Past, Present & Future
The towns in the Bethany-Fenwick area each tell a diverse and interesting story about the region’s history. Centuries ago, Native Americans such as the Lenni Lenape and the Nanticoke settled in southern Delaware. Hundreds of years later, Christian settlers arrived in the Bethany-Fenwick area in search of a tract of land for a permanent, yearly, seaside assembly for the Christian churches of the country.
Bethany was founded by members of the Christian Church, also known as the Disciples of Christ of Washington D.C. area and Pennsylvania. The original idea was not to find a town but to find a suitable tract of land for a permanent seaside assembly for the Christian churches of the country. Bethany still reflects the character of the early settlers who were looking for “a haven of rest for quiet people.”
Fenwick Island’s maritime history is memorialized in the Fenwick Island lighthouse. The Transpeninsular Marker, dividing Maryland and Delaware, sits in front of the historic light. Selbyville, founded in 1778, was the East Coast’s prime supplier of strawberries until the late 1930’s. The commercial broiler/fryer chicken industry started in Ocean View in the early 1920’s, and today is Delaware’s top agricultural enterprise.
All the towns comprising the Bethany-Fenwick area boast a rich history of commerce, agriculture, mills and maritime activities. The Bethany-Fenwick area is known for several things: its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Bay, its sea-faring origins, the birthplace of the broiler poultry industry, and its small-town, village-like atmosphere with quaint, turn-of-the-century structures.