J.E. Rhoads and Sons Inc. miscellanyCreation: 1699-1977
The leather manufacturing firm of J.E. Rhoads & Sons grew out of an eighteenth-century tanning operation on the Rhoads family homestead in Marple, Chester County (now Delaware County), Pennsylvania. This collection contains various historical items related to the Rhoads family and their leather business, such as a deed to John Rhoads (1639-1701), correspondence regarding tanning business, paper on Rhoads homestead, and early business, and items related to the 275th anniversary of J.E. Rhoads & Sons Inc.
- Creation: 1699-1977
- J.E. Rhoads & Sons (Organization)
The leather manufacturing firm of J.E. Rhoads & Sons grew out of an eighteenth-century tanning operation on the Rhoads family homestead in Marple, Chester County (now Delaware County), Pennsylvania. The early business, established by Joseph Rhoads (1680-1732), was a combination of farming, tanning, and the manufacture of scythe stones. Following his death, the business was continued by his widow Abigail Bonsall Rhoads (1682-1750) until their son James (1722-1778) came of age and took over. The company was subsequently passed down to Joseph Rhoads (1748-1809), followed by his two sons George (-1859) and Joseph (1787-1861), who managed the business until the Civil War.
In 1861, the business was taken over by Jonathan E. Rhoads (1830-1914), son of Joseph, who carried it on until 1868, when he sold the old homestead and tannery and purchased a tannery in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1877, he formed a partnership with Thomas McComb under the style of Rhoads & McComb. The firm gradually shifted its emphasis from the tanning of sole and harness leather to the manufacture of leather belting.
In 1887, Rhoads & McComb was dissolved, and John B. Rhoads (1865-1911) was brought into the business, which became J.E. Rhoads & Son. His brothers, George A. Rhoads (1860-1937) and William E. Rhoads (1870-1945) joined the firm in 1888 and 1894, respectively. By the 1890s, the firm was concentrating on tannate belting. In 1889, it opened its first Philadelphia store, and it moved its head office to that city in 1897. Branch stores were opened in New York (1906), Atlanta (1923), and Cleveland (1927). Both the factory and corporate headquarters were located in Wilmington, Delaware, until 1977, when they were moved to suburban New Castle County.
The firm was incorporated in Delaware as J.E. Rhoads & Sons, Inc. in 1965. It earned the title of the oldest business in the United States before ultimately closing in 2009.
Scope and Contents
This small collection consists of historical items related to the Rhoads family and their leather business. It includes a deed to John Rhoads (1639-1701), correspondence regarding tanning business, paper on Rhoads homestead and early business, and items related to the 275th anniversary of J.E. Rhoads & Sons Inc.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- Rhoads family (Family)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- J.E. Rhoads and Sons Inc. miscellany
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- 2021: Ashley Williams