Historical Society awards $4,500 to students in research paper contest

Alison K. Matsen, Middletown Historical Society

On Nov. 17, nine students who reside in the Appoquinimink School District were given cash awards in the historical research paper contest sponsored by the Middletown Historical Society.

The awards were presented in the Old Academy at 216 N. Broad St., site of the Middletown Museum.  

The topics of the research papers were the individuals and families for whom various Middletown streets are named. The prizes ranged from $200 for honorable mention to $1,000 for first prize. 

Since 2017, the Board of Directors of the Middletown Historical Society has set aside funds for the awards, which are given out based on the quality of the papers.

This year’s $1,000 first prize was named for Helen Garton, a Cochran descendant, who had generously donated the funds for the prize.

Faith Skinner won the $1,000 first prize research paper award from the Middletown Historical Society Nov. 17.

First place winner Faith Skinner interviewed several people who had known Eddie Fields Sr., for whom Fields Terrace is named. He was chairman of the board of the school which eventually became Redding School.

Other winners included Garima Bagdi, Madeline Moyer, Eddie Cierniak, and Billy Metten. 

Garima Bagdi won the second prize award from Middletown Historical Society Nov. 17.

Honorable mention prizes were awarded to William Wehmeyer, Adrianna Massio, Ella Trembanis and Caitlyn Davis.

This year’s finalists represented Appoquinimink High School, Middletown High School and MOT Charter School. 

Through this research the Historical Society and Middletown residents could learn interesting facts about the people for whom streets in the older sections of Middletown are named:

  • Robert A. Cochran served in the Seminole Wars of the 1830s.
  • (BULLET) John J. Hoffecker’s mother hadn’t learned of her son’s death in World War One until five months after he died.  Wood Street is named for William Wood, born in 1818, a local store owner and postmaster.  
  • Bessie Anderson’s sister married a New Yorker and moved to Montana with him. She died shortly after giving birth to a son who was then raised by Bessie in Middletown.  
  • Berkman Street was named for Harris Berkman, son of a Russian Jewish immigrant shopkeeper. Harris was the fire chief in Middletown for 28 years, and worked tirelessly to raise money for the fire company by having annual carnivals. 
Maddie Moyer won the third prize research paper award from the Middletown Historical Society Nov. 17.