Collection Title: Samuel J. Entrikin Papers

Collection Number: 139

Dates of Collection: 1870–1941, bulk 1892-1940

Box Numbers: 1-5

RepositoryChester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Kimberly F. Burton, Shane Smith


Samuel J. Entrikin was born September 26, 1862 to Thomas and Sarah Jane Cloud Entrikin in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. When his mother died around 1865, a young Entrikin was sent to live with Sarah Entrikin— his aunt and a notable West Chester physician. Schooled in West Chester, Samuel was a printer by trade, yet he pursued many other interests— among them, teaching, mining, farming, and inventing. However, Entrikin is best known as one of West Chester’s locally famous Arctic explorers.

As a young man, Samuel began his career under Philadelphia area printers F. Sharpless Hickman (ca. 1879–85) and Thomas S. Dando (1885–86). After six years, he abandoned the trade to take up teaching in Aiken South Carolina at the SchofieldNormalIndustrialSchool for “colored people.”

By the fall of 1891, Entrikin had moved on to pursue a Science and Engineering education at SwarthmoreCollege. After studying for just a year, Entrikin then joined the Peary relief expedition of 1892 and ventured to the Arctic.

In the coming years, Entrikin traveled to the north twice more—first, as second in command of the Peary Northern Greenland expedition (1893–94) and later as a member of a government-appointed party assigned to measure the height of Mt. St. Elias and other mountain peaks of Alaska (1896–97).

On returning from Mt. St. Elias, Entrikin came across the small Alaskan towns of Dyea and Skaguay, from which originated the famous Dyea and White Pass Trails, respectively. Curious to learn these routes, which led to the Yukon gold fields, Entrikin, with the aid of native Hingit packers, trekked both. For the next four years, Entrikin spent his days between the Alaskan gold country and the western United States coast, namely Seattle and San Francisco, working for the Philadelphia Exploring and Mining Company and the US government. As he was quite unsuccessful in his personal pursuit of gold, Entrikin earned his living as the captain of a steamship that ferried other prospectors. During this period, he married his first wife, San Franciscan Estelle Baker—from whom he separated soon after for reasons unknown.

In 1901, Entrikin returned to the Schofield school in South Carolina, only to resign in 1904 when he accepted a superintendent position at the Arizona Consolidated [copper] Mining Company, near the Mexican border. In 1908, he married widow Sara Scott Buffington and the couple resided in Johnson, Cochise County, Arizona.

Entrikin returned to the Schofield school for a short year in 1910, citing that the Arizona climate was proving detrimental to his health.  For similar reasons, the Entrikins left South Carolina for the last time and returned to Samuel’s boyhood home, Chester County, PA where they purchased the old Franklin Miller farm near Pughtown. The Entrikins farmed in Pennsylvania until Samuel procured a management position on a Florida farm.

They moved to Narcossee, Florida in 1914 and there they lived out their remaining days. Samuel made his living as a farmer and ice merchant while spending his free time hunting and devising new contraptions. In 1933 U.S. patent number 629,212 was issued, granting Samuel exclusive rights to his “metal grab or hand.”

After intermittently suffering for a number of years from mental illness (it is unclear exactly how severe her illness was, although at times, she was admitted to an institution), Sara Entrikin passed away of pneumonia in February 1940. Just a little over two years later, Samuel followed, having suffered from stroke-related complications.

Some would classify “Sam” Entrikin as “among the famous and noted residents of West Chester.”[1] Well known in all of Chester County, Samuel J. Entrikin led a well-rounded life. In addition to being a celebrated Arctic explorer, he was a printer, teacher, gold miner, farmer, inventor, and devoted husband.[2]

Biographical Timeline: (dates are approximate)

1862: Born Juniata County, PA

186_: On mother’s death, went to live with Dr. Sarah Entrikin, Aunt

1879: Learned to print under F. Sharpless Hickman

1885: Printer for Thomas S. Dando

1886: Teacher/Superintendent of the SchofieldNormal & IndustrialSchool, Aiken, SC

1891: Science and Engineering student at SwarthmoreCollege

1892: Peary relief expedition

1892: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1893: Northern Greenland expedition

1894: Worked for Merganthaler Linotype Machine Company

1896: Mt. St. Elias Expedition

1897: Explored route to gold country

1897: Married Estelle Baker

1897: Worked in gold country

1900: Worked for Govt. in Alaska

1901: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1902: Attempted but failed because of illness, to join Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition

1902: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1904: Resigned SchofieldSchool to go to AZ to work at copper mine

1908: Married Mrs. Sara Scott Buffington

1910: Resigned at Copper mine b/c of poor health

1910: Returned as superintendent at SchofieldSchool

1911: Purchased Pughtown, PA farm

1914: Sold farm to go to Narcossee, FL; lived as farmer, ice merchant, and inventor

1933: Patent 629,212 passed on “metal hand or grab”

1940: Wife Sara died of pneumonia

1942: Died inOrlandoFlorida from stroke related problems

[1] Daily Local News, 2- 24-42, Editor Local News

[2] Various newspaper clippings from Daily Local NewsChester County Democrat, and Morning Republican (1892–1942), Chester County Historical Society Newspaper Clippings Collection.

Collections Scope:

This collection documents the years 1870–1941, with the majority of the materials originating between 1892 and 1940. A very incomplete collection, it consists of journals, letters, maps, and other miscellanea, which document small portions of Entrikin’s life. Of particular interest are Entrikin’s Arctic journals and correspondences with other well-known explorers such as R.E. Peary and F.A. Cook, both of whom claim to have been the first to reach the North Pole.

Information For Researchers:

  • Processing History:
    Boxes 1 – 3 processed in 2005, boxes 4 – 5 processed 2019. Boxes 1-4 share provenance.

Collection Arrangement:

The Samuel J. Entrikin manuscript collection consists of the following twelve series:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arctic Expeditions
  3. Correspondence
  4. Financial
  5. Genealogical data
  6. Inventions
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Personal Memoranda
  9. The Southwest
  10. Arctic Expeditions: (cont. from box 1)
  11. Various Items from Samuel J. Entrikin’s Personal Estate
  12. Samuel J. Entrikin – Marshall Series

The series and folders are arranged alphabetically. Within the folders, documents are arranged chronologically, unless otherwise noted.

Note: Series II Arctic Expeditions is divided between boxes 1 and 3. The materials are contextually alike; however the format dissimilarity of the files warrants separate storage.  Additionally, the collection contains some oversized materials, which, although they belong to a specific series, are kept separate in an oversized materials folder.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Alaska contains materials from the years 1897–1901 when Entrikin was exploring Mt. St. Elias and working the Yukon gold rush, first as a prospector and later as a steamship operator. It contains some general notes, lists, and maps of Alaska and its trails.

Series II. Arctic Expeditions will be particularly useful to those studying late nineteenth/early twentieth century Arctic exploration. Entrikin kept detailed journals of his days with the Peary Northern Greenland expedition (1893–94). There are also notebooks containing Eskimo vocabulary, miscellaneous memoranda, lecture notes, slide and picture inventories, and correspondence regarding not only Peary’s expeditions, but also the Baldwin Ziegler expedition (1902), the Byrd Arctic expedition of the late 1920s, and F.A. Cook’s contested discovery of the North Pole in 1908.

Series III. Correspondence consists of letters to and from various people and touches on a host of subjects. Correspondents include Arctic explorers—R.E. Peary, Matthew Henson, Frederick Cook, Evelyn Baldwin, and others—, Entrikin’s wife Sara, family members, and friends.

Series IV Financial contains very incomplete information pertaining to Entrikin’s financial affairs— stocks, insurance policies, liberty loan records, and miscellaneous receipts and financial notes.

Series V Genealogical Data contains biographical information, including a general life sketch written out by Entrikin himself, as well as some documents pertaining to his birth and marriage.

Series VI Inventions contains correspondence, drawings, and patent contracts concerning Entrikin’s 1930s invention, “metal hand or grab.”

Series VII contains information about various organizations to which Entrikin and/or his wife Sara belonged—Aiken lodge, Egypt shrine, fraternity, Woodbrookers, etc. This series also contains a miscellaneous folder containing cemetery papers and some property [?] ownership papers.

Series VIII Personal Memoranda is a compilation of some of Entrikin’s personal belongings, including a journal, several notebooks, report cards, notes, etc. Also of interest is a small file of writings done by Entrikin and others— articles, short stories, poetry, and songs.

Series IX The Southwest contains scattered documents from Entrikin’s years in Arizona/Mexico as superintendent of the Arizona Mining Company. There appears to be correspondence and reports between Entrikin and his employer, supply lists, and notes of a general nature.

Series X is a continuation of series II.

Series XI Various Items from Samuel J. Entrikin’s Personal Estate contains miscellaneous materials which were part of the original donation but were not processed until 2019. 

Series XII Samuel J. Entrikin – Marshall Series contains miscellaneous items donated separately to the collection by William Marshall (2011.55).  It contains photographs, a letter, checks, a bible, a book, and various periodicals.

Related Material:

The CCHS also houses Samuel J. Entrikin’s photograph collection, which consists of photos taken throughout Mr. Entrikin’s life. Additionally, the CCHS museum holds several artifacts from Entrikin’s arctic journeys.

Collections Contents:

Box 1

Series I: Alaska

Folder   1- Mt. St. Elias Expedition— Photograph inventory[i], supply memorandum; 1897

Folder   2- Yukon Gold Rush— Contracts, Correspondence, Maps, Supply lists; 1897–1901[ii]

Folder   3- Yukon Gold Rush— Miscellaneous notebooks with inserts; ca. 1897–1901


Series II: Arctic Expeditions (See box 3 for more on Arctic Expeditions)

Folder   4- Miscellaneous trips, Baldwin-Ziegler (1902), Byrd (ca.1929), Cook (1908), Correspondence and press release relating to–; 1902, 14, 16, 28, 30, 31 (arranged alphabetically by last name, then chronologically)

Folder   5- Peary trips (1892, 93–94), Correspondence, maps, notes/lectures, slide inventory, and items relating to–; [1892–1900]                                    

Series III: Correspondence

Folder   6- Astrup, Eivind and family; 1894, 96

Folder   7- Baldwin, Evelyn B.; 1898–1930

Folder   8- Bryant, Henry G.; 1896, 1927

Folder   9- Cook, Frederick A.; 1902–21, 1937          

Folder 10- Entrikin, Sara­— Letters to and concerning–; 1908–09

Folder 11- Family

Folder 12- Henson, Matthew A.; 1895, 1926

Folder 13- MacMillan, Donald B.; 1919, 24

Folder 14- Miscellaneous personal correspondents; 1891–1941, N.D. (arranged alphabetically by last name)

Folder 15- Peary, R.E. and family; 1892–94, 1923, 1939

Folder 16- Stokes, F.W.; 1901, 26, 30

Box 2

Series IV: Financial

Folder 17- Account ledger; 1916

Folder 18- Arizona Consolidated Mining Company Stock; 19.04, 32, N.D.

Folder 19- Equitable Life Assurance Society; 1889–1908, N.D.

Folder 20- Liberty Loans; 1919

Folder 21- Miscellaneous receipts, policies, correspondence, etc.; 1892–1940

Folder 22- National Surety Company; 1920, 23–24

Folder 23- Sale ledger; 1938–39                               

Series V: Genealogical Data

Folder 24- Vital Statistic information/Biographical Documents

Series VI: Inventions

Folder 25- Plans 

Folder 26- Plans and patents; 1893, 1932–33

Series VII: Miscellaneous

Folder 27- Lodges and Social organizations; 1894–1937 (arranged alphabetically by organization name, then chronologically)

Folder 28- Miscellaneous items need dates on folder; 1918–38        

Series VIII: Personal Memoranda

Folder 29- Address book; N.D.

Folder 30- Entrikin, Sara, Last wishes of, (pocket slate w/ pencil); 1932

Folder 31- Pennsylvania counties; ca. 1880

Folder 32- Pottstown Storage Ledger; 1913

Folder 33- Purchasing memorandum; ca. 1880

Folder 34- Purchasing memorandum/quote book; ca. 1880

Folder 35- Report Cards; 1870–79

Folder 36- Scott, Florence M. Autograph album of; ca. 1882

Folder 37- Writing: articles, short stories, notes; 1897, 1898, 1937, and N.D. (arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by title)

Folder 38- West Chester journal from boyhood; 1877–88

Series IX: The Southwest

Folder 39- Arizona Mining Company; 1908–09

Box 3

Series X: Arctic Expeditions: (cont. from box 1)

Folder 40- Journal, Eskimo words; 1892, 93-94

Folder 41- Journal, Peary’s second Arctic expedition, no.1; 1893–94

Folder 42- Journal, Peary’s second Arctic expedition, no. 2; 1893–94 (see folder 42a for accompanying papers)

Folder 43- Journal, [Peary’s second Arctic expedition]; 5/13-6/30/[1894] with biographical summary; 1862–ca. 1932

Folder 44- Miscellaneous notebooks with inserts; 1892

Folder 45- Miscellaneous notebooks; 1893[–94]

Box 4

Series XI: Various Items from Samuel J. Entrikin’s Personal Estate

Folder 46- Notes and Misc. (Storage arrangement did not make clear to which other items the notes refer.)

Folder 47- Sheet Music

Folder 48- Art (2 lithographic drawing books, 1 printing of a bird presented to Entrikin)

Box also includes four books, one on each of the following subjects: introductory piano, natural philosophy, English grammar, forms and precedence in conveyancing.

Box 5

Series XII: Samuel J. Entrikin – Marshall Series

Folder 49- Letter, Checks – letter to Entrikin and his wife from their nephew serving in the Army in France (1918) and two checks written by Entrikin. Original donation note included.

Folder 50- three photographs and a silhouette found just under the front cover of the bible.

Bible bookmarked at 1 Samuel, 14

Bulletin of the Geographical Club of Philadelphia focused on the Peary arctic expedition of 1894 given to Entrikin by Henry G. Bryant.

A novel, various periodicals, and loose pages dated 1854-1865, 1905; left in the order and plastic sleeving in which they were found.

[i] See CCHS Photograph Collection, Samuel J. Entrikin, DN58.

[ii] Contains oversized item(s) which are stored separately.

Collections Scope: