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MISSING: William W. Mullinax's Cutlass

Cedar Creek Hundred, Delaware, USA
Contributed by: US457 David R. Mullinax   |   17 Sep 2017

All research credited to Marilyn Mullinix Blanck in her book, Deleware Mullinixes and their Descendants' Migrations 1698-1900 (IMFA Member Link to book). The story is covered in more depth on pages 16-17.

In the 1750s, the colonies of Maryland and Delaware had some border disputes. One such area was known as "Cedar Creek Hundred" and there dwelt William W Mullinax, his Coverdale in-laws and some neighbors.

Also known in the court documents as the "borderers" which could have had two different meanings as the word could allude to a classification of peoples in the old country who were frowned upon by the ruling class.

This is an old map of Deleware, back when it was divided into "hundreds." Some notes to the right explain the shaded area to the left.

A greater part of Northwest Fork, Nanticoke and the southern part of Broadkill, along with sections of Indian River, Baltimore, Dagsboro, Broad Creek and Little Creek were claimed by Lord Baltimore. Claims not settled until the running of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1767.

Using Google Maps, I overlaid the old map of Deleware over modern-day Deleware. The area I colored in green is Cedar Creek Hundred, near what is today the town of Milford.

These same "borderers" paid taxes to Delaware and had the appropriate deeds registered in Sussex County to back it up. So naturally one would think that the Maryland "line" would exist somewhere to the west of their plantations.

Unfortunately, the Maryland taxing authorities of the sixth Lord Baltimore of Worcester County thought otherwise. So in February of 1759, they had sent an "undersherrif" into the forest to collect unpaid taxes.

The tax collector's name was "William Outten" and was warned about the dangers of venturing into these woods.

Outten finds the home of William W. Mullinax, and places him under arrest. Outten had planned on transporting William W. to the court of Worcester County.

William W. breaks free, and in the scuffle Outten gains possession of William W's cutlass.

A few days later, at 8:00 on a cold winter morning Outten's posse shows up at another accused tax-delinquent house of John Willey.

Willey defends himself with a piece of floorboard. Words were exchanged and young men were dispatched to summon the neighbors. An angry mob of villagers show up, wielding clubs and sticks and then things got even uglier.

Willey was handed a firearm, and was encouraged to "shoot the son of a bitch!"

Outten swings William W's cutlass, cutting someone with it. Then Willey shoots Outten in the groin. Outten dies within six minutes. His body was carried back to Worcester County by his men.

This story is heavily documented in the Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1753-1761 (Maryland Archives), twenty-five pages of depositions and statements relating to this case.

William W. Mullinax was indicted on several accounts but not prosecuted. Willey was handed over to the Sheriff of Worcester County for trial.

A border settlement was made shortly after, one of many between Deleware and Maryland.

But what became of William W's cutlass?