Nanticoke River Roots

This is the first in a series of four articles introducing the families and surnames I’m investigating, starting with my father’s family in Sussex County, Delaware.

The picture below is my father and his grandparents, John Robinson and Ella (Ryan) Robinson. It was taken around 1918 on a farm in Little Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware. The farm was just outside of Delmar, Delaware. Click on it for a larger image and notice the bare feet and the straw boater on the porch.

Reese, John and Ella

The Nanticoke River connection was found a few years ago as I began the work of unravelling several mysteries surrounding the history of my father’s family in Sussex County Delaware. This led to the construction of a family tree that goes back ten generations so far, without leaving Sussex County! The majority of the families I’m researching had their beginnings in what is roughly the watershed of the Nanticoke River. In Delaware, this includes seven of the Sussex County ‘Hundreds’ (Little Creek, Broad Creek, Nanticoke, Northwest Fork, Cedar Creek, Georgetown and Dagsborough). In Maryland, this includes the the Fork and Vienna Districts of Dorchester County, Maryland and the Sharptown, Barren Creek and Salisbury Districts of Wicomico County.

Most of the people in this family were farmers (or ‘planters’ if you go back far enough). The alphabetic list of surnames in this branch of the family includes Bryan, Carpenter, Clifton, Conoway, Isaacs, Lecatte, Lingo, Neal, Outten, and Ryan (or Rion).

This is the most difficult line that I’m researching. My father’s family didn’t talk much about those who came before. There was no written history and very little documentation handed down. Because of this, most of work work involves this branch of the family tree.