Main content

Graystone Society collection on Coatesville history


Held at: National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum [Contact Us]50 S. 1st Ave., Coatesville, Pennsylvania, 19320

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the National Iron & Steel Heritage 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

"Coatesville's location along the Brandywine River in the midst of the Chester Valley stimulated its growth and prosperity. The first settlement was an Indian village which had grown as a trading center and as a market for the fur trapping industry. Records indicate land holdings as early as 1714 by William Fleming, a native of Greenock, Scotland. Another early resident was Peter Bazillion, Indian fur trader and merchant, whose accomplishments were recognized with a [marker placed] on Oak Street by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission.

"In 1787, Moses Coates, a prosperous farmer and the area's first postmaster, purchased land which now comprises the center of the town.

"Meanwhile, a few miles south, Isaac Pennock was formulating plans for his Federal Slitting Mill. The mill, later known as Rokeby, was operating by 1793 and furnished the much-needed iron products for the growing region.

"Then, in 1794, rural life in the valley changed with the completion of the Philadelphia to Lancaster Turnpike, now U.S. Route 30. It was America's first turnpike. Moses Coates' son-in-law, Jesse Kersey, a potter by trade and a Quaker missionary by vocation, conceived of an idea to develop the area by selling frontage properties on the turnpike.

"Jesse formed a partnership with ironmaster Isaac Pennock and in 1810 purchased one hundred ten and five-tenths (110.5) acres of Coates' farm that lay along both sides of the Brandywine River. The farm's sawmill was converted to an ironworks and named Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory, the forerunner of Lukens, Inc.

"[The village was referred to as 'Coates Villa.' The longest operating steel mill in America developed alongside modern Coatesville.]

"In 1813, Charles Lukens, MD, married Isaac Pennock's daughter, Rebecca. Following her husband's death in 1825, Rebecca took over the operations of the mill, purchasing it from her mother and shepherding it through turmoil and market panic into a prosperous mill.

"[In 1834, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad established a station of the west side of the Brandywine River, designated "Midway" because of its location at the halfway point between the train line's two terminals. A village quickly developed around the station and was also known as Midway. In 1867 that the villages of Coatesville and the Midway joined to form the Borough of Coatesville].

"Coatesville continued to operate as a borough until 1915, when by a majority vote of its citizens, it became the first and only city in Chester County."


Quoted text from: The City of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. "Our History." Accessed October 11, 2013.

Graystone Museum Society of Coatesville was incorporated in 1984 with support primarily coming from the Huston Foundation. The Graystone Society, Inc. is today a not-for-profit educational institution dedicating to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting iron and steel's history and its relationship to Coatesville, the region, and the nation. The Graystone Society collection on Coatesville history includes photographs, scrapbooks, minute books, clippings, school books, and various other family papers and organizational records relating to the people and organizations of Coatesville, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Some records about properties owned by the Graystone Society also form part of the collection.

Most of the photographs in this collection are organized by subject and date from circa 1890-1960. The photographs depict local people, groups, businesses, organizations, street scenes, and other subjects from Coatesville and vicinity.

The family papers and organizational records in this collection are grouped by accession/creator. The family and personal papers include: Dr. Artemus Carmichael papers, including letters, photos, ephemera, certificates, and call books/patient records; Stewart Huston and Huston family materials, including items relating to Huston Hospital; and William Ridgely Leakins papers including letters, clippings, and minutes of Elk Lodge, 1880-1917. The business and organizational records include: Century Club of Coatesville minute books, 1967-1980, and annual reports, 1970s-2001; Town and Country Garden Club records including memorabilia, photos, meeting minutes, photos of activities, 1940s-2011. The collection also includes a memorial and obituaries scrapbook (circa 1945), research notes (on index cards) on the Alan Wood Steel Co., clippings, blueprints, a postcard album, printed items, ephemera, and other materials.

Of special interest are several 18th and early 19th century manuscript volumes relating to the Pennock and Lukens family, namely: Isaac W. Pennock school book, 1817; Elizabeth Pennock school book, 1830; Elizabeth Webb Lukens reflections; and C. Annie Huston volume, 1860.

Lastly, the collection includes records about historic properties owned by the Graystone Society, such as correspondence, reports, some financial papers, reference materials about historic preservation, and files of Graystone Society member Eugene Diorio.

Materials collected by the Graystone Society over time from various sources.

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 National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum directly for more information.

National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton 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.
Access Restrictions

Contact National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest