April 17, 2002

One of the last working farms in Brandywine Hundred will be preserved in order to give future generations a glimpse of the area's agricultural heritage.

The property owned by the late Evald and Eleanor Streed off Wilson Road is to be part of the Cloutier Complex in Talley-Day Park. The farm was acquired as replacement for parkland being used for the new county library off Foulk Road.

Jon Husband, a manager in the New Castle County special services department, said a determinatuion how the farm will be 'interpreted' has not yet been made nor is there a timetable for opening the 10-acre tract to public access. But he added

that, in general terms, it is slated to become both a nature-education and an historic resource.

"It is going to be preserved in a way that will enable our children and their children and grandchildren to share in our proud farming tradition while enjoying open space," said Second District County Councilman Robert Weiner, who has played a prominent role in advancing the three-prong development of the park complex..

Nearing completion are several active-recreation components, including basketball, tennis and bocce courts, picnic area, playground and a dog-roaming area. Construction of the building which will house 'New Castle County Library - Brandywine Hundred' -- as the new library is to be known -- is somewhat ahead of schedule as a result of the mild winter. It expected to be finished by the end of 2002 and furnished and equipped for use during the first half of 2003, Husband said.

Carl Streed (facing the camera) describes life on his family's farm to County Executive Thomas Gordon and Councilman Robert Weiner during a tour of the property. Parts of the barn behind Streed date to the early 1800s.

The Streed property will provide a distinct counterpoint to the intensive uses in the rest of the park, he added. The two areas will be separated by a hedge row and a permanent stormwater management pond landscaped as a water feature. There will be no vehicle access between the areas, but they will be connected by paved footpaths.

"It will be very unusual to have this very serene property adjacent to a very well developed park," Husband said.

County Executive Thomas Gordon said the idea is to create a multi-purpose facility under county auspices for Brandywine Hundred that will be comparable to Carrousel Park in the Pike Creek area.

He and several others got a first-hand insight into the farm and farm life on a recent tour arranged by Weiner and conducted by Husband and Carl Streed, Evald's brother. He, too, grew up there, moving away when he and his wife, Evelyn, were married in 1947. Evelyn Streed also participated in the tour. They now live in Haddonfield, N.J.

The Streed brothers' father, also Carl, bought the farm in 1911 from John Warren. The original farmhouse burned down and was replaced in 1928 by the existing house where Evald lived until shortly before his death last autumn. There are several other farm outbuildings on the property, including a barn, parts of which are believed to date back to about 1820.

Neither the senior Carl Streed nor Evald Streed were full-time farmers. The former kept his job at the Pullman Co. railroad car factory in Wilmington and the latter retired as a vice president of Delmarva Power & Light Co., now Conectiv Power. Evald Streed was responsible for the stringing of high tension lines across the Delaware River from the Salem, N.J. nuclear generating station.

The first generation were what was known as  truck farmers. The present Carl Streed recalled riding with his mother, Annie, as she sold vegetables and fruit along a so-called huckster route through several Wilmington neighborhoods. What is now known as Wilson road was then a narrow dirt road known as Bird Road. A wood-plank bridge spanned Shellpot Creek, which courses by the farm, he said.

He recalled by name the families which lived on farms along the road. Those properties have given way to suburban development and, in fact, part of the Streed property was sold and is now the Nordic Dell community. "Had the county not acted, this would all have become [residential] development," Weiner noted.

Most of the Streeds' outside activities were in the city. There maderegular trips into town for shopping and recreation. He and his brother attended Wilmington High School and the family belonged to the Swedish Baptist church on Vandever Avenue, the predecessor of the present Grace Baptist.

The Streeds are of Swedish heritage but unconnected with the original Swedish settlements in the Delaware Valley. When their  father emigrated from Scandinavia he went first to Minnesota.

"He used to say that he arrived in this country with an overcoat and $10 and that, shortly after he got here, somebody stole the overcoat," Carl Streed said.

Interestingly enough, the elder Carl Streed began life as Carl Ericksen. His son explained that, when he entered the Swedish army, a sergeant 'named' him Strid to avoid confusion with several other Ericksens. That is a common surname in his homeland.

"When he came through Ellis Island, a clerk wrote it down as 'Streed' because that's how the pronunciation sounded," he said.

Having had changes imposed by agents of  two governments, the final family name is likely to be preserved for many years to come. Gordon said the farm portion of the park will continue to bear it.

2002. All rights reserved.

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