Delaware State Facts - History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Delaware history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Delaware
Capital Dover
39.15869 N, 075.51744 W
Middle Atlantic
Constitution Ratified 1897
Statehood December 07, 1787
1st State
Number of Counties 3 counties
Largest County
(by population)
New Castle
426 sq. mi.

Delaware History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1600 - Augustine Beach was named for Augustine Hermann. He was a Bohemian adventurer who mapped the Delmarva Peninsula and surrounding areas in the mid-1600s
  • 1631 - Eleven years after the landing of the English pilgrims the first white settlement was made on Delaware soil.
  • 1632 - Arriving in the New World in 1632 to visit the colony, Captain de Vries found the settlers had been killed and their buildings burned by the Indians. This settlement is commemorated by the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes.
  • 1638 - New Sweden was founded as a colony and is recognized as the first permanent colony on Delaware soil. .
  • 1638 - America's newest tall ship is ten stories high and 139 feet long. The recreation is the Kalmar Nyckel that landed on the Christina River.
  • 1682 - Delaware's northern border is curved. It is called the Twelve-Mile Circle. All points along that part of the border are exactly 12 miles from the Old Court House in New Castle. They were marked in 1682. When a line connected the marks, part of a circle resulted.
  • 1698 - Among Delaware's many historic churches is Old Swedes Church and Hendrickson House Museum, in Wilmington, which has been in use since its completion in 1698.
  • 1768 - The Maryland/Delaware boundary and the Mason-Dixon Line divide Delmar. A double crown stone marker was erected in 1768 as the southern end of the only North-South portion of the Mason-Dixon line.
  • 1777 - The United States flag was reportedly first flown in the Battle of Cooch's Bridge in Delaware on Sept. 3, 1777.
  • 1780 - Barratt's Chapel is known as the Cradle of Methodism. It was built in 1780 and is the oldest surviving church built by and for Methodists in the United States.
  • 1784 - The most historic site in Frederica is Barratt's Chapel east of town. The chapel is where the Methodist Church of America was organized in 1784.
  • 1785 - Oliver Evans of Newport invented the automatic flour-milling machinery that revolutionized the industry.
  • 1787 - Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States constitution. It did so on December 7, 1787.
  • 1802 - Eleuthère Irenee du Pont, a French immigrant, built the state's first gunpowder mill on Brandywine Creek near Wilmington in 1802. The Du Pont Company would eventually become the largest chemical company in the United States.
  • 1807 - The town of Milton was named after the English poet John Milton.
  • 1812 - Port Penn was considered the best port in Delaware.
  • 1831 - The nation's first scheduled steam railroad began in New Castle .
  • 1880 - The 87-foot Fenwick Island Lighthouse was painted in 1880 for a total cost of about $5.00.
  • 1910 - The United States battleship Delaware was commissioned.
  • 1925 - "Our Delaware" is the official state song of Delaware. The words are by George Hynson, music by William Brown.
  • 1939 - The Blue Hen chicken is Delaware official state bird. The hens were noted for their fighting ability. Delaware is sometimes referred to as the Blue Hen State.
  • 1950 - The frying pan built in 1950 for use at the Delmarva Chicken Festival is 10 feet in diameter and holds 180 gallons of oil and 800 chicken quarters.
  • 1955 - The peach blossom is Delaware's official state flower and has prompted Delaware's nickname as the peach state.
  • 1974 -The Lady Bug is Delaware's official state bug.
  • 1981 - In recognition of sportfishing's overall recreational and economic contributions to the state of Delaware and of the specific values of the weakfish (Cynoscion genus) as a game and food fish, the state Legislature adopted the weakfish as Delaware's State fish in 1981. This fish is also known as sea trout, gray trout, yellow mouth, yellow fin trout, squeteague, and tiderunner.

More Delaware History Firsts & State Facts

  • Delaware shares a semi-circular border with Pennsylvania. The border was drawn at the time of the original land grants to William Penn from King Charles II and the Duke of York.
  • Delaware has relatively lenient corporate tax laws, attracting many businesses to incorporate in the state even though virtually all their activities are carried out elsewhere.
  • The sheaf of wheat, ear of corn, and the ox on Delaware state seal symbolize the farming activities of early Delaware.
  • Delaware was named for Lord de la Warr. He was the first governor of Virginia.
  • The Du Pont Laboratories first produced nylon at its plant in Seaford. This earned the town the distinction of being the Nylon Capital of the World.
  • Hagley Museum was originally the du Pont black powder manufactory, estate, and gardens.
  • John Dickinson was a signer of the United States Constitution, but he didn't sign his own name. Dickinson had to leave the meeting, so George Read signed for him.
  • Delaware is the only state without any National Park System units such as national parks, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, memorials, and monuments.
  • Delmar is popularized as the little town too big for one state. The community has the distinction of being located partly in Delaware and partly in Maryland.
  • Today about 500 descendants of the original Nanticoke Indians reside in Delaware. They celebrate their heritage each September with the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow.
  • The log cabin originated in Finland. Finnish settlers arrived in Delaware in the mid-1600s and brought with them plans for the log cabin, one of the enduring symbols of the American pioneer. One of the cabins has been preserved and is on display at the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover.
  • John Dickinson was called the Penman of the Revolution for his writings on independence. His boyhood home is preserved in Dover.
  • Tradition holds the first time Betsy Ross's famous flag was flown was at the Battle of Cooch's Bridge. This historic site is located on route 4 in Newark.
  • In total area Delaware ranks 49th in the nation. It contains 1,982 square miles. It is 96 miles long and varies from 9 to 35 miles in width.
  • Ebright Road in New Castle County is the highest state elevation at 442 feet above sea level. The lowest elevation is along the coast at sea level.
  • Thomas Garret lost his entire fortune in his battle against slavery. He was sued by a Maryland slave owner and fined for aiding a black family in flight. Over his lifetime, Garrett reportedly helped more than 2,000 fugitive slaves move through Delaware, an important stop on the Underground Railroad.
  • Rehoboth Beach is the state's largest coastal resort town. Methodists who purchase the land for a summer camp and meeting place originally constructed it.
  • Twelve concrete observation towers along the coast were constructed during World War II to protect the state's coastal towns from German u-boat attacks.
  • Fisher's popcorn is a famous coastal caramel corn. It has been ordered from as far away as Vietnam and Indonesia.
  • The American holly is the official state tree. The tree can reach a maximum of 60 feet in height and a trunk diameter of 20 inches.
  • Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, six miles northwest of Wilmington features one of the world's finest naturalistic gardens.
  • Hagley Museum was originally the du Pont black powder manufactory, estate, and gardens.
  • The state's Coastal Heritage Greenway consists of a corridor of open space running along 90 miles of coast and spanning the area between Fox Point State Park and the state line at Fenwick Island.
  • Thousand Acre Marsh is the largest freshwater tidal wetland in northern Delaware. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canals border the marsh.
  • Odessa possesses one of the finest collections of late 18th- and early 19th-century architecture in the middle Atlantic region. The center of town is on the National Register of Historic Places and the entire town has been zoned as historic.
  • The 80-food Great Dune is the state's highest. It is located at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.
  • Horseshoe crabs may be viewed in large numbers up and down the Delaware shore in May. The crabs endure extremes of temperature and salinity. They can also go for a year without eating and have remained basically the same since the days of the dinosaur.
  • The Du Pont Laboratories first produced nylon at its plant in Seaford. This earned the town the distinction of being the Nylon Capital of the World.
  • Colonial blue and buff are Delaware's official state colors.
  • The Delaware Indians were one of the most advanced tribes of the eastern United States.
  • New Castle County includes the largest population and smallest area of Delaware's three counties.
  • Wilmington's Delaware History Center is housed in a renovated, art deco former Woolworth five-and-ten-cent store.
  • Quaker merchant Thomas Garret is thought to be the model for a Quaker farmer in the novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Garret and famed abolitionist Harriett Tubman worked closely with Delaware's anti-slavery forces.
  • The Delaware Breakwater at Cape Henlopen State Park was the first structure of its kind in the western hemisphere.
County Information and County History
State Facts & History Firsts
State Fun Facts - History Firsts