Prettyman’s work ensures New Road history won’t be forgotten

October 23, 2020

Several recently published books with local connections have made their way to my desk over the last year. I will be discussing them the next couple of weeks in this column.

The first is Ralph Prettyman’s “A History of Tower Hill: Revisited, Sussex County, Delaware - A Historical Sketch Of The Land And People And Their Surrounding Community.” 

Milford resident Prettyman published his first History of Tower Hill in 1998. After many more years of research and compilation, he published his Revisited version in 2019.

Tower Hill is the name of a 400-acre land grant first recorded in the late 1600s. Prior to the land grant and the English law that eventually changed the face of the continent, the Tower Hill property was occupied for thousands of years by Native Americans.

Members of Prettyman’s ancestors owned and resided on the property for centuries before it was subdivided and sold, mostly in the 20th century.

Located along New Road southwest of Canary Creek just outside the town limits of Lewes, the Tower Hill tract, like much of the open ground around the City of Lewes, is slated for residential development.

While the face of the land will change dramatically with its development, Prettyman’s passionate efforts over the past three decades ensure that the history of the land, its surroundings, and its inhabitants will not disappear.

It’s also through Prettyman’s efforts, assisted by others interested in the long history associated with this property, that small plots in the new development – such as a Prettyman family burial ground – will be protected and preserved as onsite evidence of the past, available for public inspection.

The 585 pages of “History of Tower Hill: Revisited” include 12 chapters, an index of names and places, and several pages of detailed references for those who might want to dig even deeper into Prettyman’s sources.

In his preface, Prettyman notes that he has added a section on slavery and the contributions to the agricultural economy of the area by African Americans. He has also provided an expanded section on religious institutions associated with Tower Hill and its surrounding area, and additional information on the indigenous peoples who populated the area before European contact. The book is not only an engaging read for those interested in local history, but an amazing reference work filled with photos, drawings and maps to sustain its context. The book was printed by Prettyman Publishing, 29 Valley Forge Drive, Milford, DE 19963.

Future generations will long be indebted to Prettyman’s in-depth work and the many doors to local history it will open for them.

Next week, I will be discussing Matthew Horace’s “The Black And The Blue - A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement;” and Wes Moore’s “Five Days - The Fiery Reckoning of an American City.”

Editor’s note: To purchase the book online, go to


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