Collection Title: Harriet Wollerton Work Papers

Collection Number: Ms. Coll. 182

Dates of Collection: 1822-1860

Box Numbers: 1 box, 3 folders

RepositoryChester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA 19380

Language: English

Project Archivist: Jennifer Duli


Harriet Wollerton was born in 1800, one of 13 children born to parents William Wollerton and Rebecca Harvey. Harriet and her siblings are descendants of Charles Wollerton and Job Harvey, early settlers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Her brother William, born January 20, 1811, was a prominent member of ChesterCounty, elected as Associate Judge of Courts of the county. He also was president of the First National Bank of West Chester for 25 years.

Harriet married John Bryan on May 29, 1823 but he passed away from tuberculosis on April 13, 1825 at the age of 26. Their infant son, William, died in approximately 1826 of an undetermined cause. Harriet went on to marry William Work on February 3, 1828 but he died just three years later on February 27, 1831 also from tuberculosis. She went on to live a long life, dying at the age of 80 in her brother William’s home in West Chester on July 24, 1880. Her body was laid to rest in the Goshen Baptist cemetery.

Collections Scope:

The collection consists of 22 letters to Harriet unless otherwise indicated from various family members and friends. There is also one letter from John Bryan to Harriet’s parents, one letter from a pastor to another church on behalf of Olivia Wollerton and Harriet Work, and both of her marriage certificates. The date span is approximately 1822 to 1860. 

Collection Arrangement:

The letters are arranged alphabetically by sender.  

Collections Contents:

Folder 1 Authors:

Bryan, John, 2 letters.

– Approximately 1822. Addressed to Harriet, expresses his interest in her.

– April 27, 1823. Letter to Harriet’s parents asking for her hand in marriage.

Bryan, Mary, 5 letters.

– May 12, 1823. John Bryan’s mother indicates her pleasure at their upcoming nuptials.

– July 4th, probably 1825. Mentions her sorrow at John’s passing but joyful that they had child together. Expresses happiness of safe return from their visit and begs them to visit again soon.

– Undated. Mentions passing of son and invites Harriet and her child to visit.

– Undated. Mary is anxious as to why Harriet does not write her.

– Undated. Apologizes for not writing earlier and expresses love for grandchild William. States wishes for Harriet’s happiness.

Cheyney, E., 1 letter.

– May 6, 1831. Condolence letter. Expresses sorrow for the passing of Harriet’s husband. Letter is addressed to Mrs. Harriet Work.

Darby, Ann, 1 letter.

– April, probably 1825. Condolence letter. Expresses sorrow for passing of Harriet’s husband. Letter is addressed to Mrs. Bryan.

Drummond, E., 2 letters.

– August 12, 1826. Condolence letter. Expresses sorrow for passing of Harriet’s son, William.

– July 16, 1827. Request that child named Sarah Ann, presumably the author’s daughter, board with Harriet for one week.

Jones, Abigail, 1 letter.

– June 2, 1843. Author mentions party at school and gives a listing of her classes.

Jones, M.B., 1 letter.

– April 2, 1849. Author invites Harriet to visit and offers to “loan you for a season our lively Abbie”.

Leonard, Maria Louisa, 1 letter.

– April 28, 1860. Author is Harriet’s niece. The deaths of Maria’s husband and son are mentioned. Various family members and their locations are given. Expresses love for her unnamed religion, even though “you hear so many slanderous reports” of their beliefs.


Folder 2 Authors:

Sarah, 1 letter.

– February 19, 1835. Author describes taking ill after visit. Letter starts

“My dear mother”. Recipient unknown.

Thomas, A.H., 1 letter.

– July 31, 1830. Harriet’s cousin. Details desire to visit and the probable dates of arrival.

Wollerton, William & Zeruah, shared letter.

– July 23, 1839. Authors are 2 of Harriet’s siblings. William discusses harvest and the weather. Zeruah details the health of various friends and family.

Work, Olivia, 5 letters.

Note: All letters are addressed “My Dear Mother”. Recipient unknown.

– Undated. Describes arrival at school. Descriptions of physical settings as well as the staff and teachers are given. Letter is signed “Your affectionate daughter”.

– 1st month, 1839. West Chester Young Lady’s Seminary. Tells of sleighing accident involving “Uncle Samuel and Mr. Williamsone”. On the 6th she relates the strange behavior of a “Mrs. Rogers”.

– May 24, 1839. Details of the birthday party for Dr. Cook and the May party are given. Her rigorous class schedule is relayed.

– January 23, 1842. Letter is full of local happenings, gossip, and school events. She notes that she has “charge of the infant school”.

– July 18, 1842. The health and deaths of various people is relayed.

Work, Sarah, 1 letter.

– September 27, 1832. Author describes her state of health. The death of Mrs. Maginness is relayed. Letter starts “Dear Mother”. Recipient unknown.


Folder 3:

Marriage certificate

– 1823. John Bryan and Harriet Wollerton.

Marriage certificate

– 1828.William Work and Harriet Bryan.

Church letter

– January 13, 1852. Letter from pastor to the Baptist Church of West Chester

regarding Olivia Wollerton and Harriet Work.