Digest of Town Council Minutes Newark, Delaware

Biographical and Historical Notes

Newark, uniquely situated two miles from the Mason-Dixon Line and very close to the Maryland and Pennsylvania state lines, arose from the crossroads of two Lenni Lenape Indian trails which spanned the peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River. The intersection gradually matured into a village, with brickyards, mills, and tanneries developing in the vicinity. Early settlers were from Great Britain -- mainly English, Welsh, and Scottish-Irish.

Newark was first chartered on April 13, 1758 by George II, then King of England, when he granted permission for the growing village to hold a weekly market and a semi-annual fair. In 1965, the present Charter was granted to Newark by the State of Delaware, strengthening the Council-Manager form of government and significantly increasingly the size of the city. Though still considered a small town in 2008 with a permanent population under 30,000, Newark's history of growth and change since 1758 is a reflection of significant developments in the history of many American cities over the last 250 years.

Sources

Melvin, L. Rebecca Johnson, and Jamie L. Margalotti. "University of Delaware Library: LITTLE KNOWN HISTORIES OF NEWARK, DELAWARE, 1758-2008: an exhibition." University of Delaware Library. http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/exhibits/newark/03_geog.html (accessed March 19, 2010).

" History of Newark." Newark, DE - Official Website. https://newarkde.gov/56/History-of-Newark (accessed March 19, 2010).

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of one volume containing abstracts of minutes of town council meetings held in Newark, Delaware, between 1866 and 1900 (bulk dates 1888-1900). This digest was prepared in 1959-1960 by William Ditto Lewis, who served as University Librarian at Delaware from 1930-1958.

Lewis created his abstracts from three manuscript volumes, which are now located in the Newark City Secretary’s Office. There is an index to the digest, found on pages 91-101, which provides a useful overview of the collection. At the front of the volume, there is also a list of Newark Town Commissioners for the years 1866-1892.

The digest contains concise notes summarizing the council meetings, essentially condensing the contents of each page of the three original volumes into a few lines. Though Lewis’ notes are brief, they offer a thorough picture of the issues facing the local government in Newark in the late nineteenth century. Common subjects include elections, taxes, and town services such as the police and fire departments. There are references to town ordinances on noise, snow removal, firearms, animal control, traffic, and many other matters. The minutes also reveal a great deal about how the town of Newark contended with modernization efforts and infrastructure development. There are numerous notes on light and power; telephone and telegraph services; water works; railroads; street lighting; and improvements to the town’s roads and sidewalks.