The Bernard Ekon Plot on the Strand Comprising #30, now owned by Miss Ann J. Dungan, and 35 feet of the Read Garden adjoining now part of the Philip Laird garden (See Photo #21) Original Plot 7 South Part In August, 1650, Director Stuyvesant wrote to the commissary, Andries Hudde, at Fort Nassau on the Delaware, that the bearer of the letter, Jan Andriessen of Beren-Back, had recently arrived from the fatherland and wished to settle on the South River and gain his subsistence like other freemen. A man of the same name had been at this fort as early as 1646; whether they were one and the same is not clear, but after Fort Casimir was established in 1651, Jan Andriessen with a number of others from Fort Nassau each acquired a plot of ground for house and garden on the Strand. Jan Andriessen is the first owner recorded for the lot immediately north of Andries Hudde's, that is, north of and adjoining the plot Hudde sold for the Dutch Church. Andriessen's confirming patent of 1657 describes the lot as 62' on the Strand side, 56' in the rear, and 300' in depth. Whether Jan Andriessen built on the lot is not certain, but ten years later Bernard Ekon, or Eken, is in possession of a house and garden on the site and secures a patent for the property, which describes the lot as 60' x 300'. Eken's only child, a daughter, Margaret, inherited the property. She married Reynier Vanderculen, owner of a number of plots in New Castle. Reynier and Margaret sold the property in 1693 to John Cann,an outstanding citizen who held many offices in the early town, one of them Register of Wills 1684. John Cann's son, John, divided the lot and sold the south half of it to Jacob Van Gezell, merchant, in 1701, the front width of this south half being described as "three feet more than the old kitchen". to run back 45' at this width and then to widen to the equal half of the 60' plot. The number of front feet is not given in successive conveyances of the next hundred years, but later records indicate the division to have been 25' for the south part and 351 for the north part. In 1702 Van Gezell sold the house and lot to Cornelius Empson, the county judge and member of Penn's assembly, who had bought the "Penn house" property on Delaware Street in 1696. Empson immediately sold to Richard Clark for 85 pounds, and he may have been acting only as attorney for Clark as he had done in other property bought by him. The money indicates a fairly substantial house on this narrow site at that time. Richard Clark and his heirs were in possession of the property until 1720-21, when it was sold for a debt against the Clark estate. There were no buyers when the property was first offered, and it was finally bought in for the man to whom the estate owed money - Robert Gordon - for 35 pounds. Robert Gordon, "gentleman" and Mary, his wife sold to Richard Grafton, merchant, in 1728. The property was in the possession of this merchant until 1740 when be sold it to Jehu Curtis for 100 pounds. At that time, Jehu Curtis lived next door to the north, in the house that was then on that larger half of the original lot. Jehu Curtis probably kept an inn at the time or soon after, for in 1744, when Dr. Alexander 'Hamilton the distinguished physician of Annapolis made his trip north through New Castle, he writes in his account of the trip, "I arrived at New Castle, upon Delaware, at nine o'clock in the morning and baited my horses at one Curtis's at the sign of the Indian King, a good house of entertainment." [On his return through New Castle, Dr. Hamilton "dined at Griffith's and had some chat with a certain virtuoso of the town who came in after dinner". Griffith may have been Gideon Griffith, who was sheriff 1744-1748 and wholived in the Tile House.] In 1743 Jehu Curtis was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court and remained in that office until his death in 1753. He was a friend of the colonial leaders of his time in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In addition to his Judgeship, he was speaker of the colonial assembly and treasurer and trustee of the county loan office. The epitaph on his grave stone in Immanuel Church yard is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Judge Curtis left this house, garden, and stable to his daughter Ann, a good business woman. Her husband, Slator Clay, continued the inn, and in this dwelling their eleven children grew up. One of Jehu Curtis's grandchildren, Elizabeth Booth, writes in her Remeniscences, that the large attic room was called "Mount Racket" where the children played and were allowed to make as much noise as they pleased. After the death of Ann Curtis Clay in 1789, the house was sold to her son-in-law William Lees, an English merchant who married her daughter Elizabeth and lived in New Castle for a time doing an importing end exporting business in association with Thomas Bond. After William Lees moved with his family to Liverpool, England., the property was in the hands of several successive groups of merchants; James McCullough, who had a store and tavern on the opposite side of the street next to Packet Alley on the north side, bought this property in 1818. The house was destroyed in the great fire of 1824. Before that time the plot was described in indentures as having a "frame dwelling and frame stable." In 1826 there was a "lateley erected brick dwelling house" on the site., the present #30. In 1846, the property was sold, for debt of James McCullough, to Howell J. Terry. [Howell J. Terry later built the larger house on Delaware Street now owned by the New Century Club. In 1855 the Second Street end of the original south half was sold to the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church as part of the site for the new church.] The frame house shown on the 1804 survey elevations looks as if it might have been the original of the Dutch period, probably enlarged at the back and kept in good repair by the succession of outstanding professional men end merchants who owned as a place of residence as well as a place of entertainment or merchant store. , Original Plot 7 - North Part The sale of the north part of the Eken property to Richard Halliwell is recorded in 1703. The actual sale was probably made before 1701 for the Penn Grant in 1701 of the water or "bank lot' 60' wide, apposite the whole Eken plot, to Richard Halliwell, recites that Halliwell had bought the "greater part" of the Strand plot formerly belonging to John Cann. Richard Halliwell, merchant and large land owner, was also a justice of the court at New Castle for many years, a member of Penn's council and of the assembly. By his will in 1719 he left to Immanuel Church the tract of land north of the present canal - for a church glebe, and his properties on the Strand to his brother Thomas in England or to Thomas's son Thomas. The elder Thomas Halliwell being dead, the nephew came to New Castle and transferred his property inheritance to Sarah Needham, who afterward married John Potts. Whether this north part of the Eken plot was included in that transfer has not been discovered. An indenture for the south part of the lot in 1722, describes the north part as "the lot and tenement late of Richard Halliwell now of William Read." This William Read was sheriff 1728 to 1730, and held other offices earlier. He was a contemporary of John Read, father of George Read, the signer, and may have been George Read's uncle. No conveyance from William Read has been found. When the south part of the lot was sold to Jehu Curtis in 1740. This north part was described as the "lot and tenement in which Jehu Curtis now lives." William Bedford had the lot in 1747. He sold to Benjamin Price; Thomas Wattson guardian for Price's young daughter and heir sold to John Stewart, described in one indenture as "tailor" and in the following one as innkeeper. John Stewart acquired the house and ground in 1767. He mortgaged it to the county loan office in 1776, and died before the mortgage was cleared. At sheriff sale in 1794, the property was sold to Rainer Penton, who died the following year leaving it to his son John. In the 1804 survey the house is marked "store and post office", and in the conveyance of the south part of the Eken plot to James McCullough in 1818, this upper part is described as the "tenement and lot wherein Archibald Alexander now lives". Alexander was a tenant since at that time the Penton heirs owned the property. The house as it was at that time is shown by the Latrobe drawing for the 1804 survey. No description of it has been found in any indenture. The house was there in 1719 and from its size and style of architecture, was probably built by Richard Halliwell after he bought the plot in 1701, and may have incorporated an earlier smaller house. How long Dr. Alexander had lived there before 1818 has not been determined in this search. He was a distinguished citizen and physician one of the founders of the Delaware State Medical Society in 1789, and a man of broad interests. In the Delaware Gazette, 27 May 1797, "the New Castle Book Store" is advertised by A. Alexander, having "laws of the United States" and other books for sale. In that year he bought the large plot of land on the Third Street opposite the Green and built the large double dwelling still known as the "Alexander houses"., between that year and 1804, when they appear on the survey map. Dr. Alexander was a member of the five-man commission appointed in 1797 to survey the town and act as its governing council. The house was destroyed in the fire of 1824. Ten years later, Eliza Penton, heir of John Penton, sold the lot to George Read II, for $500. $100 was paid at the time and the mortgage of $400 was cleared by Read's son, William T. Read in 1838. Since that time it has been a part of the Reed garden, now of Philip Laird.