Hebron Methodist Church outside Georgetown added to the National Register of Historic Places

June 25th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

On May, 18, 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification from the National Park Service that the Hebron Methodist Protestant Church and Cemetery, located at 18282 Seashore Highway west of Georgetown, Del., has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the United States government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation.

Hebron Methodist Protestant Church and Cemetery

Hebron Methodist Protestant Church and Cemetery

Constructed in 1888 in the vernacular Greek Revival style, Hebron is one of nine Methodist Protestant churches constructed in rural Sussex County, Del. between 1870 and 1888. The church’s history parallels the development, evolution and popularity of Methodism in southern Delaware during the 19th century. Unlike other Methodist churches which began consolidating first in 1939 as the “Methodist Church” and ultimately as the United Methodist Church in 1968, Hebron chose to remain independent under the governance of its own board of trustees.

Although Hebron ceased holding regular worship services in 1934, its trustees continue to develop special services, supervise burial arrangements, develop plans for annual homecoming events and undertake initiatives ensuring the preservation and maintenance of the historic structure.

Overall, Hebron Church retains a high level of historical integrity and is devoid of modern amenities such as heat, water and electricity. Noteworthy features of the exterior include the original door and window surrounds, multi-paned colored light transom above the front entrance, electroplated door hardware and porcelain door knobs, approximately 90% original clapboards and the original double-hung windows in the apse.

Interior of the Hebron Methodist Protestant Church.

Interior of the Hebron Methodist Protestant Church.

The building’s interior features original wainscoting which lines the walls and extends up to the window-still level. Original diagonal and straight bead-board cover the remainder of the walls and ceiling, respectively. Hebron’s unusual paneled interior is the only-known example of its kind in Sussex County. Traditionally, the interiors of rural Methodist churches were lathed, plastered and painted. Additional interior features include the original communion rail, pulpit, pews and pine flooring in the raised pulpit area.

 

 

Delaware Department of Transportation seeks applicants for archaeologist position

June 24th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

The Delaware Department of Transportation is currently seeking applicants for an archaeologist position in its Environmental Studies section. The application deadline for the position is July 15, 2015.

For application information, go to the following job posting.

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Milford Century Club re-opens after repairing damage caused by Hurricane Sandy

June 24th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

In a grand-re-opening ceremony on June 12, 2015, the Milford Century Club welcomed guests to its refurbished home at 18 N. Church St. in Milford, Del. Tim Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, and representatives of the National Park Service, were on-hand for the ceremony which was hosted by Dave and Dawn Kenton of the Milford Century Club, LLC.

Exterior of the Milford Century Club after repairs and repainting.

Exterior of the Milford Century Club after repairs and repainting.

Built in 1885 as a schoolhouse for the Classical Academy and sold to the Milford New Century Club in 1905, the building was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Noted for its architectural features and for its long-standing use as a community center, the structure was severely damaged in October 2012 as a result of high wind, wind-driven rain and rising water from Hurricane Sandy.

Attendees at the grand re-opening ceremony for the Milford Century Club. From left: Isabella Kott, National Park Service (NPS) intern;  Seth Tinkham, NPS staff; Joan Larrivee, Hurricane Sandy grant manager for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs (HCA); Dave Kenton; HCA director Tim Slavin; Dawn Kenton; and Jenifer Eggleston, NPS staff.

Attendees at the grand re-opening ceremony for the Milford Century Club. From left: Isabella Kott, National Park Service (NPS) intern; Seth Tinkham, NPS staff; Joan Larrivee, Hurricane Sandy grant manager for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs (HCA); Dave Kenton; HCA director Tim Slavin; Dawn Kenton; and Jenifer Eggleston, NPS staff.

Repairs to the property included replacement of the heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system, replacement of the roof, exterior painting and associated interior and exterior repairs. These repairs will allow the Milford Century Club to again be used year-round for civic projects and rental for local events.

Funding for the repairs was provided, in part, by a $60,000 grant from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grants for Historic Properties program, a component of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. As part of the act, $50 million was appropriated to the National Park Service to cover the costs of preserving and/or rehabilitating historic properties damaged by the storm. Subsequently, the Park Service allocated $1 million for Delaware’s component of the program which is administered by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. The purpose of the program is to help return damaged historic properties to useful condition, preserving the state’s cultural heritage for future generations.

For a press account of the re-opening ceremony, go to the following:

Milford New Century Club Rededicated
Milford LIVE, Del.—June 23, 2015

 

Take a seaside vacation—and see where Delaware’s modern history began

June 18th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

In addition to the cleanest beach-water in the nation, a wealth of dining options, arts and entertainment activities, recreational opportunities, natural areas, state parks, night life and tax-free shopping, Delaware’s Atlantic Ocean resorts offer a wide variety of historical attractions including the site of Delaware’s first European settlement.

Stanley M. Arthurs, “Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swaanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631.” Courtesy, University Museums, University of Delaware. Gift of H. Rodney Sharp.

Stanley M. Arthurs, “Landing of the DeVries Colony at Swaanendael, Lewes, Delaware 1631.” Courtesy, University Museums, University of Delaware. Gift of H. Rodney Sharp.

On Dec. 12, 1630, Capt. Peter Heyes and a group of 28 men sailing in the Walvis (Whale) departed from the city of Hoorn in Holland with the goal of building a whale-hunting station and agricultural settlement at the mouth of the South River (now the Delaware). The river, claimed for the Dutch by Henry Hudson in 1609, formed the southern boundary of the colony of New Netherland.

The Walvis reached the South River in 1631 and a settlement site was identified along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal). Naming their settlement Swanendael (Valley of the Swans), the colonists constructed a palisade, dormitory and cook house. Although none of the original structures remain, the settlement site is marked by a commemorative monument located on Pilottown Road in present day Lewes. The monument is named for David Pieterszoon de Vries who, operating from his offices in Holland, served as the general administrator of the colony.

Text from the de Vries monument in Lewes, Del.

Text from the de Vries monument in Lewes, Del.

Leaving Swanendael under the command of Gillis Hossitt, the Walvis returned to Holland where preparations were underway for a second expedition to transport additional settlers and supplies to the colony. Before the expedition could get under way, however, de Vries was notified that all the colonists at Swanendael had been killed and the buildings destroyed as a result of a cultural misunderstanding between the Dutch and Native people in the area.

On May 24, 1632, de Vries himself, along with 50 men, sailed from Holland aboard the Walvis and the Teencoorntgen (Little Squirrel), reaching the burned settlement on Dec. 5, 1632. Due to continuing tensions with the Native people and a lackluster whaling harvest, the Dutch abandoned the settlement on April 14, 1633.

Although the Swanendael settlement lasted less than two years, the claiming of the territory fostered the eventual Dutch resettlement of the lower Delaware Valley until 1664 when all of New Netherland was captured by the English. It also set the stage for Delaware’s existence as an independent political entity by providing the legal basis for resolving the  dispute between the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland over the ownership and subsequent division of the Delmarva peninsula.

Go to the following for more information on the Swanendael settlement.

Go to the following to read “Voyages from Holland to America,” the journal of David Pieterszoon de Vries.

Go to the Zwaanendael Museum website.

Go to the following for information on other historic sites located near Delaware’s beaches.

Current division-sponsored displays

June 15th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

In addition to sponsoring exhibits and special programs at sites across Delaware, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs creates displays that accent different aspects of history and culture. Less formal than exhibits, these displays provide a compliment to the primary activities available at museums, historic sites, libraries, government buildings, visitor centers and other public places.

Model of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak. The replica is part of the display “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past”

Model of His Majesty’s Sloop of War DeBraak. The replica is part of the display “Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past” at the Zwaanendael Museum.

Following is a listing of division-sponsored displays that are currently on-view at sites across Delaware:

Ongoing
“Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-744-5055.

Utilizing graphics, clothing and memorabilia from the collections of the state of Delaware, the display explores how Delawareans expressed their deep sorrow upon the death of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. The object was on-board Lincoln’s funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. It is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” at The Old State House.

Carved slate featuring a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. The object was on-board Lincoln’s funeral train that left Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1865 bound for Springfield, Ill. It is part of the display “Delaware Mourns Lincoln: A Demonstration of Love and Sorrow” at The Old State House.

 Ongoing
“Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past.”
Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Tue.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1:30–4:30 p.m. from April 1–Oct. 31. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. from Nov. 1–March 31. Free admission. 302-645-1148.

Display explores His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Items on view include a photo of the salvage of DeBraak’s hull, reproductions of artifacts from the ship and a model of the vessel.

“Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past” display featuring artifacts from the shipwreck of the DeBraak and a model of the vessel.

“Discovering Delaware’s Maritime Past” display featuring artifacts from the shipwreck of the DeBraak and a model of the vessel.

Ongoing
Sculpture by Charles Parks
New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Wed.–Sat., 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Free admission. 302-323-4453.

The display features depictions of noted historical and political figures including a Minute Man, and presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. The works compliment the familiar statue of William Penn, also created by Parks, which stands in front of the Arsenal building on Market Street in New Castle.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Bust of Richard Nixon by Charles Parks. The work is currently on-display at the New Castle Court House Museum.

Over the course of a prolific 50-plus-year career, Charles Parks created more than 500 sculptures for individuals, public parks and plazas throughout Delaware and across the United States. His numerous honors and awards include a Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts from the state of Delaware (1973), the Watrous Gold Medal from the National Academy of Design, the Meiselman Prize for Classical Sculpture from the National Sculpture Society, the Gold Medal from the National Sculpture Society Annual Exhibition and the Tiffany Foundation Award for Creative Sculpture. In 2011, Parks and his wife donated more than 300 of the sculptor’s works to the state of Delaware including bronzes, plasters, woodworks and over 250 fiberglass works ranging in size from eight inches to nine feet from various periods in Parks’ career.

Ongoing
“World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis”
Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave., Dover. Limited visitation hours; call 302-739-9194 before planning a visit. Free admission.

On view over the course of a year, the display will be presented in three succeeding segments, each featuring a different selection of images from The William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection. The Willis collection includes more than 600 photographs taken by the Dover, Del. native and his colleagues during military service in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 including images of crash scenes and battle-damaged military aircraft, photos of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and aerial views of villages in Normandy, France. Willis also photographed the daily procedures of base life as well as United Service Organizations (USO) shows featuring celebrities such as Jack Benny and Ingrid Bergman and a concert by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. This large photographic collection, of which only approximately 20 images will be featured in each segment of the display, surfaced after Willis’ death and was brought to the division’s attention which accepted it into the permanent collections of the state of Delaware in 2012.

Photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. The image is part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Dover’s Legislative Hall.

Photograph of two P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft. The image is part of the display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis” at Dover’s Legislative Hall.

William D. Willis was born on June 14, 1919 in Dover, Del. After graduating from Dover High School in 1939, he worked as a mechanic in an automobile-repair shop in his home town. On May 16, 1941, he entered active duty in the U.S. Army where he received training in Army Air Forces motor mechanics at Fort Devens, Mass. Pfc. Willis served as a mechanic for a year after completing his training and was then transferred to the position of photographic technician with the 9th Photo Technician Unit, taking and developing pictures and handling various phases of laboratory work pertaining to negative processing. He departed for the European Theater of Operations on Aug. 9, 1943 and served there until Sept. 26, 1945. For most of his service, he was attached to the 20th Fighter Group at Kings Cliffe, England.

Division to sponsor 12 special events during July 2015

June 15th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will be sponsoring 12 special events during the month of July 2015 at the museums of the state of Delaware. A full schedule is included below. With the exception of DeBraak tours, all programs are free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-744-5055.

Historical interpreters will recite the Declaration of Independence from the steps of Dover’s Old State House on July 4, 2015.

Historical interpreters will recite the Declaration of Independence from the steps of Dover’s Old State House on July 4, 2015.

Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs special events, July 2015

Wednesdays, July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2015
“Watercolor Wednesdays.” Explore the hues of the John Dickinson mansion, learn about 18th-century paint colors and paint a scene. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

Saturday, July 4, 2015
Independence Day program. Screenings at 11 a.m., 1 and 5 p.m. of “Thunder and Rain,” a film about Caesar Rodney’s historic ride for independence. At 2 and 4 p.m., the bell of The Old State House will ring in celebration of the nation’s birthday, followed immediately by site interpreters, dressed in period clothing, who will recite the Declaration of Independence aloud from the spot where the document was first read to the citizens of Dover in 1776. First Saturday in the First State program. The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover. Museum open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Saturday, July 4, 2015
“Stars and Stripes.” Guided tours explore some of Victor Records’ many recordings of patriotic music played on authentic Victor Talking Machines. First Saturday in the First State program. Johnson Victrola Museum, 375 S. New St., Dover. 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 302-744-5055.

Display of Victor Talking Machines at the Johnson Victrola Museum. Patriotic music will be featured at the museum on July 4, 2015.

Display of Victor Talking Machines at the Johnson Victrola Museum. Patriotic music will be featured at the museum on July 4, 2015.

Mondays, July 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2015
Lecture/tours of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak. Explore the history of the DeBraak which was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Program includes a trip to the hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for a tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull. Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes. Programs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Limited seating. Admission $10 by reservation only through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “Tours” link). For additional information, call 302-645-1148.

Saturday, July 11, 2015
Demonstrations by the Thistledown Fiber Arts Guild. Program explores spinning, weaving, knitting and other fabric arts. John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover. Program 1–3 p.m. Museum open 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. 302-739-3277.

 

“Painting Party @ The Pole Shed” to take place at Buena Vista on June 23, 2015

June 12th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

One of Delaware’s most historic estates will host a painting party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. The event will take place in the pole shed of the Buena Vista Conference Center located at 661 S. Dupont Highway (Route 13), in New Castle, Del. Tickets for the event are $39 and are available in advance only at the Painting Parties, LLC website. No tickets will be sold at the door. For additional information, call 302-323-4430.

“Peaceful Path.” Guests will create their own version of the painting at the “Painting Party @ The Pole Shed” event on June 23, 2015.

“Peaceful Path.” Guests will create their own version of the painting at the “Painting Party @ The Pole Shed” event on June 23, 2015.

“Painting Party @ The Pole Shed” will feature a professional artist from Painting Parties, LLC who will provide guests with step-by-step instruction in creating their own versions of the painting “Peaceful Path.” Participants will then be able to take their paintings home with them.

No art experience is necessary for the painting party and all supplies will be provided including paints, brushes, canvases, aprons and easels. The only thing that visitors need to bring is a fun attitude! In addition to art instruction, guests will be treated to a wide variety of passed appetizers, desserts and soft drinks provided by Newark’s Caffé Gelato. A cash bar will be available for beer and wine.

The Buena Vista pole shed.

The Buena Vista pole shed.

The main section of the Buena Vista mansion was built between 1845 and 1847 by John M. Clayton, United States secretary of state from 1849 to 1850 under presidents Taylor and Fillmore, and United States senator from 1829 to 1836, 1845 to 1849, and 1853 until his death in 1856. The home later became the residence of C. Douglass Buck, governor of Delaware from 1929 to 1937 and United States senator from 1942 to 1948. Buena Vista and its grounds were donated to the state by the Buck family in 1965 and now serve as a conference center administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

Mansion house at Buena Vista.

 

Allen McLane, Intelligence Officer and Spy

June 11th, 2015 Jim Yurasek

By Tom Welch, historic-site interpreter, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

[Editor’s note: Allen McLane (1746-1829) of Duck Creek Crossroads (now Smyrna, Del.) was a hero of the American Revolution, speaker of the state House of Representatives and delegate at Delaware’s Constitution Ratification Convention.]

After a series of overwhelming defeats by British forces, Gen. George Washington realized that he needed much better intelligence in order for the Continental Army to avoid more embarrassing defeats such as the battles of Long Island, Brandywine and others. Intelligence regarding the enemy’s strength, location and movements was a missing component.

Ethel P.B. Leach, portrait of Allen McLane, 1942. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

Ethel P.B. Leach, portrait of Allen McLane, 1942. From the collections of the state of Delaware.

Washington knew that he needed dependable sources of military information regarding personnel, number of artillery, leadership and when possible, advance information about the enemy’s plans. He needed to recruit persons with proven abilities to help gather this information and get that data back to command headquarters as quickly as possible.

After observing Allen McLane’s bravery and outstanding performance on the battlefield, especially at Long Island and Princeton, Washington handpicked McLane and promoted him to captain. After McLane journeyed to his home area of Duck Creek Crossroads where he recruited 98 persons for his new company, Washington designated his unit as a light horse cavalry company. His instructions always included the directive to observe the enemy as closely as possible, to harass them and to report back to the commander as often and quickly as possible. From early 1777 until 1782 this was McLane’s main charge.

James Peale, “The Ambush of Captain Allan McLane,” 1803. From the collections of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

James Peale, “The Ambush of Captain Allan McLane,” 1803. From the collections of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

McLane’s responsibilities grew as his performance sparkled. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, he set up a spy network in the city and traveled there in disguise to gather first-hand intelligence.

Here are two other well-documented intelligence-gathering assignments that deserve noting:

Immediately after the British vacated Philadelphia in June 1778, Washington needed intelligence on the enemy’s strength and disposition. Were they going on through New Jersey to New York, or were they going to double back and surprise the American army as they dismantled the Valley Forge camp and headed east into Philadelphia? Washington wanted to attack the British if they headed toward New York. In a war council, only three of 20 generals supported his proposal to attack. Needing pertinent military intelligence, he chose McLane for this major responsibility. McLane donned a disguise as a farmer and loaded with produce, chickens and eggs, he and another officer wandered close to the British encampment at the Haddon Field in New Jersey where they were challenged by sentries but then admitted into the camp. They were taken to meet with a dapper young British officer, Capt. John Andre (two years later caught and hanged in the plot by Benedict Arnold to turn over West Point to the British). We do not know the nature of the intelligence gathered by McLane in that spying episode, but just a few days later, Washington did order the successful attack on the British at Monmouth Courthouse.

A year later, Washington felt that the support of the press, fellow generals, Congress and the general population had faltered, and was convinced that a victory was necessary to revive the morale of the military and civilian population. He asked Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne to propose a target. Stony Point Fort, having recently been taken by the British, was selected. Needing intelligence to prepare for a successful attack, McLane was chosen for the task. Disguising himself as a country bumpkin and a member of the local militia, he accompanied a mother into the fort under a flag of truce as she was there to see her two sons working for the British. While there, McLane gathered information on the number of troops, artillery, trenches, etc. From his report, a battle plan was put together that took the fort in a bayonet-only charge in only 25 minutes. The result that Washington was seeking was achieved. Congress, the press and the public all applauded and crowned Wayne a “national hero.” McLane remained in the shadows. Although his achievements have been often overlooked by historians, one place that has duly noted his prowess is the CIA, which refers to his Stoney Point mission in an article on Intelligence Techniques—Disguise.

Tom Welch portraying Allen McLane.

Tom Welch portraying Allen McLane.

Tom Welch has served as a historical interpreter for the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since 2007 after a successful 27-year career as an administrator at Wesley College in Dover. His interest in Allen McLane began in 2008 when he was asked to portray the Revolutionary War hero as part of a proposed Delaware Day living-history performance. After discovering how little was popularly known about this worthy Delawarean, he began a personal campaign to learn as much as he could about McLane, and to share his knowledge with visitors to Delaware’s state capital. Since then, Welch has portrayed McLane on numerous occasions at events throughout Delaware and the region.

On a Wing and a Prayer: The Use of Military Glider Aircraft in World War II

June 3rd, 2015 Jim Yurasek

By Carolyn Apple, retired Dover-area emergency medicine physician and Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs volunteer.

Did you know that the United States military used stealth aircraft during World War II? Though most of us think of stealth aircraft coming into use by our military in the late 20th century, the U.S. Army Air Force used gliders during World War II to silently land and surprise the enemy.

Photograph of a C-47 transport aircraft towing a Waco glider.

Photograph of a C-47 transport aircraft towing a Waco glider.

In organizing and designing the current display “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis,” I discovered the photo documentation of military gliders in the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection, one of the permanent collections preserved by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Because some staff members had not heard of these aircraft and were intrigued to learn more, I was compelled to do more research.

What were gliders? They were lightweight engineless aircraft that were used to transport a group of 13 to 28 infantry troops and heavy equipment into enemy controlled areas without detection. Built to be disposable and for one way missions, the glider’s outer body and wings were made of plywood covered with fabric and the infrastructure was aluminum framing for some larger models which added strength and stability to carry heavy equipment and military vehicles.

It took incredible skill and much courage to fly a military glider. These special aircraft were airlifted by the use of a cable connection to military transport planes such as the C-47 Skytrain or Dakota, or sometimes by bomber planes that were not assigned to a bombing mission, and then released near the designated enemy target. It is hard to imagine how pilots managed to guide these aircraft. Without engines, the gliders had little ability to change course to avoid obstacles or harsh terrain. The goal was to land the gliders, without significant damage to the cargo or crew, in open terrain that was close enough to the enemy. Unfortunately, glider pilots were killed at a higher rate during both training and assigned missions. The gliders would often be destroyed during landing.

Photograph of two C-47 transport aircraft.

Photograph of two C-47 transport aircraft.

The images shown are from the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection. Mr. Willis of Dover, Del. served as a photographic technician with the Army Air Force during the Second World War. The current display, “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis,” is on view in an exhibit case on the first floor of Legislative Hall located at 411 Legislative Ave. in Dover, Del. The display can be viewed any time Legislative Hall is open to the public.

We invite your comments on this blog or the display. Next time we will present additional information regarding the use of gliders during World War II.

National park interpretive signs unveiled on Dover Green

June 2nd, 2015 Jim Yurasek

In a ceremony on May 29, 2015 a group of dignitaries headed by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper unveiled two interpretive signs featuring historical information about The Green in Dover, Del. The Green is a component of the First State National Historical Park which spotlights the state’s early Dutch, Swedish and English settlements and its role in the events leading up to the founding of the United States as a nation.

First-grade students from Holy Cross School assist in the unveiling of interpretive signs on the Dover Green. In the background, from left are First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley, Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock and Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan.

First-grade students from Holy Cross School assist in the unveiling of interpretive signs on the Dover Green. In the background, from left are First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley, Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock and Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan.

During his comments, delivered to a large assemblage including a group of first-grade students from Dover’s Holy Cross School, Carper noted that while Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, it was the only state that did not have a national park when he and the other members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation began efforts to rectify that situation in 2001. Together with the work of countless Delawareans, their efforts came to fruition in 2013 when President Obama issued a proclamation establishing the First State National Monument. The expanded First State National Historical Park was officially established as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 which was signed by the president on Dec. 19, 2015.

Sen. Tom Carper speaking at the interpretive-sign unveiling ceremony. In the foreground are first-grade students from Holy Cross School. Seated in the rear are (from left) Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan, state Sen. Brian Bushweller, First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and Tim Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Sen. Tom Carper speaking at the interpretive-sign unveiling ceremony. In the foreground are first-grade students from Holy Cross School. Seated in the rear are (from left) Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan, state Sen. Brian Bushweller, First State National Historical Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and Tim Slavin, director of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.

Designated by William Penn in 1683, the Dover Green functioned for nearly 200 years as the city’s commercial and governmental center. It served as the site where the Declaration of Independence was read to the townspeople in 1776, and where a Continental regiment was mustered for service in the American Revolution. The Green was also home to a number of taverns and inns including the Golden Fleece Tavern where representatives from Delaware’s three counties ratified the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, becoming the first state to do so. The Green remains the historical heart of Dover and is the location of The Old State House, Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse.

First State National Historical Park interpretive sign on the Dover Green.

First State National Historical Park interpretive sign on the Dover Green.

First State National Historical Park interpretive sign on the Dover Green.

First State National Historical Park interpretive sign on the Dover Green.

For press accounts of the unveiling ceremony, go to the following:

First State National Park now visible in new signs
WDDE Radio, Dover, Del.—May 29, 2015

The First State National Park unveils some new educational signage
WDEL Radio, Wilmington, Del.—May 29, 2015