Alexis Irénée du Pont family papers1850-1913
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Du Pont spent much of his childhood in the home of his maternal grandparents in Philadelphia, where he attended the Episcopal Academy. In 1864, he received a Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. Despite his training in medicine, however, du Pont decided to forgo starting an active practice and instead move to Louisville, Kentucky, to join his cousins in the paper manufacturing business. There, he retained a close relationship with his aunt Sophie Madeleine du Pont (1810-1888), the widow of Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-1865), who resided at Upper Louviers in Wilmington, Delaware.
Du Pont’s first marriage on February 5, 1867 to Margaretta Gilpin (1843-1868), daughter of Judge Gilpin (1803-1876) of Wilmington, ended in tragedy with her unexpected death the following year. Consequently, du Pont focused on his business interests in Louisville before marrying Elizabeth Canby Bradford (1852-1925) in Wilmington on January 20, 1875. Elizabeth Bradford du Pont was the daughter of Judge Edward Green Bradford (1819-1884), who in 1871 was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Her great grandfather was Thomas Heyward Jr. (1746-1809), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Over the next ten years, Alexis and Elizabeth du Pont remained in Louisville and had four children: Alice Eugenie du Pont Ortiz (1876-1940); Philip Francis du Pont (1878-1928); Elizabeth Bradford du Pont Bayard (1880-1975); and Eugene Eleuthère du Pont (1882-1966). Philip Francis du Pont attended the University of Virginia from 1897-1900, and later became an author and noted philanthropist.
In 1885, du Pont returned home with his family to Wilmington when, around the same time, he acquired interests in the Brookyln Street Railroad. Consequently, du Pont and his family moved to Brooklyn for a period of three years before moving back to Wilmington. Soon afterward he became one of the senior partners of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Company, and was named vice president of the Repauno Chemical Company, formed in 1880 to manufacture dynamite at a remote spot along the Delaware River in Gibbstown, New Jersey. Following the death of his brother Eugene du Pont in 1902, Alexis du Pont was offered the position of president of Repauno Chemical, but ultimately declined due to failing kidney health. Alexis I. du Pont died on November 26, 1904, at the age of sixty-one at his country home, Rencourt, outside Wilmington, Delaware.
Scope and Content
Letters written in almost weekly intervals from du Pont’s son Philip du Pont to his parents in Greenville, Delaware, trace his education from grammar school at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, to his time at the University of Virginia. Additionally, a smaller amount of letters include correspondence from Alexis du Pont’s wife Elizabeth Canby Bradford du Pont to her mother Mary Heyward; Philip du Pont to his siblings, and Alexis du Pont’s granddaughter Marguerite “Carita” du Pont Ortiz Boden to her grandmother, Elizabeth Canby Bradford. There are also various postcards from Elizabeth Canby Bradfordand her grandchildren from the turn of the twentieth century, most of which depict scenes and architecture in France, England, and Germany. Also included are introductory letters to the Board of Philadelphia’s Guardians of the Poor regarding Alexis du Pont’s residency at the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School in 1865, as well as accolades from his time at grammar school in the early 1850s.
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- Alexis Irénée du Pont family papers
- Dave Burdash ; Clayton J. Ruminski
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