Welcome to White Clay Creek. This 18 mile long creek starts in Southern Pennsylvania and runs into northern Delaware. This creek is the northern boundary of the White Clay Creek Hundred, of which the New London Road Community is a part. What you are looking at now is probably very similar to how the creek looked throughout the 19th and 20th centuries; little has changed here, though much has happened. This creek provided food, water, entertainment, and, perhaps most importantly, spiritual fulfillment to the community.
Before the churches of the community built baptismal pools, White Clay Creek was the site of all of the community’s baptisms, which are important in any religious person’s spiritual journey. The baptisms were held at Flat Rock in the Creek. Myrtle Bond remembers coming here as a child to see the joyous baptisms, and recalls people wrapped in sheets being dipped in the water while those watching sang songs like “Take Me to the Water.” Arnold Saunders also remembers the baptisms.
“Well, back when we [inaudible.], it was done in White Clay Creek. They would go down and baptize into the creek. Then they built a baptismal pool in the church.”
The creek wasn’t just a place for a spiritual journey. It was also a place for fun, swimming and relaxation. In the summer time, especially before the community had its own pool and could not use the pools restricted to the white people of the community, kids would come down to the creek to swim, splash and play. The creek became quite the amusement center. Alvin Hall recalls that
“we would ride up to the creek, which is down South College Avenue, and we used to go up there swimming, and that was basically a park that was open—I can’t remember who ran the park right offhand. And they had a little concession stand up there, and that seemed to be the fun with Sunday to go to the creek and swim and enjoy yourself.”
In addition, this creek would have been a fantastic spot for fishing and gathering water, essential components in maintaining this community’s ability to sustain itself, without help from the city of Newark. Though this spot looks humble and unassuming now, the waters, stones, trees and plants in front of you provided some of the most crucial elements to the community’s well being.
Now turn around and go back down Creek Road and turn right onto Ray Street.