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Wilmington Trapshooting Association records

Creation: 1911-1983
Accession: 2552


The Wilmington Trapshooting Association was organized in November 1916 with William Highfield (1884-1943) as President, C. Thorpe Martin (1880-1955) as Vice President, E.R. Galvin (dates unknown) as Secretary. The records include minutes, financial ledgers, handbooks, rulebooks, and membership lists.


  • Creation: 1911-1983



1.6 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Wilmington Trapshooting Association traces its roots to the Du Pont Gun Club. The Du Pont Gun Club was founded on the modern day site of the DuPont Experimental Station with the backing of the DuPont Company, T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930), and Victor du Pont (1882-1943) in November of 1910. The DuPont Company employed nearly twenty men with the sole responsibly of promoting the building of gun clubs, so it was only right to have one on the banks of the Brandywine. DuPont Company President, T. Coleman du Pont, pledged an annual gift of $200 for awarding trophy spoons to tournament champions. In its early months, membership reached over one hundred members, within a year, totals were over five hundred. The club threw over one million targets in its first year of operation (contractors are reported to have reclaimed nearly twenty-three tons of lead from the first one inch of earth that year). Lights were installed in 1915 for the allowance of night shooting, eventually leading to the beginning of the end of the club.

Even after night shooting was stopped late in 1915, a suit was filed in Delaware courts due to complaints of noise. The case was heard in court where it was testified about not only the noise, but also shot fall onto local roads. The club was closed in 1916. However, many members formed a new club, the Wilmington Trapshooting Association. The club was originally located near Bellevue, Delaware on land owned by Alfred I. du Pont (1864-1935). Organized in November of 1916, the first officers of the club were: William Highfield (1884-1943) as President, C. Thorpe Martin (1880-1955) as Vice President, E.R. Galvin (dates unknown) as Secretary, and finally William G. Robelen (1876-1949) as Treasurer. The new club was formed as a share holder organization with members each holding stock, in this case, each member typically held five shares, with the exception of Alfred I. du Pont who held two thousand five hundred shares. Other shareholders of note were: William Coyne (1866-1933), T.E. Doremus (1874-1962), Alexis I. du Pont (1869-1921), Irenee du Pont (1876-1963), Philip du Pont (1878-1928), Victor du Pont, William du Pont (1896-1965), E.R. Galvin, Miss Harriett Hammond (1878-1969), T. Clarence Marshall (1885-1969), John J. Raskob (1879-1950), and J.T. Skelley (dates unknown). The first clubhouse of the organization was built in 1917, likely with the backing of Alfred I. du Pont who late in 1916, was issued over $10,000 in additional stock in the club. In the early days of WTA, Alfred I. du Pont was the patron saint of the club. He frequently made donations whenever WTA needed financial assistance. By the end of 1932, discussion was being had within the club about moving the club to New Castle, Delaware. In September of that year, club officials met with the New Castle Commons Commissioners regarding a tract of land located off of Basin Road. A thirty-six acre parcel located on the New Castle Commons, which had been referred to as the Stockton Farm, was finally negotiated between trustees of the Commons and WTA for a period of ten years at a cost of $500 a year. Shooting continued here continued, even on a limited scale through World War II. In 1956 the club lost its lease on the Basin Road site and moved to Minquadale, Delaware at the site of the Petrillo Brothers Quarry. Trap and Skeet Shooting at this location commenced early in 1958. The club remained at that site until the 1970s when it moved to its current location along Pulaski Highway near Newark, Delaware.

Scope and Content

The records of the Wilmington Trapshooting Association (1911-1983) are divided into four separate series. Series 1 includes the minutes of the organization from 1916 to 1954 with a gap from the years 1926 to 1931. Also included are the original Certificate of Incorporation, and other founding documents that show the way in which the club was organized. Series 2 includes the financial records of the organization from 1944 to 1983 and includes balance sheets, records of sales, targets shot, and sporadic membership lists. Series 3 is a two folder series that contains information collected by a club member regarding shoots held at the Du Pont Gun Club from 1911 to 1914 which are photocopies of articles from the ‘Sportsmen’s Review.’ Lastly, Series 4 includes handbooks from the club files dated 1920 to 1971. Included are rulebooks from the Amateur Trapshooting Association and National Skeet Shooting Association as well as a manual of operation for Western Traps. Of particular interest are two publications of the DuPont Company (related to smokeless powder and gun club organization) and a 1920 booklet from the ‘Sportsmen’s Review’ which includes historical information of prominent shooters, tournaments, and organizations.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Language of Materials


Additional Description

Separated Material

Wilmington Trapshooting Association photographs (Accession 2013.204), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Wilmington Trapshooting Association records
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA