The Delaware Company was founded in 2012, and is named for the group of hardy Connecticut farmers who in 1755 overcame inestimable hardships to establish Cushetunk, the first permanent European settlement in the Upper Delaware River Valley. The Delaware Company’s mission is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley and beyond through education, outreach and fundraising. The Delaware Company is a New York not-for-profit corporation that has received recognition as a tax-exempt organization as defined under section 501(c) 3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
About The Delaware Company
Debra was a founding Board member of The Delaware Company in 2012 and has been the Executive Director since 2016. As Executive Director, she conceived and spearheaded the successful Minisink Project, completed in 2017, which memorialized the fallen patriots from the Revolutionary War Battle of Minisink, and conceived and is overseeing the ongoing Kate Project, recognizing the role young children played in the operation of the D&H Canal. She has previously served as the official Town Historian for the Town of Highland, NY and was the Director of Fort Delaware from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, she had a successful career in journalism and in marketing and public relations.
John was a founding Board member of The Delaware Company and has served as its president since its inception. He has been the official Sullivan County Historian since 1993. From 1998 to 2016 he taught the History of Sullivan County at SUNY Sullivan. He has written hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and nine books about the area’s history. He lectures and presents at numerous conferences and seminars each year, and his areas of special interest include heritage tourism, Colonial America, the U.S. Constitution, the early settlement of the Upper Delaware region, and the evolution of Sullivan County’s resort industry, including the so-called Borscht Belt.
William H. Chellis, M. Div., J.D.
Bill was a founding Board member of The Delaware Company and has served as its vice president since 2016. He is an attorney, an ordained minister, and a frustrated farmer. A seventh–generation son of Jeffersonville, NY, Bill earned his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law and his Masters of Divinity from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Bill loves old books, fast horses, finely crafted beverages, and puffing on a proper bowl of “Old Toby.”
Teresa is a founding Board member of The Delaware Company. She is an active colonial re-enactor and educator. She was the originator of the annual Delaware Company Oratory Contest for middle and high school students in NE Pennsylvania, and conducted the event for several years. She lives in Damascus, PA.
Steve C. Melendez
Steve is beginning his fourth three-year term on the Board of Directors. A Sullivan County native, he has a love and passion for the surrounding land and its native culture. As a child, he would spend countless hours in the woods digging up and discovering old broken pottery, possibly the remnants of long ago Lenape inhabitants. Today, he can be found at Delaware Company events portraying the role and telling the story of Samuel Gonzalez, a noted Spanish settler who as the story goes, was being pursued by Native Americans and jumped off a cliff to avoid capture, miraculously surviving by dropping onto tree saplings to break his fall in the area that is now known as Sam’s Point. Steve believes that “local history must be preserved to understand our past and it’s connection with the present and the future.“
Jan Cheripko was first named to The Delaware Company Board of Directors in April of 2015. He is the author of several books for young readers, including a biography of Caesar Rodney, whose 80-mile ride through a storm to vote for American independence changed history. Jan currently serves as a member of the Bethany Borough Council and the Board of Directors for the Bethany Public Library. He also mentors aspiring writers for the Highlights Foundation. He lives in Bethany, PA.
Robert Dadras, R.A.
Robert has been a member of The Board of Directors of The Delaware Company since April of 2015. He is a Registered Architect and a partner in the firm Dadras Architects, which has offices in New York City and in Liberty, NY. He was a founder of the Liberty Museum & Arts Center, and in 1996 was the creator and narrator of the original architectural/historical bus tour, which has morphed into the annual Magical History Tour now sponsored by The Delaware Company, and continued for 24 consecutive years before being interrupted by COVID. He lives in Douglaston, NY with his wife and twin sons, and maintains a second home in Liberty, NY.