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Papers of Wilmington banks


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 were measures taken by the Federal government to assert more control over the banking system. The motivation for the formation of the acts was threefold: to create a system of national banks, to create a uniform national currency, and to help finance the civil war for the Northern states.

Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware (1609–1888). 2 vols. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Company, 1888. Conrad, Henry C. History of the State of Delaware: From the Earliest Settlements to the Year 1907. Volume 1. Wilmington: Published by author, 1908.Historical and Biographical Encyclopedia of Delaware. Wilmington: Aldine Publishing and Engraving Co., 1882.

The National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine was chartered in 1810 as the Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine. In 1865, it became a member of the national banking system, thus it was renamed the National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine.

Beginning in 1869, Washington Jones was the president of the bank, and it is his signature that appears on most of the documents in this collection. Other staff members represented in the collection are William Seal, president 1829–1842, John A. Duncan, president 1863–1888, and Washington Jones, president from 1868 to at least 1888. The cashier signatures in this collection include Joseph P. Wollaston, 1825–1837, Evan Rice, 1862–79, Otho Nowland, 1882–1889, and Caleb Sheward, 1889–unknown.

Mechanics' Bank was only in existence from 1859 until 1865. It was located at the corner of Fourth and Market Streets in Wilmington.

In July 1864 the bank was dissolved, and its assets were acquired by the newly formed First National Bank of Wilmington. Mahlon Betts, the president of Mechanics' Bank, was chosen as president of the First National Bank.

The First National Bank of Wilmington was the first bank in Wilmington formed under the National Banking Law of 1864.

With Mahlon Betts as president and Samuel Biddle as cashier, the bank opened for business on July 4, 1864, in the building formerly occupied by the Mechanics' Bank.

The First National Bank of Wilmington staff members represented in this collection are: bank presidents Mahlon Betts, president until July 1864 and Edward Betts, president from 1864–at least 1888 and original Board of Directors members Joshua T. Heald, Dalaplaine McDaniel, George W. Bush, and Stephen S. Southard.

Union National Bank was initially chartered as a state institution on February 5, 1839, with the name "Union Bank of Delaware."

The bank flourished as a state institution, and its directors hoped to continue its upward trajectory by joining the national banking system. On June 20, 1865 the "Union Bank of Delaware" became the Union National Bank. The signature of John H. Danby, cashier beginning in 1885, is present in this collection.

George W. Bush & Sons was one of the earliest transportation houses in Wilmington, Delaware.

Samuel Bush first established the company in 1773. At this early date, Samuel Bush attempted to establish a direct trade and freight line between Wilmington and Philadelphia using the Delaware River. Beginning with only one freight vessel, this new trade route rapidly gained popularity with those living in the Wilmington area. It highlighted Wilmington as a convenient place for millers and distillers from Lancaster and Chester County to ship their goods to Philadelphia at a cheaper rate and more quickly. By the end of the eighteenth century, Samuel Bush had acquired a larger ship, and outfitted it to accommodate passengers as well as freight. The business continued to grow, and the Bush family established a merchant business on the French Street wharf in Wilmington where shipments were made to Philadelphia, New York, and the West Indies, as well as maintaining a store for the use of Wilmington citizens. The firm continued to grow under the direction of members of the Bush family, and in 1882 took on the firm name George W. Bush & Sons reflected in this collection. In addition to the transportation business, George W. Bush & Sons also achieved a prominent position in the coal trade and the lumber industry, particularly the yellow-pine trade. This involvement in the lumber industry led to the establishment of the George W. Bush & Sons' Lumber Company in 1884.

The Papers of Wilmington Banks, 1831-1895, was a gift of the Moyerman Family circa 1970-1972. The small collection consists of .1 linear ft. of material pertaining to the chartering and dissolution of specific independent and national banks in Wilmington, Delaware, and the passing of the National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864.

Stock shares of the National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine (F1) and documents discussing the dissolution of the Mechanics' Bank and the acquisition of its assets by the First National Bank of Wilmington (F2) comprises most of the collection.

The firm of George W. Bush & Sons and the affiliated Lumber Company appear on many of the documents in this collection. The financial success of the Bush family led to a long-standing involvement in many of the banking institutions and other business endeavors in Wilmington, Delaware.

This collection also includes a series of checks drawn from banks in Delaware and the surrounding states, including the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of Philadelphia, the Farmers and Mechanics National Bank of Philadelphia, the State Bank at Camden, New Jersey, the Central National Bank of Philadelphia, and The Manufacturers National Bank of Philadelphia (F3). F3 also includes a handwritten copy of "An Act imposing a tax upon the National Banks now created or to be created in this State."

The Papers of Wilmington Banks is a small and fragmented collection. Nevertheless, it may be useful to students of the American Banking system, as well as those interested in the history of banking in Delaware. This collection may provide supplemental material for projects concerning the effects of and responses to the formation of the national banking system under the National Banking Act of 1863 and 1864.

The collection is divided into three folders according to bank of origin.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Gift of the Moyerman family, ca. 1970-1972.

Processed by Emily Holloway, December 2005. Encoded by Lora J. Davis, February 2010.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 February 15
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine stock certificates, 1831-1893.
Box 1 Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Includes twenty-two printed stock certificates issued by the National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine between 1831 and 1893 to various individuals. The stock certificates are of three different designs, depending on age, with the majority measuring approximately 7.5" x 10.75".

Also includes a handwritten note dated March 17, 1875, pertaining to a questionable withdrawal from the National Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine using a check from the Louisiana National Bank of New Orleans.

Physical Description

23 items

First National Bank of Wilmington, 1864-1895.
Box 1 Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Contains a variety of receipts, promissory notes, stock certificates, judicial decisions, statements of protest, and pieces of correspondence relating to the First National Bank of Wilmington and its predecessor, the Mechanics Bank (Wilmington).

The folder includes the following: a series of documents discussing the termination of Mechanic's Bank and the charter of the First National Bank of Wilmington under the National Bank Act of 1864; seventeen handwritten receipts for capital stock shares of the First National Bank of Wilmington, all dated June 27, 1864; a receipt for an order of one deposit journal and one ream of deposit tickets placed by First National Bank with "James & Webb, Dr., Printers and Stationers, Book Binders and Manufacturers of Blank Books, No. 224 Market Street," dated September 30, 1876; one printed Stockholder's Proxy, assigning Joshua Jefferis as proxy for stockholder Eli Mendenhall to cast a vote for bank directors in 1894; and several notarized certificates of protest, resulting from the bank's inability to provide cash in exchange for endorsed notes between 1893–1895.

Physical Description

36 items

Other banks, 1861-1895.
Box 1 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Contains bank notes, lending agreements, correspondence, and other printed material relating to several regional banks.

The folder includes the following: endorsed bank notes dated between 1861 and 1872 from Farmers and Mechanics (National) Bank of Philadelphia, State Bank at Camden, New Jersey, Central National Bank of Philadelphia, and Manufacturers National Bank of Philadelphia; two 1864–1865 lending agreements, one incomplete, between New Jerusalem Church of Wilmington, and E.W. Gilpin for a sum of 1200 dollars; two letters regarding Union National Bank business, dated September 14, 1869, and March 14, 1891; a Delaware Loan Association petition to the Superior Court of the State of Delaware dated 1881; a letter from Frances Buck, President of the Etiwan Phosphate Company of Charleston, South Carolina, to James P. Winchester Esquire of Wilmington, Delaware, dated October 14, 1895; and a copy of "An Act imposing a tax upon the National Banks now created or to be created in this state," dated February 3, 1865.

Physical Description

24 items

Print, Suggest