During Steamin’ Days and private tours, we often tell visitors that laid out before them is the evolution of the automobile from birth to maturity. The museum’s story revolves around the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, but a similar story might be told for any number of other manufacturers of the era. Once pointed out, visitors begin noticing lighting evolving from removeable kerosene lamps to carbide to acetylene gas lamps and finally to electric. They notice the evolution from wood bodies to aluminum and steel, from tillers to right-hand steering to left-hand steering. But there are many more stories hidden away within the Marshall Steam Museum yet to be told.

For example, every vehicle in the museum (with the exception of the Penny Farthing currently on display) has a minimum of four wheels. Perhaps in the future, a temporary display might detail the evolution of the automotive wheel and tire. In 1916 an estimated 6,470,832 wheels, tubes, flaps, and tires had to be produced for the 1,617,708 steam, electric, and internal combustion-powered horseless carriages manufactured that year. Estimates also indicate that due to the lack of robust rubber tire construction, not to mention the deplorable condition of American roads, the 3-million-plus passenger vehicles in use in 1916 consumed an average of eight tires per year! The result was American industry produced upwards of 20 million tires annually in 1916 to keep pace!

While the 1914 Ford Model T included in the collection highlights one of the three primary technologies vying for supremacy during automotive adolescence, future investigations might highlight the impressive impact Henry Ford and the Model T provided in multitudes of ways. People think of the Model T as the first mass-produced, mechanically complex commodity manufactured but rarely recognize Ford’s insight in taking the fundamental operation of a meat packing plant and reversing it (put something together instead of cutting it apart as a series of operations or steps) for mass production of almost any manufactured commodity.

Now step back a bit further to realize that every Model T from 1908 until 1927 required four wheels with tires (and perhaps a spare). Ford’s suppliers, such as Firestone, had to maintain large-scale, efficient, high-volume production operations not only to supply Ford but Stanley, Rauch & Lang and their competitors as well! The adolescent period of the automobile not only introduced mass production but the need for standardization of products, which provides yet another opportunity for interpretation and display.

The first vehicle to move under its own power (steam) on American streets, and the world’s first amphibious vehicle, was constructed by Oliver Evans of Delaware and demonstrated on Market Street and the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in 1805. The first sale of an American-built self-powered vehicle was a steam car constructed by S. H. Roper of Massachusetts, which sold in 1889. Soon to follow was an electric car sold to J. B. McDonald, which William Morrison of Des Moines, IA, constructed in early 1892 and exhibited on the streets of Chicago in September of that year. The Stanley twins constructed their first car in 1897, a year before the first internal combustion car was sold by Alexander Winton to Robert Allison of Port Carbon, PA, in 1898.

The first public car show was held in Madison Square Garden, New York City, in 1890, where 34 makes were exhibited. Only 3,700 cars of all makers were produced in 1899, rising to 11,000 vehicles by 1903, with Locomobile/Stanley the top seller for 1900 through 1903. A total of 44,000 vehicles valued at $93.4 million were produced in 1907, followed by 85,000 cars of all models in 1908. Production climbed steadily upward, reaching 485,000 cars in 1913 and just prior to World War I. Automotive historians suggest this output was muted from what it might have been. The Marshall Steam Museum’s Model T represents that story as well.

What factor, event, or otherwise was responsible for muting American horseless carriage production, especially for internal combustion engine powered vehicles, right after Alexander Winton sold his first Winton in 1898?



Our Founding Fathers realized that if this country was to prosper, a means to protect intellectual property was needed. Thus in 1790 President George Washington signed the bill creating America’s patent system. A patent doesn’t grant the right to make, sell or use a product incorporating a patented idea, but rather permits the person(s) having the idea to determine how they wish their idea to be used (license, sell, assign/transfer, gift, etc.) while excluding others from making, selling, importing or otherwise creating an equivalent for some period of years. It was the U.S. patent system that inhibited the rapid expansion of early automotive ideas and designs.

In 1879 George B. Selden of Rochester, NY, applied for a patent for a gasoline-powered engine that might be used in a 4-wheeled vehicle. This was long before anyone thought it worthy putting an internal combustion engine in a carriage, thus rendering it “horseless.” Selden had conceived the idea and constructed a prototype so that he could file a patent application (with George Eastman, no less, as witness!). For the next 16 years, Selden kept updating his application and using similar legal patent regulations to keep the patent application alive until 1895, when he allowed the patent to be issued (Patent 549,160, November 5, 1895). Today patents expire in 20 years; however, in Selden’s time, it was 17 years. Selden effectively stopped the construction and sale of most gasoline-engine powered horseless carriages until 1912 unless a royalty was paid.

The Stanley twins ran afoul of patent law as well, but not Selden’s. They had patented (Patent 663,836) their rear axle differential and later granted sole use to the Locomobile Company when they sold their early steam carriage business. When the twins re-entered the horseless carriage business and introduced a re-designed Stanley Steamer in 1902, it retained a chain drive similar to what they had sold Locomobile but with a re-designed differential. A court case soon developed over the differential’s design, and instead of suffering the expense of a court battle and possibly losing, the twins moved their steam engine to a rear-axle mounting and direct gear drive between the crankshaft and differential, thus avoiding the claimed patent infringement of the twins’ licensed patent to Locomobile!

Selden sold all rights for his patent in 1900 to the Electric Vehicle Company, which enforced it rigorously. Alexander Winton’s Winton Motor Carriage Company was one of the first targeted. As a result, the Manufacturer’s Mutual Association, which later became the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, was formed to fight both Selden and Electric Vehicle Company. Having lost the patent challenge, manufacturers were forced to pay a royalty fee for every gasoline-powered vehicle manufactured. Thus, at the start of the automobile age, every gasoline-powered horseless carriage sold included a licensing fee that raised the catalog price and effectively limited the desire of gasoline-powered carriage manufacturers to risk expanding with new models and features.

The Selden patent became a thorn in Henry Ford’s plans when his Ford Motor Company was denied a license to use the patent in 1903 after forming his company. That didn’t stop Ford, and he continued with plans for the production of his Model T. Ford’s Model T debuted on October 1, 1908, and within weeks the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers filed a patent infringement case against Ford Motor Company. Nearly a year later, Ford lost his case, similar to others who challenged the Selden patent.

Unfazed, Ford appealed, which none of the others had previously attempted. For the appeal, Ford dove into the intricacies of Selden-patented gasoline-powered engine against the Ford-designed engine. Selden’s engine was based on the Brayton thermodynamic cycle (constant-pressure engine similar to a jet engine but using pistons) and not the Otto thermodynamic cycle (relies on varying pressures to operate) Ford had embraced. Ford easily won the appeal in January 1911, and with only a year left in the patent’s life, further contesting by the Association was not pursued. In 1912 the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers quietly changed their name to the Automobile Board of Trade and by 1914 were known as the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce with the purpose of promoting all horseless carriages. A look at automobile production records reveals that for 1912 and subsequent years, automotive production roughly doubled annually until World War 1.

Next time you visit the Marshall Steam Museum, take a moment to look beyond all that is displayed and let your mind wonder to how it all happened. The Marshall Steam Museum is more than a collection of steam cars and a few era artifacts. Hidden about are stories related to automobiles, the industrial revolution, banking, dealerships and selling automobiles, railroads, steam power, electrical power, galvanized sheet, clay mining, working conditions, and so much more.


On occasion a visitor to Auburn Heights brings with them an item they no longer wish to keep but surmise it may be of interest to someone they know who volunteers. Such was the case recently during the August Volunteer’s Day at Auburn Heights. I was presented with a pair of original boxes containing glass plate negatives by a retired individual who volunteers with the AVRR. To paraphrase, “These probably came from a house in Cedars (near Greenbank) in the 1960s and have been in my parent’s basement since then. They may be of interest, and you’re free to do what you think best.”
One of the exposed 5” x 7” glass plate negatives the individual thought I might find of interest. While I don’t own a proper digital scanner for large glass plate negatives, I am able to perform a rough scan with my flatbed scanner using room ambient light to see what visual wonders the century-old glass plates might reveal. I digitally scanned each of the plates and converted the scan data to a positive image. As the plates were originally just lying loose in the boxes, they were more properly repacked with paper dividers and cushioning as they will eventually be added to the Thomas C. Marshall Collection at Hagley Museum & Library, where high-quality digital scanning equipment exists.
The image below was described by the giver as believed to be inside Marshall Brothers Paper Mill. After scanning, the image was studied in greater detail, and our belief is that the image is more than likely the #1 Fibre line in the #1 Fibre Mill at Marshall’s National Fiber & Insulation Company at Yorklyn. The image is definitely not the industrial rag paper process in Marshall Brother’s Mill as originally suggested. The puring tanks in the background are part of a fibre-making process and not a papermaking process. We have glass plate negatives of the Insulite Mill’s prototype endless fibre machine, and the steam heated rotating can driers in the foreground are configured differently than those of the Insulite Mill (and paper mill as well). We believe it may be the #1 Fibre Line because the configuration of equipment is very similar to Israel Marshall’s patent and what was developed in the Insulite Mill starting in 1900.
While the photographer is unknown, the fact that the glass plate negatives were manufactured by the “Stanley Dry Plate” division of Eastman Kodak Company reminds us of the many boxes of Stanley Dry Plates in the Thomas C. Marshall Collection at Hagley Museum & Library, which includes a few images similar to the above. The Stanley twins sold the dry plate business to Eastman Kodak in January 1904, which places the images after that date. For the image to be the #1 Fibre Mill, it would have to be after 1906-07 as that is the time period that the #1 Fiber Mill began operation.
Some archivists and historians, based on one image, would not agree a strong enough case has been presented to conclude the boxes of images might have been taken by Clarence Marshall. Other images, which we’ll share in the answer, indicate that if the photographer wasn’t Clarence Marshall, it was someone closely related to the family.
The image below is from another of the glass plate negatives and provides positive proof the images, if not the glass plate negatives themselves, are of Marshall origin. The building pictured is undeniably related to the Marshall family. What is the building pictured, and how is it related to the Marshalls?

The second image of this month’s question is where the Marshall industrial rag paper involvement began – Thomas S. Marshall’s Homestead Paper Mill at Marshall’s Bridge, Kennett Township, PA. This is the mill where Israel and Elwood learned the papermaking trade from their father! Documented photos in the T. Clarence Marshall Collection at Hagley Museum & Library as well as photos in the Charles S. Philips Collection at the Chester County Historical Society confirm the mill’s identity.

A similar image dating from sometime in the 1880s has been displayed in the Marshall Museum and used for various publications. In that image the mill is definitely in operating condition as there is not the uncut growth of plants and grasses around the building. In this image, which has to be post 1904 due to being in in the Stanley-Kodak box and the timeframes of the other images, the mill looks more unused and neglected. While we don’t know the exact year when the Marshalls stopped making paper at the Homestead Paper Mill, indications are it was in the first decade of the 1900s. Marshall paper mills at Wooddale and Yorklyn were steam-powered, efficient, and offered more capacity than the primarily water-powered Homestead Mill.

The dirt road in the foreground is Creek Road (Route 82). Center right is where the road makes a sharp right heading to Old Kennett Pike. Where the road goes behind the mill it crosses the Red Clay Creek to become what we know as Marshall Bridge Road today.

Sharing several of the other glass plate negative images, the photograph below includes the date “August 4, 1915” written on the edge of the glass plate, along with the caption “Marshall’s Meadow, Yorklyn, DE.” The photo, taken from the area where the water tower now stands, shows the West Chester, Kennett, and Wilmington Electric Railway tracks in the foreground. Benge Road is to the left, and Auburn Mill Road is just beyond the row of trees. While we’ve been amazed at the flooding of the Red Clay in recent years, especially twice in one week this past August, it is obvious from Clarence’s photography of multiple floods, the creek swelled above its banks a century ago!

Tom Marshall wrote about the building featured below. Folks today often see the door in the white stone wall on Creek Road as you approach Yorklyn Road’s Iron Bridge and wonder what it was for. It was the door to the spring and ice house for the Snuff Mill Superintendent’s home (a Mr. Durham according to Tom), which was built in the latter 1800s. Becoming known as the “Boarding House” when it was operated by the Jackson family, in 1937 it was razed. Tom, in his writings, noted that the porch frequently collected the occasional stray autocarriage of the era! One of the Garrett Snuff Mill buildings is at the right edge of the image, the remnants still standing close to a paved Creek Road today.

Our final image is of Yorklyn a century ago, taken from atop the high hill across from Auburn Heights. In the foreground is Lower Snuff Mill Row which were snuff mill worker’s homes. The Garrett mansion (behind trees) and 1904 constructed superintendent’s homes are center right. The Garrett Snuff Mills are in the foreground center left with Marshall’s National Fibre & Insulation mills in the distance with their water tower and tall smokestack dating the photo to sometime in the late nineteen-teens or later.


Tom Marshall left the Friends of Auburn Heights with a rich history of the Auburn Valley Railroad as detailed in his weekly writings beginning in early 2001.

In 2006, Tom told us about his father, Clarence, buying castings in 1941 from Little Engines to construct a ¾-inch-scale 4-8-4 locomotive and tender. That locomotive, a ¾-inch-scale live steam model carrying a Lackawanna livery, is displayed in the museum. Having completed the construction of this locomotive in 1945, Clarence literally redoubled his efforts for his next project by purchasing the castings for a Little Engines 1½-inch-scale 4-8-4 locomotive and tender. As one of the first of a handful of machinists to purchase the castings in 1950, Tom tells us his father spent more than 7,500 hours constructing AVRR locomotive 401.

With 401 nearing completion, in March 1950 Clarence and Tom worked with Everett Hollingsworth to layout the original AVRR right-of-way around the Marshall Steam Museum and Auburn Heights Mansion. It was a simple, single loop of track following existing contours of the property. Tom writes that after constructing several passenger cars, the Auburn Valley Railroad debuted with the first passenger trains operating on T. Clarence Marshall’s 75th birthday, celebrated on August 5, 1960.

While the August 5, 1960, date represents the first time the AVRR carried passengers, anyone familiar with steam knows test runs are a necessity, especially for steam locomotives and automobiles that have never run or are returning to service from a rebuild. When did AVRR #401 make its first of several test runs on the newly laid tracks of the AVRR?



Searching Tom’s writings, we are unable to find mention of when AVRR 401 first ran on the then simpler track route around Auburn Heights. Tom does share that track-laying started at the turntable, a simple wooden truss back in those days, and proceeded around the property. Tom further writes that with 401 fired up on the turntable, he could make short test runs between a trestle that was still under construction behind the museum and the area of the present pond.

We recently stumbled upon an article in an archived copy of Steam Automobile magazine (Volume 2, Number 4, Summer 1960) that documents what we believe is the first running of AVRR 401 on the completed Auburn Heights track loop around the property, approximately two months after track layout and construction started!


T. Clarence Marshall took an interest in motorized carriages and specifically steam carriages in the early 1900s, becoming a dealer of Stanley steam cars at Auburn Heights. Partnering with his son-in-law Norman Mancill, a dealership was established in Wilmington selling Paige and other brands. By the late teens, Clarence had discovered trapshooting and formed the Yorklyn Gun Club, operating from 1921 until 1950. Tom Marshall’s Weekly News articles, archived and available for reading on this website (http://auburnheights.org/weekly-news-archive/), document many of his father’s activities related to trapshooting and automobiles.

In 1940, Clarence acquired a Stanley steamer he had sold in 1913 as a dealer. Now, occasionally referred to as the “Becker car,” the Stanley Model 76 touring car is a cornerstone of the Marshall collection and a favorite of this writer. Clarence continued to host events at Yorklyn Gun Club in the 1930s and 1940s, but his interests were evolving towards collecting steam cars. With World War II recovery in full swing and additional Stanley cars and parts purchased during the war, the Carriage House was full. Wanting to further expand the collection, Clarence established his “museum” in a new custom-built structure on the Auburn Heights property.  

While we often say that Clarence “built” the museum, the actual construction was performed by a family relative. What Marshall family member was responsible in 1947 for the physical construction of the building now known as the Marshall Steam Museum?



The Marshall Steam Museum building, as originally constructed, is of simple design. Constructed on sturdy concrete footers under the lawn are reinforced cinder block walls. Steel trusses, constructed in an “attic truss” design, support the roof while permitting much of the second floor to be open space for storage (and future use by FAH). This design offered another advantage that Clarence insisted upon; there are no posts on the first floor to navigate vehicles around! Tom Marshall mentioned on several occasions that the Marshall Steam Museum was the largest open-span building constructed in Delaware at the time of completion.

Paul Hannum was the Marshall family member who constructed the Marshall Steam Museum for Clarence. Hannum had been the contractor that added “garage” to the Carriage House (the current shop area and where the AVRR engines are stored; see the October 7, 2006, Weekly News article about the addition) in 1937. As the Marshall granite quarry, which supplied stone for the building of the mansion, Carriage House, and the additions to both, was nearly played out, the Marshall Steam Museum would be constructed primarily of cinder blocks. The burning of coal generates cinders as waste. Francis Straub in 1911 realized that cinders mixed with cement led to a different way of making concrete blocks. Differing from concrete blocks since a cinder block will take a cut nail, Straub patented the cinder block in 1917 (Patent 1,212,840). No doubt the recycling of waste materials for the new building pleased Clarence.

To understand the family connection, we start with Thomas Smedley Marshall, Clarence’s grandfather. Thomas S. Marshall, the 5th child of Robert Marshall and Mary Hoopes, established T. S. Marshall & Sons, making industrial rag papers on the family farm at Marshall’s Bridge in Kennett Township. Thomas S. Marshall and Mary Way raised three children: Israel Way Marshall, Mary E. Marshall (Mitchell), and Thomas Elwood Marshall. T. Clarence was the fourth child of Israel W. and Elizabeth Cloud Mitchell.

Thomas S. Marshall’s brothers, Caleb and John, became the first to commercially manufacture terne plate (iron sheets coated with an alloy of tin and lead, a predecessor to galvanized sheet metal) in America. Brother Abner discovered Kaolin clay (a rich white clay used for fine china and other uses) on his property running alongside Yorklyn Road and began the first commercial mining of Kaolin in Delaware. The middle child of Thomas’s five children, Martha Marshall married Thomas Hannum. Thomas and Martha’s eldest child, nicknamed “Marsh” for Marshall Hannum, was Israel Marshall’s cousin. Marsh’s eldest son, Paul Hannum, was not only a second cousin of T. Clarence, and he was the contractor responsible for actually designing, to Clarence’s requirements, and constructing the museum for Clarence in 1947. In April and May 1922, Paul Hannum was advertising for carpenters and laborers as the Evening Journal ad shows.

For a number of years, Clarence’s museum was packed full of vehicles. Thirty Stanley steam cars have passed through the collection over the years (for a listing see the March 7, 2016 newsletter). There were also White, Doble, Toledo, and Locomobile steam cars that Clarence stored in the museum building. While Clarence was in partnership with Frank Diver selling Packards, Clarence’s car trading included ownership of Pierce Arrow, Ford, Maxwell, Oldsmobile, and Rolls Royce automobiles among a few others. Once Clarence and Tom decided to open the property in April 1961 to raise funds for Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., the collection in the museum was greatly reduced so that visitors might enjoy the mostly Stanley collection.

The museum building has probably never been totally emptied of vehicles until this past winter when the museum was cleaned out entirely for a facelift after 73 years. While the Marshalls maintained the building in excellent condition and no structural deficiencies required attention, the museum building’s amenities required updating for Friends of Auburn Heights events and use. The continually peeling gray-painted floor has been upgraded with an epoxy coating. An addition adds modern bathrooms, a dedicated room for the Lionel trains, and a lobby area with gift shop.

Stanley steam cars require non-freezing storage in the winter if their boilers and waters systems are not drained. Thus, a minimal heating system had been installed 73 years ago, which has since been upgraded with modern, efficient heat pumps that provide energy-efficient heating for visitors, humidity control, and cooling for the summer months, better protecting the collection. The original 3×2/3×2 windows were removed, restored, and reinstalled. The ceiling has been reinsulated using modern materials and covered with drywall to improve the building’s flammability ratings. For the time being, readers will have to follow our museum improvements virtually. FAH hopes to host limited groups in the not-too-distant future.


The attic of the Marshall Steam Museum became a storehouse for larger household items that three generations of Marshalls no longer needed or used but still held value. Among the historical treasure-trove of artifacts are a pair of Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company wooden box wall telephones.
We know that the first telephone exchange for the Hockessin area was established December 30, 1899, by the Delaware & Atlantic Telegraph & Telephone Company. Located in Ball’s Drug Store, the switchboard initially served six subscribers, and within a couple months served a dozen Hockessin area subscribers, including the Marshall family and Marshall Brothers Company. We believe the pair of Kellogg Wooden Box Magneto-Battery, Grounding Key, Bridging telephones, as they were properly named, one possibly from the mansion and one from the mill office building (constructed 1895), were connected as a ‘private party line’ to the Hockessin Exchange.
To place a call to any other phone sharing the party line, all one had to do is turn the crank, which caused all telephone ringers on the party line to sing out. Ringing codes, a series of short and long rings between pauses, were used to signal which of up to a dozen party line phones needed to answer. The caller picked up the handset, and, placing it to their ear, then awaited to hear a familiar voice answer from afar.
1800s “telephony,”, as it was referred to in the late 1800s, was very simplistic and involved but few components. A small chamber of carbon granules within the transmitter (component one spoke into) transformed spoken word into an electrical signal. The handpiece held to the ear contained a horseshoe electromagnet to vibrate a disc for transforming the electrical signal back into sound for our ear to hear. Several dry cell batteries supplied power for the speaking circuit to operate.
That meant any telephone of the early era, wall mounted similar to the Marshall telephones or a candlestick desk phone, could only function one way. What was this unique operating characteristic of early 20th-century telephones?

The Marshall Kellogg telephones contain few components: the oak box everything was enclosed within, transmitter (part you talked into), receiver (part of the handset that was held to the ear for listening), induction coil (an audio transformer), magneto (generated up to 90 volts to operate multiple ringers), ringer (containing two saucer bells), batteries (large 1-½ volt carbon-zinc dry cells), hook (switching mechanism the handset (receiver) rested on when not in use). Two copper-coated steel wires interconnected multiple telephones on the same circuit in what was referred to as a “party line.”

In order for the transmitter to create an electrical signal that represented the sounds impinging on the transmitter disk, a capsule full of carbon granules was shaken by the attached diaphragm. The transmitter’s diaphragm and capsule’s end plates must be orientated vertically so that the capsule’s electrode ends internally contacted the carbon granules. Attached to the diaphragm, the capsule created a variable resistance reflecting the diaphragm’s vibrations. As the capsule vibrated, creating a constantly varying resistance, a variable electrical signal resulted, representing the vibrations of the diaphragm.

Early 1900s carbon capsule transmitters only operated if they were oriented so that the horn was horizontal! Position the transmitter’s horn vertically (i.e. transmitter horn pointed up or down) instead of horizontally, and the transmitter failed to function properly if at all. When the capsule was oriented horizontally, the carbon granules only contacted one end of the cylindrical capsule and a varying resistance could not be generated as the diaphragm vibrated! That is why candlestick telephones were always picked up using both hands; holding the handpiece to the ear and the candlestick base to the mouth. Wall phones, such as what the Marshalls had, were mounted with the transmitter at mouth height, and the handpiece was lifted off the hook and held to the ear.

Imagine today if capsules of carbon granules were still state of the art technology (they actually are still used for hazardous location microphones) and we could only use our mobile phones if the phone was held vertical! As the telephones aged, the carbon granules did break down by dusting, and the transmitter became less effective, requiring replacement of the transmitter capsule. It wasn’t until the later 1900s that the workhorse carbon microphone telephone transmitter was replaced with electronic microphones that did not rely on carbon capsules.

When the Marshall Steam Museum face lift is complete, and we’re permitted to host visitors at Steamin’ Days, the Kellogg telephones will be one of the new exhibit items to experience. Initially, due to COVID-19 museum touch guidelines, operating the Kellogg telephones will not be possible. Both telephones have been returned to full functionality nearly 125 years after they were originally constructed. Visitors eventually will be permitted to “ring up” the mating Kellogg phone on the museum’s “private party line” and hold a conversation with someone at the second Kellogg phone, much the same as Lizzy and Israel might have done in 1900 when Lizzy rang up Marshall Brothers Office to inform Israel and any guests that she was ready to serve dinner (what we call lunch today) or supper (what we call evening dinner today).  


In the 1870s, U.S. mail from Hockessin traveled by the Wilmington & Western Rail Road to Wilmington, Delaware, as Wilmington’s Post Office was the central distribution sorting and distribution location for the city and surrounding Delaware area. How would a letter, addressed to a resident of Kaolin, Pennsylvania, which is two miles from Hockessin, have traveled once it left Wilmington? For extra credit, what railroads would have been involved?



The following article is from the January 30, 1873 Every Evening and describes the route taken by a letter mailed in Hockessin and addressed to a family in Kaolin, PA. A two-mile “as the crow flies” distance involved a 95-mile journey via the U.S. Post Office. After being placed in a canvas bag with other Hockessin mail, the bag heads eastbound on a Wilmington & Western Rail Road coach to the U.S. Post Office complex inside Wilmington’s Customs House (built 1855) at 6th and King streets in Wilmington. To reach Philadelphia from Wilmington, the letter would have traveled on the Philadelphia, Wilmington, & Baltimore Railroad.

While not mentioned in the article, the West Chester & Philadelphia Rail Road would have moved the letter between Philadelphia and West Chester. At West Chester’s Post Office (established January 1, 1804), a change to the Philadelphia & Baltimore Central Rail Road would have routed the letter through Chadds Ford (Post Office was not established until April 1, 1904), Fairville (Post Office established  March 20, 1849), Kennett Square (Post Office established July 1, 1803), Toughkenamon (Post Office established December 8, 1868), on its way to the Avondale Post Office (established December 29, 1828). The Kaolin Post Office (established on December 8, 1868) was serviced from the Avondale Post Office.

While the article cites an easterly route, at the time Landenberg had a Post Office (established November 17, 1848 as Chandlerville Post Office, later changing to Landenberg when the area adopted a new name by 1872.). Mail from the Landenberg Post Office in the 1870s would have traveled either east to Wilmington and on to Philadelphia for the northern states or south to Newark, Delaware, and on to Baltimore for delivery in the southern USA.

Interestingly the letter could have traveled from Hockessin to Landenberg on the Wilmington & Western Railroad. At Landenberg, the Pennsylvania & Delaware Rail Road would have been the mail carrier connecting Landenberg and Avondale. This route would have been approximately 30 miles in length.

Below is a section from a map dated 1871, “Map of the Rail Roads of Pennsylvania and Parts of Adjoining States,” showing the railroads that existed in northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. It provides a good reference for the railroad routes available at the time of the 1873 newspaper article. A couple interesting observations begin with “the wedge” shown for the intersection of the DE-MD-PA borders. An original proposed route for the Delaware & Chester County Rail Road Company, which was eventually renamed the Wilmington & Western Rail Road Company, was along Mill Creek instead of Red Clay Creek, and this map indicates the Mill Creek route.


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.





The small planthopper pictured below is found throughout Europe, Russia, China, and Northern Africa. First described in 1839, it is a winged insect with more than 1,000 relatives. The nymphs are unique to their parents in a manner not found elsewhere on planet Earth. What is that unique genetic feature or attribute for this quarter-inch-long insect? Hint: The unique genetic mechanical feature is the only known example found in nature but may be found in every mode of transportation used by humans.

Some will argue that man has often invented things having closely observed nature. For example, it might be argued that observing nearly round rocks rolling down a hill provided the idea for the wheel. The Wright brothers are said to have observed how birds twist their wings and tail feathers to control their flight when developing controls for their aeroplane.

While the human concept mechanical gearing is more than 2,300 years old, Issus Coleoptratus nymphs (pictured in the question) have incorporated biological mechanical gearing in their hind legs for perhaps millions of years. It is the only known example of biological gearing. Gearing is defined as evenly-sized teeth or cogs cut into a matching pair of straight or curved, interlocking, moving, surfaces in such a manner as to synchronize their motion as they operate.

Investigated by biologists Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. in 2013, the gears force the nymph’s legs to each exert equal force when the nymph hops among undergrowth leaves and branches at speeds as high as 8.7 miles per hour. The gearing action ensures the insect jumps straight ahead and not off-course or starts spiraling only to miss the targeted landing spot. The x-ray images below show the 80 micrometer wide teeth that incorporate fillets to reduce wear at the base of each cog or tooth similar to human-designed mechanical gears.

Each gear cog is also asymmetrical and curved in one direction only as the interlocking action between the teeth under power is in one direction only. Most man-made machine gears, such as those in transmissions and steering systems are symmetrical due to the need to rotate in two directions.

Interestingly, should a tooth break, when the nymph molts to a larger size, a replacement tooth is grown as each molting increases the size of the gears in proportion to the insect’s increasing mass and leg length. However, as a nymph becomes an adult in later molting events, the gearing disappears giving way to a simple friction interface between the two leg bones. This evolutionary change no doubt eliminates the need to grow back broken cogs during adulthood. The larger mated surface contact areas of adult leg bones provide the same control of landing location. Burrows and Sutton were able to observe, using high-speed video, the mechanical action of the Issus Coleoptratus’ legs by electrically stimulating one of the nymph’s leg muscles causing the pair of legs to quickly extended with synchronized force and motion.


While the exact origin of Auburn as the name for the northern portion of Auburn Valley State Park is undocumented, history seems to point to its origin being with Thomas Lea, who took over ownership of the Garrett Paper Mill in 1813. Marshall Brothers Paper Mill started as the Garrett grist and saw mill in in the early 1700s, then became a paper mill around 1790 before becoming a textile mill after Lea’s purchase in 1813. Lea followed the practice of naming his mills, and he chose Auburn, perhaps in connection with the Leni Lenape Indians of the area, as the name for the textile mill. Lea sold the mill to a Pusey who sold it to a Clark from whom the Marshalls purchased it.
Back in 2013, we asked a question related to where the name Yorklyn originated. Since that Q&A, new research has uncovered additional information of interest. The names of many Delaware communities, towns, and cities stem from prominent individuals. Wooddale for Alan Wood, Marshallton for the Caleb and John Marshall families (Israel’s uncles), Faulkland for the Foulk family (since there was a related branch of the Foulk family in Brandywine Hundred, to avoid confusion, the “o” was changed to “a” with “land” added by the railroad when they placed a station in that area). Census records do not reveal any northern Delaware families named Yorklyn from which the name could have been derived. Some have speculated that Yorklyn is a composite of “York,” a male name of English origin, and “Lyn” of Spanish and English origin given to males or females and that these individuals might have been related to the Garrett family.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Yorklyn was spelled multiple ways in print publications, including local Delaware and Pennsylvania newspapers. Two of the more prominent spelling variations serve as the title for this Question of the Month. In the U.S., Yorklyn is hardly a popular name for a town, city, or otherwise as Delaware’s Yorklyn is one of only two such census-named areas in the U.S. The other Yorklyn is a 0.45-square-mile area in York County, Pennsylvania, east of the town of York (Yorklyn, DE is 0.14 square miles in area). Franklin is the most popular U.S. city name (31 occurrences) with Clinton and Washington tied in 2nd place (29 occurrences each). The third most popular U.S. area or city name is Arlington (28 occurrences) according to Wikipedia.
Many of the Delaware stations built along the Wilmington & Western Rail Road in 1872 were named for the area where they were placed (Wilmington, Kiamensi, Greenbank, Mt. Cuba, Ashland, Hockessin, Southwood). The rest were named as a derivation or other associated with individuals prominent in the railroad’s founding and early financing (Marshallton, Faulkland, Wooddale). Yorklyn is the one station name that doesn’t fit the naming pattern.
William E. Garrett, owner of the snuff mill who supported the early railroad as a Director, stockholder, and land grantor, lived in the area then referred to as Auburn. While Garrett and his wife never named their offspring Lyn or York, he was asked to suggest one or more names to the railroad Directors for consideration as the name for a station to be constructed near the Garrett snuff mills. What was the thinking behind William Garrett offering Yorklyn as his only suggestion?


We recently uncovered what is probably the best documentation for how the name Yorklyn came about. As early as 1905, the phrase “first draft of history” was cited in text, but it was Phil Graham, Washington Post owner and publisher, who made the phrase “The First Rough-draft of History” famous by using it in various speeches and writings. While newspapers are not always accurate in published information, they do provide a foundation upon which history can be documented and are effectively “the first rough draft of history.” The newspaper clipping shared below, from the August 11, 1873, Wilmington Daily Commercial newspaper explains how Garrett’s daughters came to suggest Yorklyn.

The “Marshall’s paper mills” referred to above, while it was a single mill, references Thomas S. Marshall’s Homestead Mill at the joining of the east and west branches of the Red Clay Creek in Kennett Township, PA. This is the original Marshall paper mill before Israel and Elwood Marshall, Thomas S.’s sons, purchased the burned-out Clark woolen mill to convert it into a modern paper mill in 1890. William T. Moore opened the U.S. Post Office at Yorklyn Station on June 13, 1873. Thus, the article above may be considered a “first rough draft of history’ in its accuracy!

The Wilmington Daily Commercial was published from October 1, 1866, until March 31, 1877. More commonly referred to as the Wilmington Commercial, it became the first daily paper published in Delaware. It was founded by Howard Jenkins and Wilmer Atkinson, who became Wilmington residents specifically to publish a daily newspaper. Selling their paper for 2 cents a copy initially, they used steam-powered presses to quickly print and distribute the latest news and gossip. Jenkins & Atkinson were among the first to sell newspapers on Delaware trains, thus expanding their circulation well beyond Wilmington’s city limits.

On January 3, 1867, Jenkins & Atkinson published a weekly edition titled Delaware Tribune. On September 4, 1871, the first issue of Every Evening was published by the Wilmington Commercial’s former city editor William T. Croasdale, who had struck out on his own to publish a competing newspaper. The two papers eventually merged to become the Every Evening and Commercial on April 2, 1877, with only the April 1, 1877, issue being named Every Evening, Wilmington Daily Commercial. Eventually, through additional mergers of Wilmington newspapers, the Evening Journal merged with Every Evening, Wilmington Daily Commercial. Over the decades the Evening Journal absorbed other Wilmington area newspapers, thus becoming Delaware’s prominent newspaper. The Evening Journal is published by Gannett Company, Inc., which, as of November 2019, is the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S.


In doing some recent research, we came across the image below from 1935. While most railroads did something similar, the photo is for the New York Central Railroad. What service is the worker providing? As a hint, the location is the entry to a passenger station located in the distance.

The image above is of the work pit of a railroad “hot box” inspector! Passenger trains, as well as freight trains coming into the station complex, had to slow sufficiently for the switching ahead. They had been running at a much higher speed prior to coming to the location pictured, which meant wheel bearings had been operating at higher speeds, creating more friction. A bearing without sufficient lubrication would be smoking if not on fire, and it was the inspector’s job to spot the smoke/fire from a “hot box” and report it so that the train could be stopped and the problem dealt with.

Depicted in the image below is a typical railroad friction bearing such as was used for locomotive, freight, and passenger cars during the 1800s and into the mid-1900s before roller and ball bearings saw widespread use. The olive part is the rotating axle attached to the railroad wheel. The yellow is the mechanical bearing made of brass. Under the axle and contained within an iron casting box-like structure with a door at the end is the waste packing, which amounts to cotton and wool materials in contact with the underside of the olive axle and saturated with oil. The turning axle picks up a thin layer of oil on the axle’s cylindrical surface and carries the oil as the axle turns to the contact area between the yellow bearing material and the olive axle. That thin layer of oil molecules keeps the axle and bearing from direct contact by forming a thin oil sheet between the two. Without metal-to-metal contact between the bearing and axle, there is little heat generated, offering a low-friction interface between the turning axle and stationary bearing.

Should oil in the packing become depleted, the oil film on the axle is reduced, and metal -to-metal contact between the bearing and axle generates heat from increased friction. With sufficient heat, the oil begins to smoke, and in an extreme situation, the oil can catch fire. As the bearing assembly is within an enclosure resembling a rectangular box, the term hot box came into use when a bearing was found smoking.