THE TWO REHOBOTH'S 1877
REHOBOTH CITY & REHOBOTH BEACH
It is often heard that Rehoboth is five years old which is not exactly true, for even before the Methodist Camp Meeting Association took over, it had history and a hotel. There are some old Lewes newspapers that tell of the sturdy Dutch settlers of away back, visited the ocean beach during the hot summers. It is also a fact that the Dutch made salt by evaporating sea water near where the Surf House now stands.
So in comes Captain Lewis Tredenick, a patriarch and some call the founder, with the modern history, and he still lives here. He is hale, hardy, large limbed and fine looking old gentleman, over 70 years of age, and until this season, the kept the Rehoboth City Hotel, the first building built on the beach. Tredenick came here from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, years before the Methodist, and bought the shanty of Captain Burton near the Rehoboth Bay, which was built in 1832, sort of a temporary type construction. Here he built what was known as “Tredenicks” and waited for Rehoboth to be.
Before settling at Rehoboth Lewis Tredenick was in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. a prosperous hat manufacturer and merchant, but somehow through speculation and endorsing saw his fortune swept away. Lack of fortune prevented him from taking advantage of opportunities and now larger and more imposing structures shade the rude but scrupulously clean and well kept hotel.
He then gained the title of “ Captain” by operating the first steamboat running from Lewes to Philadelphia, the “Cohansey”.
In 1875 Lewis Tredenick was an active lobbyist at dover for the State Aid Bill which was before the Legislature and no member of the body will soon forget his pleasant, jolly, and always good nature, nor will anyone who was present at the Capitol Hotel in Dover the evening previous adjournment of Legislature, fail to recall “Shoo Fly” which the old man sang to the disgust of a now distinguished judicial officer, then the council for the P. W. & B railroad , also friend and patron of Tredenick. The concluding stanza “ Shoo fly, don;t bother me, for I belong to P.W.&B”, brought down the house and retired the lawyer precipitately from the room.
It is not clear when the Rehoboth City Company was organized but it controled a great deal of
the land at Rehoboth City, and the Judge Comegys and Manlove Hayes were members. The “Company” had never accomplished any thing, and it not until 1873 when the Rev. R. W. Todd of Wilmington's St. Pauls Church that Rehoboth got a permanent start as a resort or 'watering place' .
The Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association was the next to advance to the beach out of a desire to have a Christian seaside resort for the peninsula and adjoining cities. In 1872 the Rev. W. M. Warner of the Lewes Methodist Episcopal Church was requested to survey along the ocean front, south of the Capes of Henlopen, to select a site. His was done and the site, between the Gorden Pond salt flats and the Rehoboth Bay was it. A committee of ten , on the 10th of October , 1872. purchased the property of S. Dow Martin and John Marsh.
Growth has been slow, notwithstanding, an indifferent management, want of decent transportation, a short sighted policy,( a piano was tabooed at the Surf house), the place has grown and prospered. At first the camp meeting was the leading feature, but now cut off from the association, unprofitable, and a mere tender upon Rehoboth Beach. The seaside resort was to become a health spot with fresh water bays, a dry atmosphere, solid ground to the waters edge and sand bluffs, three to twenty five feet high. 1877 Rehoboth , the Douglas House, and other improvements at the city,
became a summer settlement of perhaps a thousand persons. The Surf House, Bright and Douglas, the hotels, find it difficult accommodating all the visitors. The Bright is leased to S. D. Whitney , well known owner of several hotels of New york city, The Surf house is in the hands of W. H. Billany and Colonel Fountain runs the Douglas House.
Next, there came the news of the railroad. It was heard all over the resort “When we get the new railroad, we shall not only compete with, but, will beat Cape May”. The P.W.&B. had said, when completed , you will travel to Philadelphia in three hours and to Baltimore in five.
Source: Wilmington News Journal, Monday, July 30, 1877.
Correspondence of Wilmington Every Evening & Commercial.
Abstract: 2017 Harrison Howeth for Rehoboth Beach Museum.