The Families of Adam Keith

“Once upon a time ...”, family facts and tales


The A. I. duPont family

Mary Gertrude Eckenroth [1881-after 1937]


Ancestry: Adam Keith1>Hieronimus Keith2>Michael Keith3>Lucetta [Keith m. John] Paine4>Mary Jane [Paine m. William B.] Eckenroth5>Mary Gertrude Eckenroth6


During the time of the 1910 Federal Census Mary G. Eckenroth was a trained nurse for the Alfred I. dupont family in New Castle, Delaware


1910 DE>New Castle Representative District 6 Mary G. Eckenroth 26 PA trained nurse living with Alfred I. duPont [indexed Alfred E. Doporto] 45 DE powder manufacturer, Elicia 33 DE [3 children - 1 alive, married ca 1908], Elicia A. 6 DE

Alfred Irénée duPont


Alfred Irénée duPont (1864-1935) was born on May 12, 1864, in a stone house near the banks of the Brandywine River in Delaware. He was a descendent of the duPont family of French nobility who emigrated to America during the French Revolution and established the powder manufacturing dynasty of Eleutherian Mills. Alfred was the third child and first son of Eleuthère Irénée duPont (1829-1877) and Charlotte S. Henderson (1835-1877). He had four siblings: Anne Cazenove duPont Walker (1860-1899); Marguerite duPont Lee (1862-1936); Maurice (1866-1941); and Louis Cazenove (1868-1892). The five children were orphaned at an early age when both parents died, within weeks of each other, in 1877.


Although Alfred inherited a considerable amount of property, he grew up in the powder mill working and fighting on equal terms with the sons of Irish and Italian laborers. He possessed a keen intellect and a powerful physique, as well as musical and mechanical aptitudes, but had limited interest in formal education. Throughout his life he prided himself on being a self-made man. In his youth he gained the reputation of being "the best black powder man in the nation" and the mechanical genius of the duPont family.


In 1902, Alfred was bold enough to claim the company his elders wanted to sell to their major competitor, Laflin and Rand. With two cousins, Thomas Coleman duPont and Pierre Samuel duPont, he formed a triumvirate which converted the old gunpowder company into the E. I. duPont de Nemours Powder Company in 1903. The great duPont chemical empire of today eventually evolved from this enterprise. The reorganization also precipitated an unbreechable division of the duPont family as the cousins vied for control of the company through stock manipulation and lawsuits. Alfred was shut out of the company in 1915 and bitterly turned to other business and political pursuits. At one time he owned several Delaware newspapers and used them to oppose the election of Thomas Coleman duPont and Henry A. duPont to state offices and to the United States Senate.


Concurrent with the family business war was Alfred's unhappy marriage to his first wife, Bessie Gardner (1864-1949). Married in 1887, the couple had four children: Madeleine duPont (Bancroft) (Hiebler) Ruoff (1887-1965); Bessie duPont Huidekoper (1889-1973); Alfred Victor (1900-1970); and Victorine duPont Dent (1903-1965). In 1904 Alfred lost an eye in a hunting accident and shortly afterwards his marriage ended in a scandalous divorce resulting in alienation of his children and intensified animosity within the extended family.