Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Death of Lammot du Pont

       In 1881, Lammot du Pont moved his family from the du Pont family residence, Nemours, on the Brandywine to 3500 Powelton Ave. in Powelton. The move brought him to within commuting distance of a company he had founded on the New Jersey side of the Delaware for the manufacture of nitro-glycerine. On Saturday, February 29, 1884, du Pont was working at his office when an employee burst in to tell him they were having trouble cooling a vat being used in the production of nitro-glycerine. Mr. du Pont and a visiting colleague ran over to the manufacturing building. As they arrived, the vat exploded killing them and four others. The blast was heard as far away as Chester and South Broad St. Du Pont was one of the wealthiest men in the country with an estimated wealth at the time of his death of at least $30 million.
       As was the custom, du Pont was buried from his home. The Philadelphia Inquirer described the funeral as follows:
       "The remains of the late Lammot Dupont… were laid to rest at three o'clock yesterday… in the private burial ground of the Dupont family on the banks of the Brandywine, below Wilmington. The body was laid in a black cloth casket, with plain silver mountings. The casket was placed in a cedar coffin, and, after brief services…, the remains were removed from Mr. DuPont's late residence, on Powelton avenue, to the Broad street station, where they were put on the 11:50 train for Wilmington. A special car was attached to the rear of the train for the accommodation of about fifty male friends and relatives of the immediate family, most of whom were prominent business and professional men….
       "On the arrival… the casket was removed to a hearse at the station, and those present were provided with carriages, of which there were about thirty, including a number of private equipages. There were no flowers, in accordance with the wishes of the family, and all ostentation was carefully avoided. The funeral cortege started shortly after the arrival of the train, going directly to the place of burial on the Dupont estate....
       "The spot when the burial took place is a beautiful one. It is situated on a high slope overlooking the Brandywine and the country for miles around. In the distance can be seen the church spires and the house tops of Wilmington and the broad, winding stream of the Delaware.... The ceremonies were brief and the mourners immediately returned to Wilmington, taking the four o'clock train for Philadelphia.""

       The family apparently remained in Powelton for a number of years. Mary du Pont was still listed at 3500 Powelton in the 1891 city directory. They sold the property in 1892.

       Note: The Hagley Museum ( has several pictures of the house and the du Pont family when they lived in Powelton. For links and more information, visit the Powelton Interactive Map for 3500 Powelton Ave.

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