Held at: The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute [Contact Us]222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Ivy Mills, located in what is now the community of Glen Mills in Concord Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was established in 1729 by Thomas Willcox and his partner Thomas Brown. One of the earliest paper mills in operation in the American colonies, Ivy Mills rose to prominence, supplying paper to Benjamin Franklin for his print shop and to the American colonies and the Continental Congress for their currency. After the establishment of the United States, Ivy Mills continued to be the leading supplier of bank note paper for the federal government and also supplied banks across the western hemisphere with paper. The mill's ownership passed down through the Willcox family until 1866 when it ceased operations.
In 1726, English immigrant and papermaker Thomas Willcox (1689-1779) and local resident Thomas Brown built a mill-dam across the west branch of Chester Creek in what is now the community of Glen Mills in Concord Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Willcox and Brown built a paper mill and started producing paper in 1729. The mill, known as Ivy Mills, was one of the earliest paper mills in operation in the American colonies. Willcox bought Brown out of the business in 1739. The mill supplied paper to Willcox's friend Benjamin Franklin for his print shop and other needs. Additionally, the mill received the first orders for paper on which to print colonial and continental currency.
Around 1776, Mark Willcox (1744-1827), Thomas's son, took over operation of Ivy Mills and received the title to the mill when Thomas died in 1779. Mark Willcox served as an associate judge for Delaware County from 1791 to 1824 and was also a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The mill became one of the leading providers of bank note paper in the western hemisphere, providing paper for currency for the United States government and several South American governments. The original mill was torn down and replaced with a new structure in 1829. The business was passed down through the Willcox family until it ceased operations in 1866.
Thomas Willcox converted to Catholicism when he married Elizabeth Cole (1691-1780) in 1727. At the time, there were not very many Catholic families in the Philadelphia-area. A Catholic mission station was established at Ivy Mills in the 1730s and mass was read in the Willcox family house. The family's house became a center of Catholicism in Delaware County and served as the beginnings of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, the oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. When the congregation's size became too large for mass to be read in the family home, a church was constructed on land donated in 1852 by the Willcox family.
Living Places. "Ivy Mills Historic District." Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Delaware_County/Concord_Township/Ivy_Mills_Historic_District.html.
Proper Philadelphia. "Willcoxes of Ivy Mills." December 6, 2011. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.properphiladelphia.com/willcoxes-of-ivy-mills/.
Ivy Mills financial records, 1783-1866, consist of the mill's financial records, a glass plate negative of the mill, and paper samples. A listing of the financial records is below.
Flahnea and Willcox reports and finances volume, 1783-1793 Daybook, 1810-1819 Daybook, 1815-1822 Daybook, 1822-1831 Financial ledger, 1826-1848 Daybook, 1841-1859 Ivy Mills invoice book, 1848-1861 Financial journal, 1854-1865 Financial journal, 1857-1866 Financial ledger, 1860-1866
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute directly for more information.
- The Historical and Interpretive Collections of The Franklin Institute
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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