust, drew rein before the State House door in Philadelphia.
McKean was there watching for him.

“Am I in time?” called Rodney as he swung himself from his horse.

“In time, but no more,” answered McKean.

Side by side he and Rodney entered Independence Hall. There sat the
delegates in a semi-circle. Rodney and McKean took their places. The
Declaration of Independence lay on the table before them. It was being
voted on. One after the other the colonies were called on and one after
another they gave their votes for it. The Counties on Delaware were
called on. Mr. McKean rose and voted for it. Mr. Read was, as usual
against it.

Then Caesar Rodney rose in his place. His face looked white and worn
under its dust, but he spoke in a clear, firm voice. “I vote for

And so the day was won. From the belfry of Independence Hall, the bells
pealed out over the Quaker City. Bonfires blazed out, people shouted
for joy, and the thirteen American Colonies, strong in union, stood
pledged together for liberty.

[Illustration: House where Sarah Rowland lived · Lewes]


[15] It was not until after the Declaration of Independence that these
“Counties upon the Delaware” received the name of Delaware State, and
not until 1792 that it was called the “State of Delaware.”

[16] Edmund Burke spoke of Penn’s Charter to his colonies of
Pennsylvania and Delaware as “a noble charter of privileges, by which
he made the people more free than any people on earth, and which by
securing both civil and religious liberty caused the eyes of the
oppressed from all parts of the world to look to his counties for

[17] This account of the life in Delaware before the Revolutionary War
is taken from a letter from Thomas Rodney, a younger brother of Caesar

[18] The land upon which Dover stands was bought from the Indians in
1697, for two match coats, twelve bottles of drink and four handfuls of

[19] Rodney, Read and McKean were appointed Delegates in March, 1775.

[20] While Caesar Rodney’s famous ride is a story of which Delaware
is proud, the exact time when he started, and the place he started
from have been much disputed. One tradition says that he left Sarah
Rowland’s house at Lewes, and another tradition insists that he
started from his own house near Dover. As for the hours of starting
and arrival, the archives show how different the versions are. After
much thought and trouble, the Colonial Dames have decided to choose the
most detailed tradition as being possibly also the most accurate. They
do not claim to decide the matter, which will always, probably, remain

The following was the Congress express rider’s time from Lewes to
Philadelphia: Leave Lewes at noon, reach Wilmington next day at 4
o’clock, A. M. Or leave Lewes at 7 o’clock, P. M., Cedar Creek, 10:30;
Dover, 4:15; Cantwell’s Bridge, 9:05; Wilmington, 12:55; Chester,
2:37; arrive Philadelphia 4 o’clock P. M., or 21 hours. (See American


How Once Upon A Time The Row-Galleys Fought The Roebuck.

[Illustration: “The people fled back into the country”]

THE little town of Lewes is on Delaware Bay, with rolling dunes of sand
between it and the ocean. The winds that blow over it have the smell
and taste of salt in them, and in the sky overhead, the grey seagulls
soar and hover.

There was a time, long ago, when pirates sailed the Delaware waters.
Sometimes they landed there, and drank and plundered and put the people
in fear of their lives. There is a story that Captain Kidd buried much
treasure somewhere among these dunes.

But that was long before the American colonies went to war with
England, and in Revolutionary times it was not pirates that Lewes was
afraid of, but English warships.

From Delaware Bay the Delaware River lies, wide and open, all the way
to Philadelphia. An enemy’s ship that entered the bay could easily sail
on up the bay and river, past New Castle, Wilmington and Chester,—and
might bombard Philadelphia from the water-front. This was what the
Committee of Safety feared the British would do when the Revolutionary
War began, so a guard was set at Henlopen light house.

It was in the last week of March of the year 1776, that the first
British war vessel entered Delaware Bay. This vessel was a frigate
called “Roebuck.” She came sailing slowly in, the black mouths of her
guns threatening the town, and anchored in the bay. Her tender followed
her, and she too was armed with guns.

Then all Lewes was in a stir. Messengers were sent riding in hot haste
to Philadelphia, and all along the way they spread the news that the
British ships had arrived. Colonel John Haslet came marching down to
Lewes at the head of the Delaware militia, so as to be ready to protect
the town against the English, in case they tried to land.

This, however, the British did not try to do. They cruised up and down
in the “Roebuck,” or lay at anchor in the bay.

They managed to capture a pilot boat named the “Alarm,” near Lewes,
and they fitted her out as a second tender. A little later they made a
prize of an American sloop called the “Plymouth.” All the men from the
tender were put on board this new prize except a lieutenant and three
soldiers who were still left on the “Alarm,” to take care of her. But
that night the helmsman on the “Alarm” fell asleep; the boat drifted
on shore, and the lieutenant and his men were taken prisoner by the

There had as yet been no shots exchanged between the Americans and
the English. But one bright, clear Sunday morning in April, word was
brought to Colonel Haslet that an American schooner had anchored just
off the shore below Cape Henlopen. The captain wished him to send men
to help unload her. She carried supplies for the Americans.

Unluckily, news of the schooner reached the British, too, and at the
same time that Haslet’s men started by land to help the captain unload,
the British tender started by sea.

The Americans made all the haste they could, but they were obliged to
cross a creek before they could reach the place where the schooner
lay. The country people brought boats and ferried them over, but the
soldiers soon saw that the tender was out-racing them.

The captain of the schooner saw this, too, and rather than have his
cargo fall into the hands of the British, he set his sails, and ran

As soon as the American soldiers arrived they began to fire at the
tender, but she kept too far away for their bullets to reach her.
Seeing this, they laid aside their muskets and set to work to help the
sailors unload the schooner.

The tender kept firing at them all the while they were unloading, but
her shots fell harmlessly in the sand. Several of the soldiers picked
up the balls as they fell, and carried them home to show to their

The tender now sent a barge back to summon the “Roebuck,” and
presently, the frigate came sailing around the Cape at full speed to
help the tender. She swept down toward the schooner like a great bird,
but presently she found she was running into shoal water. She was
obliged to come to anchor just off the Hen-and-Chicken shoals, but from
there she began to fire at the soldiers and the schooner.

The Americans now turned the schooner’s guns on the frigate and tender.
They saw a gunner on the frigate throw up his arms and fall. A number
of the English were wounded, but not a single American was hurt.
Presently, the frigate, finding it a losing game, sailed back around
the Cape and out of reach.

No more shots were exchanged between the English and American vessels
until May. Early in that month the “Roebuck” was joined by the sloop
“Liverpool,” and the two with their tenders sailed straight up the
bay and river toward Wilmington. Then they moved to and fro, between
Chester and New Castle.

News of their coming went before them. At New Castle, houses were
closed, and the people loaded their goods in wagons and carriages and
fled back into the country.

At Wilmington, a number of row-galleys (some thirteen in number) were
gathered and furnished with guns and ammunition, and were made ready
in every way to give battle to the enemy. The galleys were under the
command of Captain Houston, of Philadelphia.

It was on the morning of the eighth of May, that the British sails were
seen coming up the river. Great crowds of people had gathered on the
banks to watch the battle.

It was not until the British vessels were almost opposite Christiana
creek that the firing began. The dull boom of the guns echoed and
re-echoed from the wooded hills of the Brandywine. Great puffs of grey
smoke drifted across the water. Sometimes the vessels were almost

In the midst of the battle, four Wilmington boys started out from the
shore, armed with some old muskets that they had somehow got hold
of. They boldly rowed out through the smoke until they were directly
under the stern of the “Liverpool,” and then they began to fire at her.
Presently, an officer on the sloop saw them.

“Captain,” he called to his commanding officer, “do you see those young
rebels? Shall I fire on them?”

The brave old Captain Bellew shook his head. “No, no,” he cried; “don’t
hurt the boys. Let them break the cabin windows if they want to.”

That indeed, was about all the damage the young patriots were able to
do. When they had used up their ammunition, they rowed back to the
shore again unhurt.

While the firing was still at the hottest, a major of artillery came
riding at full speed. He threw himself from his horse, and begged a
couple of boatmen who were standing with the crowd, to row him out to
the galleys; he wished to have a chance to fire a shot at the enemy.

The boatmen refused. They were afraid they might get shot, but when the
major promised them a handful of money they changed their minds and
agreed to row to the nearest galley.

As soon as the major was on board the boat, he stationed himself at
a gun and began to fire it off, and as he proved to be a very good
shot he was allowed to stay there. After a while he called for more
ammunition, but was told that it had all been used. The gallant officer
pulled off his boots, filled them with powder, rammed them into the gun
and fired it for the last time. In after life his boast was that he had
not only been in the first naval battle of the war, but that he had
fired his boots at the enemy.

On all the galleys the officers showed the greatest bravery. The
British had at first looked with contempt at the open boats that had
come to fight them. It did not take many shots, however, to teach them
that these American galleys were not to be despised.

A part of the “Roebuck’s” rigging was shot away and her sides were
badly damaged by the balls. Finally, in trying to get nearer to the
galleys she ran aground, near the mouth of the Christiana creek. She
now keeled over in such a way that she could no longer use her guns.
Night came and she still lay there, unable to get off into deep water,
or to right herself. The great fear of her men was that the galleys
might come to attack her while she lay there helpless, so they sent out
three small boats and kept them circling around her all night to watch
out for an attack. If the Americans had come, it was the plan of the
English to fill the small boats with as many of the “Roebuck’s” men as
they could, and send them over to the “Liverpool.” The “Liverpool” was
then to retreat down the river. However, the night passed quietly, and
at four o’clock in the morning the water had risen so that they were
able to get the “Roebuck” off.

In the morning, the row-galleys returned to the attack, though they had
been very much damaged the day before. But their men were as determined
as ever, and they had a fresh supply of ammunition. One of their shots
went clear through the bows of the “Roebuck,” and a number of her men
were wounded. One of the officers was killed.

The British now decided to retreat. Very slowly they drew off and
drifted down the river. On their way they tried to destroy the little
town of Port Penn, but they could not get near enough to the shore; the
water was too shallow.

When they reached Lewes they lay there for some time, while the ship’s
carpenters mended the holes made by the American shots. They took on
fresh water and provisions, and then sailed out from the Delaware

So ended the first naval battle of the Revolution; a battle fought in
Delaware waters. One other sea fight was fought there, and it was the
last one of the war. It was between the American sloop of war “Hyder
Alley,” and the British sloop “General Monk,” and in this, too, the
British were defeated. It was not an important battle, but it seemed a
curious chance that the first and the last sea-fights of the Revolution
should both have been in Delaware waters.

[Illustration: Old Henlopen Light]


How Once Upon A Time The Blue Hen’s Chickens Went To War.

[Illustration: Winter at Valley Forge · 1778]

WAR had begun,—war between the United Colonies of America, with their
small, poorly armed forces, and England, the richest and most powerful
country in the world.

From all the thirteen colonies of America, regiments marched away to
join General Washington and the little army he had already gathered

Delaware sent her regiment with the rest. It was under the command of
Colonel John Haslet.[21] Men had come from all over the state to enlist
in it. They carried whatever weapons they could get,—rifles, carbines,
muskets or fowling pieces. A few of them had uniforms, but some of them
had not even coats, and so came in their shirt sleeves.

The regiment set out from Dover to the sound of fife and drum. Their
flag waved gaily over them and the people crowded the streets, and
waved and cheered to see them go.

It was a long, hot march from Dover up to New York, where General
Washington was encamped. The soldiers soon grew footsore and weary,
marching, as they did, from early dawn till night. Sometimes when they
passed a stream they broke ranks to kneel on its bank and drink the
cool, running water. Sometimes the farmers came out and handed them
summer fruits and vegetables as they passed, and as they went through
the towns the people cheered and waved their handkerchiefs to them.

At last they reached New York, but they had no sooner arrived than
the whole regiment was ordered to cross the river and join General
Stirling’s brigade in Brooklyn. Stirling was expecting an attack from
the British at any time, and he needed all the troops he could get.

Before the regiment had left Delaware, Colonel Haslet had begun to
drill them, and as soon as they were settled in Brooklyn the drill
began again. The men were kept at it until their bones ached and they
were ready to drop with weariness, but it was this constant drilling
that brought the Delaware regiment into shape, and afterward won for it
the name of “the picked regiment of the Colonial Army.”

One evening when the men were resting around the fires, one of their
comrades came out from a tent carrying two game-cocks by the legs.
Somehow he had managed to bring them up from Delaware with him. They
were of a bluish grey color, and were of a breed well known in Kent
County, and called “_Blue Game Chickens_.”

When the soldiers saw the two cocks they shouted for joy. “A
chicken-fight! A chicken-fight!” they cried. “We’ll have a
chicken-fight. Where did you get them Bill?”

Bill threw the cocks into the middle of the ring. For a moment they
stood looking about with their bright eyes. Then they lowered their
heads and ruffled their feathers. The next moment they flew at each
other and fought furiously but before they could injure each other they
were separated and shut up in boxes.

“That’s the way we’ve got to fight,” cried Bill. “We’re sons of the old
Blue Hen, and we’re game to the end.”

“That’s what we are,” shouted the others. “We’re the _Blue Hen’s
Chickens_, the fighting breed.” And from that night that was the name
by which the plucky Delaware regiment went—_The Blue Hen’s Chickens_.

The Delaware regiment[22] was soon to prove its courage. It was August
twenty-seventh, about five days after they had arrived in Brooklyn,
that they first went under fire.

On the twenty-sixth, General Stirling had received news that the next
morning the British meant to attack his forces. They would begin the
attack very early.

It was not yet light when the Delaware regiment, shivering with
excitement, was marched out, and stationed near an orchard. In this
orchard the Maryland regiment was placed but just where the British
troops were they did not know.

It was too dark to see anything at first, but there were sounds that
made them know that somewhere there in the darkness, the enemy was
moving and marching. Presently, a faint light began to show in the sky.
There were shots in the distance. Then they saw through the growing
light a great dark moving mass opposite to them. Nearer and nearer it
came, and now they could see long lines of the Hessians; the light
glittered on the brass fronts of their immense caps.

They were coming!

The Maryland and Delaware regiments opened fire, and here and there
they saw a Hessian throw up his arms and fall, but immediately the
ranks filled up, and on they came at a steady, quick step. The Delaware
regiment had found some shelter behind an old fence.

“Fix bayonets!” There was a rattle and clash as the bayonets of the
Delawares slipped into place. “Forward, _charge_!” Out from their
shelter sprang the Delaware soldiers. They charged upon the Hessians,
but they were met by such a steady front that for a moment they
wavered. Then (we are told) a captain of Smallwood’s company sprang
forward and caught the Delaware flag from the flag bearer; he flung it
over into the midst of the Hessian regiment.

A long roar followed as the Delaware men flung themselves forward, mad
to recover their flag. Before that fierce rush, the Hessians wavered
and broke; they tried to recover and then turned and fled, and again
the flag of Delaware waved over the heads of the Blue Hen’s Chickens.

The Maryland regiment had also charged, and now they and the Delaware
soldiers stood drawn up on a hill. The guns of the enemy were turned
upon them, but their colors were flying. Other regiments of the
American army had been forced to retreat, but these gallant little
bands did not think of quitting their place. At last an express order
came from the General commanding them to retreat. Then, and not till
then, they fell back. Their flags were almost cut to pieces with shot,
but the Delaware regiment retreated in such good order that they lost
but few men.[23] The Marylanders were not so lucky, as many of them
were taken prisoners or killed.

This victory seemed to satisfy the British for the time. They took up
their quarters in Trenton and then they led a merry life, feasting and
drinking. They stole as they liked from all the country round, and the
poor country people were helpless. If they resisted they were shot down
like dogs.

So the autumn and the first part of December passed. Upon the other
side of the river from Trenton, the American forces were encamped.
December was bitterly cold. Many of our men had no shoes. Food and
blankets were scarce. The men kept the fires going day and night.

The day before Christmas, word was passed through the American
encampment that on Christmas morning they would cross the river and
attack the English. The men cheered when they heard that news.

Christmas day dawned cold and dark and snowy. In the chill morning the
men were marched, company after company, down to the flat boats that
lay on the river, and were rowed over to the other side. Men and horses
huddled together, trying to get some warmth from each other. The bitter
wind whistled past their ears, and the sleet cut their faces.

On the Trenton side the troops were landed, and then began a seven
miles tramp through the snow. The men struggled through the drifts,
blinded by the sleet. Their hands were almost frozen to their muskets.

As they drew near the British encampment they were halted for a rest.
They stood there in the snow, panting and leaning on their muskets.
They could hear, through the snowy air, the ringing of the bells,
and the shouts of the British soldiers. A gun was fired. They almost
thought they heard a roar of laughter. The British were making merry at
Christmas with no thought that their enemies were so near.

“Silence, and forward!”—the muffled order passed along the line.

The soldiers again shouldered their muskets and marched on. The deep
drifts muffled their footsteps and the falling snow hid them like a
curtain. Two hundred yards from the British encampment they were formed
in line and the order rang out, “Forward, _charge_!”

Down upon the encampment they swept, running, leaping, stumbling
through the drifts.

There was a wild alarm in the British camp, and a scramble for muskets,
but the surprise was too sudden for them. They could not escape,
and within half an hour the Americans had made one thousand of them
prisoners; they had also captured one thousand muskets, and sixteen
hundred blankets. Many a poor lad, for the first time in weeks, slept
warm that Christmas night in British blankets.

When the cities heard of the great victory their army had won at
Trenton, bells were rung and bonfires were lighted; they went mad with

The battle of Princeton, which followed soon after, was an even
greater victory for the Americans. But Delaware could not share in the
rejoicings that followed, for her brave regiment was almost cut to
pieces in that battle. Of the eight hundred men who fought that day
barely one hundred were left, and Colonel Haslet was killed by a shot
through the head.

Washington now called for more troops, and again Delaware gathered
together a regiment and sent it north to join him.

The men under Hall were with Washington in the battle of Brandywine,
when his forces were terribly defeated, and also in the battle at
Germantown; and they went with him into winter quarters at Valley Forge.

Though the troops had suffered at Trenton the winter before, it was
nothing to their sufferings at Valley Forge. They built themselves
rough log huts, which gave them some shelter, and they had plenty of
wood to burn, but food was scarce. The death of a horse was hailed
with joy, for then they could have meat. Their clothing fell into rags,
and they had nothing to sleep on but the bare earthen floors of their
huts. Washington sent out orders to all the farmers round to thresh out
their grain, and let the soldiers have the straw to sleep on.[24]

Almost every day the General went from hut to hut, cheering and
encouraging his soldiers as best he could.

One day he saw a soldier tramping barefoot through the snow. His foot
prints were marked with blood. Washington unfastened his cloak and held
it out to the man, “Here my poor fellow,” he said, “tear this into
strips and bind it around your feet.”

The soldier refused the cloak with a laugh. “That’s all right,
General,” he said. “I don’t need it. As long as my feet are bleeding I
know they’re not frozen.”

Not all of the men could bear the suffering and hunger however. Many
died, and still more deserted. In February there were in camp only
about five thousand men able to work and carry arms. The regiment of
Delaware was among the faithful ones who staid through it all.

It was with joy that the American soldiers saw the coming of spring.
On clear days they stretched themselves out in the sun and felt fresh
life warming their bodies. Thin, sickly and ragged, they still found
strength to joke and laugh.

The British troops, who had spent the winter in Philadelphia, were in
fine condition. They had been well fed and housed, and had spent their
time in merry making and balls, while our poor men were starving in
their huts.

In April 1780,[25] our army was again on the move. The Delaware and
Maryland regiments were ordered south under Baron DeKalb, to join
General Greene’s army, which was fighting there. It was in this
Southern campaign that the Delaware regiment won its greatest glory.
The Blue Hen’s Chickens were in many battles and skirmishes, and in all
they bore themselves with the greatest bravery.

Then, in August, came the battle of Camden, South Carolina. It was the
battle in which the Delaware regiment proved themselves bravest, and
the last in which they were to fight as a separate regiment.

Cornwallis had determined to attack our forces early in the morning of
the fifteenth.

All that night the two armies lay opposite to each other, waiting for
the daylight. The American forces had more men than the British, but
many of them were raw recruits, and many were deserters. Cornwallis’s
men were in good condition, and were almost all veteran fighters.

Before dawn the British began to take their positions and prepare for
an attack, and the Americans made ready to meet them.

In the early dawning the first charge was made. The Americans saw the
forces charging down upon them. The Virginia militia were seized with a
panic. The order came to fire. Hardly knowing what they did, they fired
one shot and then threw down their arms and ran. The North Carolina
regiment saw them running, and without even one shot, they, too, threw
away their muskets and ran. Only the Delaware men, the Marylanders and
one North Carolina regiment were left to bear the brunt of the attack.

DeKalb now gave the order to his men to charge with bayonets. Fiercely
the Delaware and Maryland regiments charged upon the enemy,—so fiercely
that they broke the British line. But the British guns poured on them
volleys of grape and canister. It was more than our men could bear.
They were obliged to retreat. Again came the order to charge, and
again they threw themselves against those solid ranks of the British,
and were driven back. Three times they charged, and then, almost cut
to pieces, they were obliged to retreat. Of the brave regiment of
Delaware, a mere handful of men was left. Baron DeKalb himself had
fallen, with eleven wounds.

So ended the terrible battle of Camden. After it was over, many of
the Americans hid themselves in the swamps and woods for a time. The
few Delaware soldiers who were left joined the Virginia regiment.
They fought with them through the rest of the war, and when peace was
declared Virginia offered to each of them one hundred acres of ground
if they would settle there. However, they preferred to return to their
own state and people.

The prisoners who were taken were sent to Charleston. Among them was
Major Patten, a gallant officer. He had taken with him into the
war his own body servant, a negro, and had entrusted to him all his
clothes. When the battle was over the negro had disappeared and Major
Patten never saw him again. He entered Charleston a prisoner, and in
rags. There were many loyal ladies there however, and they made him a
set of shirts and did for him what they could. He was very handsome and
gay, and as he was allowed a great deal of liberty, he became a great
favorite. After the war was ended, he returned to his home near Dover
and showed with pride some of these shirts which had been made for him
by the Charleston ladies.

He was more fortunate than many of the other soldiers. Some of them
returned in rags, to find their farms and homesteads fallen almost into
ruin. Some had lost their health or were suffering from wounds. But
one thing our Delaware men had won,—the glory of having made part of
that regiment fittingly called the “picked regiment of the Continental

[Illustration: Blue Game Hen, Chickens & Cock.]


[21] This regiment was composed of eight companies and numbered eight
hundred men.

Haslet has well been called the father of the first Delaware regiment.
He raised it before the Declaration of Independence was declared, and
drilled it himself, taking the greatest pride in it. He was a native of
Ireland, but at the time of the Revolutionary War was living at Dover,
where his remains now lie.

[22] Haslet’s regiment, as will be hereafter seen, remained in the army
only up to the battle of Princeton.

Patterson’s was a part of the “Flying Camp,” a body of men called out
for temporary duty................... The regiment of Hall was the only
Continental one we furnished.

[23] Brigadier General Thomas Mifflin wrote to Mr. Reed in January of
1777, “The officers (of the Delaware Regiment) in particular deserve
the thanks and esteem of their country for the readiness shown by them
to turn out on all occasions.”

“One paragraph of the old man’s letter is very full of the great honor
obtained by the Delaware Battalion in the affair at Long Island. From
the unparalleled bravery they showed in view of all the Generals and
troops within the lines, who alternately praised and pitied them.”

                       Letter from Caesar Rodney to his brother.

Through the Revolutionary War, Delaware furnished more men in
proportion to its size than any other colony in the Union.

[24] “Nothing,” said a report addressed to the President of Congress,
“Nothing sir, can equal their sufferings except the patience and
fortitude with which the faithful part of the army endure them.”

[25] From the time the Delaware regiment started south, that is April
13th, 1780, until April 7th, 1782, they marched 5006 miles.

[26] In less than a month after the Declaration of Independence,
Delaware had eight hundred men in the field, who fought at Brooklyn,
White Plains, Trenton and Princeton. By April, 1777, we had another
regiment of like number who fought at Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth,
Camden,—twice at Camden,—Cowpens, Guilford, and at Eutaw; and it never
laid down its arms, though reduced almost to a corporal’s guard, until
Cornwallis laid down his arms at Yorktown.


How Once Upon A Time Washington Came To Delaware.

[Illustration: “The Stars and Stripes were first unfurled in battle at
Cooch’s Bridge · Sept. 3 · 1777.”]

AT ONE time Washington had his headquarters in Wilmington. It was late
in the summer of 1777 and just before the Battle of Brandywine.

A few weeks earlier the British fleet had sailed out of New York harbor
and had turned toward the south, with all the British army on board. No
one knew where the fleet was going; no one knew where the army would
land and make their next attack, and there was great anxiety.

General Washington and his army were at this time camped in Bucks
county, north of Philadelphia. It was on August twenty-second that a
hot and dusty messenger galloped into camp with news for the General
that the British fleet had been seen in Chesapeake Bay.

As soon as Washington heard this news, orders were given to the army to
break camp, and he marched with them down to Delaware, to be ready to
meet the enemy, and to keep them from attacking Philadelphia, for that
was then the capital of the colonies.

Wilmington at that time was still a small town. It had a few shops,
a market house, and a fire engine company called the “Friendship.”
A new ship-building company had just built and launched their first
boat, which was named the “Wilmington.” But the most important of all
the manufactories were the Brandywine flour mills, which stood on
the Brandywine, some little distance above where it flows into the
Christiana.[27] Washington had the “runners” (or upper stones) taken
from these mills and hauled up into Chester County for fear they might
be seized and used by the British.

Wilmington is very hilly. It has been said of it that it is “as full of
lumps as a napkin thrown over a blackberry bush.”

The steep part of West Street that slopes up from Front to Fourth was
called “Quaker Hill,” for almost all the houses that were there were
owned by Quakers. The houses were built in a prim, plain fashion, but
within they were full of comfort. Furniture, linen, food, were simple
but of the best quality for the Friends knew how to live comfortably,
in spite of their plain ways.

It was in one of these houses that Washington made his headquarters.
The house is still standing, on the west side of the street, between
Third and Fourth Streets.

A little beyond Quaker Hill was an old apple orchard, and still beyond
that were the open country and the wooded hills of the Brandywine.

It was near the Brandywine that the army encamped. In the next few days
soldiers might often be seen kneeling on the edge of the stream to
wash their pieces of clothing. Their voices echoed through the woods in
loud jokes and laughter. Sometimes a trooper in buff and blue brought a
dozen clattering horses down to the water to drink.

Washington was busy sending and receiving dispatches, riding out to
explore the country, and deciding where the best points were upon which
to place his army.

By September the second, our army had been moved to the high lands near
Newport, a few miles from Wilmington. In the afternoon of that day
orders were given to cook provisions and to be ready to march at any
time. The enemy were then near Newark, Delaware, but Washington had
not yet been able to learn how many there were of them, nor where they
meant to attack. However he sent a light corps (of about seven hundred
and twenty men) down in their direction. These men were to hide in the
woods and hollows, and to act as outposts in case the British marched
toward Newark.

It was the next day, September the third, that the British began to
advance toward White Clay creek,—a creek which lay between them and
the Americans. For some miles above Newark the road was open, with
fields and meadows on either hand, and the British marched along it
undisturbed. But when the road dipped into the woods, the bullets
began to sing about their ears like bees. Several of the British were
wounded, for the American riflemen had hidden in the thickets and
hollows of the woods and were shooting at them. The Americans were so
well hidden that the British scarcely knew where to turn their fire.
Some of the British companies left the road to look for them but got
lost in a swamp, and had difficulty in finding their way back to firm

For some miles this fire continued, but by the time the British had
reached the Christiana creek, near Cooch’s Mill, the shots had almost

The bridge across the stream lay still and peaceful in the sunlight.
There was no sound but the ripple of the water against the rocks, and a
cow lowing in the distance.

The first company of the English had hardly set foot on the bridge
however, when a hot fire of bullets poured out at them from the
thickets beside the stream. A company of American riflemen had been
lying there in ambush, and waiting for them. A moment later the
Americans sprang out into the road with cheers, and charged upon them.

A sharp skirmish followed, but the British were too strong, and our men
were driven back leaving several killed and wounded. The British, too,
had their losses, though their loss was not as heavy as that of the

This skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge was the first warning Washington had
that the British had advanced their army.

Knowing the British were only a few miles from him, Washington now
expected an attack at any time, and decided to move his army to a high
rise in the ground near Red Clay creek, which was a better position.

Mr. Caleb Byrnes, a miller, had a house on this high ground. Very early
on the morning of September the seventh, he was awakened by the tramp
of marching feet, the sound of loud voices shouting orders, and the
clatter and rumble of gun wagons.

He slipped from bed and crossed to the window and looked out. There
below, he saw long lines and companies of soldiers in buff and blue.
Their bayonets glittered in the sunlight. Sweating horses were pulling
cannon up the slope in front of the house.

Mrs. Byrnes slipped from bed and came over to look from the window,
too. She was shivering with excitement.

“It’s the whole American army,” said Byrnes. He told his wife to waken
the children and then he dressed as quickly as he could and hurried
downstairs and out of the house.

An officer on horseback was there giving orders. The cannon had now
been placed all along the high ground “for half a mile as thick as they
could stand.”[28]

As soon as the officer saw Mr. Byrnes, he rode over to him and said,
“You’d better get out of here as soon as you can. When the battle
begins this house will be shot down and torn to pieces by cannon.”

“And my mill?” asked Mr. Byrnes, pointing to the mill, which stood
about three-quarters of a mile down the road.

“That will probably go, too,” said the officer.

Mrs. Byrnes had now come to the door and stood listening. “Well, I’d
rather stay right here,” she said. “If there’s a battle we’ll take the
children and get under the big arch that is under the chimney in the
cellar; there couldn’t anything hurt us there, anyway.”

Mr. Byrnes agreed with his wife that they had better stay; and in spite
of the warnings of the officers they refused to move. Mr. Byrnes’
brother, who lived near the mill, also refused to leave his house. But
the other neighbors packed up their furniture and took their families
further up in the country, where they might be safe from the cannon.
As it happened, they were no safer than the Byrnes after all, for on
September the ninth, Washington found that the enemy were circling
around him toward the north in the direction of Philadelphia, and he
decided to move on and meet the British at Chadd’s Ford, and force a
battle there.

Marching orders were given, and a few hours later the entire American
army was gone from Delaware.

So ended Washington’s first stay in our state.

But there was another time when Washington was in Delaware. This second
time he was no longer commander-in-chief of a struggling army but the
President of the United States.

The war was over. Liberty was won, and the English had left our shores.

It was December of 1783, and Washington was to pass through Wilmington
on his way from Philadelphia to Mount Vernon, where he was to eat his
Christmas dinner.

People lined the road watching for his coach, and at the top of the
hill children climbed into the trees of the apple orchard so as to see
the better.

At last, from far up the road, came a sound of cheering; the coach was
in sight. Nearer and nearer it came.

In it sat President Washington with his calm, noble face, and his
powdered hair tied in a queue behind. His hat was off, and he bowed
this way and that as the people waved and cheered him.

The Burgess and Council of Wilmington had prepared an address which was
read to him and which he answered. It was only for a few hours that
Washington was here this second time. A long ride was still before him,
and soon he was in his coach again and rolling on his way.

For a while after the President’s coach had started, the little boys
raced along beside him, then the horses broke into a trot that left the
boys behind. The turn of the road was reached, the coach swung around
it, and Washington’s last visit to Delaware was over.

[Illustration: Tablet on House at 3rd & West Streets · Wilmington]


[27] Mr. Lea and Mr. Joseph Tatnall were among the mill owners of this

Miss Montgomery, in her “Reminiscences of Wilmington” writes, “Mr.
Tatnall was a true patriot. He alone dared to grind flour for the
famishing army of the Revolution at the risk of the destruction of
his mill. His house was the home of General Lafayette during his
sojourn here. * * * General Washington and other officers received his
hospitality during their residence here.”

[28] Account written by Daniel Byrnes, a son of Caleb Byrnes, in 1842.


How Once Upon A Time Mary Vining Ruled All Hearts.

[Illustration: “The Green”—Dover]

CHIEF JUSTICE VINING’S house faced “the Green” at Dover.

The Green is a long, open square with grass and trees. On either side
of it are handsome houses and pleasant shady gardens with box trees and
tall, old-fashioned flowers.

It was on the Green, and in these gardens, that the little Vinings and
Rodneys and Ridgelys and other little Dover children of long ago played.

On this Green in 1776, the citizens and Revolutionary soldiers gathered
to build a great bonfire, and burn the portrait of George the Third, no
longer their King.

Along the King’s Road, which runs through it, Caesar Rodney galloped,
on his long ride to Philadelphia, and the brave regiments of Delaware
militia marched away to war.

Among the boys and girls who played on the Green in those days were
the children of the Chief Justice, John and Mary Vining. They were
beautiful children, with curly brown hair, rosy cheeks, and large clear
grey eyes. Their mother had died while they were very young, but their
aunt, Mrs. Ridgely, loved them dearly, and her house was as much home
to them as their own. The year that Mary was fourteen, Chief Justice
Vining also died, and left a large fortune to be divided between his
two children.

Mr. Ridgely had charge of this fortune, and such good care did he take
of it that when John and Mary grew up they were among the richest
people in Delaware. But they were not only rich;—they were handsome
and witty as well. John was such a favorite with everyone, that he
was called “The Pet of Delaware,” and his sister was the belle of the
whole colony. Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orleans, visited her when he was in
America, and Lafayette admired her greatly. The fame of her beauty was
even carried to foreign countries, so that when Jefferson visited the
French queen, Marie Antoinette, one of the first questions she asked
him was whether Miss Vining of Delaware was really as lovely as she was
said to be.

Mary Vining spent as much of her time in Philadelphia as at Dover. In
the winter of 1777, Lord Howe and his English troops were quartered
there, and many of the British officers lost their hearts to the
Delaware belle.

One day, one of her young cousins was studying his Latin in the drawing
room when the door opened and Mary Vining swept in. She went over to
the mirror and stood for some time looking at herself with admiration.
She was in full dress, and her beautiful arms and neck were bare. After
a while she turned from the mirror, and then she saw her young cousin
sitting there and watching her. She smiled and held out her hand to
him. “Come here, you little rogue,” she said “and you may kiss my hand.”

The little boy shook his head shyly and drew back.

Miss Vining laughed. “You might well be glad to,” she said, “‘Princes
have lipped it’.”[29]

Afterward, when the little boy had grown to be a man he often told
this story, and always added, “All the while I thought her the most
beautiful creature I’d ever seen.”

Some of Mary’s friends wondered that she did not marry. “To tell
the truth,” she answered them frankly, “I have grown so used to the
admiration of many men that I do not think I could be content with that
of one.”

Indeed, she had become rather spoiled by so much admiration. She
loved her own way and was determined to have it. She felt she was so
beautiful and rich that she could do whatever she chose. It was one
of her fancies never to walk in the street; she always rode in her
coach or went on horseback, however short the distance, and she always
covered her face with a veil so that people could not stare at her.

At one time General Washington was quartered in Wilmington, and while
he was there many of his officers found time to ride down to Dover to
see Miss Vining. There was one of Washington’s officers whom she had
never met, but she had heard a great deal about him;—that was General
Anthony Wayne. He was at this time a married man, though his wife died
before the close of the war. He seemed to Miss Vining to be the most
brilliant officer in the whole army, and she was never tired of hearing
of his wild exploits. “Mad Anthony Wayne,” they called him. His fellow
officers said he was vain[30] and a boaster; but he was so brave, and
so ready to carry out his boasts that no one dared to laugh at him.

General Washington trusted him so much that he asked his opinion
about almost every important move in the war, and he was the one whom
Washington chose to lead the attack on Stony Point. The storming of
Stony Point was the most daring act of the whole war.

Stony Point is a steep bluff on the Hudson. On three sides of it are
water and on the fourth a deep swamp. The English held it with a
garrison of over five hundred soldiers, and their cannon were set so as
to guard every road to it.

It was the night of July the fifteenth, at half past eleven that Wayne
and his brave company of soldiers set out. They moved in silence, with
not a word spoken, except now and then a whispered command. Orders
had been given that if any soldier left the ranks, no matter for what
reason, he should be instantly killed.[31] This was in order that
no deserter might have a chance to carry news of the surprise to the

To reach the rise of Stony Point, Wayne and his company were obliged to
wade through water two feet deep. Then came the climb up the hill, over
rocks and sharp stones. At last they were near enough to the fort to
hear the call of the sentries. When the signal was given, the Americans
attacked the fort from all sides at once.

The garrison was taken by surprise, and fired wildly; they had no time
to aim their canon. A musket ball struck General Wayne, and made a long
wound in his scalp. He was stunned and fell to the ground, but a moment
later he rose on one knee and waved his sword, “Forward, my brave
fellows! _Forward_,” he shouted.

His wound was not serious, but his soldiers, when they saw him fall,
were filled with fury. They charged into the fort with their bayonets,
climbing over walls and killing those who tried to stop them. Not a
shot was fired by the Americans except at the very first, and then only
to draw the attention of the British in the wrong direction.

This capture of Stony Point made General Wayne famous. He was said to
be the most brilliant officer in the army. Praises were showered on
him,[32] and later on he was made General-in-Chief of the army.

Years slipped by and the war came to an end. The American colonies were
free, and the English left our shores and sailed back to their own

General Wayne was by this time a widower, and Mary Vining was no longer
young. But though she was not young she was as beautiful, and witty and
charming as ever.

She was almost forty when news came to her cousins in Dover that
she was engaged to be married to General Wayne. At first they could
not believe it. General Wayne was a brave soldier, he was handsome,
generous and honest, but he had been brought up on a farm, and he had
none of the elegance of the foreign officers, who had been her friends.

But Mary Vining loved him, and was determined to marry him. The time
for the wedding was set. It was to be in January, and Miss Vining
began to make ready for it. Her house was already handsome, but she
refurnished it, from top to bottom. General Wayne gave her a set of
India china, and she bought a new service of silver.

In December, Wayne was sent west by the government, to make a treaty
with the Maumee Indians. He had fought with them and defeated them the
year before, and they would be more ready to treat with him than with
any one else. He was to return to Delaware by the first of January.

But the brave soldier never returned. At the first of the year, on New
Year’s Day, word was brought to Miss Vining that he had died at Presque
Isle, on Lake Erie.

Miss Vining immediately put on mourning for General Wayne, and this
mourning she never laid aside again as long as she lived.

Soon after Wayne’s death, her brother, “The Pet of Delaware,” died too.
It was found that he had spent, not only all his own fortune, but his
sister’s as well. She was now a poor woman. Nothing was left her but a
little house in Wilmington called “The Willows,” which stood where the
du Pont building now stands, and which had once belonged to her mother.
She was obliged to sell her coach and horses, and she sent away her

Her brother had left four children, and she made these her care for the
rest of her life. She brought them up and educated them.

The china that had been General Wayne’s last gift to her, was never
used, but was kept by her as her most precious treasure.

She saw almost no one at “The Willows,” but the few who were allowed
to visit her, found her always in black, and with her beautiful hair
hidden under a widow’s cap. But she was still, even in old age, as
gracious, as witty and charming as when she had been the wealthy and
courted _Belle of Delaware_.[33]

[Illustration: State flower Peach-blossom.]


[29] Quoted from Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra.”

[30] It seemed strange that the hero of Stony Point should have been a
vain man; but he was said to be vain both for himself and his regiment.
At the beginning of the war he told his regiment that there would be
a barber in each company to shave the soldiers and dress their hair;
(their hair was to be plaited and powdered) and that any man who came
on parade with a long beard, carelessly dressed, or dirty, was to be
punished. He told General Washington he would rather lead his men into
action well dressed and with only one round of cartridges, than with
all the ammunition that they needed and yet ragged and dirty.

[31] This was no vain threat. During the attack one unfortunate soldier
stepped out of the ranks to load his musket, and the officer in charge
immediately ran him through with his bayonet.

[32] One of Wayne’s friends wrote that the only drawback to the attack
was that the General would probably lose his hearing;—he would be
deafened by his own praises.

[33] The grave of Mary Vining is in the Old Swedes’ Church yard in


How Once Upon A Time MacDonough Sailed The Sea.

[Illustration: A “Frigate”—Old-time War-Ship · 1800]

COMMODORE THOMAS MACDONOUGH was sometimes called “the Boy Commodore,”
for he was the youngest Commodore in the American navy.

He was born December, thirty-first, 1783, on a farm in New Castle
county where his father and grandfather had lived before him.

When he was seventeen he joined the navy as a Midshipman, and made his
first cruise on the ship “Ganges.”

He was a tall, thin, shy youth. He was never strong, but he was so
brave that he was ready for any dangers or hardships. Cooper called him
“the modest but lion-hearted MacDonough.”

At the time MacDonough joined the navy, the United States was at war
with France, and his first cruise was against the French in the West
Indies. The “Ganges” captured three of the enemy’s vessels, and sent
them home as prizes. Then the yellow fever broke out on board the
“Ganges.” MacDonough was one of the men who had it. He and the other
sick men were carried on shore to a miserable dirty Spanish hospital at
Havana. Here, for many weeks, he lay ill.

When he was able to get up and go about again he found that the
“Ganges” had sailed away, and that he was left, poor, alone, and almost
without clothing, in a strange land. All the Americans who had been
brought to the hospital had died except himself and two others. These
two were in as much distress as himself. The American agent at Havana
gave them some shirts and other pieces of clothing, and they got back
to the United States on a sailing vessel.

MacDonough landed at Norfolk, Virginia, and worked his way back to
Delaware. He had been away from home a year, and his family had never
expected to see him again; they had been told he had the yellow
fever at Havana, and was either dying or already dead. They could
hardly believe it was he when he walked in among them, thin, pale
and weak-looking, but still alive. The whole house was filled with
rejoicings. He was still dressed as he had been when he left Havana, in
worn out clothes, a straw hat and canvas shoes.

As soon as he was able, he went back to the “Ganges,” and was
with her until he was ordered to the Mediterranean on the frigate

We were then at war with Tripoli. Soon after the “Philadelphia” reached
the Mediterranean, they captured a Moorish vessel, and MacDonough was
sent on board of her to take her to Gibraltar.

It was a very lucky thing for MacDonough that he was ordered on to this
other vessel, for very soon after he left the “Philadelphia” she ran
aground, and was captured by the enemy. All the men and officers on
board of her were taken prisoner.

After the “Philadelphia” was taken by the enemy, the Americans were
very anxious to destroy it, for now the enemy had the ship and might
use it as a war vessel. But it seemed as though it would be almost
impossible to destroy the “Philadelphia.” It lay in the harbor of
Tripoli, close under the fortress, and above it were the black mouths
of the cannon. If the Tripoli gunners had seen any American ship come
into the harbor, they would have blown it to pieces rather than let it
come near their prize.

The only way to get to the vessel would be by using some trick.

Stephen Decatur, then a young commander, was very anxious to try it. It
would mean the risk of his life, and of the lives of all who went with
him; but every sailor on his vessel was as eager to try as he himself.
From among them all he chose sixty-two to go with him, and MacDonough
was one of those chosen.

They set sail for the bay of Tripoli, in a ketch, (a sort of small
merchant vessel) which they named “Intrepid.” Almost all the Americans
hid down in the lower part of the ketch. Only a few stayed on deck.
Those on deck darkened their faces, and dressed themselves as Maltese
sailors, with red fezzes and round jackets. The inside of the ketch was
filled with powder and everything else necessary for blowing up the
“Philadelphia,” if they could only get to her.

Boldly the little ketch with these brave men on board sailed into the
enemy’s harbor.

The Tripolitans, looking from their forts, saw nothing but what seemed
to be a Maltese merchant ship, sailing into the harbor to shelter there
for the night,—for the daylight was already fading from the sky and the
moon was rising.

The “Intrepid” sailed slowly across the harbor to where the
“Philadelphia” lay under the fortress. Aboard of her were the Tripoli
officers on the watch.

When the ketch was near enough to the “Philadelphia,” an American
officer hailed her, speaking in the Maltese language. He said they had
lost their anchors at sea, and asked whether they might fasten their
boat to the “Philadelphia” for the night.

The Tripoli officer hesitated a moment. “That is a very unusual thing
to ask,” he said. However, he agreed that they might, and a hawser rope
was flung over to the ketch for them to fasten by.

Just then the “Intrepid” swung out from under the shadow of the
“Philadelphia,” and the moon shone down on her deck. There on her
deck, in the full light, lay the anchors that the officer said had been
lost at sea.

Immediately the Tripoli men knew that a trick had been played upon
them. “Americanos! Americanos!” they shouted. But they had found it
out too late. The ketch was already fastened to the side of the larger
vessel. The Americans swarmed over the sides of the “Philadelphia,” and
the Tripolitans found themselves fighting for their lives. MacDonough
was the third man to spring aboard of the ship. In a short time all the
Tripolitans were killed or driven overboard, the powder was hastily
carried from the ketch to the “Philadelphia,” and she was set on fire.
Then the Americans returned to their own boat. They cut loose and rowed
at full speed away from the “Philadelphia” and across the harbor.

The men in the fortress near by, had seen that strange things were
happening on board the “Philadelphia,” but in the uncertain moonlight
they could not tell just what the matter was. It was not until they saw
the ketch well across the harbor, and flames and smoke pouring from
the “Philadelphia” that they realized what had happened. Then their
cannon roared, but the balls fell short. The men on the “Intrepid” rose
to their feet, waved their caps, and in the red light of the burning
ship, gave three rousing American cheers. Then they again fell to their
oars, and rowed out of the harbor to where the “Siren,” an American war
vessel, was waiting for them outside.

This burning of the “Philadelphia” was said by Admiral Nelson, to be
“the most bold and daring act of the age.”

MacDonough had shown such bravery in this action that he was made a

It was while MacDonough was still on this Mediterranean cruise that he
had an adventure with three cut-throats.

The commander had given him leave to go on shore one day, and toward
evening, as he was coming back to his boat, three cut-throats set upon
him in a lonely place. Instead of trying to escape, MacDonough turned
upon them and fought so fiercely that he soon wounded two of them,
and the third took to his heels and ran. MacDonough ran after him. He
chased the man for some distance, and then they came to a low building;
into this building the man dashed, and up the stairs, with MacDonough
still after him. When he reached the roof he looked behind him. There
still was the terrible Americano. Then the man ran to the edge of
the roof and jumped off, for he felt he would rather run the risk of
breaking his neck than fight with MacDonough.

When MacDonough came down stairs again, he looked all around for the
man, but he could not see him, so he quietly returned to his boat and
rowed back to the ship.

In 1806, MacDonough was first lieutenant on the “Siren,” with Captain
Smith in command.

They were lying just off Gibraltar at one time, and at some distance
from them were anchored two other vessels. One was an American
merchant ship, and the other a British frigate.

One day Captain Smith had gone on shore and MacDonough was in charge of
the “Siren.” In the afternoon he saw a boat put off from the frigate
and row over to the merchant ship. It lay there for a while, and then
when it started to return to the frigate he saw that there was one more
man in her than there had been before.

MacDonough knew that the captains of English warships sometimes
kidnapped American sailors, and made them serve on board the British
vessels, and he suspected that this extra man was an American who was
being stolen from the crew of the merchant ship.

He immediately sent over to the ship to ask whether this were so.

The captain told him “Yes;”—that the British had come on board, and
taken one of his sailors. The captain had been afraid to resist them,
for the frigate had guns and he had none.

As soon as MacDonough heard this, he had a cutter lowered, and set out
in chase of the British boat. The Englishmen were rowing in a very
leisurely manner, for they never dreamed that any one would dare to
interfere with their prize.

MacDonough caught up to them just as they reached the frigate. The
prisoner was sitting in the stem of the boat. MacDonough’s men drove
the cutter so close that the two boats grated together. One of the
Englishmen shouted to them to keep off, but instead MacDonough reached
over, and catching hold of the prisoner dragged him, bodily, into his
own boat. Then his rowers gave way, and before the Englishmen could
recover from their surprise, he was on his way back to the “Siren,” the
rescued man with him.

The British captain had seen the whole affair from the deck of the
frigate, and he was in a fury. He got into a boat and had himself rowed
over to the “Siren.” When he came on board, he saw MacDonough walking
quietly up and down the deck, with his hands clasped behind him.

The captain marched up to him insolently. “Where is that man you took?
I must have him back,” he cried.

“I will not give him up,” answered MacDonough quietly.

“You dare to tell me that? Why you are not even the captain of this
vessel, and you dare to say you will not let me have the man?”

“I will answer to it to my captain,” said MacDonough, “and I will not
give him up.”

The captain raged and threatened to turn the frigate’s guns against the
“Siren” and blow it out of the water.

“You can do it, no doubt, if you choose,” answered MacDonough, “but as
long as this boat is afloat I will never give that man up.”

The captain finding he could gain nothing, got into his boat again and
had himself rowed over toward the merchant vessel.

MacDonough feared he might try to kidnap another man, so he entered the
cutter and followed close after the British boat. The Englishmen rowed
about for some time and then finding they could not shake him off they
returned to the frigate. Then, and not till then, MacDonough went back
to the “Siren.”

The English officers one and all admired MacDonough’s conduct in this
affair, and always afterward spoke of him with great admiration.

But it was in the battle of Lake Champlain that MacDonough won his
greatest fame.

Our troubles with England had finally ended in a war with her.
MacDonough was put in command of the naval forces on Lake Champlain. He
was then a little over thirty years old.

The battle was fought on a clear, bright September morning, in 1814.

Before the battle began the Commodore (as MacDonough was then called)
knelt on the deck of the “Saratoga,” and with his officers and crew
about him, he prayed for success in the conflict.

When a little later they were clearing the decks of the “Saratoga” for
action, they let out some chickens that were in coops, and threw the
coops overboard. One of the cocks flew up on the rigging and flapped
his wings and crowed loud and long. It was as if he recognized in the
Commodore one of the “Blue Hen’s Chickens,” and was greeting him.

The sailors took his crowing as a sign of victory, and cheered in
answer to him.

The American ships were scarcely set in battle order, before the
British squadron came sailing proudly around a wooded point of land.
The red flags at their mast-heads fluttered gaily in the sunlight.

MacDonough himself fired the first shot from the “Saratoga.” The gun
was aimed at the British flagship “Confidence,” and the shot killed
and wounded several of her men, and carried away her wheel. Again and
again, through the battle, MacDonough, with his own hands, helped to
work the guns. Three times he was struck by splinters and thrown across
the decks. Once a heavy spar fell over him and knocked him senseless.
Once a shot blew off the head of a gunner, and threw it against him
with such force that he was again knocked across the deck and into the
scuppers. But he was not seriously hurt, though every other officer on
the “Saratoga” was either killed or wounded.

By mid-day the battle was over and the Americans had won. So fierce had
been the broadsides that not a single mast was left standing on the
vessel of either of the opposing squadrons.

After the battle was ended the American officers all gathered on the
deck of the “Saratoga” and the British officers came to give up their
swords to MacDonough.

Instead of taking them, however, MacDonough said, “Gentlemen, your
gallant conduct makes you the more worthy to wear your swords;” and he
bade them put them back in their scabbards and keep them.

Every care was now given to the wounded on both sides, and MacDonough
himself visited every ship in his squadron, and thanked the officers
and men for their bravery.

News of the American victory was received with joy all over the
country. Congress offered a vote of thanks to MacDonough, and many
states and towns gave him presents. But through it all he was still the
modest MacDonough. Often tears came into his eyes when he was speaking
of all the country had done for him.

This was almost his last battle. Soon after it, peace was declared, and
he left Lake Champlain and went back to the ocean.

In 1825 he was Commander of the “Constitution,” in the Mediterranean.
But his health failed and he determined to go home. He never reached
his country, however. On November tenth, he died, leaving behind him
an undying name—a brave officer, a great seaman, and a Christian
gentleman. In memory of MacDonough, the place near which he was born
has been named after him, and in the great warship “Delaware,” the
largest in the present American navy, his portrait (presented by the
Colonial Dames of the State) is hung with those of Admiral Jones and
Admiral du Pont, to commemorate the naval heroes of Delaware.

[Illustration: The · Battleship · “Delaware”]


How Once Upon A Time Delaware Welcomed Lafayette.

[Illustration: Old Bridge over the Brandywine at Wilmington]

WHEN Lafayette was in America, helping us fight for liberty, he
made many friends among the Delaware people. Caesar Rodney was then
President of Delaware, and Lafayette was often entertained at his
house. It was there that he met the beautiful Miss Vining. He and she
became great friends, and for a great many years they used to write to
each other.

When Washington had his headquarters in Wilmington, Lafayette came
with him. He staid at the house of a Quaker, Mr. Joseph Tatnall, in
Brandywine Village, just across the stream from Wilmington. General
Wayne and other of Washington’s officers, were stationed at Mr.
Tatnall’s house, too.

Brandywine Village was then a separate place, and not a part of
Wilmington as it is now. There was no bridge across the Brandywine,
and people who wished to go from one place to the other, were ferried
across the stream.[34] Lafayette often crossed the Brandywine in this
way. He would ride his horse on to the great clumsy boat and sit
quietly while it was ferried over; then he would ride clattering off on
the Wilmington side, and up the hilly streets to join Washington at his

Often General Washington himself would cross in the ferry to Brandywine
Village, and come to the Tatnall house to discuss plans of battle with
Lafayette, and the other officers. These meetings were held in the back
parlor; there was a large round table in the middle of the room, and
on this they spread out their maps and plans. Washington kept other
important papers at the Tatnall house, too. It was a safer place than
his headquarters in Wilmington.

Lafayette was at this time a very gay and dashing young officer, and
the Tatnall children, who were shy little Quakers, were rather afraid
of him. After he had been out riding he used to come marching into the
house, snapping his riding whip, and glancing about him with keen,
bright eyes; his spurs jingled as he walked. The children generally
ran and hid when they heard him coming,—that is all but the youngest,
a pretty little girl of two or three. She never felt the least fear of
the Frenchman. She would run to meet him, holding up her little bare
dimpled arms for him to take her. Then Lafayette would swing her up on
his shoulder, and march with her through the house. He called her “his
little sweetheart.”

But one morning Lafayette and the other officers said good-bye, and
went down to the ferry for the last time. His “little sweetheart” never
saw him again. He had gone with Washington and his army to meet the
British further north, and to fight in the battle of Brandywine.

After the Revolution was over, and the colonies were free, Lafayette
went back to France, and it was almost forty years before he visited
America again. In that time, there were many changes. Washington died
and was buried at his beloved home, Mount Vernon. Lafayette himself had
changed from a gay, dashing officer to a stately, grey-haired man of

He landed at New York on August, sixteenth, 1824, and was welcomed with
great honor as “the nation’s guest.” Flowers were strewn before him. In
many places the horses were taken from his carriage, and it was drawn
through the streets by the people themselves.

There were at that time, twenty-four states in the Union, and Lafayette
wished to visit each one of them. He planned to come to Wilmington on
October, sixth, so as to attend the wedding of Mr. Charles I. du Pont
and Miss VanDyke, the daughter of U. S. Senator, Nicholas VanDyke,
at New Castle in the evening of that day. Lafayette had known Mr. du
Pont’s father in France, for they were of a French family.

Great preparations were made by all the people of Wilmington and its
vicinity, (indeed from all parts of the State) to welcome Lafayette.

The day of his arrival dawned clear and bright. As early as seven
o’clock in the morning all the town was astir. Fifes were sounded,
drums were beaten. The Wilmington City Troop was to march up the
Philadelphia pike and meet the General at the state line, between
Pennsylvania and Delaware. This City Troop had been named the
“Lafayette Guard,” in honor of their visitor. With the troop were to
ride about two hundred of the young men of Wilmington. These young men
were all dressed alike, in white trousers, blue or black coats, and
high black stocks. They all wore Revolutionary cockades, and Lafayette
badges. A number of the older men of Wilmington rode out with them,
too, in carriages.

At the boundary line in Brandywine Hundred, near the Practical Farmer,
a magnificent floral arch had been erected with the American eagle
suspended in the centre, a United States flag, with a portrait of
Washington underneath of it and the words:—


Advancing into the city of Wilmington, his reception was overwhelming.
Flowers were strewn in his pathway; arches of evergreens, decorated
with flags, had been built across Market Street at different points.
From one of the arches hung a model of the ship “Brandywine,” and
above it were the words, “_In honor of Lafayette, the friend of Civil

The ladies of the town had decorated Brandywine bridge so that it was
almost hidden by wreaths and flowers. It was over this bridge that
Lafayette would enter the town.

It was eight o’clock when the procession set out from Wilmington and
marched up the Philadelphia pike to meet the distinguished guest.

At about ten o’clock word was brought that General Lafayette was then
in sight. The procession drew up in order, and as soon as Lafayette
appeared the men burst into a loud shout of “Long live Lafayette!”

Lafayette rose and bowed in answer. He was riding in a barouche, and
with him was his son, George Washington Lafayette. He was escorted by
the First City Troop of Philadelphia, and a number of well known men.

As soon as Lafayette reached the State line where the Wilmington
procession was waiting, he stepped from the barouche down into the road.

The Honorable Louis McLane came forward to meet him, and made a speech
of welcome. Lafayette answered him, and in his answer he spoke of the
war for liberty, in which he had fought, and of the great bravery of
the Delaware regiment in that war.

Mr. McLane then asked to introduce to the General, three men who had
fought in the Delaware regiment,—three of the Blue Hen’s Chickens. They
were, Major Peter Jaquet, Captain Caleb P. Bennett and Colonel Allen
McLane. Colonel McLane, an old man of eighty-three years, was dressed
in the Colonial uniform he had worn in the war.

Other prominent citizens of Delaware were introduced, and then
Lafayette stepped into the carriage that had been brought for him, and
to the music of the band, the procession moved on toward Wilmington.

As they reached the top of Shellpot hill, just outside of the city, the
dull boom of a cannon sounded across the sunny fields. Again it boomed,
and still again, till thirteen shots had been fired, one shot for each
of the thirteen original colonies. It was a salute to Lafayette.

The General was very anxious to stop in Brandywine Village, at the
Tatnall house. His old friend, Joseph Tatnall, had died many years
before, but his son was still living in a stone house close by.

He was standing in the doorway when Lafayette’s carriage stopped before
the house. He hurried down to the street to welcome the General. He had
his little son in his arms, and at a whispered word from his father,
the little fellow held out a beautiful basket of Washington pears.

Lafayette took it with a smile, and thanked the child. “You were not so
many years older than this little fellow, when I was here before,” said
the General to the father.

“And my little sweetheart?” added the General. “What has become of her?
Shall I see her?”

But the little sweetheart was dead. Years before, she had grown up and
married, and then had died, leaving a daughter. Lafayette wished to
see this daughter, but she was away at boarding school. Mr. Tatnall
had asked the mistress of the school to allow his niece to come to him
for that day, but the mistress had refused; she was so strict that she
would not allow the young girl to be absent for a day, even to meet
General Lafayette.

Just beyond the bridge, a great crowd of people had gathered. They
cheered wildly as Lafayette’s carriage rolled across the bridge. At the
same time, all the bells in the city began to ring, and so with shouts
and music, and the pealing of bells, General Lafayette was welcomed
back to Delaware.

The procession paraded through the streets and under the arches, and at
last drew up before the City Hall, where a great feast had been made
ready. About two hundred people were at the banquet.

Just as the feast was ended, an old woman pushed her way into the hall,
and came to where Mr. McLane was standing. Mr. McLane knew who she was
very well. Her name was Belle McClosky, and she earned her living by
selling cakes and pies about the town. Wherever she went, she always
carried an old musket ball in her pocket. Often she took out this ball
and showed it to her customers, and boasted that she had taken it
out of General Lafayette’s wound with a pair of scissors when he was
wounded at the Battle of Brandywine.

Now, as soon as she reached Mr. McLane’s side, she said, “Mr. McLane, I
want you to introduce me to General Lafayette.”

Mr. McLane hesitated a moment; then he said “Very well, Belle, I will
do it. I know you are a true patriot, and I believe you saved many a
poor soldier’s life at the time of the war.”

He then led Belle over to General Lafayette. The General spoke to her
pleasantly, but he had not the least idea who she was.

“General,” said Belle, “do you remember being wounded at the Battle of
Brandywine, and the young woman who took out the ball with a pair of

“I remember very well,” answered Lafayette. “She saved me several hours
of suffering. I would like to see her again, that I might thank her.”

Belle took the ball from her pocket, and held it out to him in her
hand. “This is the ball,” said she, “and I am the woman who took it
out, though I am so old now it is no wonder that you do not know me.”

Lafayette was amazed. He thanked her warmly, and then took the ball and
looked at it. “So you have kept it all these years,” he said. “That is
very curious.”

Then he gave the ball back to her, and Belle went out from the hall
that day a very proud and happy woman.

Lafayette paid only one visit in Wilmington, and that was to Mrs.
Connel. She was the wife of Mr. John Connel who had been very kind
to some French soldiers at the time of the war between France and

Later in the afternoon, the General set out for New Castle, to attend
the wedding there.

New Castle had prepared to welcome him with a military salute. There
were two six pound cannons in the old arsenal at New Castle, that were
named the “Wasp” and the “Hornet.”

They had been moved to the northeast end of the town, near the site
of old Fort Casimir, ready for use. As the procession passed Rogers’
Woods, and came in sight of New Castle, the gunners began. The cannons
boomed and boomed incessantly until Lafayette had entered the house of
George Read, 2nd, on Water St., where he was received, and where guards
were placed at the front door to keep back the crowd.

In the evening Lafayette attended the wedding. At this wedding, he was,
of course, the guest of honor. The chair where he was to sit was raised
so as to be higher than any others in the room, and was wreathed about
with flowers.

A great crowd gathered before the house to see General Lafayette.

Senator VanDyke, the father of the bride, gave orders that the door and
windows should be left open, so that the people outside could see the
General and also the wedding party.

Afterward, he went to take supper and spend the night, with George
Read, 2nd, the son of the signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The next morning, he was driven over to Frenchtown, Maryland, on the
Elk river, where he was met and welcomed by the Marylanders.

So Lafayette passed through Delaware, on his tour through the States,
and so the Delaware people welcomed him. It was a beautiful greeting,
and Delaware may well be proud of the day when Lafayette was here.

[Illustration: Old Tatnall House—Brandywine Village—Wilmington]


[34] The ferry landings were near the Brandywine Flour Mills on one
side, and at the foot of King Street on the other.

[35] Mrs. John Connel afterward went to France, and was the guest of
the Lafayette family for six months. She was presented at the Court of
Louis Philippe, and the King gave her a handsome lace fan, which is
still preserved in the family.


How Once Upon A Time Mason And Dixon Ran A Boundary

[Illustration: “A Rose—at Michaelmas”]

OF ALL the States belonging to the United States of America, there are
no two that are of the same size or shape. Some are big and some are
little. One is almost square. One is shaped like a boot.

Delaware, has two boundaries, one on the west and one on the south,
that are perfectly straight. On the east the boundary follows the
line of the Delaware River and bay. The northern line of the State is
an arc, or part of a circle. If you put a pin through the little dot
on the map that is marked “New Castle,” and tie a thread to it and
measure, you will find how perfect this arc of the circle is, and you
will also find that New Castle is the centre of the circle.

Why should Delaware have this queer curved northern boundary? It is
because, many years ago, as this book has told once before, in 1681,
King Charles the Second of England gave what is now Pennsylvania to
William Penn. In that grant, Penn was given “that extensive forest
lying twelve miles northward of New Castle, on the northern side of the
Delaware,” the southern boundary of which was a circle drawn twelve
miles distant from New Castle northward and westward.

Penn, at first, was contented with this grant from King Charles. But
when he looked over his land grant carefully, he saw that it would be
much better for Pennsylvania to have at least a strip of land that
would run along one side of the Delaware River and down to the Delaware
Bay. This land had been already given by the King, to his brother, the
Duke of York.

If Penn only had that strip of land, his ships could sail up the river
more safely. He could also carry on a better trade with the Indians
along its banks. So he asked the Duke of York to let him have this
river land. We have already read how the Duke of York answered him,—how
the Provinces on the Delaware were given to Penn on lease, for a
certain share of rents and profits, and a rose to be presented to the
Duke every Michaelmas, on demand. This lease was to run ten thousand
years, which was the same as if it were a gift out and out.

So what is now our State of Delaware came into the possession of
William Penn, and in the deeds its boundaries were laid out; the
northern one was still to be the arc of the circle drawn around New
Castle. Its western boundary was to be a straight line drawn on down
from the rim of this “twelve mile circle,” till it should meet another
line, a straight one, which was to be drawn from Cape Henlopen across
to the Chesapeake, and was to be the southern boundary of the State.
If you will look at the map in the front of the book, you can see how
the arc of the twelve-mile circle and the two straight lines to the
south and the east give Delaware its present shape. The eastern part
of the land within the twelve mile circle extended all the way to low
water mark on the New Jersey shore, and also to the center of the bay
south of the circle. The grant gave Penn the Pea-Patch Island too,
where Fort Delaware was afterward built.

The Duke of York gave the land to William Penn. But years and years
before that, long before the Duke of York himself owned the Provinces
on the Delaware, there was another Englishman who claimed them as his

This was Lord Baltimore. In 1632, the King had given him a grant not
only of Maryland, but of what is now Delaware, as well. The grant was
given on the word of Lord Baltimore, that no Christian people had ever
settled on the peninsula. But, as we know, about one year before that
DeVries had landed at Zwannendael, had bought the land there and had
started his little settlement. Probably Lord Baltimore knew nothing of
this. Whether he knew or not, the King was very angry when he found
what a mistake had been made, and that the Dutch had made a settlement
in Delaware years before. There was even a great deal of doubt as to
whether Lord Baltimore’s grant would hold good.

Perhaps it was because of this doubt that Lord Baltimore did not
make any claim to these Delaware lands until 1659. At that time, his
brother, Lord Calvert, was the Governor of Maryland. The Dutch were
living along the Delaware, and had built forts there.

In that year (1659) five or six Dutch soldiers deserted from the Dutch
fort at New Amstel[36] and fled down into Maryland.

The Dutch Director-General sent a message to Lord Calvert, asking him
to send the deserters back to him.

Lord Calvert answered the Dutchman very politely. He was very willing
to send the soldiers back, he said, but at the same time he wished
to warn the Director that New Amstel and Altona,[37] and all the
land along the Delaware up to the fortieth degree, belonged to Lord

When this message was brought to the Dutch Director and his council,
they were surprised indeed. This was the first they had heard of the
English having any claim to the land at all. They could hardly believe
it, and yet they were so afraid of getting into trouble with the
English that some of the councillors wanted to leave New Amstel at
once, and move up to the Hudson, where they would be safe.

It was not long before they heard again from Maryland. In August,
Colonel Utie came over from St. Mary’s,[38] bringing letters and
messages from Lord Calvert. The message that he brought was that the
Dutch must move away at once. They must give over all the land to the
English. However, they might stay on one condition. That was that they
would obey English rules, and would agree that Lord Baltimore was the
owner of the land and their ruler.

Before the Director and his council could agree to this condition, they
said they would have to consult with Governor Stuyvesant.

Colonel Utie was quite willing for them to consult their governor, and
he gave them three weeks to send their messengers to New Amsterdam and
learn from Governor Stuyvesant what they were to do.

Three weeks later, to a day, the Director and his council met together,
and three weeks later, to a day, Colonel Utie came to their meeting to
hear what they had to say. They had heard from Governor Stuyvesant,
and his messages were very decided. The Dutch were not to give up the
land, and they were not to own Lord Baltimore as their ruler. The land
belonged to the Dutch. They had bought it from the Indians; they had
been its first settlers and they had “sealed it with their blood” at

But Stuyvesant did more than send this answer to the English. He
quietly sent messengers down along the Delaware, and bought from the
Indians all the land that did not already belong to the Dutch, and he
built a fort at Hoornkill, and made ready to protect his land.

Lord Calvert did not force him to fight for his rights, however. The
English governor seemed quite as unwilling as the Dutch had been to
carry the dispute any further.

But the Dutch were not to keep the land very much longer, in spite of
the friendliness of Lord Calvert. It was soon to be taken from them,
and by the English, too, though not by Lord Baltimore.

In 1664, a fleet of vessels was sent over from England by the Duke
of York, to take possession of the land. It was his now; the King had
given it to him, in spite of the grant made to Lord Baltimore years

The Duke of York was a very rich and powerful nobleman. The Dutch did
not dare to stand out against him, no, not even the hot-headed Governor
Stuyvesant himself. Very quietly, they handed over all the land to
the English. Not a single shot was fired any place, except at Fort
New Amstel. There the Director-General made one effort to protect the
Dutch rights. He tried to hold the fort, but even the townspeople were
against him. He was soon forced to yield, and the English soldiers
marched in and took possession. English soldiers filled the fort;
English farmers tilled the ground; Englishmen made the laws and settled
quarrels, and then, during the time when their government was being
established, the great tract of land north of the Delaware Province
was made over to William Penn, and a little later the Provinces on the
Delaware were sold to him, too.

But now Lord Baltimore began again to push his claims to the land.
While the Dutch had it, he was willing to let the matter rest. As long
as the Duke of York owned it, he had been afraid to dispute about
it; but now it belonged to William Penn, and William Penn was only a
private gentleman.

At one time, Lord Baltimore sent Colonel George Talbot over from
Maryland with a band of soldiers. They seized a farm near New Castle
that belonged to a Mr. Ogle. On the farm Colonel Talbot built a fort
with palisades, and he put a force of armed men in to defend it. He
declared he was holding it for Lord Baltimore.

Soon after this, Penn heard that Lord Baltimore had sailed back to
England, there to make claims on the land before the King’s Privy
Council. Penn then took ship and went back to England, too, to present
his side.

After the Privy Council had heard everything there was to be said, and
had read all the papers on the question, they gave their decision.
The decision was that Lord Baltimore had no right to any of the three
Provinces on the Delaware. They were to belong to William Penn. The
boundaries were to be the lines marked out by the Duke of York,—half
the peninsula down to Cape Henlopen, and a line to be drawn across from
Cape Henlopen to meet the Western boundary.

But somehow the quarrel did not end. Years passed and Lord Baltimore
died, and William Penn died, and still the boundary dispute went on.
Finally the same old question was decided in exactly the same way by
the Lord Chancellor of England in 1750, in favor of William Penn’s
children, and the thing was settled at last. But it was not as easy to
mark out the boundary lines on real land as it is on a map. So because
the marking of them was very difficult, and because Penn’s heirs and
Frederick, the new Lord Baltimore, wanted the lines settled once for
all, two very good surveyors came over from England in 1763, to run the
boundary. The names of these two surveyors have been famous ever since.
They were Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

It was not an easy task that these two surveyors had undertaken to do.
A great part of the land was still wild and unbroken. Savages and wild
beasts lurked in the forests. At night, as they sat beside their camp
fires, they could hear the long cry of the catamounts off in the wood.
Often an Indian warrior would glide out from the thickets, and stand
watching their work, and then glide away again, silent as a shadow. The
savages seemed friendly, and indeed some of them went with the white
men as guides, but there was no knowing when they would turn against
the white men. At one time, word was brought to Mason and Dixon that
the Indians meant to attack their camp, and twenty-six of their workmen
left, and made their way back to safety. All work stopped for a while.
Then fresh men came out to take their places, and the chopping and
surveying went on. Great trees were cut down and rocks were rolled from
their beds. A path eight yards wide was made through the wilderness,
and in this “vistoe” as they called it, stones were set up to mark the
boundary line. Some of the stones had Penn’s coat-of-arms carved on
them; some were carved upon one side with “P” for Pennsylvania, and on
the other with “M” for Maryland.

Months slipped by, years passed, and still the work was not finished.

Then one day the surveyors came to a path through the forest that
crossed the “vistoe” they were marking out. It was a path worn by the
passing of many Indian feet. Here the savages who were acting as their
guides stopped.

“It is not the will of the Six Nations[39] that you should go further,”
they said.

The white men were very anxious to finish the line. They had been
working on it for over four years, and it needed thirty-six more miles
to complete it, but the Indians would guide them no further. “It is not
the will of the Six Nations,” they repeated.

The white men were afraid to push on further without permission. They
were afraid they would be massacred, so they were obliged to turn back
leaving the line incompleted, and many, many years passed by before
that line was finally finished.

But Mason and Dixon’s line[40] still marks the boundaries between the
three States of Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and here and there
a stone still stands where they set it up in their “vistoe,” more than
a hundred and fifty years ago. One stone is preserved in the rooms
of the Delaware Historical Society, at Tenth and Market streets, in

The lines they marked out were those between Pennsylvania on the north,
and Delaware and Maryland on the south, and between Maryland and
Delaware[41] and they did their work so well that it has never had to
be done again.

[Illustration: —A Stone marker—

Mason & Dixon Line



[36] Now New Castle.

[37] Wilmington.

[38] The first settlement in Maryland.

[39] The Six Nations were the tribes of Indians inhabiting that region.

[40] At the time of the Civil War, 1861-65, the Mason and Dixon line
was spoken of as the line dividing North and South, free and slave
States from each other. When it was laid out, it was with no such idea,
however, as we have seen, but to correctly mark the divisions between
the properties of William Penn and Lord Baltimore.

[41] In 1909, the original Royal Grants from the King and the Duke of
York to William Penn were given to the Colonial Dames by Mrs. W. R.
Miller of Media, Pennsylvania. These deeds were given by John Penn, the
great grandson of William Penn, to Mr. John Coates, of Philadelphia in
1811, and had been handed down and carefully preserved. The Colonial
Dames, on receiving them, presented them formally to the State of
Delaware, and Governor Pennewill accepted them in the name of the
Commonwealth, before the joint session of the Legislature.

They are undoubtedly the most important records ever presented to
this state. They are the Royal Grants, which confer practically the
sovereignty to the State of Delaware of the land composing its domain.
Upon the validity of these Grants the division lines between Maryland
and Delaware were established in the famous chancery suit in England
between William Penn and Lord Baltimore. In the Pea-patch Island
controversy between New Jersey and Delaware they established Delaware’s
ownership of this island, where Fort Delaware was erected. Also in the
late case between New Jersey and Delaware concerning the fishery rights
within the twelve mile circle, these papers played an important part.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 96, “upn” changed to “upon” (charged upon the)

Page 96, “deKalb” changed to “DeKalb” to match rest of usage (DeKalb
himself had)

Page 98, “readinesss” changed to “readiness” (readiness shown by them)

Page 104, “oncamped” and “eften” changed to “encamped” and “often”
(encamped. In the next) (often be seen kneeling)

Page 137, in text of illustration, “Battleship” is printed as

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