The Georgetown Historical Society kicks off its 2014-15 speaker series at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 8, in the Marvel Carriage Museum, 501 South Bedford St. when Tom Ryan presents “Delaware During the Civil War.”
In the program, Ryan will discuss the political, military, economic, and social aspects of Delaware during the Civil War period related to the slavery issue. He will also talk about Georgetown personalities such as Maj. Gen. Alfred T.A. Tourbert and journalist George Alfred “Gath” Townsend. Ryan will also describe the role of Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers.
Society Corresponding Secretary Rosalie Walls has also announced the remainder of speakers and topics for the year. All talks begin at 7:30 p.m. Mondays and take place at the Marvel Carriage Museum.
Naval historian Bill Manthorpe will detail German submarine operations off Cape Henlopen during World War I and World War II in “Submarines at the Cape: Friend and Foe,” set for Jan. 15, 2015. Manthorpe will use historical footage and documents to illustrate the intense level of submarine activity along the Cape and the Atlantic coast, which includes the sinking and surrender of German submarines. Georgetown residents with long memories will recall the displaying of a captured German submarine on the Georgetown Circle during World War II.
On Feb. 2, Jim Bowden, who had a 45-year career with the former Diamond State Telephone Company and now serves as curator of the Delaware Telephone Museum at the Marvel Carriage Museum, will present “The Coming of the Telephone in Delaware.” Bowden will take listeners back in time to when phones were new to the state and discuss telephone artifacts such as phone booths and wooden phones dating back to the 1800s, manually operated telephone switchboards, and party lines when numerous households used the same line.
On March 2, in “The Restoration of Georgetown's 1792 Old Court House,” Madeline E. Dunn, curator with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, will describe how she performed the research required and implemented the restoration of the interior of the structure to its early 1800s condition. She will relate to listeners how the historical re-creation of the interior was researched and accomplished. The Old Court House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 by the state of Delaware and the U.S. Park Service.
On May 4, Dr. Carol Wilson, professor of history at Washington College and a preeminent authority on Sussex County's most notorious citizen, will present “Crossing the Line: The Life and Legend of Patty Cannon, Queen of the Kidnappers.” Cannon's principal activity was to capture freed black men and take them into the Deep South and sell them as slaves. She was eventually brought to the Old Court House in Georgetown for a criminal proceeding and returned to the Georgetown jail, where she poisoned herself.
For further information on programs and in case of severe inclement weather during presentation times, contact Rosalie Walls at the Marvel Museum, 302-855-9660.