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Monday, December 3, 2018

Who's at the Banks Family Picnic?

The Banks Family
Since Mill Creek Hundred is a relatively small area, there are of course only so many families
involved in its first few hundred years of history. That being said, I always find it interesting when a particular family keeps popping up over and over again. And with a fantastic "new" picture shared with me recently, the family in question this time are the Bankses. Members of the Banks family have shown up in several past posts, including ones regarding the Jabez Banks Invitations, additional Banks Family items, and Automotive Pioneer Richard R. Banks. Another Banks brother, John W. Banks, also made appearances in a post about a barn fire and the one about the bunco steerers.

Of course, there were upwards of about a dozen Banks siblings milling about New Castle County in the late 19th Century, so it would kind of be surprising if we hadn't heard from them before. To the best of my knowledge, though, the only family members we had photographs of were Jabez Banks, Jr., his wife Sarah, and their three daughters Jessie, Bessie, and Annie. The good news is that now we a great photo that certainly contains more of the Banks family. The bad news is that we don't yet know exactly who is who in the shot. I'm fairly certain that Jabez is the guy behind the yellow dot. I also think his wife Sarah Chambers Banks is in the black dress in the back left. (You can click on the picture to see a larger version.)

Now maybe it's just me, but I happen to think that poring over old photos like this one is pretty fun. I've done very similar things recently with pictures of my own family, from roughly the same time period. I'd say this photo was taken somewhere around 1900, give or take a few years. I'd also say that the Banks men had a very distinctive look. I think I can smell the mustache oil. (Full disclosure: I have no idea what mustache oil smells like.) Down below is a picture of Jabez and one of him and family, for reference. In the group shot, I count at least seven or so guys that all look very similar. I'd be very surprised if some of those men aren't his brothers Richard, John, Edwin, Henry, Charles, and William.

I also see a resemblance between Sarah Chambers Banks and a few of the older women. The woman under the yellow dot on the right could possibly be Anna J. Chambers, Sarah's older sister (by about 12 years). Anna was unmarried and was listed in the same household as the Banks in 1910. The older, smaller woman on the right in the middle could possibly be Sarah Chambers, the mother of Sarah Chambers Banks. She died in 1902 at the age of 82. And while Jabez Banks, Sr. died in 1880, his wife (and the mother of the Banks men) Jane survived until 1911. I wonder if she could be the woman in the middle, given the place of honor as the matriarch of the family.

Although I know that there are Banks family descendants out there, it's kind of a longshot, but does anyone recognize anyone else in the picture? Any other thought on who some of the others could be? If I'm able to pin down anyone else, I'll be sure to update the post. In the meantime, enjoy this piece of Mill Creek Hundred history, up to and including the young boy who I can't tell if he's smiling or crying, the girl in the front who really doesn't want to be there, and of course, the outhouse in the back.

Jabez Banks, Jr.

The Banks family. L-R: Annie, Bessie, Jessie, Sarah, and Jabez


  1. That was taken behind 626 W. 4th Street which was the residence of Jane Ward Banks who was Jabez "Jr."s mother. She lived there sometime after they moved from the farm which is now Delaware Park. The one with the dot is Jabez the younger. The smaller woman in the middle to the right of the blue dot is Jane Ward Banks. The one on the far right with the yellow dot is Cousin Annie Sherman I believe is the correct name. She was apparently the only relative of Jane who was in the area or perhaps the US.

  2. I think that I may have mis-remembered The name of Jane's cousin. I am thinking that it is Annie Shermer and not Sherman.

  3. Thanks Steve!!!!!