Has anyone ever told you that you may have American Indian ancestry? Have you ever wondered how you could find out? One clue may be your last name. Each tribe has particular surnames that are associated with them. Names like Coker, Jackson, Durham, and Norwood to name just a few.
There are two recognized American Indian tribal communities in Delaware: the Naticoke community in south-central Sussex County, near Millsboro, and the Lenape community in central Kent County around the town of Cheswold.
There are two good resources for lists of surnames associated with Delaware’s tribes. C.A. Weslager’s 1943 book Delaware’s Forgotten Folk and an article by William Harlen Gilbert, Jr. “Surviving Indian groups of the eastern United States,” in the 1948 Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. Both books can be found at the archives.
For additional information on the tribes and their genealogy you can visit the “Mitsawokett” website.
You can also read a background on the Native American period in Delaware.
Several items have just returned from being conserved and one of the more interesting ones is an oversize plot for a road from Cowgill’s Corner (south of Smyrna) to the Seaford area. Completed in 1825, this plot provides a detailed look at one of period’s main transportation arteries through Kent and Sussex County. While the towns are not accurately portrayed in terms of the actual structures being represented, the plot does include specific land areas and the individuals who owned those properties. Stretching in length to more than 11 feet long, the plot is part of the Court of General Sessions.
Have you seen the new nonfiction book entitled “Birthright: the true story that inspired Kidnapped” by A. Roger Ekirch? The book is set in 1728, when a 12-year old was kidnapped, sold into indentured servitude, and sent to Delaware, so his uncle could keep the property the boy should have inherited. After 13 years, he escaped back to England, and the story continues.
Did you know that we have apprentice indenture records here at the Archives? They can be found in the recorder of deeds collection and the trustees of the poor records. Apprentices were taught the fine art of husbandry, housewifery, and coopering to name a few. For a complete history of indentured servants in Delaware you may want to read “The “Art and Mystery” of Delaware’s Apprentice Indentures by Randy Goss that can be found in Delaware History Fall/Winter 2006-2007.
To reserve your copy to read, visit your local library or the Delaware Library catalogue
Do you ever watch the show Ghost Hunters? It’s gotten to be a pretty big thing. We had a group of high school students come in the other day that are big fans of the show and wanted to know if Delaware had any haunted places.
Of course we do! There are numerous stories of ghosts at Fort Delaware and Woodburn, the governor’s house. Delaware has ghost stories from New Castle to Sussex. And not just houses, there are stories of ghost on roads, beaches, and in forests. They looked in our newspaper clippings collection and our general reference collection. They also looked at some books in our collections such as Haunted Delaware by Caroline Woods, and Civil War Ghosts at Fort Delaware by Ed Okonowicz.
For more information view the haunted Delaware exhibit on our website.
A family came in the other day from out of town. They had come to visit relatives and couldn’t believe all the snow we had. They couldn’t remember it ever being like this on any other family visit and asked if this was normal? It made them wonder how many winters has Delaware had like this. Has there ever been snow like this in the past?
The answer was found in our vast collection of over 800,000 photographs. The family discovered some really cool pictures of snow storms in Delaware. They also looked in our newspaper clippings collection and annual reports from the Department of Transportation.
To view more photos of snow storms in Delaware history visit our album on our Facebook page.
Our photo archivist, Randy Goss, was organizing some of the photos from one of our Photograph Collections and found these great shots of Samuel P. Langley’s attempt to be the first man to fly.
These six pictures were taken October 7, 1903 on the Potomac River. Langley was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and he believed a manned flight would be safer over water. Unfortunately, as the pictures reveal, the attempt failed.
On December 17 of the same year, the Wright Brothers gained the distinction of being the first to fly when they kept their manned aircraft airborne for twelve seconds.
Our photo collections at the Archives contain approximately 800,000 photographs.