Town History

Ellendale was founded in the early 19th century and surveyed in 1866-1867. Ellendale was first settled near the Morris Tavern Crossroads, near the current Old State Road and Main Street intersection, by a handful of families. Ellendale’s current site was established in 1866 when the families moved east to settle around the Junction and Breakwater Railroad Depot. On July 16, 1873 the Ellendale Methodist Episcopal Church purchased land to erect a church, parsonage, and school. Ellendale’s economy rapidly advanced as the RJ Clendaniel Sawmill, the Jester & Reed Canning Company, a brick yard, several peach evaporating and canning companies, basket factory, the Phillip J Ritter Ketchup Company, Ellendale Excelsior Company, and button factory opened in the town. The railroad was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1905 and that same year the town was formally incorporated. In February 1895, the Queen Anne’s Railroad was authorized by the Delaware legislature to extend its rail lines across the state to Lewes. The goal of the company was to establish a direct link between Baltimore and Delaware’s coastal resorts. This additional rail line passed through Ellendale and provided passenger, freight, and mail services as far west as Queenstown, Maryland (with links to Baltimore via steamship) and east to Rehoboth Beach (with links to Cape May, New Jersey via steamship) with the first passenger trains passing through in 1897. A post office was erected at the site of what is now the Town Hall.

Today, Ellendale is a small Delaware town that, according to the 2010 census, consists of a population of 381 people.