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Yorklyn Mills, 1945

Yorklyn Mills, 1945. Photo, courtesy John R. Harrison.

About 1813, Thomas Lea is credited with naming his mill, and by association the emerging hamlet where it was located, Auburn. That name endured until 1872, when the Wilmington & Western Rail Road Company laid the track that would connect Wilmington to Landenberg. It included a stop at Yorklyn, marked by a Post Office and water tank alongside snuff, paper and woolen mills. What prompted the railroad to choose the name remains a mystery.

By the early 1900s, Yorklyn was a mill town of less than 300 people, most of whom lived in company-owned houses. Residents worked in the local mills, shopped in local family-run stores, supported the Yorklyn School, and cheered local ballplayers as they enjoyed “America’s pastime.” A 1903 brochure promoting a new trolley line through the region predicted growth and prosperityfor Yorklyn: "Possessing, as it does, the foundations of a thriving town, Yorklyn will undoubtedly  experience vast changes within the next few years; its pleasing scenery and delightful location being bound to attrackthe house-seeker and the investor."

To this day, Yorklyn remains an "unincorporated community" in Delaware, and residents who desire home postal delivery must adopt a Hockessin address. Therefore, Yorklyn remains a village without official boundaries - but with boundless potential for what the future holds.

Map  of New Castle County, DE. 1881

1881 Map of New Castle County, Delaware. Photo, courtesy Library of Congress.

This 1881 map of New Castle County, Delaware (based on actual surveys and records) featured “(Auburn)/Yorklyn P.O.,” reflecting the town’s name change and the addition of a U.S. Post Office in 1872. It included the 1869 Yorklyn School, the Garrett Snuff Mill and the original Woolen Mill that would become the Marshall Brothers paper mill in 1890.

Aerial photo, Snuff Mills, September 20, 1932

Aerial photo, snuff mills, taken September 20, 1932. Photo, Auburn Heights Preserve Archives.

This 1932 aerial photo depicts the main plants of National Vulcanized Fibre Co. and George W. Helme [snuff] Co. The Yorklyn Bridge stands far left, and the snuff mills and millworker homes (now referred to as “Lower Snuff Mill Row”), appear in the upper half, while the fibre workers housing known as “Brick Row” (torn down in 1966) shows in the lower right.

No Boundaries