The Doe Bridge Association had its humble beginnings about seven-years ago when I developed the urge to learn more about the area surrounding Doe Bridge. A visit to the State Archives turned up a colonial-period map that showed a road running southwest from Lewes and crossing a large stream north of Millsboro.
I acquired a large copy of an aerial photo from a government agency and immediately saw the remnants of a road, evident even through the canopy of trees. Then, I stumbled upon a copy of a 1795 map that also showed a road running across the area of the old mill and bridge.
I did say Doe Bridge, right? Why this should have been such an awakening, I’ll never know, for where there’s a bridge, there must be a road.
I also recalled hearing about a settlement possibly being located in that same area, before Millsboro was a town. Now I was intrigued and the subject created within me a desire to know more about the area that did not lessen with time.
Although I had grown up in Millsboro and had boated some distance up the stream as a boy, the area around Doe Bridge was never fully explored by me and I wanted to make up for lost time. So, I convinced three friends to go with me and we met for coffee one warm fall day at the restaurant downtown. To my delight, the conversation quickly settled into local history and after a few cups, we continued on to the appointed spot.
The eastern side of the the waterway and the old mill site were viewed from an adjacent private property. One of the group had spent a lot of his youth in a mill, north of our current location, and he readily pointed out features in the landscape, some of which were indicative of a mill race. We also visited a nearby cemetery from the 1700s and there next to it was a clearing, on which a church had reportedly been built, only to have been dismantled at some later time and removed to a different location.
It’s difficult to believe that seven years have passed since that gathering, but the interest among us has not diminished. The group, which has now grown from four to twelve, will be meeting in July to discuss the next trip, set for this fall, after the leaves and the critters are gone.
Beckoning from the western side of Doe Bridge, on what has been called the “old stage road”, are many turns and tales, one of which involves an old inn. I remember being told about it by the man who lived in the large structure, during my boyhood. It sat on the corner of Bark Pond Road and Patriots Way.
According to Vic Steele, who told the story more than once at dad and mom’s store, he had removed the third story from the building and lowered the roof, all by himself. He told of stairways that went nowhere and other interesting features. And one new member of our group spent time in Mr. Steele’s company when he was growing up.
It should be an interesting meeting. Look for updates here.
Our group obeys all regulations with regard to local, state and federal property, and we strictly observe private property rights. Consequently, our trips are carefully planned and organized.