Interview with Faith Betty Lattomus and Madaline Betty Walls, 1969 June 12, 1969 June 25 [audio]
- Family background and work for the du Pont familyPartial Transcript: This is an interview conducted in the home of Mrs. Howard S. Lattomus, Winterthur, Delaware on June 12, 1969. With Mrs. Lattomus is her sister, Madeline Betty Walls. Also present at the interview were Dr. Norman Wilkinson and John Scafidi.
Scafidi: Would you say your name and age please.
Walls: Madaline Betty Walls and I am 68, or will be the 29th of this month.
Lattomus: I am Faith Betty Lattomus and I was 62 in May.
Scafidi: And, Mrs. Walls, where were you born?
Walls: I'm not sure, I think it was...is.
Lattomus: Over on the Concord Pike, weren't you?
Walls: I'm trying to think. I don't know if it was on Alfred I's estate or not. Brandywine Hundred is good enough.
Wilkinson: In the vicinity of the old Murphy Farm which is now Nemours?
Walls: My father was married on Alfred I. du Pont's estate. It was called the Anderson Farm and we have a hand painted picture of it. It's torn down now. They were married there and I believe I was born there.
Wilkinson: This would be on what is now presently the big Nemours property? Along 141 and Rockland Road?
Walls: Yes. That's Brandywine Hundred.
Wilkinson: And you have a painting of the Anderson...?
Walls: We do have a painting...the only one that's known. My sister has it. My mother gave it to her. It is called the Anderson Farm.
Wilkinson: We may want to borrow it. We are interested in all sorts of illustrations of the local region.
Scafidi: We'd like to photograph it.
Walls: She would be pleased.
Lattomus: I think she would. I am sure she would.
Scafidi: Now Mrs. Lattomus, you were born...?
Lattomus: I was born in Squirrel Run; that I know.
Scafidi: Do you happen to know exactly where in Squirrel Run?
Lattomus: It was sort of a grey stone house across the creek – the old trolley car ran down there.
Wilkinson: There is a sketch of Squirrel Run Village that Miss Beacom drew for us. Maybe you can spot your property along here somewhere, can you? This is from memory of course.
Lattomus: Well, this must have been the high steps; did this lead up to Christ Church?
Wilkinson: Yes, that is my interpretation of it.
Lattomus: Well, it would have been, when you came down the steps, it would have been to your right. There were two or three houses...I was a baby then and we moved from there up to the house across from where Beckers live. I was a baby, when we moved up there. There was another house up there. You know where Beckers lived? Well on across there, now I don't know if that has been torn down or not; it was in use when Mrs. Crowninshield lived.
Wilkinson: There is one unit that seems to be a double house. Mr. Becker lives in one side and his son-in-law and daughter live in the other.
Lattomus: No, that was a single house when we lived there. That's Where we were married. It was made into a double house after we left. But that is not the house. It was on across from there, where I lived when I was a baby. And then we left there and went to Wagoner's Row. And I have a picture. Do you want to get it off the mantle piece? The picture of mama and us. There were a row of houses in Wagoner's Row and quite a number of the men that worked either on the farm or in the Powder Yard lived there.
Wilkinson: All the old wagoners had passed on by this time.
Lattomus: Yes. They called that Wagoner's Row. Well, the powder mills were still in existence.
Wilkinson: But the wagoners were...
Scafidi: The teamsters.
Lattomus: The teamsters, of course, as you see on that picture went out in 1800 and something. They still had men that drove the powder wagons.
Wilkinson: Most of them lived on Wagoner's Row?
Lattomus: Some of them lived there and some of them lived down in Squirrel Run.
Wilkinson: Can you guess about how many houses constituted Wagoner's Row?
Lattomus: Oh, one, two...Dr. Wilkinson: It has always been rather vague to us. There were four in a row and then there was a space in between, then there was a double house...four, five, six, then there was one, seven, eight, then there was nine, ten and one up high...there was eleven houses down there, at that time.
Wilkinson: Was this by Mrs. E. Paul's?
Lattomus: No, this was Bobby Carpenter's place. Mrs. E. Paul's wasn't Wagoner's Row. I don't know what they called her place.
Scafidi: Was that eleven families down there or are you counting a double house as one house?
Lattomus: No, different families lived in them. There was one facing right along the Montchanin Road and then there was one right next to it, where my aunt lived, and then Mrs. Hoover -- her husband was a night watchman -- they had up there where that barnyard is, there was a little building -- I don't know whether that is gone or not -- but there was a little building there and that was my father's office. And at night time they had a night watchman...
Walls: And a dog...
Lattomus: And a dog, and they...now, that is one of the houses.
Wilkinson: In Wagoner's Row?
Lattomus: In Wagoner's Row. Did you see it?
Scafidi: Yes. To go back for a second. The house that you lived in which was across from where the Beckers live now, was there a name for that area right there?
Lattomus: Just the Upper Banks.
Scafidi: So they called that whole area the Upper Banks.
Lattomus: That's all I ever heard it called.
Scafidi: And what was this house made out of?
Lattomus: I don't know if that...
Walls: They were more frame, weren't they?
Wilkinson: Was stucco over them?
Lattomus: No, some of them were white-washed. I can remember that, but what they were...
Wilkinson: That would imply stone. I wonder if we could go back a little and if you remember or if your parents told you, how did your family Come to move into the powder yard area?
Lattomus: Well, my father was born over in Brandywine Hundred. He lived here all his life. My mother's father came over -- she was about five or six when he left Ireland and came over, and then he -- of course in those days they raised the money to bring their families over. They came over first and got a job and he got a job with the DuPont Company.
Wilkinson: This was your mother's...?
Lattomus: My grandfather.
Wilkinson: What was his name?
Lattomus: Fleming. Then of course in about a year...he was only over a year, I guess, because Aunt Mattie was only about 7 months old and my grandmother came over on a sailing boat and it took her six weeks to come, with a family of -- what did she have then? My mother was seven and she had a sister older than her who was about 8 or 9.
Wilkinson: Do you have any idea of dates when she settled here?
Lattomus: Do you know how old mama was? I mean when was her birthday?
Walls: On June 22 and she died...
Lattomus: Yes, but 18; _ what?
Walls: Wait a minute. She was 73 when she died and she's been dead 20 Years. She would have been 93 or 94 this 22nd.
Lattomus: Well, she was 7 years old when she came over.
Wilkinson: Then that would put this back in the 1870's or early 1880's.What part of Ireland did they come from?
Lattomus: They came from just outside of Londonderry.
Wilkinson: Did you ever hear them talk of why they came?
Walls: Uncle Andy came over.
Lattomus: Yes, their uncle came over and why I don't know; of course Ireland was sort of a poor country. I guess the living prospects weren't so good over there and he came over and made out very well. Now, what he did I don't know, but he became pretty rich for those days. He sent the money for my grandfather to come over. He thought he could make a better living here for his family.
Wilkinson: Where did Mr. Fleming first settle when he came here?
Lattomus: They came right out to Squirrel Run.
Scafidi: Tell me, from the Londonderry area, are you Orangemen?
Lattomus: No, we're not. We are Protestant.
Scafidi: Was this unusual in this area of large Irish Catholic Population?
Lattomus: Yes, yes it was, because most of the people that we knew and associated with really went to St. Joseph's-on-the-Brandywine.
Wilkinson: Yet there were the Cheneys.
Lattomus: Yes, of course, the Cheneys lived up there. But, then long after the Irish a lot of the Italians came in and then the Irish sort of moved out. I think my grandfather died...
Walls: They all lived good together. There was no friction.
Lattomus: Then my grandfather died though he never moved away from Squirrel Run. Then my grandmother went to live with...she lived with us part of the time and with an aunt of mine, but mostly with us.
Wilkinson: Do you know what Mr. Fleming did in the powder operations?
Lattomus: No, I don't.
Walls: He was a laborer, because he got hurt. They were hauling stone and a stone fell off the wagon on his foot and gangrene set in. That's what killed him.
Wilkinson: Do you remember what year he died?
Walls: Well, I was small and one night they took me into the hospital...
Lattomus: Do you have it in your Bible?
Walls: Oh, I bet I do have the date he died.
Lattomus: I know she has a family Bible and is very explicit about putting things in. (January, 1906: Grandpop, March 7, 1927: Wm. Fleming)
Walls: I know I was very small; Faith wasn't living when grandfather Fleming died.Synopsis: Lattomus and Walls are sisters. They talk about where they were born and talk about how their father worked at one of the du Pont family's farm and was married there. Walls believes she was born on the farm and Lattomus says that she was born in Squirrel Run. They talk about how their family moved a lot between the different worker's villages. They describe some of the homes they lived in. They discuss when one of their grandparents came to the United States from the area near Londonderry, Ireland. They talk about their grandfather's death as a result of gangrene that he contracted after an accident at Hagley.Keywords: Brandywine Hundred; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Hagley Yard; Immigration; Ireland; Londonderry (Northern Ireland); Nemours (Greenville, Del.: Dwelling); Squirrel Run (Del.:Village); Wagoner's Row (Del.:Village)
- Grandparent's immigration from Ireland to the United States; Description of family home in Wagoner's Row; Politics and votingPartial Transcript: Wilkinson: Well, now your mother was Fleming's daughter, now tell us about the Betty side of the family.
Walls: My grandmother and grandfather Betty: his name was Robert Betty: came: her name was Faithie Lytle and they were married in this country. They were from Ireland, but they didn't come over together. My grandfather was just 18 when he came over and he had a fuss with his family. From the day he came here he never corresponded; he burned every letter and would never have anything to do with his father back in Ireland. But grandmother, my sister-in-law and my brother has the brown jug that his mother gave him full of brandy that he brought to this country.
Wilkinson: To tide him over?
Walls: Grandmother always felt badly that he wouldn't open a letter, I have a cousin, Estella Brennan Hetherton and they have been over there a couple of times, and my grandfather Betty did not work over there. They had an estate and all he did was collect the rents, but I don't know what happened.
Lattomus: Well, he was supposed to have fallen out with his parents and he never wrote to them or anything.
Wilkinson: Now, did the Bettys originate around Londonderry also?
Lattomus: I don't know where they came from. I don't think so.
Walls: I could tell you more later. I have a first cousin that is going to Ireland in July and she wanted me to go with her.
Lattomus: Ask her to get that information. We could certainly call you and try to give it to you. (Tyrone County and Fermanagh County where Grandmother Lytle Betty came from. Clogher Valley in Ireland: Grandfather Betty)
Wilkinson: Well, then the Flemings had located on Squirrel Run and that's where you were born?
Lattomus: That's Where I was born. My father's people were over in Brandywine Hundred. They had a farm over there. I don't think they owned it. I think they just probably rented it or did it on shares. So many people did in those days, you know, money was sort of at a premium...like it is now.
Walls: Tell them about the Peirce's place. That is interesting.
Lattomus: Well, you know more about it than I.
Walls: The Peirce's farm is where my two brothers were born, Bill and George. They were small, and it was called the Peirce farm, which is now Deerhurst. That was our wheat field. Deerhurst was our wheat field.
Wilkinson: You should have held on to it.
Walls: of course my father just rented the farm. That's the reason we bury over at Lombardy.
Lattomus: Then when his father died they gave up the farm and that's when he came to work for the DuPont Company, I mean the farm. He drove a wagon until a man by the name of Mr. Collins, who was farm boss, died. He lived in that middle house and we lived at Wagoner's Row. I was about four years old. Then we moved up there and my sister was married when I was about six; my oldest sister. It is a shame she couldn’ t be up here too, but I guess three would be a little too much.
Scafidi: Perhaps we could talk to her another time. One thing, you were at Wagoner's Row until, Mrs. Walls, you must have been about ten.
Walls: Yes, that's right.
Lattomus: I was four and you are six years older than I am, so you'd have been ten. And then we moved to the Upper Banks.
Scafidi: Do you remember what the house at Wagoner's Row was like inside? If you were to walk in the front door.
Lattomus: It was the living room and then you went through it and there was a dining room, but this whole end here was the kitchen. It was a very long kitchen. At this end of the house. See, this end was our house with the middle, and then there was two houses in between, but they were just through houses. The other end was just like ours.
Wilkinson: What kind of houses? What word did you use?
Walls: They were frame.
Lattomus: But they were through houses. You'd go in the front door and they were just like those houses all the way through in town, the dining room, living room and kitchen all in one line. Then we had two bedrooms upstairs; just two bedrooms; no bath. Where did they put us all?
Walls: You slept in with Mommy and Poppy. They had a double bed and they had small beds for the boys.
Lattomus: This was a nice big porch. The kitchen and the living quarters were actually much bigger and roomier and nicer than most people had at that time. You came in off Montchanin Road, Rte 100 now. This was Wagoner's Row and it was just like a little lane, really, not a street. There was hardly a porch, just a little portico like and you went in the front door, so consequently, like most places in those times the front door was seldom used. Everybody came and went by the back door. This was a big porch and of course in the summertime we practically lived on it. This picture was of the side of the house. We really had no back because there was another house right alongside of it.
Walls: See, from this side of the house and all the way down from where you turned up to Christ Church was an open field and at the end the trolley car came up there.
Scafidi: While you were living there?
Walls: It was there before we lived there and then afterwards. Then up this way everybody had a big garden. Oh, the garden was bigger than these two rooms together. Each house had a garden across the lane.
Wilkinson: Where the trolley terminated, was that Hunter's store?
Lattomus: Hunter's Corner they called it; we lived in that house for years. When they moved us from the Upper Banks, as I said they moved everyone out on account of the explosions and magazines. They moved us back down to Hunter's Corner. By that time Mr. Hunter had given up the store. There were three houses there normally. He lived in one end and people by the name of Gilson lived in the middle and on the other end he had his store. Well, when he went out of business that stood vacant for a long time. We moved into his home, closest to the Fleming barn and the Gilsons still lived there. The other end was vacant for quite a number of years and then they remodeled it and fixed it up and made a house out of it and people by the name of Elwood McClain lived there. They were the only ones that ever lived in that. When they sold that property to J. Thompson Brown we had to move again, of course, and this was the time that they moved us up to the Clubhouse. They called it the Clubhouse then; the guards had been out and the place had been vacant quite a number of years.
Wilkinson: What year was it you moved into the Clubhouse?
Lattomus: What year was that Madeline? I must have been about twelve.
Walls: We lived there when I graduated from high school and I graduated in 1921. It was after World War I.
Lattomus: Yes, because the guards would have been there. In that field alongside, going down that road on the right they had barracks for the soldiers. The guards lived in the Clubhouse but there was a whole troop of soldiers up there. I can remember my cousin Caroline Latham wanting to go up there all the time. She was sixteen. She took me along because she was just taking me for a walk.
Wilkinson: How big a guard force was it, do you remember? You say a troop?
Lattomus: There must have been at least two or three barracks. Of course, at that time I was too young to be interested in the soldiers and I never remember how many there were.
Wilkinson: Going back to the Wagoner's Row house; did you ever hear when those buildings were put up? How far back it was?
Lattomus: No, but they were built for -- that's the reason it was called Wagoner's Row from what we understood -- they were built for the men that drove the wagons. So, I would assume that they were built shortly after the powder mills went into operation. They had to have people to set this wood, willow or bark. I thought they used the bark, but you said they used the willow -- you've researched more than I, all we ever heard was they used the bark.
Wilkinson: They were Company-owned houses when you were there?
Lattomus: Yes, they were always Company-owned houses. Then when they gave up the du Pont farm, they sold this property to Bobby Carpenter. Now, I think he tore all the houses down but one. That used to be a double house; my aunt lived in one side and people by the name of Campbell lived in the other. Moses Campbell, and he had spinster daughters named Ellen and Esther; they were twins.
Wilkinson: Was Hunter's Corner the center of activity, sort of?
Lattomus: Yes, it was the grocery store and that was the only store that was within miles. There was a small one down at Squirrel Run.
Wilkinson: How about at the trolley depot?
Lattomus: There was a little store there but it was like an ice cream store...oh, we loved it. He sold hot dogs and fried oysters and ice cream, and this is a little story that doesn't pertain to the farm, but you said to go back if we could. Alfred I. du Pont used to come over that way very frequently and he was very, very generous. When he would come he would always give Vic Ratts (that was what we always called the man that ran the little store), he would come over and we never know how much he gave him, but he would give him maybe five dollars or ten or something and the children in the neighborhood, when they saw Mr. du Pont coming, could go down there and have anything you wanted and as much of it as you wanted.
Walls: When we played ball in that field he used to watch us.
Lattomus: You remember that man when he used to come down and leave the money with Vic. My father used to laugh all the time, when we'd get a penny or a nickel (that was a lot of money in those days) and he'd say, "Well, hurry up and run down to Vic Ratts so he can put it in the bank for you."
Wilkinson: So, Vic's was a little store at Hunter's Corner?
Lattomus: No, well Hunter's Corner was right there, but the trolley line stopped right there and this was where people got on and off. Mrs. Paul du Pont owned that ground but she let...in the beginning it was just a little shelter with a little roof over it. You know, like they had and she let...I don't know how he got it, but he came out and approached her about building a little place there and she thought it was a good idea. Well, I think by then the store had gone. I think Hunters had left and gone into town.
Walls: Another Italian man ran the store after Vic left. He spoke broken English. "What kind ice cream you want: choc, vanill' or strawberry?"
Wilkinson: Where did your father go to vote in those days?
Lattomus: We voted...I don't know way back, but when we lived at Hunter's Corner they used our front living room for a polling place. Of course they paid my mother for it. Now where he voted before that...
Wilkinson: At the schoolhouse?
Walls: And he always worked.
Lattomus: He was a very dedicated Republican. He'd go crazy nowadays. He never ran for anything.
Scafidi: Were most of the people around that area Republican?
Lattomus: In the immediate area where we were they were. Wagoner's Row. Now, as I said in Squirrel Run...of course, they probably voted down in Henry Clay, but there were very, very few after the Irish moved out, of course there were some of the Irish that weren't Catholic, but after they moved out most of the people who came in were Italian and they were predominantly Catholic and Democrats. They seemed to go hand-in-hand at that time. Now it is different.
Wilkinson: Do you feel the Republican affiliation was because the parents worked for a big company.
Lattomus: I don't know, my father was always a Republican before he went with the DuPont Company. He never was a Democrat and I guess my mother just went and voted whatever way, when she could vote, whatever way my father told her to. I don't know, we sort of carried it on; Howard is a Republican and I am still a Republican. I mean not a dyed-in-the -wool one. If I know someone that I think is a little better, but as far as the national election is concerned I have always voted Republican.
Wilkinson: Colonel H.A. was a Republican senator, wasn't he?
Lattomus: Yes, he was. And you know, we have his walking stick. Mr. du Pont used it and after he died Howard asked Mrs. Harrison if he might have one of his walking canes and she gave him the one that had belonged to the Colonel. It has his initials and a gold band and we are very, very proud of that.Synopsis: They talk about the Betty side of their family and how their grandfather came to the United States to get away from a family dispute. They talk about where their brothers were born. Lattomus, the elder of the sisters, describes the family home in Wagoner's Row. She talks about World War I and military guards at the yards. Lattomus names the families that she can recall from Wagoner's Row and estimates the age of the village. She talks about the trolley and how the local children liked to spend their money at a snack bar located at the end of the line. They talk about politics and how most people that they remember, including H.A. du Pont, were Republicans. Lattomus mentions that she is proud to own one of H.A. du Pont's walking sticks.Keywords: Brandywine Hundred (Del.); Clogher Valley (Ireland); Deerhurst (Del.); Du Pont, H. A. (Henry Algernon), 1838-1926; Family; Fermanagh (Northern Ireland); Hunter's Corner; Immigration; Ireland; Politics; Republican Party; Squirrel Run (Del.:Village); Tyrone (Northern Ireland); Wagoner's Row (Del.: Village); World War (1914-1918)
- Grandmother's work as H.A. du Pont's nurse; Schooling and education; Christmas celebrations with the du Pont familyPartial Transcript: Walls: This is interesting too. My Grandmother Betty was Colonel du Pont's nurse, at one time. But he was a big boy and she was a young girl, but she was his nurse.
Wilkinson: He died in 1926 or thereabouts.
Wilkinson: Colonel Henry. Was it in his latter years that she was his nurse?
Lattomus: Oh, no. When he was a young boy. She was just like a nursemaid to him.
Walls: She was just a young girl, but he always used to talk about how his nursemaid was our grandmother. He was a splendid-looking, old gentleman.
Wilkinson: Later on in an interview or at another time I'd like to talk to you and Mr. Lattomus about Henry Francis as a young man and his interest in gardening.
Lattomus: Well, he would be more apropos for that than myself because he was born up here on the place and has lived here all his life. His father came up here from Townsend when he was about sixteen and lived here all his life. I'm sure he would be quite interested in it because he really thinks a lot of this place. He'll be 62 in September. His grandfather with the Colonel's backing ran for Coroner on the Republican ticket, but didn't win.
Wilkinson: Well, let's go back and talk about your schooling. Where did you attend school when you were young?
Lattomus: We all attended Alexis I. What they call the Middle School now. That's the one down on the Kennett Pike. My mother went to the Yellow School. You know the house there where...I don't know who lives there now. At the junction Routes #100 and #141.
Wilkinson: Right on the corner. I think it is Beatty.
Lattomus: I don't know, but that was the schoolhouse when they lived in Squirrel Run and that's where they went to school. I don't think she went very far because in those days, as soon as they were old enough, they put them out in the service or something like that.
Scafidi: Did all your brothers and sisters -- you just had brothers, didn't you?
Lattomus: I have an older sister. She is 76 and then I had two brothers; one of my brothers died the 21st of March.
Scafidi: Did all of you go to high school?
Lattomus: All but my oldest sister; she didn't. I don't know how far she went. She took up, in those days, like men, they took up a trade, and she took up dressmaking and she is an excellent one, by the way.
Scafidi: Was it usual or unusual for so many of one family to go to high school?
Lattomus: A little bit, yes; well, of course, when it came along in our day -- it was 1926-- they were more enlightened. My brothers went through the junior class; they didn't go on through their senior year because they wanted to go into a trade and one learned plastering and the other brick laying and they had their own business and still have it. Their sons are carrying it on.
Wilkinson: Now, the greenhouse is Betty Brothers?
Lattomus: He was our first cousin. He died too. J. Elmer Betty. His father and my father were brothers. J. Elmer's father's name was Alec.
Wilkinson: Do you have any recollections of your going to A.I.? Anything of any interest.
Walls: Well, I started in the kindergarten. I was the only one. And I was just in time for the four-year high. The first of the four years.
Lattomus: They used to have three.
Walls: Yes, they used to have three. When I got up there I had to go the last year. I always wanted to be a nurse. I cried for one year after I graduated because I didn't get to go in training. My father wouldn't let me go away from home. It was just as well because I was the only one stayed home and took care of them. It is so funny, we were talking about Republicans, and I'm a Republican, but all my life I worked for Democrats. I went to work for Thomas S. Bayard when he was a United States Senator; I was with him four years and a half and I worked for Dr. LaMotte, Sr. for thirty years.
Wilkinson: The eye specialist?
Walls: Yes. Well, most of the time we didn't have a nurse. I did everything. The old doctor was wonderful, though; he really taught me. I learned to refract -- you know to test you for lenses. I learned to do that and I bet there isn't another girl in Wilmington that learned to do the things that I did, because I had to do it with no one else there. I was really a secretary but everybody knows what I did.
Lattomus: My husband graduated from Alexis I. too. His whole family graduated from Alexis I. and three of the wives did. High school romances, eh.
Scafidi: If you were Catholic where did you go to school?
Lattomus: You went to St. Joseph's.
Scafidi: And if you wanted to go to high school?
Lattomus: You either went to Alexis I., or to one of the Catholic high schools in Wilmington. St. Joseph’ s only had to the 8th grade. My husband, when he first started it was to the school over here at Montchanin. When we lived in the Upper Banks we were supposed to go to the Montchanin school, but we never did. I don't know how we got away with the it .
Walls: Because we started down at Alexis I.
Lattomus: We had started down at Alexis I. and then we moved up to the Upper Banks.
Walls: It's a long walk.
Wilkinson: To Montchanin?
Lattomus: Well, we walked from Mrs. Crowninshield's down to Alexis I.; the middle school; they didn't have these school buses and all these things when we went to school.
Wilkinson: What was your route?
Lattomus: We came right up, what we called the Stable Road then. You know that road that came right up. They called it the Stable Road because it went right down to the barn and the stables. At certain times of the year, all the way up and down, they had these bags drying on the fences. What were those bags for?
Wilkinson: Saltpeter bags.
Lattomus: So, they called it the Stable Road. We came right up there as far as Hunter's Corner and then turned and went right on down to Alexis I.
Wilkinson: We heard some stories, I guess it was Les Mathewson, that they used to cut across...well, they came from Breck's Lane and they used to cut across in back of the old cooper's shop and across the railroad.
Walls: That's a short cut.
Lattomus: We could go that way but it wasn't any shorter for us because you had to go down Breck's Lane and then cut across and then up through Squirrel kin and up these steps and on across. It was so zig-zag, back and forth that we didn't go that way. Every once in a while we were fortunate enough that somebody would give us a ride. You weren't afraid to get in with people. Mrs. Paul du Pont had one of those little electric cars and Mrs. Carpenter used to pick us up too.
Wilkinson: They both still drive them.
Lattomus: I know. Isn't it miraculous! I saw Mrs. Carpenter the other day.
Walls: A couple of years ago she bumped into my brother at Wilcastle. He was doing a job down there, and she didn't know it of course. She left a little sign on his car saying "I bumped you." She didn't do any damage, but she was so pleased when he went up to see her because she knew all of our family. That's another thing that I think might be of interest and I think you've heard it. At Christmas she always had a Christmas party, Mrs. Carpenter, for all the children in the neighborhood. It didn't matter whether she knew you or whether she didn't but all the children in that neighborhood were invited.
Wilkinson: Would you go up to Dilwyne?
Lattomus: Yes. Well, to her old home. She didn't have that big skating rink and all that then. You went to the house and she had a huge Christmas tree and gifts and the girls always got a pocketbook with a dollar or two new dollar bills in it. That was a highlight; we couldn't wait for Christmas. That was our spending money for the year.
Wilkinson: I've heard of this from Alfred I.'s side. He did this sort of thing down at Breck's Lane. We didn't know Mrs. Carpenter did it also.
Lattomus: Yes, Mrs. Carpenter did it. You got invited I think, until You were 12 or 14.
Walls: Oh, you were older than that.
Lattomus: Well, somewhere around there. And then when you reached a certain age that was it. She was very good to the neighborhood children.
Scafidi: Were most of the du Ponts this way?
Lattomus: Well, Mr. Henry du Pont was; and I imagine the old Colonel was, but that would come in another interview and my husband could tell you more about that because as I told you...I know that Mr. du Pont has always done it until they were 16. I imagine now that the Foundation has taken it over and being a tax-free organization it would have to go by the board. We haven't gotten that far in our approach yet, so we'll have to wait and see.
Wilkinson: Mrs. E. Paul or Mr. E. Paul took over what was known as the Second Office and made it their home.
Lattomus: Yes. That house on the top of the hill.
Wilkinson: Right Opposite the cemetery?
Lattomus: Yes. You know there were so many of those homes that were vacant for so long where J. Simpson Dean lives, you know where that is? Now, who lived there?
Walls: Lammot du Pont.
Lattomus: Lammot? That was vacant for years.
Walls: No, no it wasn't Lammot...yes, it was!
Lattomus: Well, that was vacant for years, and where Mr. I and Mrs. Laird lives over...
Lattomus: Yes, Well, of course they called it Chicken Alley. I think at times she still does.
Walls: It was all boarded up when we were kids.
Lattomus: And then there was another place called the Bradford place. It was a big frame place, but I think it was torn down, of course across from where the Seitz girls live that used to be the first Sunday School.
Wilkinson: Well, they live in the building that was the Sunday School.
Lattomus: Yes. But then across from them there was a house...
Wilkinson: A big white frame house. We call that the Belin house.
Lattomus: Well, it was a yellow house then and when we had to move from Hunter's Corner there was a debate about moving that house up to the corner where the gates are that go into the Yard. They were going to move that house up there for us and then they were going to fix the house up where Louise Carpenter...they were going to fix that up.
Walls: You know, we got the nicest letter from Mrs. Paul du Pont when my brother died.
Wilkinson: Recently? Within the last few months?
Lattomus: Yes, in March. She is a lovely woman.
Walls: She said that she was down along the Brandywine and she heard these children whooping and hollering and somebody said, "Bill fell in." So, she went and got a rake and she fished him out and she said from that time there was always a warm friendship.
Walls: And there was. She'd call him if anything went wrong and he'd go up to talk to her and tell her.Synopsis: Walls talks about how their grandmother was H.A. du Pont's nurse when he was a child. They talk about their education and how they finished high school at Alexis I. while their parents went to the Yellow School and stopped their education early. Lattomus explains that their brothers stopped after their junior year so that they could learn a trade. Walls talks about her career working for an optometrist and explains that she had always wanted to be a nurse. They talk about what it was like to get two and from school. They talk about Christmas celebrations that the du Pont family organized for local children.Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School (Wilmington, Del.); Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School; Du Pont, H. A. (Henry Algernon), 1838-1926; Du Pont, Henry Francis, 1880-1969; Montchanin (Del.: Village); Yellow School (Wilmington, Del.)
- Sneaking into the powder yard as a child; Accounting for the du Pont farm; Explosions at Hagley; Fun and gamesPartial Transcript: Lattomus: You know when my husband used to come down to see me, we started going together when we were sixteen; in fact, I met him when we were twelve, but I started going with him when we were sixteen and married him when I was 21. I said, you know, I can't remember life without that man. We used to take him in the canoe; we had a canoe, and we'd take him up to Rockland and he would walk from Rockland to his home. He lived up around Rockland. Well, we lived where Backers live now because we moved down there just before I was sixteen. My father used to always tell us a story when we were younger, I guess that was to keep us out of the powder yards, that one man got blown up in an explosion and he was walking around with a wheelbarrow looking for his head. That was just an old wives' tale but you know it kept us pretty much out of where we shouldn't be. And then where we lived in the big house on the hill my brother and I were a little too young to go to school; well, he wasn't but it was so far that I think he went every other day. But we used to get in the wagons and go over to the barn, as I say I was only about five years old and he was six or seven. Well, they would let us get in the wagons and pretend they didn't know it, and we'd get under the seat and hide and think we'd get into the powder yards. They had gates up there then, do they still have them?
Wilkinson: No, they're gone.
Lattomus: Well, there used to be gates there. There was a road ran along that way; see I haven't been back over that way for a longtime. I've viewed the Library from the cemetery. We went over after Mr. du Pont died to show our grandchildren where Mr. du Pont was buried and of course we had a bird's eye view of the Library and the place then.
Wilkinson: I'd like you to come and walk around because I think there are some things you could identify.
Lattomus: I'm sure there are.
Walls: It's a shame that if the Library is where our house was that you don't have the boxwood. All that boxwood down at J. Thompson Brown's -- we took it down there, and when we moved away from there we took one little Pussy Willow tree that Poppy wanted and she raised heck.
Lattomus: Well, Mrs. Thompson Brown was sorta that way.
Walls: All that boxwood down there at J. Thompson Brown's – it come from our house up there -- the boss farmer's home -- and you can still see the stone -- our front stone step is still down at Brown's, they have never taken that out. That was our step. That's where the house went, all the way along there. And there for a while the pump and all was still there. But my father was the first boss farmer to start some of the things that they did. He sold potatoes for them, none of the others ever did; and they were kept down in our basement. Of course they were just ground floors then. Then he also started the cord wood. And sold it for them, so much for a cord of wood.
Wilkinson: When you say that, do you mean for the Company?
Walls: For the farm; for the du Pont farm. The Hagley. My father was not a graduate from high school but he was very good at figures be-cause he had to go down to Hagley many and many a time to straighten them out because they had the farm in the red and the farm was away ahead. They didn't keep their accounts separate. They were trying to make the farm look bad when the farm was up and better than it had ever been with not only the men working in the powder yards and hiring the teams but the potatoes and the wood and the corn and all. You have a picture of the corn, don't you? (188.8.131.52)
Lattomus: It's not corn, it's wood. It does look like corn, but it's wood.
Wilkinson: Who was in charge of the Hagley office when your father had these problems?
Walls: I know Dan Cauffield was Poppa's boss.
Lattomus: But he was in the Wilmington office.
Walls: Yes, but he came out there. He always came out there to straighten them out. There was no big boss down there.
Wilkinson: Does the name Curlett or Collinson mean anything to you?
Walls: I truly don't know. I used to sit down there and watch him with the figuring up and he'd say, "Kid, they're wrong." Curlett lived in the house opposite Don Ross. Mamma worked for them at one time.
Wilkinson: Does John Macklem ring a bell?
Walls: I don't...I've heard...
Wilkinson: Roger Wilson?
Lattomus: Didn't Momma work for Macklem?
Wall: Roger Wilson, I do remember his name.
Wilkinson: He was boss of the Hagley Yard.
Wall: He was boss for the Hagley Yard but I don't think he was in the office down there.
Lattomus: Was he any relation to Paul Wilson?
Wilkinson: You saw where young Paul...?
Lattomus: I just saw where young Paul Wilson died.
Walls: Oh, his father was a wonderful person. I remember him well.
Wilkinson: We have heard several people talk so nicely about him. He was Mrs. Buck's first husband.
Walls: He was a wonderful person. Well, she went with Buck and Paul Wilson both. I remember that well because they used to come down to Fleming's barn right next to Hunter's and that Fleming's barn was moved over on the Hoopes' place...back in there. That’ s Fleming's barn. A couple of them burned down. That was right next to us. And every night when I went to bed I'd say in my prayers, "Please don't let that barn burn down." Well, it was so close to our house, you know.
Lattomus: The time I remember when it burned down, I don't remember if it did before, but we lived up there at this place near the Library.
Walls: It was set on fire, though.
Wilkinson: You know the story of the barn burners?
Lattomus: Yes, yes. There was quite an article about that.
(Dr. Wilkinson here gave a brief summary of the article on the barn burners)
Walls: Well, I remember...I don't know what year it was but I was in about the third or fourth grade and there was a terrific explosion down there and it shook the windows down at Alexis I. and I forget how many men were killed that time.
Walls: I've run all the way home from Alexis I.
Lattomus: Oh, when there was an explosion they would let us out. You know it wasn't very big because when I graduated in 1926 there were only fourteen in our graduating class, so there were quite a number of the children whose parents either worked right in the mills or were closely associated. You know, drove wagons or something like that, so they would dismiss the school because they might just as well, because the children were all frantic to get home to see if their fathers were safe.
Walls: We had two uncles that drove in the powder yards.
Wilkinson: What were their names?
Lattomus: Robert Betty and William Snyder.
Walls: Their picture is in there with Poppa. The two men that drove, their pictures are in there with Poppa. (69.105.4.l) I can't remember the times I've run home from school. The kids used to help pick pieces up in a basket in the field.
Wilkinson: The two explosions that would be appropriate to your period down there would be the one in 1915 and then again the day after New Year's Day 1920.
Lattomus: Yes, well, I graduated in 1926.
Walls: Which was the one that Elmer Compson was in? He was in my class at school and he quit; he was one of the ones killed.
Lattomus: I don't know. There were some women killed in that one.
Wilkinson: The only time we know of women employees working in the mills was in the World War I period.
Lattomus: Yes, well one went up then because there was a lot killed then.
Walls: Do they still have the swinging bridge?
Wilkinson: You mean across the creek? No, they're gone. The only bridge is the iron...
Walls: we used to go across it when it was really dangerous, you know what I mean, but that was there for years.
Wilkinson: What would you be doing on the other side of the creek? Just to wander around in the woods and play?
Walls: Yes. I swam across the Brandywine here at the dam one time. But I couldn't do it now.
Lattomus: I went over the dam one time. We used to swim right down there by that dam.
Walls: You couldn't walk across there, and down there where that swinging bridge was, that was really deep. We used to dive off it, too.
Wilkinson: Now, the swinging bridge we know about was in the Upper Yard, just above the dam, about 100 yards.
Lattomus: Yes, not too far from Mrs. Carpenter's ground. Then we used to go over there, wasn't it around Chicken Alley that they had the chestnut tree?
Wilkinson: What did you do about the chestnut tree. Pick chestnuts?
Lattomus: Oh, yes. That was before the blight hit them. They had some sort of a blight and all the chestnuts went. We had a huge one down there at the Thompson Browns. Oh, it was a great big chestnut tree. The regular ones, not horse chestnuts, the ones you could eat.
Scafidi: Here's a question. What did you do for fun?
Lattomus: For fun. When we lived up at the Upper Banks there was quite a neighborhood then: plenty of children: and the boys played ball and we had swings and we had a huge scarlet bush. I don't know what the name was and if it is still there or not and we played "chaser" over there by that bush and "tag" and just the things that children do. No record players even. We got a record player, I think, during the first World War when we moved down to Hunter's Corner. My father didn't want it and my mother insisted on buying it and in about two months he was the only one that ever played it. Everybody got sick of it.
Walls: I often wonder what the children would do if everything was taken away from them.
Wilkinson: You made your own fun.
Lattomus: We made our own fun and of course there were games and there was always at least four of us. My sisters were a little older, but my brothers and I, we were just within two years of each other. So we were pretty compatible.
Wilkinson: Who were your immediate neighbors?
Lattomus: Up at the Upper Banks? On one side were people by the name of Dougherty, they were Catholic and went to St. Joe's. And on the other side were people named Toomey and he was killed in the powder mill. They were Catholic; they went to St. Joe's. They had younger children, I mean children around our age. Of course we never thought of them as being Catholic. They were just neighbors and that's the way we treated them.
Walls: It didn't enter the picture. There was no fussing going on like things between black and white now.
Wilkinson: Did you ever hear the story that one of those taverns down on Creek Road had a Protestant bar and a Catholic bar? We picked this up in an interview with some "old timer” and we handled it as a story.
Lattomus: No, no...I know there used to be a saloon right on the corner of Church Street, right below the church, called Lawless's saloon.
Walls: Yes, but that wasn't old. That was built in my time.
Lattomus: No, that wasn't old. And then of course the Columbus Inn.
Wilkinson: Where do you mean by Church Street?
Lattomus: Well, by St. Joseph's. They called that Church Street.
Wilkinson: Oh, Route #141.Synopsis: Lattomus describes sneaking into the powder yard as a child. Lattomus talks about her father's job and accounting for the du Pont farm. She says that some years the farms made more money than Hagley. They talk about how explosions at Hagley meant that school ended early so that the students could check on their fathers. They describe some of the games they played as children.Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School (Wilmington, Del.); Explosions; Farms; Games; Hagley Yard
- Location of Lawless' tavern and Prohibition; Description of Eleutherian Mills when they lived therePartial Transcript: Lattomus: Yes.
Wilkinson: Oh, that was Lawless's Tavern. Father Lawless's father ran it.
Lattomus: Yes, they built a house, they had a house up on Route #52 here, right on the corner. The Lawlesses built that house and then after they died they rented it to John Jemy, the one who was Louise Carpenter's ex-husband. He and three bachelors used to live there.
Wilkinson: That would be right at the corner where the Rectory is now?
Lattomus: It's torn down. No, no, it's the corner up this way. On the Kennett Pike. It was right on the corner. There was a big stone house. Lawless built that and they always said, "Yes, they built it on all the poor men's money; the poor wagoners who couldn't afford it and I said, "Well, they went down there of their own accord. He didn't lasso them in." They went of their own free will.
Scafidi: Was there a big prohibitionist movement around with Irish people?
Lattomus: If there had been my mother would have been at the head of it because she was a complete teetotaler. My father used to drink and I guess she got him out of it, because I never remember him drinking.
Walls: He took the pledge and never broke it.
Lattomus: But they say he used to put on some capers. We have no inhibitions, we are telling you exactly how it was.
Wilkinson: You were speaking of playing and so on. You were not allowed in the powder yard; you were told not to go in. There was a big high board fence separating the area?
Lattomus: Yes, and then the gates.
Walls: And wire and all.
Wilkinson: Oh, there was wire?
Lattomus: And there used to be a spring house.
Walls: Oh, yes.
Wilkinson: Just down from Mrs. Crowninshield's house?
Lattomus: No, no. This was another one, up where we lived on the hill there. There were the three houses, there was a springhouse down there.
Wilkinson: Near some stables? Were there a few stables there?
Wilkinson: There is an old springhouse that is close to the line of the Carpenters' property but the water has been tested and found to be unsafe.
Walls: That's it. That's where it was.
Wilkinson: We have it posted as "Don't Drink." But the building is still there.
Lattomus: Well, we never drank the water, but we used to use it; you know, Momma used to make root beer and things like that.
Lattomus: We never drank the water. We had a pump right out by this house. I think you were interested in the layout of the house down on Wagoner's Row. Well, this house, as you can see, had a front porch and it was just full of porches. It had a front porch and then it had a side porch and then it had...one of these original split levels, I guess, because right outside the door was a pump and that was where we sat our water. And then there was a step down, we went down and there was a huge basement kitchen; a great big kitchen and then one step down was the cellar, which was unusual in those days. You know, the cellar had a concrete floor. (184.108.40.206)
Walls: The cellar was under the front of the house, you know, the living room and dining room. All the way across and it was concrete.
Lattomus: And it was a big kitchen and a big cellar. I remember that because when my sister was married that's where we had the reception in the kitchen and the cellar because it was so big. And then we had to go upstairs to a sitting room. And the sitting...
Wilkinson: You were on a slope of course, and the slope made it necessary...?
Lattomus: Yes, and then we went upstairs and it was what we called a setting room and a parlor and then that was all that was on that floor.
Walls: No, there was a great big dining room above the kitchen.
Lattomus: And a dining room.
Walls: Which we didn't use as a dining room, we used it more as a sitting room.
Lattomus: Well, that's what I said. A setting room. Because we used the kitchen and then if we had extra company they'd just put a table up in the cellar because it was just adjoining, almost one big room.
Wilkinson: What were your cooking arrangements?
Lattomus: Well, we just had a coal stove. Wood in the summer and coal in the winter. And the house was just heated by these big stoves.
Wilkinson: Big pot-bellied iron stoves?
Walls: We had those drums that went up from the kitchen.
Lattomus: Yes, you know that the heat went up through a radiator, a place in the floor that you could open or close it. And Mal, you'll have to go to the bedrooms. I can't remember that.
Walls: Well, the second floor was a dining room, a living room, it was three rooms, and then you went upstairs and we had one great, big bedroom in the back over the kitchen and the dining room. It was one big bedroom, because in the wintertime my mother and them had their bedroom Suite in it and another big double bed because when we were kids and it was cold she packed us in there in that bed, but there was two other bedrooms on the front that in the summertime we'd use. But in the wintertime we were all in there because there was a great big hole where the drum came up from the second floor. We had heat in there. It was warm in there see, and we could get undressed. Of course-we were all little.
Lattomus: That house didn't have any fireplaces in it, did it?
Walls: No fireplaces, but oh my, the walls were thick. And the windowsills, they were this wide.
Wilkinson: About 3 feet, 2 1/2 feet, 3 feet?
Walls: Dr. Wertenbaker, he was the one with a little mustache, came out to see my father one time when he was sick. And my father had an old-fashioned little thing, it looks like...it had one drawer and the glass; you could move it any place. And he had it sitting up on the windowsill and he'd take it down, put it on the table, you know, to shave and he went crazy over that. He would have given them any amount of money for that thing.
Wilkinson: To have as an antique of some unusual interest?
Walls: Do you know where it is? In my attic.
Lattomus: You better go up in your attic.
Walls: I am. Some day I'm going to take the varnish off it and Set a new glass and that's going to be given to one of the boys. That belongs to one of the Betty boys-
Lattomus: There's a little item of interest. My aunt lived with us when we lived at what we called Crowninshield's; I'll refer to it as that, it is easier for me to say it. We had that back stairway; I presume it is still there. We used that, we didn't use the downstairs, the first floor, the basement. The floor we used was level and that side door where we went in was our pantry and the next room to it was our kitchen. Well, there was a stairway went up there. She had a room on the second floor and then she had one on the third; on the second floor she used that for her living quarters; this was my old maid aunt on my father's side. And this little stove I have she cooked on it. That is the identical stove. Now it is not hooked up of course, because we don't have a chimney. We just thought it was a conversation piece. But she did use that for cooking.
Scafidi: Well, while we are on this. These are copies of very old plans, about 1815, of the house. Perhaps if we put these out on the table and move the microphone, maybe you could tell us what was or what wasn't still there. This is the first floor.
Lattomus: Oh, this is Mrs. Crowninshield's. And this is where we came in; this is the main entrance. Well, this was here and this was where we had the folding doors.
Scafidi: Into "Biderman's room?"
Lattomus: We don't know.
Scafidi: We have to call it what it is on there because...
Lattomus: Well, this is what we used for our sitting room. The room next to it, there were folding doors there and that was our dining room.
Scafidi: Did it still have the closet on the wall?
Lattomus: No, see, out here was a door and there was another room there and that was our kitchen.
Walls: A big kitchen out here and a pantry.
Wilkinson: This was the wing of the house you are describing now?
Lattomus: Yes. And through that door -- not the front door, but there's a door on the side and you went right in there and that was a pantry and that was a kitchen, then there was a door that went into the dining room, and the dining room was there, and there were folding doors; this was the sitting room and then there was a door from both the sitting room and the dining room into the hall again. And then on the other side was what we called the parlor.
Scafidi: Was this small corridor back here, or had this wall been taken out?
Lattomus: No, when you went out...
Scafidi: That's what I was wondering. This could be your door into your kitchen.
Lattomus: Well, there was no corridor there. This was all one room and that was our door into the kitchen.
Walls: And there were the windows that looked out onto the Brandywine.
Lattomus: That's right. This was all together except just separated to make two rooms.
Wilkinson: Now, when you came to the stairway, we understand that when Mrs. Crowinshield redid the house she bought this lovely spiral staircase from somewhere else and had it installed. How did you get up to the next level?
Lattomus: No, that stairway went clear to the third floor when we were there. She didn't do it. (She related to John Scafidi on telephone that she was mistaken. Stairway was not same.)
Wilkinson: Was it a spiral?
Lattomus: Yes, circular we called it.
Scafidi: Was there anything unusual about the way it was built? Or did it seem like a unique thing?
Lattomus: The stairway. It was a beautiful thing. That's what she's saying, we used to slide down the railing.
Walls: That's what I told you about in the beginning.
Wilkinson: Presently there is a kitchen off to the left of the stairway and then the dining room over here. What was over here?
Lattomus: Well, see this was the parlor and there was a door into there; this was a great big room, one big room, that we didn't use. They always called it the ballroom. Mamma said that's where they danced when she used to go to dances. They called it the ballroom.
Scafidi: Then, when the Clubhouse was there? That would have been the ballroom?
Mrs. Lattomus: That would have been the ballroom. Now, in here there was a door; I don't know where the door was, but there was a door. Does this go downstairs?
Lattomus: Yes. Well, there was a door here and we went in here, and then there was the stairway that went down. Here was just a little...we thought it was originally maybe like a butler's pantry or something. But my mother made it into a little sewing room. She used that as a sewing room. And then of course, you went into this door, into this other big room again. As I said, we didn't use it.
Wilkinson: It is a pantry and a dish storage area because it leads right into the dining room.
Lattomus: Yes. Well, of course, as I said our dining room was over here; right next to the kitchen.
Wilkinson: And that presently is fitted out pretty much, I guess you would call it a smoking room. A room where ship models and pictures of Lafayette...it's a real man's room.
Lattomus: And then of course, this had French doors and this we always loved.
Walls: We had a big long table. How many did we have up there...seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven?
Scafidi: Tables out on the terrace?
Lattomus: No, we mean in our dining room. Out here we just had chairs and of course it wasn't closed in or anything. But it was such a lovely view of the Brandywine.
Wilkinson: It is all one big room now.
Lattomus: Well, see it was two. It had these folding doors that you could open or close.
Walls: And it was divided in half and they had these accordion doors. But this was an enormous big living room.
Lattomus: No, they weren't accordion; they were sliding. I don't think they had them way back then. But these were just the doors that slid together.
Scafidi: What kind of floors were in there? Do you remember?
Lattomus: Well, uh, I don't know. I know when we went up there my mother cleaned them all up and I think she stained them, didn't she? Or varnished them or something?
Walls: I believe she did.
Mrs. Lattomus: I don't know if it was the same or not. Of course in the rooms we had rugs, but in the hall we didn't.
Scafidi: Do you remember what kind of shape the walls were in? Were they cracked or did it show signs of being an old house?
Lattomus: Well, they fixed it up pretty much. It was when we first went up there. It looked like a wreck because when the Guards moved out they just moved out and we had junk and everything else to haul out of there. As far as the walls and things were concerned I think they did fix those up but as far as the floors and anything else and painting, we had to do that ourselves.
Wilkinson: What year did you move into the house, do you remember?
Lattomus: Well, Mal, I was about eleven...
Walls: I just know that it was my high school days and that I graduated when we were up there.
Lattomus: Well, we had high school parties up there.
Walls: It was after the war when we moved up there.
Lattomus: You graduated in '21. We were up there before that.
Scafidi: Did you move in as the Guards moved out?
Walls: It wasn't too long after. No one else moved in.
Lattomus: No one else moved in. But it was vacant for a good while.Synopsis: They discuss the location of Lawless' tavern and the prohibition movement. They describe what it was like to live in Eleutherian Mills during the early 1920s. They say that the house was empty for a long time after they moved out and before the Crowninshields moved in. They compare 1815 floor plans of the home to the house as they remembered it. They say that, before they lived there, soldiers who guarded Hagley during World War I had lived there. They say that after they left it was vacant for several years.Keywords: Eleutherian Mills (Greenville, Del. : Estate); Lawless' tavern; Prohibition; Wagoner's Row (Del.: Village); World War (1914-1918)
- Father's work for Mrs. Crowninshield; Describing the second floor of Eleutherian Mills when they lived therePartial Transcript: Wilkinson: Had Colonel Henry bought it from the Company?
Lattomus: Yes. And then my father went to work for Mrs. Crowninshield, he didn't work for anyone for about a year because he had race horses and he took them around to different fairs...Allentown. My father did. Sulky racers. He didn't work for anyone for about a year. I think that, the Colonel had bought it but they hadn't taken it over. I mean as such. And then, of course, after she did take it over they built that house down where the Beckers live and we moved down there. Now, my aunt and mother used to sort of clean when Mrs. Crowninshield was coming home. She used to go up and help get the house in order.
Wilkinson: What was your father's job, boss farmer for Mrs.Crowninshield?
Lattomus: No. He was just sort of like caretaker, I would say. And of course, he was there a few years and she decided she needed someone a little more active and so we moved; they moved back shortly after I came back from my honeymoon. They built a home down where they still are...Colonial Park. We've been down there forty years.
Wilkinson: What name did you give the residence? How was it spoken of ...Eleutherian Mills?
Lattomus: The Homestead.
Wilkinson: Because it was...?
Lattomus: It was the original homestead and of course until latter years it wasn't Mrs. Crowninshield's. We didn't refer to it as that. Of course that's what the name really was, but all the local people just called it the Homestead. You can see on that picture it says office and homestead. Of course, that office was a wreck. Even the whole time we lived there nothing was ever done to it.
Wilkinson: It was closed up about 1891.
Lattomus: Oh yes, it was supposed to be closed when we lived there, but...
Wilkinson: You know she made it into a guest house for overflow guests. And we've redone it and made it an office again.
Lattomus: Well, I knew. We were down about a year ago and took my daughter and grandchildren because they had never seen it. Of course, we had talked so many times of having lived there and felt it was quite...I might have enjoyed it more had I known it was going down in history.
Scafidi: We have a second floor plan here; was this much different or were the same general rooms there?
Lattomus: Now, here's where we come up the stairs and here's the hallway. This was our room and this was similar to downstairs and this was my mother's and father's room. It had a door between...
Walls: I don't know if it had a sliding door or not; but there was a door between our rooms, I know. But this was the same as downstairs. This front bedroom was the same as the sitting room. The dining room was our bedroom. It looked down over the water. We could look down over the creek, the Brandywine from our windows.
Lattomus: Now, right next to mamma's room -- this must be the one where grandma lived, or slept.
Wilkinson: Looking right over the front doorway?
Walls: Yes, there was a small room right next to the big one.
Lattomus: Right next to Mamma's. She put her right close because she was elderly and if she had any problems during the night, because the bathroom was away over here, you see, and we were always afraid of her tottering down the steps and she was right here where it says room for the young children, so that must be the same. It was quite a small room. We didn't see the upstairs because it wasn't finished, they told us. So we didn't see it.
Wilkinson: You must come and see how we've fixed it up.
Lattomus: And over here, this went down on the porch and this is where my brothers climbed up there...and then there was a bathroom in here some place at the head of the stairs here. I don't know just where.
Walls: And this was all one big bedroom.
Lattomus: And then this. There was another bedroom there.
Walls: You know the end of the house where her dining room was, well there was a bedroom there.
Lattomus: Here it is. See, this one went all the way across. So, these two rooms here? Well, this was just one room, like the ballroom downstairs; the upstairs layout was almost the same as the downstairs. With the little place, it was a closet, I guess, and they made a bathroom out of it. It was the only bathroom we had.
Scafidi: It was either a big closet or a small bathroom.
Walls: We had two men that rented this room and they each had double beds, so you know it was a big...
Lattomus: It was quite a large room. My mother had boarders and they slept here. One of them was a guard that had been there during the war.
Walls: Mr. Metz. He looked like a colonel too.
Lattomus: He stayed on. He didn't want to move away. He stayed on and went to work for a furniture company.
Walls: Mr. Cecil. Morgan Cecil.
Wilkinson: Were there any vestiges of the old Clubhouse? Furnishings or...?
Lattomus: No, there wasn't anything at all.
Scafidi: We understood that there had been a barber shop on the first floor.
Lattomus: Well, that was gone. There wasn't anything like that when we moved there. Of course, the guards had been in there since that and if there was anything of that type they probably tore it out to make room for the men.
Wilkinson: For example, we have been told that there was a wing added, a frame wing, to the downstream side of the house for a bowling alley.
Lattomus: Well, there might have been, but that I...
Wilkinson: In the library, there was a place for the men to shower.
Lattomus: Well, I wouldn't...I would have thought if there was a shower and things like that at that time, that they certainly wouldn't have dispensed with them when the guards were coming in. They would certainly need them, now I'm not questioning that there wasn't one, but I could see no point in tearing it out.
Wilkinson: There was a lapse of some years. I believe that the Clubhouse may have gone out of existence as the Brandywine Workmen's Club approximately 1910. The guards didn't come in until 1917,18 there is a span of some seven years.
Lattomus: Yes. That's what I told you, Mal, there was more...you said there was...
Walls: I can't think of the people that used to live up there and they probably were the ones that lived there before...
Lattomus: That lived in the Clubhouse?
Walls: Yes, they lived in the Clubhouse.
Lattomus: Well, that's before my time. I don't go back quite that far.
Walls: I know they lived there and I don't know how long, but they are the only ones I remember living up there. And I would remember them living there because after all I was, I must have been ten years old.
Wilkinson: Was he a farmer, Mr. Clower or was he a property man or...?
Walls: I don't know whether he worked, I don't really know. There were quite a few, the daughter and the mother and I don't know how many lived there, there was more than two people there. I do not know that that was their name.
Wilkinson: And after them the soldiers came and then you people.
Lattomus: Well, there was a lapse there of I don't know how long, before then. Of course, the farm owned Hunter's Corner and Wagoner's Row and all that. That was all farm and that's the reason each time they sold something we'd move. How many houses did we live in? We lived in that one when I was a baby and we lived up Where we called it the Collins house, because that was his name, the boss farmer before my father, and then of course, The Homestead; there were three houses right within that little area of a half a mile. They couldn't pry us loose too far. And then, of course, two places on Wagoner's Row. Hunter's Corner and Wagoner's Row and Squirrel Run, so you can see within a radius of about ten miles we were hedgehopping.
Scafidi: Were you pretty unusual to be moving that often or by that time were people...
Lattomus: Well, people were moving and of course so many times it was through no fault of the Company, it was no fault of course. When they moved us out from up the Upper Banks it was a whole village that moved. It was just "gung ho” you were all gone, you see.
Wilkinson: Yes. A change of operations made it necessary.
Lattomus: Then of course when they sold the Hunter's Corner to the Browns and then Wagoner’ s Row...well it was after, it was quite a long time after we moved from Wagoner’ s Row. We lived two other places before Carpenters bought that.
Scafidi: Back to the Homestead. Did you have electric lights?
Lattomus: Yes, and a telephone. And a bathroom.
Scafidi: What kind of stove was in the kitchen?
Lattomus: We had a coal stove and you know right alongside of the kitchen there, there used to be a bed of peat. They had peat right there.
Wilkinson: Did they use that as a fuel?
Walls: Yes, remember the boys used to go out...
Lattomus: You know as you go in the kitchen door; well, down there was a real low place and down in there was some peat. But we used primarily wood and coal. We had a stove in the kitchen and we had a stove in the dining room and living room. Now, we didn't bother with the parlor. I don't think we had any stove over there because we didn't use it too much.
Walls: Not in the Wintertime.
Wilkinson: Only for very special occasions?
Walls: There was a fireplace over there.
Lattomus: And upstairs we just had stoves in the rooms.
Wilkinson: Now the basement today has the kitchen in it and a lot of utilities down there. What did the basement consist of...?
Lattomus: It had a big old broken-down furnace and that was all. It was originally, before Mrs. Crowninshield took it, when the people lived there, I suppose it was a kitchen and just like she finally fixed it up again. But there was nothing down there when we lived there; we just used it for storage.
Walls: To tell you the truth I don't think I was ever down there, not often.
Lattomus: No, well there wasn't much reason. We'd go down there once in a while and sweep it up because there was a nice porch down there too. And we were down there when we went on this little visit about a year ago. And of course we had seen it numerous times before that; I don't know whether they changed anything after Mrs. Crowninshield died, but as I said we were in there quite a bit when my father worked there. We'd go up and when I was a young girl I'd go up and help them dust. We didn't have any actual hard scrubbing or anything, Just airing the house and taking off the dust covers and...
Wilkinson: We tried to keep the house pretty much as she did.
Lattomus: The downstairs, I know, looked a lot like...it didn't look like when we left it, but it did like when she left it.
Wilkinson: What do you remember about Mrs. Crowninshield as a person?
Lattomus: she was a very...we11, I don't have to tell you what she was personally, She was a big woman and we never came in contact too much with her because she wasn't there too much of the year. And when she did she just...
Wilkinson: What seasons of the year did she come?
Lattomus: Well, she came in the spring and in the fall. She was never there in the winter, not to my knowledge. Not while we were there. My father only worked for her for about three years. We didn't come into actual contact with her.
Wilkinson: Did you ever hear the stories about the promise she made the Colonel about the house?
Wilkinson: Well, when he bought the property he made her promise that if he were going to give her the property that she would occupy the house a certain number of weeks each year.
Lattomus: Oh well, she did that, but I didn't know it was of necessity; I thought she just enjoyed it.
Wilkinson: Maybe it was just an agreement.
Walls: He had...now, between us, he had a time getting that back.
Wilkinson: From the Company?
Walls: From the Company, and he said that it would never go out of the family again. So, they had it fixed that no one else was going to get it.
Lattomus: Well, the way it is is a lovely idea.
Wilkinson: You mean the Foundation?Synopsis: They talk about their father's work for Mrs. Crowninshield as a caretaker. They say that they didn't call her home "Eleutherian Mills" instead they referred to it as "The Homestead." They talk about what the second floor of the home was like in the years that they lived there. They says that since they lived there they enjoyed the benefits of indoor plumbing. They talk about what they can remember of the house being used as the Brandywine Workmen's Club. They talk about the guards that lived there during World War I. They talk about how often they moved to different du Pont family-owned residences. They continue to discuss their memories of Eleutherian Mills in the time that they lived there. They talk about the house in the first years that Mrs. Crowninshield owned it.Keywords: Brandywine Workmen's Club; Crowninshield, Louise du Pont, 1877-1958; Eleutherian Mills (Greenville, Del. : Estate); In door plumbing; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Wagoner's Row (Del.: Village); World War (1914-1918)
- Restoring a working man's house; Visiting the Hagley Museum and LibraryPartial Transcript: Lattomus: Yes. The only thing is that I think it is such a pity that the working men have actually been forgotten. All these elaborately furnished homes of the wealthy certainly doesn't give any indication of how the people lived that did the work. It's the same way with Wagoner's Row; the same way as Rockland. I shed a bucket of tears over those houses, it was such a pity. They said it was too expensive, but it was such a pity that they didn't take out one that maybe was pretty good. Now Bobby Carpenter did keep that one house, but of course that is no indication either because the house never looked like that when the workmen lived in it, and to me you have no...
Scafidi: This is one of the reasons we are trying to find out what each of the houses you lived in looked like. Whether you had electricity when you were there, whether you...
Lattomus: Well, we didn't when we lived at Wagoner's Row and when we lived at Collins' we didn't have electricity. We had what they called the mantle lamps. You know, they were the rage then.
Walls: Do you know, Billy found this slip in Poppy's desk, We have one of those old rolled-top desks, he's taking the stuff off it, and he found this slip of paper from Chandler to William Betty for a mantle lamp - $10.00 plus 50¢ for what do you call those wicks, those white things that you...
Lattomus: When we lived at Hunter's Corner, I think that was the first time that we had electricity that I can remember. We had electricity, oh, we were "uptown". We had electricity and a telephone and when we first moved down there we had an outside "john" but they put an addition on the back of the house and we had a bathroom. So, we were the envy of the neighborhood. I tell you.
Wilkinson: On your comment about a workman's house: you are quite right; we have all been aware of this. But we do have on the property a road that is near the Seitz sisters, there is a house down the hill, the Stewart house, the Gibbons house: different names, we have it in a standby condition, but at some time we hope to furnish that exactly like a workman's house.
Lattomus: I think that would be marvelous. I really do.
Wilkinson: Then over on Walker's Bank where the Ferraros lived, there is a bank of six houses. That is our property, and possibly there, although that isn't as good for museum visitation because it is off our property.
Lattomus: Well, how about those houses down there near where Mathewson lives? Do you know where he..,?
Wilkinson: Yes, he lives down there behind Nemours.
Lattomus: Yes, right up next to the gate. I don't know what they look like now.
Wilkinson: Well, Mathewson lives in a big stone house, down at the slope of the hill.
Lattomus: Yes, but I meant the house that was right close to the gate.
Scafidi: Where Ted lived?
Wilkinson: Oh, yes. You mean the old Blacksmith shop. They are two houses that have been fitted up for two of our employees, Paul Grimes lives in one and a new man lives in another. Ed Sharpley. I'm sure you knew him. Ed lived in one for a long time.
Lattomus: Oh yes, his wife used to be a very faithful member of our Guild. I don't know if he married again or not. His first wife worked for Dan Shields for quite a number of years.
Wilkinson: Well, Ed and his second wife live down in Virginia now. He hasn't been well.
Lattomus: Oh well, he was still with you the last time we went through. Dan Shields insisted, he kept calling me up you know. Of course we were neighbors of his when I was just a kid and he kept calling us up, oh, maybe about two years ago...that he wanted to take us through, that he was allowed to take us through, a personal tour of the place and all this stuff. We kept putting him off be-cause we felt quite sure that he didn't have unlimited access to the place any more than we did. But we did go down and whoever was there was gracious enough to let us just walk through the hall. I said, when he got ahead that I was very embarrassed and I felt quite sure that he wasn't and that I knew the house a lot better than some of the people that were showing it to me. But he said, "Well, I'll and I said, "Well, that will satisfy him." And just let you in." Ed was, we went up along the drive there, and Ed was still working here then.
Wilkinson: He's been gone about six years now.
Lattomus: Oh, has he? I'm sure it's not been that long ago.
Wilkinson: Four to six years ago since he left.
Lattomus: Maybe four years ago. It didn't seem like it had been long. But Dan wasn't too well then.
Scafidi: I was going to say that we've been going somewhat more than an hour and after about an hour we tend to get garbled up. What I would like to do is take this thing back and see what we have, and see what we don't have, and then perhaps we could come back and talk to you again.Synopsis: Lattomus wishes that the museum had a recreation of a working man's house. Scafidi explains that this is one of the museum's goals. They describe some of their other houses and what it was like to get electricity, their own telephone, and indoor plumbing. Scafidi talks about current events at the museum.Keywords: Electricity; Hagley Museum and Library; Hunter's Corner; Wagoner's Row (Del.: Village)
- Homes in the area around Hagley; Army guards at Hagley Yard during World War IPartial Transcript: This is the second interview with Mrs. Lattomus and Mrs. Walls held on Wednesday, June 25, 1969 at Mrs. Lattomus's home on Kennett Pike. The interviewers were Norman B. Wilkinson and John Scafidi.
Lattomus: I don't know that we have too much more to add to what we said.
Wilkinson: Well, you know if you had been long-time DuPont Company employees, we'd have come Out here with a set of questions because the retirement office would have given us your profile of how long you'd worked, etc. Of course, we don't have that, so that means we may be talking around in circles. We haven't played back the last tape recording so we come somewhat a little cold to what we already discussed the last time. We may repeat ourselves and I hope you'll bear with us on this. There were a few things that we didn't pursue far enough. One was the Becker house, presently lived in by Chandler and Mrs. Becker. Was that standing as a residence when you lived on the place?
Lattomus: You mean when we lived in the...?
Wilkinson: When you were living in the Residence.
Lattomus: No, that was practically demolished. There were just the walls standing there.
Wilkinson: What had been there?
Lattomus: There had been a row of houses there. I don't recall how many. We lived in the big house, up on the hill, over there near where the Library is. I told you there were three houses there and people by the name of Toomey lived in one 3& amp; 2 before us. Now, I don't know who was the superintendent before Mr. Collins...
Walls: Mr. Collins.
Lattomus: But I knew Mr. Collins and whether there was one before that I had never heard. Now, on the other side there were people by the name of Dougherty and Dougherty and Toomey worked in the powder mills.
Wilkinson: Now, there was the Charcoal House, what was the old Charcoal House on that steep road used for? That would be almost opposite where you are describing now, I think. The Becker house today is just below that old Charcoal House. Does that help to fix it?
Lattomus: No, there wasn't any Charcoal House there that I remember. At that time there was these three big houses and we had a big garden and at the foot of that garden was this row of houses where the Becker house is now.
Walls: Wait, when we lived up in the big house on the hill below there were rows of houses. There was a lot of houses down there. You know where Becker's is? There was a row of houses on that side and opposite there was a whole row of houses because Godfreys, Wards and Hackendorns...
Wilkinson: In other words, it was like a little street, with houses on both sides?
Walls: Yes, both sides.
Wilkinson: Well, now, did that street continue on up the hill to the old First Office?
Walls: Yes. It come together and then there was one road that went on up by the office and in front of the barn; you know where I showed you when welcome down. That's three that I can remember...Godfreys, Hackendorns, Wards, and who...?
Lattomus: The Shields?
Walls: No, the Shields lived down from the Becker place.
Lattomus: It went like this; this row of houses. They went parallel. There was a row of houses here and then there were houses along this way that ended with the gate. Down that road where the lime house...you know, where that road is now. Well, up the hill there were no houses, nothing but this lime pit or lime kiln or something they called it. The row of houses went this way and this was the garden up here and then up here was the three large houses, up on the hill.
Scafidi: If we were to drive you out there, as we would like to do to have you go through the house, the Residence, could you place; where those houses were, approximately?
Lattomus: Oh, I think so.
Walls: I could. Yes.
Lattomus: What was this building, it was a great big building...when we lived up at the house and they built that house where we lived in; it's two houses now.
Walls: It was just sort of the walls standing and then Mrs. Crowninshield had that built after the old Colonel died. She either bought or inherited the property. I don't know which.
Wilkinson: I think he gave it to her.
Lattomus: I understood that, but I wasn't positive. She remodeled that house; not remodeled it because she practically built it from scratch.
Wilkinson: You are referring to the residence of Mrs. Crowninshield?
Walls: Where Beckers live. This was the house when we moved from the House, that's what we used to call it, the Homestead or whatever have you. We moved from there down to this house where Beckers live now. But that was all one house. It was new and it was all one house. It looked like two houses because it had two little porches, I guess they are still there. The one on the far end was our kitchen, the one on this end was our living room.
Scafidi: To make it into a double house they had to wall up the entrance way between...
Lattomus: At one time it was a double house. I mean, way back, not a double, it was in a row. Then I don't know whether they demolished it or just constant explosions took it down. I know the big house I was talking about, the one on the hill, they tore that down because my father...I remember him telling me this, he was shocked because they pulled out one big stone and the whole house came down. It evidently had been shaken so many times from explosions...that really is the reason why they moved the whole village out.
Wilkinson: Now, I'm not sure that I really know what house you are talking about.
Walls: This is the one over by the Library, where the Library is now. The one he wants me to find.
Lattomus: This was the farmhouse. It was the farmhouse. The boss farmer lived there. Then when we moved from there we moved back to Hunter's corner, That's where we lived when he was still boss farmer. Then of course they sold that property to J. Thompson Brown and of course we had to move again. That's when we moved up to the Homestead and that was the last move as far as the boss farmer was concerned because they discontinued the farm and sold it.
Wilkinson: Did we bring along those property drawings?
Scafidi: No, but I made a very crude sketch. One thing we wanted to find out. This is the House and apparently there were some formal gardens, old 19th century Style, out here with turtle pens and cold frames.
Wilkinson: This was right up in front of the house.
Lattomus: Yes, that was gone before we moved. My husband remembers them talking of a turtle farm. I don't even remember hearing about a turtle farm.
Scafidi: And then there was two lines of trees going down by the drive near the house. Now you mentioned that there were some barracks during the first World War that your cousin used to...
Lattomus: That's what they called the barracks, the Homestead. And over in the field there were several rows of, I don't know whether they were tents or whether they were just wooden barracks that they had put up for the soldiers. You see, during the first World War they kept a troop of soldiers there, plus the Guard.
Scafidi: And where were these, about?
Lattomus: When you went down that straight road where the trees were, when you went past this little office on the left side just as you go into the barn, well that was on the right hand side.
Scafidi: We were wondering this because the person who is digging up the garden was wondering if he should find something that wasn't in a garden.
Wilkinson: Empty whiskey bottles or something.
Lattomus: You could have found thousands of them. The guards used to throw them off that porch in the back, and when we moved up there that part there was just a dump.
Wilkinson: You mean back of the house?
Lattomus: Yes. They used to go out on that porch, you know where the glass doors were on that lovely porch and they just went out and tossed the bottles over.
Wilkinson: Well, when you come and walk the property with us, we'll definitely pinpoint these, but I think we've got a pretty good picture of where these barracks were. Then the commanding officer lived in the Crowninshield house at that time?
Lattomus: That I don't know. I thought the guards lived in there, but I don't know.
Wilkinson: The guards would be DuPont employees and the troops of the regular army?
Lattomus: No, the guards weren't employees because one of them boarded with us, two of them. When we lived at Hunter's Corner at that time. Where they came from I don't know, but they weren't DuPont employees.
Walls: They just had a sergeant, I don't think there was anything above a sergeant. I'm going to tell you one thing, my father was the one that kept all their money.
Scafidi: He was like a paymaster?
Walls: Just for them, he wasn't paid for it. Just a matter of convenience. He was the banker for them.
Wilkinson: Did you get the picture of these men patrolling up and down, on given stretches of the area around the powder yard? Was it that kind of a...?
Walls: Oh yes. I've forgotten some of their names. They used to write to me and one sent me a beautiful pillow.
Wilkinson: After they left here?
Walls: Yes, after they left.
Wilkinson: Were there any stories about the efforts of the Germans to get into the...?
Lattomus: No. We had explosions but as my father always said most of it was carelessness. Regardless of how many times they were told not to smoke, the old Irish had their pipes you know. They couldn't go without it. Probably going right to heaven with it, I suppose.
Scafidi: Were people afraid of sabotage?
Lattomus: No. It wasn't discussed in our day. No.
Wilkinson: In 1917 We got into the war and I assume a little earlier than that the mills were that much busier. Did you get the impression of that? A lot of activity. Or is this a little hazy?
Lattomus: You know they built magazines. We weren't any more than a couple of blocks from a magazine. We lived there when the magazines were there.
Scafidi: They built them new while you lived there?
Lattomus: Yes, sir. They did. It would have been ridiculous for them to build a village with those magazines right there. We understood, I'm sure, that the village was built and then they decided to bring the magazines in and they had to move the people out because the windows were broken all the time and the flying debris.
Walls: I know they had magazines over there.
Lattomus: I know they were, but I said the village was there, the Upper Banks was there before the magazines.
Wilkinson: The magazines that were newly built, were they placed on what is now the Carpenter's property?
Lattomus: Yes. Because that's where these three big houses were, you see. And we were the closest, although we were about the last ones moved out, in those three houses. The smaller houses were moved out before they moved us. They didn't care if we got cracked on the head with a plank.
Walls: We would have been gone if the magazines had been gone. There wouldn't have been anything left.
Wilkinson: There still remained this big high board fence that separated the house area from the mill area?
Walls: When we lived there.
Scafidi: Was there anything between you and the magazines When you lived there? No fence?
Lattomus: Yes, a fence and a gate because I told you I was trying to slide in in the wagon but there wasn't any big barricade or anything like that.
Scafidi: The new magazines that they built just before they moved you out: the house where the Library is.
Lattomus: I don't recall any...
Walls: We never went near it. We weren't allowed. We minded. We just didn't go over. But there wasn't anything to prevent us if we really wanted to go. Because I was much older.
Lattomus: They had a gate there. Each of these gates had a watchman there and of course they checked the wagons as they went through because that's where my brother and I used to hide under the seat thinking we were safe and sound going through. Why we wanted to go in I'll never know except we were curious.
Wilkinson: Do you recall anything about a rail line that would load powder on cars at the magazine and take it out to Montchanin. How did they get the powder from...?
Lattomus: That I don't know. Howard might know, my husband. He has a terrific memory. He didn't live down there but he lived in the Rockland-Montchanin area all his life. I know he has recalled things to me that: he used to come down there quite a bit, in fact he was telling me the other day that he used to come down there with his grandfather and serve milk in there and all through there. He used to ride down as a little boy.
Wilkinson: Will he come with us when you folks come and walk the property with us?
Lattomus: Oh I'm sure he would if we can get straightened out up here. You know it has been pretty hectic. They are selling the herd in September, the dairy herd. There will be an auction sale, so I'm sure he would love to go if he could get off.Synopsis: Lattomus and Walls describe the location of homes in DuPont's worker villages. They say they cannot recall gardens in the area where the Library presently stands, but they have vague memories of a turtle farm. They talk about army guards at Hagley during the First World War. They talk about where they lived and the areas they patrolled. Lattomus says that she recalls her civilian father helping the soldiers manage their money. They talk about powder magazines built during the war.Keywords: Hagley Yard; Homes; Hunter's Corner; Money; Neighbors; Powder magazines; World War (1914-1918)
- More on Army guards at Hagley Yard during World War I; Confusion over naming local areas; Communications between worker villages; Social activities at Breck's Mill and Alexis I. du Pont schoolPartial Transcript: Scafidi: You mentioned that there were guards at all the gates. Were these the rough-tough type of guard or were they retired employees?
Lattomus: No, they were actually in uniform: they must have been connected with the Army, because they were in Army uniform, we just thought of them as guards but they evidently were a detachment of soldiers that were considered as guards.
Wilkinson: This happened back in the Spanish-American War, the Civil War and the War of 1812. The military units...
Lattomus: When I'm thinking back on it because I remember so well Mr. Cecil in his uniform.
Walls: And Mr. Metz too.
Wilkinson: These weren't home guard people?
Lattomus: No, they came in from outside. Mr. Metz came from Virginia. They probably were with the Army but we just considered them: they were always spoken of as the guards.
Scafidi: Are these the men that lived with you?
Lattomus: Yes. It seemed to differentiate between the soldiers and the guards. They were probably one and the same thing but they just had a different detachment to take care of the Yards.
Wilkinson: I was just trying to get a picture of the difference in their duties. Guards patrolled a given area. What were the soldiers doing while the guards were patrolling? They relieved one another?
Lattomus: They probably relieved one another. They must have had to have a terrific number of them because it extended quite a distance.
Walls: They had to walk that fence.
Lattomus: They not only had this side, they had the other side of the Brandywine too. There was no use in keeping this closely guarded and the other side wide open so probably they built the barracks because they couldn't get enough soldiers or guards in the Homestead. And these were probably the overflow of the Army.
Wilkinson: And the same patrol was on at Hagley? I mean, that would be protected as well?
Lattomus: I would say, I'm not too familiar down there, but I would say it would have gone all the way up and down the Brandywine on both sides, It seemed to me there was quite a number...I know there were two long barracks there.
Walls: You couldn't get in from the Black Gates.
Lattomus: No, they had to...that was closed off.
Wilkinson: Well, where the Experimental Station is today, it was one time known as the Lower Yards.
Lattomus: Lower Hagley.
Wilkinson: Well, you get into a name problem...
Scafidi: What did you call it?
Lattomus: Lower Hagley was what we always called it.
Walls: It was just Hagley.
Scafidi: Upper Hagley and Lower Hagley?
Wilkinson: Did that include what is now the Experimental Station?
Lattomus: I don't think so. I don't know.
Walls: The Experimental Station, what they have now, that's completely new. There was a hill went over the bridge and...
Lattomus: I thought that belonged to Alfred I., didn't it?
Wilkinson: Well, there was a powder yard operation there on the far side of the creek, below the Rising Sun Bridge.
Lattomus: They still have it. Where it still is. That was it.
Wilkinson: We have learned of it as the Lower Yards, not Hagley, just the Lower Yard.
Lattomus: That was the Lower Yard, from the bridge down. There wasn't anything on the other side up. That's all new in our time.
Walls: Because ours was called, the little village was called the Upper Banks.
Wilkinson: But I was curious to know, or I assumed it to be so that the soldiers patrolling the upper property would also...
Lattomus: Of course, that's all we know. We lived in that area and that is what we are familiar with. Down below, the guards were all with us, Henry Clay and...
Wilkinson: But they confine themselves to the Upper Yard.
Walls: The powder mills.
Wilkinson: This raises a question that John and I were discussing before we came. A number of little clusters of houses, each one making up a community: Upper Banks and Charles Banks and...
Lattomus: Chicken Alley.
Wilkinson: Chicken Alley...how much inter-communication, how much did you know of one another. Did you socialize back and forth or did you stay pretty much within your own little area?
Lattomus: Oh, sure. Of course, the Upper Banks when we moved up to Collins' it wasn't too long after, we didn't live up there too long, it wasn't too long after that that the little village was practically moved out.
Walls: We knew everybody. Everybody was friendly.
Lattomus: Not as far as... Now, Free Park, which they always called Flea Park, we knew everybody over there because we went back and forth across that field to Sunday School and Cheneys and people that lived there; we knew all those people.
Wilkinson: You were playmates and...?
Lattomus: Yes, we used to go back and forth and play with those. But as far as down at the Lower Banks and Henry Clay. I had an aunt that lived down there. I showed you the house next to the Breck’ s Mill. There were a group of houses along there and I used to go down there because I had a little cousin, and I used to know quite a number of the children because they all went to Alexis I. I mean most of them in Henry Clay did, most of the ones in Squirrel Run after the Irish moved out were Italian and they went to St. Joseph's on the Brandywine, so we didn't really know: I knew them after they got in the upper grades because St. Joe’ s only went so far, eighth grade, I think.
Walls: We knew all the families in there, but we didn't visit. But we knew everybody.
Scafidi: How about the kids, was there a rivalry between kids from the Upper Banks and Squirrel Run.
Lattomus: No. We never had any gang wars or anything like that. I have heard this, though, that if a "town boy" got interested in a "country girl" he might find a couple of rocks thrown at him, I know this experience from my sister. She was a country girl and she married a town fellow and he had a few...
Wilkinson: An outsider?
Lattomus: An outsider coming in and taking one of their girls, they didn’ t like. But it was nothing...
Walls: Have you heard anything about the "Bee Hunts?"
Wilkinson: The "Honey Hunts?" You tell us about it.
Walls: They used to take them for a ride. A stranger would come into the community and they all would get together, and take them on a bee hunt. Wasn’ t that what they called it?
Lattomus: A honey hunt.
Wilkinson: Do you remember the details of this?
Walls: No. I never went on one.
Lattomus: Well, you know, some greenhorn would come into their community and a group of young fellows would take him on a hunt and they'd get him up a tree or something and tell him this is where they were supposed to go and this fellow was a stranger, and they'd go off and leave him. He might be all night finding his way back out to civilization. Of course this was a big treat for the fellows who lived here but it wasn't so much a treat for the fellow, I guess, when he got all bitten up with mosquitoes. But I know they used to do that. And you asked what they did for activity. You had to be twelve or fourteen to do this, but they used to go on coon hunts and things like that.
Lattomus: Well, all down through, not though the powder mills, but there were woods up there, all around there that they used to go and over towards Montchanin and all those places like that; up toward Rockland. We had quite a number of trees and things. I know my husband used to go on it. Of course, a lot of this was after the powder mills were disbanded. And they had that whole area to hunt it.
Wilkinson: What was the attitude after the mills closed down and before the Crowninshields came in. Was the area sort of frozen?
Lattomus: Yes, of course it wasn't too long after that they sold a lot of the property to R.R.M. Carpenter. And of course, the private signs were put up immediately and I can't say that I blamed them. Of course, when they went coon hunting at night those signs you couldn't see and they were completely ignored, I'm sure.
Wilkinson: The term "down the creekers", does this mean anything to you?
Walls: Henry Clay.
Lattomus: Yes. We never thought the "down the creekers", to be perfectly honest with you, we were a little bit of snobs; we never thought the "down the creekers" were quite as good as the Upper Bankers. There was a little friction there. I know that when the Breck's Lane, that was the community house, and it was our life-long ambition when we were smaller to join that community-house and my father wouldn't allow it. Because he thought they were a little too rough and ready for us. He didn't know how rough and ready we could be.
Wilkinson: We've picked up a little information about the activities there at the Breck's Mill Community Center. It was known as Hagley Community Center and they had a basketball team for example. And what other kind of activities?
Lattomus: Yes. And Alexis I. at that time had no gymnasium; these kids complain nowadays. We had no gymnasium at all, and a very small athletic field and they could never build on it because Lairds owned an old horse and they had it out to pasture in that lot in back of Alexis I. and they wouldn't let the ground go until the horse died, and it seems to me that the horse lived forever. This is actually true. This is not a fantasy. The principal, Mr. Yerger told us that. Because, of course the school was small and they wanted it at that time for an athletic field, you know. But the basketball team, Alexis I. basketball team, had to go down to Hagley and practice. And that's where they played their home games.
Wilkinson: What activities for girls?
Lattomus: They didn't have any.
Walls: The soccer. Don't forget the soccer.
Lattomus: Well, the soccer team. They built an athletic field finally, not as extensive as the one we have now, but they did have a very good soccer team there.
Walls: The best. With my two brothers and my, he's my brother-in-law now, and two first cousins and who else was on the soccer team? It was the best soccer team ever in Alexis I.
Lattomus: They won the State Championship, but then the next year they disbanded that and went in for football and for quite a number of years they did very little because they didn't have the numbers or the talent to pick from.
Wilkinson: Were there any musical organizations down at the Hagley Community House?
Lattomus: I don't know. As I said...
Walls: They had dances down there.Synopsis: Lattomus and Walls continue to discuss the presence of guards from the Army at Hagley. They say that some of the soldiers boarded with their family. They says that they always called the "Lower Yard" "Lower Hagley." They talk about some of the confusion caused by these different names. They says that people in the different villages all knew each other and they discuss the sports teams and social activities at Alexis I. du Pont school and Breck's mill.Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School (Wilmington, Del.); Chicken Alley (Del.: Village); DuPont Experimental Station; Free Park (Del.: Village); Guards; Hagley Community House (Breck's Mill); Hagley Yard; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Lower Yard; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); World War (1914-1918)
- Talking about their cousin, Warren Harden; Raccoon hunting; Fox hunting and other activities; Contact with H.A. du Pont; Christmas parties; du Pont wagons and vehicles; Getting things delivered by wagons and peddlersPartial Transcript: Lattomus: They used to have dances down there and talking about, you said you had met my cousin, Warren Harden, and Mary and Arlene were up here; well, he won, I don't know if I told you this or not, he won the walking race. They used to have inter-scholastic with the different schools, you know, and they'd meet down at Newark once a year and have all these events, so you'd practice for that, at school and volley ball and all that stuff. He used to come up to our house and do his lessons and we called it the Sand Hole, and he'd be whistling "Yankee Doodle" and you could always tell when he reached the Sand Hole, we called it the Sand Hole but it was a dump, because Yankee Doodle was going fast. You know he won every walking race in school. He wouldn't run because he was a pretty big sized boy, and he was too embarrassed to run but he could walk.
Walls: Did you notice how stooped he was?
Wilkinson: I didn't meet him. John met him at the University.
Lattomus: He lived up there in the Upper Banks too. These three houses were there and there was a road along here and there were a couple of...how many houses there?
Walls: Just one other one.
Lattomus: Well, his mother and father lived there and he was just a little boy. That house was as close to the magazines as ours. It is a shame he wouldn't talk.
Scafidi: Well, he talked but not for a tape recording. He seemed to remember more of coon hunting through the middle of Chicken Alley.
Walls: He was working, Faith, when he was down there, wasn't he?
Walls: They have him in the library now because Dr. Miller has never released him. He was hurt so badly, his chest was crushed and his back and, oh, he was a mess.
Lattomus: Well, let's get back to what they want to hear.
Scafidi: The coon hunting interested me. Did they use guns?
Lattomus: No. Just dogs. They just treed a coon. That was just a pass time.
Scafidi: Was this for everybody, old and young? Or was it mostly just for teen-age boys?
Lattomus: It was mostly the teenage boys. Now, Howard's brothers, used to trap muskrats and every once in a while they used to get a skunk. Howard said that was real nice.
Walls: Tell them about Bill and George bringing these little kittens in. Down at Crowninshields, down below where we used to live. Where Beckers live now. And they came in with these little kittens. "Oh, Mom," they said, "can we keep these little kittens?"
Wilkinson: This was a brother of yours?
Walls: My two brothers. And here they were little skunks. And they sprayed them and Momma made them go outside and down the yard and take all their clothes off. They thought they were kittens.
Scafidi: Your brother Bill was called Buck, wasn't he? Any special reason for that?
Lattomus: No, it was just a nickname. He's the one that died suddenly.
Scafidi: Did somebody name a horse after both brothers? Was Buck and George a team of horses?
Lattomus: No, not our brothers. We had a lot of horses because my father used to keep fox-hounds when we lived up there. He had about seventeen, I guess, and he used to ride with the Vicmead Hunt Club and had his own horse.
Walls: Mrs. Victor du Pont left the Vicmead to ride with him. She rode with my father, she liked to ride with him. of course there is no fox-hunting now.
Wilkinson: They go down in Maryland, don't they now?
Lattomus: Yes, they have to go pretty far down into Maryland.
Wilkinson: My impression is that the dogs around the Crowninshield residence or the du Pont residence were usually whippets or greyhounds. Have you gotten this impression?
Lattomus: No, that must have been before our time. They were mostly mongrels when we lived up there.
Wilkinson: We've seen this in sketches.
Lattomus: Well, they probably did, but that would be before we lived there.
Wilkinson: And then when she came back and took over the property, that would be in '21 or '22 I understand that they were fond of big dogs.
Lattomus: She had, she had...
Walls: They didn't take over in '21.
Wilkinson: I'm thinking of the property coming into the Colonel's possession in '21.
Walls: We still lived up there.
Lattomus: I don't remember, Howard would know what year...
Walls: I know we lived up there in the big house. And I know when I graduated from high school and I know we lived up there when I graduated.
Wilkinson: Yes. I'm off on my years.
Walls: And then we went below down there to Becker's place after that.
Wilkinson: Did you have any contact with Colonel Henry A.? or your father that you know anything about?
Lattomus: Yes. We knew him very well.
Wilkinson: We've seen his portrait and that's about as much as we know. We know something about his career, but...
Lattomus: He had been down to the Becker’ s, well I call it the Becker's...
Walls: He used to visit the Homestead.
Wilkinson: Can you describe him physically? Did you know him well enough as a person to say something about him?
Lattomus: Well, he would talk to us. Of course we were younger, but he used to come down and talk to my aunt, Aunt Lide Elizabeth washer name.
Wilkinson: On private matters, or personal, or social?
Lattomus: Well, it was just social. He knew my mother and seemed to like my mother. That's a picture of him.
Wilkinson: Yes, I think that's the one that is in the family album.
Lattomus: Mr. I took this of him.
Wilkinson: Oh, yes, the young Henry A. He was a military man, of course and in training. Was he stiff or did he mix in?
Lattomus: No, he wasn't stiff or formal. At least when he came to visit us and stop in he was very informal.
Wilkinson: I assume that he had long association with your father and your father's family.
Walls: Well, I told you, you know that my father's mother, my grandmother was his nurse. But she was a young girl and he was a young fellow.
Lattomus: Howard would have had a lot more contact. He would come occasionally, I mean; especially after he bought the property. He would come down every once in a while and look things over. Oh, yes, Poppa knew him very well, but we didn't see him that much. But he would always be nice and give you a little pat on the head whenever you went by.
Wilkinson: Did he use his title Colonel, or did you call him Mr. du Pont?
Lattomus: No, he was called Colonel.
Wilkinson: How about his wife? Did you know her at all?
Lattomus: No, I didn't know her at all.
Wilkinson: They had been married, I think, in 1874 or 1875.
Lattomus: He started...he had these Christmas parties for the children just like Mrs. Carpenter did for us. And in the beginning, I understood, that they used to give presents to the adults too and then I guess it got too much because they didn't know what to buy them and they started just having it for the children. And they had still done it up until last year; now, I suppose it will be discontinued by the Foundation.
Wilkinson: You mean the children of all the employees of Winterthur?
Lattomus: Yes, of both the Museum and the farm. Mr. du Pont always had a Christmas party with a show, you know, some sort of an entertainment and then gave them each a present up until they were sixteen. They had ice cream and cookies and a bag of candy for them.
Wilkinson: He was carrying on something his father had done earlier.
Lattomus: That's what I understand.
Wilkinson: Among the family members themselves, on New Year's Day, as you may know...
Wilkinson: As far as I know "Chick" Laird is the one that keeps that up. That tradition.
Lattomus: Well, they had another tradition. I don't know whether it was a tradition or not, but they do it every year. Who is the boy that plays polo?
Wilkinson: Frolic Weymouth.
Lattomus: Frolic Weymouth. Well, once a year they have these old-fashioned carriages; have you ever seen them? And they dress all up in the costumes of other days and they went through Mr. du Pont's grounds; well they had to get permission from Mr. van Ravenswaay, this time, but they had had permission from Mr. du Pont before. But Mr. van Ravenswaay said, no, he didn't think so, and Howard went to him and said Mr. du Pont had always allowed it and he had already granted them permission this year. He said, "Now, that is up to you if you want to counteract it." So they did go through this year. They have a lovely woods there, and they did go through this year. Oh, it was quite interesting. My little granddaughter and grandson took quite a number of pictures.
Walls: Why did they want to stop it?
Lattomus: Well, the horses aren't too clean and...certain things; And some of them got mixed up and two or three wagons got down in the parking lot and I imagine that Mr. van Ravenswaay is rather proper; I don't know him that well.
Wilkinson: Weymouth is active in the coaching association.
Lattomus: Well, Howard stopped him on the way out and said, "You're in trouble, fellow. Some of your wagons got down on the Parking lot," And he said, "Well, there was a mix-up. Mrs. Harrison told me one thing and somebody told my father another." And it was a mix-up.
Wilkinson: I think it is nice to see the old traditions at least revived once in a while.
Lattomus: Oh, I do too. I think it is a shame that more children didn't get to see it. We took our grandchildren and waited an hour; they were supposed to come past at a certain time.
Wilkinson: There were a number of coaches?
Lattomus: Oh yes. There must have been at least fifteen, I would say. And they were all different, you know.
Wilkinson: Beautiful horses?
Lattomus: Oh, just lovely. It was really worth seeing. I think it's a shame they don't make a movie of it and show it some place to children.
Wilkinson: We've been collecting, and they are stored in our big barn, the family barn, carriages and wagons that the family used to use. Just within the last few weeks, I think, Weymouth gave us one that belonged to the Colonel. So one of these days, I'm not quite sure how we are going to handle this, but we feel that they are worth the keeping and we ought to exhibit them. Along with a big Conestoga wagon, and along with some of the farm work wagons.
Lattomus: Oh, I think that would be interesting, oh yes, I've ridden in those many a time.
Wilkinson: There will be several of them. They are not all DuPont owned wagons. We have gone to the outside and have had to buy some, but they are the type they had when the farming operations were being conducted.
Lattomus: We used to have one of those, what they called spindle wagons. Three could sit on the front seat and there was a little place in back if you wanted to take a bag or something like that.
Walls: With a fringe on the top.
Lattomus: We go way back.
Wilkinson: Was there a mail wagon that went to town from the property to pick up mail and bring it back? To distribute it in the community where you lived?
Lattomus: I don't remember that. We had an ice wagon that came through and we had a butcher and we had a fish man.Synopsis: They talk about their cousin, Warren Harden. They talk about raccoon hunting, a pastime that they say was most popular with teenage boys. They tell a story about their brothers bringing home baby skunks because they thought they were kittens. They talk about fox hunting and other types of hunting that they did with members of the du Pont family. They talk about their father's relationship with H.A. du Pont. They describe going to du Pont family-organized Christmas parties. They talk about a recent event where they rode in historic du Pont vehicles and wagons. They talks about getting deliveries by wagon when they were children.Keywords: Christmas celebrations; Du Pont, H. A. (Henry Algernon), 1838-1926; Fox hunting; Hunting; Raccoon hunting; Vehicles; Wagons
- Deliveries and peddlers; Traveling via the trolley; Fourth of July CelebrationsPartial Transcript: Walls: We had to walk to Montchanin for our mail.
Wilkinson: You went to the post office at Montchanin? No local delivery? No wagon delivery?
Lattomus: No, we walked across the fields there...and I remember one time cutting across there and a bull chased us. But we did have, as I said, a fish man. We weren't Catholics, we were Episcopalians, but we ate fish every Friday because the fish man came through and had fresh fish. And the same way with the butcher; we had Mr. Gilson who lived down there near St. Joseph's. He was the butcher and he came through once a week, and we had a baker, Sam Frizzell, who lived on Rising Sun Road and he was a little hunchback.
Walls: His back was broken.
Lattomus: He had, you know, all kind of pastries and things like that.
Scafidi: What other sort of people came through? You had peddlers and people with wagons, but did strangers come in and try to sell fresh fruit off the road or...
Lattomus: No. Most people out there had their own gardens and things like that. That would have been sort of wasted effort because everybody had their own gardens.
Walls: Except, remember that old Italian lady that came through? She had those big suitcases; she sold everything from shoelaces to...
Lattomus: Oh, we had peddlers.
Wilkinson: Notions? Peddlers?
Lattomus: Yes. We used to have a fellow who would come through and would sharpen your knives and scissors and things like that.
Walls: And another umbrella mender.
Lattomus: Yes, an umbrella mender.
Scafidi: How about a tinker? Somebody to repair pots and pans?
Lattomus: I don't remember anyone like that, but I do remember, you know, we called them scissor grinders.
Wilkinson: When you went in town, what were the stores that you thought of as the customary places to go.
Walls: When I was small I never went to town. I never went to town shopping until after I went to school.
Lattomus: Well, Momma used to go to town.
Walls: Yes, Momma used to go, but we didn't go.
Wilkinson: Did she go by wagon?
Lattomus: No, they had trolleys. Of course they didn't have the horse-drawn, in her younger days it was the horse-drawn trolley, but of course when we were old enough to remember they used to have the summer trolley which we just adored. It was open and when I trained they just dropped the curtains and the seats went like this and then they had a walk, like a railing, you know, where the conductor went up and down and of course they always had a motorman and a conductor; they didn't have just one. And they'd come to the end of the trolley line and it took me forever to know that they didn't turn the trolley car around. I couldn't understand how they ever got back when there wasn't any loop. My brothers would say, "My, you're dumb. They take the thing off and they've got a steering wheel on each end."
Walls: Oh, people from town used to come out on weekends and Sundays. It was a treat to come out from town to the end of the line.
Lattomus: Oh, we had an outdoor movie too. Down there on Mrs. Paul du Pont's place; right next to the trolley line. It was there for about two or three years. They only showed the movies at night. We used to climb up in the tree and watch it, so we didn't have to pay admission.
Wilkinson: Right near Hunter's Corner?
Lattomus: Just about two squares down...were you familiar with where the trolley...
Walls: Well, tell them where Bob Carpenter lives now. He lives up on the hill.
Lattomus: Yes, right down on the opposite meadow. That's where it was.
Scafidi: Did city people come out on the trolley for this?
Scafidi: From all around?
Lattomus: Yes. Mostly local people and we just walked. But I remember one time we were walking down the ties and my grandmother was a little bit of an Irish woman, shorter than I and she insisted on putting these white high buttoned shoes on with a heel and she stumbled and fell. She didn't hurt herself, but here she was walking these ties, you know down the railroad track...if you didn't walk down the railroad track you had to walk in the grass and sometimes it was a little high. Momma said, "That's what you get. I told you not to wear them. To wear your bedroom slippers."
Walls: Did Bess tell you about the 4th of July picnics we had upon the hill?
Lattomus: Oh, that was another entertainment. See these things are coming back.
Walls: Oh, that was wonderful.
Lattomus: St. Joseph's had this. They had a picnic every year, after school was out, and they'd build a platform up where Hallock du Pont lives, They'd build a platform up there and have an orchestra. Of course we were too young to dance but we'd enjoy watching. And they sold all kinds of baked goods and ice cream, and this was a festival the Catholics put on, but Catholic or Protestant, it didn't make any difference, everybody went to that; all Henry Clay and Squirrel Run. It was a 4th of July bazaar. That’ s exactly what it was. That was another thing we had. See, you were worried that we didn't have anything to do.
Wilkinson: Was that known as Keyes’ Hill; Daddy Keyes’ Hill? Where the fireworks used to be set off?
Lattomus: No, McKee's Hill is over there where they put the new turnpike in.
Walls: On your way over toward the Concord Pike. No, this was in Squirrel Run, but it was up on the hill.
Lattomus: It may have been. I never heard it called Keyes’ Hill.
Wilkinson: The big Company celebration of 1902 when it was one hundred years old, we thought we heard somebody say it was on Daddy Keyes’ Hill which was over on Hallock du Pont's property.
Walls: The other one must have been McKee's. This was Keyes’ , because there is a McKee's Hill over there where the new turnpike is.
Lattomus: I don't know. I was only a year old at that time.
Wilkinson: Was another center of activity over there on the Kennett Pike where Wilcastle is now; over where the old Wilmington Country Club was? Did William du Pont put on some kind of fireworks display?
Walls: Irenee used to at Granogue. But Willie du Pont...
Lattomus: I don't ever remember that Willie did it.
Scafidi: Speaking of entertainment, do you remember who the local funeral director was? Or how were funerals carried out?
Lattomus: Well, heavens, Chandler...this is the third generation of Chandlers. He must have been around for a good while because he and his son are both in it.
Wilkinson: I think recently I saw a date, Chandler's began in 1814.
Lattomus: Well, I said this is either the third or fourth generation of Chandlers. Of course, there were other ones, but you were talking too about stores...with so many different names of stores when we could remember back that are all gone. Smith and Zollinger's and Lippincott’ s.
Wilkinson: These were department stores?
Walls: Yes. Big ones.
Lattomus: Yes. Now, there were no stores where we lived at Hunter's Corner after Hunter gave it up, except there in Squirrel Run. There was one there if you wanted anything you had to walk because even though it was a nickel trolley car ride down and back, ten cents back then was pretty much.
Scafidi: Is that where your mother did most of her grocery shopping?
Lattomus: No, she would go into town.
Walls: She went to Rockland.
Lattomus: That's right. There was Ewing at Rockland. He used to come down and take the order and she got most of her stuff there, except maybe, one every couple of weeks she would go to town.
Scafidi: How about clothes?
Lattomus: Well, we had to go to town for clothes. And shoes.
Wilkinson: Did you make some?
Lattomus: Yes. My sister was a dressmaker and I was hoping she would be up Izodaxj. Because she is 76 and I think she would remember lots...maybe not so much about the Upper Banks, but she should because she lived up there; she got married when she was 18,I think.
Walls: Yes, but she didn't live up there.
Lattomus: But she was a dressmaker and she made almost all our clothes. Coats and hats and everything.
Wilkinson: There was no one store in town that stood out as the place to go?
Lattomus: Well, of course, Lippincott’ s and Smith and Zollinger were...
Walls: Mullins I guess was there.
Lattomus: Mullins started up in the 1800's, I'm sure.
Walls: It's always been a "first class" store. Still is.
Scafidi: Where did you get ice cream downtown?
Lattomus: Oh, that...
Lattomus: No, no, no. Where was that place on...was it Shipley Street?
Walls: Yes, there was a place there.
Lattomus: what was the name of that? Oh, they made their own home-made ice cream. We used to walk in town, clean in town after school sometime.
Walls: We used to make it. Poppy always made a great big freezer of ice cream for July 4th.
Lattomus: I know, but oh, I can't think of that store. I am sure Howard would...
Wilkinson: You mentioned Reynolds?
Lattomus: Yes, but no, oh, this place was there for a long, long time and the other place sold fried oysters. I can't think of their...but they were there for years.
Lattomus: Comegys. That was the only thing that they sold. They shut up in the summertime, they'd shut up in the spring, but in the wintertime they sold nothing else. You could have oysters any style. Fried oysters, oyster stew, or anything like that. That's all you went there for. They didn't cater to anything but oysters.
Scafidi: Were there any men selling food on the street, like chestnuts, pretzels, or...?
Lattomus: Oh, yes. And they even had a man and he was dressed up in a white suit up in front of the Grand...he had...
Walls: Rock candy.
Lattomus: He used to hit it with a little hammer and put it in a bag for you.
Wilkinson: Break up rock candy?
Lattomus: Yes. And then there was a theater there and my aunt used to take me every one in a while. Put my hair all up in papers, you know, to be curly. Dockstader's. It wasn't a movie at that time, it had I remember Jimmie Valentine. That was the first live thing that I had ever seen. And oh, I died, made a big impression I've never forgotten.
Walls: It was there for a good while and they had very good shows.
Lattomus: Yes, they did, and then the Playhouse, it was there for a long time.
Wilkinson: Do you recall anything about the building of the DuPont Building? It began about 1910, I think. Do you have any vague recollection of a big new structure going up?
Walls: Oh, yes, I remember. I worked in there in '22,
Lattomus: No, but he means in the very beginning. I wouldn't because I was only three then.
Walls: No, I wouldn't because I wasn't in town, you know. Except once in a while we would come into the library at 8th and Market. We used to come in there once in a while for books.
Lattomus: Yes, they didn't have that big one there on the corner then.
Walls: The Library was down at 8th and Market and they had steps go up to it. I remember that, but I don't remember...I remember the building going up, but not too much because as I said we weren't in town. I was only about 10 and we just didn't go to town.Synopsis: Walls and Lattomus talk about how they acquired their groceries and other household goods. They describe walking to Montchanin for mail, buying baked goods locally, traveling peddlers, and the shopping they had to do in the city of Wilmington. They talked about how much they enjoyed traveling via trolley. They talk about Fourth of July Celebrations organized by St. Joseph's on the Brandywine. They talks some more about shopping and traveling into Wilmington. Lattomus recalls seeing vaudeville shows on some of these trips.Keywords: Deliveries; Fourth of July celebrations; Hucktsters; Keyes' Hill; Montchanin (Del.); Peddlers; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); Sam Frizzell's store; Street-railroads; Vaudeville; Wilmington (Del.)
- Food and diet; Memories of T. Coleman du PontPartial Transcript: Wilkinson: What kind of things did you enjoy eating? What was your diet?
Lattomus: Well, about once every two weeks we had something that I absolutely loathed. But we had it anyway, because you couldn't have meat all the time. We had our own chickens and they butchered. My father raised his own hogs and they butchered them. But this was cornmeal mush.
Scafidi: What form was it in? Was it in loaves or was it mushy?
Lattomus: Oh, it was a mush. You put it in a dish and ate it like oatmeal.
Scafidi: Like porridge?
Lattomus: Oh, the fried I loved and still do. In the cake. I loved that. No, but it was hot.
Wilkinson: Even with milk and molasses you couldn't get it down?
Lattomus: Oh no. I hate milk. Fried I like. And, of course, as far as baking was concerned my mother used to do almost all her own baking. I can remember the first loaf of bread I think my father ate: baker's bread. He said he wished they would all drop dead. He hated it. He hated anything but homemade bread; of course, he ate it in later years.
Wilkinson: Did your mother bake enough bread for the whole week?
Lattomus: Oh yes. No, she'd bake about twice a week. She'd bake about 12 or 13 loaves at a time.
Scafidi: Did you feed farm workers? Is that why she baked so much?
Lattomus: No, that was just to feed us. Well, there were 5 of us and my grandmother lived with us all, either my grandmother or my aunt lived with us all the time. My father and mother, that was 7, that was 8, 9 and we usually had 2 boarders because my father didn't make enough money to support the whole family and so of course my mother fed the boarders. And then in harvest time she had to feed the harvesters. Just lunch, but a lunch was a dinner, I mean, we had an old colored man come help to harvest every year. I don't recall his name and he'd say, "Miss Carrie, you make better 'pone,"(she used to make the corn bread, you know and they call it 'pone)"you make that better than cake." And she used to make rusks. That was sweet. Oh, and pies, but she never bothered with cakes.
Walls: I remember we went to school and they had gingerbread, and we'd have all the gingerbread and lemon sauce we wanted, but we didn't get to buy it.
Scafidi: Did your diet change between summer and winter?
Lattomus: Well, of course in the summer time we had more fresh vegetables, but they canned a lot, I mean we had the same type of things but of course not frozen or fresh. Momma put up string beans and corn and tomatoes and there used to be a little corn place down where Fleming's barn was and they put up a cannery for a few years and she was the fastest corn cutter they had. They did it with a knife.
Walls: Everything was so...I won a prize but I forget what it was. They hired the girls and I cut the most. I'd forgotten about that.
Wilkinson: This was at the corner of Rte #100?
Lattomus: This was at Hunter's Corner. Where the Fleming barn was. There was a cannery there.
Lattomus: Yes. They brought the corn in off the field. Now who started it I don't know but they brought the corn there because they had corn fields around there.
Walls: It belonged to T. Coleman du Pont so I imagine it was his.
Wilkinson: You think it was his venture, the canning business?
Lattomus: Somebody had to because it wasn't anybody local. They wouldn't have enough money. They put it in jars because we didn't have cans. They just cut it and put it in jars.
Walls: They put fish up in barrels, salted them for the winter.
Lattomus: Not in this cannery.
Walls: No, not in the cannery.
Lattomus: My mother used to put eggs in great big jars. They called it some kind of water glass you know, to keep them. We didn't have too much money but we never lacked, and we were one of the first ones, I told you, to have a telephone, and a bathroom inside, so we felt like we were plutocrats.
Wilkinson: When you lived in the family residence, the homestead, did you make much use of that spring house, down the hill?
Lattomus: Well, we used to keep milk and she used to make root beer. My mother used to make homemade root beer but not as far as I can remember.
Walls: Watermelons and stuff like that.
Lattomus: Cantaloupes and things like that but our regular goods we just had ice boxes. The ice man as I told you used to come around a couple of times a Week with his step on the back where you could jump up and take a handful and it falls in the bottom. You know the younger people miss a lot.
Walls: I wouldn't trade my life again for anything.
Lattomus: Simple pleasures.
Wilkinson: A lot of delightful things that we did.
Walls: I often think with our children: they have everything, our grandchildren and yet they will say, "We haven't a thing to do."
Scafidi: Are you sure you didn't say the same thing?
Wilkinson: Well, my own recollection was that we had so many darn chores or errands or tasks to do or held down some kind of a job after school that time just didn't hang.
Lattomus: Well, my brothers did, of course in the summers and on Saturdays they worked in the fields along with other summer help and then of course we had our own cow. We always had our own cow and my mother made her own butter and we had buttermilk and of course they had chores all the time.
Walls: I never had any time off between whitewashing and sweeping the yard and cleaning the house. I mean, from the time I can remember we helped.
Lattomus: And cleaning those pesky lamps.
Walls: And the toilets: I even papered them. Nice reading matter. I hope that will be edited out.
Wilkinson: We want to be as realistic and factual and authentic as you folks can tell us.
Walls: Well, we're not holding back anything.
Wilkinson: You mentioned T. Coleman as owning property around here. Do you have any other comments about him? Did you ever meet him? Did you ever hear much about him?
Walls: Well, he was a wonderful person and Harry, Oh, I can't think but his chauffeur's name was Harry. He was a big fellow. He always brought us candy. They were the nicest people and they were always so nice to us kids because We'd always stand around and they'd talk to us, you know, we'd come in down in Fleming's barn when we lived there and he was a nice man. And then he used to bring his daughters with him. The one that was Mrs...that married Mr. Buck. Mrs. Wilson first, then Mrs. Buck. He was a nice fellow, Paul Wilson.
Lattomus: Paul always had a cigarette in his mouth though.
Wilkinson: He always had a cigarette?
Walls: I see where his son died.
Lattomus: Yes, isn't that a shame. He was a young fellow too.
Wilkinson: Well, T. Coleman was head of the Company from 1902 to 1915, and then he got into many other things after that when he retired as president.
Lattomus: He was head of it when Poppa was farmer. He liked Poppa.
Walls: How about this...every summer we used to go up to T. Coleman's woods that was our picnic.
Lattomus: Oh yes.
Wilkinson: Valley Garden Park?
Lattomus: I guess it is now. I know, Christ Church used to have their Sunday School picnic up there. And we went up in wagons because of course we didn't have automobiles. They weren't very prevalent. I guess they had them but not many people had them that we knew.
Wilkinson: He was one of the first in Delaware I think to have one.
Lattomus: Yes, and they used to get the straw in the wagons you know and we'd all take a picnic lunch and we'd go up there in his woods I guess that's...I thought it was up closer to Mt. Cuba.
Walls: No, you know where the dam comes up there now. That road, but in that woods.
Wilkinson: Old Mill?
Walls: Yes, way down over the hill. They had a wonderful place up there. We used to have bag races, potato races, all kinds of things and then have refreshments.
Wilkinson: This was the annual church picnic?
Lattomus: The annual church picnic.
Wilkinson: Now it's Hoopes Reservoir?
Walls: Yes. The end of it. It was a way back.
Lattomus: When you turn in down here, the Campbell Road, you go out there a way way back there and there used to be a steep hill that you go down, oh, big banks up and then down at the bottom where the reservoir really comes in now y0u turn to the right and you went up in the woods and that's where it was.
Walls: I think that road is changed now.
Lattomus: They call that Kirk Road opposite that. We always called it Foster Road because where Mr. Foster lived.
Wilkinson: Going down toward...
Lattomus: Montchanin. We always called it the Foster Rd. for years.
Walls: One by one we are remembering all these things.
Wilkinson: Why did you...why was it named Foster?
Lattomus: Well Mr. Foster lived there where I guess Mrs. Irving lives now.
Wilkinson: Colonel Henry's...
Lattomus: Sister; and then the other one there on the corner, our kids always called Miss "Setalina." It was Miss Evelina and she lived there for years. She was way up in her 80's when she died.
Wilkinson: 98. Do you recall much of Miss Evelina?
Lattomus: Yes, I can remember her coming to church and she had a companion: she died too, didn't she, Miss Thornton?
Walls: Miss Thornton died.
Lattomus: Miss Thornton was her companion. I understood she was some sort of a relative. I don't know. Related in some way to them. But she lived with her for all the years I can remember, sort of a companion and took care of her, and, of course, in latter life you didn't see her at all because she never got out.
Wilkinson: She lived at the red brick house at the corner of Campbell Road and Kennett Pike.
Wilkinson: Well, yes, she was one of General Henry's daughters. Sister of the Colonel. She lived to be almost 100.
Lattomus: And then old Mr. Foster, disrespectfully, everybody called him Lonny behind his back, Lonny Foster. To his face he was Mr. Foster, but they used to come in separate wagons. I can remember that.Synopsis: Lattomus describes cornmeal mush and how her mother baked bread. She talks about preserving and canning food and how their diets changed with the seasons. They talk about their memories of T. Coleman du Pont and Evelina du PontKeywords: Bread; Canning; Cornmeal; Du Pont, Evelina, 1840-1938; Du Pont, T. Coleman (Thomas Coleman), 1863-1930; Preserving
- Members of the du Pont family traveling separately; Neighbors over the years; History of the area surrounding Buck Tavern; Memories of the CrowninshieldsPartial Transcript: Wilkinson: You mean he and she came in separate wagons. Did you ever hear why?
Lattomus: I don't know whether it was because they weren't speaking to each other; we always said it was because they weren't speaking to each other. But Alex said he heard that they were afraid if there was an accident that...he said that Mrs. du Pont and Mr. du Pont didn't use to travel on the same train.
Wilkinson: The Colonel you mean?
Lattomus: No, Henry F.
Wilkinson: Henry Francis.
Lattomus: They might in later life but they didn't in the beginning. They used to go separately. If there was an accident one would live.
Walls: Grace Kelly doesn't for that reason, and Prince Rainier, they don't travel together. They have the children. Crossing the water and all that. They are thinking of their children.
Wilkinson: I heard that Mr. Pierre du Pont of Longwood for example, wouldn't fly. The insurance company wouldn't allow him to fly. He never flew.
Lattomus: He would have to collect too much I guess.
Wilkinson: The most heavily insured man in the country I understand. This is scuttlebutt. I don't know how true it is.
Lattomus: Well, her place stood vacant for a long time after her death.
Dr. Wilkinson: Miss Evelina?
Lattomus: Yes. And then an old McHugh, Colonel McHugh was it, or Major McHugh bought it and remodeled it. They said at one time that house was on the market for $12,5000. My husband says he could kick himself around the block. I said, "Yes, where are we going to get $12,500.
Wilkinson: Most recently it was Bryan Field.
Lattomus: His family, his wife and son still live there. His son has something wrong with him. I don't know: I don't mean that he is not right, I think he's...
Walls: Retarded or something that.
Wilkinson: Some months before his death Mr. Field allowed Chandler Becker to come up to get some cuttings of the old boxwood because the story was that Miss Evelina had brought that boxwood from the Eleutherian Mills property out here, so in our development of the property we thought it would be nice to have some boxwood returned.
Walls: Did you get any from Thompson Brown's? That's what you ought to get because that's from the farmer's home from up there. That come from up there.
Wilkinson: We'll make a mental note of that.
Walls: I told you that before, because definitely we took it down there, so I know.
Lattomus: Do you know where there is some other. Of course I don't know how it got there but down there where Mr. Trivet lives, we used to live there, the house right across from Bryan Field's -that white house there, the biggest one, next to the Kirk Road.
Wilkinson: On the other side of Kennett Pike?
Lattomus: That boxwood down there is beautiful. Of course that probably wasn't connected with the du Ponts because that was the old White place. But Howard often wondered that Mr. du Pont didn't move it, but it is so huge.
Walls: But that boxwood of Thompson Brown come from up there.
Lattomus: Didn't we...I wonder if they still have those snowball trees. We had the most gorgeous snowball trees. I know they came from up there.
Walls: The snowball trees come from up there.
Lattomus: I don't know whether they are still the same or whether they had them but I can remember because I used to play under those. We had a little playhouse underneath them. When we lived at Upper Banks.
Wilkinson: On the Eleutherian Mills property?
Wilkinson: Where are they now?
Lattomus: They Were at Thompson Brown's. Now, of course, we haven't been there for 15 years.
Walls: That boxwood is still there because every time I go by I look at it.
Lattomus: I don't know how long those snowball trees last but I distinctly remember us taking some of those.
Wilkinson: What was Buck Tavern being used as when you were growing up?
Lattomus: It was a house. It was three houses. There were three houses. It wasn't a tavern in our time.
Wilkinson: Do you know who lived in it?
Lattomus: Yes. One of them was Petersons and one was our cousin, Rebecca Betty, a cousin of ours lived there...
Walls: And Hall.
Lattomus: And people by the name of Hall.
Wilkinson: Now you know there is still one little stone structure left which the Kennett Pike Association has made an office. To the right of the property but not...about 100 yds. from the tavern building Do you know anything about that little building?
Lattomus: Everybody of our relatives has lived in all the houses all over the place. You must think we are a bunch of gypsies. Uncle Lee Lattomus lived there at one time. And then the Browns.
Wilkinson: What would be his full name may I ask?
Lattomus: Lee Lattomus. He lived there at one time, but after he lived, Browns lived there. Browns lived there before Uncle Lee.
Wilkinson: The Gentsch family?
Lattomus: Mrs. Gentsch lived, Mrs. Gentsch was the last to live there. I'm pretty sure they just sort of let it go. Her husband died and she had to move. Yes, she was in our Guild at Christ Church.
Lattomus: The first one that I remember was Brown and whether there was anyone between...What Brown was that? Was that Sam's father? Because they lived up there where Don Ross lives.
Wilkinson: He worked the farm, didn't he? Mr. Brown. He had a big farming operation.
Lattomus: The one you are talking about lived up where Donald Ross lives. Browns lived there. But this was one of the sons, I think, wasn't it?
Walls: I believe so, but I'm not sure.
Lattomus: They lived down from the old Hall place on down there.
Walls: One of them worked for Mrs. Paul du Pont.
Lattomus: Oh, that was Jimmy. He didn't live there.
Walls: Young fellow.
Lattomus: No, he lived up- I don't know where he lived. But there were people by the name of Brown lived there anyway and then I know Lee lived there for a few years and then Mrs. Gentsch was the last one I knew of lived there. I'm pretty sure. There have been several little shopping things. One was a candy store. That's recently, in the last couple years.
Wilkinson: We were asked by the Kennett Pike Association to give some historical background so we did a little digging around.
Lattomus: Exploratory. Well did you find out who was the first one? Did you ever find out?
Wilkinson: Well way back in the 1680's it was known as Jacos Possession. That was the name of the whole property: 400 acres or so, but for most of this time it was part, we think, part of Buck's Tavern and a man named Hendrikson and then his widow Rececca Hendrikson operated it through most of the 1800's as a tavern and toward the end of the 1800's; by the early 1900's it gets a little fuzzy.
Lattomus: Well I'm so glad they decided not to tear it down. Did they?
Wilkinson: No, they are using it as headquarters.
Lattomus: Well, there was talk that when they demolished the tavern that that was to go too and I thought isn't that a pity. That's so old and it would be one of the typical houses of that time.
Wilkinson: An architect thought that Buck Tavern had been built early in the 1700's. I think he is putting it back too far. He assumed that the other little building was built at the same time. I'm not too sure of this. But some time maybe the 1750s or so would be a closer approximation.
Lattomus: Well of course it must have been there a long time. That Buck Rd. has been Buck Rd. ever since way before my time, I know. And of course on across we always called that the Stable Road because it went right up to the barn.
Walls: Aunt Liza died up there at Buck Tavern. My aunt lived there. She died there.
Wilkinson: The Stable Road would run from Route 100 into the Powder Yard property?
Lattomus: Yes, you turn there at the corner of Bobby Carpenter's and that is what was known as the Stable Road. I don't know what they call it now. Christ Church Rd.? I don't know. Hagley Road?
Wilkinson: Buck Rd. or Christ Church Rd.
Lattomus: Christ Church has been there...they celebrated their 100th anniversary at Longwood back before Mama died.
Walls: Mama will be dead 21 years in October.
Lattomus: It must be getting close to 100 and...
Walls: It was before that because that was her first time up there and we had dinner, it was in with the palms and everything. It was the most beautiful thing.
Lattomus: If it was the 100th anniversary...
Walls: And they had the lights on the fountains after that. And we took her out in the wheel chair. It was her first time for that, so it was a perfect evening.
Wilkinson: When was that, about 1952 or 53? I think the church dates from 1852 or 1853. If course if you go back to the Sunday School that preceded the church, then it's older.
Lattomus: Yes, that was yellow, see that, that yellow building down there...
Walls: It was the 100th anniversary we was up there so it has to be...
Wilkinson: Did you have any contacts with Mr. P.S. du Pont at Longwood, or his wife?
Lattomus: No. The only one that we would know, Mrs. Irenee du Pont once she had a tea, at that time we had a Bishop Tsu who came from China; he just got out or something, and he preached down at Christ Church and she had a tea for him and of course all members of Christ Church were invited, that's the only reason.
Wilkinson: That was over at Granogue?
Lattomus: Yes. But that's my only recollection.
Wilkinson: How about the Copelands. The Charles Copelands and Mrs. Louisa Copeland.
Walls: No. They are the ones that built that wall down there.
Lattomus: We had dinner at the Memorial Service with Mr. van Ravenswaay and the one they call Mottsey Copeland and his wife were there. We had dinner with them but I didn’ t know the older. I can remember Lammot du Pont Sr. riding a bicycle to work. He used to do that even when automobiles were very popular. Of course he wouldn’ t do it now, he might get run over.
Wilkinson: From St. Amour, from Rising Sun?
Lattomus: Yes, he used to ride a bicycle into the office in Wilmington.
Walls: Well, you know where Bill Raskob lives? That is where Lammot lived when I went to school.
Lattomus: They left there and built this other place down on Rising Sun.
Wilkinson: He used to split wood to stay healthy. Mr. Crowninshield we learned little about.
Lattomus: We don't know much about him either because he...my father might have been able to tell you more about him but of course he is gone. He used to come in contact with him quite a bit when he would be on here but they didn't live here too many months out of the year. He, to me, was a very retiring individual. Mrs. Crowninshield was so overpowering I think, that he didn't stand a chance.
Wilkinson: In the development of the gardens did you ever get any impression, were these, was the new garden development between the house and where the mills used to be, was it his project, her project, did they do it themselves, did they have a lot of outside professionals?
Lattomus: Well, we weren't there after it was started.
Wilkinson: You never heard any discussion about it?
Lattomus: No. I think it was primarily hers.
Wilkinson: He was very fond of ships, boating, sailing.
Lattomus: Well, he came from up at Marblehead. They had a place up there and I think he was 3, according to some of the things I've read, history books, etc. that family was quite familiar with the water.
Wilkinson: Ship owners?
Lattomus: Yes, ship owners, so this inland waterway was a little tame for his blood. The Brandywine is sluggish at times.Synopsis: They talk about members of the du Pont family traveling separately for safety purposes. Lattomus names the different neighbors they've had over the years. They talk about the history of the area around Buck Tavern. They recall some facts about the Crowinshields.Keywords: Buck Tavern; Crowninshield family; du Pont family; Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954; Insurance; Kennett Pike Association; Neighbors; Travel
- Activity on Brandywine Creek; Location of the Sand Hole; Drawing water; Family still working for the du Pont familyPartial Transcript: Wilkinson: Well, let's ask a little bit about the creek. Wintertime, did you ice skate on it?
Lattomus: Yes, my brothers did. I never was very much good at skating.
Walls: We weren't allowed, now tell the truth.
Lattomus: We weren't allowed but they did it.
Walls: Well, we obeyed and the boys didn't.
Wilkinson: You weren't allowed because of the danger.
Lattomus: It was pretty deep in places and if you went through you were drowned. You didn't come up again, the current was strong. There were quite a few drowned.
Wilkinson: You definitely recall...
Walls: Oh, yes, at Henry Clay and all. When they came up the ice was there. You don't come up the same place.
Lattomus: But they used to skate.
Wilkinson: What kind of fish did youngsters, men, catch?
Walls: Sunnies mostly.
Wilkinson: Was the stream then considered polluted?
Lattomus: Not back then. We used to swim in it a lot down there and up by Thompson's Bridge: that used to be a regular swimming hole. Everybody went up there swimming.
Wilkinson: They still swim at Rockland.
Lattomus: In our early days it wasn't polluted, and even after we were married, we used to go up on this side to a place called Indian Springs. That used to be part of Mr. du Pont's estate. Of course it's part of this new Nature Park but Howard lived in that house when he was a boy right along side of the Brandywine, and they used to swim there all the time.
Wilkinson: Row boating?
Lattomus: Canoeing. We didn't have a rowboat but we had a canoe. Canoed a lot.
Wilkinson: Was there one of those little swinging bridges across the creek at various places?
Walls: No. The only swinging bridge that I remember was the one just up there where we were discussing the last time you were here. There wasn't any other, not from Crowninshields on up to Rockland anyway. That was the only one. Then the iron bridge of course, down below.
Wilkinson: Was that considered private or did you people use it?
Walls: What, the iron bridge?
Wilkinson: The iron bridge.
Lattomus: Yes, we used to go across it.
Walls: It was open to the public...
Lattomus: At that time because that row of houses where Mrs. Hallock and them lived that was a row house and there were mostly Italian families lived there.
Walls: Our cousin lived there.
Lattomus: Yes, but that was after.
Wilkinson: You are referring to Chicken Alley? Duck Street?
Lattomus: Yes. That Ponsi lived in one of them. He used to give us chestnuts. There used to be chestnut trees there.
Wilkinson: Who was living in Louviers when you were living in the du Pont house?
Lattomus: You mean down where Chick Laird lives?
Wilkinson: Where Laird lives now. Who occupied it?
Lattomus: Do you know that?
Walls: That house, I don't remember who was in it. It was boarded up for years.
Walls: We used to play there. Mrs. Laird has invited me over to see it. I have never gotten over to see it.
Lattomus: I have.
Walls: I have always wondered what it looked like. But it was boarded up for so many years. And then of course they have been in it quite a while. I don't know who lived in it. You mean who lived in that house where Chick Laird?
Lattomus: Connables lived in the house of Dean's. Bradfords lived...
Wilkinson: Back of Louviers where the Lairds lived there was Upper Louviers. Do you recall who occupied that?
Walls: Maddox lived up in there. Don't you remember?
Lattomus: I don't get the location.
Wilkinson: Up the Black Gates Road to Rockland Road as you come toward the creek. There are really two big properties. One is known as Upper Louviers or Louviers Upper House, and then Louviers where the Lairds live.
Lattomus: That's not up where Esther du Pont used to live?
Walls: No. That's right along the Brandywine.
Lattomus: That was newly built wasn't it?
Walls: Esther du Pont Wier, Lammot du Pont's daughter built that place close to the Brandywine.
Wilkinson: It was known as the White Farm, I think.
Walls: I don't know but there is another big place over there and it belongs to Francis I.
Wilkinson: This is Upper Louviers.
Walls: My brother and...
Lattomus: Well, who lived where Silliman's live? I thought Francis I. lived there.
Walls: Mrs. Frank's old place? Who lived in that?
Lattomus: The Silliman's? Corner there by Christ Church? Old Mrs. Frank lived there from the time I can remember. Well, see, the caretaker lived there for years and then some Frank Horty lived there for years. But they were more caretakers. Then they moved to 18th St., some place, and then Silliman's remodeled it, but that's who lived in the other place. Because they just did some work over there. Maddox lived up there years ago when Mommy was a girl, but this is Francis I. du Pont's place you are talking about. They just did some work over there last year, stucco on the outside, it is a great big place.
Wilkinson: You spoke of the Sand Hole as being a dump. We think of the Sand Hole as being the cemetery. Is there a distinction between the Sand Hole?
Lattomus: Well, right next, it was always a cemetery, but right next to the cemetery: they have enlarged that cemetery I think. There was a big hole and this is where we threw, not garbage, really, but rubbish, and that's where we found the frame of an old bicycle and my brothers put two wheelbarrow wheels on it they found up in that dump. That's how I learned to ride a bicycle. You get up to the top of the hill and they give you a push.
Wilkinson: Was the dump on the creek side of the cemetery?
Walls: It was between the cemetery and the road. That's where, after you go through where the gates are now, you turn to your left, there was an old dirt road in there and in there that was the dump. And it was a big one.
Scafidi: Was there ever a reservoir in there?
Lattomus: Yes. A little boy got drowned up there. That was on Carpenter's place. Before our time, wasn't it?
Wilkinson: That would be just beyond the cemetery.
Walls: No. You know where you turn into the road. It was right on your left and was right along the road.
Lattomus: They had a wire fence up. We used to get up there.
Wilkinson: Right along Stable Road?
Lattomus: Yes. Right as you turn in there. You know I had forgotten that reservoir but I remember it.
Walls: Oh no.
Wilkinson: Your house got its water from that reservoir?
Lattomus: No, we had a pump and a well.
Wilkinson: When you lived in the du Pont residence?
Walls: No, that belonged to Carpenter. That's Carpenter’ s estate.
Wilkinson: But I thought a number of the neighbors also drew water from the reservoir.
Walls: No, I don't think so.
Wilkinson: When you lived in what we call the Crowninshield house, you had water in the house. Now where did that water come from?
Walls: They had wells there, didn't they? I know we had running water because we had a bathroom.
Wilkinson: My thought was that it drew from this reservoir.
Lattomus: If it did I don't know. It could have. When did they take the reservoir out? It's when the people lived down in the Lower Banks, there you know, where Beckers live. Families lived all down in there because this boy lived down there who was drowned. So it was right after that that Mrs. Carpenter did away with it.
Wilkinson: Did he go in swimming?
Lattomus: Went fishing and fell off the thing. It was a slant, you couldn't get off the...the cement slanted you know, it wasn't straight up and down; it went like that and he slid right down it. The kid with him went home and got scared and got under the bed and didn't tell. But over at, call it the Collins' place to distinguish the houses, this is the one where the three houses were, we had a well and a pump right outside our kitchen door and I know that's where we got our water from because we pumped it there. I guess it is closed over.
Walls: There was no running water any place, not without that kind of...
Lattomus: No, because those people all had wells because they had no pipes down there when I was little and of course we lived down there when I was a baby too. Now this is the house. I don't know whether it's torn down or not across from Becker's. Is there still a house there?
Lattomus: Well, there used to be a house there. You know where Beckers are. On across there, about half a square I guess, there was a house there and that’ s where we lived when I was just a baby. We moved from Squirrel Run. Poppa was working for the DuPont Company and of course everybody that lived out there worked or did something for the Company or the yard. Or they didn't live there. It was just like Winterthur, you know, and I recall that. And then not too many years ago Howard's aunt and uncle lived there, Aunt Fannie and Uncle Stewart, and he worked for quite a number of years for Mrs. Crowninshield. Stewart Taylor. They lived there so they must have torn that house down.
Wilkinson: As I recall the Becker house is the only one that stands on that particular spot.
Scafidi: This is why we were so confused when you spoke of the Becker house.
Lattomus: Well, that is not, I don't know, Uncle Stewart Taylor left there. He was in the hospital for quite a number of weeks. He left there. He was supposed to have cancer and Chick Laird, I guess he couldn't do the work and Mrs. Crowninshield let him go.
Wilkinson: Chick Laird hired him and he is still living and working. There is a Mr. Taylor working for Laird.
Lattomus: Yes, that's him, Uncle Stewart.
Wilkinson: There is a younger Taylor also.
Lattomus: Yes, that's his son, Edward. He lives in the house where Cavanaughs used to live. Right there, catty-cornered from Breck's Lane. Well, they lived over there in this house that I'm talking about at that time. Now I don't know how many years ago it's been since Uncle Stewart left there but I would say that it's not too many years.
Wilkinson: Hasn't he been suggested as a person -we should talk to John?
Scafidi: Isn't he the caretaker at Breck's Mill?
Lattomus: Yes, at Breck's Mill. Well, he's Howard's uncle.
Scafidi: We keep running into your relatives.
Lattomus: I know.Synopsis: Lattomus and Walls discuss ice skating, fishing, boating, and swimming on Brandywine Creek. They say that when they were young the Creek was not polluted. The discuss the location of bridges and other crossings over the Brandywine. They talk about the location of the Sand Hole and the du Pont Family Cemetery. They talk about where they got drinking water in the days before indoor plumbing. Lattomus and Walls discuss members of their extended family still working for the du Pont family.Keywords: Boating; Brandywine Creek; Bridges; du Pont family; du Pont Family Cemetery; Family; Fishing; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Ice skating; Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1910-1989; Rockland (Del.); The Sand Hole; Water; Work
- Changes to the area; Confusion about pronouncing local namesPartial Transcript: Walls: Tell me something. Has that old building been torn down where we used to live, what would you call that house where we lived when we moved from the big house down. Is that what you are calling the Becker house?
Lattomus: That's what we are calling the Becker house.
Walls: Is the big building in back of that: oh, it was an enormous big building, I remember that it was there when we left.
Walls: It had a bell tower.
Lattomus: It wasn't the bell tower. That was over...
Walls: No, this was right in back of the Becker place because it had a road. It was some kind of a, oh, it was long, it had a roof on it. I don't know what they did in it, with Willows or what they did.
Wilkinson: The closest building that seems to fit what you're describing is what I mentioned as the charcoal house. Up the hill a little bit from the Beckers.
Walls: A road came down around that charcoal house on down around Beckers. See, there was a wall, a road came down around that, if that was the charcoal house!
Lattomus: ...there's an old bell tower. Was Cigarette's house torn down?
Walls: No, he lived down inside the gate.
Lattomus: Is that house still there?
Wilkinson: On the steep road that comes up from the creek, there today on the right hand side is a little stone building that was traditionally known as the first du Pont house. And then just beyond the road that runs on the upper side of that is the building we call the workmen's dormitory, where I think the Shields' used to live and one or two other families in a two family house. And across the road is the Becker place, and then just behind the Becker place is the Charcoal house.
Lattomus: Inside the gate, if you still have the gate there, anything that looks like it, was a road that goes down?
Wilkinson: Well, I think they converted that into a terrace. Mrs. Crowninshield, I think she converted it into a terrace.
Lattomus: And just around this gate, the fellow we call "Cigarette", that's where he lived.
Wilkinson: That's gone.
Lattomus: And the other place is where Mrs. Crowninshield's chauffeur Henry used to live. This place you are talking about.
Wilkinson: They have all been torn down except the dormitory and the first house.
Lattomus: You see they were all living when we left there. I mean they were all occupied when we left there.
Wilkinson: We must get out a picture which I think was made shortly after the 1890 explosion. But it is the upper property and it shows a big brick chimney, but in the foreground there seems to be a frame belfry tower.
Lattomus: Mrs. Walls: Oh, we played in that.
Wilkinson: That thing was on what kind of a building. What was that building?
Lattomus: It was a frame building, had a cupola, like a steeple and it had a bell on it. I don't know what that was used for, whether they tolled that when the powder yard blew up or what.
Wilkinson: The prominent thing that strikes you when you first look at the picture: the foreground of it: there is a great big cabbage patch. Did people grow lots of cabbages?
Lattomus: Do you know what I'm going to do this afternoon?
Wilkinson: Make sauerkraut.
Lattomus: I've got about 6 or 8 heads out there. Out of our garden.
Wilkinson: I think what we should do prior to your paying us a visit is to pull out the pictures we have of the upper property pertaining to the period when you knew it.
Lattomus: Yes, because going on back, if you go back too far all we know is what we have heard. Never believing that anyone would be interested. That's a good many years ago; 1901.
Wilkinson: You know the expression, "You wear well." John, do you have any thoughts on this?
Scafidi: Well, I can't think of anything except why do people call you Beatty instead of Betty?
Lattomus: I don't know. The Irish took that up and it was always B-E-T-T-Y. In fact we had a...
Walls: I have it in my safe deposit box. It's an old parchment written in ink with my grandfather's signature, Robert Betty, no "a" in it.
Lattomus: But a lot of the local Irish people always called it Beatty. It was the same way with these people where Eddie Taylor lives. We always knew them as Cavannaugh (pronounced Cavanna) but their name was actually Cavannaugh. But everybody called them Cavanna.
Walls: How about Gilson. Everybody called them Gilshon. I guess it was the Irish brogue.
Wilkinson: Well, there are Beattys around, aren't there?
Lattomus: Oh yes, there are Beattys. There are Beattys up here at Centerville, but that's a different family. No connection. It is B-E-A-T-T-Y.
Walls: Well, I have that paper.
Wilkinson: I think names underwent changes fairly frequently when people crossed over.
Lattomus: I had a first cousin, a college graduate and everything, and he went to court and had his name changed to Beatty. And we disowned him.
Wilkinson: He didn't like the Betty?
Walls: His wife didn't.
Lattomus: They would always say Betty what? In school they would say Faith Betty what?
Walls: They were pretty well familiarized with us.
Wilkinson: We have suggestions here about other persons to whom we should talk. Your husband and Stewart Taylor, your uncle. Now whom else?
Walls: I know a fellow but I don't know whether he would be very helpful or not. His father, his grandfather was blown up in the powders. His name is Dougherty. He has a radio place on Delaware Avenue, right near the old B& amp; O station. His grandfather was Cheuxall. He owned quite a bit of property at one time up at Montchanin and his grandfather was blown up in the powder mills. Now that's all the information I can give you. I don't know whether he knows more. His wife told me that. They were with us on the boat a couple of weekends ago and I was discussing this and she said maybe Lou would remember something. Although it was his grandfather he probably heard stories. It was spelled C-H-E-U-X-A-L-L, but I'm not sure. But Louis Dougherty is the one. He has his own business there.
Wilkinson: We talked to Les Mathewson, as I think I told you before. And we talked to a Philip Daugherty who used to live around Breck's Lane. We have been trying to get in touch with a Mr. McIllhenney. He has a daughter, Mrs. Naccia, I think it is. She works for the Company. And his son Robert who is out at Louviers.
Lattomus: There is one that is in the optical thing. Bob McIllhenney.
Wilkinson: This man was in the powder yards but his grandfather was blown up, or father blown up, in the 1890 explosion, and somehow or other he won't talk. They say he knows the local property very well and a lot of things that happened.
Scafidi: He doesn't like Italians and he doesn't like Poles.
Lattomus: Well, what does that have to do with it.
Scafidi: Well, my name is Scafidi and I called him up once.
Lattomus: What does that have to do with history. Tell him to go back from where he came from. If it hadn't been for some of the Poles; we needed Pulaski or some of them at one time. I think we can be most grateful.
Wilkinson: I don't know whether he is hanging on to an old prejudice.
Lattomus: Yes. Well, some people can't get rid of them you know.
Walls: well now look. This McInhinney we knew, they were born out here. Bos grandfather, was it Latham, what was he, was he a coachman for one of the du Ponts or something? This McIlhinney that we know, his father was Robert, and they were born and raised out here so they might be related or know something. Did Bob McIlhinney the father die? Oh, I'm pretty sure that he is dead now. I'll check with Bob.
Wilkinson: Did you know Elizabeth Easton. Miss Elizabeth Eaton. She is well along in her 70's.
Lattomus: Yes, see Bess Beacom graduated in the same class, she graduated in Howard's mother's class. She will live forever. She gets around. I thought Miss Eaton was dead.
Wilkinson: She worked for DuPonts for thirty-five or forty years.
Lattomus: How about Helen Hodgson?
Scafidi: Her father ran the cotton mill?
Lattomus: Yes. They called it Hudson but it was Hodgson. We always called her Helen Hudson. In fact I think she still goes to Christ Church, I'm not sure. I don't know where she lives. But her father owned them or ran them for quite a number of years. Now where she lives I don't know but it wasn't too long ago that I was talking to her.
Wilkinson: She belongs to Christ Church?
Lattomus: She did. Whether she still does or not I don't know. I’ m one of the renegades who doesn't go to church on Sunday. Elizabeth Craig would know I bet. She's another one that lived around here. Her mother still is living. Yes, she might be able to, oh, I bet they would. They live, they've lived on Rising Sun hill for years and her mother is 90 or 92. Her name is Broughton. But if you want any information from them I wouldn't be too long contacting them because her mother is, I think she is in a nursing home, Ingleside, and I don't know how clear her mind is now but she has been a marvelousperson and I know she is at least 90 or 92, and if she does have a memory she would certainly go back further than anybody else that I would know of. Mrs. Broughton's husband's name would be Howard. On Rising Sun Lane if you wanted to call her. But she has lived down there a long time. They still own that house where they live. They owned a double house there and her grandfather or somebody sold one part of it. Not many of those houses people own. They worked for the people who owned them so they do go back quite a long way.
Wilkinson: Now, do you want to talk about a convenient time when you folks would like to come and walk the property with us?Synopsis: They talk about changes to the local neighborhood. Walls talks about the differences between the Betty and Beatty families and clarifies the pronunciation of Betty. They talk about some of the other people in the area around the Brandywine and how the locals pronounced their family names in a way that did not match their actual spellings.Keywords: Accents; Beatty family; Betty family; Cavanaugh's store; Explosions; Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; Names
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