TSD History Corner

Folks, Caesar Rodney { 1728-1784 } sacrificed his vanity for his country. His claim to fame is due to more than a horseback ride from Dover to Philadelphia. Rodney, was one of the 56 intrepid signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The courageous “56” knew that when they signd the Declaration, they were signing their own death warrant. The Signers branded themselves as Leaders of the revolution.

Rodney, had not only to contend with the King’s men, but with the ravages of a facial malignancy. He would use a green silk scarf to cover one eye and part of his face. These debilitating conditions not-with-standing, his colleagues remembered him as an animated skeleton. Rodney’s night ride into history was aggravated by a severe thunderstorm. His was the stuff of true grit.

This “animated skeleton” endured the unendurable pain from his spreading malignancy to ride 80 miles to cast his vote for OUR INDEPENDENCE.  Valiant Caesar Rodney with his bravura was well aware of the fact that there was no help to be found in the Colonies for his malignancy. If he were to have any relief from his burden he would have to go to either London or Edinburgh. There was no cure for his cancer, but neither his doctors nor relatives were aware of that.

They begged him to drop his passion for independence and to seek help for his condition. Rodney was adamant, Independence over personal relief. Rodney knew that when he signed the document calling for Independence, English doctors would not be available to treat him.

Rodney never complained or regretted his unselfish act. Rightfully so, when he died in 1784, his family and friends considered him a casualty of the War of Independence.

Folks, Felix Octavius Carr Darley {1822-1888} was a world renowned illustrator. Darley did illustrations for J.F. Cooper, C. Dickens, N. Hawthorne, W. Irving, E.A. Poe and etc, etc.

When he married in 1859 he moved to Claymont, Delaware. He purchased a house in Claymont in 1863 and renamed it, “The Wren’s House.” His Victorian mansion in Claymont, where he died, is known as the Darley House. It is located across Darley Road from the Claymont Stone School, and is directly opposite Archmere Academy.

F.O.C. Darley has the distinction as being known, “Father of American Illustrators.” Mr. Darley wrote; GHOST STORIES; Collected With A Particular View To Counteract The Vulgar Belief in Ghost and Apparitions.

Folks, William Aloysius McGowan {1896-1954} was a baseball Hall Of Fame inductee who was born and grew up in Wilmington. He was born in a house in the 100 block of East Front Street {renamed Lancaster Avenue}.

His pugilistic career was short, he was knocked out in the first round of his first professional fight. Much to McGowan’s chagrin, when he made an unpopular call as an umpire, he would hear the catcall, Canvas Back. It should be noted tht he served in the Army during WW I.

Bill McGowan introduced a colorful style to umpiring. When he worked behind home plate, suffice to say, he was very animated. McGowan umpired for over 30 seasons.

He had the distinction of being the home plate umpire in the first-ever American League pennant playoff game in 1948. This was the game where the Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Redsocks 8 to 3. He also umpired in the first All Star game in 1933. McGowan, officiated in eight World Series and five All Star games. McGowan umpired from 1925 til 1954.

Although he was plagued with arthritis he managed to work in over 2500 consecutive games. McGowan was dubbed, “Iron Man” for his efforts.

A scholium: There are 3 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees interred in Delaware. Vic Willis {1876-1947} is buried in St. John’s Cemetery in Newark. Bill McGowan (1896-1954} is buried in Cathedral Cemetery in Wilminton. William “Judy” Johnson (1900-1989} is buried in Silverbrook Cemetery in Wilmington.


Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.

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