|Powell Ford's 1946 marriage certificate|
Powell Miller Ford was born in Church Hill, MD on March 24, 1888, the son of Merrit and Hester Ford. The elder Mr. Ford was originally from Delaware, and was living in Kenton, DE in 1880. By the 1900 census, the Ford family was living in Galena, MD, also on the Eastern Shore and not far north of Church Hill. In 1910, the 22 year old and newly married (to Mary Clair) Ford was living in Baltimore and working as a book keeper for a meat business. Sometime in the following ten years, Mr. and Mrs. Powell Ford, along with their first son Arthur, born about 1912, moved to Marshallton. In the 1920 census Ford's occupation is listed as an accountant with a manufacturing company. Assuming that he moved to Marshallton for his job, that probably means he worker for one of the two large manufactories in the area -- the Kiamensi Woolen Company or the Delaware Hard Fibre Company (I think that's what it was called at the time). It's possible that he may have worked for Kiamensi Woolen during their last few years, but I think the higher probability is that he worked for the fiber mill (previously the Marshallton Rolling mill, later Ametek and Haveg).
At some point probably in the following few years, Ford left his corporate job and joined (or started) the Marshallton Building and Loan. This seems like where he made his money. The reason I'm hesitant to say whether he founded or joined the company is this: in references to B&L, it is usually listed as having a founding date of 1922. This would fit in nicely with the "Powell Ford founded it" theory, however I also found a legislative act from 1891 that incorporates a company of the same name. It's possible that the original one had folded by '22 and Ford started it up again, or just re-used the name. Also bolstering the idea that it was his company is the fact that he lists himself as self-employed on a 1942 draft card. You generally don't do that unless you own the company.
It seems that Powell M. Ford probably worked for the Marshallton Building and Loan for the rest of his career, becoming by the 30's (if he wasn't from the outset) its president. His first wife, Mary (whose mother, along with their second son Edward, lived with them in 1920), died sometime between 1930 and 1938, as Powell remarried that year to Alice Cox Joy. The Fords lived somewhere on Old Capitol Trail (then called the Lincoln Highway), but I don't know exactly where. They seem to have been very involved in their community, with Mrs. Ford (the first one, I think) being involved with the local Civic League and a temperance organization. Powell Ford was also the president of the board of trustees of the Marshallton Methodist Church, and in 1954 donated $1,000 to it to help build a parking lot in the rear of the church.
From research I had done a while back, I seem to recall that the Fords later in life donated several properties they owned to New Castle County. Unfortunately, I don't recall exactly where they were, but it seems to fit with their civic-mindedness. Ford married his third wife, Helen (maybe Short Fox), in 1946. Amazingly, Powell M. Ford finally passed away in 1986, at the ripe old age of 98. I don't know where he lived later in life, but one reader stated that he thought the Powell house was on Newport Pike (Rt. 4) outside of Newport, later torn down for a strip mall. This may be correct, as his place of residence is listed as Newport on his third marriage certificate.
Although I was able to find a good bit of information on Powell Ford after only a quick search, a few questions still remain, and I'd like to put them out there and see if anyone knows the answers. First, does anyone know where the Fords resided? One piece of evidence on the census leads me to think they may have lived on Old Capitol Trail somewhere heading towards Price's Corner, but I'm far from sure. Second, what ever happened to the Marshallton Building and Loan, and where was it? (*See below and comments) I found a more recent mention of a Marshallton Savings and Loan, located behind Price's Corner on Newport Gap Pike, but I don't know if it was a successor. Finally, we still haven't figured out exactly what the relationship (if any) was between Powell Ford and the house, also known as the Mansion House, on Kiamensi Road. And was the park named as an honor for him, or because he donated the land (or maybe a little of both). Now, see what happens when I start going off on a tangent? I'll never get this day back...