A new engraved metal historical marker will be erected at the Nanticoke Indian Center near Millsboro, once a one-room schoolhouse for Nanticoke children, and unveiled at a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 15.
The public is welcome to attend the dedication of the marker at the former Indian Mission School, at 27073 John J. Williams Highway (Route 24), Millsboro, where a single teacher taught children in first through eighth grades from the 1920s through the 1960s.
“It’s gratifying for me, because I attended that school from first to third grades, so I had some very memorable times growing up there and being in a one-room schoolhouse with several grades and one teacher,” said Bonnie Hall, who is organizing the dedication and who is a past Nanticoke Tribal Council member and chairwoman of the Nanticoke Indian Commemoration Committee.
“There were 30 or 35 students,” she explained. “Over the years, our association has done an outstanding job of trying to keep the building up to date the best we can. One thing we treasure is, in the back of the property, is the original playground set with swings and a sliding board. It is still there. We have refurbished it over the years,” she said, adding that she takes her 5-year-old and 8-year-old grandsons there.
“I share stories with them about my days going to school there, and I ask them to try to imagine that many grades in one building.
“For me, it’s very personal,” Hall said. “This is just another way for us to preserve our history, to be able to pass it down to the next generation. I am a strong believer you don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
Members of the Nanticoke Indian Tribe, school alumni, local and state legislators, business and community leaders, and other guests will attend the event.
Hall said the Nanticoke Indian Tribe currently has a capital campaign to renovate the building “so the journey of this marker dedication has been under way for quite a while.”
A one-story stucco structure with gable roof, the center was built around 1948, after the original school was destroyed by fire. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1979.
“Once we are done with the renovations of that building, it is not going to look the same,” Hall noted. “I’m kind of torn. I know you have to move forward, but then how can you preserve the past? We are getting the dedication done now, before construction on the renovation starts,” she said, adding that a portion of the building will be preserved to resemble the old school days.