Barbara Quillen Dougherty An Original Fisherwoman

dewey beach history, delaware, sussex county
Barbara Quillen Dougherty doing what she loved most.

Barbara Quillen Dougherty loved surf fishing, and that love was ingrained in her by her family over the last century.  The history of the family of surf fishers shows where she got her love of fishing and her compassion for others.  It was instilled in her by her father, Dr. Frederick Carl Quillen (1907 – 1974).   He had a summer cottage built in Dewey Beach on the ocean block of Swedes St. that still exists. He passed on his love of surf fishing to Barbara Quillen Dougherty (1941 – 2015).  The family history does not end there, nor did it begin there.  Sarah Dougherty … ” In the early 1900s, my Great-Great Uncle Dr. Salvatore “Sam” DeMarco (1878 – 1949)  squatted on an oceanfront parcel of land on present-day New Orleans Street, Dewey Beach. There he built a large summer cottage where he and his family spent vacations and enjoyed surf fishing.  The house weathered many severe storms, but was washed out to sea in the Storm of ’62, leaving only an 8-foot shower pipe sticking out of the sand.  Before electricity came to Rehoboth Beach, it became necessary one night for Dr. DeMarco to perform an emergency operation on Captain Vogel of the Rehoboth Coast Guard by lamplight.  The surgery was successful.”   Barbara was the Dewey Beach Historian and wrote a book about the area, Dewey Beach History & Tales.  Her records have helped many people research the history of their own families and homes.

dewey beach history
Burial of the 1933 Ford .. scanned form Dewey Beach History & Tales

One of these stories in particular from the book Dewey Beach History & Tales, surf anglers may find entertaining.  Back in those days there weren’t any beach rules or town government.  This story is an excerpt from the book …   “In 1954, we bought a beach buggy-a 1933 Ford for two cases of beer from someone in Rehoboth. We got it running, removed the top with an ax (as well as the doors and hood) to lighten it, let some air out of the tires, and found we could drive it on the beach. Everyone, young and old, had fun that summer riding in the buggy. One time when we couldn’t get it started, I borrowed my father’s car to push it.  Just as the engine started, the bumpers locked. Result: my father’s bumper laying in the middle of New Orleans Street.  We put it in the trunk, and he had it welded back on.  Later that summer, a bunch of us were taking a ride on the beach and were at the south end of Indian Beach when we started to “overheat.”

1933 beach buggy, dewey beach history, delaware, sussex county
1933 Beach Buggy … Jack Redefer (standing), Jack Redefer, Sr. (driving); back seat left to right: Ethel Redefer, Mrs. Bishop … photo courtesy Janet Judge

I was driving, and we sent George McMahon up to the dunes to scout for an appropriate dune-crossing point. He waved, and I gunned the buggy toward the dune to get up enough speed to make it over. As we cleared the top of the dune, a brand new boardwalk,  from Alexis I. duPont’s house to the beach loomed directly in front of us.  The car straddled the boardwalk perfectly and slid about halfway, with all four wheels off the ground. We spent the next 2-3 hours dismantling the boardwalk. After we were finished, Mr. DuPont invited us all in for a beer. One night shortly after that incident, we couldn’t get the car off the beach due to increasing mechanical problems. When we returned the next day, someone had poured sand in the carburetor and gas tank. It was hopeless!  It sat there for 3-4 weeks, but we bad no means to get it off the beach.  So after labor Day, we decided to give it a proper burial. We spent all day digging a huge hole, said our goodbyes, and covered it up with sand.  All that showed were parts of two tires.  It may still be there. If you find it, call me. ” … written by Bob Schnepfe, Rehoboth

dewey beach, delaware, Dr. Frederick Carl Quillen (1907 - 1974)
Dr. Frederick Carl Quillen (1907 – 1974)

Barbara’s daughter Sarah Dougherty contacted us about the “Old Salts” section and shared some of her Mom’s adventures and life story.  She passed in October of 2015, but her passion and memory lives on not just in her family but her extended family in Lower Delaware.  She grew up in a family of surf anglers that called Dewey Beach their home.  Sarah Dougherty “Mom would  fish every day she could in Dewey Beach, it was her first priority, after her family and friends.  When she was well enough she would go out and fish, even in some of the foulest weather.  Friends in the community would help her wheel her surf cart back  and forth to the beach.  If she saw some kids interested in what she was doing, she would spend hours teaching them how to cast and the fundamentals of surf fishing.  She loved Dewey Beach so much when she had her celebration of life, it was held at the Starboard with 500 people in attendance.”   At her services the priest at the church said the most important things in her life were faith, family and friends, fishing and field hockey. In that order.

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barbara quillen dougherty, dewey beach history, delaware, sussex county
2010 Barbara Quillen Dougherty with grandson Kevin Dougherty who is wearing the fishing rod holder of his great-grandfather Dr. Frederick Quillen. Upon her passing, the fishing rod holder went to Kevin per her wishes.

Dave Frederick “Fredman”, the sports editor for the Cape Gazette gave Barbara the moniker “One Tough Cookie” during her treatment for cancer.  She loved field hockey and spent several years cheering on the Cape Henlopen field hockey team. She would give inspirational speeches to the girls, and in 2015 the Seniors dedicated their season to her.  They all had “One Tough Cookie” on the back of their practice jerseys.  The girls were very fond of Barbara and when they won the championships in 2102 to 2014 they would make sure she was the first person to be handed the trophy.  In 2015 the entire team came to her memorial service which happened to be the day before the championship game.  She passed on her knowledge and skills of surf fishing to her grandson, as well as the fishing belt of her fathers that she used for years on the beach.  In the spirit of preserving the stories and histories of the “Old Salts” … Barbara Quillen Dougherty certainly lived the life of a surf angler to the very end.  She was a tried and true fisher-woman and I am honored to be able to share her story with you.

Fish On!!

Rich King

Pictures from the Family’s own history … 

 Dr. Salvatore "Sam" DeMarco (1878 - 1949), dewey beach, delaware, old salts
This photo was taken sometime around 1920 in front of the Green Run Lifesaving Station that existed about mid way (Fox Hill Levels) on Assateague Island, built in 1875. There was a little village (Green Run) and hotel nearby at that time in history on Assateague. Much of the station was moved by the Hugh Cropper family when the Coast Guard closed and decommissioned it in 1939. It was moved to West Ocean City by barge and used for storage on the Cropper farm on Herring Creek until being demolished around 1998. The lookout tower (which had been removed and was at ground level) was used as a play house for the Cropper girls.
On the far left is Dr. Salvatore “Sam” DeMarco (1878 – 1949)
The DeMarco & Palmisano families, Dewey Beach, 1914
Sarah Dougherty writes … The DeMarco & Palmisano families at Dewey Beach about 1914: Standing in the back are Dr. Salvatore “Sam” DeMarco, his wife Anna Fitzpatrick DeMarco, unknown, my maternal great-grandmother Sarah DeMarco Palmisano (I was named after her), my maternal great-grandfather Dr. Augustine Palmisano and his hand is on the shoulder of my maternal grandmother Marie Palmisano DeMarco (who goes on to marry Dr. Frederick Carl Quillen, another “Old Salt Fisherman”). In the middle are William Palmisano, Amelia DeMarco Donahue, and Maria DeMarco Mayer. Front row are Dr. William DeMarco, Joseph DeMarco, Peter DeMarco, and unknown.

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