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Willard Sharpless family papers


Held at: Christian C. Sanderson Museum [Contact Us]Box 153, Chadds Ford, PA, 19317

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Christian C. Sanderson Museum. 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

Willard J. Sharpless Jr. (1884-1959) was a blacksmith in Chadds Ford, Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the early 20th century.

Sharpless rented the front portion of a house in Chadds Ford, which is now the Christian C. Sanderson Museum, in the early 20th century from Horace Quinby and later from Lottie Brittingham Eachus. Sharpless built his blacksmith shop behind the house and provided artistic wrought-iron work, general blacksmithing, and wheelwrighting services to the community. Some of his more well known customers included Irenee du Pont and N.C. Wyeth.

In 1944, one of Sharpless's legs was amputated above the knee. Christian Sanderson, who rented the back portion of the same house occupied by Sharpless, initiated a fundraising campaign, to which many members and businesses in the community contributed, to raise money for an artificial leg for Sharpless. Sharpless passed away in 1959, and his deteriorating blacksmith shop was torn down around 1970.


Denk-Hoey, Sally Jane. "Blogging Along the Brandywine: Chadds Ford's Marvelous One-Legged Blacksmith." April 21, 2010. Accessed June 10, 2014.

The collection includes five "job books" (daybooks), 1927-1936; one account book, circa 1925-1929; invoices for work completed by Sharpless, 1928-1936; and a few letters. There is also fundraising book, circa 1945, that contains information about donations made for Sharpless' artificial leg, as well as some notes made by Christian Sanderson. Additionally, an autograph book, 1871-1872, that belonged to Willard's father, Willard Sharpless Sr. (1855-1915), is also included in the collection.

Willard Sharpless rented space in the Christian C. Sanderson house and left these materials when he vacated.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Christian C. Sanderson Museum directly for more information.

Christian C. Sanderson Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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