A century ago the Delaware legislature formed the Delaware State Police to regulate and maintain safety on the state’s highways and roadways. In 1917 the Highway Traffic Police formed with the objective of having one officer patrolling the Philadelphia Pike (Route 13 along the Delaware River) during daylight hours. In 1918 the Highway Traffic Police expanded to four patrolmen each with a motorcycle. By 1925, increased traffic monitoring requirements transformed the organization into a 24-hour service that included a Canine Unit. The organization returned to its Delaware State Police name in 1931 and continued to expand in responsibilities, personnel, and capabilities over the ensuing decades.

Today, there are 35 divisions within the Delaware State Police. For Kent and Sussex counties the Delaware State Police provide primary law-enforcement except where a municipality provides their own law enforcement. In New Castle County the Delaware State Police share law-enforcement with the New Castle County Police and local municipality police forces.

In recognition of the Delaware State Police’s 100th anniversary, Republican Minority Leader Mike Ramone from the 21st District (Pike Creek) introduced a bill to acknowledge and honor state police officers’ service. What was the context of Ramone’s acknowledgement that required enacting through legislation? Hint: The results of Ramone’s action are included in the above image of State Police uniform designs and the look of the police vehicles of the past century.


House Bill 100 amended Title 21 of the Delaware Code relating to Special License Plates to create a unique plate for Delaware State Police officers to display on their patrol cars. The Bill dictates the license plate shall begin with the prefix “ST.” The plates are a reverse of Delaware’s traditional blue & gold license plate design with the letters in blue and the plate’s background color of gold. The DE State Police logo is to the left and there is no expiration sticker assigned. The plates carry a $10 initial registration fee and may only be granted to an officer upon request at the discretion of the Superintendent of the State Police who is currently Colonel Melissa Zeebley, the first woman to head the Delaware State Police.

Drive safely and let us hope your first time seeing one of the new plates is not due to you are being stopped for a traffic infraction! For a more complete history of the evolution of Delaware State Police automobile license plates visit:  www.statetrooperplates.com/delaware.html


Anyone who has toured Marshall Brothers paper mill (two tours left in 2023 – October 28th & November 18th), is aware of the variety of dangerous machinery installed in the 1890s mill which made paper into the 21st century. Additionally, as papermaking is a water-based process, wet, uneven, concrete flooring provided ample opportunity for slippery conditions. Machines with flailing knives, rotary cylindrical boilers operating at 25 pounds per square inch steam pressure (267 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures) and large moving belts and gears added to the opportunities for worker injury.

In 1890, when the former Auburn Factory was converted to a paper mill by Israel and Elwood Marshall, only 9 states required some level of factory safety inspection. Delaware did not require boiler inspections until 1919. DuPont, the state’s biggest employer for much of the 20th century, began its safety program in 1811 and by 1927 had an injury rate of 3.4 major injuries per million hours worked. This record, and compatible records of other large Delaware employers, eliminated the need for Delaware employers to have to comply with state safety regulations. Delaware businesses had a free hand in defining workplace safety requirements until OSHA was enacted.

Congress enacted the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act on April 28, 1971 after President Nixon’s December 1970s signing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by the Act to ensure America’s work practices and environments were safe for all employees, contractors, and visitors, Not only was OSHA tasked with defining a safe workplace through regulations and policy, the organization had the power to levy fines where failure to comply could be documented either through unannounced inspection or investigation after a reportable injury occurred.

Recently the NVF corporate records have been parsed for the company’s safety performance. We know, for example, in 1982 NVF Yorklyn recorded 27 safety incidents for 348,855 hours worked for fiber operations and recorded 11 safety incidents for 153,671 hours worked for papermaking operations. The research indicates these numbers were not uncommon, in fact 1982’s data was statistically average for injury data reported to OSHA during the 1980s and into the 1990s at NVF Yorklyn.

The data show multiple examples of lacerations, bruises, strains, and sprains. Think back to how you have injured yourself when a slipping knife has not been the cause of a laceration, tripping over an object has not resulted in a fall, to the more unique accidents that have caused you injury. How many of those unique accidents do you think may not have been unique, but occurred at NVF Yorklyn? For our Answer we will describe some of the recordable accidents at NVF Yorklyn

As one reads through decades of recordable safety incidents occurring on an annual basis at Yorklyn, not using proper safety equipment such as eyewear, gloves, footwear, and even simple clothing were frequently cited as contributing to dozens of annual injuries. While failure to use safety equipment contributed to many injuries, working conditions and employee willingness to follow safety guidelines accounted for quite a few injuries. Perhaps most noteworthy were the uneven walking surfaces throughout the facilities creating numerous opportunities for trips, falls, and sprains Improper lifting and moving often resulted in back and groin injuries. Properly maintaining equipment was often cited when handrails or other safety devices failed to perform as intended due to not having been tested or maintained.

Employees using hammers had the hammer ricochet off what was being struck and strike the employee at various locations. There are numerous examples of employees working with either the paper sheet or the fibre sheet and getting their fingers and arms caught between the rollers or other machine parts. Employees were injured using thread-up tooling they concocted for various uses around machinery or the employee became injured pulling and cutting paper/fiber from a machine where the material had tightly wrapped within the machinery. There are incident reports documenting removed guard(s) and had the guard(s) been in use, the incident would not have happened or the injury might have been significantly less.

There was one death recorded at NVF Yorklyn when an employee operating a fork truck at high speed (with a failed braking system) swerved to miss other employees and crashed into a building support column bringing part of an upper floor down upon the fork truck that did not have a safety cage for the operator. In another incident an employee lost 143 workdays while mowing grass with a tractor after they collided with a 55-gallon steel drum that was visible for some distance. The employee was thrown from the tractor and had the old-fashioned reel mower being towed behind the tractor run over them resulting in broken legs and pelvis, lacerations, and serious internal injuries.


As visitors enter room of Stanley automobiles from the lobby area in the Marshall Steam Museum, they encounter a display of artifacts which helped define the era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. On display are Edison phonographs, a first-generation commercial AM radio, a Kellogg wooden-box, hand-crank telephone, clips of Marshall home movies, a model Stanley steam car, a penny-farthing, a still-operational steam-powered popcorn maker, and other artifacts. If you ask a visitor, “What inventor comes to mind when seeing this collection of memorabilia?” usually Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) comes to mind. One wonders if Israel Marshall (1850-1911) wasn’t partly inspired by reading about Edison’s inventions as the two men lived during the same portion of the industrial revolution. Edison’s first patent was issued in 1869 (Electric Vote Recorder) and Marshall’s first patent application occurred in 1886 (Water-proof Building-paper; awarded 1887).

Many individuals view the importance of the Edison phonograph as being a primary income source which Edison tapped to generate the cash stream necessary to fund his many experiments necessary in the commercialization of the electric lamp. By 1877 as Edison worked on the phonograph, mankind understood the fundamentals of sound and how it moved through the air, water, and walls. In the 1840s, Christian Doppler had mathematically explained why sound from train whistles shifts pitch as it passes the listener. The first visualizations of sound waves occurred in the later 1700s when Ernst Chladni visualized sound with what become known as Chladni patterns (pictured at left). Chladni patterns are created on thin resonance plates by sprinkling a fine sand uniformly across the resonance plate’s surface and then allowing the plate to vibrate in harmony with any sound the plate receives. The Phonautograph, patented in 1857, is the earliest device known to have recorded sound and simultaneously produce a visual pattern of the sound thus preserving the sound’s waveform for future study.


Edison’s tin-sheet phonograph (pictured right) not only recorded sound, but the device preserved the sound for faithful play back as well as manipulation. This accomplishment led to Edison becoming known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. The ability to faithfully reproduce recorded sound is the obvious aspect of the phonograph that people think about when they remember the invention of the phonograph. However, there is one other aspect of the phonograph that astounded mankind once it was realized. What is this other aspect of the phonograph’s development that may consider more important than the faithful reproduction of sound? We’ll also tell you in the answer what a Bittakophone is.


Until 1877 and Edison’s perfection of the phonograph, it had only been possible to capture or preserve the world around us. The photographic process, begun in the early 1800s, captured rudimentary images of objects (from the light they reflected) as they existed during the brief time window the photographic material was exposed to light. The phonautograph, developed in the mid-1800s, allowed for the visualization of sound waves. Edison’s development of the phonograph in 1877 brought the ability to faithfully reproduce something recorded earlier along with the ability to time-shift what had been recorded.

Consider a simple musical metronome producing a discernable ‘click’ at a very precise interval to set the beat of music being played by an artist. Recorded using an Edison phonograph, when played back, the time space between the clicks was an accurate reproduction of what had occurred when the recording was taken. Like a photograph, the recording of the clicks is an accurate future reference of the sound captured which may be heard at some future date or dates provided the recording does not become damaged in the interim.

However, by varying the speed that the recording was played back, time-shifting of the recorded material occurs which was a totally new concept to be explored. Played back at twice the recorded speed, the clicks occur at a frequency of half the time interval they were recorded. Played back slower than the recorded speed, the clicks occur at twice the time interval they were recorded. With this change in playback speed, the frequencies of the recorded sound also shifted depending on the playback speed. This ability was soon recognized as mankind could ‘create’ the Doppler Effect and use it to advantage.

Edison worked for Western Union prior to his invention of the phonograph and the ability to record the dots and dashes of a telegraph message for retransmission later was one of the ideas he worked on. Being able to record a message, and then play it back faithfully at a much higher speed, effectively compressing the time it took to transmit the message, would allow more information to be passed along a telegraph wire than was possible with current technology and most importantly, do so without changing the information being transmitted. In another application, the faster or slower playback could change the very nature of the recorded material when it was played back! The Edison phonograph had unexpectedly unleased more profound ramifications for the use of Edison’s recording technology.

When a person dies their voice and manner of speaking are lost. Now, through Edison’s invention, the tonal aspects of an individual’s speech and that individual’s speech pattern are preserved for the future. In the 21st century we can be inspired by words Roosevelt or Kennedy spoke in the 20th century. Visitors to the Marshall Steam Museum hear Tom Marshall passionately talking about the Stanley steam cars he loved so much and sought to preserve for future generations.

Additionally, Edison’s phonograph allowed for a continuous clip of sound to be recorded and then be time-shifted in playback to be listened to multiple times. That playback could be compressed or expanded. It wasn’t until 1895 that the Lumière brothers would invent the Cinématographe (left) for capturing continuous segments of imagery for time-shifted playback at any time in the future. Edison, in 1910, combined aspects of his phonograph and the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe to invent the kinetoscope – a device allowing viewers to experience moving imagery with synchronized sound.

Today, our mobile devices capture light and sound together, faithfully store what was captured, and allow for its replaying multiple times in the future. We often modify earlier-recorded material to shift the colors of recorded light and manipulate the tonal aspects of sound upon playback in the 21st century and think nothing about doing such. In 1877, the fact that mankind now could even make such changes was mind-blowing as sound became the first medium to be so manipulated. Today, everything that is transmitted to and from our mobile devices is time-shifted in multiple ways.

Edison’s first sketches of his ‘talking machine’ used the word “phonograph” as a potential name. During the device’s development Edison came up with more than 50 alternative names in an attempt find the perfect name. Under consideration were such names as; ‘Anitphone’ meaning back-talker; ‘Kosmophone’ meaning universal sounder; ‘Auto-Electrograph’ meaning electric pen; ‘Atmosphone’ meaning fog sounder or vapor-speaker; and ‘Bittakophone’ meaning parrot speaker.



The Marshall Steam Museum tells the story of the American motor carriage from its birth at the start of the 20th century, through adolescence in the 19-teens, to adulthood of the early 1920s. The proxy to share this exciting story is the Stanley Motor Carriage Company (1902-1924). Their Stanley steam cars were the top selling brand at the start of the 1900s and contributed much to this unique era of American motoring history.

With any technological advance, multiple individuals form companies to offer their version and vision of the budding technology. In the mid-1870s various individuals manufactured telephones while others established networks for the operation of those telephones In the mid-1880s multiple makers of incandescent lamps became established while others established electric generation plants and electrical distribution networks. Similar occurred with the motor carriage the start of the 20th century as three technologies, steam, electric, and internal combustion, all fought to become the preferred choice to power the personal vehicle.

Electric vehicles remained the most registered motor vehicle technology until 1919 when internal combustion powered vehicles out-registered electric vehicles in the U.S. The Stanley twins’ first steam car design was sold under the Locomobile Company of America name in 1899. Additionally the Mobile Company of America sold the Stanley design beginning in 1899. By the end of 1903, Locomobile embraced the manufacture of internal combustion powered luxury automobiles and sold their steam car business to Stanley Motor Carriage Company.

At the dawn of the automotive age, what might be a reasonable estimate of how many manufacturers started to make an internal combustion motorcarriage? For bonus points, how many of those manufacturers lasted from say 1904 through 1910? Are any of those manufacturer’s names still used on cars produced today?


In 1895 George B. Selden was granted patent 549,160 for a “Road Engine.” As a patent lawyer Selden wrote the patent with many all-encompassing phrases that loosely described a personal “road engine powered by a liquid hydrocarbon engine of the compression type” Statements such as “a convenient number of cylinders”, “connected to either steering or trailing axles”, and listing numerous advantages of his design over steam-powered carriages further allowed the patent to describe an endless array of automobile technologies based on the internal combustion engine. Selden sold the patent to the Electric Vehicle Company who quickly enforced the patent by suing anyone manufacturing for sale or owning an internal combustion motor powered vehicle where royalty payments had not been paid for use of Selden’s patent.

The Manufacturer’s Mutual Association was formed to challenge Selden’s patent but soon became aligned with Electric Vehicle Company. Renaming the association as the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, the organization published an annual listing of fully licensed manufacturers who paid royalties to Electric Vehicle Company for each internal combustion vehicle they manufactured. The Association’s directory, published between 1904 and 1922, listed the manufacturers and models those manufacturers produced as a means for buyers to purchase vehicles without having to worry if the vehicle infringed the Selden patent.

Henry Ford refused to pay the royalty and waged an 8-year fight against the patent in court eventually winning in January 1911 on appeal. Interestingly Selden’s patent expired in 1912 so the win was very short lived. For the years the patent was in force, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers catalog of licensed manufacturers contained the following as part of the Preface:

Each manufacturer or importer conducts his business entirely independent of the other, and, of course, in open competition, but the recognition by the companies represented herein of the basic patent No. 549,160, granted to George B. Selden, November 5th, 1895, on gasoline automobiles (which controls broadly all gasoline automobiles which are accepted as commercially practicable), is a guarantee that a purchase through the several companies herein represented, or through their agents, secures to the purchaser freedom from the annoyance and expense of litigation because of infringement of this patent.

In the Association’s Handbook of the Automobile issued between 1904 and 1911, no less than 116 organizations attempted to manufacture automobiles for a time period of a year or longer, as documented by their paying royalties to the Association. Only 19 companies (highlighted in dark green) lasted the entire 8 years including Locomobile Company of America (blue highlight). Only Buick and Cadillac lasted the 8-year period of interest and are found on automobiles manufactured today. Of course, Ford remains today as well, but Ford was never a member of the Association and never paid royalties as evidenced by the legal battle.


On June 7th, 500 feet from Auburn Heights mansion, partway up the hill above the public parking area, the view seen in this image was captured. That evening, smoke from the Canadian forest fires reached a peak particulate density in the air in northern Delaware as well as Chester County PA. The experience reminded us of images we had seen of cities in the U.S., including Wilmington, during the height of the industrial revolution. Similar conditions often occurred on a regular basis when cheap coal was consumed in trainload volumes not only for industrial energy but to heat city homes.

Interestingly, Garrett’s snuff business experienced a peak in sales in the latter 1800s because the interiors of water powered mills, and later steam powered mills, often displayed a haze in the air not unlike what we see in the image. The haze within the mills came from milling operations and not forest fires. How did the textile and grist mills of the industrial revolution lead to a rise in the use of smokeless tobacco products such as snuff?


A grist mill passes wheat, corn, oats, or other grains between a circular stationary or bed stone as a rotating or runner stone a short distance above the bed stone rotates about 120 revolutions per minute. The faces of the two stones are cut with grooves and the rotating stone nearly touches the bed stone allowing the grain to be ground using a shearing action resulting in flour and middlings leaving the millstones. Additional machinery in a mill separates the flour from the middlings and then each component was further separated and packaged. Oliver Evans of Newport, DE, in the 1780s, patented (3rd patent issued by the newly formed U.S. Patent Office) a fully automated process which transformed grain dumped into hoppers from wagons at one side of Evan’s mill into grades of flour packed in wooden casks at the other end of Evan’s mill located in Faulkland DE.

The actual millstone grinding of a grain, along with the various separation steps of the finishing process generated a fine dust which found its way out of the machinery and into the air. Mills with multiple grinding stones generated more flour dust which filled the air and collected on flat surfaces. As a water powered mill, and even for later steam powered mills, the power from the water wheel or steam engine required to operate the mill equipment was transmitted by shafts, wooden and iron gearing, and leather belting all of which required bearings wherever a rotating shaft received support (Washburn Mill line shafts pictured in 1978). A bearing assembly that had lost its tallow lubrication in the 1800s heated rapidly. Likewise, iron gearing, if not continuously lubricated with tallow, might create sparks. Both heat and sparks often ignited the flour dust in the air and accumulating on flat surfaces near the bearing to cause a fire and touch off an explosion.

In Minneapolis, MN the Washburn Mill (Mill A in 1978 pictured) on the shores of the Mississippi began processing flour in 1874 using a rotary millstone process not unlike what Oliver Evans invented. The collection of mills soon became the world’s largest milling operation producing 350,000 pounds of flour daily. The mills, capable of producing more than half of the city’s total milled products, were of large size and each contained air heavily laden with milling dusts while the mill was in operation. In 1878, the C mill capable of milling more than 50 boxcars of wheat daily, created a flour dust atmosphere inside the mill that was described as possibly matching the smoke haze around Auburn Heights on June 7, 2023. Heat or a spark ignited the dust laden air of Mill C and the subsequent explosion resulted in the loss of 18 lives. The explosion leveled the 6-feet thick mill walls to loose stones thrown about a large area and brought down adjacent buildings for more than a city block. Structures within a mile of the mill received cracked walls some of which crumbled to the ground within hours, displaced roofs, and shattered windows.

William Lea, grandson of Wilmington miller Thomas Lea (who owned Auburn Factory from 1813 until 1826 which eventually became Marshall Brothers Paper Mill), experienced a devastating fire at their grist mill on Brandywine Creek (see article at end) in 1894. In 1874 Taylor’s Woolen Mill in Stanton was destroyed by a dust fire putting 100 people out of work. The Dean Woolen Mill in Newark in 1887 was also destroyed by a wool dust fire. Even one of the Garrett Snuff Mills was consumed by fire in 1878 due to tobacco dust catching fire (see article on the rebuild nearing completion). When the Marshall brothers bought Clark’s Auburn Factory in 1890, it had been gutted a few years earlier by a woolen dust fire. In the 1800s countless mills were destroyed and lives lost before mill owners fully understood the many ways airborne plant and mineral dusts could become explosive under the proper conditions.

Dusts of any material are combustible if a sufficient ignition source is introduced. Bearings in old mills could become overheated and ignite layers of accumulated dust laying near them. Any spark in flour dust laden air within a mill might cause an early water powered mill fire and explosion. It was quickly realized that the need to light smoking materials in a dust-laden mill could also become an ignition source and thus smoking was not permitted inside a mill regardless of what product was being produced. As a result, the burning of tobacco products was forbidden within mills. The result created a demand for smokeless tobacco products such as snuff and chewing tobaccos. In order to satisfy a nicotine craving, people turned heavily to snuff. A pinch of snuff placed on the “anatomical or human snuff box” of the hand (red circle in the hand image) and then inhaled in to the nose provided the nicotine directly to the sinus cavity for absorption into the bloodstream.

As a result of the loss of life and the damage to the city, the mill’s owner, Cadwallader C. Washburn rebuilt the Minneapolis mills and in 1879 introduced the nation’s first automatic, all-roller, gradual reduction, flour milling process. More efficient, the process used large polished steel rolls to crush grain instead of rotary grinding to shear the grain, and the addition of dust separators throughout the process nearly eliminated the dust explosion problem which providing ‘gold medal winning’ flours at lower production costs. Eventually the Washburn milling complex became the home of General Mills in 1928. The process was so clean and efficient that the Sharpless family retrofitted their Ashland Mill with roller technology in the early 1880s as did the Lea family on the Brandywine.


We’ve noted in previous Questions & Answers that President William McKinley was the first sitting president to briefly ride in a motor carriage. On July 13, 1901 McKinley took a brief ride in a Stanley Motor Carriage Company steam car. In 1907 the Secret Service having been formed a year earlier, purchased a 1907 White Motor Company steam car to follow President Theodore Roosevelt’s carriage. Roosevelt refused to ride in any motorized vehicle as he believed it detracted in his image of being a horseman. President William Howard Taft modernized the White House transportation fleet with the addition of all three forms of transportation available. He ordered two Pierce-Arrow internal combustion vehicles, a Baker Motor Vehicle Company electric vehicle, and a White Motor Company steam car. Taft is said to have disliked the gaseous ‘exhaust’ from the White House horses as well as the Pierce-Arrows and to have loved it when his driver ‘fogged’ the press corps with a carefully timed burst of hot steam! As Presidents were now relegated to the back seat of a chauffeured automobile, it eliminated an issue earlier Presidents faced.

There is a saying that “history doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” generally attributed to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a.k.a Mark Twain. While our 45th President was recently arrested and arraigned, he is not the first U.S. President to face such treatment in a parallel to Clemen’s comment. Another President was arrested, multiple times for the same transportation related infraction, while serving as President of the United States. Which President was arrested and paid fines for his multiple infraction(s)? What was this President arrested for? Hint: it was not Nixon or Clinton who were never actually arrested!

In April 1866 the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia stopped commanding general Ulysses S. Grant for speeding on horseback on 14th Street. While Grant stopped for the officer, he soon drove off on horseback thinking that his stature as an Army general meant that he was above being arrested for such a minor infraction.

A warrant was issued forcing Grant to quickly make his way to the local Justice of the Peace to pay his now multiple fines. As telling of such events relied on newspaper reporters being informed, the event did not attract much attention at the time as there were few witnesses and little documented paperwork.

As if Grant’s April event was not a sufficient warning, Grant was arrested a second time, three months later, by the same officer for speeding on the same street on the Fourth of July! This time Grant quickly paid his fine to the officer.

In 1872, the same year as the iron horses of the Wilmington & Western Rail Road began pulling wooden coaches to the recently completed Yorklyn Station, the now President Grant was again arrested for speeding. Racing his horse and buggy on 12th Street against other government employees, Grant was stopped by a young police officer named William H. West. Grant was issued a strong verbal warning by West and Grant apologized while promising such an infraction shall not happen again.

The next evening Grant is again racing on 12th Street against fellow government employees when West first stops the group and then arrests everyone in the group including Grant. This time Grant is fined $20 (equivalent to a $500 fine today). Since this is a repeat offence, Grant’s horses and carriage are impounded by the Metropolitan Police Department, and Grant is forced to walk back to the White House (the secret service did not start protecting presidents until 1906 following President William McKinley’s assassination in 1901)!

Of related interest is that the Metropolitan Police officer involved was William Henry West (1842-1915), an African American born enslaved, who had been granted the right to vote under the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1870 which was during the term of President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877). West joined the Union Army in 1863 fighting in the American Civil War. West was assigned to Company K, 30th United States Colored Infantry, a unit composed of African American soldiers created by the U.S. War Department 1863.

Only two other U.S. presidents have come close to being investigated and potentially arrested. President Richard Milhous Nixon was investigated for potentially breaking numerous laws associated with his re-election while William Jefferson Clinton was investigated for sexual harassment claims and questionable business dealings.


On May 18th the Friends of Auburn Heights hosts the inaugural Auburn Heights After Hours event of 2023. The May event raises the curtain on this year’s themed museum display – Stylized: The Road to Elegance. Before automobile design was influenced by fashion in the early 20th century, it was the bicycle that influenced fashion design in the 19th century! FAH joins Delaware State Parks recognizing May as National Bike Month and urges bike riders to visit Yorklyn Bridge Trail, Oversee Farm Trail or the Mason Dixon Trail during May (Auburn Valley Trail is currently inaccessible while bridge construction is in progress).

America’s fashion tastes, especially for women during the early 1800s, reflected the tastes and styles of the British Victorian Age that included tight, shape-forming corsets and frilly petticoats. With the coming of the bicycle as personal transportation, fashions were forced to change. Because of exposed moving parts such as chains and spokes, fashion designers were forced to remove excess pleats and frills lest the rider become entangled with the machine. By the later 1800s, the use of bicycles and tricycles, especially in America’s cities, had become a popular form of personal transportation bridging the gap between walking or riding a horse.

America’s dependence on bicycles is cited by some historians as spawning the development of a very controversial new article of clothing in the mid-1800s. What was this article of clothing? As a hint, the item was associated with a well-known woman’s rights activist of the era who made this manner of dress popular.


If one reflects on society in the 1800s, it was a man’s duty to earn a reputable living and provide for his family while women were expected to operate the household and raise children. The era held defined expectations for masculine and feminine appearances. Towards the end of the Victorian Age, bicycles offered women access to an independent personal transportation option since sidesaddle riding on a horse was not comfortable nor considered very lady-like. A major issue for women riding a bicycle or tricycle was the flowing fabric embellishments and restrictive nature of a female’s wardrobe.

In the 1850s, Elizabeth Smith Miller wore what was known as “Turkish Dress” to the home of Amelia Bloomer (pictured in the drawings). Instead of the acceptable floor-length skirt worn over layers of heavily starched petticoats resting on panniers or crinoline hoops, Miller wore a just-below-the-knee-length dress with a very baggy set of highly decorated pants underneath. Amelia Bloomer loved Miller’s fashion sense, and after adopting it for herself with modifications, described it in her temperance journal “The Lily”. Soon newspapers had picked up Bloomer’s description lamenting the virtues and practicality of a short skirt worn over pants.

Because Bloomer described how to make the frilly bloomer pant based off men’s pant designs, and accompany the pant with a cut-down dress, it was not difficult for American women to start making “bloomers” by recycling their old dresses where the hemline had deteriorated from dragging on the ground. Soon women wearing bloomers became all the rage to the vocal objection of many. With its development, the ‘bloomer’ article of clothing was about to play a central role in reshaping bicycle-riding America.

The wearing of short skirts with bloomers made bicycle riding, and even horseback riding using a regular saddle, a lot easier for women. The downside was the furor created at seeing women’s legs and bare ankles in public in the still Victorian-minded America of the later 1800s. Many feared the bloomer would incite the moral decay of America’s feminine population. “Bloomerism” in the mid-1800s was as big an issue in that era as discussions on gender identity and transgender lifestyles are today.

Wearing of bloomers not only signaled a woman’s increased independence, it became part of a grassroots effort that resulted in the addition of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. Several American cities enacted laws making it illegal for anyone to dress in the wardrobe of the opposite sex while churches and other public institutions declined admittance to women wearing bloomer-like wardrobes.

As bloomers became socially acceptable in the later 1800s, they were adopted in varying stylings for hiking and other activities. Made of wool in the winter and cotton in the summer, bloomers could be plain looking and of simple design for around-the-house activities but made from silks and expensive fabrics adorned with lace, ruffles, and tassels for more formal occasions. Constructed of decorative fabrics for more luxurious activities and outings, the bloomer became a fashion icon of the era. It would not be until the 1920s and the marrying of fashion and automobile design that the bloomer transitioned to a pant design like menswear.

With the development of the motorcarriage at the start of the 1900s, fashion tastes adapted again to the needs of personal transportation. At the start of the 20th century the autocarriage in its various forms had begun to replace both the bicycle and horse for independent personal transportation. The term autocarriage was coined because these vehicles resembled horse-drawn carriages but were moved with steam, electric, or internal combustion power sources. By the dawn of the Roaring 1920s, the automobile had clearly established itself as the replacement for the bicycle and horse. As a result, the automobile sales market had become stagnant as those who needed an automobile, already owned one. If the family vehicle was paid off, the owner was unlikely to obtain a replacement as long as it remained functional.

In the late 19-teens the American automobile had become so well defined that individuals had devised kits to repurpose the vehicles with tracks and skis for winter use, to power a temporary saw mill, and to do other tasks besides transporting a family. The automobile, upon reaching ‘adulthood’ in the 19-teens, had transitioned from a novelty idea to a cookie-cutter standard product that could be accessorized in nearly infinite ways.

A visit to the Marshall Steam Museum reveals that not much changed in automotive artistic design between the 1918 Model 735 and the 1924 Model 750. Looking at Stanley Motor Carriage Company’s competition, we find that Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln, Nash, Packard, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and others relied on fenders, axles, lighting, and wheels all of which were largely catalog purchases from mass producing manufacturers. Only expensive custom design cars had these items custom designed where the added cost added to the vehicle’s price tag was acceptable. It was engine development and the body and interiors from coach and carriage makers that made lesser, cookie-cutter identical, low-cost vehicles distinctive as well as widely available to middle-class America.

Facing a slowing sales forecast towards the end of the Roaring 20’s for automobiles, manufacturers looked for a means to stimulate sales. In September 1927, General Motors president Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. wrote to Fisher Body president William Fisher that “I think that the future of General Motors will be measured by the attractiveness that we put in the bodies from the standpoint of luxury of appointment, the degree to which they please the eye, both in contour and in color scheme, also the degree to which we are able to make them different from our competition.” The end of volume-production at the lowest cost, and “any color you want as long as its black”, days were numbered.

The result was the stitching together of the fashion world with automotive design. Cars would now complement fashion and fashion would complement cars. GM tapped Harley Jarvis Earl (pictured with his designers – 1893-1969) to integrate ‘fashion’ with automobile design. Earl revolutionized automotive design giving rise to features like tail fins, wrap-around windshields, and iconic sweeping lines on body panels. Earl designed vehicles were often referenced as artistic sculptures on motion.

Earl insured that female fashion designers had input into his automotive designs. Make-up mirrors, glove compartments, toy compartments built into the backs of front seats for kids riding in the back seat, and other offerings became standard offerings. Magazines such as Vogue and others featured women’s fashions displayed alongside the advertised automobiles. The design revolution that Earl started resulted in the family flivver being seen as passe’ within a few years and needing to be replaced by the newest model loaded with amenities.

The FAH’s Marshall Steam Museum featured display this summer explores the influences of fashion and automotive styling. Explore the display to learn how over a short period of time, Americans were encouraged to replace their automobiles and wardrobes regularly; not because they had worn out, but because the look had aged and become dowdy or frumpy. Soon the used vehicle market was born and what folks witnessed in their magazines and in talking pictures on silver-screens, influenced what they purchased in fashion, automobiles, appliances, and so much more. We invite you to visit Auburn Valley State Park this summer during a Steamin’ Day, Auburn Heights After Hours, or an open house day to experience Stylized: The Road to Elegance.


Over our years of writing weekly Q&A articles we have highlighted Garrett Snuff, National Vulcanized Fiber, Spatz Fiberglas dune buggies, and Spitz planetariums. One of several threads common to these Yorklyn corporations is they became world-known for their industry-leading products. Each company served as a bellwether within their business segment. There is another company calling Yorklyn its home, that while small in footprint perhaps, this company enjoys a global reach to the point of their product being consumed by perhaps more of the world’s population than the rest of Yorklyn’s past businesses combined. What does this company produce? 

Perhaps the image below will provide a clue!

When we look at the 250-plus year history of the Auburn-Yorklyn Valley, we find paper made by Horatio Gates Garrett at the start of the 1800s. At the end of the 1890s, paper manufacture returned to Yorklyn with the Marshall family, where a specialty rag paper was converted to vulcanized fibre, making fiber the first manmade plastic and world’s first manmade laminated product. Today House Industries carries on the tradition as a premier producer of digital typefaces and fonts that find a use on paper packaging and on all forms of printed matter. House typefaces appear on movie screens, televisions, and computer and mobile device displays the world over.

Known throughout the world as a premier type foundry, this Yorklyn business has made a considerable impact on typeface and font design. Their fonts scream from billboards and websites, wish happy whatever from greeting cards, serve as the basis for consumer product logos. The company’s typefaces and added graphic elements of style, adorn a wide range of mainstream media applications. What ultimately shines in the House Industries oeuvre is what always conquers mediocrity: a genuine love for their subject matter – letters, numerals, glyphs, and ligatures. 

House Industries’ artists have mastered a large cross-section of design disciplines to produce a product inspiring the subconscious while exciting our emotions. Their typography deftly melds cultural, musical, and graphic elements. Their product transcends graphic conventions and reaches out to broad audiences. This description, adopted from the FontStand.com page devoted to House Industries of Yorklyn, DE, deftly defines the company.

Founded in 1993 by Andy Cruz and Richard Roat, House Industries is a digital typeface foundry. Long gone are the days of foundries casting metal letters and distributing those letter sets for use in hand typesetting. With the advent of the computer age came the need to create digital typefaces. The first computer fonts, called bitmap or raster fonts, were letters composed of square boxes arranged to look like a specific letter. 

In 1968 the first digital font was created – DigiGrotesk. By 1970 the first Optical Character Recognition (OCR) font was developed, which allowed computers to “read” printed pages characters on objects like checks. Adobe, formed in 1982, developed the PostScript typography based on mathematical constructs that describe an alphanumeric character. 

Next developed was TrueType fonts, which reduced the mathematical constructs to tabular form. With the increased power of computing processors artists, industrial designers, and others began the development of the vast number of font libraries we see today. House Industries took typefaces to a whole new level by making each letter and numeral its own distinctive artworks as a collection of characters fits together into words. Those words form phrases and sentences conveying vision, inspiration, emotion, curiosity, intrigue, and so much more than had the author or graphic designer simply selected Arial, Times New Roman, or Helvetica font families. 

One of House Industries’ earliest clients was Warner Brothers Records. The company’s Neutraface soon became a widely recognized and used typeface. If you have ever seen a Shake Shack you have looked upon Neutraface! House’s various typefaces appear in many of J.J Abrams movies, The New Yorker magazine, Target, and on the Jimmy Kimmel show. In 2017 the Henry Ford Museum highlighted House Industries’ creative process from inspiration to reality in a custom exhibit titled A Type of Learning. Delawareans drive past House Industries’ light green building not knowing that movie titles, magazine covers and billboards, video games, album covers, and mind-boggling numbers of product packages and advertising, rely on the creative and award-winning typefaces designed at House Industries where their motto is “The Process Is the Inspiration.”

Watch this segment from “The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation” to see more examples of House Industries’ craftsmanship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odp-d_TyHug


This month’s Question & Answer is supplied by FAH volunteer Elliott Warburton. Elliott is a student at A.I. DuPont High School with an interest in local area history.

Driving through the Red Clay Valley, we often find ourselves driving along roads that reflect the people and industries that once inhabited the area, such as Snuff Mill, Center Mill, Sharpless, and Yorklyn roads. This is true for many places throughout the United States and for the world as well. But more often than not, the original meaning of some road names are often lost when these namesakes either move, close, or are outright abandoned. In the Red Clay Valley especially, where once rural outposts are now becoming suburban havens, people often approach us at Auburn Heights with questions about the origin of some names in particular. Which Red Clay Valley road was named for a fundamental part of rural community life that has long since been abandoned?



Many people who drive along the Ashland-Clinton School Road are impressed by one of the older roads in the area. With wide shoulders and narrow roadway, the road is believed to have been at one time an original nine-foot road, likely constructed to make the Ashland grist mills more accessible to those traveling along the Old Kennett Road. This explains the “Ashland” portion of the road’s name. However, the “Clinton School” portion remains a mystery to many, especially since there is little evidence that there was ever a school in the Ashland area.

Interestingly, this “Clinton School”, which did in fact exist over a century ago, began its life in an entirely different area! While the road would come to bear the name of the school, the original school, formally known as Schoolhouse No. 28, was located along Snuff Mill Road, about two hundred feet west of the parking lot for the Oversee Farm Trail. Its ruins can still be seen with a watchful eye when driving by.

Initially looking at the area, one may be puzzled by the lack of a defined population center and why anyone would build a schoolhouse in the area. But during the late-18th and 19th centuries, the Ebenezer Baptist Church once stood across from the school along Snuff Mill Road, providing another vital service to a rural population of farmers, especially to the few who were not members of the Quaker society that dominated the Mill Creek and Christiana Hundreds. Because local meetings were often responsible for the opening and operation of the earliest schoolhouses of the area, it seems likely that the Ebenezer Baptist Church was responsible for the construction of the original schoolhouse sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s. When Delaware passed the Free School Act in 1829, it was officially recognized thereafter as Public Schoolhouse No. 28. The map shows the boundary for the schoolhouse in 1849.

District No. 28, the state recognized area that the No. 28 school served, became the main district for Yorklyn children. Before the Auburn/Yorklyn Schoolhouse was built in 1869, students either relied on the Hockessin Schoolhouse (Public School No. 29), or the No. 28 School. As outlined on the 1849 Rea & Price Map of New Castle County, children who lived around the future Marshall paper mill area had to attend the Hockessin School, which was at the time across from the nearby Hockessin Meeting House. However, nearly every other area in Yorklyn, including the Garrett Snuff Mills, were under District No. 28. As a result, most children seeking public education in Yorklyn during the early 1800s would find themselves attending School No. 28.

In an era when most children walked to school, the mile distance between downtown Yorklyn and the schoolhouse may have been difficult at times. However, the Red Clay Creek proved to be a natural boundary that isolated the community from the Hockessin area, restricting children from education opportunities elsewhere. But following the construction of Yorklyn Road and the Yorklyn Covered Bridge in 1863, the Garrett Snuff Mills were no longer as isolated. And, along with the idea of increasing the accessibility of community resources to Yorklyn, in September of 1868, the Delaware Legislature approved the creation of Auburn District No. 91. In about a year’s time, Yorklyn’s own Public School No. 91 began serving the community.

But what about Schoolhouse No. 28? Thankfully for the Ebenezer Literary Society (the organization maintaining the schoolhouse at the time), what was left in District No. 28 still included the Garrett Snuff Mill population. District No. 91’s creation, in theory, would have little impact on Schoolhouse No. 28. But the appealing new schoolhouse in Yorklyn, as well as a declining congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, would ultimately bring the fall of the original schoolhouse. After the election of Willis Passmore to the role of District No. 28 Superintendent in 1870, the decision was made to build a new schoolhouse in a place more accessible to the growing populations around the rural Ashland population. This final location would be along the old Ashland Road, south of its intersection with Center Mill Road, and would be called the new Clinton School.

How exactly the name “Clinton” was decided remains lost, but was likely the name of an early teacher, or possibly a minister at the Church (they may have even been the same person in that case). But because no property owner in the area was named “Clinton”, the moniker remains of uncertain origins. Nevertheless, the “Clinton” hallmark caught on quite fast, with District No. 28 becoming known as the “Clinton District”, and at some point, the adoption of the name Ashland-Clinton School Road for the road the schoolhouse lay upon. So, whoever this “Clinton” was, they surely left an impact on the area, even if they may have never even been a local resident!

As milling operations in the district slowly ceased by 1900, the school began to cater to the children of area farmers instead of the children of millworkers. Along with the No. 26 Mount Airy Public School in Centreville, which the school maintained a close relationship with, it remained one of the northernmost rural schools in Delaware. It seems notable that, in many contemporary accounts, people like superintendent Passmore maintained a high standard of education for the school regardless of the changing demographic shift towards Centreville and Yorklyn. Finally, when word came that a new, modern school was to be built in Yorklyn in 1932, it came time for the Clinton School to close its doors. On August 7th, 1931, District No. 28 was officially absorbed by District No. 91, with all students going to the old Yorklyn School until the beginning of the 1932 school years, when the new Yorklyn School hosted all students in modern facilities. School District No. 91 would remain a functioning district until April 6th, 1962, when parents voted to join the Alexis I. DuPont Special School District and convert the Yorklyn facility into an elementary school.

With the original schoolhouse in ruins, and the second Clinton School a private residence (pictured in 2023, below), it’s hard to tell exactly what gave the Ashland-Clinton School Road its name. But with a watchful eye, the evidence will produce itself! 




Ten years after the American Revolution, two New Castle County grist milling families found they could not compete with the larger milling operations of the immediate area. Joshua and Thomas Gilpin in 1787 converted their family grist mill on the Brandywine to the manufacture of paper. The Gilpins would go on to revolutionize the papermaking industry by designing, constructing, and patenting the first machine to automatically make paper in America in 1817. In a short period of time, America dethroned England as the world’s papermaker when American production outpaced England’s.

The other papermaking family was a resident of then Auburn, now Yorklyn. In 1789 this family converted their grist mill to the manufacture of paper. What was their name? Hint: If you are thinking it is the Marshall family, the Marshalls didn’t construct their first grist mill in Pennsylvania until 1770, just before the American Revolution. Paper would not be made in the Marshall Homestead Mill until 1856.



Buying land in Leticia Manor in 1726, John (1) Garrett and his family settled along the both banks of Red Clay Creek to farm the rich soil and study the characteristics of the creek. In 1730 John (1) entered into partnership with four neighbors building a grist mill (mill #1) on 10 acres of his land on the west side of the creek in Mill Creek Hundred. Operational in 1731, the mill was making the partners a nice profit ten years later. John (1) withdrew from the partnership and continued farming the land he owned adjacent to #1 grist mill. Eventually, #1 grist mill and the 10 acres of land surrounding the mill, were sold by the partners.

John (1) constructed another grist mill (#2), perhaps larger, downstream of the original #1 mill but on the eastern banks of the Red Clay Creek in Christiana Hundred. John’s (1) two sons, Thomas (by his first wife) and John (2) (by his second wife) inherited the land and #2 grist mill upon John (1) passing in 1757.

Thomas Garrett moved to Prince William County Virginia in the early 1760s having inherited 620 acres from his father John (1). John’s (1) son John (2) remained in Delaware having inherited the family farm, home, and #2 grist mill to continue milling operations. Within a short time, John (2) repurchases the original 10-acre milling site and #1 mill that his father had constructed forty years prior. After serving as an officer during the Revolution, John (2) returns to farming and milling. In 1782 John (2) constructs another mill on the Red Clay and begins milling tobacco. By 1789, John (2) Garrett reaches the conclusion that his grist milling operations can’t compete with Lea family’s mills on the Brandywine and decides to focus on snuff manufacture. John (2) attempts a sale of the grist milling operations. When no buyers surface, he decides the #1 mill shall be converted to papermaking while the #2 mill will now produce snuff.

Local Garrett interest in papermaking started with both John (2), and his sons John (3), and Horatio Gates Garrett. Journals of the Nathan Sellers Company of Philadelphia indicate John (2) Garrett purchased the first watermarks for papermaking screens held within a handheld deckle in 1797. There are examples of Garrett watermarked paper, made at Yorklyn (see photos), in or around 1795. Additional watermarks for Yorklyn were purchased in 1799 and 1800.

Historians believe Garrett began to produce cotton rag paper in the early 1790’s. A paper mold watermarked “J G SON & CO” was ordered on December 10, 1799 from Sellers. The quality must have been excellent as another with the same watermark was ordered on January 20, 1800. The watermark “J & H G CO” along with an eagle figure have been identified on letters dated 1801, indicating Horatio and his brother John (3) had joined the firm. In 1804 Horatio took over full control of the papermaking operation after John (3) moves to Ohio. John (2) was in declining health and would pass away a few years later.

Horatio ordered additional papermaking molds from Sellers in October 1805. A papermaking mold watermarked ”H G G” was ordered on May 5, 1810. Horatio eventually faced severe financial problems with the mill and finally advertised it for sale beginning in January 1812. The mill was sold under court order in March 1813. Horatio moved to Steubenville, Ohio, where he managed another paper mill. He died in 1832.