Hometown Tuesday ~ New Castle, Delaware

hometown tuesdayNew Castle Delaware was originally named Fort Casimir. It was founded in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, who was sent to provide the Dutch with the command of all river traffic. Because of its strategic location, ownership of the settlement was constantly changing. The flags of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain have all flown over New Castle.

Settled by Swedes in 1638, it has been called by no less than six names as Swedes,clapboard housing new castle Dutch or English took possession: Grape Vine Point, Sandhuken, Fort Casimir, Fort Trinity, New Amstel, and New Castle. This last being given by Sir Robert Carr when the British conquered the Dutch here in 1664. Most houses in New Amsterdam in 1664 were of wood with roofs thatched with the local reeds and they used clapboard siding. The houses were one story with a garret. Almost all buildings had their gable-end facing the street. The siding was generally horizontal clapboards.

leblanc_headerThe three counties which make up the state of Delaware were added to William Penn’s lands in America. In 1682, Penn came ashore at New Castle and took possession, but these counties, which were already well established, became dissatisfied with his rule. Proceeding to the Court House he was presented with “Turf and Twig, Water and Soyle” in token of his Proprietorship. The Court House in New Castle is the oldest one in the United States, and it is located in the center of a 12-mile circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware. It was the scene of many famous trials. In the Courtroom, there are two pillars on which the hands of criminals were placed while being branded with hot irons. The Common Farms, given under a Charter from William Penn in 1701 for use of inhabitants of New Castle, consisted of 1000 acres of fine farmland that adjoined town. In 1704, when he granted them a separate legislature, New Castle became the colonial capital of Delaware. The lively town also briefly served as the first state capital and continued as the county seat until the 1880s.

New Castle’s location made it an ideal transfer point for trips up and down the coast. logo delawareAs a result, New Castle was a thriving community throughout the 1700s and early 1800s. The courts and general assembly also attracted various judges, lawyers, and government officials who built handsome houses, many of which still remain.

William Dyer, my 7th great-grandfather, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 7, 1663. He married Joanna Chard on March 22, 1687. He moved to New Castle, Delaware after the marriage where they had 2 sons, John and Joseph. Joanna died in 1711 and William then married Mary Whitman on April 17, 1712. There were no children born to this union. William died in January 1714 at the age of 51. It is not known where he is buried as the Quakers that ruled this community did not believe in placing headstones or markers on graves.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Murderkill, Kent County, Delaware

hometown tuesdayMurderkill, Delaware is a beautiful place regardless of the name. When the first Dutch explorers first arrived in the region in 1629 they were amazed at what they found. There were great numbers of waterfowl and wild turkeys. Bears and deer were numerous so there was no shortage of meat. The soil here was naturally stronger than other locations and it produced quality grains in abundance. They quickly purchased the land from the Siconese Indians who lived in this area. Previously there had been a few settlers in this area but they were killed by the Indians.

According to “Names on the Land A Historical Account of Place names in theMurderkill map United States,” here is how the Murderkill got its name… remembering how the previous settlers had been treated at the settlement when they landed and traded with the Indians, they were determined to trust the Indians to come onto their stores ashore, and likewise aboard their sloop to imbibe in drinking and debauchery. They did this with the Indians until they were at last barbarously murdered, and so that place was christened with their blood and to this day is called the Murder-Kill, that is, Murderer’s Creek.”

County Donegal mapIn 1702 my 6x Great Grandfather, William Dill, who was born in 1701 in Correy Ballynastocker, Fannet, Donegal Co., Ireland arrived in Murderkill with his widowed father John Dill. Within a year his father married Sarah Linscott and they had 5 children, 4 sons, and 1 daughter. In 1722 William married Mary Early (1705-1782) and they had 6 sons and 3 daughters. William, along with his two younger brothers Abner and John Jr. were planters. William died on December 27, 1760.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday at the Cemetery ~ Thomas Divine ~ Big Creek Cemetery, Monroe Co, TN

pic TATCThis week’s cemetery is the Big Creek Cemetery situated in the Southeast corner of Tennessee and is located in Big Creek, Monroe County, Tennessee. Altogether there are 14 Divine’s buried here including Thomas Divine who was the first of the family to come to America settling in Delaware in 1765.

Thomas Divine was born in Dublin, Ireland on February 21, 1748. He is one of my brick walls, so I don’t know anything about his life in Ireland. 10 years after his arrival the Revolutionary War began and Thomas joined with the Patriots in the fight against the British. He was wounded but he continued in the service until the end of the war. He then returned to Kent, Delaware.

Big Creek

By 1781 he had met Jemima Dill and they married April 12, 1782. They had a total of 10 children, 4 of whom died shortly after their Original hsbirth. By the end of 1785, Thomas moved his growing family to Spartanburg, South Carolina. All but two of their children were born here including my 3x Great Grandmother, Margaret “Peggy” Divine. In 1820 he once again moved his family, this time to Big Creek, Tennessee. In 1834 Thomas donated land so the Big Creek Baptist Church could build their Church and for the adjoining cemetery. He died on June 20, 1840.

Back of replica

Thoas Divine HS

As you can see from the first photo (above right) the cemetery is very open with not much of a barrier to block out wind and no trees to filter out the suns damaging rays. Thomas’ headstone was quite faded from years in the elements (above left). In 1973 this old stone was removed because it was deteriorating. A replica was put In its place in 2003. In 2006 the newest stone (below) was placed near the replica and it gives information about Thomas and Jemima on the front and the 4 children who were born in South Carolina on the back.

Front of newest stoneBig stone back



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

52 Ancestors, Week #11 – Thomas Lee Divine – Luck of the Irish

Thomas Divine back tombstoneThomas Lee Divine is my maternal 4th Great Grandfather. He was born on February 21 1748 in Dublin, Ireland. At the age of 17 he made the decision to start a new life in America. He arrived in Kent County Delaware in 1765.  He soon found his new adopted country was in great turmoil, most of his fellow citizens wanted desperately to break away from England and begin a new, more Democratic Country.

Thomas Divine letter

When the Revolutionary War broke out Thomas enlisted as a private in the year seventeen hundred and seventy-six under Captain Gray in the Continental Line in Kent County in the State of Delaware and served for six years until shortly after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown and was then honorably discharged. He was in the Battle of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and he was at the siege of Yorktown. Thomas was wounded by a cannon-ball on the side of the left leg above the ankle in a skirmish with the British when they fired across a small lake or pond but he continued to fight and to serve once his wounds were healed.

In 1782 he married Miss Jemima Dill at the house of Esgr Calhoun that was located within one mile of Black swamp-causeway in the county of Kent and State of Delaware. They lost their first four children to miscarriages but went on to have 6 more children, 3 boys and 3 girls. Prior to 1790 Thomas moved his growing family to Spartanburg, South Carolina.

After moving to South Carolina on the waters of Pacolit River in the Greenville District, the house they were living in burned to the ground and they had to start all over again, building a new home and getting new furnishings. Over the next several years he expanded his lands and crops and provided a very good life for his family.

church_3_945_334_c1In 1825 Thomas moved his family to McMinn County Tennessee. In 1834 on land given by Thomas the Big Creek Baptist Church was constituted. He also furnished the land for the cemetery, which is up the hill from the church.

Thomas Divine tombstone

Thomas Divine died on the twentieth day of June, eighteen hundred and forty at the age of ninety years old.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.