Interview with William Craven Jr., 1986 June 11 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • Privies at Walker's Bank; Description of childhood home in Walker's Bank
    Synopsis: Craven talks about the outhouses at Walker's Bank. He talks about his family, how they emigrated, their work for DuPont, and his grandfather's relationship with Alfred I. du Pont. He talks about how his grandmother's brother died in an explosion. He talks about his aunt's interest in preserving, and says that she is why he has so many objects to show. He beings to show some of his photographs to the interviewer.
    Keywords: "Victrola Stove"; County Donegal, Ireland; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Free Park (Del.: Village); Immigration; Outhouses; Walker's Bank (Del.:Village); World War (1914-1918)
    Transcript: McKelvey: Maybe a Mary Jackson, does that name ring a bell?

    Craven: I don't think I know her.

    McKelvey: Apparently she grew up in Squirrel Run and we're interested in, we know a lot about the du Ponts and how they lived and all. We've got a lot of their furniture and stuff that survives and we have on exhibit over at the house, but we don’ t know much about all of the people who worked for them. We don't know what their lives were like, what time did you get up in the morning, how did you celebrate Christmas when the powder yards were in operation, what did you have in your kitchen, what were your chairs like. You know, we are trying to show visitors who come to the museum, what life was like a hundred years ago and we don't know mu h about it. Yet we want to be able to furnish these exhibits and buildings with v as accurately as possible, so we're gathering as much as we can. The reason I turned the tape record on, and we're talking with Bill Craven, who has just brought in a marvelous group of artifacts, and we were talking about the cesspools. What did you call them over at Walker's Bank?

    Craven: They were out outhouses, privies -- I guess that's about what they referred to -- privies, mostly, I guess was more common parlance. But every house had one and they were usually in back, although the ones that were in front, like on the block that's still there now, the houses in the front were located down toward the Brandywine, down on the lower side of the road. The others tended to be up hill. I guess this was very unsanitary because sometimes their drinking water was downhill. They had springs that they got water from in the old days. The spring next to Ferraro's is still there and still in good condition the last I saw it. There was another spring on the other end of the block and it was still a working spring when I was a kid.

    McKelvey: In the Ferraro block?

    Craven: Yes, the one that's still there now. And that spring was not used as drinking water, however, when I was a kid and I don't know whether it's still there or not. It was a little rectangular opening about so big...

    McKelvey: About two foot square.

    Craven: ...pool of water in there, about two foot square, yeah, and you could reach in with a bucket and dip up with a dipper to get a drink, depending on what you wanted to do. And the toilets were upstream on that, up the hill.

    McKelvey: Oh wow!

    Craven: And a lot of them were up the hill. I recall one that was, it would be on the upstream side of No. 18, there was a family there named Farren and Roomers and the outhouse for the Roomers was at the extreme uphill end of their lot and to get to it you had to go up a steep flight of steps and then walk up a sloping wooden walkway, and if you ever had to go in a hurry, it would be terrible, I’ m thinking.

    McKelvey: I would think.

    Craven: To go that distance. They were never, a lot of those houses never had any indoor plumbing at all. They used a pump, they had a pump and a well in the back in many cases, and others had springs. The one at Boomers, for instance, had a pump, little hand pump, you know, that you had to crank to get water. The ones that had the hand pumps inside their kitchen, or shed kitchens, were considered luxuries, you know, because they were indoors.

    McKelvey: You say shed kitchen.

    Craven: A shed kitchen was a, like what we would call today, an enclosed porch. It usually wasn't heated and it was used as a kitchen during the summer and usually in wintertime they would move indoors and they wouldn't cook out there because it would be cold. But in the summer they would use it.

    McKelvey: Would you then have two cook stoves, one in your winter kitchen, and one in the summer kitchen?

    Craven: Well you could, some people did, yes. We had, when I was a kid, we had a kerosene stove and we used to move it out, in No. 18, we used to move it out to the back shed porch in the winter, or in the summer, and move it into the kitchen in the winter.

    McKelvey: And this was a kerosene cook stove?

    Craven: Yes, uh-huh. The houses did not have fireplaces. They mostly heated with, the old ones, the stone ones had pot bellied stoves and that sort of thing that they heated with. And then more modern type they got what they called Victrola stoves.

    McKelvey: What are they?

    Craven: Well a Victrola stove is a name that they gave to, I guess because they're kind of resemble a Victrola. It was about two feet square and it had sheet metal on the outside and it looked very fancy compared to the pot bellied stoves. Most of those houses, in fact I don't think any of them had central heat. Where we lived at No. 18 had central heat and that was put in by my aunts, they paid for it, did it themselves. But never had fireplaces to my knowledge in it, it only had stoves. We had a big wood stove in the kitchen, which we also used to burn coal when I was, we really didn't burn wood much when I was a kid.

    McKelvey: We've got to go back to basics again - describe to me again who your mother was and what property she lived on and then what properties you lived on.

    Craven: Okay. Well my Mother's was Margaret McDade, Margaret Anastasia McDade, and she was one of nine children and her parents were Patrick McDade and Mary McKinney McDade. And Patrick and Mary McKinney were from this area, they were - my Grandfather was immigrant from Mallenhead, County Donegal in Ireland, came to this country as a young man. And he worked in the Hagley Powder Yard for forty years and nine months and he retired. Woman: I've made out a receipt for each of you to sign. Do we have a history on the powder shovel, I bet?

    McKelvey: We're just getting it now, but it is from the powder yards.

    Woman: Oh is it, really? I thought maybe so. And the spice box... It's a very nice one, but I...

    Craven: The spice box belonged to my Grandmother, my Mother's mother, and it was used at Walker's Banks and other than that, I don't know much about it. It was given to me about ten or fifteen years ago by my aunt and it looked to me like it was homemade. I always kind of suspected that it might have been made here in the tin shop because I understand they did things like that.

    Woman: Did things, yes. Now do we have your mother's name and is she a descendant of a powder worker?

    McKelvey: Right there is where you want to sign, and that says you have given these to Hagley as a free and out- right gift.

    Woman: I'll get a copy of this for us, and then give you the original. And she was a descendant of a powder worker?

    Craven: Yes, she was born in Free Park, right up the hill here in 1888, August 22, 1888. She died January 14, 1981.

    McKelvey: And how many sisters did she have?

    Craven: She had - there were five girls and four boys in the family.

    McKelvey: That's a big family.

    Craven: And my Mother was the last. Full house at Free Park. Yes. My Mother was the last to die. The McKinney's also lived here, were also powder workers, that sort of thing. My Grandmother's brother, Patrick McKinney, was killed in an explosion when he was 23 years old. That was back in 1876, he was my Mother's uncle and he was also a native of Ireland and an immigrant to this country. He happened to be walking down the road next to a glaze mill when it blew up, he was in the right place at the wrong time. He was 23, he's buried up at St. Joe's. His mother is also up there, my Great-grandmother, who also immigrated to this country. And then Patrick's mother came to this country for a visit, but decided she didn't like it and went back to Ireland and that's where she died, back in Ireland, she never stayed here. But the rest of Patrick's family -- he was one of twelve children -- they all came to this country and I have with me the receipts for passage where he paid for the passage of two of his sisters, and he paid for it here at the DuPont Mills. I don't quite how he arranged the transaction, but evidently somebody in the Treasurer's Office here must have been helping him out.

    Woman: Maybe we could have a Xerox of that? Well, maybe.

    Craven: Yes. So when Patrick came, he lived momentarily I understand, a very short time, in Rockland. Then he got a job here in the powder yard and that's where he worked for the rest of his life. Exactly when he started, I'm not sure, and exact date of his retirement, I'm not sure, but I think it was around 1915 that he retired. And he was friendly with Alfred I., is after he retired from here, Alfred I. gave him a job, which was a make-work type job, up at Nemours, his estate, as a gardener. And he was there for a while and then World War I started and Alfred I. got him a job in a shipyard in Wilmington.

    McKelvey: He must have been quite an old man then.

    Craven: I supposed he must have been, yes, I figured he was born, as near as we can tell, he was born in 1852. We're not really sure, because in those days they didn't keep very accurate records. I visited Ireland and tried to look up his birth records and the church in the neighborhood where he was born, their records only go back to 1856, they didn't keep records beyond then. He was a member of a religion that was outlawed in Ireland as you probably know, and at the time of his birth, it had been made legal. It was made legal in 1839, but the people didn’ t trust the government, so they still kept secret the fact that they were Catholics and didn't record births, deaths, marriages and things like that, until in the 1850s they started gradually doing this. Consequently there are no records of that period, so that was kind of disappointing. He lived here - I was told that at one time he prevented an explosion from occurring by throwing some water onto some hot bearings and as a result of that, was given a free home for life. When the property at No. 18 became available...

    McKelvey: Walker's Bank.

    Craven: Eighteen Walker's Banks, he asked for it because it was a better home. And he was told that he could have it, but he would have to pay rent and he said, okay, he would pay rent, so he paid rent. And I think on one of these papers I gave you on 1940, it was only sixteen dollars a month. And as I recall, about 1939 they got rid of the outhouses and put in bathrooms in the remaining houses. And at that time No. 18 was the last house left upstream, as you went upstream, and quite a few others had been demolished.

    McKelvey: You say No. 18 was just about across from Long Row, is that the one?

    Craven: No, it was opposite Walker's Mill, it was on the hill right over Walker's Mill.

    McKelvey: Oh, I see, okay, yes.

    Craven: In fact I have a picture of it, I'll show you.

    Woman: This is your receipt, Mr. Craven, and I'll be sending you some other things, the gift and so forth.

    Craven: That's No. 18.

    McKelvey: Oh wow, that's quite a house.

    Craven: And there's eighteen, and seventeen.

    McKelvey: Oh I know where those--I think I know where those steps are even today.

    Craven: And there's all three of them, eighteen, seventeen and sixteen. These pictures were taken in 1950 just before they were demolished. In fact, they were empty at the time these pictures were taken. In one picture there you can see the cupola from the Mill, the picture was taken from, on the roof of the Mill.

    McKelvey: Yes, and the fartherest upstream is No. 18?

    Craven: No. 18. And seventeen and sixteen. They were really nice houses, it was a shame to demolish them.

    McKelvey: We've never seen pictures close up like this, we’ ve only seen pictures from across the river.

    Craven: We have numerous snapshots taken on the porch, in the yard, and that sort of thing, and some I have with me here and you can see portions of the building in the background. It was really a shame that they were demolished.

    McKelvey: Oh, they were just beautiful. We were sick over that. That's what happens when you let decisions be made by juniors, I guess.

    Craven: So my Grandfather died at No. rest of his life there. 18. He spent the He had two daughters.

    McKelvey: And what year did he die, did you say ?

    Craven: Nineteen twenty-nine, November 1, 1929.

    McKelvey: And you were born in '26?

    Craven: Twenty-six, yes. He remained friends with Alfred I. all of his life. His picture appears in the book about Alfred I. in a couple of places, "The Family Rebel" by Marquis James. There's some pictures in there has my Grandfather in them. He and Alfred I. worked together through all the years and they got to know each other fairly well. And my Aunt Catherine had two people in her life that I would say were her patron saints. One of them was Alfred I. du Pont and the other was Jim Farley. She would never let anybody say anything bad about either one of them. And when she got Alzheimer’ s disease and her mind was going, when I drove her to the nursing home in Wilmington, she thought I was taking her to a room that Alfred I. had picked out for her, so I said, "Well, I'm sure Mr. du Pont would approve of where you're going. It was sad.

    McKelvey: Boy that's a tough time, isn't it?

    Craven: Yeah. So she saved things, she was a saver and her other sister, who never married, Elizabeth who was a nurse, she was a thrower outer and she would throw things out and Catherine would salvage them and hide them. So what's been saved has been due to Catherine's efforts. And when her mind went, I was appointed her guardian, her legal guardian, and I took care of her affairs and settled her estate after her death and took care of her funeral and all that business. So I divided up a lot of the things in the family among other relatives, but all the odds and ends, different thing, I got. Most of the photographs, I think, I got, although during her lifetime she gave away a lot of photographs to other members of the family. my cousins, my sister's brother and son, so I don't have everything. But I was telling you, Patrick had nine children and the only ones that I know for sure worked here, was Francis, he was born in 1897 and he learned the trade of a machinist up in the Brandywine shops.
  • Craven's personal interest in local and family history; Grandfather's relationship with Alfred I. du Pont; Volunteer work at Fort Delaware; Description of Walker's bank cesspools
    Synopsis: Craven talks about his personal interests in history and photography. He talks some more about his grandfather's relationship with Alfred I. du Pont. he talks about his own volunteer work at Fort Delaware, and focuses on a recently restored cannon there. He describes and diagrams the cesspools near his childhood home at Walker's Bank.
    Keywords: Cannons; Cesspools; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Fort Delaware; History; Outhouses; Photography; Privies; Volunteering; Walker's Bank (Del.:Village)
    Transcript: McKelvey: Bill, what's your background? You rattle off dates, you've studied this, haven't you?

    Craven: No, I just kind of absorbed it.

    McKelvey: Okay.

    Craven: I'm different from others in the family. As a matter of fact, the rest of the family kind of comes to me when they want a question answered, because I was the nutty one I guess. When I was a kid it all fascinated me. living around this area, you know, looking at all these buildings that were empty, listening to the old powder men telling stories and all, you know, and hearing other stories about what life was like back here when the powder mills were working, I kind of developed an interest in things. And then when I got a little older and got a camera, I started recording different things - foundations and buildings and things like that in the area. That was in '39, '40,'41, thought that period. In '43 when they scrapped all the machinery here, I thought the country wasn't that hard up and they shouldn't have done it and so my sister and I took a walk, we went up one side of the Brandywine, crossed the iron bridge and came back down the other side, this side, and I took a lot of pictures of the scrapping effort that was going on at that time. And I have a set of those here with me too if you want those.

    McKelvey: Oh, yes, absolutely.

    Craven: So I developed an interest in history and I started saving things. And when my Mother would talk, I would encourage her to talk more and I would ask questions. Whereas others in the family...

    McKelvey: Did you tape record any of the interviews?

    Craven: No, no. I encouraged my Mother to come here when I heard years ago you were taping oral histories. And she'd say, "Oh they aren't interested in this. Or she'd say, "Oh it's nobody's business." She was very close about it. They weren't really too proud of their origins, they were dirt poor, they lived a hard life and they really deserve credit, I think, for improving their standard of living in their lifetime. They weren't so bad off when they died, so I think they deserve a lot of credit. But when they looked back to their origins, they were kind of ashamed of it because they were so humble and so poor. They would be ashamed to tell somebody that they had to go to an outhouse, they wouldn't want to say things like that, so that's kind of the way they felt. I don't feel that way of course. So when they talked, I listened and when I got pictures of this sort, I would say, "Now who's this in the picture?" And they would say, "Oh that's so and so." And I would turn the picture over and write on the back who it was, ‘ cause a lot of the people were unknown to me.Then when my aunt's mind went and I emptied her house and got a lot of additional pictures, I took them to my Mother, who's mind was still alert, even though she was older, and asked her who is this, what's this, and she told me some. For instance, the pictures of the houses opposite Long Row, she told me who lived in each house and I wrote it down. That was at the time that they lived there, back around the turn of the century, I'm not sure of the exact dates when they lived there.So I developed an interest and I continued this, I read a lot, in more recent years I've fallen heir to some books that were in the family. I have a book that my aunt gave me on the history of the explosives industry in America, about that thick, and I have the 140th anniversary book written by Dutton "One Hundred Forty Years of the Du Pont Company". Of course I'm working for DuPont myself since 1950, still working with the Company and I have acquired books since then. Through my aunt I got the book on Alfred I., it was written back in '41. I read it at the time and didn't see it again until a few years ago. I cleaned out her house and I now have it.We have a lot of pictures and things that I mentioned that belonged to the family. And we used to ask my Mother, you know, "What's this picture? And what's the occasion and who are these people? That sort of thing, and some of them I remember, some I don't. I used to write down a lot. We had one picture when my Mother was breaking up her house, my sisters and my brother were there, and she was saying, ''You can have this picture, you can have that picture," divvying things up, you know, among her children. There was one there, about so big, and it was a group picture, obviously at the Hagley Yard, and I recognized Alfred I. there, and we picked out what we thought was my Grandfather in the group, but we had no idea what the occasion was. So my sister, Margarita, said that she would take it, so she's got it now. And I guess it was about a year later, I was talking to a friend of mine and she said, "I've just run across a book that you might be interested in." I say, "What's that?” She says, "Alfred I. du Pont, The Family Rebel," and I says, "Oh, I think I've got that book." And she said, “ It has some wonderful pictures in it. Here's one called 'Farewell to the Boss'." And she started describing it and she was describing this picture that I had seen, that we couldn't figure out what it was. So I asked her a little bit about it, and I said, "Was it so and so and so?" and she said, "Yeah, what do you know." So I had the book on the table near the telephone and I hadn't even looked in it since 1941 so I opened it up and there was the picture. So I flipped through it and I had forgotten that there are a couple other pictures in there that had my Grandfather in them with Alfred I. on a Wilson Line steamer.

    McKelvey: Oh yes.

    Craven: And he's arm in arm with one of his buddies, the workers and my Grandfather is standing right next to him there in the picture, along with John Thompson, who is Mrs. Toomey's father. I guess you know Mrs. Toomey?

    McKelvey: Oh yes.

    Craven: So as I say, I developed an interest in history and this had led me into some work along that line. I'm very much involved in the Fort Delaware Society which is doing the restoration and museum work at Fort Delaware.

    McKelvey: I was reading in the paper the other day that they have a cannon that they...

    Craven: Yes, there's a cannon out there, Civil War cannon which was fired last Saturday.

    McKelvey: Oh, how did it go?

    Craven: Alright, although attendance was poor. I wasn't there, but I heard - I was out there Sunday and I heard that the attendance was poor, they think because of the weather. That's a cannon that came from Port Lafayette in the New York Harbor.

    McKelvey: Yeah, and almost got scrapped out, I hear.

    Craven: Yes, when they built the Verrazonno Bridge, the architect who designed it, designed it so that the pier would rest right on the Fort. He had no interest in history at all, and so they demolished the fort to build the pier, and demolished the island the fort appeared on. What a waste. And everything that was there went to scrap. We had reports that workers that gun barrels were sticking out like toothpicks from the clamshells as they pulled them out of the water.

    McKelvey: Isn't that amazing!

    Craven: And when they complained about it to their supervisor, he told them, "Look, you want to keep your job, keep your mouth shut." And one of these barrels showed up in the scrap heap up at Lukens Steel Company and a guy who was Vice President of Lukens had a historical bent, and he said, "We don't want to melt that down." So he put it to one side and they gave it to Coatesville. Coatesville had no idea what to do with it, so after a few years we found out it was there and they donated it to us and we had the carriage rebuilt and it's a working cannon now.

    McKelvey: Isn't that amazing. That wasn't that many years ago that decision was made.

    Craven: No, '69 they built the bridge.

    McKelvey: That's appalling.

    Craven: Some people will go out of their way to destroy something that's old because it's junk, you know.

    McKelvey: Yes, it's in the way of their work. Well, before we look at the photographs, one more thing. The reason we turned the tape record on, we were talking about the outhouses over in Walkers Bank and I was describing these concrete - What I call "cesspools" - I don't know what you call them.

    Craven: Yes, that's all they were, cesspools.

    McKelvey: And you were mentioning that they would be shared by two families.

    Craven: Occasionally, yes. In the row houses, for instance the row that's still there, the Ferraros lived at No. 4 and right next to them, the houses were originally divided front and rear so that there were four houses in the front and four in the rear. And the ones in the front consisted of three rooms directly above one another. The ones in the back consisted of two rooms and then an attic which extended over the ones toward the front, or Brandywine side. As time went on, they were broken through and made into four houses so that the Ferraro's house, No. 4, was front and rear. The rest remained the same except the opposite end had two in the front and one in the rear broken into one house, so that was the largest house.

    McKelvey: Excuse me, I'm just going to take that.

    Craven: So of course each one of these houses had their own outhouse and the ones in the rear, their out- house was on the uphill side and the ones in the front, the outhouse was down over the wall down near toward the Brandywine. In the case of the Ferraros, the outhouse was down over the wall, was abandoned and filled in before my time, but the cistern was still there. They continued to use the one on the uphill side, which was on what we called the Back Road. It was back to back with the outhouse that was used by the family next door to them on the back side. The family that lived there when I was a boy was named Oatman and they shared that same well with the Ferraros and the two outhouses were separate from each other, they were not common, they had separate doors, they were separated by about a foot and there was a little sloping connection between them. And as I recall, that sloping connection between them could be opened up and that's how they were cleaned out, which they had to do periodically.

    McKelvey: I don't understand what you mean by sloping connection.

    Craven: Like a little lid. I can draw you a picture. This one had a door on the front here, and this one had a door over here on this side. And they had sloping roofs too. And this one, when you looked at it this way, on the side, a cross section view, was like this. And the well was here and this was the little sloping part that was here with this peak right in the middle and this could be opened up and you could have access to the well.

    McKelvey: Okay.

    Craven: And there was no access around the other sides as I recall and that's how they would clean it out.

    McKelvey: Right.

    Craven: And this was about a foot here and the Ferraros were this side and the Oatmans were this side.

    McKelvey: But they were separate units?

    Craven: Yes.

    McKelvey: And what sort of a cover was on the well?

    Craven: The outhouse itself covered the well except for this little access, and some of them had a little sloping cover in the rear which would be about a 45-degree angle and that was also removeable and that was how they cleaned them out.

    McKelvey: Did this set on a concrete slab, or was it wood?

    Craven: Yes, it sat right on the slab.

    McKelvey: So was it a concrete slab on a concrete cesspool?

    Craven: Oh there was no concrete deck.

    McKelvey: It was a wood deck?

    Craven: The wood outhouse itself sat right on the rim of the cistern.

    McKelvey: Okay.

    Craven: And the wood floor of the outhouse, was part of the outhouse. You could pick the whole thing up. In fact, it used to be tossed over every Halloween.

    McKelvey: So if you picked off the outhouse, then the cesspool was exposed?

    Craven: Completely exposed, yes.

    McKelvey: So the outhouse had to be large enough to straddle?

    Craven: Exactly.

    McKelvey: Okay.

    Craven: Yes, it did. It was usually just about the right size so that it fitted on it and if the cistern was round, the outhouse, of course, was always rectangular or square and it would overlap a little bit. The other thing that happened was they would sometimes have a metal bar which would go across the middle and that would help support them.

    McKelvey: Yes, I've seen one like that, a metal bar, that's right. Okay. Yes, go ahead.

    Craven: Now where we lived at No. 17, we had a back-to-back outhouse that was just the one family. Now why they had back-to-back, I don't know, but it had doors on opposite ends and had one cistern and it was in our backyard here. That's where the garage is now for the trucks for the museum. Why it was double like that, I don't know. The one at No. 18 was not a double, it was a single and when the indoor plumbing was put in, Sharpley took the outhouse from No. 17, because it was a double I think, and a big one, and moved it over to Hagley and set it up behind the, where the main museum is now, where the parking lot is. And it was set back in there and whether it was used as an outhouse, I don't know, but I think it was used partly as kind of like a tool shed. In fact we used one-half of it as a tool shed.

    McKelvey: It must have been gigantic.

    Craven: Well, I don't know, I can't recall that, but it was double size, so it must have been about eight feet long and four feet wide, something like that. It was the biggest one I know, not counting the two I just...

    McKelvey: We took an old tool shed over there years ago and we turned it into a little gift shop for school kids. I wonder if that's the same building. We call it "Frizzell's Store”  now. It might have been your outhouse.

    Craven: No, I've seen that one, it's too big.

    McKelvey: Is it too big?

    Craven: I don't think that's it, no.

    McKelvey: Okay, out under the pine trees out there in the parking lot.

    Craven: Yeah, I've seen that. I have some pictures of Frizzell here, Sam Frizzell, too.
  • Cleaning out the cesspools; Family's immigration documents and work for DuPont; Showing family photographs
    Synopsis: Craven describes being a child and watching people clean the cesspools near his homes. He says that the workers were always African- Americans. He shows some family photographs and documents. They include immigration documents from the U.S. to Ireland and photos of family who worked at Hagley, in the yard and office. He says that one aunt also worked in the office for the Hercules powder company. He talks about his grandfather's relationship with Alfred I. du Pont, and tells a story about Mr. du Pont sending flowers to his grandfather's funeral.
    Keywords: Cesspools; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Du Pont, S. Hallock (Samuel Hallock), 1901-1974; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.; Hagley Yard; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Hercules Powder Company; Immigration; Maintenance; Outhouses
    Transcript: McKelvey: And then you were - you were describing the cleaning out and the name of the people who did it.

    Craven: Well, I don't know what their proper names were. They were always black men and it was a very undesirable job I'm sure, and we called them the chocolate drop people and they would come around, always in summer, hot weather. I don't think they did it every year, they did it whenever it was necessary. And they would move from house to house cleaning them out. And they had buckets on the end of an - ordinary bucket - on the end of a rope which they would drop down and get all the liquid out and bail it out that way and dump that into a barrel. And when they got all the liquid out, then they had long-handled shovels about ten or twelve feet long with a round scoop on the end and it was at right angles to the handle so they would go down and scoop up the contents and then pick it up on the shovel and dump that into the barrel.

    McKelvey: Amazing.

    Craven: And of course in the process there was a lot of dripping and spillage and whatnot. When the barrel was full, they would then put a cap on the barrel and with wedges, they would drive wedges in on the barrels, about four or five of them, I don't remember the exact number, to hold the lid on and keep it from sloshing out. Then they would tilt the barrel and roll it, you know, end over, end over, down to their truck and up a little sloping board that they had, onto the truck and sit it on the truck. Well of course they would leave drippings along the way - the odor - stench was terrible - yeah - and would last for hours after they left and then it would disappear. Other than that, the outhouses never really had much of an odor. If you got close to them, you could smell them, and that usually in the summertime. But most of the time there was no odor evident.

    McKelvey: Did you ever use lime to keep the smell down?

    Craven: Not to my knowledge, no.

    McKelvey: What kind of barrels, were these wooden barrels?

    Craven: Wooden barrels.

    McKelvey: That was a lot of work.

    Craven: Yes.

    McKelvey: They didn't use any pumps or anything like that?

    Craven: No, all hand labor.

    McKelvey: Wow!

    Craven: And it was a real messy job. When we were kids, we used to look at them from a distance; we were fascinated.

    McKelvey: That's fascinating.

    Craven: Yes, as I say, the odor was just awful. You'd have to stand upwind.

    McKelvey: Do you know if these people worked for the DuPont Company or were they contracted?

    Craven: I always assumed that Copeland hired them as contractors. They probably were available commercially. I guess this was a business. Like I have a place down at the shore. There's a guy down there and that's his business; he cleans out cesspools and septic tanks, but now, of course, he does it with a pump and there's no odor and it's all very sanitary and he doesn't get his hand dirty or anything. These guys wore rubber aprons and boots and rubber gloves and they'd have it all over them. I don't know how they stood it.

    McKelvey: That's amazing. I'm surprised that they didn't have a more sophisticated system of pumping, well anyway, let's see what photographs you've got here.

    Craven: These are the receipts for passage of Sarah and Maggie McDade and receipts from the Anchor Line. They came from Londonderry to Philadelphia. I can remember Sarah and Maggie, neither one of them married. They were what they called "living out girls"; they worked at P.M.C. in Chester. And Sarah was the house mother and Maggie was the cook. I have some pictures of Sarah here, too.

    McKelvey: These are just amazing, aren't they? That they would have survived.

    Craven: And they used to keep things, notice the holes in them?

    McKelvey: Yes.

    Craven: Grandfather had a little thing with a spike on it and that's where he put all his important papers, and I have one of those things too. I can't be sure whether it's the same one he used or not. That's the gate up at Alfred I.'s place and that's part of a Christmas card that he sent my Grandfather one time - that's Catherine the Great Gates, came from Russia. This you can have, that's a copy of a transcriptFull I made of a form of diary my aunt kept from 1911 to 1915. She worked at Hagley Yard office.

    McKelvey: Which office?

    Craven: Oh, which office?

    McKelvey: Yeah.

    Craven: It's a yellow house that's on Squirrel Run. I don't think it belongs to the Foundation. It belonged to Hallock du Pont and he used it as a tenant house. And you go inside the gates of Squirrel - inside the lower entrance to Squirrel Run there, and you go about fifty yards or so, and it's off on your right.

    McKelvey: Yeah, that's the...

    Craven: Right near the dog pen.

    McKelvey: Yeah, it used to be the old Miller's House.

    Craven: Well, it was the Hagley office, and that's where my aunt went to work in 1910. And then after Hercules and Atlas were split off under the court order, employees transferred back and forth for five years after 1912. So in 1914 she switched over to Hercules and stayed with them until she retired in 1956.

    McKelvey: Did she have a choice to go to Hercules?

    Craven: I believe it was her choice, I’ m not really sure on that point, but I believe it was her choice. That's my Grandfather, Patrick McDade taken about a year or two before his death. And this is another piece of a card from Alfred I. This is a Christmas card from Alfred I. to my Grandfather. Here's some more.

    McKelvey: Oh, aren't they delightful.

    Craven: Yeah Alfred I. - oh I think I mentioned he and my Grandfather were good friends and remained friends throughout their life, throughout my Grandfather's life. My Grandfather died first and when he was sick, dying, Alfred came to visit him. He was living in Florida then and on one of his visits back here, he came around to visit my Grandfather.

    McKelvey: He must have been quite an amazing guy, Alfred. The loyalty of his workers is amazing.

    Craven: And when my Grandfather died, he sent flowers to the funeral. The family all appreciated things like that. As I say, my aunt would never hear anybody say anything bad about Alfred I. And my Mother always used to say, "Well, he wasn't that great." My Mother never approved of the way he treated his wife, his first wife.

    McKelvey: Oh they're just beautiful, they're just gorgeous.

    Craven: These were saved by my Aunt Catherine, Catherine McDade. If it wasn't for her, they would have been destroyed long since. And this is a picture of the stone block.

    McKelvey: Oh yes.

    Craven: And you can see on the left there, there's a frame structure, that was the kitchen for the stone block. The well that they used was just inside that frame structure, right next to the stone wall and further to the left, not shown, was the house where the McDade's lived. There's an old view of Henry Clay.

    McKelvey: Oh, that's...

    Craven: It's about 1900.

    McKelvey: That's a famous one.

    Craven: Yeah, and here's another of the same. I think my aunt got these from Frank Jeffers. And that's Patrick McDade as a young man. And this is a picture of his, then, children, seven of them in 1890. My Mother was two years old at that time, and there were two more born after that - Catherine and Frances were born subsequent to that. The oldest was Patrick, he's fourteen, and the baby he's holding in his lap is Rose, Rose Shields. And this you can have. -This is a list I made for the Committee up at St. Joe's of an inventory of stuff that I have that's connected with them. I divided it up kinda to documents and photographs and books, and then other things which kinda reflect the times we lived out there. A lot of the last items toward the rear refer kinda to here, or more family activities. And this is another thing you can have too. This is a list of things that I've got which I'm willing to give to the Museum is you're interested. Let's get this listed on there.

    McKelvey: Oh, it's just marvelous stuff.

    Craven: Then I've got this box, this is full. I don't know how much time you have.

    McKelvey: Oh, we've got plenty of time.

    Craven: But when I look at it, it's just up - dump it, if this is alright. Do that right here? As I look at them, I put them back in the box for convenience. Get my other eyes here. That's a picture of the Hagley Yard and that was taken after an explosion and you can see that the trees are kind of shredded, branches missing and things like that. That's my cousin, she's in her seventies now. Bernice is her name, she lives in California. That's how they dressed in those days.

    McKelvey: Oh yes.

    Craven: Fancy. That’ s my Aunt Catherine there on the end. This is a picture of a meeting of the First Ladies of Hercules. That's what they called their first employees. They have now changed the wording to "The Girls' Club."

    McKelvey: Okay.

    Craven: There's another picture of the First Ladies, same time. These were taken, I think, around 1950. Yeah, that was my cousin and my aunt in the area. And that, I am not sure who that is. My Aunt Elizabeth is in one of the group, and I don't know who the others are.

    McKelvey: Are these in any particular order?

    Craven: No.

    McKelvey: The first picture, then, of the explosion, could I set that back up here. We have a gentleman who takes care of our photographs and I'd like to show some of these specific ones to him.

    Craven: And that was the McDade family, I've written on the back - left to right is Elizabeth, Margaret, Rose and Mary, all sisters, and in the front is Catherine and Francis, sister and brother. And that was taken at Walker's Banks. That was about, not sure, about 1900.

    McKelvey: Taken the same day.

    Craven: And that's the same place. They had a wooden fence on their front yard.

    McKelvey: Overlooking where the Country Club...

    Craven: That's my Aunt Elizabeth, and I'm not sure what that scene is located. And that's Elizabeth and Francis, he was born in 1897, give you an idea about how old - I figure that was around 1910.

    McKelvey: It looks like it is up at the old trap shooting field.

    Craven: Could be. They used to have trap shooting directly above Walker's Banks there where the Country Club was built. That's No. 18, that's the front porch of No. 18. That is, I think, my sister. I don't have it written on the back.

    McKelvey: Don't know where it was taken?

    Craven: No. That's the same time, same place. Not really sure on that one. It's another one in the same...

    McKelvey: Yes.

    Craven: Those are my uncles...

    McKelvey: McDade brothers?

    Craven: McDade brothers. And that's, I think, Daniel and Charles.

    McKelvey: They did not work in powder?

    Craven: Not to my knowledge. Daniel was - they might have, but I don't really have any information about them, Daniel played the violin in Alfred I.'s band. My brother has the violin.

    McKelvey: This is Dan McDade?

    Craven: Yeah, that's right, yeah. I wrote these things down.

    McKelvey: Let's put him over in this pile.

    Craven: When my Mother would tell me who these people were because they were unfamiliar to me.

    McKelvey: Oh, this is a group whooping it up at the Rockford Tower.

    Craven: Now, I'm not sure who that is.

    McKelvey: Oh, isn't that a nice picture.
  • Story about an exploded powder wagon; Local accents and the word "kag" instead of keg; Identifying local landmarks in family photos
    Synopsis: Craven tells a story about a powder wagon that his uncle saw explode. He says that his uncle believed the explosion was a prank gone wrong. He talks about a family member who died in an explosion and continues to show family photos. They discuss the local accent and how powder workers used the word "kag" in place of keg. Craven returns to identifying people and places in old family photos. He briefly talks about flooding on the Brandywine.
    Keywords: Accents; Explosions; Family; Hagley Yard; Photographs; Pranks; Wagoner's Row (Del.: Village)
    Transcript: Craven: Oh yeah, that’ s a wagon, but I don't know who or what it is. Probably in the area. My Uncle Gene Shields was telling me one time a story about the wagon here in the yard. They had a little narrow gauge track that ran through the yard.

    McKelvey: Yes.

    Craven: And they had a little mule-driven wagon with a driver who rode on the wagon - it carried supplies and things - and when he was a teenager he had a job as picking up samples from the various mills and taking them to the lab for testing, and he used to hitch rides on that wagon. And there were other teenagers that worked in the yard, and they liked to have fun, so they would take a little pinch of powder and put it on the tracks and when the wagon would go by, the wagon would set off that powder and it would be like a firecracker. And it might startle the mule and it would certainly startle the driver so he would cuss these guys no end. He was very unhappy about the whole thing. And one day when my uncle was not riding the wagon, the wagon, the horse and the driver were blown to smithereens. They hardly found any pieces of them, and nobody ever knew what happened, but my uncle was always convinced that these guys put too big a pinch of powder on the track and when it went off, it set the whole wagon off.

    McKelvey: Just amazing, isn’ t it? What it must have been like to work in those circumstances. We have a tintype here.

    Craven: Yeah. That, I think, is my Grandmother and her friend, but I'm not positive.

    McKelvey: Let's bring her up here, and now that you have that one, this is Patrick McKinney.

    Craven: He was the one killed in the powder explosion.

    McKelvey: This is when he was 23 when he died, was that the one?

    Craven: Yes, uh-huh.

    McKelvey: Handsome, wasn't he?

    Craven: That's No. 18.

    McKelvey: Yeah, there's another View of it.

    Craven: And that's also No. 18.

    McKelvey: This is up at the trap shooting ...

    Craven: Yeah, that's Francis.

    McKelvey: At the gun club.

    Craven: And Elizabeth, his sister. That's Breck's Mill. During the winter, with ice on the Brandywine. That's more families in the woods in what we call the “ Kag” Mill Area. That's where that is too.

    McKelvey: You pronounce it right, did you know that?

    Craven: They called it “ Kag.”

    McKelvey: That's right, I've heard other...

    Craven: The expression "a kag of beer" you know, and that sort of thing.

    McKelvey: That’ s right.

    Craven: I always kinda suspected it was a corruption of probably their Irish brogue, but they always used the expression "Kag" and they always referred to a “ kag” of powder and that sort of thing. See these windows have all been blown out, you see marked damages. That's a World War I photo of a group of people, I don't know who all they are. And that, I think, is Sarah as a young girl, but I'm not sure. Is it labeled on the back?

    McKelvey: Harkins?

    Craven: The Harkins family were cousins of the McDades and they lived, I'm not sure where exactly they lived in.

    McKelvey: That's Patrick.

    Craven: That's Patrick as a, that's my Uncle Patrick as a young boy. He was born about 1877.

    McKelvey: Wagoner's Row.

    Craven: Yes, that's where that picture was taken, that's what I was told, and I don’ t know the people in it.

    McKelvey: There's your porch again.

    Craven: Yes. That's Catherine McDade. She's the one that saved a lot of this material. She died at the age of 89. I'm not sure where that is, Fourth of July Picnic, but I don't know where it was.

    McKelvey: Eighteen Walker's Bank again.

    Craven: Oh, a picture of Smith Bridge up at Granogue. That's along the Brandywine behind Breck's Mill. Right. Same place.

    McKelvey: That's below Breck's Mill.

    Craven: That's my cousin, Bernice. She's the one who's in California now. And that's a picture of my Aunt Rose, who married Gene Shields.

    McKelvey: Beautiful picture, wasn't it?

    Craven: Yeah, McDade girls were considered the beauties of the Brandywine in their day. They were much sought after I understand. I don't know what all those markings are, somebody was keeping track.

    McKelvey: Keeping score, yeah.

    Craven: Oh, they used to go to Atlantic City. Atlantic City was the place to go, you know, and they are the bathing suits they wore.

    McKelvey: Elizabeth Harkins.

    Craven: Yes.

    McKelvey: There's Rose again.

    Craven: She worked for many years for Mrs. Downs up until the time of her death. That's Atlantic City picture. That's one of those make believe cars.

    McKelvey: Great.

    Craven: I'm not sure where that is either. Yeah, that's an outing of some sort, but I don't know where or I don't know really who all the people are. That's Mary, she was one of the oldest in the family, she was born in 1880. And that's Patrick with his daughter, Catherine. And that was taken on a road in the “ Kag” Mill area. Now we called the area "Kag Mill" which was on the opposite side of the Brandywine from where we are now, but north, or upstream from Walker's Banks. I wrote down who was in the pictures.

    McKelvey: Do you remember the Farrens?

    Craven: Yes.

    McKelvey: We've interviewed one of the family members who, I think remembers her mother being the midwife for the community, one of the Farrens.

    Craven: They lived next door to the McDades, upstream, No. 18. That’ s the Rising Sun Bridge.

    McKelvey: Rising Sun?

    Craven: Yes.

    McKelvey: I've never seen this view. That's great, that's just great.

    Craven: That's also the Rising Sun Bridge. It was replaced by the present bridge in 1928. That's No. 18.

    McKelvey: That's No. 18 again.

    Craven: I'm not sure what's in there.

    McKelvey: Customers' checks from Davis Studios and negatives.

    Craven: They're just negatives.

    McKelvey: Negatives, yes, from No. 18 - two views, which may be from this black and white glossy, yeah.

    Craven: Maybe copies, yeah. Now I don't know what the occasion is for those pictures, evidently it was some kind of an outing, and I don't know where it was either. I tried to figure out where the background, where it is, but I don't know, and I don't know the people. Yeah, and I don't know them at all. I think some of them may be my uncles when they were young men, but I don't know for sure. That's a reproduction my aunt had made of the picture of her brother, Patrick, as a young boy.

    McKelvey: Boy, they did a good job, didn't they?

    Craven: Yeah. And that's the original there. When she got - when her mind started to go, I had to start saving these things from her because she used to - she'd tear them apart.

    McKelvey: Pretty.

    Craven: Yeah, that's one of the Bonner's isn't, is it labeled? Yeah, no, that's Rose, my Aunt Rose.

    McKelvey: She'd just tear them up?

    Craven: Yeah. She had a habit of cutting the heads out. That's her as a young girl. Or tearing them apart or something, you know, so I had to take them away from her. So I salvaged some of the things from her. It was a shame, I hated to see when she used to fail. That's my Aunt Mary and her daughter, they moved to California. I'm not sure what that is.

    McKelvey: It says Walker's Bank - Catherine and William.

    Craven: Oh yeah. One time when I was a teenager, my aunt and I had our picture taken sitting in the wicker chairs in the yard at 18 and she liked it and she had a copy made and she had it colored, tinted you know, didn't have color photos in those days. That's my uncle and his friend. One of my uncles. It was evidently the custom to put pictures on post cards - you notice a lot of these are post cards. Oh yeah, that was the powder wagon. That's a picture I think, that's been reproduced many times. Now that is a view looking from Long Row toward Walker's Banks.

    McKelvey: From Long...

    Craven: The McDades lived right here. And I think that's the one where I list on the back who lived in which house.

    McKelvey: I don't know where we are here. Is this...

    Craven: Well, this would be downstream from the Tyler McConnell Bridge.

    McKelvey: Yeah.

    Craven: The bridge is maybe another hundred yards up this way.

    McKelvey: Now we're looking from...

    Craven: From Long Row across the Brandywine. Brandywine's flowing this way.

    McKelvey: Okay, so Walker's Mill would be down in here?

    Craven: Yes, right around - down in here.

    McKelvey: I didn't realize...

    Craven: Here 's Rockford Tower.

    McKelvey: Yes, I didn't realize that those buildings were that close to the river.

    Craven: Oh yes.

    McKelvey: No I didn't!

    Craven: They used to get flooded periodically in high water.

    McKelvey: That's a marvelous picture, marvelous picture.

    Craven: Yeah, that's people walking up through the woods opposite - you can see one of the mills in the corner here - on the “ Kag” Mill side.

    McKelvey: It's just marvelous to see other peoples' stuff.

    Craven: And this is not all of it.

    McKelvey: Excuse me, I'm gonna…

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