Collection Title: Beale Family Papers

Collection Number: MS Coll 254

Dates of Collection: 1820-2008

Extent: 2 boxes; 1.4 linear feet

RepositoryChester County History Center, West Chester, PA

Language: English

Project Archivist: Judy Ng


Horace A. Beale (1827-1897) lived and worked in Parkesburg, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Beale was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, began working at a series of iron manufacturing companies, including Phoenix Iron Company (later Phoenix Iron Works) and Laurel Iron Works.  He invested in both the Thorndale and Hibernia Iron Works companies before he established his own iron works company in 1873.  His company, known originally as Horace A. Beale, subsequently incorporated as the Parkesburg Iron Company in 1882.  In 1862 and 1863, Beale served in the Civil War as a Union commander of an independent infantry company, and, in 1869, married his second wife, Ellen M. Mendenhall.

Horace A. Beale, Jr. (1870-1927) was the only child of Horace and Ellen Beale and a graduate of Haverford College.  In the early 1900s, he became a Chester County sports promoter and owned semi-professional baseball and basketball clubs that drew professional teams to play in Chester County.  An active horse and car racer, in 1904 Beale Jr. won the Lippincott Cup auto race from Camden to Atlantic City, New Jersey.  In addition, Beale Jr. was an amateur radio enthusiast and built a radio station on his estate in Parkesburg that served as the headquarters of the Chester County Radio Association.  Beale Jr. became President of Parkesburg Iron Company after his father’s death in 1897 and married Mary Hartshorn Dunning in 1900.

Horace A. Beale III (1901-1992), known as Peter by his family and friends, was an only child and a graduate of the University of Virginia.  As a young man, Beale III worked at the Parkesburg Iron Company.  He later worked for Bethlehem Steel Corp. and was an engineer for Mack Trucks Inc. in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Beale III married his wife, Martha Page, in 1928.

The Parkesburg Iron Company, an iron forge and rolling mill, began operations in 1873.  Incorporated in 1882, the company was known for the high production quality of its charcoal iron boiler tubes that were used in steam engines.  The company originally manufactured rolled skelp for boiler tubes and eventually built a tube mill on its premises.  At the height of operations, the company employed hundreds of employees in Parkesburg and the surrounding area of Sadsbury Township.  By the 1920s, orders for the company’s product began to wane and the company closed for business in 1926.  In 1928, Parkesburg Iron Company was sold at auction and the business was formally dissolved in 1937.


The papers of the Beale family measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1820 to 2008.  Found within the papers are the correspondence, legal documents, and personal financial records of Horace A. Beale and his son and grandson, Horace A. Beale, Jr. and Horace A. Beale III.  The collection also includes genealogical research for members of the Beale and Morris families, and records documenting the Parkesburg Iron Company’s operations in Parkesburg, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Collection Scope:

Series 1: Materials related to Horace A. Beale include extensive correspondence from Beale to his wife, Ellen M. Mendenhall, while she was residing in Illinois from 1867 to 1869.  There is also a copy of their wedding invitation list, two letters addressed from Horace A. Beale, Jr. to his father, and additional letters from Beale to Amos Michener, the secretary of Parkesburg Iron Company.  The series also includes Beale’s account book and two personal books inscribed with notes and marginalia.

Series 2: Materials related to Horace A. Beale, Jr. include a travel journal of a road trip taken with three companions, which includes photographs and notes taken during their travels.  There is material relating to Beale Jr.’s amateur radio station, W3ZO, as well as legal documentation regarding wills and appraisals for the estate of both Horace A. Beale and Horace A. Beale, Jr.  The series also includes condolence correspondence received by Beale Jr.’s wife, Mary Harthshorn Dunning, upon her husband’s death in 1927.

Series 3: Materials related to Horace A. Beale III (also known as “Peter”) include extensive correspondence received from his mother dating from 1915-1916 and 1920-1928, as well as two letters from his father.  There is information regarding the ownership and sale of the Beale family farm in Parkesburg, as well as Beale III’s meeting notes during his service on the Parkesburg Industrial Building Board.  The series also includes Beale III’s extensive notes, diagrams, and research on hand lawn mower engine designs, as well as his travel journal documenting a 1923 road trip from Pennsylvania to California.  Items filed in the front cover of the journal, including telegrams and letters exchanged with his family during his road trip, have been filed separately.

Series 4: Materials include genealogical research conducted by Beale family members, including Ellen M. Mendenhall, trace the lineage of James McDowell, William Beale, and the Morris family.  There are also original legal documents for Evan and Amelia T. Stone Morris; correspondence between Mary Brian, Mary B. Morris, and Sarah H.B. Morris; and original correspondence and legal documentation for Samuel Morris dating from 1829 to 1855.

Series 5: Materials include business correspondence and the in-house chemical test/lab inspection reports of the Parkesburg Iron Company dating from 1925-1927. Additional business correspondence includes letters from Horace A. Beale, Jr. to the company’s treasurer, George Thomas, after a two-year illness.  The series also contains certificates related to the founding and dissolution of the company; the receipt of an International Exhibition medal in 1876; tickets for company’s semi-professional basketball team; company stationary; and news coverage of the company.  There are also two architectural layout diagrams of the Iron factory, and clippings of news coverage highlighting the company during Parkesburg’s 1972 Centennial celebration.

Information For Researchers:

  • Access: Collection is open for research. 
  • Publication Rights/Terms of Use: The Chester County History Center makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational, and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions.  CCHC makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions, and it is the user’s responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce, and publish materials from the collections.
  • Preferred Citation: Beale family papers, 1820-2008. MS Coll 254. Chester County History Center Library. West Chester, Pennsylvania.
  • Acquisition Information: Materials were donated by H. Binney Beale and Sandra Beale in 1992, 2002, 2005, 2016, and 2017.
  • Processing History: Accretions were processed and fully integrated into one collection by Judy Ng in 2022.  Unmarked published books and photographic materials have been transferred to the Library and Photo Archives.

Names and Subject Terms:

  • Subjects:
    • Chester County (Pa.)–Genealogy
    • Basketball
    • Genealogy
    • Iron-works
    • Parkesburg (Pa.)
    • Travel
  • Types of Materials:
    • Account books
    • Architectural drawing
    • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    • Correspondence
    • Diaries
    • Legal documents
    • Notes
  • Names, Personal:
    • Beale, Horace A.
    • Beale, Horace A., Jr.
    • Beale, Horace A., III
    • Beale, Mary Hartshorn Dunning
    • Mendenhall, Ellen M.
  • Names, Corporate:
    • Parkesburg Iron Company

Collection Arrangement:

Manuscripts are arranged in 5 Series:

  • Series 1: Horace A. Beale, 1837-1895 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Horace A. Beale, Jr., 1918-1928, 1980 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Horace A. Beale III, 1852-1940, 2008 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 4: Genealogical Research, 1820-1949 (0.1 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 5: Parkesburg Iron Company, 1867-1953, 1972 (0.4 linear feet; Box 2)

Related Material:

The Chester County History Center holds additional materials related to the Beale family, including Parkesburg Iron Company artifacts and photographic images of family members and the Parkesburg Iron Company. 

Additional manuscript collections are listed in the Iron-Works Manuscripts and Account Books finding aid:

Collection Contents:

Series 1: Horace A. Beale 

Box 1

Folder     1               Account Book and Taxes, 1852, 1854, 1866     

Folder     2               Book, A New General Atlas, 1837

Folder     3               Book, Trautwine’s Engineer’s Pocket Book, 1883

Folder     4               Correspondence, A-Z, 1845-1873

Folder     5               Correspondence, Beale, Horace A., Jr. (son), 1893, 1895

Folder     6               Correspondence, Brooke, Horace Lewis, 1864-1866

Folder     7-10          Correspondence, Mendenhall, Ellen M. (wife), 1867

Folder     11-12        Correspondence, Mendenhall, Ellen M. (wife), 1868

Folder     13             Correspondence, Mendenhall, Ellen M. (wife), 1869

Folder     14             Correspondence, Michener, Amos, 1865-1887

Folder     15             Wedding Invitation List, circa 1869


Series 2: Horace A. Beale, Jr. 

Box 1

Folder     16             Radio Station (W3ZO), Correspondence, 1921-1923

Folder     17             Radio Station (W3ZO), Printed Material, 1922-1923, 1980

Folder     18             Road Trip (East Coast, U.S.), Travel Journal, circa 1920s                          

Folder     19             Wills and Estate, 1918-1928      

Folder     20             Condolence Letters, 1927

Folder     21             Condolence Tribute, Hatfield Memorial Home, 1927


Series 3: Horace A. Beale, III 

Box 1

Folder     22             Correspondence, A-Z, 1923-1940                          

Folder     23             Correspondence, Beale, Horace A., Jr. (father), 1924, 1927                       

Folder     24             Correspondence, Beale, Mary H. D. (mother), 1899, 1915-1916

Folder     25             Correspondence, Beale, Mary H. D. (mother), 1920-1928

Folder     26             Correspondence, Nurse Ellen, 1914, 1916

Folder     27             Family Farm, Parkesburg Deeds and Sale, 1852-1875, 1928, 2008

Folder     28             Parkesburg Industrial Building Board, 1939

Folder     29             Project Files, Hand Lawn Mower, Correspondence, 1939

Folder     30             Project Files, Hand Lawn Mower, Patent Research, 1931        

Folder     31             Project Files, Hand Lawn Mower, Plans/Sketches, circa 1920-1929

Folder     32             Project Files, Hand Lawn Mower, Tests, circa 1920-1929      

Folder     33             Road Trip (Cross Country, U.S.), Travel Journal, 1923

Folder     34             Road Trip (Cross Country, U.S.), Correspondence, 1923


Series 4: Genealogical Research

Box 1

Folder     35             Beale Family (James McDowell lineage), circa 1880-1911

Folder     36             Beale Family (William Beale lineage), circa 1880-1911

Folder     37             Morris Family, circa 1940-1949

Folder     38             Morris Family (Evan and Amelia T. Stone Morris), 1829-1839

Folder     39             Morris Family (Mary Brian, Mary & Sarah H.B. Morris), 1849-1851

Folder     40             Morris Family (Samuel), 1820-1855


Series 5: Parkesburg Iron Company 

Box 2

Folder     1               Architectural Plans, Iron Plant Layout, 1887, 1919     

Folder     2               Correspondence, Business Records, 1880-1920

Folder     3               Correspondence, Business Records, 1925-1926

Folder     4               Correspondence, Business Records, 1936

Folder     5               Correspondence, Beale, Horace A., Jr. to George Thomas, 1926                  

Folder     6               Business Records, Test and Inspection Reports, 1925-1927

Folder     7               Business Records, Test Results, circa 1925

Folder     8               Certificates, Charter, 1882

Folder     9               Certificates, Dissolution of Co-Partnership, 1867

Folder     10             Certificates, International Exhibition, 1876

Folder     11             Certificates, Stocks/Deed, 1897-1924

Folder     12             Company Basketball Team, circa 1915-1928

Folder     13             Finances, First National Bank of Philadelphia, 1925, 1942

Folder     14             Finances, Taxes, 1894

Folder     15             Manual, Maintenance of Charcoal Iron Boiler Tubes, 1922

Folder     16             News Clippings, 1927-1937

Folder     17             News Clippings, Transcriptions, 1873, 1912, 1922

Folder     18             Sale, Auction Catalog, 1928

Folder     19             Stationary, circa 1895-1928

Folder     20             Parkesburg Centennial, Correspondence, 1972

Folder     21             Parkesburg Centennial, Clippings, 1953, 1972