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E.I. du Pont's sons' papers

1798-1897
 Collection
Accession: WMSS-VII

Abstract

Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Sophie Madeleine Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828) had three sons: Alfred Victor du Pont (1798-1856), Henry du Pont (1812-1889), and Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857). All three were partners in their father's company. This collection contains the papers of Alfred Victor du Pont, Henry du Pont, and Alexis I. du Pont, as well as those of their wives: Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot du Pont, Louisa Gerhard du Pont, and Joanna Maria Smith du Pont. The papers of Henry du Pont are the largest component, and reflect his business and military activities. Certain papers of each son relate to the affairs of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Dates

  • 1798-1897

Creator

Extent

9.5 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Sophie Madeleine Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828) had three sons: Alfred Victor du Pont (1798-1856), Henry du Pont (1812-1889), and Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857). All three were partners in their father's company.

Alfred Victor du Pont was born in Paris and came to the United States in 1800. He was educated at Mt. Airy and Dickinson colleges in Pennsylvania. He studied chemistry at Dickinson under Thomas Cooper, a disciple of Joseph Priestly. In 1818, he joined the firm E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Upon the death of his father in 1834, he formed a new partnership with his brother-in-law, James Antoine Bidermann. In 1837, Alfred Victor du Pont became the senior partner. He retired in 1850. He was primarily interested in developing methods for improving the manufacture of black powder. He worked with Ellwood Morris, a Philadelphia engineer, evaluating the efficiency of turbines at the Du Pont mills.

In 1824, Alfred V. du Pont married Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot (1807-1898), daughter of Daniel Lammot (1782-1877) and Susan Parham Beck (1786-1817). They resided at Nemours, a house built for them in 1824 near the home of his father. He was active in the local school and political affairs, and served as a Presidential Elector in 1844. Margaretta Lammot du Pont and her father were active in establishing the Wilmington congregation of Swedenborgians (Church of the New Jerusalem) in Delaware. Of Alfred V. du Pont's seven children, two sons, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1829-1877) and Lammot du Pont (1831-1884), were active in the firm of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. After her husband's death, Margaretta Lammot du Pont moved to another residence, Goodstay, located in Wilmington, where she resided until her death.

Henry du Pont was an American military officer. He was born in 1812 at Eleutherian Mills near Wilmington, Delaware. He was educated at Mt. Airy College, Germantown, Pennsylvania, and at the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1829 to 1833. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1833, he was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Fourth Artillery. He served at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and at Fort Mitchell, Alabama, when he resigned his commission at the request of his father and returned to Delaware to manage E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. In 1837, he and his brothers became partners in the firm. In 1850, he became the senior partner and director, continuing in this capacity until his death in 1889. Under his direction, the company purchased mills on Big Wapwallopen Creek in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in 1859 in order to supply blasting powder for the nearby Wyoming and Hazleton coal fields. This was the company's first operation outside Delaware. In 1872, Henry du Pont, with his nephew Lammot, took a leading part in the formation of the Gunpowder Trade Association to control the powder companies that had sprung up during the Civil War. Under his leadership, Du Pont first became a national organization.

In 1837, Henry du Pont married Louisa Gerhard (1816-1900). She was the daughter of William Gerhard (1774-1848) and Sarah Wood Gerhard (1781-1851). The couple had nine children and resided in the Du Pont family home, Eleutherian Mills, located north of Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1841, Henry du Pont was on the staff of the Governor of Delaware, and from 1846 to 1861 was Adjutant-General for the State of Delaware. In 1861, he was made Major General of the state troops, commanding Delaware's volunteers; thereafter, he was known as "The General." He is credited with doing much to keep Delaware on the Union side during the Civil War.

Henry du Pont was active in Delaware politics, first as a Whig and then as a Republican. He also farmed and became the third owner of Winterthur, one of his family's estates.

Alexis I. du Pont was the youngest child. He was educated at Mt. Airy College in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and at the New Haven Gymnasium from 1829 to 1831, where his nephew, James Eleuthère Bidermann (1790-1865), was a classmate. In 1831, he entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed his scientific studies in 1835 but did not earn a degree.

In 1836, he married Joanna Maria Smith (1815-1876), the daughter of Francis Gurney Smith (1784–1873) of Philadelphia and a sister of Dr. Thomas Mackie Smith (1809-1852), who had married Alexis I. du Pont's sister Eleuthera du Pont Smith (1806-1876). She attended Miss Ardley's French School in Philadelphia during the late 1820s. Alexis I. du Pont and Joanna Maria Smith du Pont had eight children.

Alexis I. du Pont became a partner in E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company in 1837 and continued as such until his death on August 23, 1857, having been fatally injured in an explosion at the powder mills on the preceding day.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Alfred Victor du Pont, Henry du Pont, and Alexis I. du Pont, as well as those of their wives: Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot du Pont, Louisa Gerhard du Pont, and Joanna Maria Smith du Pont. The papers of Henry du Pont are the largest component, and reflect his business and military activities. Certain papers of each son relate to the affairs of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

The Alfred Victor du Pont papers describe both business and personal matters. The administration of the company under his leadership from 1834 to 1850 is described, as well as the relationship he had with his father, E.I. du Pont, and his brother, Henry du Pont, who assumed control of the company after Alfred Victor's retirement.

Also included are an arithmetic copybook and school papers from Mt. Airy College; papers relating to the estate of his father, E.I. du Pont; papers relating to land sales in New Castle County, Delaware; building plans; and notes on building a barn.

The Margaretta Lammot du Pont papers primarily consist of outgoing correspondence from 1820 to 1897, and trace her life as a young woman, wife, mother, and elderly woman. The majority of letters were written to her sisters-in-law, Eleuthera du Pont Smith and Sophie M. Du Pont. As a young woman writing to her friend Eleuthera du Pont, Margaretta Lammot discussed fashion and her activities, such as reading, sewing, piano playing, and visiting. Her letters, which are very descriptive, often pertain to her family and dometic matters.

Henry du Pont's correspondence dates from his days as a student at Mt. Airy College and at West Point. Although there is a very small amount of information on the evolution of the Du Pont Company after the Civil War, the collection is more focused on local business, farming, and politics, and on Henry du Pont's militia career and the defense of Delaware during the Civil War.

Henry du Pont's miscellaneous papers include appointments, memberships, and commissions from his military career, both in the army and the state militia. From West Point, there is a notebook on military engineering, a roster of cadets, and a topographical map of West Point made by him. There is a list in his hand of Delaware men who served in the Civil War. There are also papers created by Henry du Pont in settling the estates of several family members, including Alexis I. du Pont and his maternal uncle, Joseph Charles Dalmas. There are also copies of Henry du Pont's own will and estate inventory. Also included are Henry du Pont's personal accounts and his accounts with E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., as well as other business papers, such as mortgages, deeds, leases, and lists of securities and real estate.

The Louisa Gerhard du Pont papers consist of correspondence, mostly outgoing, dating 1836, 1837, and from 1851 to 1899. Most of the letters were written to family members, including her son Henry A. du Pont, sister-in-law Sophie M. Du Pont, and daughter-in-law Pauline Foster du Pont. The letters contain news about the family, health, the children, clothing patterns, and servants. The incoming correspondence consists of letters from family members and friends.

The Alexis I. du Pont papers consist of correspondence that is largely personal and reflects an active interest in affairs of the Episcopal Church. There are also references to company affairs, explosions in the mills, and family affairs.

The Joanna Smith du Pont papers consist of outgoing correspondence dating from 1828 to 1836 and 1846 to 1876, mostly written to her sisters-in-law, Eleuthera du Pont Smith and Sophie M. Du Pont. The majority of her letters, written prior to her marriage and addressed to Eleuthera du Pont Smith, describe teaching Sunday school, sewing, attending school, reading, gardening, and family news. They include references to her early life and schooling in Philadelphia, lectures at the Peale Museum, visits to Philadelphia factories, a visit to the studio of Thomas Sully while he was painting the portrait of Fanny Kemble, a visit to John James Audubon's exhibition of birds, and an active interest in church affairs. The papers also include a copy of Joanna Smith du Pont's will.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

The Henry Francis du Pont collection of Winterthur Manuscripts (WMSS) contains the personal papers of those portions of the Du Pont family that descended to Colonel Henry Algernon du Pont (1838-1926) and his son, Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) of Winterthur. Between 1949 and 1957, the bulk of this collection was deposited at the Longwood Library, where it joined a similar collection of family papers assembled by Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) known as the Longwood Manuscripts (LMSS), also now held at Hagley Museum and Library. The papers of Henry Francis du Pont remain at Winterthur.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
E.I. du Pont's sons' papers
Status:
Author:
John Beverley Riggs; Lynn Ann Catanese
Date:
1970; 1997
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2022: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400