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Philadelphia Surveyor John H. Levering Ledger


Held at: Lehigh University Special Collections [Contact Us]Lehigh University, Linderman Library, 30 Library Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18045

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Overview and metadata sections

The compiler of this manuscript, John H. Levering (b. 1831), appointed in March 1854 and later elected in May 1855, was one of 12 District Surveyors and Regulators (8th Survey District) by the Common Council of Philadelphia under Strickland Kneas, Chief Engineer and Surveyor of the City of Philadelphia. There is a long history of surveyors and regulators in Philadelphia which perhaps is the oldest group of surveyors in the United States. Among some of the surveyors and regulators appointed under an Act of 1782 was Joseph Wetherill (Lehigh SC MS 0163) (Wetherill Estate a Levering client). The Department of Surveys of the City of Philadelphia was organized by Ordinance of Council February 4, 1854 under the provisions of the 27th and 50th section of the Act of Consolidation. The 1854 Act of Consolidation provided that City Regulators fixed the width of footways in the streets, water courses, etc and enter them in the Book of Record by an ordinance of 1811; City Surveyors regulated that the streets, etc be agreeable to Draft and Book by an ordinance of 1809. During the mid-1800s there was an era of growth which necessitated the expansion westward of the City of Philadelphia. The 1854 Act of Consolidation incorporated the Township of Roxborough and the Borough of Manayunk, located northwest of city center Philadelphia bound on the south by the Schuylkill River, into the City boundaries. Circa 1686 the Levering family (William Levering) owned land in Manayunk, once a part of the township of Roxborough and was involved in Merion Township on the southside of the Schuylkill River. Before Manayunk became a borough in 1840, it was known as Flat Rock, the site of a bridge across the Schuylkill River between the townships of Roxborough and Merion. Evidence for the Levering Family connection in Manayunk is an inclined street named Levering Street, the steepest vertical drop in Philadelphia. Other noteworthy Levering connections with Manayunk are a section of the Schuylkill Navigation Canal (Lehigh SC MS 0157, 0163); the icon Manayunk Bridge across the Schuylkill River, a concrete viaduct built by the Pennsylvania Railroad (a Levering client); also, the Norristown –Reading Railroad (a Levering client) served Manayunk. John H. Levering, as a city surveyor, made a multitude of surveys in the region around Philadelphia but most of his surveys developed Philadelphia's 21st Ward. Some of his clients are of Lehigh University interest.

This folio is a business manuscript in a ledger book format approximately 14" x 8 ½" x 1 ½" (35.8 cm x 21.25 x 3.75) bound in brown contemporary calf embossed with a pattern of circles defining several panels on the cover, corners are bound with morocco; leather is scuffed and edges darkly stained top and bottom of front cover; spine is worn and loose, front joint cracked and back joint starting. Inside the front and back covers are pasted marbled flyleaves and inside front cover is a pastedown label from: Wm. E. Murphy's Sons Stationers Printers Blank Book Makers 509 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. There are 400 black ink printed page numbers in upper outer page corners of which 205 pages are used for accounts. It is apparent that the book spine has been reinforced with cloth tape. The record book entries run from 1885 into 1888 but among the entries are notations for surveys made in 1873. Some of the entries provide clients' names (often "City of Philadelphia"), partial addresses ("lot on Division Street." "corner of Ridge Ave. and Roxborough," etc.), fees charged and type of survey (water pipes, plot staking). Although much of the survey work is in the 21st Ward, there are also mentioned Merion, Norristown and Germantown.

Each page has a black ink printed page number on the outer corner. Beginning on Page 2 there are continuous entries beginning August 7 1885 to July 7, 1888 ending in mid page on Page 205. Each page is faintly blue lined with five columns denoted by red vertical lines. Atop each page is handwritten the month and year. Entries are made in several examples of handwriting in black ink.


Lehigh University Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Eleanor Nothelfer and William Ying
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Collection Inventory

Description of the Collection.
Volume 0173
Description of the Ledger

A description of John H. Levering's appointment as Surveyor and Regulator appears on pages 3, 4, 7, 15.
Among the many client names are listed many women building lot owners.
A brief listing of clients is:
The Samuel Levering (1765 – 1823) estate development, page 4
The Wetherill Estates, pages 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 34, 38, 39
The Packer property (possibly Asa Packer's family or a former Pa. Governor William Packer), page 91
Philadelphia & Norristown Railroad, pages 25, 26
Pennsylvania Railroad, pages 54, 105
Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, page 61
Reading Railroad, pages 59, 60, 62, 102
Roxborough Passenger Railway Co., page 142
Wissahicken Electric Light Col, pages 141, 142, 157
Morris Levering, page 165

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