Joseph Cleaver was born in 1833, the son of Joseph and Catherine Cleaver of Port Penn, Delaware. He attended Delaware College in Newark in the mid 1850s. After leaving the college, he began working on his family farm near Port Penn, which was left to him after his father’s death. He married Josephine E. Reybold (September 6, 1838-February 23, 1916) with whom he had four children. Late in his life, Cleaver moved to Delaware City, Delaware, where he died on November 13, 1909. Cleaver is buried at St. Georges, Delaware.
Cleaver, Joseph. The diary of a student at Delaware College, August, 1853, to November, 1854. Edited by William Ditto Lewis. Baltimore: J.H. Furst Co., 1951.
Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware: 1609-1888. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards, 1888.
Additional biographical information also derived from the collection.
This typed transcript of a diary kept by Delaware College student Joseph Cleaver for the period 1853-1854 describes student life at the college, the curriculum, and Cleaver’s involvement in the Athenaean Literary Society.
The entries are, with a few exceptions, daily and written in a narrative style. Cleaver related his everyday routine as well as various experiences at the college, such as making new acquaintances, attending lectures, and becoming involved in student organizations. He documented many of the pranks played by the students over the course of the year, with frequent references to faculty and others who lived in Newark near the college.
Two letters are tipped into the bound volume: one undated from Miss Florence C. Hall, niece of Joseph Cleaver, and a second, 1950, from Miss Jane C. Clark, a "distant cousin," both of Delaware City. The diary, edited by William Ditto Lewis, was published in Delaware Notes and later by J.H. Furst Co. in 1951. In his foreword of the book, editor William Ditto Lewis noted that the original manuscript of Joseph Cleaver's diary has "perished."
Cleaver, Joseph. The diary of a student at Delaware College, August, 1853, to November, 1854. Edited by William Ditto Lewis. Baltimore: J.H. Furst Co., 1951. Cleaver, Joseph. “The Diary of a student at Delaware College, August, 1853, to November, 1854.” Delaware Notes 24 (1950): 1-40.