Jacob Cist correspondence and documents
Held at: Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia [Contact Us]1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Jacob Cist was born on March 13, 1783 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He obtained his education at the Nazareth Boys’ School of the Moravian Church from 1794 to 1797. He lived in Philadelphia until 1808 when he was appointed United States Postmaster, serving that position until his death in 1925. Cist’s interests and skills were diverse and he worked as a merchant in Wilkes-Barre, as the treasurer of Luzerne County in 1816, as a business partner with his father-in-law Judge Matthias Hollenback (a merchant and landlord in northeastern Pennsylvania), and a co-founder of the first company for mining and marketing anthracite coal with Jacob Weiss. He was described as a “young, ambitious, and clever entrepreneur who … devote[d] his energies to the fostering of the Pennsylvania anthracite trade in order to supply the city of Philadelphia with fuel at a handsome profit,” (Binder), particularly during fuel shortages during the War of 1812. Because coal was not used in homes and businesses, at the time, he worked hard to convince people that Lehigh coal was easy to burn and a viable fuel source. He consistently wrote about the value of using coal as a fuel source, sent samples to American and European cities, created pamphlets, gathered endorsements from successful users of the fuel, and performed demonstrations.
In addition to his professional work, Cist was also deeply involved in many other aspects of his world. As a naturalist, he stressed field observations and biology of insects, illustrating the stages seen, while studying their classification. He studied under French artist, M. A. Benade, and became a skilled artist, sketching waterfalls and plants and insects of Wyoming Valley. Further using his artistic skills, he designed bank notes for the Susquehanna Bank of Wilkes-Barre. He was also an inventor and patented a mill for grinding pigment from coal in 1803. Finally, he was a co-founder of the Luzerne County Agricultural Society.
Cist died on December 30, 1823
Binder, Frederick M. “Review: Philadelphia’s First Fuel Crisis: Jacab Cist and the Developing Market for Pennsylvania Anthracite by H. Benjamin Powell” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 103, No. 3 (Jul. 1979), pp. 402-404.
This collection includes personal and business letters, documents, agreements, memorabilia, clippings and records of Cist's service as United States Postmaster of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His accounts as treasurer of the Wilkes-Barre Bridge Co. are included, as are records of his activities as a co-founder and officer of the Luzerne County Agricultural Society and his service as a Commissioner from his county to the Pennsylvania Commission for Internal Improvement. His tax accounts as County Treasurer, with supplementary letters give details of the procedures in vogue during that era. The collection also includes some typescript and some facsimile copies.
Some of the correspondents included in this collection are Enoch Alden, H. Bowman, William Brown, Abraham Bradley, Jr. (1767-1838), Phineas Bradley, Judge Thomas Burnside (1782-1851), Isaac A. Chapman, Charles Cist Sr., Charles Cist Jr., Jacob Cist, Lewis Cist, Mary (Weiss) Cist, Mary Ann Cist, Sarah (Hollenback) Cist, Zaccheus Collins (1764-1831), John G. Cunow, Anson Dart, William Day, Thomas Depew, John Dilzund, Asa Dimock, Warren Dimock, Alexander Dolph, Thomas Dow, Benjamin Drake, Henry W. Drinker (1787-1866), Dudley & Safford, John C. Dull, Wilkesbarre Turnpike Co., A. Ecky, Horace H. Edwards, Edward Fell, Leonard Frailey, Peter Frantz, Thomas H. Gillis, Joshua Gilpin (1765-1841), Thomas Gilpin (1776-1853), Godfrey Haga Jr., John Hannis, William Henry, George M. Hollenback, Matthias Hollenback (1752-1829), Joseph Horsfield, Thomas Horsfield, Benjamin B. Howell, John Kern, George Lane, Lehigh Coal Concern, Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, James Lyon, George P. MacCulloch, Nathaniel Miner, Henry Naszinger, James Renwick, Hugh Roberts, James Ronaldson, Daniel Smith, David Smith, Joseph Smith, Stelwaggon & Knight, Troutman Wernwag, Joshua Whitney, Wilkesbarre Bridge Company, and George Winchester.
The bulk of this collection is correspondence and is arranged by item number. It appears that the collection was assigned item numbers after the collections was organized (loosely) in alphabetical order.
Gift of a descendant, Gilbert S. McClintock of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1940.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
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- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
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