Fort Delaware is a representation of the first white settlement on the Upper Delaware River, called Cushetunk. Today’s Fort represents the development of the settlement over a thirty year period. The original settlers were farmers who came primarily from central Connecticut and were of English descent. They were searching for more land because it had become too crowded in Connecticut to suit colonial farming techniques. A group of Connecticut men formed “The Delaware Company” and became proprietors. In the traditional New England way of land distribution they owned the land and either sold or leased it to farmers moving into this frontier, these proprietors moved their families to the frontier and never sold their land. The Delaware Company purchased land from the Lenape Indians, with the first deed signed in 1754. The land purchased was a 10 mile long strip along both sides of the Delaware River (situate in modern day New York and Pennsylvania). Procedures for filing land claims were very different in the 18 th century. Also at that time, the States of Pennsylvania and New York were engaged in a boundary dispute, disputes of other colonies really didn’t matter much to those early Connecticut farmers, so they claimed the land for Connecticut! And they called their community, “Cushetunk”. To those white settlers, it sounded like what the Lenapes were calling the place. KASH-ET-UNK, or “a place of red stone hills”.
Trading PostBy 1760, there were thirty cabins, a gristmill and a sawmill. Each spring saw the arrival of more people willing to hack a new life out of the frontier. These people faced hardships they probably never conceived of in Connecticut. Indian attacks, the remote wilderness, rough winters, and the possibility that farming this land would not sustain them. They came into the area during the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763). In 1761, a stockade was erected around three homes to serve as protection for the entire settlement against attack. In 1763, the settlement was attacked by a Lenape war party. The lower part of the settlement was destroyed with no known survivors. By the time the war party moved up the settlement, people had gathered into the Fort for protection. The attackers were held off, with two casualties among the settlers.
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