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Revised 27 December 2010

DELAWARE

In August of 1906, Henry Hudson, British sea captain and adventurer in the service of the Dutch West India Company visited the area of Delaware on his route to the Hudson River as he was in search of a northwest passage.  Between the period of 1614 and 1620, Captain Cornelius Hendricksen, another Dutch navigator, visited this area of America.  The information these sailors brought back to Holland led to the creation of the Dutch West India Company in 1620.  In 1629, the Dutch West India Company adopted a charter to grant land in the new world to feudal lords.  The following year, the company bought land adjoining the Delaware River and in 1631, David Pietersen de Vris established a camp on Lewes Beach.

Sweden, not to be outdone by the other European Rulers, encouraged the New Sweden Company by outfitting two boats, "The Kalmar Nyckel" and "Grip".  The Swedish arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, March of 1638, remained there for a period of about ten days, then continued on to Delaware.  They created settlements in the Wilmington area ad in the extreme north of the colony.  They were attacked by the Dutch at different times in the period of between 1651 and 1655, when the Swedes were routed from Fort Christina, named after the then twenty-one year old Queen Kristina, daughter of Gustaf Adolf, who lost his life on the battlefield at Lutzen, Germany in 1632.  The first Finnish colonists came to Delaware in 1656 aboard a Swedish Ship.   

The British forces took possession of the Delaware Colony and Amsterdam (which later became New York) and the Europeans then made their homes among the Swedes and the Dutch in Delaware.  This move brought the colonists closer together.

Most of the colonists came to the New World for religious or material or financial purposes.  Churches were often among the first buildings erected in the newly formed communities.  Each group brought its own group of religious leaders.  The Swedes brought their religious belief structures.  The Dutch settlers had in their companies priests of the Reformed church who served in chapels erected by their flocks.  Many of the Irish who came after 1698 and wished to practice the protestant faith, brought their leaders.  By 1730, many staunch Roman Catholics had established themselves in the northern part of Delaware, where the first Catholic chapel was built in 1772 on the Lancaster Pike, between Wilmington and Philadelphia.  A group of French Catholics joined them in 1789 seeking rescue from the West Indies uprisings.  This group had a major influence on the future financial development of the United States.  From Delaware, the settlers spread into Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.  

Delaware ratified the Constitution of the United States on 7 December 1787.  It became the first state in the Union.  although classified as a slave state, prior to the Civil War, it was on the side of the regular government.  

COUNTY FORMATIONS

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Deale 1682  Renamed Sussex
Kent 1682 St. Jones, Name Changed in 1682 Dover
New Castle 1673 Original County Wilmington
St. Jones 1682 Name Changed to Kent same year
Sussex 1682 Early 17th Century Horrekill District Georgetown
For books on Delaware History, visit the THE COUNTRY STORE.  Proceeds from sales of books through this link-over to Amazon.com will help to support this website.

DELAWARE HISTORY WEBLINKS

Delaware US GenWeb  Delaware Historical Society - Home Page
Jewish Historical Society of Delaware The Lewes Historical Society
Colonial Delaware Delaware History
Black Women in Delaware's History History of Delaware
First State Judiciary - Court of Chancery History The Ultimate Delaware - American History Information Guide and Reference
Delaware State History - SHG Resources Lenape Delaware History
Delaware - The States - The History Channel State of Delaware - Kids Page
State of Delaware - Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Delaware Indian Tribe History
Delaware- History and Museums Delaware, Timeline of State History 
Cemetery Registration-Delaware Slavery in Delaware