Collection Title: Beale Family Papers
Collection Number: MS Coll 254
Dates of Collection: 1820-2008
Extent: 2 boxes; 1.4 linear feet
Repository: Chester County History Center, West Chester, PA
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.
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.
Manuscripts are arranged in 5 Series:
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: https://mycchc.org/iron-works-manuscripts-and-account-books/
Series 1: Horace A. Beale
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.
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
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
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
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