Town pride runs deep at Blades’ centennial celebration

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From left, Blades town councilmen Robert Atkinson and David Ruff, former mayor/councilman B.J. Hardin and current councilman Russell Joseph unveil the state historical marker Tuesday, March 10 – marking the town’s 100th anniversary. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).


BLADES — Blades’ centennial celebration officially began Tuesday, with a state historical marker dedication and time capsule ceremony — precisely 100 years to the day it officially became an incorporated town in Delaware.

The Town of Blades was “born” March 10, 1915 with a governor’s signature following approval by Delaware’s 95th General Assembly.

Town officials, representatives from neighboring towns, including Seaford and Bridgeville, along with Sussex County, Delaware, U.S Congressional representatives and citizens were among those on hand for the dedication and festivities at the Nanticoke River Yacht Club.

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Blades town councilman Russell Joseph, right, checks out the History of Blades story written by noted newspaperman/historian, the late Wright Robinson. Holding the framed artifact are Sue Bramhall (Mr. Robinson’s daughter) and Jim Bowden, a noted historian who donated this artifact for the town’s 100-year time capsule. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).


“It’s a tight knit community. We look after each other,” said former Blades mayor/councilman B.J. Hardin. “I am proud to be a member of this community. I’m proud to have served on the town council. I’m proud to have served as mayor. I’m just proud to be a known citizen – or unknown maybe – in this wonderful community.”

The town’s community hub, Hardin Hall on W. Fourth Street, is named in tribute to Mr. Hardin, now 82, for his many years of service to the community.

Longtime resident Russell Joseph – who at age 80 is in his 41styear on town council – offered similar words.

“I am proud to say that I have lived in Blades since I was about 7 years old. I’m now celebrating my 41st birthday of being 39,” said Mr. Joseph. “And I’m proud to say that I have been in Blades most of my life – with the exception of five years that I lived in Wilmington.”

Previously known as Bladesville, named for pioneering railroad worker James Blades who purchased tracts of land along the Nanticoke River, Blades has a rich history laced with some firsts.

One in particular was the Blades Concert Band, which according to Blades Town Administrator Vikki Prettyman “was the first of its kind in the county. Citizens from Seaford flocked across the river to join up. The band later moved its headquarters over to Seaford.”

In 1947, Blades made First State history as the first town in Delaware to elect a female mayor: Margaret Lane Hastings, who won a hotly contested mayoral race.

Noted historian and newspaper man, the late Wright Robinson wrote in the Leader & State Register that Mrs. Hastings was very civic minded and “combined her skills as a wife, mother, a business woman and a civic leader into a most remarkable career.”

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Town of Blades Police Chief Edwin Cooke holds one of the items from the police department destined for the time capsule. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).


“And it’s probably not a first … the Town of Blades was listed in the AAA Magazine as being a speed trap,” said former mayor/current town councilman David Ruff, a 40-year member of the Blades Volunteer Fire Company.

Over time, the face of Blades has changed. Gone are several car dealerships, the one-room schoolhouse with separate his and her outhouses, a garment factory at which some 100 Blades housewives worked and mom and pop stores.

Today, Blades takes pride in the Blades Marina, a project at Nanticoke Public Marine Park spearheaded by the Blades Economic Development Corporation, and its Tree USA distinction.

“We may have been the first town in the State of Delaware to receive that (Tree USA) designation,” said town councilman Robert Atkinson.

“One fact people may not be aware of,” said Mr. Atkinson. “According to the 2010 census we are the most diversified town in the state of Delaware. That means we have the largest mixture of all ethnic backgrounds and everything else. And that’s something we are very proud of.”

Tributes earmarked for the time capsule were delivered by State Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford, on behalf of the House of Representatives; State Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford, on behalf of the Senate; Karen McGrath representing U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.; and Chip Guy, representing Sussex County and County Council.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney also provided proclamations.

Mr. Atkinson moved to Blades from the Eastern Shore where family roots date back over 200 years.

“We were farmers. We were simple folk. The people over here are the same type of people I am related to,” Mr. Atkinson said. “I am very proud to be a member of this community and I am very proud to call most of you people I know personally my friends.”

Actual burial of the time capsule, slated to be opened on Blades’ bi-centennial in 2115, will be held later this spring.

The town’s 100th anniversary celebration continues this Sunday, March 15 with the Blessing of Blades at historic Blades United Methodist Church at 3 p.m.

In mid-May, there will be a homecoming dinner Friday, May 15 and on Saturday, May 16 a day-long event, featuring a parade through town and a festival at Blades Town Park.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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