There is a rock high above the bend in the Brandywine where William Bancroft is remembered to have often stood. From there he enjoyed showing friends the view of the valley that sloped out of Wilmington into the farmland and rugged country of Brandywine Hundred.
When William Bancroft looked toward Brandywine Hundred, his vision transcended this scene of natural beauty. He could imagine a future when the city of Wilmington would expand into the open land to the north. It was for the residents of this future Wilmington that Bancroft planned to preserve the unique beauty of the lower Brandywine Valley.
William Poole Bancroft was born in 1835, son of Joseph Bancroft, the founder of Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company, and Sarah Poole, daughter of William Poole, the silversmith and miller. When Bancroft was seven years old, he began working in his father’s cotton mills. At age 14, he went to work full-time and by 1865, at the age of 30, was made a partner in the business.
It was through the successful operation of these mills that William Bancroft acquired the means to give of his time, money, and energy to housing, orderly development, and parks.
In 1901, William Bancroft established Woodlawn Company, known today as Woodlawn Trustees, Incorporated.