Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Red Clay Valley Marshall Families -- Part 1

As I've been busy lately with other projects, Robert Wilhelm has stepped up with a couple of fantastic guest posts about the Marshall family, which, frankly, I would have never been able to write. This first post covers the early history of the family, as well as the brothers who engaged in the iron and kaolin businesses. The next post will cover the paper and fibre side of the family. Huge thanks to Robert, and I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.


By Robert E. Wilhelm, Jr.
Marshall's Bridge, Kennett Township, PA
Most Delawareans are well aware of the DuPont Company and how the company evolved and came to prominence after Victor Marie du Pont and Éleuthère Irénée du Pont, emigrated from France in 1800 to the young United States. Some folks may be aware that the first machine-made paper produced in this country was manufactured at the Gilpin Mill north of Wilmington on Brandywine Creek in 1803. Delawareans generally don’t know that the second iron rolling mill in the colonies was built at Wooddale and that the first Prussian iron, zinc sheet, and tin sheet manufactured in North America came from Wooddale. However, predating the DuPont’s arrival in the area, are the Garrett and Marshall families. Both families contributed significantly to Delaware’s early industrial age heritage.

Arriving in the early 1700s, John Garrett purchased five tracts of William Penn’s Letitia Manor in the 1720s and settled in the “upper county of the three lower counties of the Province of Pennsylvania” (now known as Yorklyn, DE). Garrett and four neighbors constructed and operated a grist mill at the present site of Marshall Brothers Mill now part of the property of Delaware’s newest state park, Auburn Heights Preserve. The Garrett family went on to build a snuff empire a half-mile downstream on the Red Clay that by 1900 produced a third of the world’s supply of snuff. After the forming of the United States and Delaware in 1776, the area the Garretts settled became known as Auburn, DE.


If one does any research related to the name “Marshall” they find numerous geological and historical references associated with the surname. The Marshall name dates back over one thousand years with origins in England. In the 1600’s many Marshall families emigrated to the North American colonies to escape the political and religious suppressions they faced in England. In the early 1800’s the greatest concentration of families named Marshall occurred in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

While much has been documented about the DuPont Company and there are books devoted to the Garrett Snuff Company, little has been written on the early beginnings of the Marshall family. A fifth-generation Marshall, Robert Marshall, raised five children. The eldest two sons, Caleb and John, took an interest in the iron rolling business and together pioneer the making of galvanized iron leading to the naming of the area, Marshallton, DE. The youngest son, Thomas Smedley, remains in Pennsylvania at what becomes known as the “Homestead Mill” on the family property in Kennett Township and learns the papermaking trade. Thomas’ sons develop and perfect industrial papermaking and go on to revolutionize the production of vulcanized fibre. The third eldest son, Abner, settles in Delaware as a farmer but turns miner when a unique mineral resource is discovered while he plows a field.

[Note: There are a lot of repeated given names throughout the generations of Marshall so to keep them straight this article will use a numerical subscript after the given name to designate the generation. ‘0’ is the John0 Marshall that lived his life in England while John1 was born in England and immigrated to the colonies. John3 is the Marshall settling in Kennett Township.]

Marshall Arrival in Philadelphia
There were many families with the Marshall surname migrating from England to the newly forming colonies in North America in the mid-1600’s. The Marshall family home was at Elton, in northwest Derbyshire, where most of the family was converted to Quakerism between 1655 and 1680. John1 Marshall (1661-1729), son of John0 and Mary Marshall, was born in Derbyshire, England in 1661 and at the age of 23 crossed the Atlantic to settle in Blockley Township in what was then known as the Province of Pennsylvania (in 1854 Blockley was absorbed into the city of Philadelphia).

After about a year John1 moved to Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania Province. He married Sarah Smith in 1688 which became the first wedding conducted at the Darby Friends’ Meeting House after its recent erection. John’s1 cousin was noted horticulturist and botanist Abraham Marshall who had settled in West Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania Province. John1 and Sarah had three children, John2 (1690-1740), William2 (1692-1727), and Thomas2 (1694-1740). John1 and his wife would own several hundred acres of land along Cobb’s Creek in what is now Upper Darby.

Thomas2 Marshall would marry Hannah Mendenhall and together they would raise nine children. Those nine children were named: Ann3 Marshall [Hickman] (1719-1819; 11 children – Benjamin, Lewis, Mary, Moses, William, Hannah, Sarah, Ann, Thomas, Joseph, Francis), Sarah3 Marshall (1721-1729), Benjamin3 Marshall (1722-1745; 2 children – Thomas & William), Moses3 Marshall (1725-1729), Thomas3 Marshall (1727-1759; 4 children – Esther, Hannah, Thomas, Phebe), Martha3 Marshall [Levis] (1729-1804; 3 children – Elizabeth, Hannah, William), Hannah3 Marshall [Way] (1730-1802; 10 children – Phebe, Thomas, Caleb, Martha, Hannah, Ann, Mary Joshua, Lydia, David), John3 Marshall (1734-1815; 2 children by first wife – Mary4, Martha4; 6 children by second wife – Thomas4, Robert4, Hannah4, Ann4, Martha4, William4), and Mary3 Marshall [James] (1738-1790; 7 children – Aaron, Hannah, Sarah, Joseph, Mary, Caleb, Martha). One can imagine the “which one” responses at a Thomas and Hannah Marshall family outing should someone call out “Thomas”, “John”, “Ann” or “William”!

John3 Marshall, the eighth child of Thomas2 and Hannah, would marry and have two children before his wife dies in 1764. He and his two girls learn of a 174-acre property known as Joshua Taylor’s Mill that is available for $1,090 from Joseph Pierce and James Bennett who were settling William Levis' estate. The farm was located where the east and west tributaries of the Red Clay Creek joined to flow south into what was known as “the three lower counties of the Province of Pennsylvania” (today Delaware).

The Marshall home, today

Fed by numerous springs along the route, the Red Clay joins the waters of the White Clay Creek which eventually fed the Christiana River and later the Delaware River. After Brandywine Creek, the Red Clay Creek was the territory’s most industrialized waterway followed by White Clay Creek. By draining the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the Red Clay flowed year-round with a sufficient volume to power the many mills dotted along its banks. Water power reigned supreme in the 18th century and the farm John3 purchased included a mill site on the Red Clay were the creek developed sufficient year-round flow to support a milling operation. In future years, John’s3 son (Robert4) and grandchildren (Caleb5, John5, Thomas5) find the waters of the Red Clay of ideal purity for the manufacture of the specialty papers and strong enough to power their sheet iron rolling mills.

Marshall Arrival in Kennett Township
John3 purchases the Joshua Taylor property in Kennett Township (established in the early 1700s) and he and his daughters relocate from Concordville where he had settled after his first marriage in 1765. John3 continues operating the saw mill on the former Taylor property located just below the convergence of the East and West branches of the Red Clay Creek. Naming the farm "Marshallvale", the log cabin farm house on the property dates from the 1600s when the property was part of the William Penn lands known as “Letitia Manor”. John3 builds a stone addition to the farm home in 1767 and marries Susanna Lamborn in 1768. They raise six additional children (noted above) in addition to John’s3 two girls from his first marriage.

John3 adds a stone construction flour mill to the property and his family continues the sawing of lumber and the milling of flour and other grains. After John3 passed away in 1815, his son Robert4 (1771-1859) inherits Marshallvale and continues operating primarily the grist mill. Robert4 marries Mary Hoopes (1781-1825) and together they raise five children; Caleb5 H Marshall (1806-1888), John5 Marshall (1808-1885), Martha5 Marshall (1810-1890), Abner5 Marshall (1814-?) and Thomas5 Smedley Marshall (1818-1887). Robert4 and his family continue operating Marshallvale as a grist and saw milling operation however his sons have begun to take interest in the manufacture of paper and iron sheet materials.

Caleb & John Marshall – Galvanized Sheet Iron
John5, Robert’s4 second son, purchased the Hershey Grist Mill (originally constructed circa 1725) on the Red Clay Creek in 1836 halfway between Greenbank and Kiamensi, DE (known as Hershey’s Bridge in that era before becoming Marshallton). The mill had belonged to Solomon Hershey (built on property owned by the Hershey family since 1746) until 1801 when he willed it to his sons Isaac and Benjamin. It included automated milling equipment built by Oliver Evans capable of 2,000 barrels of flower in a season. After John Marshall marries the daughter of John C. Phillips, the Greenbank miller, they operate the grist mill for a number of years.

Marshall Iron Works, after later improvements

Alongside the grist mill, a sheet iron rolling mill is constructed. It is the second iron rolling mill on the Red Clay Creek (James Wood and his son Alan had been operating Delaware Iron Works at Wooddale since the early 1800s). By 1856 the Marshall rolling mill is producing 393 tons of sheet iron a year using two puddling furnaces, two heating furnaces, and a single train of rollers. The Marshall Iron Works mill would see multiple changes in ownership over ensuing years and eventually becomes a paper and vulcanized fibre mill at the start of the 1900s. In later years, as a result of consolidations within the vulcanized fibre industry, the former Marshall iron rolling mill site returns to Marshall family ownership, this time owned by the paper and fibre Marshalls in Yorklyn.

Caleb5, Robert’s4 eldest son, moved to Philadelphia in 1856 and established the Penn Treaty Iron Works manufactory with a rolling mill at 24 Girard Avenue. The works had three heating furnaces, a high puddle mill, a high bar mill, and a 26” x 36” and five 24” x 32” tinplate mills all working hot materials. There are also six 20” x 36” cold mills. The facility included plating facilities and had an annual capacity of 7,500 gross tons.



Caleb5 Marshall took an interest in perfecting the coating of iron sheet following along with the ideas the Wood family had done at Wooddale. Alan Wood had patented “Prussian Iron” which was the first rust-resistant sheet materials manufactured in the United States. The Wood family perfected and patented various machines for the working and rolling of iron into sheets. Caleb5 pioneered and patented the making of galvanized sheet becoming the first to do so in the US. He also improved and patented processes related to the tin plating of iron sheet. Like Wood, Marshall patented various machines and furnace arrangements associated with the rolling and coating of iron sheets.

In 1878 Alfred6 Marshall, Caleb’s5 son, with his two brothers, Wilmer6 W. Marshall and James6 Howard Marshall, purchased their father's and uncle's interest in the business, now with offices at Beach and Marlborough Streets in Philadelphia. They sold their patented galvanized iron sheet materials under the “Penn Treaty”, “Girard”, and “Marshall” names (“Marshall” was trademarked). In 1892 they began the manufacture of tin plate, establishing the first plant for this industry east of the Alleghenies. The firm sells the tin plate department in 1898 to the American Tin Plate Company.

Abner Marshall – Kaolin Mining
We’ve talked about the two oldest of Robert’s4 sons, however, the third son, Abner5 was as entrepreneurial as his brothers.  Abner5 discovered a deep vein of Kaolin clay in late 1854 on his property while plowing. While Kaolin mining had been occurring in Chester County for a couple decades, Abner6 Marshall is the first to have discovered mineable Kaolin in Delaware. He became the first to mine Kaolin in the Hockessin-Yorklyn area as a result. His site was located about halfway between Old Wilmington Road and Creek Road to the southeast of Yorklyn Road. His clay was offered for sale in soft brick form that could be turned into china and pottery.

In 1866, Abner6 sold the 10-acre property containing the Kaolin deposit and mining operation to Thomas Trucks and Charles Parker. Forming Trucks & Parker the mine continued operation until the mid-1870s when it began to play out. In 1874 a ton of Kaolin clay would sell for $20. The property eventually ended up with the Diamond State Kaolin Works shortly after the Wilmington & Western Rail Road began operating near the property.

With the Kaolin veins becoming depleted, eventually the property sold again to Golding & Company who had a much larger operation in the vicinity of where Old Wilmington Road crosses over the B&O’s former Landenberg Branch.  Golding never mined the former Diamond State Kaolin Works property, instead concentrating on their Kaolin veins until the 1940s.


In our next installment, we’ll take a look at the papermaking and vulcanized fibre side of the Marshall family.

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