The Unknown Rider

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

Happy Fourth!

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 01 July 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

According to The Middletown Transcript of July 1, 1916, there is an unknown hero in the history of our nation with regards to approval of the Declaration of Independence.  As the story goes, delegates from the colonies had met in Philadelphia to vote on the Declaration of Independence and, if enough votes carried, to sign the document.

Initially, it seemed that the supporters of the Declaration would be one or two votes shy of an affirming vote…then they noticed that a delegate from Delaware was missing.  This Delaware delegate, who was a sure supporter of the Declaration, was retrieved by an unnamed volunteer who broke speed records in the process.

The motion to accept the Declaration passed by a slim margin – one vote! – and the document was signed and sent to King George III.

Thank you, Delaware!

I’ll have a Vanilla Milkshake. Neat.

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day.  The Middletown Transcript of November 2, 1918 had an article about the purchase of a barroom by the YMCA that was converted to…a soda fountain.  And one of the most popular items on the menu of a soda fountain would be a milkshake.  Especially vanilla milkshakes.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 02 Nov. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Curiously, the barroom in question in the article was in Paris, France.  Dovetailing with the temperance movement, followed by Prohibition in 1920, barrooms were converted to soda fountains as in the story in the article.  Arthur Taylor, the gentleman who purchased the property on behalf of the YMCA and turned it into a soda fountain, was quoted as saying, “I figured it out that half the attraction of a bar is the sociability of drinking slowly and gossiping while you do it.”

Newark post. (Newark, Del.), 07 June 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Four years later, the Newark Post of June 7, 1922 reported nearly $1 billion in the soda fountain industry, and while sodas were popular, ice cream and ice cream products, such as milkshakes, were the most popular menu items ordered.

Nowadays, soda fountains as such are disappearing; but the menu items of milkshakes and ice cream sodas can still be found at many restaurants.

Flag Day

by David Cardillo, DDNP staff

 

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 23 June 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

We meet to celebrate flag day because this flag which we honor and under which we serve is the emblem of our unit, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation.  It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation.

The Middletown Transcript of June 23, 1917 reported these words of President Wilson in his speech on Flag Day, June 14, at a time when America was involved in World War I, then known as The Great War.

The stars and stripes were adopted as the United States of America’s flag on June 14, 1777.  However, according to USflag.org, it wasn’t until 108 years later in 1885 when a schoolteacher encouraged his students to celebrate the flag’s “birthday.”  As time went on, celebrations became more elaborate and the holiday became more celebrated.  While flag day was referenced as far back as the late 1800s, and even in the aforementioned address by President Wilson in 1917, flag day was not officially recognized until August 3, 1949 – a few years after the end of World War II – when President Truman signed an Act of Congress which designated June 14 as National Flag Day.

External source:  USFlag.org

On your marks…

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

Daily Republican. ([Wilmington, Del.]), 22 Sept. 1888. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

 Before there was NASCAR and the Dover Speedway, Delaware often hosted bicycle races.  Bicycles were a fairly prevalent element of society as evidenced by advertisements for bicycles, bicycle attire, and bicycle accessories.  Adding bicycle races introduced competition and athleticism to an activity that was done for both leisure and transportation.  This article from September 22, 1888 of The Daily Republican is an advertisement for the Wilmington Fair, which would feature a bicycle race.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 06 June 1896. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

As shown in this article from The Middletown Transcript of June 6, 1896, women also participated in these bicycle races.  By 1896, these races had become an annual event. Prizes for winning the races included dolls for the women and watches for the men.

The daily Republican. (Wilmington, Del.), 12 Dec. 1902. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Bicycle races were national, and even international (as was the reporting by Delaware papers).  The above picture is from a bicycle race at Madison Square Garden in New York as reported in the December 12, 1902 issue of The Daily Republican.  The race featured racers from other countries, or “many lands,” as the short article states, as well as racers from the rest of the country.  The race in question was not only about speed, but also about endurance, as it was a six-day event.

For more, search “bicycle race” in Delaware papers on Chronicling America!

Need a Ride?

By David Cardillo, DDNP Staff

Happy National Bike Month from the DDNP!

May is National Bike Month, and while Bike Month wasn’t established until 1956, bicycles are still a cheap, easy way to travel locally.  Bicycle advertisements featuring images frequented historic Delaware newspapers suggesting the financial stability of the bicycle industry. This ad from the Middletown Transcript, August 8, 1896  highlights that, as with today, the early bicycle companies touted bike-appropriate clothing and accessories.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 08 Aug. 1896. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Twenty-one years later, the Middletown Transcript, May 26, 1917  has an advertisement for the Ranger bike company, advertising not only bikes, but also accessories.  Note that this particular company has also branched out into new technologies and offers parts for motorcycles and automobiles.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 26 May 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

External Source: The League of American Bicyclists – https://bikeleague.org/bikemonth

Easter Fashion

By David Cardillo, DDNP staff

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 03 April 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Looking at the Middletown Transcript of April 3rd, 1909, it seems that the Easter season was a time when new fashions were unveiled.  From hats to corsets to waists (shirtwaists), and even suits, skirts, and dresses, the Easter holiday was apparently the holiday for one to begin wearing their new clothes and updating their fashion sense.

Men also got to show off their new styles.  Hats and caps, suits, and shoes.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 03 April 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Find out more by searching Delaware newspapers on Chronicling America, using the terms “Easter” or “fashion.”

Saint Patrick

By David Cardillo, DDNP staff, blog contributor

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 16 March 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

A century ago, the Middletown Transcript from March 16, 1918 published several articles regarding Saint Patrick’s Day.  The main article on Saint Patrick himself debunks the popular myth of driving reptiles out of Ireland. Instead, this article portrays him as a humble, compassionate human and focuses on his involvement with the Celts.  Patrick’s popularity with the common folk as well as his charisma with those in power seemed to aide him in his task to serve the Church’s mission.

The same issue of the Middletown Transcript also contains two smaller articles on other images and symbols associated with Saint Patrick’s Day, specifically, the shamrock.  The shamrock was chosen for Ireland’s banner by Saint Patrick, and a shamrock is a variety of clover.  The luck of clovers can be dated back to the Greeks, and that wearing a clover would bring prosperity.  It was also noted that snakes tend to avoid clover.

Find out more by searching Delaware newspapers on Chronicling America for “Saint Patrick.”

Dentist’s Day

By David Cardillo, DDNP staff, blog contributor

The Wilmington daily Republican. (Wilmington, Del.), 10 May 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Did you know that March 6 is Dentist’s Day?  While not a national holiday, it can still be a fun holiday to remember the person who keeps your chompers in good working order.  In addition to drilling, filling, bridging, flossing, and brushing, dentists often have interests outside of oral health.

Take, for example, a dentist named Doctor Honeywell who, in 1897, participated in a production of Harry W. Semon’s Big City Minstrels.  The show itself featured several singers, Doctor Honeywell among them, who was well-cheered by the attendance of many of his patients.

The sun. (Wilmington, Del.), 25 Oct. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The October 25, 1897 edition of The Sun describes Dr. Honeywell not only as an accomplished and personable dentist, but also as humorous and and a good singer.  The show was performed at the Bijou Theater in Wilmington. It also toured in Delmar and other southern cities in Delaware, with shows scheduled for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

For more dental history in Delaware, visit Chronicling America, select Delaware Papers, and search for “dentists” or “dentistry.”

External source: Dentist’s Day via National Day Calendar

Washington’s Birthday

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, blog contributor

President’s Day, according to History.com, was originally a celebration of President George Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1732.  His birthday was commemorated in 1800, a year after his death, and observed for the better part of a century. It became a Federal holiday in 1879.

In the late Twentieth Century, Washington’s Birthday was shifted from the regular date of February 22 to the third Monday in February and became a joint celebration of every American president.  Because of the confusion associated with the date change, President Abraham Lincoln, who also had a birthday in February, was lumped in with President Washington.

The Newark Post of February 28, 1917, used the holiday to report on a luncheon held by the Women’s College in honor of the holiday to showcase the home economics program of the college.

Newark post. (Newark, Del.), 28 Feb. 1917. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

The women in the program were expected not only to cook, but to be able to prepare food on both a small (family-size) scale and a large (luncheon or dining hall) scale.  For the luncheon, the women were tasked with planning room decor, including seating arrangements, in addition to the menu.  The article describes how a study of home economics can fill a four-year course load by combining a study of nutrition, history, physics, chemistry, and other cultural subjects. It was a very well-rounded degree!

External source: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/presidents-day

Stories of Love

by David Cardillo, DDNP Staff, Blog Contributor

In the same way there have been stories of hauntings for Halloween and heartwarming Christmas stories in newspapers, there are also romance stories, as evidenced in the February 14, 1914 edition of The Middletown Transcript.

In this issue, Joanna Single wrote a short story, “A Valentine Heart,” about a young lady named Nancy.  Nancy is a secretary who has grown fond of her boss throughout her interactions with him at work.  And he has become fond of her as well, though neither Nancy or her boss become aware of this until the end of the story.  No separate artist is mentioned, thus the artwork may also have been drawn by the author.  The artwork depicts the three characters of the story and is an interesting sample of illustrations and fashions of the time.

Middletown transcript. (Middletown, Del.), 14 Feb. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

More stories, though perhaps without illustrations, can be found by searching “Valentine’s Day” on the Chronicling America website.

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