Delaware State Pride January 30, 2023
by Chris Muras Delaware Just Wouldn’t Be The Same Without These 7 Charming Small Towns
As a Mid-Atlantic state, Delaware is well known for its
delicious fish, oysters, and crabs. Of course, there is the key role it has played in America’s colonial history, too. Whether you are a history buff or love buttery, salty seafood, you’ve probably had the desire to come to the “First State” and enjoy the food or culture. Here are a few interesting small towns to explore that really define our wonderful state. Delaware just wouldn’t be the same without the history and beauty these small towns offer.
In the mid-1800s thriving towns sprang up depending on where the railroad stopped. Clayton and the historic Clayton Railroad Station is one such town with roots dating back to 1855. For the first five years of its existence, it was simply known as Smyrna Station as it was a stop just a stone's throw west of Smyrna, Delaware. In 1860 the name was formally changed to Clayton after the former U.S. Secretary of State, John M. Clayton who was from Delaware, and it became its own town in 1887. Today this charming small town of around 4,000 residents is proud of its historical heritage and independence.
Clayton’s next-door neighbor, Smyrna is the bustling small-town big brother. In its day it was a thriving shipping center and ship-building town. With a rich history of over three centuries, Smyrna was established in 1716 as Salisbury. It was later known as Duck Creek Cross Roads in honor of the creek that flowed through town into the Smyrna River. It became Smyrna 90 years later in 1806. This wonderful (big) small town of 13,000 people is filled with history, museums, old New England architecture, and family-friendly charm.
3. Kitts Hummock
This small unincorporated town in Delaware, right off of Delaware Bay, has an interesting nefarious past. It was originally named “Kidds Hammock” after Captain William Kidd, a 17th-century pirate. There are rumors Kidd sailed into the bay and buried a boatload of treasure. This undiscovered buried treasure is still somewhere in Kitts Hummock waiting for an adventurer to lay claim.
Kitts Hummock, DE 19901, USA
Another small Delaware town with rich shipbuilding history is Bethel. It’s also the town of many names dating back to 1683 when the land was first owned by John Caldwell. Various parts of the land were sold off throughout the years until 1795 when Kendal Major Lewis purchased the land that would become Bethel.
The areas he purchased were referred to as Manlove’s Grove”, “Jobs Lots”, and “Mitchell’s Harbor”. But under his ownership people referred to them as Lewis’ Wharf or Lewis’ Landing, and eventually in the 1840s as simply Lewisville. In the 1800s town names were often chosen when the first post office was built in the town. That happened in 1880 - and since there was already a Lewisville post office the town's name was changed to Bethel.
5. New Castle
New Castle, Delaware is another town with rich historical significance. It had been inhabited by native Indians in a village called Tomakonck in the 17th century. In 1651 the land was settled by the Dutch who named it Fort Casimir. A common theme of the time was name changes depending on who occupied the land at the time. This area of Delaware changed hands many times between the Dutch, Sweden, and Great Briton. The name was set as New Castle in 1664 when the English made it the capital of their Delaware Colony. And yet it still changed hands back and forth for over a century more.
New Castle, DE 19720, USA
Bellefonte is a cute town of around 1,200 residents on the Delaware River near Wilmington. It is often considered a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since it is close to the border. It is a charming blend of old-world history and small-town friendliness. Most of Delaware has roots in Colonial times but Bellefonte is a new addition having been incorporated in 1915. Its claim to fame if you will is as one of Wilmington’s original “streetcar” suburbs as a streetcar line ran right through town along Brandywine Boulevard.
Bellefonte, DE 19809, USA
Leipsic, Delaware is home to the beautiful
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
which was established in 1937 to protect the breeding ground for migratory birds. This sanctuary also contains the Allee House which was a pre-revolutionary war farmhouse that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places list. Leipsic got its name after Leipsic, Germany because it was a famous fur trading center in the 1800s, like its namesake. Today it is a charming small town of around 180 residents, but still a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts, fishing, and crabbing, as well as a quiet place to get away for a weekend on the water.
Whether you explore Delaware for its rich colonial history or you simply love small-town charm, there are many wonderful towns to explore in this beautiful state. What is your favorite
small town in Delaware?
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