Friday, March 11, 2011
A Delaware Treasure Story
In the summer of 1932, two men in a black Ford panel truck drove up to the gas station in the small town of Millsboro, Delaware, and when Jimmy Butler, the attendant, came out and walked over to the car, he heard that welcome comment of fill er up.
While Jimmy was polishing the windshield and wiping off the headlights the two men alighted and engaged Jimmy in conversation. They especially sounded interested in whether Jimmy was familiar with the surrounding area. When Jimmy replied that he figured he knew just about every foot of ground and every person within ten miles, they were delighted and inquired as to when Jimmy was not at work at the gas station. Jimmy replied that the station was closed on Sundays and that that was the only day he was on his own. The men asked if Jimmy would like to help them on Sundays and mentioned that the pay for each day worked would be $5.00. Jimmy quickly agreed, as he was only receiving $6.00 for a six-day week at the station.
The men then inquired as to where they might rent a room for a couple of weeks. To this query Jimmy mentioned that his mom would be glad to rent out the spare room in their house and to clinch the deal he told them what a good cook his mom was. Jimmy gave them directions to his house, and they soon were off in that direction.
When Jimmy arrived home from work that evening he again saw the two men, who now took the time to introduce themselves formally, as Thomas Jefferson and Barrister Morriss from Richmond, Virginia. After the usual comment about Toms name, they all sat down to dinner, during which Tom again reminded Jimmy that they wished to get an early start on the following morning, which was Sunday. And Jimmy replied that he was always awake before the cock could crow.
The next morning found them cramped together in the front seat of the little truck long before the sun was up and heading east on the dirt road that led toward the nearby Indian River. Jimmy had mentioned that he knew of a place where a mammoth oak tree grew by itself on the edge of a large meadow, and the men were excited about the prospect that they might have found the exact tree they were seeking, on the very first day. Jimmy was confused by what was occurring, but since he was but a path finder he kept quiet and just waited to see what developed. When they arrived at the tree that Jimmy had referred to, they all jumped out and the two men began circling the tree and examining the trunk Tom suddenly exclaimed, Hey, Bar, look at this, as he pointed to a strange looking lump about six feet up on the trunk. They all looked at the growth and agreed that it had been caused by someone cutting a diamond-shaped mark into the bark at some time long ago.
Bar returned to the truck and dug into a satchel behind the front seat. He pulled out what appeared to be a brass tube which he quickly uncorked and from it extracted what looked like a brown sheet of paper that had been rolled to fit the container. He flattened the sheet out on the hood of the truck, and as Jimmy peeked around the two studious men, he could see that it had markings and wording on it. This was exciting to Jimmy, and he could not help blurting out the question, Is that a treasure map? They replied that indeed it was and now that he had found out, he must keep it a secret from anyone else. If he proved true and honest, there would be a reward of some of the treasure for him. At this time, they seemed supremely confident that the day would not pass before they would be able to recover the treasure they sought.
Bar took out a big compass and stood by the old tree. In the meantime, Tom had pulled a couple of surveying rods out of the truck and sent Jimmy out into the pasture about two hundred yards with one rod while he took up a position with the other rod about half that distance from the tree. By hand waving into position they soon had both rods in a line plumb to the north of the tree. Bar then began pacing off and counting until he had passed Tom and was almost at Jimmys position. He marked the position by pounding a stick into the ground where he had counted off 199 paces to the north. They proceeded to mark off 66 paces due east and then another 33 paces due north. When this position was arrived at, they marked it with another stake and began the search for what the map said they must find: a large stone cannonball. Jimmy had always thought cannonballs were made of iron, but both men replied that there many of stone, too, and since that is what the map says, this is what they must seek. Sad to report, but they had no success that first day.
Tom and Bar stayed the remainder of the summer and never missed a day in their search, with Jimmy helping every Sunday. They retraced their measures, they expanded the scope of their search area, and still they were unable to find the stone cannonball. But in the soft moist soil that is usually found in a pasture it had probably sunk well under the surface, and no doubt the lost treasure had also descended somewhat.
Jimmy had several chances to examine the old map, and he stated that the treasure was described as being six feet below the cannonball and composed of one chest of gold coins from India, a second containing Chinese gold, the third being filled with jewels and jewelry and the final chest containing both raw and cut diamonds. This is indeed a considerable treasure even if the chests be of small size. Jimmy was forever asking the men who it was that had buried the treasure, and they always answered in the same manner, Youve heard of Captain Kidd, havent you? This was not what he wanted to know, but that was the extent of the information he would ever receive.
Jimmy alertly brought out a simple statement that was to be found near the very bottom of the map. The short notation there reads, Span Equals Pace. The men agreed that it had seemed strange to them since there was no other notation to indicate that the length of a span was different than the normally accepted pace. And the inclusion of such a note would be superfluous if the two terms were interchangeable. But since they never did find the treasure or the cannonball, we must consider the possibility that the work span means something other than in linear measurement. If it means a shorter or longer measure than a normal pace then the treasure might well be much closer or at a greater distance from the old tree than the two men assumed. This might have been a method to ensure that the wrong person would be unable to follow the map to the correct location. The reference at the very end of the listing of the contents of the vault might have been a subtle reminder to one who had been advised of the key to the instructions.
Sussex County Council Open Letter
There has been a flurry of speculation recently about the role of the Sussex County sheriff and his relationship with the County Council. As president of Council, I believe it’s necessary for me to offer a response in hopes it will clear the record and lay the groundwork for an open, productive dialogue about the future of our County sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Jeffrey Christopher is scheduled to appear before Council on Tuesday, March 15, to give an update on his goals as the newly elected sheriff and his office’s recent activities. Members of Council welcome Mr. Christopher, as we look forward to an informative session.
As many of our citizens know, the sheriff in Sussex County is a Constitutional row office. The sheriff is elected by the people, and has historically worked as an officer of the courts, overseeing foreclosure proceedings, conducting tax sales and serving legal documents, among other duties. The office is part of the overall County government.
Meantime, the County Council is the elected legislative body of the county and responsible for a number of responsibilities, from providing services such as land use and paramedics to sewer service and libraries. Council also levies and collects taxes, and adopts an annual budget.
While the sheriff and Council are elected independently of each other, each must work together to put forth and approve a budget that ensures the efficient operations of the sheriff’s office.
Many in the community are looking forward to the upcoming sheriff’s report. Some, though, are looking for much more – a conflict over Constitutional powers and authority. I, for one, have no interest in seeing that happen.
It is refreshing to have an engaged and energetic citizenry here in Sussex County. I applaud that. What I would ask is that everyone take a step back for the moment and wait for the dialogue to begin before drawing any conclusions. County Council is eager to hear from our new sheriff and his plans for the office the people elected him to serve in.
Please join us to listen in on the sheriff’s report at the next meeting of County Council at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 15, in Georgetown. We hope to see you then.
Michael Vincent, President
Sussex County Council
Giving Back To The Community
Delmar Girls Baksetball Players presenting a check to Women Supporting Women for $555.00 for the Hoops For A Cure fundraiser they had in February. The girls collected pledges per points in three games and collected doantions to help in the fight angainst breast cancer. Great job to the coaches and ladies!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Traditional Plain Clothing
Of course the question is who is it aimed at? I wouldn't think traditional Amish would be using the internet - maybe Mennonites or other modest Christians.
Free At Last - Well Almost
Folio 258 Manumission 03/17/1806
William Rodney, Jr. for diverse good causes, discharges his Negroes: “Simon” “Jacob” and “Sucky” from all manner of service due to Rodney, his heirs, etc – reserving to him and his heirs the service of “Simon” until the 21st of September 1812, the service of “Jacob” until the 21st of September 1813. And of “Sucky” until the 21st of September 1821 and her increase –males until they arrive at the age of 25 and females until they arrive at the age of 21.
Folio 253 Manumission 03/02/1806
Horatio Collins, being now the sole owner and having all the rights and property of a Negro woman “Sarah” age 33 years old or thereabouts do for good reasons after one year next ensuing do manumit, liberate, and fully set free Negro “Sarah Collins”.
Folio 254 Manumission 11/20/1804
Horatio Collins being conscious that the holding of “My fellow man” in bondage is contrary to the will of God and the inalienable right of mankind, therefor manumit and set free Negros when they arrive at the age of 28 “Jacob: born 7th of December 1785, “Moses” born 7th of February 1797, “Bill” who was born 15th of April 1800, and “Lydia” who was born 4th June 1803 with all her increase forever when they arrive at the age foresaid.
Folio 246 Manumission 1/23/1805
Isaac Beauchamp, Esq of Cedar Creek Hundred manumits, emancipates, liberates, and set free the following Negro being the slave of the said Beachamp being “Peter” and to be free after he serves 4 years from the date of these presents the said “Peter” being now between the age of 34 and 35.
Folio 246 Manumission 2/04/1806
Robert Barr for diverse consideration and good cause does manumit and free Negroes “Jeremiah”, “Jean”, and “Edward” in the following manner, that the Negro boy “Jeremiah” born the 10th of April 1788 is to be free when he arrives at the age of 25, “Jane” born the 25th of April 1790 to be free at the age of 21 and “Edward” born the 15th of August 1799 is to be free when he arrives at age 21.
Folio 247 Manumission 3/04/1806
Bagwill Barker sets free and manumits his Negroes as follow: “Cutler” is to serve 25 years from the date of this presents, “Amea” to serve for 26 years from the date of these presents and then to be free.
As you can see although slaves were set free it was rare for them to be set free immediately. In some cases it was due to their youth and they had to reach adulthood. In other cases the owner wanted to receive a few more years of service for his investment. A third reason was the church. Early on the Methodists voted to expel members who bought and sold slaves but they decided to give slaveholders a year to free their slaves on penalty of expulsion. One method the owners used to semi-get around this was to set the slave free after a number of years (25 or so additional years). This allowed them to stay in the church, retain the slave, and meet the requirement of setting them free.
The above Manumissions are from the abstractions of Leslie and Neil Kedde from
Sussex County Delaware land Deeds - Deed Record Volume AB (Folios 153-526) 1805-1807
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
William Hitch In The News Again
Pi Day Just Around The Corner
Some math teachers in other schools actually make it an event by singing Pi day songs and playing various Pi Day games in homage to 3.14159....
What kind of an exciting day are the math teachers at Delmar High Planning?
Gloucester Virginia and their Constitutional Rights
The matter began in January, 2008, at the first meeting of a newly constituted County Board of Supervisors. The new majority voting bloc dismissed the county administrator and replaced him with an interim administrator later revealed to be a friend of the board’s chairwoman.
The county attorney was also fired at the first meeting though he and the administrator had already tendered their resignations. The vote had come after a closed meeting added at the last minute to the board's agenda.
Questions surfaced over whether the new majority had met before the meeting to plan the hiring and firings. State open-government law prohibits the meeting of three or more supervisors unless the public is notified.
They were indicted in July 2008 by a grand jury on misdemeanors that accused them of conducting public business in secret. The residents then gathered the signatures on petitions seeking to remove them from office.
The criminal charges against Supervisors Teresa Altemus and Michelle Ressler and newly elected Supervisors Robert Crewe and Woodard were eventually dismissed at the request of a special prosecutor who said too little evidence was available to pursue prosecution.
A special prosecutor was brought in to handle the petitions but they were also tossed out of court at the prosecutor’s request because of technical flaws.
The supervisors’ lawyers asked the judge to order both the county -- under a provision of Virginia law designed to protect elected officials from legal fees in frivolous matters – and the petitioners to pay their legal fees.
On Dec. 17, 2008, substitute Judge Westbrook J. Parker, saying the petitions were politically motivated and an abuse of the court system, levied a $2,000 sanction against each of the 40 petitioners.
Legal experts from around Virginia and the country denounced the sanctions as a chilling effect on the right of citizens to pursue grievances against their election officials and a violation of constitutional rights.
The Virginia Supreme Court March 4th unanimously struck down a circuit court judge’s order fining 40 Gloucester County residents $2,000 each for gathering 6,000 signatures in a petition to remove four board of supervisors members.
The justices ruled that once a request to remove elected officials is filed in court, it is actually the state that becomes the petitioner and that neither the 40 residents nor their lawyers are subject to sanctions.
“Nothing in the (state) code or our jurisprudence supports the supervisors’ argument that the petitioners are parties to the removal action,” wrote the justices.
John Dunning and Mosby's Raiders
1863 John W. Dunning of Dover was a member of Mosby's Raiders, CSA, that captured a Union General in Fairfax, Virginia. Pulling the covers back and slapping the sleeping general on his bottom, they marched him off to Richmond's Libby Prison.
Above from the Delaware Archives
Birth: 1842 Death: 1937
John served as a Private with the 43rd Virginia Battalion, Co. "D", and was a member of Colonel, John Singleton Mosby's Rangers.
Private Dunning rode with Colonel Mosby, also known as the "Gray Ghost", and while behind Federal lines, assisted in capturing Brigadier General, Edwin H. Stoughton in March of 1863.
Private Dunning was surrendered with his Company April 21st, 1865 - twelve days after the surrender of General Lee, on April 9th, 1865.
Burial: at Lakeside Cemetery, Dover
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
The American Four Square In Delmar
Since the section of Delmar East of 5th street was developed in the first quarter of the 1900's that is where these houses flourish. The Four square was a popular design from the 1890's to the 1930's.
Most Four-Squares contain two and a half stories, making full use of narrow city lots. They frequently contain a large hip-roof front dormer illuminating an unfinished attic. The house roofs are almost always pyramidal, with the four equal slopes coming to a point in the center. A Four-Square house is square. The height of the front facade should be the same as its width. In its purest form, all four sides of the house are of equal dimension, forming a perfect cube.
Despite the style’s emphasis on geometrical regularity, the window and door treatment of the front first story is seldom symmetrical. The front door is usually placed off to the side to allow for the large living room window(s). Second story window placement is however nearly always symmetrical with two equal bedroom windows found on each side. Frequently if there is an attic dormer it is usually placed exactly in the center of the house span (but not always).
The interior plans of Four-Squares are as regular as the exteriors. Four square rooms were placed on the first floor and four on the second. Each room therefore became a corner room with two cross-ventilating windows found on the two outside walls. This was no small consideration in the days before air conditioning (or even electric fans). Usually with a four room plan, there were two on either side of a central staircase.
Susan Is Home
Blogging may be light this week as my daughter Susan and her Dorm roommate Elle is home for spring break
Monday, March 07, 2011
Cleanup after the protesters
Photo and bits of post picked up From an Associated Press article.
It seems all these Union Bill protest posters, banners, and signs the people in Wisconsin have been flashing around and left here and there in the state capital will be photographed and some preserved by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The signs, banners and papers taped to the walls of the Wisconsin Capitol these last three weeks to protest a union bill have been removed -- but most may be preserved and some may end up at the Smithsonian.
The Wisconsin state Department of Administration says the signs will be evaluated for historical content by both the Smithsonian and the historical society.
There will also be a process for returning signs to people who want them back.
The state thinks it will cost about $350,000 to clean up the mess made by the protesters.
So how much is it going to cost the rest of us to preserve these signs in the Smithsonian?
Reminds me of the February 5,1979 Tractorcade where 6,000 family farmers drove their tractors to Washington D.C. to protest American farm policy. Than camped out of the capital mall and drove their tractors around in the reflecting pool, up the steps of the Capitol and there was incidents of property destruction and personal intimidation. I have no idea the cost of cleaning that up but I am sure I helped pay for it.
I understand another tractorcade is planned for Wisconsin. I am not sure what they are protesting, particularly with the price of gas what it is, but someway or another I will be helping to foot the cost for that cleanup also.
From the book "Liberty" by Garrison Keillor