Wharton’s Bluff is well known for its beautiful waterfront views and close proximity to Lewes, Rehoboth and Bethany beaches, but did you know that Wharton’s Bluff’s hometown of Millsboro also has a fascinating history?
Millsboro’s history dates back to the 1600s, when Nanticoke Indians lived on the land. In fact, there has been a thriving rural farming community in the Millsboro area for more than a century! There are a number of well-known historical sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places in the Millsboro area, which are a testament to its rich and treasured past.
There are many benefits to living in the charming town of Millsboro—from the advantages of waterfront living to day trips spent learning about the rich heritage of the town itself!
The Indian River Hundred
The Indian River Hundred was created in 1706 from its parent hundred, the Lewes & Rehoboth Hundred. A hundred is a political subdivision of a county, initially created by the state of Maryland for tax and judicial purposes. A hundred is essentially a modern day election district within a county; however, the size of a hundred has been debated as an area that contained 100 families, able to raise an army of 100 men, or fit 100 farms.
Rock Hole Mills
Millsboro was established in 1792, primarily due to the efforts of Elisha Dickerson, who built a dam to shut off the headwaters of the Indian River at Rock Hole. He continued to build a large sawmill and gristmill, two of the 15 mills within a 4-mile radius of Millsboro. The area was known as Rock Hole Mills at the time, due to the number of mills in the area, in addition to the area’s close proximity to Rock Hole.
Millsborough and the Railroad
The area’s name was later changed to Millsborough in 1809, and then shortened to its current name of Millsboro in 1837, when Millsborough and the nearby town of Washington became one.
Millsboro was later founded in 1860, and incorporated in 1893. The town had always been considered a market hub for the surrounding area with its riverside location, therefore the installation of a railroad shortly after the Civil War seemed like a logical step. The railroad helped Millsboro continually develop and grow through the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the town’s main mode of transporting their goods to larger markets.
The Wreath & Broiler Industries
Millsboro joined the holly wreath industry in the early 20th century, and distributed their wreaths across the nation into the 1950s. Over the next century, the lumber and agriculture (specifically poultry) industries emerged in Millsboro.
The broiler industry emerged in Millsboro in the early 1930s, as the poultry business had many advantages over the other agricultural practices in the industry. The broiler business was a year round industry—unlike many popular agricultural products in the area that were primarily seasonal. By the 1940s, Millsboro’s own Townsend Inc. had risen to become the nation’s first fully-integrated poultry company and the largest local poultry company in Millsboro area. As a fully-integrated poultry company, Townsend Inc. had every step of the poultry-production process under their control—from egg hatching, to growing grain for their poultry, raising the poultry and shipping the final product to market.
Notable Historic Sites of Millsboro
Millsboro is a distinctive town with a celebrated history and a treasured past, evident through the town’s many historical sites.
One of our favorite sites is found in Cupola Park—a waterfront park on the Indian River, home to a foundry and forge during the Civil War. This park is also home to the largest bald cypress tree in Delaware, and it is a great place for a family barbecue, shoreline fishing and picnicking!
Nanticoke Indian Museum
The Nanticoke Indian Museum is another well-known and beloved Millsboro attraction. This museum is more than just a national historic landmark; it is the only Native American Museum in the state of Delaware! The museum features artifacts and displays of the Nanticoke tribe that occupied what is now Millsboro centuries before it was founded! Check out their website to learn more about this unique and noteworthy museum.
The Perry-Shockley House is a historic home on Millsboro’s Main Street, and part of the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1901 in the Queen Anne style by John Perry, and an enduring illustration of early 20th century architecture.
As you can see, Millsboro is home to many historic sites—find even more local historic sites here!
Today in Millsboro
Today Millsboro is a thriving, exciting community to be a part of; from the downtown business district and beautiful scenery to its unique waterfront views and notable historic sites, Millsboro has it all.
There are many reasons to buy a home at Wharton’s Bluff, and the charming yet vibrant historic town of Millsboro is one of them! Check out Christopher Companies’ new homes today and experience all that Wharton’s Bluff and Millsboro have to offer!
Sources: millsboro.org, U.S. Census, deldot.gov, sussexcountyonline.com, delaware.gov