On Presidents’ Day, I had to work; the bright side was that I got to take the car to work (which I rarely do) and had free time at lunch to go beyond the four block radius around my office.
It’s been over month since I’ve visited a cemetery, and honestly, I’ve been missing it. The holidays, the flu and the weather have been my biggest enemies this season. And you should see how my head whips around every time we pass a cemetery while riding down the highway!
So, Monday at lunchtime, I took a ride to the nearby Highlands, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Wilmington, to check out Mt. Salem Cemetery, adjacent to Mt. Salem Methodist Church. However, the surrounding street and sidewalk were piled high and deep with snow and plow drifts — not explorer friendly. Not even the driveway to the cemetery was clear, probably prohibiting any visits to grandma for Mt. Salem parishioners.
So I decided to trek further north to Greenville and check out the grounds of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church.
I’d been saving an ‘official’ visit to St. Joseph on the Brandywine for later, since the church has three separate cemetery properties and it would take the good part of a day to explore, but I thought I might get a few shots of snowy gravestones in during my lunch hour. Making lemonade from lemons with the weather, I guess.
A little history:
According to the parish website, the church was built in 1841 by stone masons affiliated with the DuPont Company, on land donated by Charles I. DuPont, with construction financed and donated by the DuPont company and family. Fascinating, since I believe the DuPonts were Hugenots, a faith that has long-standing tension with the Catholic Church. But DuPont businesses – from gunpowder to rayon – practically built northern Delaware single-handedly, so it really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. I guess the family, realizing that so many of the workers at their nearby mills were Catholic immigrants, thought it would be a good-faith gesture to make life easier for their employees.
Again, according to the parish website, the church community was so tied to the DuPont company that “Parishioner’s pew rents were collected by the pastor through DuPont Company payroll deductions.”
After the mills closed, the parish was in danger of dying, but suburban sprawl in this northwest corner of New Castle County in the later half of the twentieth century saved the parish, and it is now one of the most affluent zip codes in the state.
(One of the current parishioners is Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States. His first wife, Nelia, and daughter, Naomi “Amy,” who were tragically killed in a car accident shortly before Christmas 1972, are buried in one of the parish’s cemeteries.)
Anyway, I got a few quick pictures before the cold drained my camera battery (I hadn’t charged it after a recent trip to beautiful Longwood Gardens, so it’s my own silly fault) and I had to head back to work.
A return trip is definitely in order to this beautiful church and grounds.