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Robert Coleman papers

1785-1832
 Collection
Accession: 1008

Abstract

Robert Coleman (1748-1825) was one of the most important ironmasters in Pennsylvania and acquired Elizabeth Furnance near Manheim, Pennsylvania. His papers consists of correspondence, receipts, and miscellany, mostly involving the purchase of land.

Dates

  • 1785-1832

Creator

Extent

22 item(s)

Biographical Note

Robert Coleman (1748-1825) was one of the most important ironmasters in Pennsylvania and acquired Elizabeth Furnance near Manheim, Pennsylvania. Coleman was born of an English family near Strabane, Ireland, on November 4, 1748, and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1764.

Coleman learned the iron-making business while working as a clerk at Curtis Grubb (1733-1789) and Peter Grubb's (1740-1786) forges near Cornwall. He soon took a similar position at James Old's (1730-1811) Quitapahilla Forge in Berks County. Coleman married Old's daughter, Mary Ann Old (1755-1844), in 1773 and took a lease of Salford Furnace near Norristown. Three years later, he leased the Elizabeth Furnace near Manheim, Lancaster County, from the creditors of Henry William Stiegel (1729-1785). Coleman was a major supplier of cannon and shot to the Revolutionary armies.

After the war, Coleman greatly expanded his operations. He purchased all the shares in the Elizabeth Furnace between 1780 and 1794. In 1785 he bought the Speedwell Forge from James Old, and in 1786 he secured a 1/6 interest in the Cornwall Furnace from the Grubbs. In 1798, he acquired an additional 2/3 interest, being the total share of Curtis Grubb and half that of Henry Bates Grubb (1774-1823). The purchase included an equivalent share in the famous Cornwall Ore Bank, one of its richest iron deposits east of Lake Superior. Coleman built the Colbrook Furnace on his own account in 1791 and purchased a share of the Martic Forge in 1801.

Coleman was also a leader of the Federalist Party in Lancaster County and held several public offices. His vote was one of three critical electoral votes in the 1796 victory of Adams over Jefferson. Coleman died at Lancaster on August 14, 1825.

Scope and Contents

The Robert Coleman (1748-1825) papers consist of sixteen pieces of correspondence, receipts, and miscellany, mostly involving the purchase of land. Correspondents include William Rawle (1759-1836) of Philadelphia, William Coleman (1776-1837) and William Barton (1754-1817) of Lancaster, David Watts (1764-1819) of Carlisle and John McPherson (1760-1829) of Frederick, Maryland. A statement of a portion of Coleman's investments lists the purchase of two Black enslaved people. Three items are correspondence and receipts to son William Coleman. There is also a notice concerning the estate of Stephen Chambers of Lancaster (1830).

Access Restrictions

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

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Robert Coleman papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400