Key date analysis:
When John Dean was assessed for property in 1852, his local holdings were listed as two dwellings on Secretary Street. These dwellings are the ones standing at 6 and 10 Railroad Avenue. A deed from 1854 mentions John Dean's granary at this location. Possibly the granary was also used as a dwelling. The granary along with a storehouse were mentioned in a deed from 1798. James Sulivane had another granary that was burned to the ground in 1780. It was possibly at this location. It is not clear when the granary mentioned in the 1854 deed was moved, destroyed or converted into a house.
In 1849 John Dean was assessed for real estate of similar value to the value in 1852. It is presumed the "2 dwelling houses on Secretary Street" existed in 1849. The 1824 Will of Mary Rawleigh mentions a house and lot that formerly belonged to her father Edwards Thompson. It is not clear if the Edwards Thompson house was incorporated into the house that is currently standing at 6 Railroad Avenue or 10 Railroad Avenue. An Architectural Historian estimated both houses were originally constructed in the 1840s. Either house may have incorporated all or part of the original house.
In 1886, when Charles H. Willis bought this property, the land had the same improvements thereon from a deed of 1869. The 1877 map and earlier tax records show the Willis Hardware Store did not exist before 1877. It is believed that Charles H. Willis had a Hardware Store built shortly after he purchased the lot in 1886. The 1887 commercial directory for East New Market includes an entry-Charles H. Willis, Hardware. In the 1940s, the store had been converted for use as a firehouse. Today it is no longer standing.
Who built it:
The original house that stood on the lot that encompasses 6, 8, and 10 Railroad Avenue was built by Edwards Thompson. If the construction of this house mainly dates to the 1840s, John Dean would have had this house built shortly after he acquired the property through marriage in 1841. Charles H. Willis likely added the Victorian addition in the 1880s. Charles H. Willis was likely also the builder of the Willis Hardware Store in 1886.
James Sulivane built the original storehouse and granary sometime between 1783 and 1798.
From 1885 until today Charles H. Willis and his descendants have lived in this house. He lived there 34 years and his wife Mary lived there even longer. Although John Dean likely built the current structure and owned it for over 20 years, some records show he lived and managed a hotel at the "Old Tavern" on Main Street and did not live here.
Dendrochronology could establish the exact date of date of construction for the house. Chancery Court case 610 from around 1869 for John Dean and possibly an earlier Equity Court case for Mary Rawleigh would add more details to this property history.
508 MLB 71 - 7 January 2003 - Mary LeCompte Smith Lawrence to Jerome Lawrence for $0: Lot with all the buildings and improvements thereon, in the town of East New Market. Being on the northward side of the street that leads from the Cambridge, Cabin Creek State Taod to the Railroad Depot, at East New Market, being the same land that was conveyed to Charles H. Willoughby from William W. Williamson and others dated 16 Mary 1885 and recorded in 7 CL 267, described in said deed as adjoining the premises of Mrs. John A. Baker and E.S. Johnson, as of the date of the said deed. Beginning at the southwest corner of a lot on the north side of said street owned by the said Mrs. Baker, thence bearing N71.5W 6.9p to a lot owned by E.S. Johnson; thence binding with said last name lot N15.5E 11.8p; thence S87E 7p; thence S24W 3.5p to a lot owned by the said Mrs. Baker; thence binding with said lot to the place of beginning. Containing 83 square perches. Being the same land which was conveyed from Lake R. Vane & Agnes S. Vane, his wife, unto Mary LeCompte Smith Lawrence in a deed dated 17 June 1971 in 169 PLC 507.
169 PLC 507 - 17 June 1971 - Lake R. Vane & Agnes S. Vane to Mary LeCompte Smith Lawrence for $5: [described in 508 MLB 71] Being the same property conveyed unto James Lassell Smith, single, by Agnes R. Vane et. al. by deed dated 15 April 1959 in 114 RSM 156. And being the same land conveyed unto Lake R. Vane et ux from James Lassell Smith, single, by deed dated 13 July 1959 in 115 PLC 370.
115 PLC 370 - 13 July 1959 - James Lassell Smith, single, to Lake R. Vane & Agnes S. Vane of the state of Delaware for $5: [described in 508 MLB 71] Being the same property conveyed unto James Lassell Smith, single, by Agnes R. Vane et. al. by deed dated 15 April 1959 in 114 RSM 156.
114 RSM 156 - 15 April 1959 - Agnes R. Vane & Lake R. Vane, her husband, Samuel C. Smith & Elizabeth P. Smith, his wife, and Mary R. Smith, widow, to James Lassell Smith for $5: Whereas Agnes R. Vane and Samuel C. Smith are the owners of the hereinafter described real estate as joint tenants, they having purchased said property from Mary R. Smith, widow, who retained for herself a life estate. Whereas the said Agnes R. Smith and Samuel C. Smith, having sold the hereinafter described property unto James Lassall Smith, the said Lake R. Vane, husband of Agnes R. Smith, and the said Elizabeth P. Smith, wife of Samuel C. Smith are joining in this deed to convey whatever interest they may have. And the said Mary R. Smith is joining in this deed to convey all of her life estate. Being the same land conveyed unto Agnes R. Vane and Samuel C. Smith by deed dated 24 May 1951 in 75 RSW 298. [described in 508 MLB 71] Being the same land which was conveyed to the said Mary R. Smith by V. Calvin Trice, Trustee in No. 6925 Chancery, by deed dated 20 August 1946 in 60 RSW 15.
75 RSM 298 - 24 May 1951 - Mary R. Smith, widow, to Agnes R. Vane and Samuel C. Smith, of Wilmington, Delaware, as joint tenants, reserving unto the said Mary R. Smith a life estate, for $5: [described in 508 MLB 71] Being the same land which was conveyed unto the said Mary R. Smith by V. Calvin Trice, Trustee in No. 6925 Chancery by deed dated 20 August 1946 in 60 RSM 15.
60 RSM 15 - 20 August 1946 - V. Calvin Trice, Trustee, to Mary R. Smith for $2400: Whereas by virtue of a decree of the Circuit Court sitting as a Court of Equity dated 1 June 1945 and passed in a cause wherein Mary R. Smith and Samuel J.T. Smith, her husband, are complainants, and Paul L. Willis Jr. and others are defendants, being No. 6925 Chancery, the above named V. Calvin Trice was appointed Trustee to sell the real estate in the proceedings. On 30 June 1945 he did sell the property at public auction to Mary R. Smith. The "First Parcel", residence and store house [described in 508 MLB 71] Being part of the same land that was owned by Charles H. Willis at the time of his death, and which he devised in his last will and testament, in the Will Records 3 RPS 318, to his wife Mary R. Willis, who survived him, for the term of her life and in remainder to his two children Mary R. Smith and Paul L. Willis Sr., the said Mary R. Willis having later died, and by her death the said property vested in fee simple, in the said devisees, under the said will.
East New Market Cemetery
Mary LeCompte Willis - 30 December 1861 / 24 February 1944
Dwelling #83, household of Mary R. Willis
Dwelling #13 - Household of Mary Willis
2 RPS 318 - 23 April 1904 / 27 October 1919 - Will of Charles H.
Second: I give and devise unto my wife, Mary R. Willis, for and during the period of her natural life only, and no longer, ... also all that dwelling house where I now reside, the lot of ground, the Hardware Store-house and all the buildings on said lot, situated in the town of East New Market, Md.; and on the death of my said wife, Mary R. Willis, I give and devise my aforesaid Real Estate, as above named, to my children, Mary L. Smith (wife of Samuel J.T. Smith) and Paul L. Willis, in equal parts, share and share alike...
East New Market Cemetery - Charles Henry Willis - 6 July 1856 / 19 October 1919
Dwelling #37, household of Charles H. Willis, Hardware Merchant
1896-1910 Tax Record
Charles H. Willis
1896 - 1/2 acre lot in ENM $200
Dwelling, Store House, & Shop $2300
Dwelling #272, household of Charles H. Willis, General Store
Charles H. Willis
1/2 acre lot in the town of East New Market $200
Dwelling, Store House, & Shop $2300
Stock of goods $2000
7 CL 267 - 19 May 1885 - William W. Williamson to Charles H. Willis for $700: With the consent of James T. Prouse land was sold. [described in 508 MLB 71] Being the whole of said lot specified as lot No. 4 in the report to the court of and sold by the executors of the last Will of John H. Fletcher, deceased, to the said William W. Williamson. Being the same lot with the same improvements when bought by the said William W. Williamson sold to the said James T. Prouse, but not deeded for being the same lot with all the present improvements thereon sold by the said James T. Prouse to the said Charles H. Willis for $1400. Being the same lot together with the improvements thereon that the said John H. Fletcher purchased of David M. Henry and Clement Sulivane, Trustees and which will more fully appear by reference to a deed dated 29 November 1869 in 7 FJH 502. Excepting a small portion thereof since sold by the said John H. Fletcher to John Baker and reserving the right of way over the lane as it now runs. Signed by William W. Williamson & Mary J. Williamson, and James T. Prouse & Georgia M. Prouse.
Marriage - 4 May 1881 - Charles Henry Willis to Mary Rebecca LeCompte
Possibly dwelling #6, household of Martin Kesmodel, Hardware Merchant
John H. Fletcher
Dwelling house & lot in ENM 1/2 acre - $1400
Dwelling #345, household of John Fletcher, Farmer
7 FJH 502 - 29 November 1869 - Daniel M. Henry & Clement Sulivane, Trustees, to John H. Fletcher for $1827: Where by a decree of the circuit court sitting as a court of equity passed on 23 July 1867 in the case of Joseph E. McKnett and Francis M. Dean vs. John E. Dean, and Charles J. Dean, the said Daniel M. Henry and Clement were appointed trustees to sell the real estate decreed to be sold and did sell that part of the same to John H. Fletcher for $1827. All that lot with the improvements thereon situated in the town of East New Market on the north side of the street leading from the said town to the Dorchester and Delaware Rail Road Depot, and adjoining the premise of John Baker and Levi S. Johnson, and which is embraced within the following metes and bounds Beginning at the SW corner of a lot on the north side of said street owned by John Baker, thence N71.5W 6.9p to a lot owned by Levi S. Johnson, thence binding with said lot N15.25E 11.8p, then S87E 7p, then S24W 3.5p to a lot owned by John Baker, then binding with said lot back to the place of beginning. Containing 83 square perches of land. Being the whole of said real estate sold by us as Trustees to the said John H. Fletcher, excepting a small portion thereof since sold by said John H. Fletcher to the said John Baker and reserving the right of way over the lane as it now runs on the East side of the premises hereby conveyed from said Street to the back lot purchased by the said John Baker from us as Trustees for the sale of the real estate of John Dean, deceased in No. 610 Chancery to and for the use of John Baker.
[In 1872 about 1/3 of the lot below was deeded by John H. Fletcher to John Baker. Baker's part became 8 Railroad Avenue, and the part Fletcher retained became 6 Railroad Avenue.]
1867-1876 Tax Record
John Dean's heirs
1867 - House & lot, 2 story $1800
1867 - House & lot, single story $1000
1867 - Unimproved lot 4 acres $200
1867? - Houses & Lots - $3000
John Dean's heirs
house & lot (2 story) $1800, house & lot (single story) $1000, unimproved lot 4 acres $200, Total $3000
Possibly dwelling #736, household of John Dean, Tavern Keeper
[deed indicates he lived at the Old Tavern in 1855, and thus may have rented out his two dwelling houses on Railroad Avenue.]
1852-1864 Tax Record
2 Dwelling Houses on Secretary Street $900
[Although not a transaction for 6 or 8 Railroad
Avenue, this record establishes that John Dean's Granary was at this
3 FJH 439 - 28 October 1854 - James T. Smith to John Dean for $173.75: parcel of land in town of East New Market and formerly belonging to Thomas K. Smith being part of that land which was conveyed to the said Thomas K. Smith by his father Levin Smith, late of this county. Beginning the northwest corner of the said John Dean's granary, thence running N17E 28p to the lands of John Webster, thence with the said lands S67E 22p to a cedar tree, thence with K.M. Jacobs land S17W 20p to the N.E. course of the said K.M. Jacob's garden, thence with the said garden fence and the lands of the said John Dean to the beginning. Containing 3 acres.
1849-1851 Tax Assessment
John Dean of James, Real Estate $1161, Personal Estate $567
Possibly dwelling #1239, household of John Dean, Farmer
Marriage - 14 August 1841 - John Dean of James to Josephine McKnett
18 ER 292 - 23 February 1841 - Mary Sherman & Thomas B. Sherman, her husband, to Josephine McNutt for $300: tract called "New Market" in New Market on the north side of the road leading from the forest to Secretary Creek Hundred on the east by the land of the late Henry Nicols, on the north by the land of John Webster, on the west by the land of Jeremiah Bramble & wife, on the south by the road above mentioned. Being the same which the aforesaid Mary Sherman became entitled to by the death of her mother Mary Rawleigh and her father William Rawleigh.
Possibly household of Josephine McKnett
Marriage - 17 December 1832 - Thomas T. McKnett to Josephine Maria Ennalls
Will of Mary Rawleigh - 29 September 1824 /
To daughter Mary Rawleigh - house and lot in New Market which formerly belonged to my father Edward Thompson.
To daughter aforesaid - 5 negoes, namely Rachel and her three children, Henry, William, and John; and one called Jim.
Mentions brother James Thompson and three sisters Rebeckah Braughn, Elizabeth Smith, and Sophia Handley. Executor - brother James Thompson.
Witnesses - Henry Marshall, Allen Twyford, William Harper.
Death - 30 September 1824 - Mary Thompson Rawleigh
ER 196 - 3 February 1820 - Greenberry L. Rawleigh to Mary Rawleigh, widow of William Rawleigh, deceased, for $100: lot in the village of New Market which I purchased of Levin Smith and Clinton Handley, it being 1/3 of the lot that Edward Thompson purchased from James Sulivane with the appurtenances thereon. [presumed that William Rawleigh owned the other 2/3 of the lot, which was passed to his wife, Mary Rawleigh].
Marriage - 26 December 1816 - Greenbury L. Rawley to Elizabeth Lecompte
3 ER 538 - 21 October 1815 - Levin Smith & Elizabeth Smith, his wife and Clinton Handly & Sophia Handly, his wife to William Raleigh and Greensburry Raleigh for $238: lot in the village of New Market which was devised by Edward Thompson to his three daughters to wit, Elizabeth, Polly, and Sophia and which the said Thompson purchased from James Sulivane on 29 June 1798.
Marriage - 13 January 1806 - William Rawley to Mary Thompson [Polly is a nickname for Mary]
Republican Star - 30 April 1805 - To Rent -
For the remainder of the year, the Store & Granary formerly occupied by Mr. Thomas Williams, in New Market, Dorchester County. For terms apply to Eliza. Thomas. N.B. Any person inclined to rent may have genteel accommodations in the house if required.
14 HD 283 - 29 June 1798 - James Sulivane to Edwards Thompson for 50 pounds: a lot in the village of New Market being part of a tract called "New Market". Beginning at marked cedar post fixed at the end of the 3rd course of a lot whereon Doctor Daniel Sulivane now lives, and thence running and binding with the home line of the aforesaid Doctor Daniel Sulivane's lot N 2 W 15 1/2 perches to another marked cedar post, thence S 89 W 12 3/4 perches to another marked cedar post, thence S 2 E 12 perches to the main road leading from New Market to Vienna and binding and running with said road to the first beginning. Containing 1 acre.
14 HD 42 - 5 March 1798 - John Tootell, late High Sheriff of Dorchester County to Edwards Thompson for 100 pounds: whereas in 1794 the General Court of the Eastern Shore directed the sheriff to sell good, chattels, lands, and tenements of James Sulivane, late of Dorchester County to pay debts of 2000 pounds due to William Barclay. Sheriff directed to seize (1) one lot in New Market being a part of a tract called "New Market" about 1 1/2 acres of land with a store house and granary and sundry other parcels of land and other things amounting as by the appraisement to 1390 pounds to satisfy the said William Barclay. The lot with the store house and granary was sold at auction to Edwards Thompson. Beginning at a marked cedar post laid at the end of the 3rd course of the lot whereon Doctor Daniel Sulivane now lives, and thence running and binding with the home line of the aforesaid Doctor Sulivane's lot N 2 W 15 1/2 perches to another marked cedar post, thence S 89.5 W 12 3/4 perches to another marked cedar post, thence S 2 E 12 perches to the main road leading from New Market to Vienna and binding and running with said road to the first beginning. Containing 1 acre. Also all right & title to the said Store House, Granary, and lot of land specified. In 1797 the sheriff sold another part of James Sulivane's lands to pay his debt to William Barclay, one lot in New Market with a cabinet makers shop for 25 pounds.
Maryland Herald and Eastern Shore Intelligencer
- 14 November 1797 -
Sheriff's Sales -
By virtue of certain writs of Kenditioni Exponas to me directed, will be sold, at public vendue, at New Market, in Dorchester county, on Saturday the 16th day of December next, the following lands and tenements; that is to say, a lot of ground in New Market, containing about 1 1/2 acres of land, with a store house and granary upon the same; a plantation near New Market, commonly called Hickory Ridge Plantation, consisting of various parcels of land, and containing about 320 acres of land; a tract of land called Addition to York, containing about 25 acres; another tract of land called Littleton's Last Shift, containing about 100 acres; and 220 acres of land, part of another tract called New Market, to be laid off at the southernmost send of the said land, beginning at the easternmost corner of the cleared land. These lands all lie in the neighborhood of New Market, and were lately the property of James Sulivane and were taken in execution at the respective suits of William Barclay, and of Somerwell and Daguid, and will be sold for cash to the highest bidder.
John Tootell, late Sheriff of Dorchester County.
Maryland Herald and Eastern Shore Intelligencer - 8 August 1797 -To Be Sold - On Saturday the 12th day of August next, at Vendue in New Market, for ready cash. A tract of land containing 340 acres, situated on the main branch of the Chickomicomico River, about two miles from Lockerman's mill; there is 120 acres cleared, and the rest abounds with valuable timber. On the premises are a new barn 40 by 25, corn houses that will contain 300 barrels, stableage for eight or ten horses, three logged dwelling houses and a young apple orchard of about 100 trees. -- Priviledge will be given the purchaser to feed wheat. -- Also two lots in the village of New Market, No. 1 and 2, containing about an acre of land in each. On No. 1 there is a store house 22 by 18, accommodated with a compting room, and a shed on one side of the store house that will make a convenient lodging room; a cellar under the house, and a warehouse 30 by 20. No. 2, a dwelling house 28 by 18. -- Also a tract of land of 100 acres, within a mile of New Market; 30 acres cleared and the rest wood land. James Sulivane, New Market, July 20, 1797
[Not sure if the granary that
was set on fire was at this location.]
JCH 266 - March 14, 1780 - Deposition of James Sulivane states that by virtue of a deputation from John Caile Harrison, Esquire, Continental Purchaser for Dorchester County, he purchased for the use of the Continental Army, a quantity of 6,285 pounds pork, 1,038 pounds of beef, 90 1/2 bushels of beans & peas, 12 1/2 bushels of wheat, and 21 pork barrels. All of which said pork beef, beans, peas, wheat, and pork barrels were consumed in the granary of him, the said James Sulivane, except a small quantity of pork that was saved out of the ruins which is to be made into soup for the use of this Continent in New Market on the night between the 8th and 9th of January last passed. To the best of his knowledge and belief, the said Granary was wickedly and maliciously set on fire by some person unknown & not consumed by any neglect of him or his agents.