Payment of Dividends signed by Wm. P. BancroftInv# AU1415
William Poole Bancroft (July 12, 1835 – April 20, 1928) was an American industrialist who later became an important figure in the land conservation movement. His belief that the beauty of the Brandywine region should be protected against urban sprawl for future generations led to him purchasing large amounts of land which eventually became state and federally owned park land. William Poole Bancroft was born on July 12, 1835 in Wilmington, Delaware, United States. His father was Joseph Bancroft, a member of a prominent Quaker family who started his own milling company, Bancroft Mills, in 1831, just a few years before William's birth. His mother was Sarah Poole, the daughter of a Quaker miller and silversmith, William Poole, after whom Bancroft was named. William had a younger brother, Samuel, who was born in 1840. Both of his parents were Quakers, and his father in particular was very religious and active in the Quaker community. William was educated according to Joseph's religious values, and he emphasized the importance of hard work in his children. William began working at the family mills part-time at seven, and progressed to full-time employment in 1849 at 14. The Civil War proved extremely profitable to the company due to increased demand for its products, and in 1865, when Bancroft was 30 years old, his father managed to pay off all of the company's business debts. This allowed Joseph to reorganize the company as Joseph Bancroft & Sons, making William and Samuel full partners. The partnership increased Bancroft's wealth dramatically, and the mills continued to grow and prosper, soon becoming the largest textile mill in the United States. Joseph died in 1874, leaving his two sons to run the company by themselves. William then married Emma Cooper in 1876.