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Bob Weiner Organizes Brandywine Hundred History Expo

Meet the Brandywine Hundred folks
Expo speakers will trace family histories

History buffs are invited to visit with the "First Families of Brandywine Hundred" at a community event set for Saturday.

Members of families whose farms filled the region in earlier generations will share their stories at the Brandywine Hundred History Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the cafeteria of Brandywine High School at 1400 Foulk Road on Saturday May 17, 2008.

The event is open to the public, free of charge. Guests are welcome to bring brown-bag or picnic lunches.

"There will be speakers every hour, for about 15 or 20 minutes," said master of ceremonies James Hanby Sr., a magistrate whose family goes back to "1678 or so" in the area.

"This is living history at its most alive because these families have memories of these farms before the post-World War II development boom," said New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner, an event organizer and co-sponsor with Councilman John Cartier. "This is an opportunity for the 'first families of Brandywine Hundred,' as we call them, to have a reunion and share stories not only amongst themselves but with current residents ... who share a passionate interest in the history of the area," Weiner said.

Guests will be able to browse -- at their own pace -- tables set up by history-related organizations and deep-rooted families that will display memorabilia, historic photographs, old letters and other treasures.

Historic photos of Concord Pike and the Fairfax area, from the Mitchell's Family Store collection, also will be displayed.

In addition to Hanby, speakers will include 79-year-old Jack Day, whose family farm became part of the county's Talley Day Park and home of Brandywine Hundred Library; longtime resident Betty Anderson sharing "Seventy Years of Memories;" Doris Barclay Powell, talking about "Life in Brandywine Hundred;" and David Grubb, on his kin and new book, "The Grubb Family."

Book signings by Grubb, Lee Anderson, who wrote about Wilmington's Riverview Cemetery, and Abdullah Muhammad, who wrote "The Making of 'Delaware One Day at a Time,' " are scheduled.

Muhammad said $5 from each sale of his $24.99 book will be donated to the Friends of Historic Riverview Cemetery, which he serves as president.

Exhibitors include Old Swedes Church, Swedish community leader Frances Allmond, the Swedish Colonial Society, historic building artist Tom Bullen, Claymont Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Friends of Riverview Cemetery.

Noting this is the state's last hundred embracing the historic geography term, Weiner said the area has "a true sense of identity, because we actually call ourselves residents of Brandywine Hundred."

Home to more than 84,000 people, it would be the state's largest city if incorporated and "it's a place where people live, shop, work and play within 10 minutes," he said.

Saturday's expo also will let guests learn about Concord Pike, which he said was a deer path adopted as an Indian trail that became a cart path for hauling produce, then a road for the coaches from West Chester, Pa., to Wilmington, then the separate villages of Willingtown on Christina River and Brandywine Village on the Brandywine.

The event offers a good introduction for new or potential residents as well as Delaware history buffs, Weiner said. The expo will be recorded to help document the region's oral history, with a copy to be given to the library and DVDs sold later.

The expo follows a program Weiner set up in February to encourage Jack Day to share his recollections, but it grew as others volunteered to speak as word spread. Set for a room to hold 50 or 60, the event drew a crowd of more than 200, Hanby said.

"The goal of Saturday's Brandywine Hundred History Expo is to build on that success. ... There are great people coming and it's going to be a lot of fun," Hanby said.

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