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flag  History of Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Journey back in time to Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Visit Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Wilmington, Delaware, USA - Market Street looking North from Fourth Street Shopping District, Wilmington, Del.

Wilmington, New Castle, DE

Wilmington is built on the site of Fort Christina and the settlement Kristinehamn, the first Swedish settlement in North America.

There is MUCH more to discover about Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Read on!

Wilmington Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Market Street looking North from Fourth Street Shopping District, Wilmington, Del.
Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Market Street looking North from Fourth Street Shopping District, Wilmington, Del.
Court House
Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Court House
Hotel Rodney, Market St., Wilmington, Del.
Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Hotel Rodney, Market St., Wilmington, Del.

Discover Wilmington: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1638 - Swedes begin settlement in what is now Willmington, Delaware

The World Almanac of the U.S.A, by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, 1996
1698 - Among Delaware's many historic churches is Old Swedes Church and Hendrickson House Museum, in Wilmington, which has been in use since its completion in 1698. resources/ state-facts/ delaware.html
1802 - Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, a French immigrant, built the state's first gunpowder mill on Brandywine Creek near Wilmington in 1802. The Du Pont Company would eventually become the largest chemical company in the United States. resources/ state-facts/ delaware.html
Correspondence of the Pennsylvanian.
Gazette Office, April 14, 1847.
We regret to inform you of the terrible and heart-rending scene which occurred on the Brandywine, about 6 o'clock this morning.

About 5,000 pounds of powder, in the packing house and press room, at one of the Messrs. Du Pont's Powder Works, exploded in two successive shocks, killing eighteen persons and wounding one other.

The bodies were so torn to pieces that it was impossible to recognize them, and no other means existed of ascertaining who were lost and who saved, than by calling the roll (after ringing the bell) of those attached to that portion of the works. The silence which followed the calling of the unanswered names was the only evidence of the loss of the lives of those who has do often replied when they were called.
One man, who had his leg broken at a long distance from the scene of the occurrance, by being struck with a piece of timber, is the only one wounded who survived, as far as could be... Read MORE...

1854 - Wilmington
Wilmington, a city and port of entry of New Castle county, Delaware, is situated on Christiana creek, immediately above its junction with the Brandywine, 2 miles from the Delaware river, 28 miles S. W. from Philadelphia, 70 miles E. N. E. from Baltimore, and 108 from Washington. The Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore railroad passes through the place. The upper part of the city is built on the southern slope of a hill, the summit of which is about 110 feet above the tide level, and commands an extensive view of the Delaware river and of the city itself. Wilmington is regularly planned, with wide and straight streets, and is. generally well built of brick. The streets running parallel to the Christiana are numbered (commencing near the creek) First, Second, Third, &c. up to Fifteenth street. The principal thoroughfare of business is Market street, which extends from the Christiana to the Brandywine, rather more than a, mile, intersecting the other streets at right angles, and... Read MORE...

Philadelphia, Friday, Aug. 3.
Three of Gareshe's powder mills, near Wilmington, Del., exploded this morning, about 8 o'clock, with most disastrous consequences, six persons having been killed and five wounded.

Wilmington, Friday, Aug. 3.
The drying house of Gareshe's powder works at Eden Park, which exploded this morning, contained about one and a half tons of powder, and the force of the explosion was tremendous. The house had been in operation for forty years without accident, and was considered the safest house in the works. All the men connected with its operations were killed at once, being blown to atoms and found at various distances from 50 to 200 yards from the scene of the disaster.
The names of the persons killed are:
EUGENE PERIE, all three Frenchmen by birth, who were in the drying house when the explosion occurred.

A 14-year-old boy named JOHN PUGH, who was riding past, was also among the killed.

The explosion of the drying ...

1856 - Tornado
Considerable damage was done by the heavy wind. One half of the roof was blown off the public school house in Washington street, and other buildings partly unroofed. The roof on the southern side of Asbury M. E. Church, some twelve feet in breadth, was stripped off from the eaves to the comb; nearly sixty feet of the roof of the railroad bridge over the Brandywine was demolished, and other damage was done to chimnies [sic], fences &c. If the gale extended to the river and bay considerable damage must have been done to the shipping.
The Adams Sentinel
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
April 21, 1856
1879 - December 13 - 1st federal fish hatching steamer lauched (Wilmington Delaware)
Wilmington, Del., January 10. - Friday night's snow storm caused the most serious block on the railroad track here that has occurred for years, suspending travel for hours. About 7:45 yesterday morning the Wilmington & Northwestern train, which leaves for Reading, Pa., at eight o'clock, collided with two shifting engines that had been sent out from the station with snow shovels to clear the track. Both engines were running rapidly, and the Wilmington & Northern train was also under a good head of steam. Opposite the Hart and Hollingsworth Company's tracks the engine and train came together with a crash. The sweeping engines drove the pilot engine of the train into the baggage-car, telescoping the car for one-third of its length. The rear end of the car was torn into fragments, the cab of the engine broken into pieces, the boiler fractured and the machinery twisted in all shapes. On account of the blinding snow the engineers of the approaching trains were not aware of the danger until... Read MORE...

1887 - Steel-hulled racing yacht built in Wilmington, The Volunteer, won America's Cup webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ detimeln.htm
1890 - Dupont Powder Works Explosion
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 7. - The shock of the explosion at Wilmington this afternoon was plainly felt in many sections of this city. To those indoors it resembled the rumbling of distant thunder or the moving of heavy furniture, and the rattling window frames caused many people to rush to their doors and windows. The shock was also felt at Millville, N.J.; Chester, Penn., and other points, thirty to thirty-five miles distant.

The Dupont Powder Works were established in 1802 by Elenthere Irene Dupont de Nemours, a distinguished Frenchman who came to this country in 1799 to escape Jacobin persecution. Thomas Jefferson was anxious that the works should be located in Virginia, but the Frenchman finally selected the scene of to-day's explosion as being the best adapted for the business. De Nemours continued to condut the works until his death from cholera in 1834, when his sons, Alfred Victor and Gen. Henry Dupont, the latter of whom died last year, succeeded hom in the direction of the... Read MORE...

1895 - Wilmington
Wilmington, a port of entry, the capital of New Castle co., Del., is situated on the Delaware River, and on Brandy wine and Christiana Creeks, which unite 3 mile from the river. It is 28 miles S.W. of Philadelphia, and 70 miles E.N.E. of Baltimore. Lat. 39° 41' N.; Lon. 75°28' or 30° W. It is on the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, and is the southern terminus of the Wilmington & Northern Railroad, which connects here with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Wilmington is the chief commercial and manufacturing centre of Delaware. It is built on three slopes of a hill, the summit of which is 240 feet above the level of tide-water and commands an extensive view of the Delaware River and of the city itself. The city is regularly planned, has wide and straight streets, and is generally well built of brick. The streets which are parallel to the Christiana are Water, Front, 2d, 3d, &c., up to 23d street, beyond Brandywine Creek. These are intersected at right angles by Market... Read MORE...

Wilmington, Del., Feb. 12. - MICHAEL RYAN, aged 35 years; his wife, MAMIE, aged 25, and their infant, MARY A., aged 4 months, who lived at 233 Connell street, were asphyxiated by illuminating gas. Policeman BECK, who forced an entrance into the house found the victims lying on a bed in the second-story front room, all three cold and stiff in death. On the floor was a gas stove. It was still burning, but the tube fitted so loosely upon the burner at the pipe that gas was escaping plentifully. MR. and MRS. RYAN were fully dressed, while the baby had been prepared for bed, thus indicating that they had been overcome while preparing to retire.

Their seclusion during all of Sunday, and the fact that a Sunday paper remained untouched on the front-door step, indicated that the tragedy occurred during Saturday night.
Tyrone Daily Herald
February 12, 1907
1907 - December 9 - 1st Christmas Seals sold (Wilmington Del post office)

Wilmington, Del., Dec. 11. - (AP) - The roof of the rigging loft of the Playhouse here collapsed tonight during the second scene of a performance of "The Song of the Flame." More than a dozen members of the chorus occupied the stage at the time, were injured, several seriously, and the effects of the company so badly damaged that the company will be unable to continue its engagement.
The seriously injured are:
Madame CHEREKO, a principal of the Russian Art Choir, fractured skull.
NORMAN STENGEL of the Russian choir, possible fracture of the skull.
MISS BLANCHE COLLINS, internal injuries.
Sprains and cuts, less serious injuries were suffered by:
Many of the stage employes were also slightly cut and bruised by falling debris.

Damage to property of the company was placed at $60,000.

The play was an Arthur Hammerstein...

1939 - October 24 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time anywhere in Wilmington, Delaware.
October 24, 1939
1940 - September 29 - 1st US merchant ship "Booker T. Washington" commanded by a black captain (Hugh Mulzac), launched at Wilmington Delaware
1957 - July 17 - On a warm and sunny day at Wilmington, DE, with a high of 86 degrees, a dust devil suddenly appeared.
It tore most the roof off one house, and stripped shingles from a neighboring house. A TV aerial was toppled, and clothes were blown off clothes lines.
The Weather Channel
Wilmington is the snowiest place in Delaware, averaging 21.9 inches (56 cm) per year.

National Weather Service
2023 - Wilmington, Delaware has a lot to offer! Here's a mix of places to visit and things to do in this charming city:
Nemours Mansion and Gardens:

Explore the stunning Nemours Estate, a 300-acre country estate with a French-style mansion and beautifully landscaped gardens.

Brandywine Zoo:

Spend a day at the Brandywine Zoo, home to animals from the Americas and temperate areas around the world.

Hagley Museum and Library:

Discover the history of the DuPont family and American industry at the Hagley Museum, located on the site of the original DuPont powder mills.

Longwood Gardens:

While technically in Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens is a short drive away. Enjoy the breathtaking botanical gardens, conservatory, and fountain shows.

Delaware Art Museum:

Experience the rich artistic heritage of Delaware and beyond through the diverse collection at the Delaware Art Museum.

Wilmington Riverfront:

Stroll along the scenic Christina River and enjoy the restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions on the revitalized Wilmington Riverfront.

Old Swedes Church:

Visit the Holy...

Discover MY Roots: Wilmington Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Wilmington, Delaware, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in Wilmington.

View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)

male ancestorHans Jurge Georg SMIDT (SMITH) (3 November 1696, Falun, Dalarnas, Sweden - 27 December 1753, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
female ancestorCatherine HEATH (27 May 1697, Haverhill, Massachusetts, USA (Ayers Village) - 30 August 1755, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
male ancestorAlfred D. WOOLSTON (1825, Wilmington, Delaware, USA - 15 February 1872, Cheboygan, Michigan, USA)
male ancestorCharles William CARPENTER (31 August 1868, Centerville, New Castle County, Delaware, USA - 12 November 1950, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
male ancestorJohn Matthew COLLINS (August 1872, Wilmington, Delaware, USA - 8 February 1911, )
male ancestorJedion Lewis "Jed" PRUNIER (30 August 1875, Essex, Vermont, USA (Essex Jct) - 17 February 1923, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
female ancestorCatharina C TOMLINSON (8 January 1876, , Delaware, USA - 25 October 1924, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
male ancestorWilliam Leslie EDISON (3 October 1878, Menlo Park, New Jersey, USA - 10 August 1937, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)
male ancestorJoseph Wharton DERICKSON (25 September 1886, Elsmere, Kentucky, USA (South Erlanger) - 10 March 1938, Wilmington, Delaware, USA)

Ancestors Who Were Married in Wilmington, Delaware, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were married in Wilmington.

View Them Now

male ancestorJames Alexander FLENNIKEN (1711 - 17 July 1765) and female ancestorMary Jane GILLESPIE (1710 - 20 May 1779) married 28 January 1731
male ancestorIsaac JUSTASON (1739 - 1812) and female ancestorSarah TUSSEY (1740 - 1805) married 23 May 1787
male ancestorJohn Matthew COLLINS (August 1872 - 8 February 1911) and female ancestorCatharina C TOMLINSON (8 January 1876 - 25 October 1924) married 27 March 1894
photo of William Clyde HILL William Clyde HILL (22 May 1884 - 10 April 1951) and photo of Anna Beatrice HAMILTON Anna Beatrice HAMILTON (6 July 1887 - 24 October 1934) married 1903

Genealogy Resources for Wilmington

Delaware Newspapers

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Updated: 10/15/2023 10:12:02 AM