RG# 6160


RG 9015-028-000: Train Station, Viola

In 1856, when the Delaware Railroad established a station stop at the intersection of the road from Canterbury with the road to Willow Grove, there were only a few farmhouses located nearby. The stop was called Canterbury Station, as it was only a mile west of that community. A village began to form as it became a center for commerce for the surrounding farms, and it took the name Viola after the daughter of a local landowner.


1900 – 1949

Viola was incorporated in 1913 as “The Commissioners of Viola.” The boundaries, which were originally rectangular, are described in the Incorporating Act. The Town was to be governed by a board of five Commissioners serving two-year terms. Meetings of the Commissioners were to take place four times a year, in March, June, September, and December. From among the Commissioners, a President was to be chosen to preside over the meetings. Other Town officials to be appointed were a Treasurer, an Assessor, a Tax Collector, an Alderman, a Clerk, and a Town Constable. The Assessor was to assess all real estate except vacant land which exceeded five acres, and also all male citizens who were to subject to a per capita tax of seventy-five cents. The tax to be levied on the Town was not to exceed $300 annually. The Commissioners were charged with passing ordinances for the good government of the Town and authorized to light and improve the streets (assisted by an annual allocation from Kent County Levy Court of $200), pave and improve the sidewalks (at the expense of the adjacent property owners), plant and protect ornamental trees, and make and repair public pumps. The Alderman and Constable were charged with keeping the peace including suppressing all disorderly or noisy assemblages and preventing gathering which may interfere with the free use of the streets. Citizens of the Town could petition the Commissioners to lay out and open new streets.1

Thirty-four years later, in 1947, the only amendment to the 1913 Incorporating Act was passed into law. This increased the amount of taxes which could be levied annually to $500.2


1950 – Current

In 1969, Viola was re-incorporated. This Act mirrors that of 1913 with only minor changes and updates. A new provision states that when taxes are paid early, a rebate is to be offered when taxes are delinquent or a procedure has been established to enforce liens for non-payment. In addition, the position of Constable has been eliminated and replaced with Police Officers, and the responsibilities of the Alderman have also been updated. The amount of taxes that could be levied annually was increased to $1,500 and the per capita or poll tax was increased to $1.3

The 1969 Charter has been amended several times. The first amendment was in 1982 at which time several changes were made to the Town’s election procedures. Changes were made to the schedule of meetings of the Commissioners and the Town was authorized to remove trash. The requirement that Police Officers be appointed was eliminated and a specific cap to the amount of tax that could be levied was eliminated.4 In 2002, the Town was given the power to annex territory and procedures for this were outlined.5 The Town boundaries of the Town are now larger than described in the 1969 Incorporating Act.  In 2011, a law amended the 1969 Charter by once again making changes to the election procedures which lowered the voting age to 18 and allowed for absentee voting.6

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

CITATIONS in Del. Laws

1 27 Del. Laws, c. 239 (1913) [pp. 673-84]

2 46 Del. Laws, c. 82 (1947) [p. 284]

3 57 Del. Laws, c. 50 [pp. 81-92]

4 63 Del. Laws, c. 411 [p. 880]

5 73 Del. Laws, c. 235 [pp. 543-44]

6 78 Del. Laws, c. 59 (2011) [http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/ga146/chp059.shtml]

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


Town of Viola records at the Delaware Public Archives:

  • Minutes of the Commissioners/Town Council (1913-1990): 6160-000-001
  • Ordinances (1916): 6160-000-002
  • Code of Ethics for Viola Community Building (1963): 6160-000-003

(includes the explanation of how the Town acquired the former school building)


jnl / October 3, 2018 | April 23, 2019