Free African American Peregrine “Perry” Sprouse purchased Lot 52 adjacent to the church in 1826 from his fellow trustees of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, and the land remained in his family until the early 1900s. The two houses at the back of the lot facing Thoroughgood Lane were built by Sprouse’s children. His youngest son Frisby served in the First Regiment of the Eastern Shore Colored Militia during the Civil War.
The house you see on Lot 32 at 113 South Hanson Street was built in 1805 by James Cockayne, son of Quakers Thomas and Sarah Kemp Cockayne. Both James and his father helped many freed slaves from Delaware become integrated into The Hill Community. A non-combatant passenger traveling aboard the sloop Messenger, James was among those captured by the British off Poplar Island in November 1814 during the War of 1812’s Chesapeake Campaign.
After his mother’s death in 1826, James and his second wife Elizabeth sold the house in Easton and moved to Wayne County, Indiana, where they joined the White Water Quaker Meeting. In 1923, Theodore Poney purchased the house at public auction. Kitchens were built at the rear of the house, where his wife Gertrude operated a successful African American-owned catering business for many years.
James Cockayne’s house is a classic example of the Federal-style architecture that characterized the early development of Easton from the 1790s through the 1820s. Cockayne displayed his social standing by building in brick, with the front of the house in the more elaborate Flemish bond pattern, while the bricks on the side of the house are laid end to end in Common bond. Like other houses of the period, it has an off-centered door that opens onto a side hallway. The kitchen was originally a freestanding structure. The wooden addition was attached in the mid-1800s.