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Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory correspondence

Creation: 1813-1871 Creation: Majority of material found in 1834
Accession: 2674


A small body of letters and fragments recovered from the Graystone mansion property at Coatesville, Pennsylvania, relating to the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory during the time when Rebecca Webb Pennock Lukens (1794-1854) was proprietor after the death of her husband.


  • Creation: 1813-1871
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1834



30 item(s)

Historical Note

The Brandywine Iron Works at Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was founded by Isaac Pennock (1767-1824) and Jesse Kersey (1768-1845) in 1793 and became the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory in 1816. Pennock's daughter, Rebecca Webb Pennock (1794-1854) married Dr. Charles Lukens (1786-1825) of Philadelphia, who became sole proprietor in 1817. He had the works specialize in rolling sheet iron, but he died suddenly in 1825, leaving his widow to run the works. She handled the commercial side of the business with her brother-in-law Solomon Lukens as superintendent. Solomon Lukens (1795-1876) withdrew from the business in 1840 and Rebecca in 1847. Her second daughter married Dr. Charles Huston (1822-1897), who descendants built the enterprised into the Lukens Steel Company over three generations.

Scope and Content

Although barely more than a dozen in number, the letters in this collection are among the relatively few that have survived from Rebecca Lukens's time as proprietor of the Works. They are sufficient to suggest several things. First, brother-in-law Solomon Lukens was an important figure and received equal or greater amounts of correspondence relating to orders. Either Solomon possessed some important technical skills related to production, or some customers were more culturally conditioned to deal with a man rather than a woman, or both. At the same time, Rebecca is clearly dealing with matters of equal significance. Second, although Lukens was litterally a very small "mom-and-pop" operation in the 1830s, it was nonetheless tied into the mainstream of the larger U.S. metalworking community, with such correspondents as the major Albany, N.Y., merchant-industrialist-politician Erastus Corning, the Anglo-American iron merchants A. & G. Ralston, and the important Philadelphia foundry of Moses Starr & Son. Clearly, Lukens was already carving out the niche market that has kept it in busines almost 200 years later. Third, Lukens was utilizing the just-completed Main Line of Public Works to receive Wyoming Valley and Allegheny Mountain coal and to ship products.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Litigators may not view the collection without approval.

Use Restrictions

Copyright retained by The Graystone Society / National Iron & Steel Museum.

Related Material

A much larger body of related mateial can be found in Hagley Museum and Library Accession 50, Lukens Steel Company records.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


On Deposit from the Graystone Society / National Iron and Steel Museum.

The papers were discovered by restoration workers in March 2015 within a wall of Rebecca Lukens's former home, the historic Brandywine Mansion in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Brandywine Iron Works correspondence
Christopher T. Baer
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA