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Friday, February 10, 2017

Red Clay Valley Marshall Families -- Part 2

This is the second part of Robert Wilhelm's story of the Marshall family in the Red Clay Valley. In Part 1, we learned the early history of the family in the area, as well as the stories of the Marshall family's ventures in the iron and kaolin industries. In this part, Robert focuses on the papermaking aspect of the family business. 

By Robert E. Wilhelm Jr.

Thomas S. Marshall & Sons – Papermakers
Israel Marshall's Auburn Heights
With the Gilpins developing a way to make paper by machine on Brandywine Creek in 1803, Robert’s4 son Thomas5 takes an interest in papermaking and in 1856 he is permitted to convert the family flour mill at Marshallvale to the production of paper. Thomas concentrates on the manufacture of news and wrapping papers including difficult to make tissue papers. The family papermaking business is operated primarily by Thomas5 with assistance of others and eventually his children, until the mill is destroyed by fire during the winter of 1865-66. One of the tenant homes, built around 1850 and known as the Marshall Mill House, is still standing along Creek Road (Route 82) and has been preserved by The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County on the Marshall Mill House Preserve.

The area that John3 Marshall purchased in 1765 eventually became known as Marshall’s Bridge in Kennett Township. The rebuilt paper mill, now larger than it had been before the fire, offered increased paper production. Thomas5 S. names the mill the “Homestead Mill at Marshall’s Bridge”. The new mill most likely relied on papermaking machinery supplied from one of the industrial paper machinery makers in Wilmington such as Pusey & Jones or Jackson & Sharp.

Various historical accounts suggest that Thomas’5 paper business at the Homestead Paper Mill was an average business but barely made a profit. According to NVF historical documents, the mill’s cylinder papermaking machine produced paper 33” wide at a rate of 50 feet per minute (137.5 square feet per minute or 212 letter-sized sheets per minute). The Homestead Mill could produce 2-tons of rag paper a week. Paper was now the primary product produced by the Thomas S. Marshall Company in the early 1870s.

Thomas5 marries Mary W. Way and raises two sons at Marshallvale; Israel6 Way Marshall (1850-1911), and Thomas6 Elwood Marshall (1855-1929) along with a daughter Mary6 Marshall (1853-1932). When Israel6 and Thomas6 Elwood6 come of age, it is a forgone conclusion that the brothers will continue the family’s papermaking business. Israel6 and Elwood6 (as Thomas6 preferred to be called) initially work with their father learning the papermaking business and the brothers rename the business Thomas S. Marshall & Sons.

Homestead Paper Mill, 1895

Products of the Homestead Mill were binder’s board (the stiff, thick paper used for the ends and bindings of books; often covered with linen or leather) along with paper that later had patterns printed on it for wall coverings, heavy grades of roofing and building papers, and a high-quality sorghum-based printing paper. The paper for “The Village Record”, a weekly newspaper printed in West Chester, Pennsylvania was made at the Homestead Mill. Lockwood’s Directory for 1881 indicates Thomas S Marshall & Sons’ Homestead Mill was turning out 1,000 pounds per day of manila and carpet lining on a 56-inch cylinder machine.  Carpet lining was popular in the era for placement under carpets as padding to soften footfalls. The material was similar to blotter paper, almost a felt thickness, and was often rag fiber based for strength not to shred underfoot.

Israel6 seemed to gravitate towards the technical aspects of papermaking and running the operation while his younger brother Elwood6 focused on sales and business operations. Israel6 was known not to have been satisfied with producing status-quo paper products as he felt there was more money to be made offering specialty and higher quality papers. Both Israel6 and Elwood6 Marshall worked diligently to produce and sell the finest papers possible for use in books, roofing, wall papering and other industrial paper applications. The brothers continually experimented and tested various ideas to improve and refine the process they used to make paper. Israel6 would patent the process to make a new waterproof building paper he had developed at the Homestead Mill.

Israel Way Marshall

The Marshalls could produce fourteen tons of paper a week by 1887 when their father, Thomas5 S. passed away. While most area papermakers converted entirely to the cheaper-to-make wood pulp paper process, the Marshalls retained the rag paper process along with making some wood pulp based papers. Not only were they selling large volumes of a specialty industrial rag paper to the Vulcanized Fibre Company in Wilmington, but their clients included the Kartavert Company and the Diamond State Fibre Company as well. Wilmington had become known as a market leader in the building of railroad cars and ships, and Wilmington now added vulcanized fibre to its list leadership products produced.

Marshall & Mitchell Company
Israel6 and Elwood6 recognized that demand for fibre paper would soon outgrow their Homestead Mill’s production capabilities. Not wanting to create an opportunity for a new rag paper manufacturer to become competition, they sought out another location that had ample water supply where a second, more modern and efficient paper mill could be placed in operation dedicated to industrial rag paper products destined to be vulcanized. Israel6 and Elwood6 knew the former iron rolling mill at Wooddale was available and standing unused (and owned by Caleb5 Marshall, a relative) and in 1889 they initially leased it and eventually purchased it. Israel6, Elwood6 and Dr. Taylor Mitchell, the husband of their sister Mary6, founded Marshall & Mitchell Company at Wooddale, DE and started to convert the former iron rolling mill to the making of paper.

Marshall & Mitchell's Wooddale mill, 1895

The Marshall & Mitchell Wooddale Paper Mill would eventually begin turning out rag and wood pulp paper products in 1891. By 1905 the Wooddale operation was producing 3,000 pounds of Manila paper per day on a 62-inch Fourdrinier machine; more than what their Homestead Mill was capable of. Wooddale Mill would eventually turn to making rag paper in the 1900s for the Marshalls to convert to fiber at the Yorklyn fiber plants.  The Marshall & Mitchell mill was capable of producing 4,000 pounds per day of rag paper when the plant was destroyed by fire in 1918.  The Insurance Press noted that the mill burned on October 2, 1918.  The Marshall & Mitchell Mill declared a $40,000 total loss including 6,050 tons of rag paper.  It was not rebuilt.

Marshall & Ewart Company, predecessor to Marshall Brothers Company
A short distance from their Pennsylvania Homestead Mill, in the newly named area of Yorklyn (formerly known as Auburn) Delaware, the Marshalls also knew of a derelict woolen mill called Auburn Factory that belonged to William Clark. A fire had consumed the woolen mill in the late 1880s and Clark had not rebuilt his mill as the woolen industry was becoming more mechanized and cost efficient. More modern steam powered mills out-produced smaller water powered mills such as Clark’s. Clark agreed to sell Auburn Factory to the Marshall’s in a lease-purchase sort of arrangement. Israel6 and Elwood6 Marshall team with Franklyn Ewart (who was William Clark’s son-in-law) and form Marshall & Ewart Company to make industrial rag papers in the Auburn Factory. Installing two steam engines from Fitchburg Steam Engine Company and papermaking equipment from Downingtown Manufacturing Company the mill is rebuilt and produces its first paper in 1891 which sells for 5-cents a pound in natural color and 6-cents a pound for red color. Edward M. Taylor Paper Company in Stanton, DE receives the first shipment on October 7, 1891 wrapped in kraft paper made at the Marshall & Mitchell paper mill at Wooddale, DE.

Auburn Mill

With three paper mills operating, and having a reputation for fair pricing and business practices, the Marshall industrial rag paper business flourished and expanded. Wilmington, DE companies now produced the market share of vulcanized fibre for the world and the Marshalls supplied those companies most, if not all of, the special industrial rag paper used to make the fibre. In 1899 the Marshall’s began construction of the Insulite Mill across from their Marshall Brothers Paper Mill and began making vulcanized fibre to supply their Specialty Fibre Company in Kennett Square which manufactured vulcanized fibre containers, cartons, and cases.

When the Kennett Square operation burned to the ground, Israel6 began experimenting with making vulcanized fibre continuously in the Insulite Mill (production was in single sheets at this time by all manufacturers of fibre). In 1908 Israel6 and Elwood6 Marshall patent the endless fibre machine which gives them the means to revolutionize the vulcanized fibre industry. Israel6 and Elwood6 purchase the Feree property and form National Fibre & Insulation Company which is run by Israel6 Marshall’s eldest son Joseph7 Warren7 Marshall (who prefers to be called Warren7).  In 1922 the National Fibre & Insulation Company absorb their largest competitor (American Vulcanized Fibre Company) and the National Vulcanized Fibre Company is born.

National Vulcanized Fibre in the 1920's

A Kennett Square Factory
There is another twist to the Marshall story beginning in June 1898. By June 1896 the Marshalls had paid off all debt for their most recent mills at Wooddale and Yorklyn. All Marshall operations appear to have been debt-free by 1896. Marshall Brothers’ general ledger includes references the “Fibre Specialty Company” starting in June 1898.  The Marshalls started a forth business in Kennett Square, PA.  The Kennett factory produced trunks, suitcases and other specialty products made of vulcanized fibre starting in November 1898.  The plant remained in operation until a 1902 fire burned the building beyond repair. As Fibre Specialty didn’t need the fibre produced at the Insulite Mill, it provided the opportunity for Israel6 and Elwood6 to develop their continuous fibre machine in the Insulite Mill from 1902 until they restarted an expanded operation in Kennett Square in 1905.

The Kennett Square operation was restarted in 1905 at a different location in Kennett Square as the Fibre Specialty Manufacturing Company.  With the purchase and construction of the #1 Fibre Mill on the Feree property between 1906 and 1908, the equipment inside the Insulite Mill was eventually moved to the #1 Fibre Mill. Fibre Specialty Manufacturing Company was merged into National Vulcanized Fibre Company in 1914. The Kennett plant would eventually make a Bakelite based rag paper product, trademarked as Phenolite, with a process similar to that employed in the making of vulcanized fibre, the material found quick adoption for electronic circuit board applications as one of its many uses.

We’ve only followed one branch of the Marshall family. There are John1 Marshall descendants living in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Wisconsin to name a few states. Initially farmers, descendants of John1 Marshall became involved in many aspects of the industrial revolution as well as pharmacology, mining, finance and other occupations. The Marshalls married into the Chandler, Gregg, Hannum, Lamborn, Mendenhall, Mitchell, Pusey Sharpless, Way, and Woodward families of northern Delaware and southern Pennsylvania region. British subjects named Marshall emigrated in the 1600s not only to Pennsylvania, but to the New England and southern territories and colonies as well. From each of these few emigrating families large Marshall genealogical trees have grown across this nation contributing to its wealth and prosperity.

The Marshall surname is the 125th most popular surname in the United States with over 177,000 families having the last name of Marshall according to the 2000 census. Historically, John, William and James are the most popular first names associated with the surname Marshall with Robert 5th most popular and Thomas 8th most popular. Thomas2 Marshall’s nine children raised dozens more including his son John3 who raised eight children. John’s3 son Robert’s4 children and several of his grandchildren harnessed the power of the Red Clay Creek to operate their mills and permit them to innovate the manufacture of rolled iron sheet, industrial paper, and vulcanized fibre. Robert’s4 grandchildren and great-grandchildren continued the family traditions in the paper, fibre, iron and steel industries well into the 20th century.

The branch of the Marshall genealogy tree of interest to us includes Thomas5 and leads to future generations that settle on the Red Clay Creek at Marshallton and Yorklyn. John1 Marshall’s (1661-1729), second son William2 (1692-1727) had a son William3 (1712-1750) whose children (James4 1734-? and William4 1735-1808) were involved with mills on Brandywine Creek. Up through the 1870s there are another nine Marshalls in New Castle County and Chester County that patented kerosene lamp designs, railroad equipment, carriage equipment and designs, and improvements for the manufacture of even umbrellas. With the Marshall families having from three to eleven children per generation its unknown at this time if these nine individuals, or the many more Marshalls residing in the area trace back to John Marshall who arrived in this country in 1686.

While it is Red Clay Valley mill owner Oliver Evans (Faulkland mills) who is usually considered most famous for his automated milling inventions and patents, there can be no doubt that the Marshall family (Marshallton, Wooddale and Yorklyn mills) easily earns the runner-up spot followed by Alan and John Wood (Wooddale mill) and William G. Philips (Greenbank mill). In the 20th century, Delaware became known as the corporate capital of the world, however in the 19th century the millers turned industrialists along the Brandywine, Red and White Clay creeks, helped pioneer the industrial revolution. When we include Wilmington’s leadership in steel ship building, railroad coach and car construction, and industrial machinery fabrication, Delaware families were clearly pioneers and leaders sparking the start of this country’s industrial revolution. 

For those that would like a more detailed history on the Marshall Family and how they revolutionized the vulcanized fibre industry, please visit the Marshall Interactive Timeline on the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve website ~ http://auburnheights.org/marshall-timeline  The timeline provides details about how Israel and Elwood Marshall invented the endless fibre machine leading to the eventual formation of National Vulcanized Fibre Company.

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