Sheriffs house

Sheriff's House, New Castle

As part of exploratory plans to establish a unit of the National Park Service in Delaware, the state of Delaware is preparing for possible transfer of the Sheriff's House in New Castle to the federal government. The plans are part of a longstanding effort by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) who introduced the First State National Historical Park Act of 2011.

On Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, representatives from Carper's office, the National Park Service and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will hold two open-house meetings regarding the proposed park. The meetings will take place at 2 and 6 p.m. at the New Castle Court House Museum located at 211 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. Members of the public are invited to attend the meetings where they can ask questions and share their thoughts on the proposed First State National Historic Park.

Built in 1858, the Sheriff's House served as both the home of the sheriff and as the administrative site for the attached prison which, together with the adjoining New Castle Court House, served as the center of New Castle County's justice system. After the transfer of the court and county offices to the new county-seat of Wilmington in 1881, the Sheriff's House was used, among others, as a men's club, a rooming house, offices and headquarters for the New Castle city police department. Current proposals call for utilizing the building as the headquarters for visitor services in the national park unit with one or more rangers available to assist with park information and interpretive tours.

Located within the New Castle Historic District National Historic Landmark, the Sheriff's House is part of a complex of state-owned historic properties that includes the town's commons, known as The Green, as well as the New Castle Court House, Academy and Arsenal buildings. Under the national park proposal, the Sheriff's House and a small setback around the building would be subdivided from their original land-parcel and transferred to the federal government. The Green, including the remainder of the subdivided Sheriff's House property, as well as the New Castle Court House, Academy and Arsenal buildings, would continue to be owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Go to the following for a list of frequently asked questions regarding the possible transfer of the Sheriff's House to the federal government.


Nipper the dog

Nipper the dog will be explored in the Jan. 5 program at the Johnson Victrola Museum.



George Washington

Portrait of George Washington by Denis A. Volozan, oil on canvas, 7' by 5', 1802. The portrait will be discussed in the Jan. 5 program at The Old State House.



Fort Delaware Fort Delaware will be among the three forts discussed at the Jan. 26 program at the New Castle Court House Museum.

During the month of January 2013, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be offering 16 special programs at the six museums that it operates across the state. All programs are free and open to the public.

Highlights of the month include "Nipper: The Most Famous Dog in the World," a program on the mixed fox/bull terrier whose image in the Victor Talking Machine Company's "His Master's Voice" logo became one of America's oldest trademarks. The program will take place on Jan. 5 at the Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover.

Also on Jan 5, The Old State House in Dover will present "Six-Two, Eyes of Blue, Has Anybody Seen My George?," a living-history performance in which historic-site interpreter Dennis Fisher, dressed in period clothing, portrays noted 19th-century Delaware physician James Sykes as he discusses the creation of The Old State House's imposing portrait of George Washington. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and talk with Sykes who will remain in character throughout his appearances.

On Jan. 26, the New Castle Court House Museum will present "The Three Forts: Delaware, DuPont and Mott," a program on the early development and history of the forts guarding the approaches to the Delaware River's major ports.

Following is a full listing of the division's special programming during January 2013:

Wednesdays, Jan. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2013
"Weaving Wednesdays." Indoor, staff-led program in which visitors will learn how to weave a blanket or rag rug. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, Del. Program at 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013
"Nipper: The Most Famous Dog in the World." First Saturday in the First State program tells the true story of this popular pup, his trademark and the man who made him the most famous dog in the world. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover, Del. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013
"We Poor Devils." Guided tours exploring the display "The Civil War: Five Delaware Soldiers' Stories." First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries, 121 Duke of York St., Dover, Del. Tours at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013
"Six-Two, Eyes of Blue, Has Anybody Seen My George?" Living-history performance depicts Dr. James Sykes, a noted 19th-century Delaware physician, discussing the creation of The Old State House's imposing portrait of George Washington. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover, Del. Living-history programs at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Museum open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013
"Emancipation Proclamation." First Sunday program exploring President Lincoln's executive order issued on Jan. 1, 1863 which proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states then in rebellion against the United States. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle, Del. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 1:30-4:30 p.m. 302-323-4453.

Wednesdays, Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2013
"Watercolor Wednesdays." Visitors are welcome to draw or paint a scene inside the historic court house built in 1732. Visitors provide their own art supplies. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle, Del. Program 1:30-3:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, Del. Program 1-3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013
"Savory Sussex." A series of programs on the unique and delectable local flavors of Sussex County, Del., the Jan. 19 event will feature a presentation by the Lavender Fields Farm of Milton, Del. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free admission but, due to space restrictions, reservations are required by calling 302-645-1148.

Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013
"The Three Forts: Delaware, DuPont and Mott." Program on the early development and history of the forts guarding the approaches to the Delaware River's major ports. New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle, Del. Program at 2 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.


De Day

In a program held at the Delaware Public Archives building in Dover on Dec. 1, 2012, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey W. Bullock conducted an awards and recognition ceremony celebrating the work of 843 students from 20 schools across the state who participated in the 2012 Delaware Day Student Competition. Over the past 11 years, nearly 8,000 fourth-grade students have participated in the program. Delaware Day commemorates the anniversary of Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787.

Sponsored annually by Delaware's secretary of state, the competition encourages students to study the U.S. Constitution and to discover Delaware's role in its writing and ratification. In 2012, participating students developed projects based on the theme "Ratification of the Constitution and Delaware's role as the First State." The students' observations were presented in the form of large panel displays which were reviewed for factual accuracy as well as creativity.

Each of the competition's winning schools was recognized with a Signer's Award named for one of Delaware's five signatories of the U.S. Constitution. The Signer's Awards for the 2012 competition are the Richard Bassett Award to Mount Pleasant Elementary School, group one; the Gunning Bedford, Jr. Award to Cedar Lane and Brader elementary schools; the Jacob Broom Award to Frederick Douglass Elementary School; the John Dickinson Award to Lake Forest Central Elementary School; and the George Read Award to the Learning Express Academy.

Honorable mention awards were presented to Bunker Hill, Clayton, Gallaher, William C. Lewis, Thurgood Marshall, North Star, Sunnyside, Towne Point, Booker T. Washington and Etta Wilson elementary schools; Thomas Edison Charter School; Mount Pleasant Elementary School, groups two and three; and St. John's Lutheran School.

The 2012 Delaware Day Student Competition was planned and organized by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs' Curator of Education Madeline Dunn in tandem with Christopher Portante, the Department of State's community relations coordinator. Division-staff participation in the competition included service as judges of the student-developed projects, development of awards certificates and printed materials, set-up of the awards-program location and staffing at the event.


Pencader Area Heritage Association

Pencader Heritage Museum

On December 15, 2012, Councilman David L. Tackett announced that New Castle County Council had awarded a $1,500 grant to the Pencader Heritage Area Association for ongoing educational-outreach projects including support for the Pencader Heritage Museum, Pencader-area historical signage-projects, student seminars, a guest-speaker series and memorial events staged on the Cooch's Bridge Battlefield, site of Delaware's only Revolutionary War battle.

The Pencader Heritage Area Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the history and heritage of Pencader Hundred, a section of western New Castle County, Del. The association operates the Pencader Heritage Museum where exhibits showcase artifacts and information regarding the history of the Cooch family and Cooch-Dayett Mills, Native-American artifacts and information and artifacts on Revolutionary War activities in the area including the Battle of Cooch's Bridge. The museum is located in the dairy barn of the Cooch Dayett Mills complex at 2029 Sunset Lake Road in Newark, Del. The barn is owned by the state of Delaware and administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs which leases it to the association.


On Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 at 6:30 p.m., the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware will present "History Under Construction: Wildcat and the Underground Railroad," a program exploring the research that is being conducted on Wildcat Manor, Forrest Landing and the free-black community of Hunntown, a collection of sites in Kent County Del. near the St. Jones River that were once part of property owned by the abolitionist-leaning Hunn family. All three sites are associated with Underground Railroad activities in the state.

As part of the program, Robin Krawitz, president of the Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware and director of the historic preservation graduate program at Delaware State University, will present excerpts from her archival research into the Hunn family and their Underground Railroad connections; while Craig Lukezic, archaeologist for the Division Historical and Cultural Affairs, adjunct faculty member at Delaware State University and president of the Archaeological Society of Delaware, will report on the community-archaeology project at Hunntown.

"History Under Construction: Wildcat and the Underground Railroad" will take place at the New Castle Public Library located at 424 Delaware St. in New Castle, Del. The lecture is one of four program meetings that the coalition presents annually throughout the state. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information about the program, call Debra Martin of the coalition at 302-576-3107. Call 302-328-1995 to contact the New Castle Public Library.

The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware is dedicated to sharing the profound stories of the people who escaped from slavery and those in Delaware who assisted them in seeking freedom. To this end, the group provides a forum for gathering and encouraging research; linking local, regional and national resources; and sharing information with the public. The coalition also promotes the preservation of Underground Railroad sites in the state so that future generations may experience the power of these genuine historic places. The Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs is a member of the coalition.


Christina

Detail from a map of Fort Christina by Per Lindeström, 1654.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, 2012, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs archaeologist Craig Lukezic will participate in "Finding Fort Christina: Archaeology Matters!," a lecture on the continuing search for the exact location of the first Swedish settlement in America. The settlement, named Fort Christina after the then 12-year-old queen of Sweden, was established in 1638 by a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists from the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip who landed on a natural wharf of rocks on what is today's 7th Street Peninsula in Wilmington, Del. The fort was located somewhere nearby. Lukezic and his co-lecturer, Dr. Edward Harris, an acclaimed archaeologist from Bermuda, will discuss ongoing efforts to find the fort's remains.

Sponsored by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation as part of its 2013 lecture series, "375 Years On The Delaware: New Sweden Past and Present," the program will take place at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, 815 Justison St. in Wilmington, Del., with a reception at 6 p.m. and the lecture at 7 p.m. For additional information, call (302) 429-7447 or visit the following on the Web: "Finding Fort Christina: Archaeology Matters!"


map of New Sweden

Map of New Sweden, ca. 1655.

The 2013 New Sweden 375th Anniversary Conference will take place from Nov. 8 to 10, 2013 at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall in Newark, Del. with a live video-feed of sessions that will be held at the University of Lund in Sweden. Entitled "Encountering 'Others' in the Atlantic World: Perspectives from the Material World," the conference is an international forum on comparative colonialism that will also serve as the annual meeting of the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology and the New Sweden History Conference.

Conference organizers are seeking proposals for papers on topics related to the Swedish colony that operated along the Delaware River between 1638 and 1655. The settlement was intended to become a profitable station for tobacco and beaver-pelt trade, a rich source for valuable metals and natural resources and an overseas extension of the Kingdom of Sweden. Fort Christina, located in what is now Wilmington, Del., was established in 1638 by a group of Swedish and Finnish colonists.

For information about submissions and about the conference, contact the co-chairs Craig Lukezic of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs at craig.lukezic@state.de.us, 302-736-7407; or Dr. Lu Ann De Cunzo of the University of Delaware's Department of Anthropology at decunzo@udel.edu, 302-831-1854. A detailed call for papers will appear on participating organizations' websites later in January, with an April 15, 2013 deadline for submission of abstracts.

The 2013 New Sweden Conference is being planned by a coalition of organizations including the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Lund Historical Museum, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, the National Historical Museum of Sweden, the New Sweden History Conference, the University of Delaware Department of Anthropology and the University of Lund Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.


Penman of the Revolution

John Dickinson

On Dec. 14, 2012, First, WHYY TV 12's weekly Delaware-news-magazine broadcast "John Dickinson: Penman of the Revolution," a short film on the life of John Dickinson and the critical role that he played in the founding of the United States. The film was created by the Wilmington-based production company TELEDUCTION for the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion. A large portion of the film was shot on location at the John Dickinson Plantation, boyhood home and country estate of the Delaware patriot. The plantation is a museum of the state of Delaware administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

"John Dickinson: Penman of the Revolution" features noted Dickinson scholar Jane E. Calvert, Ph.D., director of the John Dickinson Writings Project and associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky. In addition, several current and former members of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs staff participated in the production's filming including Richard Bazelow, Barbara Carrow, Jennifer Dunham, Susan Emory, Dennis Fisher, Vertie Lee, Katharine Maguire, Eleanor Matthews, Chris Merrill, Douglass Miller, Latecia Prophet, Tom Pulmano, Curt Stickel, Martha Wagner and Tom Welch. John Dickinson Plantation site supervisor Gloria Henry took part as a member of the film's cast as well as appearing in a segment on visiting the museum.

Go to the following to view the complete broadcast of "John Dickinson: Penman of the Revolution."