Taylor, Harris, Roman, Frazer, and Smith families papers
Held at: Chester County Historical Society [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Chester County Historical Society. 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
The families in this collection are all related by the marriage of Marianne Smith to Dr. Stephen Harris on April 14, 1833. Marianne’s father, Joseph Smith, was an iron and shipping merchant in Philadelphia, and her mother was Mary Frazer, daughter of Colonel Persifor Frazer and Mary Worrilow Taylor. Marianne’s brother was Persifor Frazer Smith, the lawyer. More information on the individuals represented in this collection is included in the introductory material to each family’s papers.
Both sides of the lineage represented in this collection immigrated to Pennsylvania because of religious persecution in England and Ireland. As Presbyterians and Quakers, they no longer wished to live under a series of laws which forced non-Anglicans out of public office, schools and the church as well as prohibiting meetings for non-Anglican worship. These newcomers contributed to the establishment of the government and religious expression in early Chester County.
The documents provide a broad picture of early Chester County and its residents as they interacted with each other at home and in Philadelphia through business, religious, and social transactions. Included in the collection are letters from James Logan (William Penn’s secretary); a broadside by Andrew Bradford, a Philadelphia printer; and a real estate document signed by David Lloyd, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania.
The collection spans the years 1683 to 1980 (bulk dates 1683-1851). Included in the collection are letters, land records (draughts, surveys, deeds, warrants, maps, advertisements of sale, etc.), business, legal and financial records, commissions, architectural drawings, receipts, account book, broadsides, genealogy, marriage certificates, wills, oaths of allegiance, poetry, photographs (originals transferred to photo archives), etc.
Topics include: surveying, Native Americans, Revolutionary War (includes prisoners, discharge certificate, receipt for British dead, militia, etc.), estate settlements, astronomy, publishing, iron industry, Sarum Forge (includes labor agreements), East Whiteland Presbyterian Church, St. David’s Church, Harris family homestead, domestic abuse (18th century), English Quakers and religious persecution, etc.
The collection is organized into five main groups by family: Taylor, Harris, Roman, Frazer and Smith. There is also a small grouping of miscellaneous documents.
Each group of family documents is arranged chronologically, as much as possible. The bulk of the collection consists of papers of the Taylor and Harris families.
Within the Taylor family, some documents are further organized under individual names.
The Taylor, Roman, Frazer, Smith, and Harris family papers were donated to Chester County Historical Society by Richard K. Stevens, Jr., April 21, 2001.
The Taylor, Roman, Frazer, Smith, and Harris families papers were donated to Chester County Historical Society by Richard K. Stevens, Jr., April 21, 2001.
The processing of this collection was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2006.
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.
- Frazer, Persifor, 1736-1792
- Harris, Stephen, 1798-1851
- Harris, William, 1757-1812
- Roman, Philip, b. ca. 1645
- Roman, Sarah Coole Bezer, d. ca. 1688
- Smith, John, 1686-1765
- Smith, Persifor Frazer, 1808-1882
- Smith, Robert, 1720-1803
- Taylor, Isaac, 1674-1728
- Taylor, Jacob, 1672-1745/6
- Taylor, John, 1695-1756
- Chester County Historical Society
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Margaret Miles Baillie
- Finding Aid Date
- 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.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Chester County Historical Society with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
Taylor family papers are arranged chronologically under subject and name headings.
Box 1 contains documents related to Taylor surveying careers. This includes, but is not limited to, drafts of Lord Baltimore’s Line; New Castle, Delaware; work in Philadelphia and around the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Rivers, Springton Manor, and Indian lands (“Oakhookeny”).
Also in Box 1 are legal documents and letters that relate to their county offices and personal matters. These include: letters from John Taylor to the Chester County Commissioners and Assessors concerning the county treasurer’s office, letters of James Logan to John Taylor, manuscripts documenting Thompson v. Thompson domestic abuse court case, a list of members of Concord Weekly meeting, several documents relating to John’s separation from his second wife, and a survey by Anthony Wayne.
Box 2 contains correspondence, poetry, etc. Folders 1 to 5 are papers related to Isaac Taylor which include estate papers, a deposition, a commission as well as an indenture agreement with Margarita Herner. Folders 6 to 25 contain documents related to Jacob Taylor. Correspondents include: James Logan, Nicholas Scull, Joseph Rose, and several printers, as well as family. There are also poems and some astronomical observations.
Box 3 contains documents related to John Taylor and his operation of Sarum Forge in Thornbury, including surveys and drafts, work contracts with employees and suppliers of the forge.
Folders 1 – 6 of Harris family papers are documents related to William Harris, father of Stephen Harris. Most of these concern his time of service as captain in the East Whiteland Militia during and after the Revolutionary War.
Folders 7 – 12 are largely concerned with Dr. Stephen Harris. They include: correspondence, receipts and memorandums, real estate papers such as mortgages, deeds, leases, maps, building plot plans, surveys, and floor plan drawings. The real estate papers are for his personal and family property and for the parsonage of the East Whiteland Presbyterian Church.
Also included are matriculation cards for classes and lectures he attended at the University of Pennsylvania. According to “Sketch of the Life of Dr. William Harris,” Dr. Stephen Harris was asked to take care of his brother William’s finances as he was better with money than he. It appears that that was so as the collection also includes Dr. Stephen Harris’ involvement with accounts for Captain John Harris, Campbell Harris, the East Whiteland Presbyterian Church and Sunday School. (See Folder 18, which houses the account book, 1829-1843, of Dr. Stephen Harris, which includes children’s birthdates, estate records of Mary Todd, Capt. John Harris’ accounts, farm and employee accounts, East Whiteland Presbyterian Church and parsonage accounts.)
Folder 14 includes four letters from 1845, which document a lively correspondence between Thomas Hutchison and Reverend D. H. Emerson.
The papers in Box 5 and 6 are arranged in chronological order; most are accompanied by typed transcripts. Consisting primarily of correspondence to members of the Quaker Roman and Beazer families, these letters shed light on the political, social, and religious climate of late 17th century England. Several letters from English relatives tell of imprisonment of Quaker friends and loved ones. A letter between Mary Coole and Sarah Beazer mentions Fisherton as the name of a prison.
The transition from new immigrants to established residents is also revealed in these letters as the topics shift from social and religious issues to economic and estate problems.
Includes letters from: William Coole, Benjamin Coole, Mary Coole, Thomas and Ann Norris, Edward Harper, Edward Bayley, Thomas Withers, William Hitchcock, Richard and Mary Walter, Cornelius Harding, John Childe.