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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman
for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town


One of the United States, the smallest in the Union in respect to population, and next to Rhode Island, in territory also, lies between 38°27' and 39°50' north lat, and 75° and 75°40' west long., from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Pennsylvania, east by the Delaware river and bay; and south and west by Maryland.  Its length from north to south is 90 miles, its greatest breadth 32 miles, and its superficial area 2,120 miles.  Its derives its name from the bay on which it lies, and which received its name from Lord Delaware (or De la War), governor of Virginia, who died upon its waters.

Physical Aspects--The general aspect of this state is that of an extended plain, or several inclined plains, favorable for cultivation.  Some of the upper portions of the county of Newcastle, however, are irregular and broken; the heights o Christiana are lofty and commanding; and the hills of Brandywine are rough and stony; but in the region toward Delaware river and bay there is very little diversity of surface.  On the table land, forming the dividing ridge between the Delaware and Chesapeake, is a chain of swamps, which give rise to various streams, that descend the slopes to either bay.  Along the Delaware river, and some ten miles into the interior, the soil generally consists of a rich clay, well adapted to the purposes of agriculture; but between this tract and the swamps the soil is sandy and light, and of inferior quality.  In the county of Newcastle the soil is a strong clay; in Kent it is mixed with sand; and in Sussex the sand greatly predominates.

Rivers and Bays-- The principle streams, besides the Delaware river, which forms a part of the eastern boundary, are Brandywine, Jones, Christiana, Duck and Mispillion creeks, and Choptank, Marshy Hope and Nanticoke rivers.  India river enters the Atlantic by a broad estuary, and Delaware bay washes the state on the east.

Climate-- The climate is generally mild and healthy; but the two extremes differ n temperature more than might be expected in so little extent of latitude, and in so small a difference in relative height.  The winters in the northern part are somewhat cold, but never severe.  The summers are hot in those situations not tempered by the breeze from the bays.

Productive Resources-- The principle staple products are horses, mules, cattle, sheep, poultry, eggs, swine, beef pork, silk, wool, hay, butter, cheese, milk, wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, peaches and Indian corn.  The country of Sussex exports large quantities of timber, obtained from Cypress swamps, or Indian river.  Delaware contains but few minerals.  Among the branches of the Nanticoke there are large quantities of bog iron ore, however, well adapted for castings.  Before the Revolution it was worked to some extent, but since that period the business has declined.

Manufactures--  The manufactures of Delaware consist chiefly of woolen and cotton goods, leather, paper, iron, gunpowder, &c.  Its flouring mills are numerous and extensive, and its flour takes a high stand in the market.

Railroads and Canals--  The only railroads within the state are, the Frenchtown, from Newcastle to Frenchtown, 16 miles:  the Philadelphia and Wilmington, and the Wilmington and Baltimore, which form part of the great line of travel from the northern to the southern Atlantic states.  The Chesapeake and Delaware sloop canal, 14 miles long, is the only canal in the state.  It extends from Delaware city to Back creek, and unites the waters of the two great bays from which it takes its name.

Commerce-- The foreign commerce of Delaware is very small.  The amount of shipping owned in the state is about 17,000 tons, 15,000 of which is engaged in the coasting trade.

Education--  There is but one college in Delaware, which is located in Newark, and was founded in 1833.  There are about 30 Academics, and 250 common schools in the state.

Population--  in 1790 was 59, 094; in 1800 was 64,273; in 1810 was72,974; in 1820 was 72,749; in 1830 was 76,739; in 1840 was 78,085 and in 1850 was 91,535. Number of slaves in 1790 was 8,887; in 1800 was 6,153; in 1810 was 4,177; in 1820 was 4,509; in 1830 was 3,292; in 1840 was 2,605 and in 1850 was 2,289.

Government-- The legislative power is vested in a senate, of nine members, three from each county, chosen every four years, and a house of representatives, of twenty one members, seven from each county, chosen for two years.  The executive power is vested in a governor, chosen for four years, and ineligible ever after.  General elections, biennially, second Tuesday in November, and the legislature meets at Dover on the first Tuesday in January.  The judicial power is vested in a court of errors, superior court, court of chancery, orphan's court, oyer and terminer, general sessions, register's court, and such other courts as may be established by law.  The right of suffrage is granted to every white male citizen, 22 years of age, after one year's residence in the state, and one month in the county where he votes, and having within two years paid a tax; also to those persons, qualified as aforesaid, 21 years of age, without payment of tax.

History-- Lord Delaware, governor of Virginia, first entered the bay known by his name in 1610.  The Dutch from the New Netherlands (New York) soon afterward visited it, and claimed  jurisdiction.  The first permanent settlement upon the Delaware was made by a colony of Swedes, in 1627, under the auspices of the Swedish West India Company.  The Dutch asserted their claim by an appeal to arms, and with a competent force, took possession of the country, in 1655, and attached it to the New Netherlands.  When the latter came into the possession of the Duke of York, in 1681, William Penn, as stated in the history of Pennsylvania, purchased what is now the state of Delaware, and annexed it to Pennsylvania.  Delaware had a legislature separate from that of Pennsylvania but after 1703 one governor ruled both.  It remained in this subordinate condition until 1776, when the inhabitants declared it a free and independent state, and organized a government under it.  It was first to ratify the constitution, which it did on the 7th of December, 1787.  Its state constitution was adopted in 1792, and revised and amended in 1831. Motto of the state seal, "Liberty and Independence."

1850 Counties of  Delaware

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Kent central part on Delaware bay 640 Dover (Capital) 22,816
New Castle northern part, Delaware bay & river on the east 456 Wilmington & New Castle 42,390
Sussex south part, Atlantic ocean & Delaware bay on east 860 Georgetown 25,935


Dover Hundred, the capital of Delaware, and seat of justice of Kent Co, is a borough on Jones's creek, 10 miles from its entrance into Delaware bay, 50 miles south of Wilmington; 120 miles from Washington. It is built on four principal streets which intersecting form a square in the centre of the town. Here is an elegant statehouse and several churches, banks, and other public buildings, are in the vicinity. The buildings are neat and generally of brick. It contains a monument erected to the memory of Col John Haslett, who fell at the battle of Princeton in 1777.

The population; in 1840 was about 900; in 1820 was 600; in 1830 was 1,300; in 1840 was 3,790 and in 1850 was 4,207


City, seat of justice together with New Castle, of New Castle Co, DE, situated between Christiana Creek and Brandywine river, two miles from the entrance of the latter into the Delaware, 28 miles southwest of Philadelphia, and 70 miles northeast of Baltimore.  The ground on which it is built rises from the river to an elevation of 112 feet, and offers a pleasant prospect of the neighboring scenery.  The streets are broad and rectangular, and the houses, generally of brick, are many of them costly and beautiful.  Wilmington has the usual number of public buildings, but the most interesting are the flour mills, to which it owes its celebrity.  These are situated near the falls of the Brandywine, not far from the town, and afford an extensive water power.  To this point, vessels ascend drawing eight feet of water, those of fourteen feet draught navigating both streams to the city.  The Christiana admits vessels of eight feet draught, eight miles further up.  A large number of ships anchor at Wilmington, receiving and exporting the produce of the mills and manufactories in its vicinity; others are employed in the whale fishery.  Each of the streams are crossed by bridges, and the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore railroad communicates with this city.  Five miles from Wilmington are the Brandywine chalybeate springs, the salubrious waters of which contribute much to the health and recreation of the visitors.

The population in 1810 was 4,416; in 1820 was 5,268; in 1830 was 6,628; in 1840 was 8,367 and in 1850 was 13,979

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