Skip to main content

The Yorklyn Gun Club

Marshall shooting tournament, 1921

The first Marshall tourmanet, 1921. Photo, Marshall Steam Museum Archives.

Located atop Poplar Hill, southeast of the NVF mills, T. Clarence Marshall’s Yorklyn Gun Club operated from 1921 to 1950. Strictly a trapshooting club, it hosted special tournaments, such as the Delaware State Shoot and league shoots of the Penn-Del Twilight League. Yorklyn Gun Club, however, became best known for the four- or five-day Marshall tournament, which featured the “Marathon,” a 500-target world amateur championship, usually shot in one day.

This major tournament, most often held in early August, ranked second only to the Grand American (Ohio) in attendance and targets thrown. In 1938, when each post office in the country contributed a slogan as part of its postmark, Yorklyn Postmaster Philip E. Touhey dubbed Yorklyn a “Trapshooters’ Paradise.”

Marshall Tournament Attendees, Yorklyn Gun Club, 1937

Each year, attendees of the annual Marshall Tournament at Yorklyn Gun Club gathered for a panoramic photo. Photo, 1937, Sanborn Studio, Marshall Steam Museum Archives.

The first Marshall tournament was held in early August 1921 on National Fiber Co. property, part way up Gun Club Hill, where four private homes now stand. With three traps and no permanent buildings, temporary tents (one called the “Ladies Tent”) served as the clubhouse. 

Shooters in the Marshall event competed for trophies and prizes, with $2 of their $5 entry fee going toward the winnings.

Yorklyn Gun Club exterior

Yorklyn Gun Club, 1924. Photo, courtesy Hagley Museum & Library, Thomas C. Marshall Photograph Collection.

In 1922, the Marshall Tournament moved to the very top of the hill southeast of the fibre mills, and an early road of coal cinders was built from the industrial plant below. Two years later, a new frame clubhouse (comfortably appointed inside) replaced the “Ladies Tent” from previous competitions.

Yorklyn Gun Club Clubhouse, August 1946

Clubhouse, Yorklyn Gun Club, August 1946. Photo, courtesy Hagley Museum & Library, Thomas C. Marshall Photograph Collection.

Top shooters from across the country traveled to Yorklyn for the Marshall tournament. The shoots featured cash prizes and trophies, from sterling silver bowls to gold watches for the winner of the culminating competition, the T.C. Marshall Handicap.

According to Tom Marshall, a constant breeze kept families cool as they relaxed under the big tree alongside the clubhouse. 

T. Clarence and Tom Marshall shooting, 1930s

T. Clarence and Tom Marshall trapshooting, 1930s.

T. Clarence and Tom Marshall

Clarence Marshall took up se­rious trapshooting in 1914, when he was a dealer for Stanley steam cars as well as mechanical manager of the family’s paper and fibre mills. Two decades later, he taught his 10-year-old son, Tom, to shoot clay targets, but it was not until 1937 that Tom could handle a real 12-gauge trap gun. Soon he was shooting like a veteran. In 1941, he broke the only 50-straight at the Penn-Del League shoot near Concord­ville and set the record as the youngest shooter, at 17, to win the Delaware State Championship.

Tom Marshall fondly recalls his assignment — to collect the final score sheets after each shoot’s conclusion:

I remember going back on Sunday morning, mostly to retrieve the cashier and bulletin sheets from the week’s shooting, so the scores could be sent on “Onion Skins” to the Amateur Trapshooting Association for recording. Originally, my father did this, but starting about 1938, it was my job. The clubhouse was hot, smelly, and flies were prevalent. To a young lad, it seemed it would be forever until cleanup for another tournament would repeat such a week of fun.

The last Yorklyn Gun Club tournament occurred in August 1950.