But What Did Delaware?


Yesterday, I spent a good amount of time reading through the emails many of you have sent me over the last week. And one of them sent me down a weird rabbit hole. Reader Heather S. sent me the note below:

Not sure if you listen to the podcast Ridiculous History, but you got a shout out in part one of the Delaware Wedge! At least I assume you just be the Dan Lewis the trivia expert! 

That was great to read! But it caused me some concern:

I had never heard of the Delaware Wedge before.

Did I forget about something I wrote about? Was this another Dan Lewis who writes about trivia? (There is, in fact, another.) I had to find out.

I don’t regularly listen to any podcasts and while I’ve listened to Ridiculous History before, I hadn’t listened to that episode. (It’s here, in case you’re interested.) I wasn’t in a place where I could listen to a 27-minute episode in hope of hearing my own name, so I couldn’t go directly to the source immediately. But I was able to search my archives and there was a problem: at no point did I ever mention anything called the “Delaware Wedge.”

I went to Google and saw that the Wedge has a Wikipedia entry, here. The map at the top of this email is from that page, and it looked vaguely familiar, but only vaguely. I scanned the page to see if anything else was familiar and came up empty. I learned that the wedge is a part of Delaware that doesn’t fit with the original borders of any of the three states pictured — listen to the podcast or read the Wikipedia page if you’re interested — and the whole story definitely could have been something I’d have written about. (Well, except for the fact that the end of the story is boring. The Wikipedia entry has a section on how the borders were resolved, and concludes that “by simple geometry, the Wedge fit more logically as a part of Delaware.” Meh.)

I began listening to the episode shortly thereafter and, simultaneously, began reading through my archives for anything that could have mentioned Delaware. Finally, the hosts started talking about something called Cresap’s War, and that rang a bell. I searched my archives again and found an article that I wrote in 2012 about that — and just moments later, the hosts mentioned my name. About 22 minutes into the episode, the hosts credit me for the background on Cresap’s War. (Thanks, Ridiculous History, for the shoutout!)

Re-reading the story I wrote a decade-plus ago, though, it’s kind of odd that I didn’t realize the impact of Cresap’s War on Delaware’s borders at the time. I do mention “Delaware” once but it’s a reference to the Delaware River, and in my initial scan of that article during this hunt, I disregarded the story entirely as a result. Regardless, I’m glad I didn’t forget about something I wrote about!

The Now I Know Week In Review

Monday: The Spaghetti Tree Hoax: A fantastic April Fools’ joke.

Tuesday: The Speeding Ticket That Sent a Judge to Jail: Not paying a fine becomes a historic blunder.

Wednesday: The Birds That Didn’t Want to be Tracked: A fun story of an accidental scientific discovery.

Thursday: The Million Pound Cough: Watch the video in this one. The end of it, at least. (It’s long.)

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

  1. One Woman’s Mission to Rewrite Nazi History on Wikipedia” (Wired, 22 minutes, September 2021.” The subhead: “Ksenia Coffman’s fellow editors have called her a vandal and a McCarthyist. She just wants them to stop glorifying fascists—and start citing better sources..” Sorry if it’s behind a paywall — Wired’s is fickle, sometimes I get blocked, sometimes I don’t.
  2. The Pregnancy Was the Con: How One Woman Allegedly Tricked Countless Doulas Into Helping Deliver a Fake Baby” (Cosmopolitan, 16 minutes, September 2023). This is an awful story and may be hard to read for some — skip it if you’re sensitive to the issues captioned in the content warning at the top. It’s also something I can’t fathom — why would someone do this?
  3. She missed her flight to extend her Italy vacation romance. Here’s what happened next.” (CNN, 14 minutes, March 2024). The headline made me think this was going to turn dark… but it doesn’t! It’s just a nice, sweet story.

Have a great weekend!