Delaware Before the Railroads
Book Title: Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States by Dave Tabler
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 100 pages
Genre: American History, Colonial
Publisher: Dave Tabler
Publication Date: Nov 2022
Tour dates: Nov 25 to Dec 16
Content Rating: G. None needed. Works for all audiences.
"If you think you know Delaware, think again. Pirates? Quakers fighting with Pennsylvania? Towns so ugly no one would settle there? With stunning pictures and straightforward storytelling, Dave Tabler opens hidden passages and describes defining moments in this founding American colony. Telling this small state's story gives you a sense of the big picture in American history. Enjoy this fresh look at Delaware through Dave Tabler's eyes." -- Wendy Welch, author The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
"Whether discussing the colored spear tips that showed the community if a person had been found guilty or not, to the stones that identified the Mason-Dixon Line, Dave Tabler's book on colonial Delaware offers the reader a smorgasbord of interesting stories and photos of its early years. This is another book to add to collections about the beginnings of our country." -- Sheila Ingle, winner, South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution Historical Preservation Award for four of her young reader novels about South Carolina heroines during the Revolutionary War
"Thoroughly researched and well-written, Delaware before the Railroads offers a glimpse into the past through a present lens. Respected historian Dave Tabler utilizes colorful and intriguing photographs to tell Delaware's foundational stories." -- Jan Loveday Dickens, Tennessee author and educator
"Dave Tabler's impeccable research and clearly written descriptives tell a truthful and provocative story for anyone interested in the subject or doing research for other works covering the same period. The colorful and informative photographs tell the story of not only Colonial Delaware residents from 1638-1832 but our American forefathers in general. We learn about every aspect of their way of life during the most critical time of our country's history." -- Lisa Soland, author, and senior editor of Climbing Angel Publishing
"Dave Tabler has crafted a concise and fascinating photographic account of early Delaware. "Delaware Before The Railroads" is definitely a book that should be in the collection of anyone interested not only in the history of Delaware but also in the history of colonial America." -- Steve Gilly, "Stories, A History of Appalachia" podcast
"Beautifully illustrated and presented in a unique format, 'Delaware Before the Railroads' is an easy and informative read-sure to appeal to Early American and Delaware history buffs." --Amelia E. Miller, Tennessee author and historian
"Tabler's purpose, indeed, his mission, is to create a tribute to the culture and history of Delaware before the coming of the railroad. Consequently, he not only rediscovers the past, he also preserves and celebrates it with a montage of vivid images and an insightful narrative." -- Gary Carden, author, storyteller, playwright
Delaware before the railroads arrived in 1832 was hotly contested real estate. Circle back to 1610 for a ride that takes you through culture clashes, colonization, revolution and beyond.
Ten year old Dave Tabler decided he was going to read the 'R' volume from the family's World Book Encyclopedia set over summer vacation. He never made it from beginning to end. He did, however, become interested in Norman Rockwell, rare-earth elements, and Run for the Roses.
Tabler's father encouraged him to try his hand at taking pictures with the family camera. With visions of Rockwell dancing in his head, Tabler press-ganged his younger brother into wearing a straw hat and sitting next to a stream barefoot with a homemade fishing pole in his hand. The resulting image was terrible.
Dave Tabler went on to earn degrees in art history and photojournalism despite being told he needed a 'Plan B.'
Fresh out of college, Tabler contributed the photography for "The Illustrated History of American Civil War Relics," which taught him how to work with museum curators, collectors, and white cotton gloves. He met a man in the Shenandoah Valley who played the musical saw, a Knoxville fellow who specialized in collecting barbed wire, and Tom Dickey, brother of the man who wrote 'Deliverance.'
In 2006 Tabler circled back to these earlier encounters with Appalachian culture as an idea for a blog. AppalachianHistory.net today reaches 375,000 readers a year.
Dave Tabler moved to Delaware in 2010 and became smitten with its rich past. He no longer copies Norman Rockwell, but his experience working with curators and collectors came in handy when he got the urge to photograph a love letter to Delaware's early heritage.
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The Delaware Public Archives has been my home away from home this past year. Yes, they have a ton of stuff scanned and searchable online. But when you're talking about hundreds of years of history and hundreds of thousands of documents, the scanned material is just a tiny fraction of what's available. And so you've got to make the trek.
One day I was doing some research on land grants in early Kent County, DE for my "Delaware Before the Railroads" book. You can't just stroll into the back storage area and start rummaging through stuff. Ohhhh, no. You sit at a large desk, and the archivist brings out one box at a time of maybe 50 original documents, each protected by a plastic sleeve.
As a quick aside, archives differ on whether the guest should be required to wear white gloves or not. The Delaware Public Archives feels that white gloves block manual dexterity enough that the guest might actually rip or tear a document accidentally due to them. And so one gets to handle these fragile treasures with no gloves. But the Archives does require you wash your hands before beginning, which makes perfect sense.
This particular day I found a real treasure, but not the one I was searching for. You're no doubt familiar with the notion of using red wax to seal a document in the years before gummed envelopes. The seal not only closed up a folded document, but also indicated the authenticity of the sender.
Well. Imagine my surprise and amusement coming across the document shown here that yes, required a wax seal from an authority, but no, doesn't have one. How is it that the doodle approximating a wax seal was accepted as official? And yet here it is, calming staring back across the years at the viewer. The doodler got the last word that day!