Sunday, April 25, 2010

Elizabeth Cole Wilcox

The villages of the township are Ivy Mills, Concordville, Ward and Elam, the largest being Concordville, with a population of about 300. A noted family of the township is the Wilicox, founded in 1718 by Thomas Willcox and his wife Elizabeth Cole, who settled on the west branch of Chester creek, in Concord. Both he and his wife were members of the Roman Catholic faith, this being, it is asserted, the second Catholic famiJy to settle in Philadelphia. The old Ivy paper mill, with which the family was so intimately connected, was founded by Thomas Willcox, and was the second paper mill built in this state, the first having been the Rittenhouse mill on the Wissahickon. This is the oldest business house now standing in the United States. It has had intimate relations not only with Franklin Carey and all the principal printing houses of the last century, but with the colonial authorities for forty years preceding the Revolution, issuing all their money, did business with the authorities of the Revolutionary period and with the United States government ever since, all in the line of its regular business as manufacturers of printing, currency and security papers. The Old Ivy mill, after standing one hundred years, was torn down in greater part and rebuilt by a grandson of the founder, James M. Willcox. Two men, the founder and his son, (Judge) Mark Willcox, conducted the mill ninety-eight years. It was then continued by James M. Willcox, who doubled its capacity, and with improved machinery, continuing with bank-note paper a specialty. For a long period not only were the banks of the United States supplied with their paper from the Ivy Mill, but its lofts were at times piled with peculiar looking paper of various tints, bearing ingrained watermarks of most of the governments and banks of South America. James M. Wilicox built Glen Mills No. 1 and 2, and also maintained his commercial house in Philadelphia. He took his sons Mark and William into partnership, and March 3, 1852, he retired, leaving his business to his sons, and died unexpectedly before the following morning. He is buried with his father, grandfather and many descendants, in the old family burying ground at Ivy Mills. The Sons continued the business, meeting the great demand made upon them during the civil war for bank-note paper. Later they manufactured in a costly mill the peculiar paper used by time Treasury department in their bank note iSSues, but patented by the Willcox house. This “localized fibre” paper, made at the Glen Mills, attained not only a national but world-wide reputation, it making counterfeiting impossible. For ten years the mills were jealously guarded by United States secret service men and forty employees of the Treasury department, to see that no scrap of the paper should reach any but its intended use. During that period, not a sheet out of the millions made was lost or missed; not a counterfeit on any treasury note or bond of the issue or series that began on that paper; and when in 1878 Secretary John Sherman removed the place of manufacture of government paper, tile paper account at Glen Mills balanced and a clear quittance was given. The old Ivy Mill is now a picturesque ruin, but it played an important part in Concord township history and will ever be an interesting relic.

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