Hallowed grounds believed to be the final resting place of some two dozen American soldiers who perished in the only major battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Delaware will soon become property of the state's historic preservation agency, according to an agreement announced Friday.
Gathered at the historic Cooch home just south of Newark, officials from the Department of State joined members of the Cooch family to announce plans for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs to acquire the home and surrounding property at the heart of the Cooch's Bridge battlefield.
The acquisition of the site will allow for continued archaeological study of the property in an effort to locate the unmarked graves.
Thomas Cooch acquired the lands in 1746 and held in the family for nine generations since.
"Our father, Edward W. Cooch, Jr., would be very pleased with this announcement," said Richard R. Cooch and Anne Cooch Doran. "He always said that he hoped that if the family house and battlefield, which he worked hard to preserve, ever left the Cooch family, that the property would be acquired by the State."
"We as Delawareans are so fortunate to have such a variety of fascinating and beautiful historical sites up and down our state, and we should be proud of all the effort and cooperation that has allowed us to preserve another quintessential piece of our state's history here at Cooch's Bridge," said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. "I want to thank all the partners that came together to make this possible, with particular gratitude to Dick Cooch and Anne Cooch Doran for choosing to share this site with their fellow citizens."
The acquisition includes the historic Cooch home, its adjacent outbuildings and 10 acres of surrounding property. The site will be purchased using $875,000 from the Delaware Open Space Council, plus $200,000 from the Crystal Trust and $25,000 from the Marmot Foundation (both independent, private philanthropic organizations based in Delaware.)
Twenty percent of the sale proceeds will be donated by the Cooch family to the Cooch's Bridge Historic District Fund administered by the Delaware Community Foundation. The fund, established by Edward W. Cooch, Jr., helps support maintenance and preservation efforts.
"The announcement of the permanent preservation of Delaware's only Revolutionary War battlefield is another key example of the responsible stewardship for our shared history that we continue to practice here in our state," said Tim Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. "Next, we will begin to develop, with community input, a long-term vision for how these lands will be interpreted and made accessible to the public."