"Bloomsbury" meeting at Cheswold Firehouse
May 9, 1998

Report on archaeological excavations by Heite Consulting
in Duck Creek Hundred



The Lenape Tribe of Delaware sponsored a get-together Saturday, May 9, 1998 at the Cheswold Fire House. It was the opening event of Delaware Archaeology Week.

A presentation of Heite Consulting's findings from the Bloomsbury site and their research into the Indian origins of the community was given as well as evidence for the local community's Indian descent. Kevin Cunningham of the Delaware Dept. of Transportation described the program that led to Heite's discovery, and Dr. Cara Blume discussed the material evidence of native cultural remnants at Bloomsbury.

Quoting from the opening paragraphs of the report "Delaware's Invisible Indians."

"During 1994 and 1995, the authors directed excavations in Duck Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, on a property known historically as Bloomsbury. The tract was being converted into a Delaware Department of Transportation wetland replacement site, part of the mitigation associated with Delaware Route 1. The Department engaged Heite Consulting to prepare cultural resource studies of the property. The archaeology of this site was interesting in itself, but the historical research uncovered a fascinating example of the survival of social groups despite the loss of material and institutional identification symbols.

"At least two Bloomsbury tenants, John Sisco and Thomas Conselor, bore surnames associated with a local population often called "moors" historically centered around the town of Cheswold in Little Creek and Duck Creek hundreds of Kent County. These people have a tradition of Indian descent, and have been recognized by previous researchers as a Native American remnant community (Weslager 1943)."


Ned Heite

Representing the far-flung online Mitsawokett discussion group were Chuck Martin and his cousin Betty from California, and Counselor descendants from Michigan and New Jersey in addition to those from the Delaware-southern New Jersey-Maryland area. Kevin Cunningham of the Delaware Department of Transportation and Cara Blume did a wonderful job of taking up the slack where Ned Heite's voice was not up to the job. Mrs. Anna Coker and her son Dennis, the tribal chairman, skillfully made the visitors at home and introduced them to the Cheswold area descendants.

Following are Chuck Martin's "Heartfelt Comments about the Cheswold Get-together" --

"First I would like to thank everyone for their kindness. Thanks to the Lenape tribe for their warm welcome, Ned Heite for his excellent work in bringing together the various groups and Cara Blume for her archaelogical expertise.

"Thursday morning May 7 we went to the Dover archives to do some research. Cousin Betty and I were reviewing a film when we discovered cousin Betty and Ray Terry were setting next to us. What a pleasure it was. They are a very warm and charming family.

"On Friday evening May 9, fourteen cousins and friends attended the get-together. They were: Joyce Counsellor & Joseph Berenyi; Chuck Counceller; Betty & Ray Terry; Anna E. Coker; Dennis Coker leader of the Cheswold Lenape; Cara Blume; Ned Heite; Karen Councilor & son John; Betty Parker; and Marie & Chuck Martin. States represented were CA, DE, IN, MD, MI, NJ & OH. From my perspective, I believe a wonderful time was had by all.

"After very brief introductions, we talked and shared our experiences with one another. I felt as if I had known everyone almost all of my life. We adjorned before 10pm and over half of the group went next door for dinner where we continued our fellowship. Since several of us were staying at the Comfort Inn, we met for breakfast and then departed for the Bloomsbury presentation.

"We arrived early to find that many had arrived before us. We were greeted by Dennis Coker who started the introductions. Almost immediately, I met Rose Marie Ridgeway, Lorraine Gregg and Michelle Pierce all of whom I had corresponded with but had never met. This was followed by a flood of introductions to other cousins and conversations that continued until the Bloomsbury presentation.

"The Bloomsbury presentation by Ken Cunningham, Cara Blume and Ned Heite was outstanding. It was a true learning experience. Lunch was served by the members of the Lenni Lenape group. It was delicious and we thank you. After the presentation we continued our fellowship.

"Cousin Sarah Seeney, a very gracious lady, volunteered to show us the locations where many of our relatives were buried in Fork Branch Cemetery. I volunteered to show the group the locations of Elijah Counsellor's 1811 homestead and the Bloomsbury site. Sarah explained the relationships of and pointed out the burial locations of many of our ancestors, some of which didn't have an inscribed tombstone. Thank you Sarah.

"Then we caravaned to the other two sites. We had to hurry back to the motel, for the Saturday evening get-together, for it was fast approaching 6pm.

"Saturday attendees were: Sarah Seeney; Joyce Counsellor & Joseph Berenyi; Chuck Counceller; Betty Parker; and Marie and myself. Again we had a wonderful time sharing of our selves. Then we adjorned next door for dinner and more sharing.

"Except for Betty, Marie and myself, the remainder to the group staying at the Comfort Inn departed for home on Sunday morning. Marie and I attended the Sunday services at the Immanuel Union United Methodist Church in Cheswold. It was so nice to meet and worship with so many of my cousins.

"I do thank all of the members for the warm reception they gave us. I know we will never forget it. We departed Monday morning for Salem Co, NJ and remained there until Thursday morning researching and visiting cousins and friends. We had an especially nice visit with cousin Maybell & Sandy Bordley. We thank you for your kindness and the hospitality you both showed us. Yes, I am ready for another one of those delicious peach cobblers.

"After talking with so many new found cousins and friends about the marrying customs and patterns of our people, I now know that I will have to extend my genealogical research to include all family names found in the Cheswold group and their descendants.

"Again, I want to thank all of my new found cousins and friends for the warm and loving welcome you gave us. It will never be forgotten."

---- Chuck & Marie Martin, 692 Sueden Dr Beavercreek, OH 45430 (937) 426-0984





Cheswold Fire House Photos
by Karen Councilor


L to R: Rose "Sweetsie" Ridgeway, Chuck Counceller, Joyce Counsellor,
Lorraine Johnson-Gregg, Karen Councilor, Michelle Pierce, John Lacko,
Chuck Martin & his cousin Betty Parker


L to R: Joanne Sammons, John Fisher (friend of the Sammons'),
Alfred "Nookie" Sammons, Bruce Morris, Loretta Sammons Gourley


Chuck Counceller
, Anna Coker


Kenneth Ridgway, Rose "Sweetsie" Ridgeway, Greensbury Ridgeway, Sarah Seeney Sullivan,
Chuck Martin & his cousin Betty Parker


Kevin Cunningham, back
L to R: Janice Durham, Delores Harmon,
William (Tony) Durham, Iona Durham


Joyce Counsellor & Joseph Berenyi


Kevin Cunningham, DELDOT &
Dennis Coker, Chief of the Lenape Tribe of Indians


Elijah Counsellor's 1811 homestead

A letter from Chuck Martin 28 May 1998: "After the Bloomsbury presentation, I pointed out, from the road, to the caravaning group, the limits of Elijah's former plantation.

"...I wanted to get permission from the present owners to search for a Counsellor family cemetery on the property but alas other things I had to do were of a highter priority. I hope to be able to eventually make the search sometime in the future."

"I am particularly interested in the location of all land owned or farmed by the Counsellors and all of their relatives."




L to R: Chuck Counceller, Joseph Berenyi, John Lacko, Betty Parker,
Joyce Counsellor, Chuck Martin, Sarah Seeney Sullivan






"The History and Genealogy of the Mixed-blood
Native American Communities of
and Nearby Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
and Southern New Jersey"



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