In an election that sometimes became heated, the Town of Ellendale elected three new council members on Saturday, January 6. Of the seven candidates, three incumbents were defeated.
William Clay Walton received the most votes at 61 with Thomas Panas earning 55 votes. The third candidate elected, Joseph Beck, received 42 votes. The only other non-incumbent running, Aaron Moore, received 36 votes. The three incumbents were Patsy Young, Lisa Workman and Cheryl Vogl. Young received 35 votes, Workman received 14 and Vogl received eight.
Council members will be sworn in on January 9. Michael Workman and Virginia Weller remain on council, the only incumbents who will continue serving.
Ellendale was initially a forest inhabited by the Nanticoke Indian Tribe until the Lenni Lanape Tribe pushed them from the area. The Lenape Trace, a trade trail used by Native Americans ran through what is now the center of town. When Europeans arrived in the area, they took up trade with the Lenape.
The town settled near the Morris Tavern Crossroads, near what is now Old State Road and Main Street. More families arrived as the Junction and Breakwater Railroad grew. In 1873, the Ellendale Methodist Episcopal Church purchased land to erect a school, parsonage and place of worship. In 1895, Queen Anne’s Railroad was authorized to add railways to Lewes in effort to connect Baltimore to the coastal resorts in Delaware. Ellendale was chosen as a stop for passengers, freight and mail with the first trains passing through in 1897. Ellendale became an important stop as it now not only had east and west connections, but also north and south.
The town itself was laid out by Dr. J.S. Prettyman in 1867 and he named the town after his wife, Ellen. By 1888, the town included a brickyard, saw and grist mills, a cannery, stores as well as a basket factory. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Nanticoke swamp and forest were merged with other forest reserves to create the largest state forest in the state. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program for young men, built the Ellendale State Forest Picnic Facility in 1936.
The town was incorporated in 1905 and the Ellendale Fire Company began in 1920. As of 2023, Ellendale had an estimated population of 549, an increase of 3.58 percent from 2022. Based on census data, Ellendale’s population has increased 27.8 percent over the past ten years.
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