By Tiffany Amber Stockton
Wow! What a great discussion we had last month on the 9th, sharing in our love of cowboys and the appeal of the Old West. I tried to respond as much as possible, but I know I didn't get to everyone. Chalk it up to the life of an author and mom with her hands full of two kids under the age of 5. :)
So, this month, we'll be launching into a behind-the-scenes facts about the Nemours and DuPont (also written as du Pont) family in Delaware. Though their name doesn't get listed often with Rockefeller and Carnegie, their status and contribution to American industry and business is equivalent, if not above, those families.
These mills are referenced in books 2 (Stealing Hearts) and 3 (Antique Dreams) of my current Brandywine Brides series.
In 1914, Pierre S. du Pont invested in the fledgling automobile industry, buying stock of General Motors (GM). The following year he was invited to sit on GM's board of directors and eventually was appointed the company's chairman. In 1920, Pierre S. du Pont was elected president of General Motors. Under du Pont's guidance, GM became the number one automobile company in the world.
In the 1920s DuPont continued its emphasis on materials science, working on polymers in 1928. The company discovered neoprene, the first synthetic rubber; the first polyester superpolymer; and, in 1935, nylon. The discovery of Teflon followed a few years later.
DuPont ranked 15th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. As the inventor and manufacturer of nylon, DuPont helped produce the raw materials for parachutes, powder bags, and tires.
DuPont also played a major role in the Manhattan Project in 1943, designing, building and operating the Hanford plutonium-producing plant in Hanford, Washington. In 1950 DuPont also agreed to build the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina as part of the effort to create a hydrogen bomb.
After the war, DuPont continued its emphasis on new materials, developing Mylar, Dacron, Orlon, and Lycra in the 1950s, and Tyvek, Nomex, Qiana, Corfam, and Corian in the 1960s. DuPont materials were critical to the success of the Apollo Project of the United States space program.
So, as you can see, the DuPont family has had its hand in a significant number of American industries and has been integral in the development of major breakthroughs in industry, manufacturing, automobiles, weapons, safety gear, the space program, and so much more. And it's all owed to the man who started it all...Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours.
Éleuthère was known as Irénée du Pont, or E.I. du Pont, and he was a French American chemist and industrialist. His descendants, the Du Pont family, were one of America's richest and most prominent families in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Du Pont was born on June 24, 1771, in Paris, France, the son of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and Nicole Charlotte Marie Louise Le Dée de Rencourt. Aren't those names a mouthful? :)
Du Pont sailed before his family and landed at Rhode Island on January 1, 1800, along with his father and his brother's family. By 1802, he had established both his business and his family home, Eleutherian Mills, on the Brandywine Creek in Delaware. January 1st is the anniversary of the arrival of the du Pont family in America. So, while the rest of the world is toasting in a new year, the DuPont family members are honoring their ancestor's arrival in America and the start of the DuPont dynasty.
Du Pont died on October 31, 1834, at Eleutherian Mills, near Greenville. He was buried in the Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware. That cemetery still exists today as a final resting place for many of the DuPont family.
The company Éleuthère founded has become one of the largest and most successful American corporations. His sons, Alfred V. du Pont (1798–1856) and Henry du Pont (1812–1889), managed the plant after his death. A few of the DuPont "boys" are referenced in book 1 of Brandywine Brides, Bound by Grace. That eBook is available for the entire month of May for just $.99. You can read my blog post at A Fictional Life for more details.
I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking with two members of the DuPont family. One was a lawyer in the firm where my mother worked. Pierre S. DuPont IV. Doesn't the name just roll off the tongue? His son, Pierre S. DuPont V, had an office right across the hall from my mother. He served as Delaware Governor from 1977-1985 and is now the director of that same law firm, though my mother no longer works there. I was only 11 when I met them, but they made a significant impression. Most fascinating to me is the father is the great-nephew of Pierre S. DuPont, who opened up Longwood Gardens, a spectacular array of plants and flowers and landscaping that is a feast for the eyes. It's one of the premier botanic gardens in the US. It's also where I first saw an outdoor performance of Brigadoon.
So, what did you find most fascinating about this history? What would you like to know more about? Have you had any encounters with a DuPont family member or any of the products they've produced/manufactured over the years?
Tune in next month when I'll get around to that Mackinac Island history...after I finish my current book set on Mackinac Island. It's due June 1st., so back to the storyboard! :)
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author, speaker, and virtual assistant, who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold fourteen books so far and is represented by Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary Agency. Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.