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Stinson Markley family papers


Held at: Charlestown Historical Society [Contact Us]PO Box 344, Devault, PA, 19432

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Charlestown 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

Stinson Markley (1898-1995) was born to Richard Markley and Annie Belle Arundel at the Norristown (PA) State Hospital, where his father was superintendent. Stinson had six siblings and after his father retired, the family moved to a farm in Kimberton, Pennsylvania, which Stinson hoped to manage himself someday. Due to a family dispute, Stinson was unable to realize his dream to farm the land in Kimberton, so he worked as a busboy and as a state game warden to save money. By 1938 he had enough saved to purchase a 54 acre farm on Union Hill Road in nearby Charlestown Township. He planted a fruit orchard and was known for his peaches. In 1942 he married Kathryn Donahue (1903-1981), a local school teacher and principal. They had no children, but were very involved in the local Charlestown community. Stinson helped establish the Charlestown Historical Society and the Charlestown Nature Center, which is now the Great Valley Nature Center. He was also a member of the Green Valleys Association, the National Audubon Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and various other historical, conservation, and preservation organizations in the area. Stinson Markley passed away in 1995 and left his 23 acre property on Union Hill Road, including a farmhouse and a barn, to the Charlestown Historical Society.

Kathryn M. Donahue (1903-1981), born in Frazer, Pennsylvania, was the daughter of Thomas B. and S. Ella Donahue. She graduated from West Chester State Normal School (now West Chester University) circa 1919, and taught in schools in nearby Malvern, Paoli, and Strafford, Pennsylvania. In 1932, she became principal of East Whiteland Elementary School, where she also taught English and coached basketball, soccer, and baseball teams. She remained at East Whiteland as principal until retiring circa 1963-1964. One year later, the school was named in her honor and is now the Kathryn D. Markley Elementary School in the Great Valley School District. Kathryn also served as president of the Pennsylvania Teachers Association, and played the organ at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Frazer, PA. Kathryn's sister, Edythe Donahue, married Paul Kerk.


Fortunato, Laura. "Best-loved Tales Told of a Town's Best Friend." Philadelphia Inquirer, November 27, 1988. Accessed February 12, 2014.

Rees, Harman D. Historical Sketches of Charlestown Township. Malvern, Pa.: Charlestown Historical Society, 2011.

The Stinson Markley family papers, circa 1850-1995, contain material relating to Stinson Markley's farming operations, personal life, and interests and hobbies; Kathryn Donahue Markley's personal and professional life; and others in the Markley, Donahue, and Kerk families. The collection includes numerous photographs and slides, personal papers, farming business records, scrapbooks, and printed materials.

Stinson's personal papers contain medical records; property and tax records, including those relating to the purchase of his farm in the 1940s and its donation to the Historical Society; financial and insurance records, 1930s-1990s; and daily journals, circa 1945-1985. There are also black and white and color photographs, and hundreds of color slides, 1960s-1980s, depicting family, friends, and places, especially in and around Charlestown and historic sites elsewhere. One box contains slides from a trip to California in 1947. Additionally, there are dozens of audio cassette tapes, 1970s-1980s, which contain recordings of nature sounds, discussions of various topics (e.g. George Washington, Valley Forge, world wars, Native American tribes in Pennsylvania, and farm seeds), church choir performances, and speeches made by President Ronald Reagan. There is also material amassed by Stinson on topics in which he was interested and organizations with which he was involved, especially those relating to historic preservation, environmental conservation, archaeology, the history of Charlestown and Chester County, and Markley family genealogy. Stinson's farming records, circa 1920-1980 (bulk 1920-1945), include material relating to farming management and operations, the wild turkey business, and pamphlets and printed items about farming practices, the history of the farming industry, and specific kinds of produce.

Kathryn's papers are mostly school-related items from her time as a student, teacher, and principal, circa 1919-1970s. These include Kathryn's notebooks from when she was a student; minutes of the Operating Committee of the Paoli Area School System, 1959-1969; principals' notes and reports, 1943-1967; and Parent Teacher Organization directories, 1960s-1970s. There are also some school materials that date from the mid to late 1800s. A smaller portion of materials include correspondence, scrapbooks, and personal papers.

A significant portion of the photographs in the collection is from the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. These include an ambrotype, several cabinet cards, and some albums depicting family members. There are also more modern photographs of recreational outings, and animal and nature scenes, including view master stereograph wheels of various national parks.

The collection also contains maps and diagrams, some of which are oversized; a number of postcards organized by state; a journal from 1930 written by Edythe Donahue, Kathryn's sister; a church journal, 1915-1916; and a small number of materials relating to the Eadline family. Some published books and objects are associated with the collection as well, including a painted portrait of Kathryn D. Markley.

Bequest of Stinson Markley, 1995.

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 Charlestown Historical Society directly for more information.

Charlestown Historical Society
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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