Rosedale Beach the subject of upcoming museum program

Terry RogersCulture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Rosedale Beach is the subject of an upcoming program sponsored by the Milford Museum

On Saturday, June 8, 1:00 pm at the Milford Public Library in Milford, Delaware, the Milford Museum American History Series continues with a program about Rosedale Beach presented by Tamara R. Burks.

“In the pre-integration era of the 20th century, there were very few places for people of color to go for entertainment and hotel accommodations.  Because of this, Rosedale Beach near the Millsboro area was a destination point for many people along the East Coast,” Tom Summers, Executive Director of the Milford Museum, said. “The resort featured a hotel, boardwalk, dance hall, picnic and beach area, campground, and amusement park.”

The area was originally land inhabited by the Nanticoke, known as “tidewater people.” As white settlers began encroaching on the Nanticoke land, they began to move north into Pennsylvania and New York. The few Iroquois in the area moved to Ontario, Canada. Those that remained in Delaware continued living on ancestral land, although as white settlers continued to come to America, the land began to disappear. This required the Native Americans to learn about land ownership and acquisition of deeds.

Many became tenant farmers, learning European methods of farming and some soon began to build wealth. Two well-known Native Americans, Levin Sokume and Isaac Harmon owned hundreds of acres including most of the land on the east side of the Nanticoke River. After Harmon passed away, his son, Noah, inherited a portion of the land where he continued farming and expanded his father’s seafood business.

Over the years, the land passed among the Harmon family as well as Milford P. and Grace M. Street plus David “Dale” and Rosetta Street. By the 1940s, all of the original Harmon land was sold to Jesse Walter Vause and his wife, Geoffie. Vause decided to buy the land after visiting Rosedale Beach several times. He constructed a 32 room hotel and resort, incorporating the company as Rosedale Beach Inc. in 1937. Plans for the resort included a boardwalk, lecture hall, entertainment and scientific exhibitions.

Not long after constructing the hotel, the Vause’s invited black entertainers to perform, among them Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Patti LaBelle, and Stevie Wonder.

The presentation at the library is free to attend although donations are accepted. For more information, contact Tom Summers at [email protected].

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