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RG# 7090


RG 9015-028-000: Frankford, Main St. c. 1920

In 1808, when a country store was opened at the headwaters of Vines Branch, a tributary of the Indian River Bay, it spurred further development in the area and in 1848, a post office was established at this location which was called Frankford Village. By the time that it became a station stop on the railroad line between Harrington, DE and Snow Hill, MD, it had flourished and become a town.



In 1883, The Town was incorporated as the Town of Frankford. The Town Council of Frankford was composed of nine members, one of whom was to serve as the President. Male residents who had paid their assessment served as electors for the Town Council. The Council members were to be resident freeholders and were elected to staggered, two-year terms with the President serving a one-year, renewable term. It was the responsibility of the Town Council to choose the other Town officials which included an Alderman, a Treasurer, a Clerk, an Assessor, and Constables. Meeting quarterly, the duties of the Town Council included laying out of new streets, oversight of existing streets, keeping the peace, and enacting ordinances to prevent nuisances and preserve the health of the Town as well as those which were necessary for good governance. They were also to regulate the streets, sidewalks, and the public square, keeping animals from running at large within them; suppress riotous, disorderly or noisy assemblages; and prevent bonfires, firing of guns or setting off of fireworks. The maximum annual amount of taxation was set at $200. The Levy Court of Sussex County was to provide $250 to assist the Town with road maintenance.1


1900 – 1949

An Act re-incorporating the Town of Frankford was passed in 1903. This Act differed from the one enacted twenty years earlier only related to the structure of the government. The Council was to be made up of only five members who were to be called Commissioners. Electors were males who had been a Town resident for one year prior to the election and were entitled to one vote per $1 of tax paid by them or their wife in the proceeding tax year.2 Two years later a piece of legislation acknowledged that the 1903 Incorporating Act had become void because the required election had not been held. The 1905 law renewed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1903 Incorporating Act. It also added a provision that the Town Council could not lay out or re-open new streets through land belonging to a religious corporation or society.3

In 1911, amendments were made to Frankford’s 1903 Incorporating Act. The Town was authorized to borrow $2,000 to improve streets. In addition, the annual allocation for road maintenance received from the Levy Court of Sussex County was increased from $250 to $500.4 Two years later, the Incorporating Act was revised so as to eliminate the requirement that votes equated to the amount of assessment paid; instead, each voter had one vote.5 In 1917, the maximum amount of taxes to be levied was increased to $500 annually.6 In 1919, the Town’s borrowing power was increased from $2,000 to $10,000, and allowable uses for borrowing money were expanded to include a water system, a light system, or fire apparatus. Also, if approved by referendum, the amount of taxes to be levied annually was to be increased to $1,000.7 In 1921, women were given the right to vote in elections, and, if approved by referendum, the amount of taxation annually was again increased to be any sum between $1,000 and $1,500.8 Two years later, the portion of the 1921 law that revised the annual taxation amount was repealed and the amount of annual taxation for the Town was set at $2,000 with no referendum being required to approve this increase. Also, the borrowing power of the Town was increased to $40,000.9 In 1927, the 1903 Incorporating Act was amended to require that a referendum vote be held whenever an increase in the amount of taxation for the Town was being proposed. Another amendment the same year authorized the Town Council to pass ordinances to franchise companies which would provide light, heat, power or water in the Town.10 In 1933, locations other than the schoolhouse were approved as voting places.11 In 1935, a provision was added to the Incorporating Act to afford the Treasurer (Collector of Taxes) in Frankford to have the same power as the Collector of Taxes for Sussex County.12

In 1937, the Town of Frankford was re-incorporated. The Act described the Town’s boundaries in metes and bounds. The exercise of powers was vested in the five-member Town Council who must be over 21 years of age and a property owner. The term of each Council member was two years, and they were required to meet monthly. Town Officials chosen by the Council included a Council President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Alderman, a Collector of Taxes, a Town Solicitor, a Board of Assessors, an Auditor and a Police Force. The Town of Frankford was given general powers such as would be awarded to a municipal corporation as well as specific enumerated powers. Many of these powers were carried over from prior Incorporating Acts. The Incorporating Act provided the Council with authorization and responsibilities for: obstructions, nuisances and unsanitary conditions; streets; paving, guttering and curbing; constructing, paving, and repairing streets; water and sewer systems; electric current, power plant and franchises;  drainage and health; fire; zoning; building inspection permits; licenses and trees. They could also condemn buildings and establish building lines. After approval by referendum, the Town was authorized to borrow money for many municipal improvements in an amount to exceed $40,000. They were allowed up to $1,000 in floating debt in any one fiscal year which ran from February 1 to January 31. The maximum amount of taxation was fixed at $5,000 annually. Farmland within the Town was not to be assessed, nor, for the first ten years, was any manufacturing business with more than six employees, or a company which provided necessary services to the Town such as electric current, light, power, heat, or water, although taxes could be levied against telephone, telegraph, and power poles. The Town was given the right to have property sold at Sheriff’s sale if taxes became delinquent.13

There were several amendments to the 1937 Incorporating Act. In the same year that the Town was re-incorporated, another law authorized Frankford to borrow $31,000 in order to redeem outstanding municipal bonds. A special tax was authorized that would allow for the repayment of the yearly interest and a sinking fund was established to accumulate the monies needed to repay the principal when due. A referendum was required in order to approve this action.14 Just seven years later, in 1945, another law with similar terms and requirements authorized the Town to borrow $30,000 to refund outstanding municipal bonds suggesting that the referendum of the first action may have failed.15


1950 – 1999

A parcel of land was added to the Town in 1953,16 and in 1961, the Incorporating Act was amended to reflect the metes and bounds of a new corporate boundary.17 The corporate limits were extended once again in 1963.18 The next change to the Town’s Act of Incorporation took place in 1979 when the fiscal year was changed to begin on the first of July.19

The most recent re-incorporation of the Town of Frankford took place in 1980 when a new Town Charter was enacted. It contains the updated corporate limits and contains specific procedures related to further annexation of land. The structure of the government did not change. Those who are 18 can now vote, and a few other changes were made to bring the voting process into compliance with current law. The Town officials are the President and Vice-President of the Town Council, the Secretary-Treasurer, the Collector of Taxes, the Town Solicitor, the Town Clerk, and the Police Force. There are 44 specific powers enumerated in the Charter. Among these are: to prevent drunkenness and immorality; to prohibit gaming; to regulate public exhibitions and shows; to establish and maintain streets; to regulate the observance of the Sabbath Day; to restrain, prohibit and impound domestic and wild beasts and impose taxes on dog owners; to remove nuisances and conditions detrimental to public safety and health; to supply pure water; to provide a sewer system; to provide an electric lighting system; to control drainage; to grant franchises or licenses; to control the planting of shade trees; to regulate the numbering of houses; to establish a building code; to maintain a jail; to maintain a building to house town offices; to regulate the use of firearms; to provide for the organization of a fire department and to give up to 3% of the annual taxation to the volunteer fire department; and to levy taxes, license fees, and fines. Many of the provisions discussed in the 1937 Incorporating Act are also addressed in the new Charter. The new Charter specified that the maximum amount of taxation was $1 million annually. It authorized the Town to borrow up to $100,000. The specific reasons for such indebtedness were outlined as well as the process for holding a referendum to secure approval and the manner in which municipal bonds would be issued. The allowed amount of annual floating debt was increased to $15,000.20

Nine years after the passage of the 1980 Charter, it was amended to allow the Town to tax the transfer of real estate.21 A new section was added in 1998 which allowed Frankford to accept loans or grants from the federal or state government up to $2.5 million.22


2000 – Current

In 2011, the Charter was amended to require that all contracts over $7,500, except professional services contracts, must be competitively bid. Professional service contracts could be negotiated but must be advertised if over $7,500.23 In 2012, the Charter was revised to allow any resident age 18 and over to seek a seat on the Council; the previous minimum age had been 21. The election procedures were also revised again in accordance with current law.24 Revisions to the Charter in 2014 eliminated the requirement that the Frankford employee pension fund was not to exceed 15% of the annual Town payroll, and revised the section of the Charter on annexation.25   

For the fully amended text of the current Charter, see

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 17 Del. Laws, c. 180 (1883) [pp. 343-61]

2 22 Del. Laws, c. 438 (1903) [pp. 932-50]

3 23 Del. Laws, c. 187 (1905) [p. 366]

4 26 Del. Laws, c. 242 (1911) [pp. 678-80]

5 27 Del. Laws, c. 260 (1913) [p. 770]

6 29 Del. Laws, c. 156 (1917) [p. 535]

7 30 Del. Laws, c. 148 (1919) [p. 334]

8 32 Del. Laws, c. 144 (1921) [p. 426-27]

9 33 Del. Laws, c. 159 (1923) [p. 509]

10 35 Del. Laws, c. 104 and c. 105 (1927) [pp. 319-20 and pp. 321-22]

11 38 Del. Laws, c. 100 (1933) [p. 431]

12 40 Del. Laws, c. 160 (1935) [p. 576]

13 41 Del. Laws, c. 144 (1937) [pp. 376-427]

14 41 Del. Laws, c. 145 (1937) [pp. 428-30]

15 45 Del. Laws, c. 187 (1945) [pp. 740-42]

16 49 Del. Laws, c. 258 (1953) [p. 485]

17 53 Del. Laws, c. 63 (1961) [p. 485]

18 54 Del. Laws, c. 172 (1963) [p. 551]

19 62 Del. Laws, c. 38 (1979) [p. 44]

20 62 Del. Laws, c. 401 (1980) [pp. 907-37]

21 67 Del. Laws, c. 98 (1989) [pp. 284-85]

22 71 Del. Laws, c. 390 (1998) [p. 1134]

23 78 Del. Laws, c. 17 (2011) []

24 78 Del. Laws, c. 260 (2012) []

25 79 Del. Laws, c. 236 and c. 239 (2014)



Delaware Laws from 1935 to present can be found online at


Town of Frankford records at the Delaware Public Archives include:

  • Minutes of the Town Council (1945-1995): 7090-000-001


jnl / July 1, 2018 | April 22, 2019

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