The newest addition to Arcadia Publishing's popular "Images of America" series explores the history of the Smyrna area with 200 vintage images and memories dug up by history buff and local resident Jess Hansen.
Smyrna, Clayton and Woodland Beach share a history born from early settlers with big dreams; landowners who helped grow their importance on the regional stage and industries that shaped the local economy. The story of these communities is wrapped around transportation, great location and fertile agricultural soil.
Invested in helping the growth of historical community knowledge, Hansen collected the Delaware Public Archives images, compiling "Smyrna, Clayton and Woodland Beach" over the course of many months. Highlights of the new book, available at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers since Monday, include information about the importance of the rail line, memories of Woodland Beach as a thriving resort town prior to damaging storms and landscape changes and the story of Allen McLane, a Duck Creek Crossroads resident who worked as a spy under General George Washington before the signing of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence for Delaware.
Compiling the history of her hometown into a book has been a longtime dream of Hansen's. A native of Smyrna, she grew up off of scenic Rt. 9, near Woodland Beach where she routinely walked the woods near her home pondering theories about the abandoned railroad tracks she found there. Ever inquisitive about the old building sinking into the marsh just beyond the boundaries of her bicycle route, she was determined to someday solve these historical mysteries.
Fast-forward to adulthood. After graduating from Smyrna High School, she attended the University of Delaware, studying history. After college, she settled in Clayton where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs. She serves on the Duck Creek Historical Society's Board of Directors and volunteers her time and research for museum tours and new programs. She's hoping the book will help preserve memories of the past while igniting a new generation's interest in local history. Two book signings are currently scheduled at the Smyrna Museum ( Dec. 7) and The Young Bean (Dec. 13) in Clayton. "Images of America: Smyrna, Clayton and Woodland Beach" retails for $21.99.