Interview with William Frederick Lynch, 1956 October 5 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Family history; Working at Hagley;
    Partial Transcript: "My name is William Frederick Lynch. I'll be 93 on the 27th of March. I've been in this house 68 years."
    Synopsis: Lynch talks about his family history and says that he is of Irish and English descent. He says that before working at the powder yards he had been a plumber in Wilmington. He talks about who ran the different powder yards and about his work in the powder yards and says it was all pipe work. He talks about daily work schedules. He says that they didn't work Sundays, barring emergencies, until World War I. [Lynch is occasionally difficult to understand.]
    Keywords: County Donegal, Ireland; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; English Americans; Hagley Yard; Immigration; Irish Americans; Keye's Hill; Malin Head, Ireland; Management; Oxford, Pa; Plumbing; Quakers; West Chester, Pa; Wilmington, Del.; World War (1914-1918)
  • Salaries at DuPont; Employee turnover and strikes
    Partial Transcript: "Well, I'll tell you about salaries. Alfred du Pont was a very very slow man in pay. Outside of that, he was all right." "The only trouble was they didn't pay enough money to get extraordinary, but I had some darn good men."
    Synopsis: Lynch talks about salaries and wages working for DuPont. He says that Alfred I. du Pont was often slow to pay his employees. He says that he did not have a very high employee turn over rate and talks about the one strike he recalls. He talks about hiring workers for his plumbing gang and says he had some "darn good men." He discusses working in and around the powder mills.
    Keywords: Employees; Money; Plumbing; Powder Maker's Union; Salaries; Strikes; Wages
  • Narrow gauge railroad in the powder yards
    Partial Transcript: "The narrow gauge track ran clean from one end, from Hagley Yard, from the coal bin there, clean on up - followed the race up on the left hand side, on the west side, and it went, right there where there was a bridge across that race there. Then it went right up past, right in front of the rolling mills, all the way up, around Birkenhead, and then they had a little side track go up to the big packing house up there, and then it went all the way up, clean on up to the magazine, way up in the Upper Yard."
    Synopsis: Lynch describes the course traveled by the narrow gauge railroad in the powder yards and the little train and type of cars it pulled. He talks about designing the cars for the train and the safety concerns of having a steam engine running near the powder mills.
    Keywords: Locomotives; Narrow gauge railroad; Rolling Stock; Trains
  • Safety and rules; Blacksmith shop; Installing fire hydrants in the powder yards
    Partial Transcript: "First thing - and most important thing of all concerning safety - if you were caught striking a match or a fire you'd never get back again. You couldn't have matches nowhere."
    Synopsis: Lynch talks about safety in the yards and the steps taken to prevent fires and explosions. He says that DuPont sold nail free shoes (so they could not strike sparks) for the powder men to wear for safety purposes. He brielfy talks about the blacksmith shop and returns to safety concerns. He talks about a building where the powder men could change their clothes and shower after leaving work and installing fire hydrants in the powder yards.
    Keywords: Blacksmithes; Explosions; Fire; Fire hydrants; Matches; Safety; Shoes
  • 1915 Hagley yard packing house explosion; Women working in the powder yards during World War I; Railroad spur into Hagley
    Partial Transcript: "I reported I seen these boys putting powder on that track. That's where the 32 boys were killed."
    Synopsis: Lynch talks about the 1915 packing house explosion and claims that before the explosion he observed boys putting powder on the narrow gauge railroad track in order to watch it explode. He describes the explosion and the cleanup following, saying some people left after the explosion, but not many. He talks about the women employed packing powder during World War I. He says women were only employed as an emergency measure and many of them were African Americans. He talks about the railroad spur that went into the powder yards.
    Keywords: 1915 packing house explosion; African Americans; Explosions; Hagley yard; Packing house; Women; Work
  • Scrapping the powder yards; Lynch's children; Worker's villages; Lynch's home
    Partial Transcript: "I was there after they dismantled the Brandywine and got everything out."
    Synopsis: Lynch talks about visiting the powder yards after they had been closed and the machinery sold to scrap dealers. Lynch talks about his children, both of whom died young. He says that working in the powder yards did not pay better than much other work. He says that during his time working for DuPont most of the workers lived in the workers surrounding the powder yards. He talks about the ethnic makeup of the powder men and some of the stores and business in the area. He talks about some Italians who were on his plumbing gang. He says that one of them moved to Kennett Square, Pa. and made his fortune in the mushroom business. Lynch talks about his home.
    Keywords: Children; Hagley Yard; Homes; Irish Americans; Italian Americans; Kennett Square, Pa.; Metal; Rents; Scrapping; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Typhoid fever

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