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Grubb family business records

Creation: 1818-1854
Accession: 1948


The Grubb family were ironmasters in Lancaster, York, and Dauphin Counties, Pennsylvania, for a period of over 150 years. The records include account books and letters relating to the family's various iron enterprises, including the Codorus, Mananda, Mount Hope, Mount Vernon, and Henry Clay.


  • Creation: 1818-1854



15 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Grubb family were ironmasters in Lancaster, York, and Dauphin Counties, Pennsylvania, for a period of over 150 years. Peter Grubb (1692-1754) discovered the Cornwall ore hills, the richest iron ore deposits east of Lake Superior, between 1730 and 1734 and built the Hopewell Forges and Cornwall Furnace. The properties were passed to his sons, Curtis Grubb (1733-1789) and Peter Grubb (1740-1786), with Curtis receiving a double portion. Curtis' heirs sold most of his interest at Cornwall to Robert Coleman, formerly their clerk, laying the foundation of the Coleman family fortune.

Peter Grubb (1740-1786) settled at Hopewell Forge and built a large furnace at Mount Hope in 1785. His son, Henry Bates Grubb (1774-1823), inherited the properties at the age of twelve. Initially he formed a partnership with Coleman, which was dissolved in 1802 with Coleman taking Hopewell and Grubb Mount Hope. Henry also built the Mount Vernon Furnace in 1800 and purchased the Codorus Iron Works in York County around 1802.

Three of Henry Bates Grubb's sons, Edward Burd Grubb (1810-1867), Clement Brooke Grubb (1815-1889), and Alfred Bates Grubb (1821-1885), inherited the iron business as minors. The two oldest formed the partnership of E.B. & C.B. Grubb in 1833 and operated Mount Hope, Mount Vernon, Codorus, and the fractional interest in the Cornwall Mine. They built a new Codorus Furnace in 1836 and the Mananda Furnace in Dauphin County in 1837. In 1845, Clement sold his share of Mount Hope to Alfred, who then operated it in partnership with Edward and later alone. Edward moved to Burlington, N.J., and retired from active participation in the iron trade in 1840.

The charcoal iron works began to come under competition from anthracite blast-furnaces in the 1840s. Codorus was abandoned in 1850 and Mount Vernon around 1852. Clement built the St. Charles anthracite furnace near Columbia, Pa. in 1853 and in the 1870s purchased the nearby Henry Clay Furnace. Clement, Alfred, and their children continued in the iron trade until their medium-sized furnaces were driven out of business by modern integrated mills in the late 1880s and 1890s.


Arranged alphabetically by subject or document type, and then chronologically.

Scope and Content

The records consist of an incomplete group of account books and letterbooks from the various Grubb family iron enterprises, namely, Codorus, Mananda, Mount Hope, Mount Vernon, and Henry Clay. The records appear to have been preserved in the Clement Grubb line. Although the bodies of the volumes are intact, the covers and spines have been damaged by fire. The records describe the charcoal iron industry of southeastern Pennsylvania just before and during the period when it came under competition from anthracite smelting.

The longest run of data is that for Codorus Forge and Furnace (1818-1850), followed by Mount Vernon (1834-1848). Shorter runs are available for Mount Hope (1836-1844) and Mananda (1841-1844), along with a single journal from the Henry Clay anthracite furnace (1853-1854). The account books include scattered information on store sales, wages, and the expense of boarding hands and hauling ore, as well as tables of iron manufactured and raw materials consumed. There are also a number of account books listing sales from all the furnaces, including the books of Philadelphia iron merchant Samuel D. Orrick and Orrick, Grubbs & Parker, along with a letterbook from the latter firm and a journal of shipping expenses on the Tidewater Canal. There are also 33 letters regarding Henry and David Potts of Isabella Furnace in Chester County (1840-1847).

Related Material

Orrick, Grubbs & Parker records (Accession 343.I), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Related materials in: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107, Grubb family papers.

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Grubb family business records
Christopher T. Baer; Clayton J. Ruminski
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA