Hunn-Karsner Family Papers
Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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
Jesse Sharpless (1759-1832) married Joanna Townsend in 1784 in Old Swede's Church. Both were both birthright members of Concord Monthly Meeting, but Jesse was disowned before their marriage. Joanna Townsend Sharpless made acknowledgement in 1805, and the family removed to Philadelphia where the family affiliated with the Hicksite branch of the Society of Friends.
Jesse and Joanna Sharpless had 10 children. Emily (ca. 1786-1832) married Benjamin Stephens and died in New York City. Julia (ca. 1788-1868) married Thomas Wilson. Eliza (1791-1851) married Thomas Parker under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting in 1816. Townsend Sharpless (1793-1873) was a successful Philadelphia merchant and active in prison reform. He married three times, the first to Mary Brinton Jones in 1815 under the care of Birmingham Monthly Meeting. Joseph Inskeep Sharpless (1795-1870) did not marry. Mira Sharpless (1798-1859) married Samuel Townsend in 1828 and was a prominent prison reformer and a founder of the Rosine Association together with her sister, Eliza Sharpless Parker. John Townsend Sharpless (1801-1883) was a prominent Quaker physician. The youngest, Lydia Sharpless (1803-1893) did not marry.
Townsend Sharpless and his first wife Mary Brinton Jones Sharpless had 8 children, five surviving to maturity. Daughter Lydia Jones Sharpless married Ezekiel Hunn in 1836. Ezekiel Hunn was born in Camden, Delaware, a descendant of Jonathan Hunn who established a mill on the St. Jones River. His father Ezekiel Hunn (1774-1824) was one of the sons that inherited the property that became Wildcat Manor. He married Tabitha Newell in 1815. They had six children. The youngest, Ezekiel (1810-1902), was apprenticed to Townsend Sharpless, a successful Philadelphia merchant. Ezekiel married Townsend's daughter, Lydia Jones Sharpless (1818-1911), in 1836 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). After the death of Tabitha Hunn, his father, Ezekiel (1774-1824), had married second Hannah Alston. They had three children including John Hunn (1818-1894) who was a prominent abolitionist and active in the Underground Railroad in Delaware.
Ezekiel Hunn (1841-1926) married Anna Eliza Jenkins in 1876 under the care of Camden Monthly Meeting (Delaware), and the family became members of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) in 1890. Ezekiel's family was involved with the Underground Railroad in Delaware and owned a farm, "Wildcat," in Kent County. Ezekiel and Anna Eliza Hunn had nine children. Their youngest, Katherine Hunn (1899-1993) married Joseph Reed Karsner in 1930 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Hicksite). He worked for the railroad until his retirement in 1950. Joseph and Katherine Karsner lived in Rose Valley, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Westtown in 1952. They retired to The Harned in Media, Pennsylvania in 1969. Both were active in Philadelphia Central Monthly Meeting and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting committees. Joseph especially was involved in peace concerns, serving on the Peace Committee and as a traveling minister. Katherine worked for the American Friends Service Committee and wrote poetry and prose for Quaker and other publications. Their daughter Mary Ann Karsner was born in 1932 and was accepted into Quaker membership on the request of her mother.
Mary Ann Hunn Karsner attended the School in Rose Valley and graduated from Friends Central School in 1950. She attende college at the University of Alaska where she met Theodore Lewis ("Ted") Kegler. They were married in 1954 and had three children. In 1971, Mary Ann Karsner Kegler, with her husband Ted, requested membership in Philadelphia Central Monthly Meeting for her children; the clerk expressed reservations because of the distance. Beginning in the early 1950s Mary Ann and Ted with others established an unprogrammed meeting for worship in the Fairbanks area of Alaska. This evolved into Chena Ridge Friends Meeting, a member of Alaska Friends Conference. Ted and Mary Ann Kegler moved to Anchorage in 1966. Mary Ann died in 1983 in Alaska.
The collection contains correspondence, writings, and other papers of the family of Ezekiel Hunn and Lydia Jones Sharpless Hunn, Philadelphia and Delaware Quakers. The papers were compiled by their granddaughter Katherine Hunn Karsner (1899-1993). She was a Philadelphia Quaker minister and married Joseph Reed Karsner in 1930 under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Hicksite). The bulk of the collection is composed of correspondence from their daughter, Mary Ann Karsner Kegler (1932-1983), who moved to Alaska. She was one of the founders of Chena Ridge Monthly Meeting. The collection also contains earlier family correspondence between Ezekiel and Lydia Jenkins Hunn and other members of the Hunn family. The writings include diaries and writings by Katherine Hunn Karsner, her sister Lydia Hunn Williamson, Joseph Karsner, and Mary Ann Karsner Kegler.
Arranged in three series: Correspondence, Journals and other writings, and Miscellaneous.
When Katherine Hunn Karsner, family historian and active Friend, moved into a retirement home in 1969, she sent family correspondence and photo albums to her daughter, Mary Ann Karsner Kegler who lived in Alaska. Mary Ann died in 1983, and the family papers remained in storage in Alaska. When new owners acquired the property, they contacted Hunn descendants, Alan Lytton Jones and Lydia Sharpless Hunn. The papers were shipped from Alaska to Friends Historical Library in February 2019.
Gift of the estate of Katherine Hunn Karsner, FHL 2019.009
The collection was sorted into series by staff.
Scrapbook of meeting house photos and postcards to transfer to FHL Meeting House Picture Collection.
Photographs and albums removed to FHL Hunn-Karsner Picture Collection, PA 214.
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- Susanna K. Morikawa
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-RUU/1.0/.
Letter to her father which relayed that she was happily settled into Westtown. Also typed transcript.
Affectionate letters from Townsend Sharpless to Mary Brinton Jones who he married in 1815. 8 month 3, Townsend wrote that he was drafted into the militia and intended to appeal as concientious objector. Described the launching of ships to defend the Delaware.
Townsend wrote about the fears of impending attacks in Philadelphia, friends who had joined the military, and his own anti-war sentiments. He expressed joy that the British attack on Baltimore was unsuccessful.
Family news, described his store in Philadelphia.
Townsend attended Quarterly Meeting in 5 month and noted that sister Mira Townsend visited Darby with Martha Lloyd. Mentioned arrangements for the marriage service and that brother Joseph Townsend opted to not stand as groomsman. Townsend spoke with Mary's parents, and they requested to meet with his. Townsend Sharpless and Mary Brinton Jones were married 9 month 7, 1815 under the care of Birmingham Monthly Meeting. Townsend wrote with deep affection.
Joanna urged her new daughter-in-law not to postpone move to Philadelphia.
Typed transcripts and cover letter with extracts, from Great-Aunt Kitty (Katherine) to her great-nephews John, James, and David Naisby, grandchildren of Edward Wilson Jenkins Hunn and Ellen Shreve Wallace Hunn.
Typed transcripts by Katherine Hunn Karsner
A correspondent, "Phedora," addresses letters to "Leonora." Family news. Includes letter from Samuel and Lydia Jones to Townsend and Mary J. Sharpless. Acid-free copies of typed transcripts filed with each letter.
Typed transcripts by Katherine Karsner
Letter to her sister-in-law, mentions family members
Anna, Lydia, and Charles were studying at Westtown, with typed transcript. Also typed poem written by Anna for her father. Anna married John Houston Brown.
Student at Westtown
Quaker minister Hinchman Haines was born in 1767 and died in 1853. His letter mentions his journey to slaveholders in the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Torn at fold lines. Lydia likely is Lydia Newell (1780-1824), sister of Tabitha who married Ezekiel Hunn (1774-1821), Camden Monthly Meeting.
Ezekiel Hunn, Camden Monthly Meeting, Delaware, was apprenticed to Townsend Sharpless, Philadelphia merchant, when he was 18. Born in 1810, he corresponded with Townsend's daughter, Lydia as "Esteemed Friend" and eventually his wife. Originals and typed transcripts.
Originals and typed transcripts
Letters written to Lydia from Wildcat which were sorted by Katherine Karsner, the donor. . Or Originals and typed transcripts,
Originals and typed transcripts
Letter of 8 month 15 Ezkiel remarked on the riots and fires in New York and unrest in other cities - the Anti-abolition riots: "the whole country appears like a Volcano on the eve of bursting forth with fire and Death." Originals and typed transcripts,
Ezekiel Hunn and Lydia Jones Sharpless were married 6 month 30, 1836, under the care of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). Originals and typed transcripts.
Author not identified, but a female member of Birmingham Monthly Meeting. She mentions teaching and being almost 42 years old.
Travel letters to brother and sister, Thomas, and others. Written on fragile onion skin paper
Ezekiel's mercantile business was located in Philadelphia. He and Lydia summered at Wildcat.
John Hunn (1818-1894), well-known Delaware abolitionist, who worked with formerly enslaved people after the Civil War. His letter described his experience during the 1886 Charleston earthquake. Also unrelated letter, William Waymouth, Pacific Landing, South Carolina, to John Hunn, 1879. Acc. 2019.0017
Traveling in Europe in 1887, fragile. Typed carbon copy dated 1906/8/24 was written from Philadelphia.
Sent from Germany, Newport, etc., she freely commented on Grover Cleveland and Quakers
A friend of Lydia, mentions long-time relationship
Cousin Clara was the daughter of Mira and Samuel Townsend and married William Penn Troth. A letter mentioned visiting her daughter Alice and husband [John Rozet Drexel] in Paris. Her letters were also sent from Rome and from a ship on the Nile River.
Typed copy of letter written May 10. Also carbon copies of Hannah Neall, San Francisco, dated April 26 with vivid description the earthquake.
Travel letters from Europe.
Typed letter which describes in great detail his work-related trip to a mine in Arizona.
Letters from Lydia Baily urging Lydia Williamson to visit. Carbon copies of letters from Lydia Williamson explaining that her husband is unable to work so she is living-in as a housekeeper with a young family in Lansdowne. Lydia Baily offered to employ her as a housekeeper at her home in Rosslwyn, Stafford, which Lydia Williamson briefly did.
Written shortly after the birth of daughter Mary Ann. Also a note from nephew Ben Keller who vacationed with the family on Long Beach Island,
Postcards and letters to parents and others. Camp Onas was rented by Young Friends to use as a summer campsite.
Sent from Camp, etc.
Postcards from traveland University of Alaska to her parents. Letters rReceived from George Heslop, Prince of Wales Training School
Mary Ann started classes at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, fall of 1950. In the spring, Mary Ann settled into Alaska and the Ag School,and she was interested in finding a Quaker meeting, a job as a farm hand to remain in Alaska for the summer. If that didn't work out, she would work during vacations at Hedgerow Theater in Rose Valley. She applied to the Japan Mission Board for summer, but turned down. By November of her sophomore year she was unhappy with her Ag major and wanted to become a Special Student, taking courses in various departments. In December, she wrote her mother that she had been expelled but allowed to live off campus to finish the semester. She decided to stay in the town of College and find a job.
Mary Ann struggled to find housing and a job because she was banned from campus.
Mary Ann got a job with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and her parent's approval to apply as a Special Student to continue her plan for a broad education.
She was taking classes, working, and living with Ted Kegler who also was a student. She planned a trip home at the end of the year and to ship her possessions.
Mary Ann flew home in January to visit her parents, and she and Ted were married at her parents' home. Their son Charles Theodore Kegler was born Sept. 22 in Fairbanks.
In January, Mary Ann wrote to her mother than she did not intend to send the information of son Charley's birth to Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting because they were holding Quaker meeting in Anchorage, and his birth was registered in that meeting. Her mother Katherine sent Quaker materials for use in their meeting. Mary Ann was not enthusiastic about the idea of sending Charley to Westtown, but maybe college at Haverford.
Life in Alaska. Mary Ann and Ted both continued to take classes, and they traveled to Anchorage in December in order for Ted to take his Aircraft Mechanics licensing test. Mary Ann intended to contact Friends in Anchorage and develop a program for discussion at Meeting. She and Ted and few others had established Chena Ridge Meeting - Society of Friends. The clerk was Niilo E. Koponen who had contacted Friends General Conference, and Mary Ann was recorder.
Description of life in College. Ted was working for Alaska Airlines, but they were considering a move, and Mary Ann asked about costs of living in Philadelphia area. Copy of her letter to Uncle Matt [Williamson], her aunt Lydia's husband. Letter postmarked Sept. 9 expressed her appreciation from her father's postcards from Europe where he was visiting in the ministry. Locally, Bill Hanson from AFSC visited the Meeting. At the end of December, Mary Ann planned to visit her folks in Pennsylvania with Charley.
Mary Ann visited Pennsylvania in January. On a postcard note, she remarked on Congress approving Alaska for statehood and that in Fairbanks, in response, people were wearing black. She was involved with Beaver Workcamps.
She was busy with studies, family, and activities. Second child, Edward Arthur, was born March. Active in Farthest North Art Guild.
She noted that their meeting house was rented for the summer to make money for the Meeting. In September, a visitor attended their worship meeting and was introduced as Peter Ashelman, a student at Swarthmore College. He had been in the nursery school at the School in Rose Valley when she was a student there.
Mary Ann was taking heavy load of classes and in May gave birth to a daughter, Katherine Hunn Kegler. She majored in Anthropology, enjoyed archeological digs
Includes a draft of letter from Katherine Hunn Karsner, not sent, distressed that daughter hadn't written for two months. Mary Ann sent a long letter at the end of May and was finishing her graduation requirements.
Mary Ann graduated in May 1963. Her mother continued to fret about the lack of communication. In March, Ted sent a hurried note that they were fine, that Fairbanks was not badly damaged by the Great Earthquake, but emergency traffic was being diverted from Anchorage. Ted continued his classwork, and Mary Ann started to pursue a Master's degree.
Both Mary Ann and Ted were involved with archeological field work for the University of Alaska. They moved to Anchorage for Ted's job. August 1967 letter mentioned evacuees arriving from Fairbanks which had been hit by an earthquake followed by a tsunami. Undated draft of letter to public school in defense of son Charley.
Affectionate poetry/letters to Aunt Polly (Lydia Hunn Williamson).
Mary Ann mentioned fires and her and Ted's work with Fire Departments. In a letter to her daughter, Jan. 28, Katherine Hunn Karson wrote that they intended to move to the Harned in Moylan by November, with plans to move to Kennett when necessary. She advised that Mary Ann should be prepared to take with her anything she wants out of storage. Mary Ann visited in June.
In 1971, Katherine instructed Mary Ann to deliver Granny's (Lydia J. Hunn) diaries to Swarthmore College and her father's books to the Pennsylvania Historical Society. And to arrange to ship whatever she wanted to her home in Alaska, the remaining furniture was in storage. There was controversy in Alaska regarding the pipeline, and the family planned a trip to the West Coast and Hawaii. In the summer, Mary Ann worked as a field archeologist for the Alaska Environmental Group. In August Katherine wrote that the 12th Street Meeting House in Philadelphia was to be demolished. [It was moved to Friends Center and saved.] Mary Ann still considered herself a member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. In September, Mary Ann wrote to the Clerk to request membership for her three children. They met with the Overseers in Philadelphia, and the Clerk responded with reservations and requested that the older children should write letters of application.
The Clerk of Central Philadelphia followed up to encourage communication with the Keglers. Bain Bainbridge of Friends World Committee wrote to ask for directory information about the Anchorage worship group. The Meeting handled a memorial service for a member and was helping the family. Mary Ann assured her mother that her children had been taught to appreciate the family heritage and the family material that was stored in Philadelphia. She wrote loving poems in appreciation of her family. Family updates.
From her nephew Ben Keller and others. Benjamin Keller was the only child of Katherine's older sister, Ann who died in 1926, and he spent time in his childhood with his aunt and cousin Mary Ann.
Travel postcards to her sister
Postcards and letters sent during his trip to Ireland and England
A friend of Mary Ann and Ted (?) who lived in Oregon
Youth Secretary of the AFSC, New York Office. She had visited the Keglers in Alaska. Katherine was working for the AFSC in Philadelphia
Letters to his grandparents and Aunt Polly (Lydia Hunn Williamson)
Letters to grandparents and Aunt Polly (Lydia Hunn Williamson)
Concerning the Karsners attending Mary Ann's graduation
Joe Karsner's resignation as an Overseer, 1971. 1973 concernsMary Ann's request for membership for her three children
The Karsners were recorded Traveling Friends and visited yearly meetings in the United States and Canada
The Karsners were recorded Traveling Friends and visited yearly meeting in the United States, Canada, England and Ireland. In 1965, Joseph represented Friend World Committee at Canada Yearly Meeting.
William Roland Hunn (1882-1943) was the older brother of Katherine Hunn Karsner and purchased "Wildcat" estate in 1926. Carbon copy with edits and additions. According to memoirs dated 1943, his sister Katherine (Kitty) had taken his dictation for the previous two years and typed a draft transcript. He remarked that she was working part-time at the Rose Valley School, involved with Quaker meeting work, and compiling information on the Jingle Club and Wildcat, creating a scrapbook. The sons were working to restore Wildcat. Hunn worked as mechanical engineer, buildings bridges, sewers, etc., His projects included the Plush Mill Bridge in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.
Stories and memories about Hunn, written by family and friends
Lydia Hunn Williamson (1888-1971) was Katherine's older sister and lived nearby in Rutledge, Delaware County. According to Katherine, she suffered from hearing loss. Lydia married Matthew Williamson in 1916. She had no children of her own and was the fond "Aunt Polly" for Katherine's daughter and grandchildren. Daily diary. Lydia's husband was ill and need care. She took in laundry and did other part-time jobs to cover expenses. Note: Her diary of visits to various Friends meetings in the Philadelphia area was donated by her sister and stored in FHL Journals, MSS 003/142.
Daily entries with some gaps. In January 1968 Lydia moved from her long-time home in Rutledge and temporarily stayed with the Karsners. In March she was in nursing care Friends Home, West Chester, Pa. and in April she moved to Friends Home in Kennett. Her sister Katherine provided help, and she and other Friends provided transportatoin for her to attend different Quaker Meetings.
1953 fragments of visits to Quaker meeting. 1957, notes on t Trip to England and Europe, visiting Quaker meetings
Letters to her sister and carbon copies. She visited Pacific Yearly Meeting and Western Canada. She mentioned that her husband, Joe Karsner, was speaking at Friends Conference for National Legislation, etc.
Manuscript original and typed carbons. Trip to California to attend Friends Fellowship Conference and to visit Quaker meetings. Followed by travel from Seattle to Fairbanks to visit Mary Ann and family.
Visited eastern Canada meetings, presenting AFSC reports. Then train to Seattle and flew to Fairbanks to visit the family in Alaska
Her poems were published in Quaker periodicals including Scattered Seeds, The Friend, Friends Journal. Typed copies, rRemoved from small loose-leaf binder.
Typed and edited. Possibly submitted for publication. Also an anecdote written and submitted by Lydia Williamson to Reader's Digest, 1948.
Undated poem expressing pride and pleasure, with delight in how different and brave her daughter was from herself, more like her husband.
Typed carbon of a loving poem written when Lydia Hunn Williamson sold her house in Morton. The home had served as a refuge for many family and friends including sister Katherine and nephew Ben Keller.
Typed carbon manuscript with introduction, appendixes, and reminiscences of Katherine at Wildcat. Her brother William Roland Hunn remarked circa 1943 that she was working on the story of the family home.
Short stories written as student assignments. Poems in spiral notebook
Written as songs? Some are co-written with Lewis and Hawman, sung to traditional tunes. Index of first lines
Clean handwritten copy with an index. Song lyrics are organized topically for occasions such as protest.
Drafts of stories and poems. Themes include life in Fairbanks, Alaska; fire department; politics. A spiral notebook and loose. Includes a nNote from her cousin Ben Keller who was helping with audiotapes
Notes in rhyme
For a Creative Writing class?
Notes and poems, protest songs all indicate social and environmental (i.e. pipeline) concerns.
Manuscript draft of play in three acts
"A Tragic Farce in Three Acts." Typed, removed from an envelope addressed to Mr. John Dickinson, c/o Kegler #651, College, AK. Postmark Boston, Mass. 1963
Handwritten draft of children and grandchildren of Ezekiel and Lydia Hunn
Family of Ezekiel and Lydia Hunn
Lock of Katherine Hunn's hair, graduation certificate from Friends Central School for Mary Ann; poem "To the Deaf and Dumb;" Ezekiel and Lydia Hunn's 50th anniversary celebration, 1886, includes program with poem by Joel Bean
Graduation program, maps, postcards
Mounted children's poems, photos, and typed messages. Removed from moldy cover, covers photocopied
Vacation, moves to New Mexico and California. Katherine's older sister Ann Hunn (1894-1926) married John Schroeder Keller in 1913. Their son Benjamin Franklin Keller(1914-2009)was particularly close to his cousin Mary Ann Hunn and aunt Katherine. Images created on light sensitive paper.
Friends World Conference, Ohio, 1955, and Conference of European Friends, 1957. Group photos and photo of Karsner with Yukia Frie of Japan and others transferred to FHL Conferences Pictures.
Includes a snapshot of family attenders glued onto front page
Katherine Karner served as Clothing Secretary for the AFSC
Katherine taught at the school, a progressive private pre-through elementary school in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania.
Family and friends, many of whom were Quakers. Eleanor Stabler Clarke cards transferred to her PG 7, FHL reference file.