South Bethany offering Civil War talk on Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Underground Railroad was an integral part of the Civil War, and next Tuesday, Clara Small will discuss its legends and facts at an event hosted by the South Bethany Historical Society. The talk will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. at South Bethany Town Hall.

“I think that’ll be very interesting, because there are a lot of legends around about the Underground Railroad, and some of it is true and some of it is not true,” said Maria Johansen, president of the historical society.

Small is a professor of history at Salisbury University, with a doctorate in history from the University of Delaware.

She is currently researching the history of African-Americans, using oral history, official documents and other sources. She also serves on the Governor’s Task Force on Slavery in Maryland.

The talk follows another Civil War history discussion presented by Coastal Point columnist Tom Ryan a few months ago.

Small’s talk will discuss how the Underground Railroad is a combination of historical facts, legends, exaggerations and disclaimers — consisting of accounts of daring rescues of fugitive slaves seeking some control over their own labor and lives, while hoping to be free of their brutal, oppressive owners.

The talk is free and open to the public, and Johansen said she has invited a number of people from a recent Delaware Humanities Forum held in Dover.

“We had a networking session with a lot of people. I’ll be inviting all of them to come, because a lot of them have the same interests as we do.”

Johansen said the society hopes to provide information to the public of which they may not be aware.

“I think the community should know about the background of the area. This is certainly an important part of our history here. Even though the town wasn’t formed, things were still happening in this area,” she said. “I hope it’ll encourage discussion among the group and get people to think about what happened here.”

South Bethany Town Hall is located at 402 Evergreen Road in South Bethany.