Main content

Wistar, Pennock, Lukens, Miller, and Davis family papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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 Wistar, Pennock, Lukens, Miller, and Davis families are "distinguished" Quaker families from Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania (Kislak Center administrative file).

The family patriarch, Caspar Wistar (1696-1752), a German immigrant and entrepreneur, arrived in Philadelphia in 1717. Originally trained as a brass button maker, he made his fortune in glass manufacturing here. Caspar married Catherine Jansen [Johnson] Wistar (1703-1786) of Germantown in 1726, eventually producing eight children. Little is known about the couple's youngest son, Caspar Wistar II (1740-1811), other than that he was a doctor and practiced law.

In 1765, Dr. Caspar Wistar II married Mary "Polly" Franklin (1735-1804), raising seven children in Philadelphia. Their daughter, Sarah Wistar (1770-1845) joined the Pennock family when she married her husband, George Pennock (1762-1799), in 1790. The Chester County Pennocks, who hailed from Ireland, are associated with Primitive Hall, a house built by George's grandfather, Joseph, but wasn't fully completed until 1976. Sarah gave birth to their son, Dr. Caspar Wistar Pennock, in 1799.

Dr. Caspar Wistar Pennock (d. 1867) married Caroline Morris (1811-1882) in 1833 in Philadelphia and later became a physician at the Philadelphia Hospital. He authored at least two published works, Observations and Experiments on the Efficacy and Modus Operandi of Cupping-Glasses (1828) and A Treatise on the Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels (1842). Together, Dr. Wistar Pennock and Caroline had one child, Sarah "Sallie" Wistar Pennock (1840-1909). In contrast with her previously mentioned relatives, Sarah's correspondence spans several years from childhood to adulthood as demonstrated by how her handwriting develops over time.

In 1861, Sarah married William Henry Miller (1837-1925), and gave birth to Caroline (1862-1949) and Caspar Wistar Miller soon after. Throughout his life, William worked as a farmer, served in the Pennsylvania militia during the Civil War, presided over First National Bank in Media, and was a Freemason. Later in life, Sarah worked with her adult children to research their family's genealogy within the United States and abroad in Europe. William and Sarah's second child, Caspar Wistar Miller (1868-1940) lived in Europe as a young adult, eventually following his grandfather's footsteps into medicine. Caspar took hundreds of photographs during his travels, many of which are presently held at the University of Michigan's William L. Clements Library. In 1897, he married Virginia Preston Weaver (1858-1951) in Los Angeles. They had one child, Virginia Preston Miller, born in 1902.

The younger Virginia Preston Miller (1902-1975) became Robert Hare Davis's (1877-1969) second wife when they wed in 1934. Robert was associated with Philadelphia's social clubs, such as The Rabbit, the "world-renowned" Fish House, and the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution (Kislak Center administrative file). Virginia was socially active in her own right, serving as a member of the Pennsylvania Museum's [Philadelphia Museum of Art] Associate Committee of Women. Robert and Virginia had two children, Caroline Hare Davis (1935-2018) and Caspar Wistar Davis (1939-).


"Back Matter." Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Museum, vol. 23, no. 121, 1928, pp. 24–24. JSTOR,

Caspar Wistar Miller photograph albums, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

"February 25, 1968 (Page 90 of 278)." The Philadelphia Inquirer Public Ledger (1934-1969), Feb 25, 1968, pp. 90. ProQuest.

Hope, James, 1801-1841, C. W. (Caspar Wistar) Pennock, and M.D. Rare Book Collection of Rush University Medical Center at the University of Chicago Stanton A. Friedberg. A Treatise On the Diseases of the Heart And Great Vessels: And On the Affections Which May Be Mistaken for Them, Comprising an Author's View of the Physiology of the Heart's Action.... 1st American from the 3rd London ed. Philadelphia: Haswell & Johnson, 1842.

Pennock, Caspar W. "ART. I. Observations and Experiments on the Efficacy and Modus Operandi of Cupping-Glasses, in Preventing and Arresting the Effects of Poisoned Wounds." The American Journal of the Medical Sciences (1827-1924), vol. 2, no. 3, 1828, pp. 9. ProQuest.

The Wistar, Pennock, Lukens, Miller, and Davis family papers measure 1.5 linear feet, and date from 1686-1967, with most materials dating between 1740-1920. The papers are comprised of correspondence; family and estate documents; genealogical research; and other family material. The families represented in this material are "distinguished" Quaker families from Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania (Kislak Center administrative file).

This collection is of value to researchers hoping to learn about the genealogical history of seven generations of the Wistar, Pennock, Lukens, Miller, and Davis families in Pennsylvania. Researchers interested in Philadelphia's history will gain insight into the personal lives and interconnectedness of the region's wealthiest families.

The collection is organized into four series, I. Correspondence; II. Family and estate documents; III. Genealogy documents; and IV. Photographs and other family material.

Series I. Correspondence contains family letters that span nearly 200 years. The majority of the letters originate from Dr. Caspar Wistar II (1740-1811); Mary "Polly" Franklin Wistar (1735-1804); Mary Pearsall Franklin (1703-1786); Sarah Wistar Pennock (1770-1845); Caspar Wistar Pennock (1799-1867); Sarah "Sallie" Wistar Pennock Miller (1840-1909); Virginia Preston Weaver Miller (1868-1951); and Virginia Preston Miller Davis (1902-1975). In general, this series houses personal correspondence which describes the daily lives of family members. The remaining correspondence refers to business deals made between the subjects and family friends.

Letters written by Dr. Caspar Wistar II to his mother and children refer to a Yellow Fever outbreak from 1799-1802 in Philadelphia. Additionally, a significant amount correspondence between Sarah Wistar Pennock and her son, Caspar Wistar Pennock, highlights their efforts to trace their genealogical roots back to distant kin in Europe. Caspar Wistar Pennock, who was traveling through Europe at the time and primarily living in Berlin, Germany, was also writing about his experiences abroad to his mother.

Series II. The Family and estate documents series contains deeds, marriage certificates, and wills from seven generations of family members. One of the folders in this series provides the estate documents of Dr. Caspar P. Lukens, son of Charles Lukens and Sarah W. Pennock, which detail how his diagnosis as a "lunatic" was cited by his uncles to argue that he could no longer manage his affairs independently (Court of Common Pleas for the City and County of Philadelphia).

Series III. Genealogy documents include sources and research for application to the Colonial Dames of America; Sarah Wistar Pennock Miller's and her daughter, Caroline Miller's, genealogy notebooks; wedding invitations; and a book entitled, "The Derivation of the American Family of Wistars and Wisters."

Series IV. - Photographs and other family material includes snapshots of a trip to Cairo, Egypt and open landscapes; sitting portraits of family members include both Caroline and Virginia Miller, photographs from the Wistar and Pennock families and of more recent generations from the Thompson, Davis, and Miller families; certificates of recognition; newspaper clippings about family members; and written verse.

Sold by Swann Auction Galleries, Lot 230 (New York, NY), 2023.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Alisha Davis
Finding Aid Date
26 April 2024
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

Request to View Materials

Materials can be requested by first logging in to Aeon. Then, click on the ADD button next to any containers you wish to request. When complete, click the Request button.

Request item to view

Davis, Virginia Miller, from mother, 1917.
Box 1 Folder 1
Davis, Virginia Miller, from others [George V. Massey, Franklin L. Gordon, Edith McClure], 1921, 1935, 1941, 1944, 1949-1952, 1955, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Franklin, Mary P., to Mary "Polly" Franklin Wistar, 1774, 1784-1786.
Box 1 Folder 3
Miller, Caroline (to and from), 1906, 1914, 1933, 1944, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4
Miller, Caspar Wistar (Dr.), from others [immediate family, William Biddle], 1890, 1897, 1900, 1948, undated.
Box 1 Folder 5
Miller, George, from Anthony Benezet, undated.
Box 1 Folder 6
Miller, Sarah Pennock, from Caspar Wistar Miller (her son), 1890-1891.
Box 1 Folder 7
Miller, Sarah Pennock, from others [Union League, Irish and British relatives, wedding invitations], 1891, 1893, 1895,1897,1913-1914, 1929, 1950, undated.
Box 1 Folder 8
Miller, Virginia Weaver, from others [Dr. Caspar Wistar Miller, William Henry Miller, Joshua Rhyanes], 1885, 1890, 1914, 1917, 1928, 1930, 1940,1942, 1944-1945, 1948, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Miller, William Henry, from others [Caspar Wistar Miller, Hastings family, Federal Reserve Bank], 1881, 1893, 1895, 1914, 1918.
Box 1 Folder 10
Pennock, Caspar Wistar, from others [Caspar H. Sharples, Pennock family members, children], 1815-1817, 1819, 1832-1833, 1844-1846, 1849-1850, 1853, 1857, 1863, undated.
Box 1 Folder 11
Pennock, Sarah Wistar, from Peter Barker, Jane C. Lacy, and John Williams, 1799, 1813, undated.
Box 1 Folder 12
Pennock, Sarah Wistar, from Caspar Wistar Pennock, 1808, 1812, 1818, 1820, 1822, 1832, 1834, 1840, 1848.
Box 1 Folder 13
Pennock, Sarah Wistar, to "Ma" (Caroline Morris Pennock), 1848-1849.
Box 1 Folder 14
Weaver, Virginia Preston to Virginia Preston Miller, 1846-1847, 1855, 1858-1859.
Box 1 Folder 15
Wistar, Caspar II, to children, Catherine Wistar (mother), Samuel Morris, George Pennock, Sarah Pennock, George Wistar, Mary Liddon Pennock, 1765-1766, 1794-1795, 1800-1802.
Box 1 Folder 16
Wistar, Caspar II, to children regarding Yellow Fever, 1799-1802.
Box 1 Folder 17
Unidentified, 1802, undated.
Box 1 Folder 18
Various, Mrs. John Hannum, Joseph Houston, Caspar P. Lukens, John Miller, Louellen Mitchell, Isabella Pennock, Mary Pennock, and William B. Weaver, 1800, 1843, 1857, 1860, undated.
Box 1 Folder 19

Deeds, 1701, 1805, 1812, 1814, 1846.
Box 2 Folder 2
Deeds, 1723, 1803, 1809, 1812, 1845.
Box 4 Folder 1
Estates, Pennock, Caspar W. and Caroline Pennock (wife), 1863-1867.
Box 2 Folder 3
Estates, Pennock, Sarah, 1845.
Box 2 Folder 4
Estates, Miller, Caroline and Virginia Miller Davis, 1949-1951.
Box 2 Folder 5
Estates, Lukens, Caspar P., 1855, 1859, 1962-1963.
Box 2 Folder 6
Marriage certificates, 1780-1833.
Box 2 Folder 7
Marriage certificates, 1790, 1825, 1861.
Box 4 Folder 2
Wills, Davis, Rebecca, 1864.
Box 4 Folder 3
Wills, Miller, Sarah Wistar Pennock, 1909.
Box 2 Folder 8
Wills, Moore, John, circa 1890s.
Box 2 Folder 9
Wills, Pennock family, 1809, 1845, 1860, 1867, 1882.
Box 2 Folder 10
Wills, Wistar, Caspar II and Thomas Wistar, 1810-1814.
Box 2 Folder 11
Other, "Relating to the Legacy of Jacob W. Morris to Caroline Pennock" and Regester/Miller Inheritance document, 1853, 1855, 1913.
Box 2 Folder 12

Genealogical Notes, 1686, 1698, 1798, 1809, 1813, 1815-1817, 1819, 1823, 1856, 1890-1891, 1916, 1925, 1944, undated.
Box 2 Folder 13
Miller, Caroline, genealogy notebook and Delaware Society of Colonial Dame's of America application, 1893-1900, undated.
Box 2 Folder 14
Cards, invitation, programs, and ephemera, 1887, 1893, 1897, 1902, 1934, 1939, undated.
Box 3 Folder 1
Colonial Dames of America, sources and research for application, 1875, 1893, undated.
Box 3 Folder 2
Davis, Caroline, genealogy notebook, 1949.
Box 3 Folder 3
Miller, Sarah, genealogy notebook, 1874.
Box 3 Folder 4
The Shakespeare Birthday Book [includes handwritten birthdates of family members], 1879-1946.
Box 3 Folder 5
Wedding invitations, 1897, 1934, 1941.
Box 3 Folder 6
Printed material, "The Derivation of the American Family of Wistars and Wisters", 1898.
Box 3 Folder 7

Certificates [Masons Lodge and military honors], Miller, William H., 1862, 1888 (A.L. 5888).
Box 3 Folder 8
Newspaper clippings, Wistar family and descendents, 1891-1893, 1895, 1897-1899, 1900, 1925-1927, 1934, 1940, 1946, 1967.
Box 3 Folder 9
Photographs, distant family [including Thompson, Davis, and Miller families], 1896, 1903, 1955, 1959, undated.
Box 3 Folder 10
Photographs, family friends [Mary Moore, Emily Wilson, B. A. Neece family], 1893, 1909, 1910, undated.
Box 3 Folder 11
Photographs, Lowell, Lucy and John Lowell, 1948, undated.
Box 3 Folder 12
Photographs, Miller, Virginia and Caroline Miller, 1860, 1861, circa 1898, undated.
Box 3 Folder 13
Photographs, Miller, Virginia P., Robert Hare Davis, and Caspar Wistar Davis (son), 1904, 1939, undated.
Box 3 Folder 14
Photographs, unidentified family trips and landscapes, 1956, undated.
Box 3 Folder 15
Photographs, unidentified persons, undated.
Box 3 Folder 16
Photographs, Wistar and Pennock families, circa 1938, 1939, undated.
Box 3 Folder 17
Verse, Pennock, Sarah Wistar, Sarah Pennock Lukens (daughter), and Sarah Wistar Pennock Miller (Sarah Wistar Pennock's granddaughter), 1799, 1829, 1844, undated.
Box 3 Folder 18

Print, Suggest