"Blue book" p. 97


The funds derived from New Castle Common have, through the years, been devoted to so many purposes that only the larger interests can be considered.


For many years the Trustees assumed all the expenses of Town Government, and until after 1850 there was no town tax at all. As early as 1807 the Trustees defrayed the expenses of furnishing lights for the Town, and enclosed the public square and planted trees. Trees have been furnished a number of times and recently many have been planted both on public property and throughout the Town. In 1822 the Town Clock was purchased by the Trustees, and through all the years has been maintained by the Trustees and has given remarkable satisfaction. The Town Hall was built by the Trustees on public property, and for over a century has furnished a meeting place for the people of the Town.


As early as 1819 the Trustees purchased a fire engine for the Town. Appropriations and assistance have been repeatedly and freely given to the Volunteer fire companies who have served the Town so well. These companies have been the Union, Penn, Delaware, Goodwill, Lenape and the present excellent Goodwill Company. The Trustees originally built the lower floor of the Town Hall for fire companies, and a few years ago took title to the present fire hall, discharged the indebtedness, and turned the property over to the city, free of debt. Since ambulances have been adopted as part of the firemen's equipment, the Trustees have gladly aided in their purchase and maintenance.


In the early days the Trustees paid all the costs of improving the streets, first with gravel and then with cobble stones, which was then the best known means of paving. As late as 1912 the Trustees spent $7000 in assisting the paving with more modern material.


At an early date the Trustees built the wharf at the foot of Harmony Street, and in 1914 paid half the cost of the Delaware Street Wharf, of about $7000.


The very first appropriation of funds in 1798 was for educational purposes. For a time all the funds of the trust were devoted to the erection and maintenance of the New Castle Academy. Later the Arsenal Building on the Green (then a one-story building) was taken by the Trustees and rebuilt, and here the Trustees established the New Castle Institute. The Trustees then operated and entirely supported all the public schools of the town until 1875, when the Board of Education was created. The Trustees furnished the site for the District School on School House Lane, recently demolished for the Airport. A large contribution later made possible the erection of the school building at the West end of the town at 11th and Gray Streets. About 1931, when William Penn School was built, the State appropriation was not sufficient without serious curtailment of the plans. The value of the building was secured by the aid of the Trustees to the extent of $20,000.


As early as 1823 the Trustees expended a large sum in boring for artesian wells for the use of the Town. When the first public water system was suggested in 1869 the project could not be carried out unless the Trustees guaranteed the interest on a large amount of bonds. This was done, and the water works installed and the interest paid until about 1899. When the City of New Castle acquired its own Public Utilities the management was entrusted to a commission appointed respectively by the Mayor, City Council and Trustees of New Castle Common.


Between 1903 and 1915 the Trustees, at the earnest request of the citizens, took steps to provide employment for the citizens of the town. By providing sites and other material aid to the extent of upwards of $26,000 the Brylgon, Baldt and Tropenas Steel Companies were located in New Castle and for many years furnished employment to a large number of inhabitants.


In times of financial stress the funds of the Board have been freely devoted to purposes of the relief of the inhabitants who have been denied all opportunity of employment. Calls of the Red Cross or more local charities have been speedily and liberally answered.


In 1939 the Trustees, for the sum of $25,000, purchased the large tract on the River front, known as the Battery, for a park and public playground. It was subsequently deeded to the city. The inhabitants are thus assured, for all time, that this splendidly located tract will always be open for their enjoyment. It may be, that in the years to come, the future of the Trustees of New Castle Common will be in the nature of a Park Board. To this end the Legislature of the State in 1941 created the Trustees of New Castle Common as the Park Board to have supervision and charge of all parks acquired for the use of the City of New Castle.

In thus presenting some details of this unusual and unique institution the limitation of space has necessarily required the elimination of many events of more local color-those interesting items which constitute the folk lore inevitably attaching to a continuous history from the earliest colonial times.
We have attempted merely to present the outlines of this active, living and useful trust which has continued to function in its full vigor for a period of almost three centuries. We have viewed the preservation of this material as important, not merely because of its value for the proper administration of the trust itself, but because it typifies the survival of a rare example of an ancient mode of life, now scarcely to be elsewhere found, together with its adaptation to more modern conditions.

As we have herein shown, there is substantial evidence to the effect that New Castle Common had its existence prior to 1664, when the English first exercised any jurisdiction over Delaware soil. The first recorded mention of the tract, of which we now have knowledge, was, however, in the Minutes of Assembly of September 20, 1701. The date of submission of this booklet of September 20, 1944, exactly two hundred and forty-three years later, has, therefore, been advisedly chosen and is deemed as not an inappropriate date.