New book details history of South Bethany

August 8, 2014

In early June, the South Bethany Historical Society published "The Best Little Beach In Delaware," a history book about the Town of South Bethany. The book has met with considerable success and has been nominated for the prestigious 2014 Gold Ink Award. The book contains many interesting personal stories and facts about the community, such as how it came to be known as The Best Little Beach in Delaware. With so many photos, past and current, it is not unusual for folks to find themselves, a family member, friend and/or house in the book.

John Speer, the book coordinator chair and one of the founding members of the historical society, put together a team of about 15 society members who worked hundreds of hours to produce the full-color, 160-page book that contains over 300 photos, news clippings, advertisements, postcards, letters, sales brochures, and more. Two of the newspaper advertisements show that in 1959 one could have purchased a 50-by-100-foot waterfront lot for $1,050. The cover of the book features a 1969 photo of six kids jumping the dunes in the early days of South Bethany’s development. There are stories about how the town was formed, and who were the primary individuals behind its incorporation. Speer said, “The team did a tremendous job that will have a lasting positive effect on our community.”

Society President Maria Johansen said, “The origins of the book began two years ago when the society began interviewing early property owners and past mayors to capture their memories before they were lost. As the interview project went on, John Speer mused that he might be able to organize a team and produce an entire book using the interviews plus various other projects the society already had developed.” Those projects included Building of the South Bethany Canals, the 1962 Storm of the Century, and Super Storm Sandy. The Town of South Bethany also was very helpful in providing materials on the town’s past.

Group J Design of Rehoboth was hired to create the background theme. Group J had also assisted Dewey Beach with its history book. Group J President Giancarla Churchman said, “It was a real pleasure working with the society; the material was great, and we were all very pleased with our end product.” Group J’s work has been enthusiastically received by the readers, and has greatly contributed to the book’s success and nomination for the Gold Ink Award. The Gold Ink Award will announce its winners in August. For details, go to

The society regularly holds seminars at the South Coastal Library. For more information on the society, go to

The book is available at McCabe's Gourmet Market and Made by Hand International Cooperative in the York Beach Mall, Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, and Jayne's Reliable on Route 26 in Dagsboro.

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