EASTERN SHORE HISTORY
It's name , it's owners
it's people who played a part
in making of the nation.
The Wednesday, August 16, 1899 issue of the Wilmington Evening Journal , Wilmington, Delaware published the following abstract of data which tells of characters and events during the colonial period apart from the monopoly of New England's history. Southern settlements may have been minimized or untold altogether. Stories like the founding of St. Mary's, the Annopolis Tea Party, or the exploits of the “Maryland Line” have been less heard of. This abstract hopes to correct this.
Men Who Made History
There are some Maryland sons 'as it is writ” were failed to receive the importance due them. Among them is Thomas Fenwick, whose name ws given to Fenwick's Island. He was one of the restless, adventurous men who emigrated from England to Maryland during the latter part of the 17th century. Fenwick took up a grant of land between Little Assawoman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, a narrow strip of land fringing the ocean cut by three inlets. Nothhernmost was Little Assawoman Inlet, southernmost was Green River Inlet and midway between these was Sineapuxent Inlet which evidently were all filled in by high tides and drifting sands as the island was gradually rising. The Fenwick Island Lighthouse stands near the center of this grant secured by Thomas Fenwick.
Thomas Fenwick was prominent in local affairs of both Sussex County, Delaware to the north and Worcester County, Maryland, to the south, disputed ownership by Lord Baltimore and William Penn. Under William Penn, Fenwick held positions of sheriff, notary public and other minor positions. During the late part of his life he made residence in Lewestown, On Delaware, where he died and is buried. At his death his daughter Mary took possession. When she married William Fassett about 1735 , the Fassett Family took over Fenwick Island.
William Fassett was a bold seafaring man and on one of his coastal sailing ventures was captured by pirates which infested the coastal waters just off Fenwick and was made to “walk the plank. Being close to shore and being an able swimmer, Fassett made shore alive and well. It is tradition that when Fassett landed he made a vow he would somehow find a way to take possession of this hosipitable beach upon which he had beed cast.
This vow became real when he married Mary Fenwick. The Fassetts kept possession for a very long time, at least three generations, passed to John, James and James, then to Mary, daughter of the last James. This Mary married James Hall of Berlin, Maryland who left the Island to his son, John C. Hall, who was killed wrecking a sunken barge loaded with ships mast. Sold at auction in Berlin to John Burch, who deeded it to Samuel Bennett who passed it on to the Gunn family, locally well known.
It was from the Gunn family that a stock company headed by Willard Saulsbury [Salisbury] and Captain John Long bougth the Island.
1831 TIDAL WAVE
“A GREAT STORM”
John C. Halls death date, 1831, calls to mind the great tidal wave of that year. One of John Halls best friends was Jacob Breasure,
a well know character of the Island gave verbal account of the storm. Jacob Breasure was born 1817 and living on the island in 1831. His father , James Breasure, lived on the island during the Revolutionary War. There were three homes on the island in 1831, all owned by James Fassett. James lived in one, Fassett lived in another and an old man. Joshua Morris, lived in the third. The young Breasure son, age 14, his older brothers, attended school on the mainland. Today was Friday, cold in January, with a strong northeast wind, but the boys were at school being well accustomed to sever weather. Evening brought on the fury of the storm prevented them from returning home for a week, but the father was on the island throughout its continuance and when looking out to sea noticed a great wave in the distance, coming along with great velocity, increasing in fury as it came until it struck the beach and swept entirely over the island. Joshua's house was washed from its foundation and the first floor swept away leaving the elderly Morris' stranded on the second floor. Brasure, at the risk of his life rescued the old man and his wife, carring them to his house. Three hundred head of cattle were lost, several people at Indian River Bay were killed including a man named Druley. The name of the storm was given “Druley Tide” for its future reference.
THE MONEY BANKS
Ner the center of the island is a portion of the sandy beach which the island people called the “mony banks” due to the fact that many Spanish silver coins are washed up on the beach by the tides. Islanders were able to rake large sums of these coins and visitors came from afar to join in.
Now in 1899 there are several small truck farms and some cattle is being raised in the marshes. There were also ten to fifteen salt houses, the salt being shipped to Philadelphia and New York.
On the mailand not far from the island , at Sineapuxent, Maryland, was born , 1779, and reared Stephen Decatur a great American Commodore. In Delaware near Dagsborough, called “Blackfoot Town” John Middleton Clayton, was born in 1776.