RG# 5030

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RG 1325-003-206: Bellefonte Trolley Lines on Brandywine Ave. c. 1940

The 1900s

Located north of Rodman Road between Philadelphia Pike and River Road, a streetcar line along Brandywine Boulevard originally bisected Bellefonte making it one of Wilmington’s original “streetcar” suburbs.

The Town was incorporated in 1915 in the corporate name of “The Commissioners of Bellefonte.” Its limits enclosed three subdivisions called Montrose, Montrose Terrace, and Montrose Terrace Addition. There were five elected Commissioners who were charged with governing the Town, with a President and Secretary chosen from among them. Elections were to be held yearly, but each Commissioner was to serve a two-year term. Other elected Town officials included an Alderman, who would act as a Justice of the Peace, a Treasurer, and an Assessor. The Commissioners were to appoint an Auditor and a Town Bailiff. The Commissioners were to meet monthly and were given oversight over all streets within the Town as well as the laying out of new streets if so petitioned by seven freeholders. The Commissioners were also empowered to make regulations and ordinances that would provide sanitary measures for the health of the Town’s residents; to license dogs and regulate the running at large of dogs, horses, cows, or hogs; to regulate for nuisances including those related to bonfires and firearms; to repair and make public pumps or waterworks; to protect citizens related to the railway and railroad cars, carts, carriages and wagons; and to provide for the general welfare of the Town.1

In 1923 the Incorporating Act was amended. These amendments expanded the Town’s limits for the first and last time as well as gave the Commissioners the power to regulate the erection, alteration or repair of buildings, and opened the voting process to both males and females. Further amendments later the same year made minor changes to the election procedures.2 Five years later, the Commissioners of Bellefonte were empowered to borrow $30,000 in order to improve the streets of the Town as well as build, maintain and operate a sewage system. Municipal bonds were to be issued with the principal to be repaid beginning in 1930.3 In 1929, the Incorporating Act was amended to authorize assessing a special tax to repay the municipal bonds that had been approved two years earlier. It also repealed the section of the Incorporating Act related to laying out streets and replaced it with language that indicated that streets would be laid out following the regulations for New Castle County. Also repealed was the provisions for the Town to open new streets and the provisions relating to paving sidewalks as both of these were now to be controlled by New Castle County’s regulations. The Town had been previously exempt from paying road taxes but now that the responsibility for street maintenance was to be carried out by county, these taxes were to be paid.4 In 1937, there was a change to the law which empowered the Town to issue municipal bonds which provided the date for repayment of the principal to be postponed until 1940.5 In the same year, the Incorporating Act was amended to allow for property to be sold at Sheriff’s sale if the levied taxes were not paid.6 Three years later, provisions related to delinquent taxation were amended once again.7 In the same year, a law was passed which provided that a special assessment would fund the cost of the sewer work; it was to be levied against any property abutting the street where the sewer was laid.8 In 1947, Bellefonte’s Incorporating Act was amended to give the Commissioners the power to regulate business licenses.9 In 1951, they were given the power to make improvements of a public nature and were awarded the power of eminent domain in order to accomplish this. Municipal bonds were to be issued to cover these costs and a special assessment would be set up to repay the bonds.10   


2000 – Current

In 2014, almost 100 years after its original incorporation, the Town was re-incorporated in the corporate name of the “Town of Bellefonte.” It was recognized as a self-rule municipality. Thirty-one different powers afforded to the Town are enumerated in the new Charter. The Town was to be governed by a Town Commission made up of five members elected to two-year, staggered terms. Elections are to take place yearly In June and those Town residents over 18 years of age can vote. The annual meeting of the Town Commission is held in July at which meeting the President and Secretary of the Commission are chosen. Each of these officials is limited to two consecutive two-year terms. Meetings of the Town Commission are held monthly. Other elected Town officials are the Treasurer, appointed yearly with a limitation of five consecutive one-year terms, and the Tax Collector. Their duties and responsibilities are specifically outlined in the Charter. The Town Commission has the authority to establish a Planning Commission to serve as an advisory body on issues related to the Town’s comprehensive plan, and they may also establish a Board of Adjustment and appoint a Town Attorney. Bellefonte is also specifically granted the power of eminent domain.11 A minimal number of technical amendments were made to the Charter in 2015.12

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see http://www.charters.delaware.gov/bellefonte.shtml

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 28 Del. Laws, c. 126 (1915) [pp. 371-91]

2 33 Del. Laws, c. 122 and c. 123 (1923) [pp. 311-14 and pp. 315-16]

3 35 Del. Laws, c. 95 (1927) [pp. 278-81]

4 36 Del. Laws, c. 150 (1929) [pp.427-29]

5 41 Del. Laws, c. 134 (1937) [pp. 309-10]

6 41 Del. Laws, c. 143 (1937) [pp. 368-75]

7 43 Del. Laws, c. 151 (1941) [pp. 500-03]

8 43 Del. Laws, c. 152 (1951) [pp. 504-09]

9 46 Del. Laws, c. 238 (1947) [p. 646]

10 48 Del. Laws, c. 75 (1951) [pp. 159-68]

11 79 Del. Laws, c. 398 (2014) [http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/ga147/chp398.shtml]

12 80 Del. Laws, c. 66 (2015) [http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/ga148/chp066.shtml]

Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/



Town of Bellefonte records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Administrative Records (1915-1966): 5030-000-001
  • Correspondence (1925-1961): 5030-000-002
  • Cash Book (1919-1926): 5030-000-003
  • Ledger (1944-1961): 5030-000-004
  • Bellefonte Community League Checkbook (1922-1926): 5030-000-005
  • Sewer Connection Permits (1937-1948): 5030-000-007
  • Tax Records (Assessor Records) (1937-1957, 1958, 1961, 1963): 5030-000-008
  • Financial Records (1947-1962): 5030-000-009
  • Rough Minutes (1935-1938): 5030-000-010
  • Minutes of the Bellefonte Community League/Booster Club (1920-1925): 5030-000-012
  • Minutes of the Town of Bellefonte (1922-1944, 1953-1958): 5030-000-013


jnl / June 13, 2018 | April 22, 2019