Friday, July 08, 2005


West Rehoboth fights to keep sense of community

The News Journal/Rehoboth Beach/DE/USA/5-Jul-05

One man's dream West Rehoboth dates back to the days of segregation, but it really was the product of one man's dream of a better fate for the people who settled there just after World War II. The late Charles Mills was a Quaker who came to Rehoboth Beach to run the Stockley cannery, where many of the employees were black. He started buying land and became a successful farmer, raising grain and hogs not far from what has become the coastal resort corridor. "He thought homeownership was a good thing," said Robert M. Mills, his son. "He thought maybe he could contribute to solving the problem a little by subdividing the land." In 1947, Mills created the West Rehoboth subdivision from one of his farms. It soon was filled with families working in the cannery, a local oyster-packing plant and in area hotels and restaurants. "Mr. Mills had a vision that people were people," West Rehoboth resident Marilyn Waples told a community meeting last fall. The community offered black residents a chance to own their own homes, but it was a product of the times as well. Its design ensured its existence as a segregated black enclave, said Smith, who is also a member of the land trust board.


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