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Middlesex Lions Club News

Lion Andy Johnson (left) with guest speaker Gordon White, author of “Moore’s Creek.”

by Mike Firkins

The guest speaker  at the June 9 Middlesex Lions Club meeting, Gordon Eliot White, gave a  most informative  history of Moore’s Creek in Deltaville.

Mr.  White comes from an interesting and diverse background. He is originally from Glen Ridge, N.J., attended schools in New York, and holds degrees from Cornell University in history, and Columbia University in  journalism.

After  working on the Paterson, N.J., Evening News, he went to Washington with the Chicago American newspaper. He later served as Washington correspondent for newspapers in Albuquerque, N.M., Lincoln, Neb., Jacksonville, Fla., and Salt Lake City, Utah covering Congress, the White House, Pentagon and other federal agencies. He is retired and moved to Deltaville in 1998.

After retiring from newspaper work, Mr. White went to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, as the museum’s Auto Racing Advisor. Since 1993 he has written seven published books on the history of American automobile racing.

He owns (restored) a 1948 Kurtis-built, Offenhauser-powered, racing car that he exhibits at shows such as Wings and Wheels, and races in vintage race car events. In that car he holds the international speed record of 153 miles per hour for vehicles of 2,000 cc displacement, set at Bonnerville in 1989.

He is a licensed pilot and has held a USCG captain’s license for vessels up to 100 tons. He is a senior judge with the Antique Club of America.

Always interested in history, he has written articles on the early locomotive industry of Paterson, N.J., on early aircraft radio and navigation, the origins of Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, and Moore’s Creek, in Middlesex County, where he lives.

While most of Mr. White’s books  have been about American automobile racing and historical research, his recent book on Moore’s Creek is his first attempt at local history. He began his research because one of his neighbors had asked him to find out who the “Lucy” was in the “Lucy’s Cove” community. That was all Mr. White needed to spark his inquisitive mind, and the unraveling of this history began. Following are just some of the  historical facts of interest  he shared with the Lions. More information can be found in his Moore’s Creek book.

Originally, people thought that the developers, Folliard & Hall, thought up the title, but the truth is that “Lucy’s Cove” was named more than 150 years ago before the development was created.

Mr. White first touched on the more ancient history of the area with reference to melting glaciers and rising sea levels.  In 1608 Captain John Smith reached these shores and our Moore’s Creek story began. John Smith’s 1608 map has been reproduced in his book, and still remains surprisingly accurate today, despite the sea level rise and 400 years of erosion! Mr. White has certainly written extensively about  our county’s “lay of the land” and its many waterways.

In later history we learned Middlesex County was created out of Lancaster in 1667 with the courthouse established at Urbanna. Mr. White said the early county land records there are among the best he has ever seen. We are fortunate that during the Civil War the court clerk buried the records at the Dragon Run, and they survived.

In the early 1800s a number of settlers came across the bay from Dorchester County, Md., to the Deltaville area. One of them, John Creighton, bought Providence Plantation. Creighton would be instrumental in the founding of Clarksbury Methodist Church in 1838. At that time the nearest settlement was Amburg, just down the road from Sandy Bottom, a “village” later to become known as Deltaville.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, another industry was established on Moore’s Creek. Famed boat builder John Wright, put up a boatbuilding yard. He became the most prolific builder of deadrise work boats on the Chesapeake Bay.

In the 1970s the Perrell descendants began trying to sell land, but it was difficult to find all the descendants to sign the sale papers. Finally, in 1978, Folliard & Hall was able to buy the land and develop it. The entrance to Moore’s Creek was dredged and Folliard & Hall created a development they called Lucy’s Cove, consisting of 47 lots on which there are now 20 waterfront homes and 12 interior lots.

Mr. White’s history still goes on telling us about the years of the 1930s with reference to the opening of Hurd’s Hardware Store, Taylor’s “establishment,” now a  restaurant, the “faint” remains of Linwood Price’s boat yard, land that has been in the Moore family now for nearly 170 years, the growth of Deagle’s Boat Yard, and the history of Middlesex men in the Civil War. What a wealth of knowledge Mr. White has written for us, and there is much more to read  in his book, “Moore’s Creek"—a historical account of years gone by that will be read for many years to come.

This year  the Middlesex Lions were pleased  to present scholarships to very deserving  seniors Greg Dorsey and Mark Hall.  We sincerely  wish them all the best  in the future. 

Members of our Lions Club helped with the annual high school physicals at Chesapeake Medical Group.

An upcoming event is our White Cane drive to collect money for those in need of glasses or hearing aids.  

We look forward to meeting people in our community and having new members. If you would like to join or have questions about  the Middlesex Lions Club, please call Mike Firkins at 435-5559. The Middlesex Lions meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at The Pilot House/Beacon in Topping. 

posted 06.24.2009

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