Inductees - 2010

Henry Fisher

Henry Fisher ( 1735 – 1792) was a native and lifelong resident of Lewes and was one of Delaware’s foremost leaders in the struggle for American Independence. The first Committee of Safety in Philadelphia engaged the pilot-patriot to remain permanently in Lewes to superintend the defenses of the entrance to the bay. He was commissioned as a Major in the state’s militia, and he continued to play a key role throughout the Revolution, helping to protect maritime commerce that was vital to the young Nation’s survival and communicating valuable intelligence about British activities. Through the use of his own vessels and via overland express, he was the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Continental Congress at this strategic location, providing information of great importance to American success.

The Port Wardens of Philadelphia called on Fisher to select the site upon which the first lighthouse at Cape Henlopen was to be erected in 1765. He did soundings of the river to determine the proper locations for the buoys which improved navigation and safety on the bay and river. His efforts positively impacted the growth of maritime commerce with Europe and with the other colonies.

Major Henry Fisher’s efforts during the Revolution played a significant role in America’s independence which ultimately contributed to America’s growth as a great maritime nation.

Joseph Sudler Lofland III

Joseph Sudler Lofland III, grew up with a deep appreciation and love for the Wilson M. Vinyard Shipyard on the banks of the Mispillion River in Milford. In the mid 1980’s, because the Mispillion River was no longer navigable for commercial vessels, the Vinyard Shipyard was abandoned. A leader in preserving many of Milford’s historic properties including The Milford Ice and Coal Co Site, the 1909 Prettyman House, The Grier Lumber site, and the Mispillion Marina, Mr. Lofland turned his attention to restoring the once thriving Vinyard Shipyard in 1996.

Mr. Lofland was able to locate three of the ships originally built at the Vinyard’s Yard. He then recruited local craftsmen to restore them. The very first luxury yacht built at Vinyards was “The Augusta” in 1927. In June 2010, this refurbished 50-foot boat was refloated. The other two restored ships were “The Kismet” built in 1938 and the “Vignette” built in 1953.

Mr. Lofland joined with the Milford Museum in securing a Delaware Humanities Forum grant to produce two videos: Wood Shavings to Hot Sparks, which documents the history of the Vinyard Shipyard, as well as, shipbuilding in Delaware and a second video, which will highlight the restoration of the yacht “Augusta.”

Through Lofland’s dedication, hard work, and personal financial backing, Milford’s historic shipbuilding industry is receiving the acknowledgement it so richly deserves. Those three restored Vinyard yachts will be a part of the Mid-Atlantic legacy of Delaware’s maritime achievements for many years in the future.

James E Marvil, MD

James E. Marvil was born in Laurel, DE, in 1904, and practiced medicine in Laurel and Lewes. During World War II, he served overseas in the Army Medical Corps.

Dr. Marvil was one of the founders and the first president of the Lewes Historical Society and began the practice of moving historic houses to its historic complex grounds. After the great response to the opening of the Cannonball House as a Marine Museum in Lewes, he procured the Lightship Overfalls from the U. S. Coast Guard and started the first “Friends of the Overfalls.”

In 1977, Dr. Marvil received the Delaware Distinguished Service Award for “Achievements in the Field of Historical Preservation.” He published three books about the Delaware Bay: Sailing Rams, The Pilots of the Bay & River Delaware, and A Pictorial History of Lewes.

His daughter, Trenny, wrote in the Lewes Historical Journal VII in 2004, "He was involved in many things and managed to do them all well.” She lists his many roles as yachtsman, soldier, hunter, fisherman, benefactor, woodworker, artist, photographer, author, historian, visionary, and a scholar. In the same article Dr. Marvil was quoted, "There are people who make excuses not to do things. There are people who make excuses to do things. I like to think of myself as one of the latter."

Dr. Marvil has preserved our maritime history through his preservation efforts with the Lewes Historical Society, his involvement with the Cannonball House and the Lightship Overfalls, and the publication of his books.

Capt. James S Roberts

Appointed to the State Board of Pilot Commissioners by three separate governors, Captain Jim Roberts became its president and was instrumental in designing and implementing the initial drug and alcohol detection and treatment program used in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Jim was involved in improving pilot training by formulating higher qualification criteria for apprentice applicants and requiring more classroom time, testing, simulator training and greater accountability for apprentices. His longtime service on the Pilot Commission on committees and later as its president helped it become one of the premier pilot associations in the nation. During his 37- year career Jim was trusted and respected by his maritime peers. He served admirably on the Bay and River Delaware as a pilot and as a member of the U. S. Coast Guard.

Whether it was being the Delaware Director of the Pilots’ Association, President of the Lewes Board of Public Works, Commodore of the Lewes Yacht Club, President of the Lewes Jaycees, or serving on the Board of Directors for the Delaware Nature Society, Jim was highly regarded for his judgment, values, and management skills. His varied leadership roles reveal his broad interests and his inclination to place a high value on serving the greater good. In 2004 Jim received the James E. Marvil Lifetime Service Award for his long commitment to the Lewes Historical Society and the Cannonball House Maritime Museum.

Wilson M Vinyard

Wilson M. Vinyard (1867-1945) was born in Milford, DE. He worked various jobs and by the 1890’s was in New London, Wisconsin, where he built a gasoline powered steamboat, The Delaware, which he piloted via the St. Lawrence Seaway to Milford.
He founded the Vinyard Shipyard, 1896, on the south bank of the Mispillion River. The Delaware, which was rebuilt and finally named City of Dover, ran scheduled trips to Philadelphia with cargo and passengers. The yard built barges, tugs, fishing boats, and sailing schooners. During World War I it built tugs and three sub chasers for the United States Navy, making a successful transition from sailing vessels to steam and diesel powered boats. The ninety-eight foot sailing schooner, Cutty Sark, was the last large sailing vessel built on the Mispillion River. The first steamer with a gasoline engine in the United States, a freight steamer, J. C. Ritchie was launched in Milford. In 1927, the first motor yacht, The Augusta, was launched.

He was Mayor of Milford, 1932-1936, during which time he retooled for World War II, building fourteen sub chasers, receiving recognition from the United States Navy. Between 1896 and 1951 the yard built some 150 boats, ranging from 32 feet to 110 feet long, for private, commercial and government use.

Captain Vinyard brought modern engineering techniques to the old art of shipbuilding and ushered Milford industry into the 20th century with his ideas and innovations. He has served his community as a major employer and role model for entrepreneurship.

John Robert Warren**

John Robert Warren was a native of Lewes, born in 1887 and died in 1965. He was a surfman at Cape Henlopen in the US Life Saving Service beginning in 1912, which became the US Coast Guard in 1915, and was stationed at Cape Henlopen, Indian River, Lewes, Rehoboth, and several eastern shore stations. Mr. Warren’s maritime career included service in WWI and WWII. He served during the 1927 and 1937 Mississippi floods and the Johnstown flood, and he rescued people from the SS Mohawk and SS Lenape who were shipwrecked in the Delaware Bay. Mr. Warren served as bodyguard and escort to President Harding in 1923 when the presidential yacht, the Mayflower, was anchored in the Breakwater during President Harding’s speech. Mr. Warren was also involved with the US Coast Guard ‘Rum Running” in 1929 and 1930 in which 2,100 cases of bootleg liquor was seized. He retired from the US Coast Guard as a Motor Machinist Mate First Class in 1945 and received a US Coast Guard Good Conduct medal.

Mr. Warren and his wife, Hettie Mae, rented row boats and motors in Lewes for over 50 years. He instructed many sailors in seamanship, first aid, boat handling, marksmanship, and law enforcement. He restored lighthouses and has given maritime items he has handcrafted which are on display at the Cannonball Museum.

Mr. Warren’s service to our country and state has earned him the Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame’s Meritorious Award.


** Meritorious Service Award