The Lewes Historical Society’s History Happy Hours series continues every Friday through Aug. 29. Led by local history buffs, these programs range in topics from early explorers of the Delaware Bay to the 50th anniversary of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
The free presentations take place at 4 p.m. for 20-30 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer period. During the presentations, a glass of wine is served by Rose & Crown, Lewes’s upscale British pub. Doors open at 3:30. Limited seating is available, so programs are first-come, first-served. History Happy Hours are sponsored by and take place at Hotel Rodney, 142 Second St., Lewes.
Mike Morgan will present “Lewes in the Civil War” Friday, Aug. 1. When the Civil War began in April 1861, Lewes was in a precarious position. The inland, agricultural areas of Sussex County, where most of the Delaware slave owners were concentrated, favored the Confederacy. Maritime Lewes, on the other hand, supported the Union. This presentation will examine events in Lewes during America’s most tragic conflict.
A retired history teacher, Morgan has been writing freelance newspaper articles on the history of southern Delaware and the Mid-Atlantic region for over three decades. He is the author of “Pirates and Patriots, Tales of the Delaware Coast,” “Rehoboth Beach, A History of Sand and Surf,” “Bethany Beach, A Brief History,” “Ocean City, Going Down the Ocean,” and “Civil War Delaware.”
Paul Collins will present "Early Explorers of the Delaware Bay” Aug. 8. This lecture will consider the early explorers of the region and the charters of the Delaware River and Bay, their nationality, sponsors and missions. Collins will also examine the names the explorers gave to the region throughout this period and their current names, and the early settlements at Zwaanendael and Fort Christina.
Collins and his wife moved to Lewes in 2007. Since then, he has been very active with The Lewes Historical Society working on ghost tours and lecturing on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry during the summer. He has a master of science in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University, a master of science in biopsychology from Rutgers University, a bachelor of science in biopsychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a bachelor of science in engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
Bob Kotowski will present "History of Salt in Lewes & Other Sussex Coastal Towns” Aug. 15. Lewes is a salty town, not only because of its maritime past, but because it was a source of a much-needed commodity. Salt production may actually have been the first organized industry in Lewes, centered in an area of what is now Cape Henlopen State Park.
Kotowski, a retired journalist, has lived full time in the Lewes area since 2001. He has received numerous journalism awards, including the Overseas Press Club of America’s 1983 Lowell Thomas Award, and was inducted into the KYW Newsradio Hall of Fame in 2012. He is a member of the editorial board of “Lewes History, the Journal of the Lewes Historical Society” and a frequent contributor to the annual publication. He also is a member of the LHS Wooden Boat Program and serves on the society's Education Committee.
William H.J. Manthorpe Jr. will share “Joshua Fisher of Lewes & Charting Delaware Bay 1756-1856” Aug. 22. From Colonial days through the revolutionary period, Philadelphia was the principal commercial center and port of the nation. Safe access to the port past Cape Henlopen, and the shoals and currents of Delaware Bay depended solely on the knowledge and skills of the pilots from Lewes and ship captains. Fisher, a resident and merchant in Lewes who eventually moved to Philadelphia, published the first reliable nautical chart of Delaware Bay. That chart served as the basis for all other charts of the cape and bay for the next century.
Manthorpe is a retired U.S. Navy captain, government senior civilian executive and university professor. He currently teaches at Delaware Technical Community College. In recent years he has been researching, writing and speaking on naval history with a focus on Delaware’s naval heroes, their battles, naval activities in Delaware Bay and at Cape Henlopen, and Delaware’s ships and shipbuilding.
The final History Happy Hour of the season will take place Aug. 29 as Mike DiPaolo will present "50th Anniversary of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry." Take a journey through the last 50 years while learning about the influential characters, legislature, historical events, and tourism trends that have impacted this Delaware River and Bay Authority operation.
DiPaolo has served as executive director of The Lewes Historical Society since September 2001. He was chairman of the Lewes & Delaware 375th Anniversary Commission; for his role in the 375th commission he was named Southern Delaware Tourism person of the year in 2006 and received the Governor’s Delaware Tourism Award in 2007. He was the 2011 recipient of the Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellence presented by the American Alliance of Museums. He has previously served as vice president of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation and as vice president of Preservation Delaware. DiPaolo holds a bachelor of arts degree in archaeology from The College of Wooster, and a master of library and information science degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
The Lewes Historical Society History Happy Hours are sponsored by the Hotel Rodney. R&L Liquors and Rose & Crown also support this program. The Lewes Historical Society also acknowledges community members, visitors and speakers for support of this popular program. Go to www.HistoricLewes.org for more information.