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Directory:Long Neck, Delaware
|Country||United States Template:Country data US|
|- City||20 km²|
|- City (2000)||1,629|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC)|
Long Neck is a place whose unique name is matched by its natural beauty. The peninsula is a haven for people craving the beauty of the water that surrounds it, without the bustle and crowds of the beaches that act as its bookends. It's a census-designated place (CDP) in Sussex County, Delaware, United States. The population was 1,629 at the 2000 census. Long Neck is the only census-designated place in Sussex County. It is part of the Seaford Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The Long Neck area extends east-northeast from the town of Millsboro, Delaware, for about seven miles. Tall loblolly pines jut out of white sandy soil, between corn fields and various housing developments. The eponymous peninsula pokes eastward, splitting Rehoboth Bay to the north from the Indian River Bay to the south.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 km²), of which, 2.5 square miles (6.4 km²) of it is land and 0.40% is water. However, the area considered "Long Neck" by locals is larger than the official Census allocation, perhaps 20 km².
Archeological evidence points to human habitation on the Delmarva Peninsula as early as the Pleistocene Era, about 10,000 years ago. Most of the land north of Delaware was covered in ice, and the footprint of the Chesapeake Bay had not yet been established. The Nanticoke Indian Tribe has had a significant impact on the Long Neck area, and they first encountered Europeans along the Kuskarawaok River (later named "Nanticoke" River), in the western part of the county. Heading up this European expedition was none other than Captain John Smith, searching for the fabled Northwest Passage. Smith's vessel was greeting with airborne arrows, so Smith anchored midstream out of reach of the arrows, until he could convince the Nanticoke of his peaceful intentions and head upstream. Other tribes in the area included the Conoy, Piscataway, Lenape, Powhaten, Susquehannock, and Shawnee.
In 1642, and subsequent times later, the Nanticokes and white settlers in the Maryland province waged full-scale war on each other. Peace would come in the form of a treaty only in 1668, but even that lasted only one year.
In 1643, the Burton family originally landed in Norfolk, Virginia, around the Accomac area, then eventually came to Long Neck. The family endeavored to farm the marshy land, impressed with its relative elevation above sea level, so close to the Atlantic Ocean.
In September 1677, a dispatch from the Duke of York, during the reign of King Charles II, described the area that would be transferred to William Burton. This is taken from deed record, page 247, Georgetown Court House, Delaware titled as;
"William Burton Patent for Long Neck"
- "Whereas, there is a certaine parcel of land situated on the West side of Delaware Bay the which hath been certified by the Court at the Horekill and laide out for William Burton the saide Land being called the Long Neck lying on the South side of Rehoboth Bay and on the North side of the Greate River beginning at a point of woods and running West up the Greate River one thousand perches to a White Oak at the head of a small creek called Indian Cabin Creek and from thence North three hundred and fifty perches to a White Oak standing by a creek side called Middle Creek with a line of marked trees and from thence bounder upon the aforesaid Bay to the first bounded point Southeast one thousand perches containing One Thousand Acres of Land."
- "Know Ye That by Virtue of His Majesty Lord's Patent and the Commission and authority unto me given by His Royal Highness, I have given and granted by these presents, Doe hereby give and grant unto the said William Burton his heirs and assigns the aforesaid recited piece of Land and Premises with their and every of their appurtenances; To Have and To Hold the saide piece of land and premises unto the saide William Burton his heirs and assigns unto the proper use and behoofe of him the said William Burton his heirs and assigns forever he making present improvements thereon and continuing in obedience and conforming himself according to the Laws of this Government and yielding and paying therefor yearly and every yeare unto His Royal Highness as a quite Rent Ten bushels of good winter wheat unto such officers as shall be there Impowered to receive the same."
The area described encompasses about 5,000 acres, but the deed incorrectly referred to it as 1,000. One of the Burton sons, Woolsey, constructed a house in an area that now bears the building's name, White House Beach. The house remains occupied today.
Up through the early 1700s, life worsened for the Nanticoke of Maryland as more of their land was taken. Following the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, most of the Nanticoke had relocated north to Pennsylvania, but a significant number moved eastward into what would become Delaware, settling near the Indian River.
In 1881, the Nanticoke community formed a corporation to combat segregation laws in place at the time. In 1904, the Delaware legislature passed an "Act to Better Establish the Identity of a Race of People Known as the Offspring of the Nanticoke Indians", and the tribe was legally recognized within the state.
By the 1900s, the sandy trail that would become Long Neck Road was home to several churches and schools. Oak Orchard resident Aubrey Murray recalls his early memories of the Long Neck area, circa 1920, "There were farms from one end to the other. Oh, there were fishermen and clammers... Occasionally, a group would meet near Massey's Landing and have a big fish fry. But all in all, it was a sleepy area a long way from anywhere. A slew of anthropologists and historians made their way to Sussex County, since Native American tribes in the eastern part of the country were practically unheard of. Most notably, a man named Frank Speck befriended an older Nanticoke man, William Russell Clark, who taught Speck the tribe's history and traditional customs. With Speck's assistance, Clark formed the Nanticoke Indian Association in 1922. Soon after, Clark and Speck organized the first of many Nanticoke powwow gatherings, to help spread the tribe's history to younger-generation descendants.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Long Neck retained its sleepy character, but the agrarian economy began to see some diversification. Some residents went to sea on tug boats or sailing ships operating out of Philadelphia or New York City. Many smaller vessels carrying potatoes, lumber, and grain began heading out the old Indian River Inlet to bigger markets along the Eastern Seaboard. In fact, the iron used in the Philadelphia Eastern Penitentiary was forged in nearby Millsboro at the head of the Indian River Bay.
In the 1960s, a Nanticoke, Maryland oyster plant owner named Palmer purchased a commercial corner on Long Neck Road to be called Palmer Center. Palmer's daughter, Janie Palmer Miller, opened the Long Neck Dispensary in 1969, the area's first package store. Today the center is home to 13 different businesses.
For most of the second half of the 20th century, the area of Long Neck was sparsely populated, except for several mobile home communities that served mostly as summer vacation properties for permanent residents of the Washington, DC, Baltimore, Maryland, Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania metropolitan areas. However, in the late 1990s, more permanent, year-round communities began being built, such as the neighborhood surrounding the golf course at Baywood Greens, and The Peninsula, which is being developed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Long Neck is now seeing unprecedented growth in permanent residents.
White House Beach
Sam Showell and his three sons are direct decendants of the Burton family that originally settled Long Neck, and they started up one of the area's first coastal communities, White House Beach.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,629 people, 817 households, and 545 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 655.0 people per square mile (252.6/km²). There were 1,807 housing units at an average density of 726.6/sq mi (280.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.28% White, 0.43% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.49% of the population.
There were 817 households out of which 10.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.6% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.99 and the average family size was 2.38.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 10.4% under the age of 18, 3.2% from 18 to 24, 13.6% from 25 to 44, 32.3% from 45 to 64, and 40.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 62 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $34,688, and the median income for a family was $47,917. Males had a median income of $27,117 versus $30,179 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $25,172. About 6.3% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
Things to do
Long Neck may not have any of the thrills and bustle of an amusement park or the big city, but there is plenty here to entertain.
Any traveler to Long Neck would be making a big mistake not to visit the Georgia House Restaurant in Millsboro.
The Nanticoke powwow that began in the 1920s has become a continuing series of gatherings. Thousands of spectators follow a trail in to the woods, just off Route 24 on the western part of Long Neck, and enter a very different world. Naturally, it is not entirely without its commercial trappings: food and clothing vendors sell all manner of t-shirts, rugs, pictures, and other memorabilia.
At the center of the event, however, it is unmistakeably old-school. A circle of drummers sits off to the side, keeping the beat of traditional songs. In the middle of the powwow ring, dancers recreate the same steps as their distance relatives once did.
The powwow has become an educational opportunity for both white visitors and younger Nanticokes to learn about this heritage, and it has served as a bridge across the gap between European and Native American cultures.