Collection Title: Reid-Gordon Company Title Search Collection: Arthur P. Reid Company
Collection Number: 240
Dates of Collection: Late 1800s-1954; bulk, 1930s-1950s
Box Numbers: 1 – 173
Repository: Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA
Project Archivist: E. Richard McKinstry
The Reid-Gordon Company, as it is informally called, was a leading Chester County, Pa. title search and abstract company. Throughout its years of operation, it was also identified as the Arthur P. Reid Company and Reid Title Plant. The business was established by Arthur P. Reid as part of his work as a lawyer. The business researched deeds in Chester County to identify liens or encumbrances against real property, thereby ensuring clear titles and transparency in real estate transactions.
Arthur Parke Reid was born in 1877 and died from a short illness in 1950 in his seventy-fourth year. Reid was from West Chester, Pa.; his parents were Emma Bowman Reid and Alfred P. Reid, a lawyer and bank official. According to his draft registration card, Reid was of medium height and build, had hazel eyes and light hair. In 1911, he married Ethel Helen Darlington (1880-1963). Reid’s obituary does not mention them having children.
Reid attended West Chester Normal School and the Lawrenceville School, and in 1899, he graduated as Latin salutatorian from Lafayette College, which his father attended as well. Reid also had a graduate degree from Lafayette. An 1893 article in the Daily Local News, published in West Chester, states that “At Lawrenceville Mr. Reid won several honors … His name appears in the list of those punctual in attendance upon every exercise and service during the year, and he was accorded honors for scholarship in Greek, Latin, algebra, English, botany, drawing and study of the Bible.” In college, Reid was on the track team and served as editor of several undergraduate publications. In his senior year, he won the senior historical essay prize for his study, Admiral Coligny and the Huguenots in America. After college, Reid taught languages and mathematics at Lafayette. Reid then studied law in the father’s office and in 1902 was admitted to the county bar. Three years later, he was admitted to the Superior and Supreme Court bar.
Reid held a number of positions associated with his profession and in banking. He was librarian of the Chester County Law Library Association; a member of the Board of Law Examiners; director, president, trust officer, and board chairman of the First National Bank; director and chairman of the executive committee of the Dime Savings Bank; director and president of the Penn Mutual Fire Insurance Company; and director of the Chester County Trust Company.
Reid was also a trustee of the West Chester Normal School and a charter member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Ella May Gordon was an employee of Arthur P. Reid in his title research business. She was often identified as a stenographer, including in the 1940 federal census when she was residing in Uwchlan Township, Pa. When Arthur P. Reid died in 1950, she continued searching titles.
Gordon was born on May 23, 1900 in Chester, Pa. and died in Lionville, Pa. on January 13, 1976. She is buried in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Exton, Pa. Gordon was a member of the church, the Chester County Historical Society, the Republican Club, and the Lionville Fire Company Auxiliary. Her parents were George M. and Margaret Smiley Gordon.
The Reid-Gordon files contain information on property titles in Chester County, Pa. While the depth of research varies with each property, many of the collection’s title searches take the chain of ownership of properties back to early colonial times. Deeds, sheriff’s deeds, mortgages, subdivisions, easements, and copies of wills or probates were typically fully researched and cited. Plot plans are often included.
The files also contain a small group of archival records of the Arthur P. Reid Company, estate records, and a card file of deed and mortgage receipts.
Much of the collection is arranged numerically by a reference number assigned to each title search, four boxes contain miscellaneous archival material from the Arthur P. Reid Company, there are seven volumes containing title information about West Chester, Pa. properties, there are 16 folders of estate records, and there is a card file that documents the receipt of deeds and mortgages by banks and other businesses.
How to Use the Collection
The Reid-Gordon files are accompanied by copies of Breou’s Official Series of Farm Maps: Chester County, published in 1883 by W. H. Kirke & Company and certified by the Chester County Commissioners. Each map has been marked with a title search reference number assigned to properties. Maps often include such information as the names of owners of a property, the number of acres owned, house and barn locations on parcels, type of construction of improvements (brick, frame, stone, etc.), roads, transportation networks, watercourses, mills, and business establishments.
The maps do not label properties by postal address. In order to use this collection, researchers must be capable of locating their property visually on the map, or provide the name of the owner in 1883. A mailing address is not used in historic property research. To learn how to identify property owners circa 1883, please read the Property Research Guide.
The reference number on the county maps key into numbered title searches of the Reid-Gordon collection.
Description of the Collection
Boxes 1-10 Chester County title searches 1-449
Boxes 11-20 Chester County title searches 450-707
Boxes 21-30 Chester County title searches 708-1006
Boxes 31-40 Chester County title searches 1007-1309
Boxes 41-50 Chester County title searches 1310-1608
Boxes 51-60 Chester County title searches 1609-1874
Boxes 61-70 Chester County title searches 1875-2140
Boxes 71-80 Chester County title searches 2141-2382
Boxes 81-90 Chester County title searches 2383-2570
Boxes 91-100 Chester County title searches 2571-2782
Boxes 101-110 Chester County title searches 2783-2962
Boxes 111-120 Chester County title searches 2963-3124
Boxes 121-130 Chester County title searches 3125-3285
Boxes 131-140 Chester County title searches 3286-3643
Boxes 141-149 Chester County title searches 3644-4210
Boxes 150-158 West Chester title searches 1-727
Boxes 159-160 Miscellaneous title searches 287-316
Boxes 161-164 Miscellaneous title searches unnumbered
Arthur P. Reid Archival Records
Box 165, folder 1 Bank Burglary and Robbery Policy
Box 165, folder 2 Brief of Title to Land and Buildings … Township of Schuylkill
Box 165, folder 3 Brief of Title to William F. Gable Properties in Chester County, Pa.
Box 165, folder 4 Chester County Historic Sites
Box 165, folder 5 Chester County Trust Co. Financial Condition, 1931
Box 165, folder 6 Correspondence, etc., 1913-1941
Box 165, folder 7 Correspondence, etc., 1942-1943
Box 165, folder 8 Correspondence, etc., 1944-1947
Box 165, folder 9 Correspondence, etc., 1948-1951
Box 165, folder 10 Cox Lots
Box 165, folder 11 A Digest of the County Planning Law, by Walter A. Herley
Box 165, folder 12 E. M. Davis Insurance
Box 166, folder 1 Ella M. Gordon, Notary Public Certificate, 1939
Box 166, folder 2 Ella M. Gordon Notebook
Box 166, folder 3 Graham Heirs
Box 166, folder 4 Index of Plots and Searches
Box 166, folder 5 Miscellaneous Records – 1
Box 166, folder 6 Miscellaneous Records – 2
Box 166, folder 7 Miscellaneous Records – 3
Box 166, folder 8 Miscellaneous Records – 4
Box 166, folder 9 Miscellaneous Records – 5
Box 166, folder 10 Miscellaneous Records – 6
Box 166, folder 11 Miscellaneous Records – 7
Box 166, folder 12 Miscellaneous Records – 8
Box 167, folder 1 Miscellaneous Records – 9
Box 167, folder 2 Miscellaneous Records – 10
Box 167, folder 3 Miscellaneous Records – 11
Box 167, folder 4 National Bank of Chester County
Box 167, folder 5 Notary Fees
Box 167, folder 6 Old Roads: Tredyffrin, Charleston, Schuylkill
Box 167, folder 7 Pennsylvania Railroad and Downingtown Borough
Box 167, folder 8 Philadelphia & Reading Railway
Box 168, folder 1 Reid Title Plant Index
Box 168, folder 2 S. E. Ledgers
Box 168, folder 3 Settlement Account and Checks
Box 168, folder 4 Springton Manor, Old Roads, E. Caln Patent, etc.
Box 168, folder 5 Tax on Deeds
Box 168, folder 6 Uwchlan Township School District … Revenue for School Purposes
Box 168, folder 7 Wayne Title & Trust Co. Title Index
Box 168, folder 8 West Chester Titles Key #1-168, #201-323
Box 168, folder 9 West Chester Title Certificates
Anna M. C. Eastburn
Thamazine R. Ellicott
Benjamin E. Fredd
Sarah W. Fredd
Lewis M. Hickman
Enoch S. McCaughey
Anna Mary Manley
Thomas W. Marshall (2 folders)
Robert T. Neely (2 folders)
John P. Tocydlowski
Levi E. Warner
Deed and Mortgage Receipt Card File
Box 171 undated and 1905-1923
Box 172 1924-1935
Box 173 1936-1950
Volumes Containing West Chester Title Searches
Volume 1 563-1934
Volume 2 1935-3199
Volume 3 3200-4850
Volume 4 4851-6188
Volume 5 6189-7400
Volume 6 7401-8831
Volume 7 8832-9622