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Friday, July 26, 2013

A Couple More Banks Family Items

Jabez Banks Sale Notice, 1889
A little while back I was fortunate enough to have a small cache of local history items given to me by Fran Casarino, a descendant of several long-standing Mill Creek Hundred families. Over the coming weeks, I'll slowly roll out some of the items that I think might be of interest, most of which relate to the Stanton area. The first items deal directly with one of Fran's family lines, the Banks family. This post could really be considered to be a continuation or addendum to the Jabez Banks Invitations post of a few months ago. The items profiled in that post also came from Fran's collection.

The first item, seen above, is a notice from 1889 advertising the sale of the "Stock and Farm Impliments" of Jabez Banks. The notice goes on to list in detail the items for sale, including horses, cows, pigs, chickens, carriages, harness, milk churns, pans, buckets, and "in fact, everything needed to carry on farming". Basically an entire farm except for, well, the farm.

From the looks of this notice, the 33 year old Jabez Banks was in the midst of changing occupations, and was no longer going to work as a farmer. After his father died in 1880 (more on that in a moment), Jabez probably stayed and worked the family farm for the next nine years before deciding on a career change. The 1890 Census would be fabulously helpful in this instance, but of course it's not available.* In 1900 Jabez was listed as a carpenter, still living in the Stanton area. The farm Jabez worked in the 1880's (and the residence mentioned on the notice) was almost certainly the white house located in the middle of what's now the White Clay Creek Country Club golf course. This is the course on the property of Delaware Park. The Bankses leased the farm (identified as "White Hall" on the 1868 map) from its owner Charles I. duPont. Later, Jabez would go on to run the hotel at Brandywine Springs, by then used primarily as a boarding house for some of the park workers.

1880 Obituary of Jabez Banks, Sr.
The second item relating to the Banks family (seen above) is the 1880 obituary notice for Jabez Banks, Sr. Of the two items, this would probably be considered to be the more common, or at least less rare, of the two. It's just an obituary from the newspaper, clipped out by a family member. Families everywhere have these, in memory of countless relatives. The sale notice, on the other hand, is the first like it that I've come across for this area. The only other one close was the handwritten Joseph Jones ad. These printed notices must have been common at the time, posted in various public places pretty regularly. After the sales, though, I'm sure almost all were immediately thrown away. The fact that this one survived is amazing, undoubtedly the result of someone in the family grabbing one and holding on to it.

Having said all that, in this particular case the more enlightening one for us is the simple obituary. Although part of it is torn off and missing, it's not all that hard to fill in the blanks. The obituary does help to fill in some of the blanks for the Banks family, as well. Somewhat frustratingly, it actually spends much more space talking about Jabez's brothers Robert and William than it does about the deceased himself. And at least one of the details it gives about him is wrong. The text states that he immigrated to the US "twenty-seven years ago". From 1880, that would put him coming over in 1853. The problem is that Jabez, Jane, and their one-year old daughter Elizabeth (born in Delaware) appear in the 1850 US Census in Christiana Hundred. Perhaps it was an error and should have been 35 years?

I'd love to know how the connection was made, but it seems all three of the Banks brothers worked farms owned by members of the duPont family. Robert farmed at Blue Ball farm on Concord Pike, now part of  Alapocas Run State Park. William worked a farm owned by Charles I. duPont near New Castle, later purchased by the Tasker Iron Works. Jabez and his family also started by leasing a farm owned by C. I. duPont, near Stanton. The obituary seems to say that they eventually purchased the property, but doesn't state when. The 1881 map still shows it as "Est. of Chas. I. DuPont", but going by the obituary the Banks family would have owned it by then. It would be far from the first time that one of these maps had a detail like that wrong.

Two simple items more than 120 years old. Each has its own story to tell and its own secrets to reveal. Each offers another piece into the puzzle of our local history. Makes you wonder how many other such items are still sitting around in attics, basements, and in the bottoms of drawers.

Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
  • The full story of the 1890 Census is a truly sorry one. If you're interested, follow the link and read about it. If you're someone who's ever looked up census records before, be prepared to feel sick.
  • Kudos to anyone who can find what's wrong with the sale notice. I had looked at it dozens of times before I noticed it.


  1. Scott, Collecting my Kudos. The second "D" in WEDNESDAY is missing. Donna P

    1. Yup, that's it. I looked at the actual item a number of times, scanned it in, saw it several days while working on the post, then finally noticed it. I wonder how many people (after the printer, of course) noticed it then.