South Bethany Historical Society piecing together town's past

The South Bethany Historical Society is seeking volunteers to help in its efforts to preserve and promote the history of South Bethany.

“Much of the history of the area has never been recorded, and through the years records have been lost or scattered,” representatives said. “To rectify this matter, members of the Historical Society are attempting to research and record the history of South Bethany from its inception to the present time.”

Part of what is recorded is that, in 1952, Richard Hall and his wife purchased a large tract of swamp and farmland, about 130 acres, and named it South Bethany. However, there is very little written information on how those 130 acres of swamp and farmland became the community of South Bethany as it stands today, they said.

Questions include: When were the canals dug and bulkheaded? When did they become polluted? Who built and maintained the first roads? What was done to restore the dunes and beaches after the storm of 1962?

Some early residents remember when children swam and fished in the canals, and when the beaches were wide, with high dunes, and since many of South Bethany’s records and insights into its history have not been preserved, members of the Historical Society are identifying and interviewing residents who came to the area in the 1950’s,1960’s and 1970’s.

In addition, they are interviewing the nine former mayors who served the Town from 1972 to the present.

“The resulting interviews are shedding considerable light on the activities and happenings of those early formative years,” they said.

Historical Society members are also trying to locate old documents and records. While some documents have been located, there are several gaps that remain.

In addition, the old documents, records and newspaper clippings that have been located need to be sorted and catalogued, and the dates are missing on many of the pictures and articles. The Historical Society needs volunteers to help in identifying and cataloguing these documents.

The group is asking all residents, especially those who were in South Bethany in its early days, to share their memories, old pictures and other memorabilia. The Historical Society meets on the second Friday of every month at 10 a.m. in the town hall. All South Bethany residents are being invited to join in the effort.

For more information, contact Mary Suazo at (703) 963-6663 or Dee Burbage at (302)539-3653, ext. 218.