Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Colonial America - the original Williamsburg?

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I shared about Christmas traditions in the 1700s. If you missed that post, you can read it here:

This month, I'm going to share about a few favorite facts belonging to my former home state of Delaware. Several of these are likely to surprise you!

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The Original Colonial Williamsburg?

Let's chat a bit about Colonial history. How much do you know? Do you have a passion for that era, or is your interest more in the 1800's and early 1900's? Or perhaps you love the Medieval or Biblical time periods and areas before America was born. Regardless of your interest, it's always good to do the research yourself and delve into history on your own instead of leaving it to textbooks, documentaries, or teachers to give you the facts.

This was never more clear to me than when I went through school and learned a bit about Delaware history simply because I lived there at the time, and our history classes included a few units on local history as well as general American or world history. It wasn't until the time came to research the details in my first contracted novel that I discovered just how much had been left out of history books or the information the teachers presented.

For example, "The First State" is often overlooked in favor of cities like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, or New York City. But did you know about Caesar Rodney’s ride from Dover, Delaware, to Philadelphia on July 2nd to interrupt the gathering of the Continental Congress and cast his vote in favor of independence from England? The delegates were at a stalemate, and Rodney’s vote turned the tide, causing a domino effect with the delegates which led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Had it not been for Rodney’s ride, we might not celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, or even at all.

And think about the last time you received a credit card statement or even an offer to sign up for a credit card. Did you happen to look at the return address on the outside of the envelope? Ten-to-one says the city postmark is from Wilmington, Delaware.

Wilmington, Delaware, has been the focal point of industry for nearly 400 years. Everything from shipbuilding, gunpowder manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, railroad cars, carriages, and leather. By the end of the Civil War, Wilmington was producing more iron than the rest of the country combined and it rated first in the production of gunpowder. Pharmaceuticals followed a close second and still remain a significant source of production today.

Then there's the original capital city of New Castle, Delaware. Up until the Revolutionary War, it was the county seat for all government, and most of the prominent citizens resided within the town limits or somewhere nearby. Because of its position on the banks of the Delaware River (a river that connected Philadelphia with the Atlantic Ocean), New Castle also became a popular stopping point for supply ships on their way up the river to Wilmington and Philadelphia.

In fact, long after the Colonial era, the 1800's and a good bit of the 1900's had past, New Castle remained a fully-functioning Colonial town, complete with cobblestone streets, and even the occasional clip-clop of horses's hooves from a horse and buggy. Not many are aware that even today, New Castle remains a restored Colonial town, but I bet most have heard of Colonial Williamsburg.

When tourism and travel industry developers were seeking out a location for a town to provide the flavor of Colonial times to tourists and be a destination for school field trips, New Castle was among the first to be considered. However, the residents declined the potential, preferring instead that their little town to remain quaint and private. As a result, Williamsburg became the international tourist site. Those who are aware of New Castle still visit for a less-crowded historical experience, and if you happen to be in the area, you should make time to pay a visit. You won't regret it.

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* Can you name at least one of the major companies or businesses incorporated in Delaware? Can be present or historical, but it must be a proper name, not the general industry. If you can Google, you can find at least one.

* Have you ever visited a restored or living Colonial town? Which one? What do you remember most about that visit?

* What is your favorite historical era, whether in the United States or another country around the world. Why is it your favorite?


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. On the side, she dabbles in the health & wellness and personal development industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and two dogs in Colorado. She has sold twenty (21) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on FacebookTwitterGoodReads, and LinkedIn.


  1. I don't read a lot of straight history but in my fiction I enjoy reading about the days of wagon trains trekking west to populate the West. I also enjoy the stories of immigrants coming through Ellis Island and how hard they worked to make a new life for themselves. I lose patience when I read about the Victorian period and all its' excesses within the upper classes. Thanks for the thought-provoking questions.

  2. I love Colonial Williamsburg and have visited a couple of times. What a great place to visit!

  3. I've been working for ages on a book series beginning with the building of the Erie Canal in upstate NY and how it opened up the Great Lakes and the 'West'. But, we will have to put Newcastle on our list, next time we visit the East.

  4. Thanks for all the great historical truth ... I didn't know a thing about Delaware. Colonial Williamsburg remains one of my favorite places in the U.S. I've been more than once, but I'll never forget walking into the town on a foggy spring night and being transported back in time. It was a magical night. I can still see the gentleman who was sitting at a desk in a second-story bedroom, his face illuminated by a lamp.It was the closest thing to time travel I've ever experienced. The next day, one of the docents commented on my "strange dress," as I was wearing slacks. It was fun to play along and explain that women dressed that way "in the far West" because of the rugged life we lived LOL.