Delaware's Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors & Nanticokes

Delaware's Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors & Nanticokes

Delaware's Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors & Nanticokes

Delaware's Forgotten Folk: The Story of the Moors & Nanticokes


"It is offered not as a textbook nor as a scientific discussion, but merely as reading entertainment founded on the life history, social struggle, and customs of a little-known people."--From the Preface

C. A. Weslager's Delaware's Forgotten Folk chronicles the history of the Nanticoke Indians and the Cheswold Moors, from John Smith's first encounter with the Nanticokes along the Kuskakarawaok River in 1608, to the struggles faced by these uniquely multiracial communities amid the racial and social tensions of mid-twentieth-century America. It explores the legend surrounding the origin of the two distinct but intricately intertwined groups, focusing on how their uncommon racial heritage--white, black, and Native American--shaped their identity within society and how their traditional culture retained its significance into their present.

Weslager's demonstrated command of available information and his familiarity with the people themselves bespeak his deep respect for the Moor and Nanticoke communities. What began as a curious inquiry into the overlooked peoples of the Delaware River Valley developed into an attentive and thoughtful study of a distinct group of people struggling to remain a cultural community in the face of modern opposition. Originally published in 1943, Delaware's Forgotten Folk endures as one of the fundamental volumes on understanding the life and history of the Nanticoke and Moor peoples.


When I made Delaware my home several years ago, it was solely because new business opportunities had presented themselves through an intermediary of a large corporation by which I was destined to be employed. The subsequent decision to move family and household effects to Wilmington opened up a new phase of existence that was to bring gratification I had not known before. The new business connection was, and continues to be, a source of pride and satisfaction, at the same time providing adequate means for sustenance in return for my humble services. Quite apart from this necessary but not unpleasant quest for a living, I found in Delaware many things equally enjoyable to occupy the hours between the close of one work week and the opening of the next. What this little state I now call home lacks in size finds compensation in its traditions, people, and the fund of material for those curious about the life of centuries past. The fields along the Brandywine, which once ran red with patriots’ blood, the old covered bridges, the colonial architecture of New Castle, the Cape Henlopen sand dunes with their buried pirates’ gold, the Christina River valley and its farms, historic sites, and memories of Peter Minuit, Johan Papegoja, Jean Paul Jacquet, Peter Alrichs, and pot-bellied Johan Printz—all are worthy of more attention than has yet been given them in American Literature.

I lived in Delaware only a short time when I was told of the existence in the southern part of the state of a strange breed of people called Moors and Nanticokes. My interest whetted, I asked the usual questions that come to one’s lips when he learns for the first time of a people shrouded in mystery. Who were they? Where did they originate? I was told many fantastic . . .

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