1888 Moving West
Construction of Mooar Mills began in 1888 under the direction of Francis Gurney du Pont and the plant went into production in 1890, a year after Henry’s death. Although both the construction and military markets for black powder were shrinking, the Midwestern soft coal mining industry, which did not require high explosives, more than supported the Keokuk plant. It was expanded three times in fact: in 1892, 1900 and 1918 when it achieved a daily production of 6,400 kegs of blasting powder. By the 1940s, however, the market had declined to such an extent that Mooar was no longer viable. DuPont closed the facility in 1949.
Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) was the youngest son of Alexis I. du Pont and the grandson of E. I. du Pont. "Frank" served as superintendent of the Upper and Lower Hagley Yards before becoming general manager of Carney's Point, N.J., in 1891. There he conducted research into Alfred Nobel's formula for smokeless powder. In 1893, with the assistance of his cousin Pierre du Pont, Frank developed a successful smokeless powder for shotguns.
After DuPont was incorporated in 1899, Frank, who had been a partner in the firm since 1873, was appointed one of three vice presidents. At the death of Eugene du Pont in 1902, he was the logical successor to the presidency but declined it due to ill health. Instead, he advocated selling the company to competitor Laflin & Rand. He initially opposed the effort by the three younger du Ponts to block that sale and purchase the company themselves. A conservative businessman who valued his years of apprenticeship as a powderman, Frank mistrusted the modern business practices that he correctly believed the younger generation would implement at DuPont. He nevertheless yielded management of the company gracefully and died two years later, in 1904.