Delaware - History and Heritage

The Nanticoke tribe occupied much of Delaware's territory long before European settlers arrived. At the Nanticoke Indian Museum in Millsboro, visitors get the chance to see many of the tribe's traditional objects such as ceremonial carvings, pottery, clothing, tools and implements. The facility also houses an extensive collection of Native American books, photographs and documentary films.

The 19th century was a time of great change and industrialization for the nation. At the Hagley Museum and Library it becomes clear how strongly this sudden growth affected Delaware's cities and towns. Situated in the riverside landscape of Wilmington, the Hagley was originally a gunpowder works factory. The museum has re-purposed the mill by recreating tableaux of home and work in an industrial community. Attendees can participate in all kinds of activities from days gone by, including a chance to learn lessons in a mid-19th-century school and see period machines come alive.

The Dutch settled the port of Lewes in 1631. The first town in the first state, Lewes was also once known as "Delaware's Saltiest Town." Full of rough and tumble shipmen and sea rats, the town has since grown into one of the most historic areas of the state. The Lewes Historical Society has restored approximately a dozen historic properties in the town, allowing visitors to stroll down cobblestone walkways alongside buildings that are straight out of the seventeenth century, and soak up the local maritime lore that put this place on the map.

Another first for Delaware is the Old Swedes, or Holy Trinity, Church in Wilmington. Built in 1698 by Finnish and Swedish settlers, the church is the oldest church still in use in America and has not been architecturally altered since it was first erected.

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