Cheat Mountain to Fort Delaware
From South Park & Back – Part 1
David Phillips trail through Virginia
Just west of Cheat Mountain was the second prong of Lee’s attack at Elkwater, WV. The Union defensive position is an interesting remote site. It was originally an 18th century frontier fort against the Indians. By 1861, the strategic ground had become a cemetery. It’s the only fort I have seen built around a graveyard. Lee was unsuccessful here too. It was know as Camp Elkwater.
Heading due North, I drove through a very quaint small town in Beverly, West Virginia. The town visitor center has a great interpretive area housed in a former courthouse, circa 1801. There are numerous other historic buildings in town. The Battle of Rich Mountain is literally right up the road.
Rolling north into western Pennsylvania, I stopped in Washington, PA for the night. I like to plan my visits for Sunday traffic at the highest congestion points, if at all possible. So it was essential to get Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. in my rearview mirror by the end of the next day.
Day 4: Southpark Township, PA was a short drive. I arrived early Sunday morning at the cemetery of David Philips, my 5th great grandfather. Reverend Philips, served the Lord here at Peters Creek Baptist Church for 43 years. Prior to that, he was a Captain in the 7th Chester County Battalion, during the American Revolutionary War.
Note: for some reason, the family Tennessee branch changed the name to Phillips with two L’s.
Things were on track for getting to Fort Delaware before the last ferry at 4 pm. This changed at a turnstile on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The unexpected self-service cash receptacle required closer parking. I had to open the door to reach the cash slot. 100 miles later, I realized my wallet probably dropped out there (it was later found and turned over to police). Fortunately, I had a back up credit card, photo I.D. and cash stashed away.
The delay cost me about an hour, stopping to cancel cards and contact the authorities. If I made good time, I could still get to Chester County, on the other side of the state, and the last ferry to Fort Delaware.
I arrived in the beautiful upscale suburb of West Chester, PA about noon. The secluded Vincent Baptist Church was located on the edge of a wooded park. It was established in 1736, and the Church building is from 1812. The cemetery contained the remains of my 6th great grandfather: Joesph Philips. He is the first generation emigrant from Pembrokeshire, Wales. There were at least 30 more Philips buried around him in a long line. Most of the headstones had new metal tablets, with the inscriptions from 200+ year old, fading headstones.
Shooting four photospheres took about an hour (with a neighbors inquiry about what I was doing there). I was close to the go-no-go point of making it on time to the ferry.
I arrived at 10 minutes to 4 PM at Fort Delaware State Park. The park didn’t take Discover for the $14 fee, but waived the rules to let me write a check (I was hoarding my cash for the unknown remaining tolls).
Fort Delaware was one of the POW prisons my second great uncle David Phillips occupied. He was captured twice during the war, so he got two tours of the fort.
I had a little under an hour and a half to shoot as many 360º’s as I could. During the robot’s fourth gyration, I was talking with some young park rangers about my great uncle. An older park ranger inside heard me mention David Phillips. He came out with a photo of the young lieutenant, which he only received days before. My guess is their social media director caught a few tweets I have done recently about David and the fort.
Heading south from Delaware, I used up my last $3 on the final toll booth of my journey near Baltimore. I hate turnpikes! Arrived late at The Hampton Inn near Fredericksburg, Virginia.
…continued on South Park & Back – Part 3