Interview with Harvey L. Fell, 1968 June 17 [audio]
- Traveling in the area around Hagley; Farms and the powder yardSynopsis: Fell talks about the roads and traveling in the area around Hagley. He details what areas were farm fields and security measures to keep people out of Hagley Yard. He says that when he worked there, Eleutherian Mills was a police barracks.Keywords: Eleutherian Mills (Greenville, Del. : Estate); Farms; Guards; Hagley Yard; Roads; Street-railroads; TravelTranscript: This interview was granted by Dr. Harvey L. Fell of 30 Paschall Drive, Shellburne, Wilmington, Delaware on July 17, 1968. Persons present at the interview were Dr. Norman Wilkinson, John Watson and John Scafidi. The interview took the form of a part-driving and part-walking interview. It began at the junction of Route 100 and Buck Road, the interviewers and their subject proceeded up Buck Road to the Foundation gates, then to the barn, walked through the barn then drove through the grounds of the residence and down into the powder yard. Dr. Fell will be heard answering questions asked during that interview, sometimes without the question being asked.
Fell: We didn't do the traveling they do now, and I don't think the roads were marked the way they are. I don't recall [traffic interference]...go up the Montchanin Road to Chadds Ford or something like that. We didn't have the travelers going through the roads. I imagine they were numbered, but not posted like they are now.
Wilkinson: Now this corner was Hunter's Corner?
Fell: This was Hunter's Corner right in here, and of course right along here, running parallel with the road, was the old stone tavern and in 1918 it was divided into three sections: Bill Betty, the farm boss lived in the upper one, Jake Hoover lived in this one on this end, and I think somebody named Snyder - I'm not sure - lived in the center one. I know one of the men who worked on the farm was Bill Snyder, Bill Betty's brother-in-law, but there were three families lived here and there was the old pump out in the front that was there when it was a tavern and if you just glanced at it, it looked like the old pictures you see of an old stone tavern along a country road.
Wilkinson: We do have a few pictures of this in a little earlier time when it was Fleming's Tavern. Now, when you came out from home, you came either by the trolley...?
Fell: I came by the work car and there was a little train station waiting room, and during the summer time they had soft drinks to sell.
Wilkinson: Would that be on the corner of Bobby Carpenter's property?
Fell: Yes, it would be right almost about here.
Wilkinson: Right at the junction of Buck Road and Route 100?
Fell: Yes, notice going down through the woods there - the opening -that's where the trolley tracks went all the way down through Henry Clay and down through the woods and came out through the woods at the old Bancroft School there almost down at Woodlawn Avenue, swung up there and around 6th Street.
Wilkinson: Now, when you came out on horseback you would come out where?
Fell: Came right out Pennsylvania Avenue out Route 100 right out here.
Wilkinson: You said the roads were hard top?
Fell: Yes, what we called in those days the old macadam road, they put down the fine stone and the coarser stone and then covered with stone dust. It didn't hold up too well but of course there wasn't that high-speed driving - it was all horse and buggy. That was considered a hard road on a horse, too - it was a stone road. In later years, they put this amesite or asphalt on it.
Wilkinson: Now going down Route 100 toward Barley Mill Road, Mrs. Archibald du Pont lived on the right hand side. Who were some of the other people who lived down there?
Fell: That was about the only house on this side at that time. And then of course in later years, when the property was divided up, Mrs. Thompson Brown and Mr. Thompson Brown got this corner and built this house in here, and their son Robert Brown built across from them, and these houses have come up since then. There wasn't a house on what we call Church Street to here, except Mrs. Archibald du Pont's.
Watson: Were any of these the fields the ones you were working?
Fell: Oh yes, we worked these. This was a cornfield in here, went down over toward Mr. Simpson Dean’ s place, and in fact his front lawn was a cornfield. This was all farm land, and up there beyond Mrs. Archibald du Pont's - from her house on out to Barley Mill Road, as I said we called it Church Street in those days, that section from Montchanin Road to the Pike was known as Church Street and then on the other side it was Barley Mill Road, and of course Barley Mill Road went over - branched off of Mrs. Tyler McConnell's place. This is new, cutting across there now. We used to go over the grade crossing over the railroad. Where Bobby Carpenter lives now - Wagoner's Row - there was a long row of stone houses there, and they more or less looked like a continuous row of houses there where in the earlier days the so-called wagoners, the fellows who drove the powder wagons, lived in there. [Picture] This area right down in there is where the trolley tracks went down through the woods and in through Henry Clay and right there at Newbridge there is still a post there because in later years we used to use that as a bridle path, right down through the woods just across the Creek from the Experimental Station.
Wilkinson: Did you use Squirrel Run to water your horse once in a while?
Fell: No, when I would be riding - of course this is what I thought of when you said Squirrel Run, at the entrance there. This is Squirrel Run and that's where it got its name.
Wilkinson: Now what was on the left-hand side here? Was this all powder mill property?
Fell: It is now Dilwyne, but to my recollection I think it was a hayfield and clear on beyond this was all the farm land. Now the senior carpenters lived up here on the right-hand side. We farmed land way over to the W & amp; N Railroad. They used to say if you sat in the rear coach you could shake hands with the engineer half a dozen times. This was a stone road up here. The property was all farm land. The du Pont home on the right was just as it is now, but I understand it was once the office.
Wilkinson: Riding in on your horse, were there any other landmarks?
Fell: No, the first thing you saw right at the corner here would be the cemetery, and of course you could see Christ Church over in here and Mrs. Silliman's house was standing here but we never had much to do down that far. We farmed this field from Mrs. Paul du Pont's to what is now Simpson Dean's front lawn.
Wilkinson: What did the entrance look like when you came in here?
Fell: There was just a roadway - no entrance, no gate posts or anything like that. The road just went right straight in and right straight down the hill.
Scafidi: Did it have trees on either side to mark it?
Fell: Oh yes, this, when you come in here and you turn to go to the Library, I feel as though I should go right straight down - it looks as though they put grass right over the old stone road.
Wilkinson: Now a stranger, coming here, how would he know he was entering the powder mill property? Were there no arches, signs, DuPont Powder Mill?
Fell: No. The sign was down at Henry Clay at the entrance to the powder yard. Even up here at the entrance to the Upper Gates a stranger had no business up here as far as that was concerned. This was a farm.
Wilkinson: There was a man here at the control gate?
Fell: There wasn't anyone here. Of course, you see the powder yard was guarded here in 1918 and Mrs. Crowninshield's home was a police barracks. And if you would happen to come in here - there were very few automobiles here then - most people would have to come out on the trolley and walk up here and I don't think that many people knew that this was in conjunction with the powder yard. But in 1918 you wouldn't get in. You would get down to the end there and at this Upper Gate you turned to your left and there were guards right there - the whole yard was enclosed in a fence and there were guards all around so prior to that, it was open.
Scafidi: But you could get in, say to the barn?
Fell: Yes, nobody would ask any questions.
Wilkinson: In other words, as you approached here you would get the impression you were just going on to a farm?
Fell: Yes, that's right. Just like a country lane. And there was this fork in the road that went down to Christ Church - it was just a stone road, too, and you were just in farm country. Because your fence came clear up to here and as I say all this area in here...
Wilkinson: Now when you speak of a fence, do you mean the fence that ran right alongside the...right where these trees are?
Fell: Yes, that's right.
Watson: What kind of fence was it?
Fell: Post and rail.
Wilkinson: Then beyond the fence over here...?
Fell: Was all a cornfield. Now there was a little dirt road that ran from Mrs. Crowninshield's up past here, and there was a little building sat off in here, was kind of an office of some kind, seemed tome kind of like a one room building.
Wilkinson: As we're looking at the front of Mrs. Crowninshield's house, it was to the right?
Scafidi: 100 yards, 200 yards, how far?
Fell: I would say maybe 300 yards. But this road went right straight down to Mrs. Crowninshield's house, but when you get down to where that one big tree seems to stand out further there was two big trees there. They were the gateway into the upper barn.
Wilkinson: Now over by the cemetery wall, to the left of the Library road, what was...?
Fell: This was a hayfield that summer. You remember I told you about the blind horse and the yellow jackets got him. That happened right here in this field, and I ran him clear over to that far corner and close to the rail fence, and fortunately he stopped.
Wilkinson: Did that extend all the way over to what is now the Dilwyne property?
Fell: Yes, I would say yes.
Wilkinson: There was no livestock like turkeys, or chickens?
Fell: No. No cattle, no sheep. The only livestock here were the horses that were used to work the farm.
- Stables at HagleySynopsis: Fell talks about the stables and barns at Hagley. He talks about where they stored wagons when not in use and how workers fed and cared for DuPont's horses.Keywords: Barns; Horses; Stables; WagonsTranscript: Wilkinson - Now I take it that this is the big tree that you had reference to and just below it where those stone columns are, is that where you would turn your wagon?
Fell: Right into here, yes and there was a little frame shack which was Bill Betty's office, headquarters, and of course you didn't need much in the summer time, but there was a little pot-bellied stove to keep it warm in the winter, and it almost looked like a park guard's house. Right here on this side, just about where we are sitting was a little two story - it looked like a little barn - there was just room for Smith's powder yard team and he had this private barn. There was just room for him to back his wagon in and two stalls for his horses.
Wilkinson: Near that big tree?
Fell: Almost right where we are sitting. Just off from the road that came down. There was a little loft upstairs; it was just like a little two-story family stable you would call it. Of course, it was there for a purpose years ago, but the two horses were kept here, and over here just beyond the gangway of the barn was a long shed where we backed our wagons in at night. And then you'd unhook your horses, and they would go down this incline - the horses were down below, and then of course the upper part of the barn was all hay mow.
Watson: I was going to show Dr. Fell this picture and ask whether this brought back any memories of what it looked like.
Fell: Just very much what it looked like in those days. Here was the main barn and under this wing down here - horses down here and the horses were back here, but there was a cobblestone runway that went down here to the lower floor. Now this little office building sat right here on the right-hand side, just off the picture, and that - on this side was a long, long shed - these wagons were a thing of the past in '18 except that they had a couple of them without the canvas top that they hauled manure out of town. Of three horses, they would have one horse in the shafts, one horse in the middle and one what we called the lead horse. Two of them were kept busy all the time hauling manure out of the stables in town for fertilizer and they'd bring it out to the pit down here below the barn and dump it there and when they were ready to use it, it was well rotted and haul it out again. But this is just like olden times.
Watson: [John showed Dr. Fell another picture.]
Fell: This is the kind of a rig that they used to haul manure out of town, and when they used that they used three horses.
Fell: That [the Bus Waiting Room] would be more or less in the neighborhood of the open shed that I spoke about.
Watson: I think it was open at one time.
Fell: The whole front would be open and we went up there and backed our wagons in there at night and unhooked the horses and take them on down.
Watson: Which side of this shed would have been open?
Fell: This side - the back was closed.
Wilkinson: Did they extend downhill or did they run back that way?
Fell: I would say they came up this way and even further than this.
Wilkinson: This wall was here wasn't it?
Fell: No, there were just a few old stables back there, and there were some sheds along here and you came right up into the so-called hay field that was sort of terraced more like it is down there. The wall wasn't there in 1918.
Watson: Do you remember by any chance what kind of shingles were on the roof of the barn at that time? That is something you probably wouldn't notice. Were they slate or wood?
Fell: It seems to me they were slate. Because this was really an outstanding barn. Built better than most country barns were, and it seems to me it was a slate roof.
Watson: One of the reasons I ask is that in the picture they are wood but I was trying to find out when they had put the slate roof on.
Fell: Now I couldn't vouch - but it seems to me it was a slate roof.
Watson: I'm wondering if Mrs. Crowninshield might have done it.
Wilkinson: The pump over here. Was that trough and pump operative?
Fell: That was right alongside the...now let me see...the pump was there but the trough I think was down there beside the stable. Maybe there is one still there. For that section of the stable over there.
Watson: Was there a watering pump such as this? See here in this picture? I think that is what was there and we simply built the little shed to hide the gasoline pump.
Fell: Yes, that's right, because the pump would have been right in here some place, and we unhooked our horses at night and just of their own accord just come - right down here - and there was a big watering trough down here, just outside of this archway, where they stopped to get the water at the same time, back into their stalls.
Watson: Now, you said they went into their stalls. Were they stabled in this little building underneath or underneath the main barn?
Fell: Underneath the main barn - there were stalls on both sides at that time. They came all the way down and steps went down here into the barn with the horses in it were in this section over here.
Watson: But yours were in the main barn? [Walking down cobblestone runway]
Fell - Yes, they came along down here. Of course, that was just steps in there where you came in the morning and got your horses, and Hoover had the harness already on. Went down these steps and bring your horses on out. It was only a coincidence that I was lucky enough to be sent down to the Yard the last six weeks I was here, or else I wouldn't have had that experience at all. The first part of the summer I just simply drove the team on the farm. Here was the manure pit that I spoke of. (The parking lot below the barn)(Picture) Here was a cement base a little lower than the roadway and they'd bring out these three horse wagon loads of manure and unload it - it would pile up sometimes 10 feet high, in the spring when they were ready to use the manure it was well rotted and it was hauled out in the fields.
Wilkinson: Was this side of the barn referred to as the rear or side or was it referred to as the front?
Fell: I would call it the back.
Watson: What kind of doors were on these here?
Fell: Just regular stable doors - archway of stone of course – Dutch doors split in half. (Interference - background) Each one of these was a stall.
Watson: Were these little round windows there or were they open at that time?
Fell: They were just bars. I guess they must have been round. They were just so they could have ventilation in the summer but closed in the wintertime. But each one of these was near the stalls - l, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and over here there were 6 more. There was a partition here. There was room for - there would be two rows here, in other words, two rows here, and the horses would stand tail to tail. And these horses here had to be led through here, walked through, and these horses here, and you walked straight through and the ones on the far side you had to go around each one separately.
Wilkinson: This would take care of 24 horses. Double tiers of stalls.
Watson: Do you remember the flooring in here at that time? Was it brick?
Fell: At that time concrete and then a sort of a plank right in the stall so that the horses weren't standing on concrete. They were standing on board, on wood. Back of each one was a concrete gutter to carry the urine off and was drained toward the manure pit. And then of course the other stables faced out along the lane that came down.
Wilkinson: Did you ever hear an explanation for the circular windows? They said they went back so far that no one ever knew...
Watson: They are fairly common Dr. Wilkinson.
Fell: And like these archways here - it is sort of in the construction of the arch made it a stronger support than a perfectly square window.
Watson: Did you ever see them cleaning the stall over there? That apparently is what these openings are - places where you can clean the stall. (Walking through the parking lot over to the stable on the left-hand side of the barn looking at barn from rear)
Wilkinson: Here's the other trough you were referring to and then you come in from this side.
Fell: Right here is where they'd come in. See this wall here and they were more or less the kind of a shed that was up there that I spoke of back there, where we backed our wagons in.
Scafidi: How about the pillars? Is this place pretty much the same?
Fell: Very much the same.
Wilkinson: It is used for many purposes now.
Fell: And that's just the way it was in the other barn, you see, the stalls went in...
John Watson - There's one of the stalls all the way down at that end, Dr. Fell. We left one for you.
Fell: This is almost like one of the old-fashioned cow stalls, they didn't come out square, they came out almost at an angle. There is the stairway that went up to the upper level. You'd come in that door and down here in the morning.
Watson: I think we've added that stairway Dr. Fell.
Fell: There was a stairway there.
Watson: All the way to the second floor?
Fell: I'm trying to figure how that came in...
[Going up the stairway]
- Second floor and horse stalls in the barn at HagleySynopsis: Fell continues his tour of the barn at Hagley. He is asked to identify some pieces of farm equipment. He talks about the sort of wagons used at DuPont when he worked there in 1918.Keywords: Barns; Horse; Wagons; WaterTranscript: Fell: Well, that's the one I'm thinking of. The upper level and you just came down...the same principal as the other barn, if you go in that door and down a few steps in the barn and in through here. That fooled me because I knew there was a doorway to come down to this stable, and that's the way the other barn over there was with just sort of a rounded gutter to carry the urine off.
Wilkinson: These semi-circular outcroppings, is this where hay...?
Fell: Hay was thrown down there - they had a hay rack there and you could go up into the mow and fork it down and you could poke it down and the horse could stand there and eat.
Scafidi: And you would swamp the stalls out through these round openings.
Fell: I don't know what they were for because you can see roughly where your stalls l, 2, 3, 4, 5 - there were 7 horses kept down here at that time. Because three of them who were on the pump wagon that went around all over the yard to the various homes and pumped out the cesspools and hauled away what they called the night soil and they drove a two horse team with one lead horse - 3 horses - and Jimmy Devers and John [Cammaranda?] were the two - that was their job - that's all they did all the time and then Bill Snyder had a team of gray horses that stood in here down at this level and then there was another sort of an odd team that were named for Bill Betty's two boys - Buck and George were the horses' names, a big bay horse and a gray horse and you worked them as a team and then when they needed an extra horse they'd split that team. So there were 2, 4, 7 horses and now I'm trying to figure where the seven of them...
Watson: I think they can all get in here Dr. Fell. I count these openings back here.
Fell: That's right because look these head sheets - the partition would be right in the center and then when they poked it down it came right to these racks or rails and the horse could stand there and eat and as long as he could reach, he could keep pulling hay down.
Wilkinson: Now these arches - they are filled in now - that would be simply for light and ventilation.
Fell: I would say so. Because of course you see there was a manger there. I never realized they were there because you see you have your wooden manger that would come away from the wall and your feed box and that would hide that almost completely, so it was apparently put up for cross ventilation in the summer time.
Scafidi: Did you see men swamping these stalls out not using those openings?
Fell: Oh no, they definitely didn't use it for that purpose. Manure was taken out through this door with wheel barrows. But with the wooden mangers in front of that, you'd never even notice that the window was there. (The store room used for flower pots.)
Fell: This is where they kept the pump wagon.
Wilkinson: It wasn't the tack room?
Fell: No, we didn't have any tack rooms. Back of each stall there would be these pegs. Over in the other barn where my team was, it was right in the back. I wasn't any larger then than I am now, and I mean to tell you, when you go to pull a set of that double harness off it would almost floor you. The only way I could do it would be to work my harness back over the horse's rump and get down real low and suddenly just make a lunge and hope the harness strap would catch on that hook, and then I could take my britchings and hook them up, and if I missed it, we went down on the floor, that's all there was to it. Fortunately in the mornings, as I say, when I came in to go to work, why, your horses already had the harness on. Jake Hoover did it.
Watson: Did you ever see any other vehicles out here beside the pump wagon and your farm equipment? Any personal vehicles?
Fell: No. Bill Betty - as I say, we called him Beatty - walked all over - he didn't drive a team. His brother Bob Betty lived over here at Rock Springs - he worked here on the farm at the little stone house over at Mrs. Draper's place.
Wilkinson: A mail wagon and a general delivery wagon that served the homes around this area - wasn't it based - didn't they park their wagon in this upper end.
Fell: I never saw them. That was probably before 1918.
Watson: Was there ever a gate here?
Fell: No, I don't remember any gate here. They used to bring the manure right around and dumped it here - at the gate here and the wall up there - it seemed to me the wall ran more or less down here and tapered off because the driveway - as I say you could come in here, but otherwise we'd come out in the morning, and we'd come out the upper gate and down here at Mrs. Crowninshield's house and make a left-hand turn at what we called the Upper Gate, a great big tall slat wooden gate. They'd close it and the guards would stand there. They had to search you after you got down off your wagon to see if you had any matches. You’ d take the harness off him, tie him there and sponge him off, try to cool him off, and go in and eat your supper.
Wilkinson: Now the water supply in this part of the barn? Piped in?
Fell: It seems to me they just drove a pipe into the wall, and that water ran all the time. My horses were kept in those two end stalls there, and I just came down that stairway. (Through the doors to the back of the lower stable area.)
Watson: There is your stairway.
Fell: Here is where Jake had his feed bin with his oats and stuff.
Watson: That's what I was going to ask you, whether this was used for storing feed. Do you remember the potato cellar underneath the ramp?
Scafidi: We're going upstairs to the main level of the barn by the back stairway through the root cellar.
Fell: This was like the one-horse wagon that George Betty used to drive back and forth to town. This is just a two-horse wagon. His was just a single wagon. This is a spring wagon, a good deal like the old-fashioned brewery wagon where you sat up over the horses - these were definitely being used then, in 1918. You sat up much higher - your body was higher - it would haul much more than this. That's the wagon exactly. (Red bodied wagon with the rails on the side.)
Watson: Did you ever see any vehicles like this? This is the DuPont delivery wagon. It was used - I don't know whether you can see it - it's faded.
Fell: No we didn't have anything like that out here then. That was really the early days.
Watson: With an open stake bed on it.
Wilkinson: We have been told that was used for hauling empty kegs.
Fell: Probably was.
Watson: You didn't see one.
Fell: No. There weren't any using 6 horse hitches when I was here. This is just something similar to what you were describing only with a cover on it. We had no covered wagons but that's the same type wagon spring type - I suppose earlier they had used the...
Watson: I thought you might enjoy seeing some of these. Here's a tandem hitch.
Fell: That is just the way they used to haul manure out from town. The fellow would sit back on the wagon and there was no line or anything on his lead horse and he could bring them right out through town with gee and haw.
Wilkinson: This is on the narrow gauge track down in the yard.
Fell: Now when I was here they had the two horses that pulled these powder cars up and down the track - just two single horses. (V 20 - 4 is a similar one, V 20 - 3 single car with a single horse.)
Fell: That's what they were using when I was here, and those horses went back and forth without the driver; one driver was at one end, and the other driver was at the other end, and all they did was switch the singletree on it and start the one horse back, and the other horse was coming up. That's the type wagon that I was speaking of, the little one-horse wagon that George Cleaver drove. It was the only one they had here at the time. Most of his work was delivering things from in town and from the Hall of Records to the yard office.
Watson: Well, this is down here at what is now the Museum building and this had a second story on it at that time. You didn't recall that?
Wilkinson: That's the little building we are referring to as the Annex.
Fell: I think this was even before George Cleaver.
Watson: Something like this? Any two-wheel vehicles like this around? Did you see any for hauling stone?
Fell: If we used anything, it was just a regular dump cart like this up on the farm. Of course this was all cleared out. They weren't doing any hauling of logs or doing any clearing, magazines were all built over through the woods on both sides of the Brandywine.
Watson: Did you see this sleigh or a sleigh like it?
Fell: I wasn't here in the wintertime at all. I had a sleigh of my own. I remember as a kid in the horse and buggy days of Wilmington they really did some sleighing. They used to race up and down French St. and Gilpin Avenue used to be quite a sleigh racing place, until someone almost got killed on Wilmington-Brandywine stone wall there. Couldn't stop the horse coming into Gilpin Avenue.
Watson: Maybe you can tell me something. Do you know any reason for screening on the top of the front?
Fell: To keep the horses from throwing snowballs in your face.
Watson: But why not leather? You had a dashboard.
Fell: Well, I couldn't say what the screening was for. Just to keep it a little more open - just style - just like automobiles today – just like a surrey with a fringe on top. Different type wagons.
Watson: What about a fanning mill? Did you have one of those when you were working on the farm? All part of the threshing operation then?
Wilkinson: Am I right on this John? They are sledges or sleds? Did you ever see these in operation in the wintertime? Were they used for hauling heavy material for construction purposes?
Fell: Yes, and in the woods for logging. They brought logs out of the woods because they could get through places nothing else could. It was set off to the sides you see so that if somebody is coming toward you the horse can be clear down in the gutter and still be pulling the sleigh over against the side.
Watson: Oh, I thought it was because he would run in the track that the other sleighs had made as well.
Fell: Yes, that's right.
- Identifying farm tools; Baling hay; Identifying buildings at Hagley; Daily work in the powder yard; Drinking Italian wineSynopsis: The tour of the barn continues. Fell identifies farm equipment and answers questions as to whether or not those tools were in use when he worked at Hagley. Fell identifies the buildings at Hagley and describes their functions. He talks about a time he drank wine with an Italian family in Squirrel Run. He returns to identifying and describing the buildings at Hagley.Keywords: Baling machines; Barns; Farm tools; Hagley Yard; Hay; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Italian Americans; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); WineTranscript: Watson: You're higher than you think you are. See that doorway is right below you now. The doorway you're thinking of is right below you now. Did you ever see a hay rake like this?
Watson: That was before your time.
Fell: There's your handle - raised it up and hooked it and of course when you let it down well, then you tripped it with that pedal and when your right foot and of course the idea was to make long rows and tripped it and the first thing you know you had a roll of hay and then the fellow came along with the pitch fork and heaped it up in heaps and put it on the wagon.
Watson: Did you come here with your hay into this barn? Was there a hay fork on the roof? We've taken it out but I wanted to know, did it lay right across this way, didn't it?
Fell: Yes, it came in this way. And then it tripped here, and they could throw it either into that mow or this mow, and of course when they were hauling in why most of us younger fellows, why we were put up there to stamp in the hay, and believe me that was a hot job.
Watson: I imagine there was siding up on each side of this ramp - up as high as that first stringer?
Fell: Yes. You see you could drive right in there with a wagon. The horse was on the outside and the fellow would sink his hay fork in and whoever was riding the horse on the hay fork would holler whoa and trip it and then you would go a little bit farther back and holler whoa and they would snatch it and they'd just turn the horse around and come back and they pulled the fork back with a snatch rope by hand.
Watson: Did you use a spike harrow like that?
Watson: But they had some in the barn when you came?
Fell: Oh, yes.
Watson: I didn't know whether they were still using this or whether they had gone on to the modern disk harrow.
Fell: Well, of course, even today they use spike teeth harrows. The corn was just in the stage where it didn't need cultivating.
Watson: Was there lattice work on the sidewalls of this hay mow then like there is in here now?
Fell: Yes. Of course they always had that in barns because that allowed for ventilation to get down because of spontaneous combustion.
Watson: You talked in the previous interview, which I read, about using steam power for thrashing. Did you see any evidence of a treadmill or any other kind of horse power?
Fell: Not here. As I say, when I was a kid I had an uncle who lived down at Brandywine Springs, and we lived there during the summer, was an old farmer there that had his own thrashing machine and it was treadmill. He had the treadmill there and he had this old horse that he put in there and he just walked all day long.
Wilkinson: What are these chutes used for - open on one side?
Watson: It would feed the hay down below - the trap door in the floor.
Fell: Yes, you see when the - then it is open because when it was clear off the top then you come down, and you just put it through here.
Watson: There is evidence of one in the back but I didn't think they would have two on the same side. [Up on the threshing floor now.]
Watson: What kind of a thrashing machine did they have? Did they have one on wheels or did they have one that sat in one place and you brought the wheat to it?
Fell: Portable - it went from place to place. It looked like one of these great big steam engines, and then the thrashing machine itself was hauled in back of it, and they came - just booked up, fellows that just made a business of that. When it came after 4th of July, and the wheat was cut why they spent the rest of the summer and fall going from place to place. I don't know how they charged. I guess it was by so much a bushel.
Watson: Do you happen to remember the names of any of the machinery that you used? Like a Pitts Thresher or a Kirby Mower or anything like this.
Fell: No, because as I say what was here then was all - the early part of the farming operation was more or less over, and it was all horse drawn equipment, no tractor, gasoline motors, at all.
Watson: Did you have binder for the hay?
Fell: A baler do you mean?
Watson: Not a baler. A wire binder, a twine binder.
Fell: Well of course, you see, we didn’ t speak of binding hay. We just talked about baling and sometimes in those days, most of it was with the wire - that was a good way, and then they got to using regular binder twine and you couldn't pack it nearly so tight because it couldn't be tied that tight. They must have done some baling here later, but I imagine they waited to see how their hay supply was going to run, and then maybe in the early spring when they were getting ready for a fresh supply, if they had a lot left, they would go ahead and bale it. But the only thing that I recall at all being hauled away from here was wheat. We had to haul it up to Chadds Ford.
Watson: Was this the only barn that you brought hay into? Was there any other stable down in the yard, say by the Blacksmith Shop or where the machine shop down in the middle of the yard? I was thinking of a stable for the horses that were used down in the yard.
Fell: In the earlier days there must have been. When they had mules and all that they used in the yard. But there was no livestock kept there, no indication of a stable. I never saw a stable down in the yard.
Watson: What were these places [either side of front door] used for then?
Fell: I sort of imagine that maybe because of down in that entry way down below where I said they had those feed bins that probably more oats and corn for instance might have been kept in there. Run right along so that it could be put down the chute where the hay goes to fill those bins because I know they had more grain on hand than the feed bin could hold.
Watson: Was there anything on either side in the front here Dr. Fell?
Fell: When you drove in here, this was open - you could drive a team right in here.
Watson: No, I was thinking of back of each side in the front here.
Fell: Maybe the storage rooms were for things they might want to store.
Watson: In most barns this would be a feed storage area as well. That's what made me think of it when you mentioned the one down below.
Wilkinson: John, we put these huge hinges here. What do you call this back in here, this stone?
Fell: You would hit that with your wheel before your hub would grind against the wall, and of course a lot of stables, they used to have different types of things that looked like horse's foot out of iron, tapered off that way, and the same thing to keep you from hitting the door jamb you'd drive in there and your wheel would hit that, and you'd squeeze over so that the hub of your wheel didn't tear the door jamb off. That was the same principle here.
Wilkinson: Around the barn we have an explanation of these rooms - these led in to the...
Watson: There is even a chute that went down to the storage feed bin. [Down by the first office now.]
Fell: Now where do we go now? I would say a direct right angle turn to the left...and it didn't seem we went much - oh, I wouldn't say it was more than 200 yards at the outside and of course there was a fence from the house right straight down, and then it came out a little ways, and that's where the gate was and we went down and went inside the gate and went down a very steep grade and then hit the stone road there and made a short right-hand turn and came right back down the yard.
Watson: Maybe we can go by Chandler's house Dr. Wilkinson.
Wilkinson: Was the office a check point for any purpose? Did you have to report there?
Fell: No, when we went down the yard we went to what they called the yard office there - that's where the yard boss was and gave you your orders what you were going to do that day - hauling coal or wood or powder. What you were going to do that day.
Wilkinson: Do you remember the little building where they had the mortars mounted on the stone emplacements where they tested cannon powder? They may have abandoned that. I'm not sure. Where these greenhouses are. Where our Library is. We want to go down here don’ t we. There were houses in this area, am I correct on that? Workmen's homes.
Fell: Most of the men that were working here at that time lived down, either in Squirrel Run or down along the Brandywine there at Henry Clay.
Wilkinson: Did you ever hear of Upper Banks?
Fell: Oh, Upper Banks. Yes. They spoke of it as the Upper Banks. Same as we used to talk about Brown Town, the Highlands and stuff in Wilmington but there was practically no residences here then.
Wilkinson: Do you remember this charcoal house, burning charcoal, smokestack back up about 100 yards?
Fell: That charcoal burning and all was, I think, before 1918.
Wilkinson: They were bringing in charcoal from outside sources. This house here to our right - now did the road come down right in front of his doorway or a little lower down?
Fell: Yes, I would say so. The old gates were here and then they tore them down. That was as far as we'd come and we'd come through the gates and make a sharp turn, by that time you were right down on the main road of the powder yard.
Wilkinson: Did the fence go across about at this point? Was there a big entrance gate right about here?
Fell: Yes, as I say, it's grown up this way now I can hardly say where we made that sharp left-hand turn at Mrs. Crowninshield's house and come down maybe about 200 yards to these gate posts, and you'd go through them and go down quite a steep incline and as soon as you got to the bottom you made a short right-hand turn and you were right on the main road going right down towards Henry Clay.
Wilkinson: What was this building used for, do you remember, or that one there?
Fell: I would say then as I say I wouldn't see these buildings at all. It must have been back there further and as we came through these would have been outside the yard property.
Wilkinson: The first house that the du Pont family lived in when they came over and the other building up the hill was a workmen's dormitory. Historically, you might say the Creek Road and the Powder Yard Road.
Fell: Well, you know, I was just a kid working for the summer and I just wasn't historically inclined. Well this is what we hit when we came through the gates and down this incline and right into this road and right straight down the creek to the office.
Wilkinson: Now these are the gardens that Mrs. Crowninshield and her husband built. This area through here we identify as the refinery area, where they did most of the refining. Saltpeter. Was that what it was referred to in your time?
Fell: We just went by it in my time.
Wilkinson: That stone building I think up on the wall there. You don't recall what it was used for? Now from the iron bridge down for a little distance what is your recollection of what kind of mill operation?
Fell: Well, right along in through here they had a number of well, they just looked like little Chic Sales - I'd say maybe 30 - 40 feet apart, and they called them pellet presses. And they were making these little pellets they called them. They just looked like gray aspirin tablets. But they had something to do with the shells that they were making. And they had these little things spaced so that if once in a while one of them would go up, and it wouldn't do any harm to the others. And they were operated so that there wasn't an operator in each one - they were done sort of mechanically or something - but I know some of these pellet presses went up - late one afternoon and of course due to the manpower shortage they had a bunch of negro girls working out here - 15 or 20 of them - and next morning there wasn't one of them showed up for work and that was the first little blow that they had had. And then there was what they called a rolling mill.
Wilkinson: Would that be a little further down - what we call the Birkenhead.
Fell: It sat up on the right-hand side.
Wilkinson: There was a pack house up in there.
Fell: Packing house and of course they had a big explosion up in the packing house - 1916 - before I was out here. The rolling mill that went up when I was out here to collect my pay - two weeks after I was through for the summer - and it was just down over the hill from what was then the so-called office where I was getting my pay.
Wilkinson: The rolling mills have always stood right down by the stream because they had to be powered by water from the raceway so as you were going down it was on our left.
Fell: In '18 the water power was pretty near a thing of the past. They weren't using water power like they did in the early days. This mill sat up on the hill here, but it was in connection with this single-track railroad. That's where these horses went back and forth and brought powder into this - I thought it was a rolling mill. I may be wrong about that.
Wilkinson: Well, behind this building back in the woods a little way was a big pack house and that was the one that blew in 1915.
Wilkinson: This building here. Do you know what it was?
Fell: No, I do not.
Wilkinson: We call it an engine house. We think that it had a steam engine. These are rolling mills one and two and the Birkenhead Mill and we put that waterwheel back in condition. Do you have any recollection? They wouldn't have a waterwheel? They would have a turbine?
Fell: ...old stone macadam road. When I think back on it the most amusing things happened to me when I was working down there. Well, as I say, if they had a blow or anything like that why the workmen were allowed to have the timber and stuff, so to speak, but they would have to pay a teamster to haul it away. Well, one of the Italian workmen asked me if after four o'clock that afternoon I would meet him across the creek and haul a load of wood down to Squirrel Run, where he lived. "Well sure." So I met him over there and we loaded the wagon, and we went down and up to Squirrel Run to the little stone houses there. They all had their springhouse -almost like an ice house - underneath. It was all springs there, and they didn't have to bother about ice, they just carried their food and whatever they wanted to keep and put it down in the cellar by the spring. So, he unloaded the wood and wanted me to come in and have a glass of wine. I said, "Oh, I don't drink." "Oh," he said, “ This a no make you drunk. We drink it with every meal. I make it." It was dago red or Italian red wine, but it was sweet, and so his wife goes down, and she brings up a whole pitcher and two regular table glasses and set them down. And she poured me a glass and poured him a glass, and of course it was hot as the dickens, and this wine was nice and cool, and I drank it. It was delicious – it was sweeter than the straight Italian red wine, and right away he filled the glass up, and I said, "No, I better not." He said, "Its a no make you drunk." So I had a second glass, and then I insisted that I had to be going, and I came down Squirrel Run and all the way up this old stone road, sitting on the wagon, a-bobbing along, and I got up to the barn, got the wagon backed in in good shape, got out and went to unhook the reins from the bridle of the horses. And I was standing out there and I was reaching for the horse's head, and I must have been about ten feet away from him...."It’ s a no make you drunk!" Fortunately I didn't drive out or ride out that morning. I was on the trolley. But I got my horses put away and the harness off of them and I got out of there and I felt kind of woozy and I can remember as well as anything running all the way up to the top of the hill and down to Hunter's Corner. I thought I had to get sobered up one way or another. I knew what I was doing but you know everything was moving around and I went out to the old four wheel Rising Sun car and I stood out on the back platform because they bounced up and down and I got off at 7th and Clayton and I lived at 11th and Clayton, and I ran all the way down Clayton Street, and I was in pretty good shape by the time I got home. But that was my first experience of being slightly under the influence.
Wilkinson: These structures up the hillside have us stumped. We're not sure what they were but various things have been proposed. Do you remember?
Fell: I think they were originally sort of more or less like magazines and they just laid planks and stuff over the top so that if anything did happen the wall still stayed. I never heard any explanations of it.
Wilkinson: Explanation of the building on the left? This is right at the foot of the hill on the road that goes up to Christ Church.
Fell: This seems to me to be about where we had to report in the mornings when we came down and told where we were to go and what we were to do. It was a long building but...
Wilkinson: This was when you were hauling in the powder yards? Was there a little office building down below it? On the other side of it.
Wilkinson: That's what we have been told was the Hagley Yard office. This was a machine shop to the best of our knowledge where they did lots of repair work, equipment, and so on. They had a little blacksmith's forge.
Fell: I was just looking to see if the old road could have gone the other side of this building. But it couldn't - that's right along the creek, isn't it?
Wilkinson: Well, there is room for a narrow-gauge track and that's about it. Not a wagon road.
Fell: This is what they call the Machine Shop, now, the keg shop is down below at the present Museum building, isn't it?
Wilkinson: Yes, that's it. Less than 1/2 mile.
Fell: Would they in 1918 be using part of what's now Hallock du Pont's kennels and barn as a machine shop?
Wilkinson: Yes. But originally it was a blacksmith shop we've been told. Do you recall what was here in your time?
Fell: I never came up from this way. We went down the lower road. In fact, at that time I have never been to visit Christ Church, even.
Wilkinson: The explosion occurred you know, recalling that, was it up here this little stone building or was it down on the Creek road?
Fell: Right here.
Wilkinson: This is the Hagley Yard Office.
Fell: It was like a story and a half tall in the front and there was a telephone pole, that may be the telephone pole still there or one like it, and that's where I had the horse tied and this mill right back in there went up, and this glass through this doorway just shattered. I made a dodge for the front door, and of course a man in there yelled for me to stay inside because it was an unwritten law that if you were inside you stayed there. There was a gate and it was a big tall wooden slat gate and these women came with their aprons because it was just getting close to supper time in the evening, about 4:00 in the evening when they were getting ready for their dinner, to see whether many of their men folk worked there.
Wilkinson: Do you know what this - as you're coming through the entrance here?