Collection Title: Brosius Family Correspondence

Collection Number: 114

Dates of Collection: 1858-1890

Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA

Language: English

Project Archivist: Kevin Martin


Collection of letters written by members of the Brosius family of Chester County.  The bulk of the letters are written by or addressed to the children of Henry Brosius (1792-1866) born in Montgomery County and raised in Chester County.  Brosius became a prominent business man and merchant in and around Kennett Square.  His first wife, Hannah (Mercer) Brosius, died in 1837.  He then married Rachel (Moore) Brosius in 1839.  He abandoned the mercantile business and began farming in 1850.  After farming in Christiana, Atglen and Penningtonville, he relocated to Alliance, Ohio in 1858, where his 2nd wife and son Caleb from his first marriage died.  He returned to Chester County and bought a farm in Russellville.  He died in 1866.  In addition to his business and agricultural pursuits, Henry Brosius was a reformer who advocated for abolition and temperance.  It is believed that his home in Kennett Square was a stopping place for escaped slaves.

Henry Brosius had seven children with his 2nd wife, of which six lived to adulthood.  His first son Augustus (1840-1925) was educated in a private school in Salem,Ohio where he also taught for one year.  For eight years he split time between teaching and farming but moved back to Chester County to farm full time around 1868.  After his marriage to Mary J. Hoopes in 1874, he farmed for one year near Smith’s bridge in Delaware and then purchased a farm near Kennett Square where he and his wife resided for six years.  In 1881 he was appointed Indian Agent for the Iowa, Sac and Fox Indian tribes in eastern Nebraska and Kansas.  An act of Congress ended his position as Indian agent in 1883 and he returned to Chester County where he worked for one year in real estate but then moved to the Pratt Hoopes Farm in London Grove Township, the childhood home of his wife, where he lived until his death in 1925.  Augustus was a birthright member of the Society of Friends and an active member of the London Grove Monthly Meeting, of which he was an overseer and elder the later part of his life.

Henry and Rachel Brosius third son, Albanus Brosius (1844-1905), was educated at the Eaton Academy and learned telegraphy at schools in Connecticut and Philadelphia.  He worked for a time as a telegrapher.  Later he was employed as a railroad agent for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  He lived in Poughkeepsie, New York in the 1880s and died in New York City in 1905.  He never married.   

The fifth child of Henry and Rachel was Addison Brosius (1847-1926).  Not formally educated to the extent of his brothers, Addison spent much of his life in the western states, working as a laborer in the timber industry in Oregon and agriculture in California. 

He spent the last twelve years of his life in Avondale, Chester County, where he died in 1926.   

Evalina Brosius (1850-1901), the sixth child of Henry and Rachel, was educated in the public schools and Millersville Normal School.  She taught for a number of years and relocated to Nebraska with her brother in 1881.  Upon her return in 1883 she “kept house” and worked as a domestic for at least three different families in Baltimore, West Chester, and Chadd’s Ford.  In 1887 she married her last employer, William Pennock, and resided on a farm in Pennsbury Township, Chester County where she died in 1901.

Samuel Martin Brosius (1851-1936), the youngest child of Henry and Rachel, was educated in private and public schools.  He learned the trade of cabinet making and resided in Wilmington, Delaware.  Around 1874 he accepted the position of licensed Indian trader at the Great Nemaha Indian Agency in Nebraska.  The site at that time was administered by the Society of Friends under General Grant’s Peace Policy.  In 1879 he married an instructor at the agency, Jennie M. Walton, who died a year later.  Due to changes in government policy around 1885 he lost his license as an Indian trader and moved to White Cloud, Kansas where he operated a hardware business with his cousin Mahlon Brosius Kent (b. 1841).  He moved back east in the 1890s and took a position at the Indian Rights Association in Washington DC.  In 1905 he received his law degree from George Washington University.  He was married for a second time to Anna Mary Wilkinson in 1911.  He died in 1936.

For additional information: See #2 and #82-88 in Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius, CCHS.

Collections Scope:

The preceding biographical information is of the family members that figure most prominently in the collection.  The collection also includes letters from friends and relatives.  Henry Brosius (1768-1833), the grandfather of those described above had sixteen siblings, so there are a number of cousins, aunts and uncles who corresponded with Augustus and Albanus–the two major recipients of letters in the collection.  Relatives and friends lived in Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. 

Primary topics include: family health; social life (including visits, marriages, births and deaths); perceptions and observations of western life; opportunities in the west; agriculture and farming; business; domestic life and work.  Authors in this collection were employed in the following occupations: merchant, farmer, artisan, telegrapher, railroad agent, Indian agent (government employee); domestic; laborer.

The collection consists of 100 letters organized into 28 folders.  They are arranged alphabetically by surname.  Married women are listed under their married name with maiden name in parenthesis. 

Collections Contents:

Folder 1/1/114

Barnard, Norris, 1 letter, 1866

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius Location of author: Kent County(MD) Topics include:

-sympathy letter for the passing of Henry Brosius (1802-1866) and an account of time the author spent with Henry immediately before his death.

Folder 2/1/114

Broomell, James H.,1 letters, 1862

Recipient(s): “cousin,” “brother,” “sister” [not specified]   Location of author: Camp near Harper’s Ferry (VA) Topics include:

-thoughts on the war [Civil War]

-“President has issued a proclamation,” positive effects of [Emancipation Proclamation]

-positive opinion of General McClellan

-camp and army life

-battle of Antietam

-opinion of rebel soldiers

Folder 3/1/114

Broomell, S.P., 1 letter, 1880

Recipient(s): “cousin” [not specified]

Location of author: [illegible]

Folder 4/1/114

Brosius, “Addie” [Adaline], 1 letter, 1868

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”)

Location of author: [not specified]

Folder 5/1/114

Brosius, Addison, 2 letters, 1882, 1888

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“brother”)

Location of author: Clatsop County, Oregon; Stockton, California Topics include:

-agriculture in California

-work for a man who manufactures windmills

-west coast weather

-big trees (CA)

-the people of California

-travel from La Junta, Colorado to Oregon

-labor in the timber industry

Folder 6/1/114

Brosius, Albanus, 15 letters, 1863-1890

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“brother”)

Location of author: Russelville (PA); Kennett Square (PA); New Haven,

Connecticut; Philadelphia (PA); Wilkes Barre (PA); Poughkeepsie, New York; New York City Topics include:

-harvest time (1863)

-travels of brother while a soldier [Civil War]

-draft in Chester and Delaware County [Civil War]

-mentions New York City riots (1863)

-examinations and assignments at Eaton Academy (1863)

-ponders a trip west

-learning telegraphy at unnamed schools in Connecticut and Philadelphia (1864/65)

-poor living conditions at a boarding house in Connecticut

-mentions attending lectures in Connecticut by Reverend Stone, Frederick Douglas, Henry Ward Beecher and Wendell Phillips (1864)

-assassination of Abraham Lincoln

-telegraphy and job prospects as a telegrapher

-unemployment in Philadelphia (1865)

-insufficient salary, incurring debt to purchase clothes (1865)

-a loan to cover clothing expense

-fracas at Russellville (PA) resulting in the death of Stephen Miller (1865)

-La Pierre House, Philadelphia

-opinion of Francis Murphy, “the great temperance advocate”

-visit to childhood home in Ohio

-mentions taking his companion to see the Centennial Buildings (1878)

-money to repair the graves of his mother and father

-differences between boys and girls, remarks upon the birth of Augustus daughter Bertha (1880) -inducements of the west

-requirements for succeeding out west

-presidential election (1880)

-suggested train routes and accommodations between Philadelphia and Nebraska for his brother’s transfer out west (1881)

-death of Bertha Brosius

-concerns for sister Eva

-brother Addison’s move to Colorado and his hopes to find “fortune among the minerals”

-birth of Augustus’ son and the need for a larger male population

-Pennsylvania state elections (1882)

-learning to use a typewriter (1885)

-travels out west

-details and thoughts on the death of Ulysses S. Grant; passing of Grant’s funeral train in Poughkeepsie, New York (1885) -his seclusion in New York City for four years (1890)

Folder 7/1/114

Brosius, Augustus, 14 letters, 1863-1882

Recipient(s): Albanus Brosius (“brother”)

Location of author: Russelville (PA); Harrisburg (PA); Kennett Square (PA); Nottingham (PA); Nohart, Nebraska Topics include:

-ambrotype business [photography]

-visit to Philadelphia (1863)

-teaching job, desire to work in farming

-“hiring out” as a farm laborer

-[Civil War] camp life, Quakers, rumors in Harrisburg about troop movements. (1863)

-Social life while teaching in Kennett Square (PA)

-mentions need to save money in case of sickness (1866)

-death of his father, Henry, and his funeral (1866)

-dispute regarding a doctor’s bill for his father

-death of Uncle Isaac Moore who fell from “a wagon while intoxicated”

-prospects of purchasing a farm along the Brandywine River in Delaware

-marriage to Mary J. Hoopes (1874)

-grange movement

-mentions seeing the preparations for the Centennial in Philadelphia (1876)

-dairy farm being placed in the hands of a Philadelphia Real Estate Agent

-recollections of Ohio and the death of his mother

-difficulties of farming

-death of his daughter Bertha (1881)

-flood (1881)

-details regarding his appointment as Indian Agent in Nebraska (1881)

-details of his work in Nebraska (1881)

-loss of job due to an “act of Congress,” being replaced by a

“Pottawattomie” [Pottawattamie] Indian

-favorable conditions in Kansas (1882)

-seeking further opportunity in the west (1882)

-state politics (PA) 

Folder 7A/1/114

Brosius, Caleb M.,1 letter, 1858

Recipient: Albanus Brosius (“brother”) Location of author: Cochranville (PA) Topics include:

-move to Alliance [OH]

Folder 8/1/114

Brosius , Florence, 2 letters, 1882

Note: Written as a young girl

Recipient(s): Albanus Brosius (“uncle”)

Location of author: [Nebraska]

Folder 9/1/114

Brosius, Hannah, 4 letters, 1873-1883

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”) Location of author: Mount Union (OH) Topics include:

-marriage, difficulties in finding a partner

-“great revival going on at Mt. Union” (1873)

-teaching at the Children’s Home (OH)

-death of her sister (1882)

-“Brosius fortune seekers” (1883) [see page 2: Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius, CCHS]

Folder 10/1/114

Brosius, Jennie (Walton), 1 letter, c. 1879

Note:  Teacher at Great Nemaha Indian Reservation (NE)

Recipient(s): [probably Augustus Brosius, her brother-in-law] Location of author: Nebraska Topics include:

-purchase and sale of fruit

-Indian agriculture

Folder 11/1/114

Brosius, Luc[retia] M[ott], 1 letter, 1863

Recipient(s): “cousin” [not specified] Location of author: [not specified] Topics include:

-[Civil War] location of soldiers, Quakers

Folder 12/1/114

Brosius, Maranda,2 letters, 1864

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”)

Location of author: Millersville (PA); Fortress Monroe, Hampton (VA) Topics include:

-Christmas, constant ringing of sleigh bells

-visit to her wounded brother, Marriott, at a Union hospital.  Includes a detailed account of the circumstances of her brother’s injuries and her feelings on seeing other wounded men.  [Civil War]

-description of Fortress Monroe and Hampton (VA)

-account of a man from England who emigrated to America to fight for the Union

Folder 13/1/114

Brosius, Marriott, 1 letter, 1864

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”) Location of author: Chester, U.S. General Hospital Topics include:

-recovery from war wounds [Civil War]

-passing his leisure time reading Shakespeare

-thoughts on Augustus’ employment as a teacher

Folder 14/1/114

Brosius, Ruthanna, 1 letter, 1864

Recipient(s): “cousin” [Augustus Brosius] Location of author: Penningtonville [PA] Topics include:

-death as a “frequent visitor” to her “quiet village”

Folder 15/1/114

Brosius, Samuel Martin,20 letters, 1868-1889, n.d.

Note: Includes letter co-written with Jennie (Walton) Brosius

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius; “brother and sister”

Location of author: Elk Valley (?); Russellville (PA); Chantilly Seminary; Kennett Square (PA); Wilmington (DE); Nohart, Nebraska; White Cloud, Kansas Topics include:

-school work and editing the school newspaper at Chantilly Seminary

-mentions a performance of the “Swiss Bell Ringers”

-living in a boarding house in Wilmington, Delaware (1872)

-boredom at work [Wilmington]

-new liquor laws in Delaware a “step towards reform”

-move to west to occupy post as licensed Indian trader in Nebraska (1875)

-trip to White Cloud [Kansas] to see a company of bell ringers

-mentions Order of Odd Fellows [Nebraska]

-delayed payments because of fraud investigations in Washington

-Mahlon B. Kent, Indian Agent to the Great Nemaha Agency (NE)

-fear of losing his license as an Indian trader

-hope for and justification of taking a female companion on a trip to

Omaha (NE)

-plans for a trip east, train fares

-“Addn.” [brother Addison’s] “downward path in sin”

-investigation by an army officer of an Indian agent

-purchasing merchandise in St. Joseph, Missouri

-prohibition of selling on credit, effects of

-improved business

-domestic life [in letter attached by Jennie Brosius]

-abundant harvest, high prices

-investment and speculation

-increasingly low temperatures throughout the west

-mentions the “Indian question” in Congress

-opinions of the west

-detailed account of the death of his wife and his subsequent difficulties in dealing with the loss (1880) -land in Nebraska and Kansas -Indian behavior and attitudes

-prospects for brother Truman’s future

-death of Bertha Brosius, includes an epitaph for a child written by

Charles Dickens (1881)

-difficulty in filling Indian agent positions with people of competence

-nature of his work as Indian trader/merchant

-business transactions

-farmer complaints regarding low prices

Folder 16/1/114

Clark, Mary R.B.,1 letter, 1883

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”) Location of author: Herrick Knox County (NE) Topics include:

-response to a notification of a possible visit

-living conditions

-accommodations and travel to Mary Clark’s home

-Indian employment in the area

Folder 17/1/114

Hartley, Deborah H.,2 letters, 1862, 1865

Note: [Former teaching colleague of Augustus Brosious in Ohio]

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“friend”) Location of author: [Ohio] Topics include:

-sympathy for the loss of Augustus’ mother

-school business

-sleigh (sled) travel

Folder 18/1/114

Hoopes, H., 1 letter, 1888

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“brother” in law) Location of author: Laporte (PA) Topics include:

-travel through the coal regions (PA) -observations of Laporte (PA)

Folder 19/1/114

Kent, M[ahlon] B[rosius], 2 letters, 1873, 1887

Note:  Born 1841. Worked as a farmer, superintendent of a truck farm in Norfolk, VA, carpenter, Indian agent(1875-1882), business man (operated a hardware business with Samuel Martin Brosius in White Cloud, KS). [#115 in

Genealogy of Henry and Mary Brosius, CCHS] Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”) Location of author: Norfolk (VA); Cochranville (PA) Topics include:

-three and a half month trip out west (Dakotas; Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska, etc.)

-financial requirements for settling in the west

-job prospects out west

-mentions Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition

-visiting relatives in the west

-business in the Port of Norfolk (VA)

-his brother’s employment (VA)

-death of his father (1887)

Folder 20/1/114

Kent, William Lloyd Garrison,1 letter, 1868

Note: Worked as a farmer, in the trucking business with his brother in Virginia, was elected as a Sheriff in Virginia in 1868. [#114 in Genealogy of Henry and Mary

Brosius, CCHS]

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius Location of author: Norfolk (VA) Topics include:

-business opportunity growing and trucking fruit in Virginia

Folder 21/1/114

Linvill, A.W.,1 letter, 1888

Note: Written on letterhead that reads: “Office of A.W. Linvill / Dealer in General

Merchandise / and Groceries / Gardenia, Fla.”

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (”cousin”) Location of author: Gardenia (FL) Topics include:

-details regarding a hardware, furniture and undertaking business for sale in Florida

Folder 22/1/114

Moore, Phebe, 1 letter, 1868

Recipient(s): “cousin” [not specified] Location of author: Lombardville [PA] Topics include:

-death of an unnamed sister

Folder 23/1/114

Pennock, Evaline (Brosius), 15 letters, 1863-1887

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“brother”)

Location of author: Kennett Square (PA); Millersville (PA); Russellville (PA); West Chester (PA); Baltimore (MD); Chadd’s Ford (PA) Topics include:

-[Civil War] enlistments; “eight colored persons” fleeing the rebel Army from Adams County [c. 1863]

-request for a picture from her brother Augustus in his “soldier clothes”

-Eaton Institute (1869)

-scholarly work and leisure activities while attending school in Millersville (1870)


-thoughts on being an “old maid”

-death of Augustus’ daughter, Bertha (1881)

-brother Addie’s work in Portland, Oregon

-job “keeping house” for the family of Seneca [Broomell] in Baltimore

-position as a domestic in West Chester, desire to leave for a job with William Pennock, writes “It is my experience [that] it is a great deal more pleasant keeping house than being a girl for somebody else”


-work on a Chadd’s Ford farm (1886)

-farm laborers, work and leisure

-personal finances

-peculiar nature of Will [Pennock]

-marriage to Will [Pennock] (1887)

-male/female social relations

-attempts to hire a “girl” and changed attitudes towards work after her marriage

Folder 24/1/114

Pound, James, 1 letter, 1883

Note: Includes postscript by Irena Pound

Recipient(s): Augustus and Mary Brosius (“friends”) Location of author: Ontario, Canada Topics include:

-highly productive land in Canada

-information on travel from Nebraska to Canada

Folder 25/1/114

Pyle, S.E.B, 1 letters, 1882

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“cousin”) Location of author: London Grove (PA) Topics include:

-accepting an unspecified “position” in the west

-plans for relocation

Folder 26/1/114

Reese, Charles, 1 letter, 1883

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (author’s “nephew”) Location of author: Atglen (PA) Topics include:

-a reply to a request for information about Daniel Hawkins, a man Henry Brosius (d. 1866) promised money to upon his death [it appears that Mr. Hawkins was an African American man]

Folder 27/1/114

Reese, Ruthanna, 1 letter, 1883

Recipient(s): “nephew” [Augustus Brosius]

Location of author: Atglen (PA)

Folder 28/1/114

Way, [H. H.],1 letter, 1882

Note: Includes a letter written by [first name illegible] P. Way

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“friends”) Location of author: Lincoln (NE) Topics include:

-dismay over Augustus leaving Nebraska

Folder 28A/1/114

Welty, Mary B.,1 letters, 1877

Recipient(s): Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Brosius (“cousins”)

Location of author: Cochranville (PA)

Folder 29/1/114

Wood, B.L.,3 letters, 1883-1884

Note: Letters are 8 to 10 pages in length

Recipient(s): Augustus Brosius (“friend”) Location of author: Doe Run (PA); Springdale (IA) Topics include:


-decision to Iowa, writes of his “fever for the west”

-highly detailed account of searching for a farm in Iowa [in the vicinity of West Liberty]

-detailed descriptions of farmsteads in Iowa and Chester County

-poor opinion of Real Estate agents, he refers to them as “money shavers”

-rates and prices for home and farm related goods

-accounts of others selling out in Iowa to move further west

-difference between old and young settlers

-remorse over his friends returning east

This project was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 2003-2004