Delaware in History

Historical Events

Historic Discovery

1609-08-28 English explorer Henry Hudson, discovers and explores Delaware Bay

  • 1637-11-20 Peter Minuit & 1st Swedish immigrants to Delaware sail from Sweden
  • 1638-03-29 1st permanent white settlement in Delaware (Swedish Lutherans)
  • 1639-06-10 1st American log cabin at Fort Christina (Wilmington Delaware)
  • 1655-09-26 Peter Stuyvesant recaptures Dutch Ft Casimir from Swedish in Delaware
  • 1669-12-20 1st jury trial in Delaware; Marcus Jacobson condemned for insurrection & sentenced to flogging, branding & slavery
  • 1682-10-26 William Penn accepts area around Delaware River from Duke of York
  • 1737-09-20 Runner Edward Marshall completes his journey in the Walking Purchase forcing the cession of 1.2 million acres (4,860 km²) of Lenape-Delaware tribal land to the Pennsylvania Colony

Historic Event

1776-12-08 George Washington's retreating army crosses Delaware River from NJ

  • 1776-12-25 George Washington crosses Delaware, surprises and defeats 1,400 Hessians
  • 1777-08-28 American Revolutionary War - Battle of Cooch's Bridge takes place near Newark, Delaware.
  • 1777-09-03 Flag of the United States flown in battle for the 1st time at Cooch's Bridge, Delaware, a skirmish during American Revolutionary War

Appointment of Interest

1779-01-18 John Dickinson is appointed a delegate for Delaware to the Continental Congress

  • 1806-01-30 The original Lower Trenton Toll Bridge, which spans the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey, is opened. A later bridge opened in 1935 is also known as the Trenton Makes - the World Takes Bridge.
  • 1829-10-17 Delaware River & Chesapeake Bay Canal formally opens
  • 1861-01-03 Delaware legislature rejects proposal to join Confederacy
  • 1879-12-13 First federal fish hatching steamer launched (Wilmington, Delaware)
  • 1893-01-17 -17°F (-27°C), Millsboro, Delaware (state record)
  • 1907-12-09 First Christmas Seals sold (Wilmington, Delaware, post office)
  • 1918-05-02 General Motors acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware.
  • 1923-07-07 University of Delaware invents "junior year abroad" (at Sorbonne)

Historic Event

1929-10-11 JC Penney opens store #1252 in Milford, Delaware, making it a nationwide company with stores in all 48 U.S. states.

  • 1930-07-21 110°F (43°C) at Millsboro, Delaware (state record)
  • 1939-10-24 Nylon stockings go on sale for first time (Wilmington, Delaware)
  • 1939-12-15 1st commercial manufacture of nylon yarn in Seaford, Delaware

Historic Event

1940-09-29 1st US merchant ship "Booker T. Washington" commanded by a black captain (Hugh Mulzac), launched at Wilmington Delaware

  • 1950-11-02 The Clover Dairy Company test-market the first concentrated milk (Sealtest) in the U.S. in Wilmington, Delaware

Historic Event

1957-10-10 US President Eisenhower apologizes to the finance minister of Ghana, Komla Agbeli Gbdemah, after he is refused service in a restaurant in Dover, Delaware

  • 1975-07-13 8.5" (21.6 cm) of rainfall, Dover, Delaware (state record)
  • 1977-08-15 "Wow" possible alien radio signal from deep space received at "The Big Ear", Ohio State's radio telescope in Delaware
  • 1991-09-19 Colt Precious Bunny wins the 46th Little Brown Jug at Delaware, Ohio
  • 2013-05-07 Delaware becomes the 11th US State to legalize same-sex marriage

Famous Birthdays

  • 1728-10-07 Caesar Rodney, Delaware, judge/signer (Declaration of Independence)

John Dickinson

1732-11-13 John Dickinson, American lawyer and Governor of Delaware and Pennsylvania, born in Talbot County, Maryland (d. 1808)

  • 1738-09-25 Nicholas Van Dyke, American lawyer and President of Delaware, born in New Castle County, Delaware (d. 1789)
  • 1746-11-06 Absalom Jones, African-American abolitionist and clergyman, born into slavery in Delaware (d. 1818)
  • 1755-09-13 Oliver Evans, American inventor who pioneered high-pressure steam engine, born in Newport, Delaware (d. 1819)
  • 1786-02-24 Martin W. Bates. U.S. Senator from Delaware (d. 1869)
  • 1789-10-16 William Burton, Governor of Delaware (1859-63) (d. 1866)
  • 1796-07-24 John Middleton Clayton, U.S. Secretary of State (1849-50) and U.S. Senator from Delaware, born in Dagsboro, Delaware (d. 1856)
  • 1804-10-26 Lorenzo Thomas, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in New Castle, Delaware (d. 1875)
  • 1810-04-28 Daniel Ullman, American Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1892)
  • 1814-08-14 Henry Hayes Lockwood, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Kent County, Delaware (d. 1899)
  • 1816-05-24 Emanuel Leutze, American painter (Washington Crossing the Delaware), born in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Württemberg, German Confederation (d. 1868)
  • 1819-09-06 William Starke Rosecrans, American inventor, politician and US Army General (Union Army), born in Delaware County, Ohio (d. 1898)

Rutherford B. Hayes

1822-10-04 Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th US President (Republican: 1877-81), born in Delaware, Ohio (d. 1893)

  • 1822-10-09 George Sykes, American Major General (Union Army), born in Dover, Delaware (d. 1880)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

1823-10-09 Mary Ann Shadd Cary, American-Canadian publisher and anti-slavery campaigner, 1st African American newspaper publisher ('Provincial Freeman'), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1893)

  • 1825-05-01 George Inness, American landscape painter (Delaware Water Gap), born in Newburgh, New York (d. 1894)
  • 1833-07-01 Alfred Thomas Archimedes Torbert, Bvt Major General (Union Army), born in Georgetown, Delaware (d. 1880)
  • 1833-08-07 Powell Clayton, American politician, diplomat, and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania (d. 1914)
  • 1837-04-03 John Burroughs, American writer and nature enthusiast (Burroughs Medal namesake), born in Delaware County, New York (d. 1921)
  • 1841-01-30 Alfred Townsend George, American Civil War journalist, born in Georgetown, Delaware (d. 1914)
  • 1849-06-23 John Hunn, American businessman and 51st Governor of Delaware, born in Odessa, Delaware (d. 1926)
  • 1861-05-31 Emily Bissell, American welfare worker and founder of Christmas Seals, born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1948)

Annie Jump Cannon

1863-12-11 Annie Jump Cannon, American stellar spectroscopist (Harvard-classification), born in Dover, Delaware (d. 1941)

  • 1893-11-10 John P. Marquand, American writer (The Late George Apley), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1960)
  • 1899-05-20 Estelle Taylor, American actress (The Ten Commandments), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1958)
  • 1918-05-10 George Welch, American World War II flying ace (Medal of Honor nominee) and test pilot, born in Wawaset Park, Delaware (d. 1954)
  • 1920-02-03 Henry Heimlich, Surgeon and inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 2016)
  • 1921-07-22 William Roth, American politician (Sen-R-Delaware, 1971-2001), born in Great Falls, Montana (d. 2003)
  • 1921-11-19 Peter Ruckman, American Baptist minister and founder of Pensacola Bible Institute in Pensacola, Florida, born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 2016)
  • 1923-08-17 Larry Rivers [Grossberg], American painter (Wash crossing Delaware-1953), born in NYC, New York
  • 1927-06-28 F. Sherwood Rowland, American Nobel laureate in chemistry 1995, born in Delaware, Ohio (d. 2012)
  • 1928-10-30 Daniel Nathans, American microbiologist (Nobel 1978 - discovery of restriction enzymes and their application in restriction mapping), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1999)
  • 1930-06-30 Mac Benson, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1930-10-30 Clifford Brown, American jazz trumpeter and composer (Joyspring, Jordu), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1956)
  • 1931-07-18 "Papa" Dee Allen, American percussionist (War - "Cisco Kid"; "The World Is A Ghetto"), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 1988)
  • 1934-08-04 Dallas Green, baseball manager (Phillies, Yankees), born in Newport, Delaware (d. 2017)
  • 1935-01-17 Ruth Ann Minner (née Coverdale), American businesswoman and politician (Governor of Delaware (D), 2001-09), born in Milford, Delaware (d. 2021)
  • 1939-03-21 Kathleen Widdoes, actress (Without a Trace), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1939-07-02 Michael N. Castle, (Rep-R-Delaware 1993-2011, Governor of Delaware 1985-92), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1940-06-04 Dorothy Rudd Moore, African-American composer (Songs from the Dark Tower; Dirge and Deliverance), born in New Castle, Delaware
  • 1940-08-21 Robert Camac, American horse trainer, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1942-04-15 Walt Hazzard, American basketball player (Olympic gold 1964), born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 2011)
  • 1944-02-03 C Thomas "Tom" Gallagher, American Republican politician, financier, and insurance agent, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1946-07-06 Jamie Wyeth, American artist (An American Vision-Boston), born in Wilmington, Delaware

George Thorogood

1950-02-24 George Thorogood, American singer and guitarist (The Delaware Destroyers - "Bad to the Bone"), born in Wilmington, Delaware

  • 1950-12-24 (Elizabeth) "Libby" Larsen, American classical composer, and co-founder of the American Composers Forum, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1951-01-12 Ann Althouse, American law professor, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1954-06-11 Johnny Neel, American musician, singer and songwriter (The Allman Brothers Band; Gov't Mule; Dickey Betts), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1955-11-09 Don Schiff, American guitarist, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1957-03-08 Cynthia Rothrock, actress (Lady Dragon, Honor & Glory), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1957-05-21 Judge Reinhold, American actor (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1958-09-26 Richard B. Weldon Jr., American politician, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1958-12-29 Nancy J. Currie-Gregg, U.S. Army officer and astronaut (STS 57, 70, sk: 88), born in Wilmington, Delaware

Bryan Stevenson

1959-11-14 Bryan Stevenson, American social justice activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, born in Milton, Delaware

Valerie Bertinelli

1960-04-23 Valerie Bertinelli, American actress (Barbara Cooper Royer-1 Day at a Time, Hot in Cleveland), born in Wilmington, Delaware

  • 1962-04-01 Sara Lazarus, American jazz singer ("It's All Right With Me"), born in Wilmington, Delaware

Elisabeth Shue

1963-10-06 Elisabeth Shue, American actress (Cocktail, Back to the Future Part II), born in Wilmington, Delaware

  • 1968-03-04 Dionna Harris, American softball outfielder (Olympic gold 1996), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1969-01-15 Delino DeShields, American baseball infielder, 1990-2002 (Montreal Expos, LA Dodgers, and 3 other teams), born in Seaford, Delaware
  • 1969-02-03 (Joseph) "Beau" Biden III, American attorney (US Army JAG Major, 2002-15; Delaware Attorney General, 2007-15), and eldest son of US President Joe Biden, born in Wilmington, Delaware (d. 2015)
  • 1969-11-10 Rod Milstead, American NFL guard (Super Bowl 1994, SF 49ers; coach Delaware State), born in Washington, D.C.
  • 1970-10-17 John Mabry, outfielder (St Louis Cardinals), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1972-04-20 Stephen Marley, Jamaican-American reggae musician, son of Bob Marley, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1975-08-13 Jason Gleasman, 220 lbs greco-roman wrestler (Olympics 1996), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1976-09-17 Jonathan Nichols, American dance skater (with partner Tami Tyler), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1978-01-07 Kevin Mench, American baseball player, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1981-10-30 Ian Snell, American baseball player (Pittsburgh Pirates), born in Dover, Delaware
  • 1982-06-11 Joey Graham, American basketball player (Toronto Raptors), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1982-06-11 Stephen Graham, American basketball player, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1984-05-04 Montell Owens, American football player, born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1984-06-17 John Gallagher Jr., American stage actor (The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1984-06-26 Aubrey Plaza, American actress and comedian (Parks and Recreation), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1992-11-16 Adam Robert Worton, American twin actor (Baby's Day Out), born in Newark, Delaware
  • 1992-11-16 Jacob Joseph Worton, American twin actor (Baby's Day Out), born in Newark, Delaware

Famous Weddings

Joe Biden

1977-06-17 US Senator Joe Biden of Delaware (34) weds teacher Jill Jacobs (26) at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City

  • 1996-01-27 "ER" TV actress Yvette Freeman (39) weds musical director Lawny Hartley (49) in Dunleith, Delaware
  • 2012-06-02 Vice President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley Biden (30) weds Dr. Howard David Krein at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware
  • 2017-04-21 Actor David Henrie (27) weds former Miss Delaware Maria Cahill in Southern California

Famous Deaths

  • 1789-02-19 Nicholas Van Dyke, American lawyer and President of Delaware, dies at 50
  • 1789-10-27 John Cook, American farmer and Governor of Delaware (b. 1730)
  • 1796-08-31 John McKinly, American physician and President of Delaware, dies at 75

John Dickinson

1808-02-14 John Dickinson, American lawyer and Governor of Delaware and Pennsylvania, dies at 75

  • 1815-08-06 James A. Bayard (elder), United States Senator from Delaware (b. 1767)
  • 1894-08-03 George Inness, American landscape painter (Delaware Water Gap), dies at 69
  • 1903-06-22 George White, African American resident of Delaware, lynched
  • 1926-09-01 John Hunn, American businessman and 51st Governor of Delaware, dies at 77
  • 1962-03-18 Walter W. Bacon, Governor of Delaware (b. 1880)
  • 1992-03-14 Steven Brian Pennell, 1st person to be executed in Delaware in 45 years, dies at 34