Thomas Willcox

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Thomas Willcox (1689 - 1779) was a colonial-era paper mill owner in Concord Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. The Ivy Mills supplied paper used for currency for the Continental and United States governments as well as many South American governments. Willcox was a friend of Benjamin Franklin, made printing paper for him and received the first orders for paper used in colonial American currency from him. [1]

Paper mill factory that produces paper

A paper mill is a factory devoted to making paper from vegetable fibres such as wood pulp, old rags and other ingredients. Prior to the invention and adoption of the Fourdrinier machine and other types of paper machine that use an endless belt, all paper in a paper mill was made by hand, one sheet at a time, by specialized laborers.

Concord Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania Township in Pennsylvania, United States

Concord Township is a township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 17,231 at the 2010 census. It contains the unincorporated communities of Concordville and Glen Mills.

Delaware County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

Delaware County, colloquially referred to as Delco, is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. With a population of 562,960, it is the fifth most populous county in Pennsylvania, and the third smallest in area. The county was created on September 26, 1789, from part of Chester County, and named for the Delaware River.

Contents

The ruins of the paper mill, erected in 1829; the clerk's house, dated to about 1830; and the Ivy Mills Mansion House, built in 1837 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ivy Mills Historic District. Ivy Mills is the second oldest paper mill built in America. [2]

National Register of Historic Places federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

Ivy Mills Historic District

Ivy Mills Historic District is a national historic district located at Concord Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. The district includes the ruins of a paper mill, erected in 1829; the clerk's house, dated to about 1830; and the Ivy Mills Mansion House, built in 1837. The mansion house is a 2 1/2-story, five bay wide, stuccoed masonry building. It has a saltbox wing and a wide verandah. The original paper mill was erected in 1729, and the original mansion house in 1744. Both of the original buildings were replaced in the early-19th century by the present buildings.

Career

Wilcox Paper Mill Wilcox Paper Mill.png
Wilcox Paper Mill
Watermark of Ivy Mills.png

In 1726, Thomas Willcox, along with Thomas Brown, constructed a mill dam across Chester Creek. [3] Soon afterward, a paper mill was built and in 1729 the first paper produced at the site was sold. Willcox learned paper making prior to coming to Pennsylvania and the arrangement was that he should receive three-fifths of the profit of the joint undertaking. [4]

Chester Creek

Chester Creek is a 9.4-mile-long (15.1 km) tributary of the Delaware River in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the United States.

Brown and Willcox continued their partnership until 1732 when Willcox leased Brown's interest in the operation. In 1739, Willcox bought Brown out completely. [5] Thomas Willcox passed the mill and property on to his son Mark. [6]

The first output from Ivy Mills was pressboard and then printing paper. After 1775, the mill was devoted almost entirely to making government paper for the continental bills, loan certificates and bills of exchange. At the time of the revolution, the government depended entirely on Ivy Mills for paper for currency. [7]

Pressboard is a class of cellulose-based material constructed of several layers (plies) of paper which, when compressed using a combination of heat and pressure, form a stiff, dense material in a range of weights. Pressboard has been widely used in traditional school and office products such as spiral-bound notebooks and three-ring binders, but its unique physical characteristics lend itself readily to a variety of end-uses, including document storage, filing supplies, report covers, folding cartons, tags, labels, and industrial applications. It is commonly used to make the back panels of radios and some televisions. Pressboard may be converted using a number of different techniques, and accepts a range of value-add decorating techniques. Pressboard may contain recycled fiber content, and is typically itself recyclable and biodegradable, making it an environmentally-sound choice for those seeking an alternative to petroleum-derived substrates.

Thomas Willcox left the mill and property to his son Mark and to other Willcoxes until paper manufacturing at the mill ceased in 1886. [8]

Missionary Work

Thomas Willcox and his family were of Roman Catholic faith and are believed to be the oldest Roman Catholic family in Pennsylvania. [9] The Willcox family opened their home as a regular stop to Jesuit priests traveling from Maryland to preach to Christians in Philadelphia. [10] A mission chapel was established at Ivy Mills in 1730, [11] [12] making it the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Pennsylvania. [13] In 1837, St. Mary's Chapel was built as part of the new Ivy Mills Mansion. Eventually the size of the congregation was sufficient to warrant the construction of a new church in 1852 named St. Thomas the Apostle Church a mile away in what would become the borough of Chester Heights. [14]

Personal life

Willcox was originally from Exeter, Devonshire, England and emigrated to Concord Township with his wife Elizabeth (née Cole) in 1718. Thomas and Elizabeth Willcox had nine children, John, Anne, James, Elizabeth, Mary, Deborah, Thomas, Mark and Margaret. [15]

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References

  1. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Ivy Mills Historic District" (PDF). dot7.state.pa.us. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  2. Martin, John Hill (1877). Chester (and Its Vicinity,) Delaware County, in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Wm. H. Pile & Sons. p. 231. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  3. Willcox, Joseph (1911). Ivy Mills, 1729-1866: Willcox and Allied Families. Baltimore: Lucas Brothers, Inc. p. 3. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  4. Weeks, Lyman Horace (1916). A History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916. New York: The Lockwood Trade Journal Company. p. 12. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  5. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Ivy Mills Historic District" (PDF). dot7.state.pa.us. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  6. "Willcoxes of Ivy Mills". www.properphiladelphia.com. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  7. Weeks, Lyman Horace (1916). A History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916. New York: The Lockwood Trade Journal Company. p. 13. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  8. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Ivy Mills Historic District" (PDF). dot7.state.pa.us. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  9. Ashmeade, Henry Graham (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. p. 492. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  10. "Three Miles, Three Faiths". www.concordhist.org. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  11. Jordan, John W. (1912). A History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania and Its People. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 394. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  12. Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia (Vol. VI ed.). Philadelphia: The American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia. 1895. p. 460. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  13. "Friends of Old St. Thomas Website". www.friendsofoldstthomas.org. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  14. "Friends of Old St. Thomas Church Website". www.friendsofoldstthomas.org. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  15. Ashmeade, Henry Graham (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. p. 492. Retrieved 2 July 2017.