Since the early beginnings of the Marshall Steam Team and eventually Friends of Auburn Heights, Tom Marshall told us of his father’s interest in automobiles. We know that Clarence was the authorized factory representative and dealer for the State of Delaware and Chester County, PA from 1910 until 1920 for the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Francis I. du Pont, a chemist and older brother of E. Paul du Pont who built the DuPont automobile, took over the Delaware Stanley dealership from Clarence in 1920. Francis was more interested in acquiring Stanleys for experimentation than in selling cars, according to Tom. Clarence would later be associated with Frank W. Diver in operating the Packard Motor Company of Wilmington from 1922 until 1940.
Tom observed in a November 2015 writing that it appeared to him that his father had lost interest in automotive dealerships towards the end of Clarence’s Stanley dealership period at Auburn Heights. Was T. Clarence Marshall involved in any other automotive dealership interests during or after this time period and before he became involved with Frank Diver?
It is interesting to note in Tom’s November 2015 writings that he observed the largest activity selling Stanley steam cars and maintaining them at Auburn Heights was pre-1914. Research has uncovered that Clarence was financially, and no doubt operationally, involved in two automotive dealerships before partnering with Frank Diver, whom Clarence probably met in the late 1910s. We don’t recall Tom mentioning the names or history of these two dealerships in his writings, perhaps because they came and went before he was born.
Clarence’s oldest brother J. Warren ran National Fibre & Insulation Company, later to become National Vulcanized Fibre, in the early 1900s. Clarence sold Stanley cars and was responsible for the operation of Marshall Brothers Company. Their sister, Anna H., married Norman Bernard Mancill in 1912. Norman worked for American Roads Machinery Company in Kennett Square. Anna and Norman began living at Auburn Heights around 1917. Tom casually mentions Norman Mancill’s automotive interest in his writings as an ‘involvement’ but research has uncovered that it probably more than an involvement. Norman was heavily involved in the daily operation of two automotive dealerships partnering with his father-in-law, T. Clarence Marshall.
The Marshall-Mancill Auto Company began operation on Wilmington’s Shipley Street in early 1913. It would appear from various Marshall-Mancill Auto Company ads in local papers that Clarence and Norman sold late model used cars. Clarence’s existing Stanley dealership operation was no doubt the new car aspect for Marshall-Mancill. Manufacturers such as Overland, Hupmobile, Mitchell, Regal, Maxwell, Ford, and, of course, new and probably used Stanley steamers were offered. This might explain Tom Marshall’s observation that his father seemed to lose interest in the Auburn Heights Stanley business after 1914. Marshall-Mancill Auto also tried their hand at renting vehicles by the hour, day, or trip as the advertisement below indicates!
According to trade publications including Horseless Age, Motor Age, The Automobile, and others, Marshall-Mancill reorganized and incorporated as the Diamond State Automotive Company with a capital value of $25,000 in 1914. T. Clarence Marshall served as President, Norman B. Mancill Vice-President and J. F. Chapple as Treasurer. Mancill independently formed Delaware Tire & Supply Company at 218 Delaware Avenue to sell tires (Miller and Firestone) and automobile supplies (such as Stewart-Klaxon horns). The incorporators were Norman B. Mancill of Yorklyn, along with J. H. Bishop and P. L. Garret, both of Wilmington.
It appears from newspaper accounts that the name change coincided with the firm becoming a Paige-Detroit Motor Company dealer (Page-Detroit built Paige and Jewett brands; they became Graham-Paige in 1927). In 1916 Diamond State Automotive became a Regal Motor Car Company and a Mercer Automobile Company dealer for one year.
With the relocating of the Mancill family from Auburn Heights in 1917 to Wilmington, we see Diamond State Automotive advertising tapering off after 1918. About the same time, we note an increased presence of Packard Motor Car advertising in Wilmington newspapers. Norman Mancill left active dealership involvement and established a heavy earth-moving equipment contracting business. Norman and Anna Mancill later moved from Wilmington to a property that they named Linger Longer, located on Kennett Pike between Mendenhall and Hamorton, PA.
The late 1910s is more than likely the time frame when Clarence became increasingly interested in Packard automobiles. In July 1915, Packard opened the Packard Motor Car of Wilmington branch office, a satellite office of the main Philadelphia dealership, under the direction of J. H. Rosen. As space was available in the Diamond State Automobile’s building, Packard of Wilmington leased the space from Diamond State Automobile. The arrangement appears to have continued until E. F. Merrick was appointed Wilmington branch manager in June 1917 and relocated the Packard dealership to new quarters. After several more management changes and relocations, Frank W. Diver picked up the Packard dealership.
Diver had entered the automobile business in 1915 as a salesman with Sweeten-Wilmington Company, a Franklin Car Company dealer. Diver eventually became a salesman for Packard Motor Car of Wilmington, working through the Philadelphia office. With backing from T. Clarence Marshall, Diver formed Packard Motor Company of Wilmington in late 1922. Diver would go on to have a dealership on Pennsylvania Avenue between Union Street and Grant Avenue in the 1930s, selling Nash cars along with Packards. Clarence’s business association with Diver lasted until 1940.