This Month in Delaware…

mourning ribbon
Mourning ribbon for the funeral of Commodore Jacob Jones in Wilmington (DHS collection)

The remains of famed Delawarean Commodore Jacob Jones (1768-1850) of Smyrna complete a long, strange trip back home to Delaware for burial. Although originally trained in medicine, Jones went on to have a long and very successful naval career, achieving lasting fame for his capture of the British Warship HMS Frolic during the War of 1812. However, when he died in Philadelphia on August 3, 1850, it was not yet the end for his mortal remains. Funeral observances took place in Philadelphia and the body then travelled to Cecilton, Maryland on August 13, 1850 for burial at St. Stephen’s Church. It could have ended there, but Commodore Jones was so beloved by Delawareans that a special committee was formed in Wilmington on August 14th to try to bring him home. As part of this bid, a plot at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery (also the resting place of other Delaware notables) was offered to his widow, who ultimately accepted the offer and consented to the move.

Commodore Jacob Jones was finally reinterred at his new resting place with full military honors on Saturday, October 26, 1850. The funeral was a huge public event in Wilmington, with notices published in the local papers and special invitations extended to local dignitaries. The Delaware Gazette of October 29th described the funeral as “a grand and imposing affair, conducted with great pomp and display,” no doubt a nod to the spectacle of the many military, fire, and fraternal organizations that turned out in their formal regalia. Although it is difficult to resurrect the full splendor of this event after all this time, we are fortunate that a small remembrance of it still survives today as part of our collections. This mourning ribbon came into our collections in 1897 and will be on display from September 30 – November 2nd at the George Read House in New Castle as part of a small exhibit of mourning memorabilia.


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