Interview with William T. Cloud, 1958 April 7 [audio](part 3)

Hagley ID:
  • Sorting powder grains by size; Packing powder; Women working in the packing plant
    Partial Transcript: "Going back to the graining or coming operation, we know that we caught grains of a given size between an upper and a lower screen."
    Synopsis: Cloud describes black powder manufacture; how after powder was dried in a glazing mill it was sorted by granule size using a series of screens. He talks about grading the size of powder grains and describes how the sorting machinery worked and what it looked like. Cloud says that this sorting machine was powered by an electric motor instead of a water turbine. He talks about packing the finished powder, which he said was done by hand. He says that all powder was packed into 25 pound kegs and, once the powder was packed in a keg, it was ready for shipment or storage. Cloud talks about women working in the packing plant and says that it didn't happen during his time there, but may have happened during World War I. He says that women worked in the packing area of the Wayne Black Powder Mills when he worked there.
    Keywords: Black powder; Electircity; Electric motors; Glazing; Graining; Kegging; Packing; Powder kegs; Screens; Sorting; Wayne Black Powde rMills
  • Getting orders for gunpowder; Working in the powder yard; Quality control of black powder; Storing black powder and black powder ingredients; Keg Shop at Hagley
    Partial Transcript: "On the Brandywine we got a good many orders from Wilmington by telephone. That was one of the bad parts of running a mill close to the main office. It was too handy and too easy to get a hold of, and orders were too easy to give and also too easy to change."
    Synopsis: Cloud talks about operating a powder mill close to DuPont's main office. He says that they got orders by phone and in writing and that they changed often. He talks about working with Joe Haley, the last powder yard foreman. He talks about daily work in the powder yard. He explains what happened if a lot of powder's expected density measurements were off. He talks about storing all the finished black powder and storing the ingredients for black powder. Cloud says that the saltpeter came from the refinery located at the Wayne Black Powder Mills. He talks about the operation of the keg shop saying that it was a particularly large operation and it supplied kegs for many different powder mills.
    Keywords: Black Powder; Density; Hagley Keg Mill; Hagley Yard; Haley, Joseph; Kegs; Orders; Potasium Nitrate; Powder kegs; Quality controls; Saltpeter; Specific gravity; Storage; Telephones; Wayne Black Powder Mills; Wilmington, Del.
  • Dealing with changing export orders from Wilmington, Delaware; Domestic black powder use; Leaving the Brandywine mills
    Partial Transcript: "We might get a telephone order from the Wilmington office maybe on Tuesday telling us as of noon the following Saturday a ship would be sailing from New York to South America, and they would want maybe several hundred or maybe a thousand cases of powder put up in these little canisters or flasks. Well, that meant that we would have to scurry around and get a lot of temporary help and run the canister packing house around the clock in order to meet this sailing date the following Saturday. Then, as like as not, after all this furor, the sailing of the ship was cancelled..." "...The entire black powder operation was conducted by one division of the High Explosives Operating Department. In my time at the Brandywine mills the head of the black powder division was Mr. E. H. Ford, who was known as the general superintendent."

    " I left the Brandywine mills in the latter part of April, 1920, to become superintendent of the Wilpen mills at Hibbing, Minnesota. I was succeeded for a temporary period by Walter Farmer whom I had succeeded back in April, 1919, at Brandywine. Mr. Farmer assumed charge for a matter of a month or six weeks and was then replaced by C. C. Counts, who had been superintendent at the Connable, Alabama, mills."
    Synopsis: Cloud talks about the challenges of getting constantly changing orders from DuPont's main office in Wilmington and having to pack and repack powder as orders changed. He says that this work took a lot of extra people and supplies as most of this powder was intended for South American export and each country had different rules for importing foreign made explosives. He says in the twentieth century the primary market for black powder was foreign exports. Cloud describes how DuPont managed their black powder division. He talks about leaving the Brandywine mills.
    Keywords: Black powder; Brandywine Mills; DuPont; Exports; Hagley Yard; Hibbing, Mn; Orders; Sales; South America; Wilmington, Del.; Wilpen Mills

Digitized material in this online archive may document imagery or language that reflects racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and harmful beliefs and actions in history. Hagley Library is engaged in ongoing efforts to address and responsibly present evidence of oppression and injustice in our collections. If you are concerned about the archival material presented here, or want to learn more about our ongoing work, please contact us at