Vanuxem 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 Vanuxem family was a prominent Pennsylvania family of French origin. The family was largely involved in the shipping industry and agriculture; but one descendent was a well-known geologist in the United States.
James Vanuxem (born Jacques Jean Van Uxem) was born in 1746 In France. According to family histories, Van Uxem was to be a priest, but ran away to the United States in order to avoid the profession. Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Van Uxem (who changed his name to James Vanuxem) began working as a merchant. He was a friend of Stephen Girard, another French-born American businessman. With Girard and others, he organized the first fire and marine insurance company in America. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Vanuxem joined the "Silk Hat Company," but there is no evidence that he took part in any active service. In 1779, Vanuxem married Rebecca Clark and they were the parents of fifteen children, only eight of whom survived childhood. Vanuxem died in 1824 at the age of 79.
Of James and Rebecca Clark's children, only three appear with regularity within the collection: Lewis Clark Vanuxem, Lardner Vanuxem, and James Vanuxem, Jr. Lewis Clark Vanuxem (1788-1831) and his wife Esther Shoemaker Clark moved to Cuba in circa 1822 where they owned a plantation. During a business trip in 1831, Lewis Clark Vanuxem was presumably lost at sea. His wife remained in Cuba until her death, but four of her six children returned to the United States.
Lardner Vanuxem (1792-1848) was perhaps the best known Vanuxem family member. He took courses in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania before going to France to study at the School of Mines in Paris. After his return to the United States, he worked at South Carolina College as an instructor in geology and mineralogy and participated in geological and mineralogical surveys for the states of South Carolina and New York. He married Mary Ann Newbold and they were the parents of four daughters. Their daughter Mary married Charles William Peirce.
James Vanuxem, Jr. (1790-1877) married Susan Laembert and had five children. After her death, he married Elizabeth Newbold (sister to his brother Lardner's wife Mary Ann) and they had one son. James, Jr. was a business man, but appeared to struggle with many of his ventures. He worked with anthracite coal in Sugar Loaf, Pennsylvania; but when that company's success waned, he moved the family west to Ohio, to Kentucky, and to Indiana. In Indiana, the family settled in Dublin where the dry goods store, Van Uxem & Son, was successful. His son, Francis (1845-1940) worked with several companies before entering into a partnership with Noah Leeds to manufacture metal accessories. He married Emma Blanchard and was the father of two daughters. He appears to have been greatly interested in his heritage and recorded many memories and family histories (contained within series I of this collection).
This collection documents the history of the Vanuxem and Peirce families and their business operations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The collection consists of two series: Vanuxem and Peirce family history and Account books, ledgers, and letterbooks.
The first series, Vanuxem and Peirce family history discuss the history of the Vanuxem family and the manner in which the ledgers (in the second series) were found. This portion of the collection includes two memoirs by Francis Van Uxem (1845-1940), the last living male descendant of James Vanuxem; obituaries and biographical material for Francis, Lardner and Louis Clark Vanuxem; and histories and genealogies of the Peirce family by Ruth Peirce De Cou, F. A. Emmerton, and others, as well as a newspaper obituary for Charles W. Peirce.
The second series includes material largely relating to the Vanuxem's businesses and finances. Each volume is described in the container list. An addition to the collection received in 1995 (Folders 8-13) includes typed copies of letters from James Vanuxem to his son Lardner dated 1817-1824 (52 items); 1 item from James Vanuxem to an unidentified recipient dated 1793; and 6 items from James Vanuxem [Jr.] to his brother Lardner regarding their father's estate dated 1824 and 1825. Copies appear to have been made circa 1898 (watermark). These letters frequently mention Vanuxem's friends Mathew Carey and his son-in-law Isaac Lea.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
- 2015 June 24
- 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.