Kent County Delaware History
We would like to begin collecting a little of the history of the towns and people of Kent County. If you would like to volunteer to write an article about a particular town, person, or family, please email me. Articles of any length will be accepted. You will receive full credit for your contribution, and the satisfaction of knowing you made a worthwhile contribution to your fellow Kent researchers.
Kent County is one of three counties in the small state of Delaware (only Rhode Island is smaller). In about 1670 Englishmen began to settle in the valley of the St. Jones river formally known as Wolf Creek. William Penn chartered Kent County as the Successor to St. Jones. Penn ordered a court town to be layed out, and the courthouse was built in 1697. The town of Dover was finally layed out in 1717, and became the capitol of Delaware in 1777. In 1787 Delaware was first to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and became "the First State." Kent County was a small grain farming region in the 18th Century.
The Federal Census begins in 1800 for this area and goes to 1920. The 1790 is missing but has been reconstructed using tax records. There are statewide indexes from 1800 to 1870 which will make location of the family easier. Page 89 of Ancestry's Redbook describes the the Federal and State Census records available.
Ancestry's Redbook and the Handybook indicate that colonial records are available through various sources. Delaware has been considered over time part of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. The Handybook states that after 1681 records were stored in Pennsylvania Archives, but not all, some can be found in Delaware Archives in Dover. Ancestry's Redbook indicates that for the period 1680 to present, the Delaware state archives have cards which index births, baptisms, marriages, and church and Bible records, newspaper notices, and so forth.
Land records after 1785 can be found in the county courthouses. Land grants were given by William Penn until the Revolutionary War. There are Deeds for Kent County from 1680 to 1850, which are indexed, indicated in the FHLC. Ancestry's Redbook indicates that the Delaware State Archive have a card index of original land patents, warrants, and surveys, arranged by county . The original deed and mortgage volumes or microfilms of them, are also at the Delaware State Archives.
The FHLC shows Probate Indexes for Kent County from 1680 - 1948 Ancestry's Redbook shows that early probate records are available from 1676 to the twentieth century. The University of Delaware also shows a number of books and microfilm covering wills and probate records for all three counties.
Other records that would be of interest would be Cemetery and Church. Ancestry's Redbook states that the largest file of grave marker transcriptions and abstracts can be found at the Delaware State Archives. Also mentioned specifically for Kent County both here and in the FHLC is a book by Raymond Walter Dill, and others, Souls in Heaven, Names in Stone: Kent County Delaware Cemetery Records, 2 vols.
Return to DEGenWeb's Kent County Home Page