Collection Title: Thomas Hoopes Family Papers

Collection Number: Ms. Coll. 200

RepositoryChester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA

Language: English


Thomas Hoopes was born to Thomas, Sr. and Eliza Darlington Hoopes in 1834. He grew up, along with nine other siblings, on the family’s farm in Chester County and was a member of the Society of Friends. In 1857, he travelled around the western United States in search of gold and various other business prospects. He returned to Chester County after only a few years however, and formed his own company along with his brother William, and Stephen Darlington. Hoopes Brothers and Darlington, as it was named, specialized in the manufacturing of carriage wheels and eventually became one of the more respected wheel companies in the country.

In 1864, he married Amanda Russell. Amanda was born to William and Rebecca Russell in Baltimore, Maryland in 1839. Like Thomas, she was born into the Society of Friends. Though much of her family remained in Maryland, Amanda eventually moved to Pennsylvania and earned her education at Westtown Boarding School and Millersville Normal school. The couple had a total of six children during their marriage. William, the eldest, attended Lehigh College and eventually became a very valued employee at the Aluminum Company of America, while the younger Maurice successfully graduated from Cornell University. The other children included Charles and Arthur, who became prominent members of their father’s company, Emily, who attended school in Massachusetts, and Herbert, who died in infancy. Thomas and Amanda lived in West Chester through the majority of their marriage, but spent considerable time visiting relatives in Maryland.

Thomas and especially Amanda maintained very close contact with their relatives throughout their lives. In fact, her sister, Virginia Russell, eventually married Thomas’s brother William Hoopes. Unfortunately however, both Amanda and Virginia were plagued by illness for much of their adult lives. Amanda sought treatment several times at the Water Cure facility in Elmira, New York, which acted as a sanitarium to men and women with certain unusual health problems. Virginia passed away in 1878, shortly after her father and five year old daughter Fanny. Virginia had lost a child in 1876 as well, while her two boys Henry and Russell managed to survive. Amanda’s sister Rachel had health problems as well after she suffered a violent fall in 1887. Amanda’s other sisters Phebe Hoopes and Anna Russell provided as much aid as possible during these troubled times and maintained frequent contact with Amanda.

Amanda Hoopes eventually passed away in 1919 at the age of 80. In 1924, the same year that Thomas was honored at a luncheon by a large local golf club, his son William lost his life due to illness at only 57 years old. Thomas’s health eventually began to decline as well, and in 1925 he passed away at the age of 91. 

Collections Scope:

Though some of the letters in the collection date back as far as 1849, the bulk of the documents were written between 1876 and 1890, and addressed to Amanda Hoopes (unless otherwise indicated). Many of the letters were written by various members of the extended family, but a considerable amount of them were written by Thomas and sent to Amanda while she was residing in Elmira, New York. Also included are a collection of stamps and several blank postcards and envelopes. 

Information For Researchers:

  • Acquisition Information:
    Donated by Alex Grinnell

Collection Arrangement:

The letters are arranged alphabetically first by the author’s last name, then first name. The letters are then organized chronologically within each author. The last folder contains several miscellaneous items such as envelopes and pamphlets.  

Collections Contents:

Box 1: Letters

Folder 1: Cope, A. – Hoopes, P. (Full Names)

Cope, Amy (3 Letters)

-May 2nd, 1882: She must decline Amanda’s invitation to visit.

-June 22nd, 1884: Amy discusses her visits to England and New Jersey; shows concern for Anna’s illness.

-April 27th, 1890: She discusses her trip to Scotland; wishes her family would write her more often.


Hoopes, Amanda (3 letters)

-June 21st, 1871: Amanda and the children are spending time in Maryland with her family, thanks Thomas for sending money.

-June 24th, 1871: She describes the daily activities and the children’s enjoyment. Wishes Thomas could join.

-June 28th, 1871: She thanks Thomas for sending a bottle of whiskey, but complains of a lack of fruit in the area.


Hoopes, Emily (2 Letters)

-September, 1893: Emily has been accepted into a school at Boston but must now prove herself through a series of exams. She is nervous, but one of her professors gives her confidence.

-November 1st, 1893: She requests some new clothes from her family after she has picked up certain materials Massachusetts. 


Hoopes, Judith (1 Letter)

-June 24th, 1879: She apologizes to Amanda for not writing sooner, but wants her family to come visit soon.


Hoopes, Maurice (10 Letters)

-September 24th, 1887: Amanda is at the Water Cure in Elmira. Maurice just arrived in New York and met his roommate.

-October 2nd, 1887: Amanda is feeling better and Willie is moving back in with Thomas and the family after a failed engagement.

-October 13th, 1887: Amanda is to return home from Elmira in less than a week but Maurice plans to visit her before then.

-June 2nd, 1888: Amanda’s health is failing and she is once again residing at the Water Cure in Elmira. Maurice apologizes for his short letters.

-June 7th, 1888: He must reschedule a future visit with Amanda.

-June 10th, 1888: Maurice must cancel his intended visit since he is staying in Ithaca longer than expected.

-June 28th, 1891: Maurice discusses some of the projects occurring at his current job. He also reports on Arthur’s recent achievements.

-November 15th, 1892 (To Thomas Hoopes): Maurice discusses his new electrician job at the Lynn railroad in Massachusetts. He believes he is now away from home for good, and mentions his environment and living conditions.

-December 12th 1892: He discusses a recent trip to Salem to see Brown’s closed circuit system of electricity in street cars.

-December 26th 1892: Maurice lists his Christmas presents and thanks his family for their generosity. 


Hoopes, Phebe (3 Letters)

-December 18th, 1887: Amanda his feeling better, but Carrie, her children, and Rachel are very ill.

-February 25th, 1888: Rachel is still very weak and thin, and Phebe mentions Helen’s generosity in aiding Amanda while she was ill.

-March 20th, 1890: She shows her appreciation for Thomas’s kindness towards the Russell family and inquires about Amanda’s possible move to Matlack Street.



Folder 2: Letters: Hoopes, T. 1879-1887 (Full Names)

Hoopes, Thomas:

-1879(1 Letter)

  • August 21st: Thomas is in London and feels the urge to write Amanda a love letter. He also describes the current conditions in London as well as some of his thoughts about their sons.

-1887(17 Letters)

  • September-October: Thomas writes to Amanda who is considerably ill and living at the Water Cure facility in Elmira, New York. Among the themes that are discussed within these letters are Thomas’s admiration and appreciation of Emily’s doctor, Adele Gleason, Maurice’s experiences at Cornell, Amanda’s sister Rachel’s failing health, and the eventual preparation for Amanda’s homecoming.



Folder 3: Letters: Hoopes, T. 1888 (Full Names)

Hoopes, Thomas

-1888(27 Letters)

  • May-July: Amanda is once again ill and residing at the Elmira Water Cure under the care of Dr. Gleason. Thomas continues to write her very frequently about events occurring within her immediate and extended families. The major themes within these letters include Charlie’s employment at Hoopes Bros. and Darlington, the death of aunt Amanda, Thomas’s efforts to help a competitor’s fire-stricken business, Maurice’s employment at a light company, a visit from the Frazier family, and various Independence Day celebrations.


Box 2: Letters and Miscellaneous Items

Folder 4: Letters: Jackson, E. – Rogers, H. (Full Names)

Jackson, Edward (1 Letter)

-August 6th, 1921 (To Thomas Hoopes): Edward is visiting a resort in Hot Springs, Colorado. He believes his Uncle Thomas would enjoy the miners, lumberjacks, and landscape very much.


[Janney], Henry and Hannah (1 Letter)

-December 2nd, 1849 (To Thomas Russell): Sympathies are given regarding a recently deceased family member. They also encourage Amanda, Virginia, and Charles to visit.


Pemrose, Susan (3 Letters)

-December 1st, 1876 (To William and Virginia Hoopes): She gives her deep sympathies for the loss of Lizzie.

-April 1st, 1878: Amanda’s father has been stricken with Typhoid fever but seems to feel stable. Susan misses Virginia and admires her emotional strength.

-January 5th, 1891: Christmas went very well and Rachel is doing very well, however Amanda is dealing with dizziness.


Rogers, Henry (9 Letters)

-December 9th, 1855: Henry has a jaw ache and talks about Christmas, his parents, and Amanda’s singing.

-December 18th, 1856: The Anti-Slavery fair is in Philadelphia. Henry is not a real supporter but mentions such figures as William Lloyd Garrison.

-February 6th, 1857: Amanda is at Millersville. Henry talks about his parents and jokes with Amanda.

-August 13th, 1857: Henry discusses weather conditions, a trip to Wyoming, and humorous conversations with Amanda.

-October 22nd, 1858: Henry mentions the recent election, as well as races that occurred in Philadelphia, and women’s rights.

-December 19th, 1858: Henry talks about his views on proper behavior and his problems with religious schools.

-October 6th, 1877: A short but very concerned reply to information received about Virginia’s failing health.

-March 20th, 1890: Henry joyfully reminisces about his memories of Amanda and her family. He also mentions a recent fatal accident that occurred at a factory.

-April 5th, 1893: Henry once again discusses old times as well as potential future visits.


Folder 5: Letters: Rogers, R.W. – Russell, T. (Full Names)

Rogers, R.W. (1 Letter)

-March 11th, (To Virginia Hoopes): The sender gives sympathy and advice to Virginia after losing her daughter Fanny. 


Rogers, William (3 Letters)

-August 15th, 1855: He has travelled across the Allegheny several times and is now in Altoona.

-August 23rd, 1855: He describes a recent visit to Philadelphia to visit his brother Henry.

-March 6th, 1878 (To Virginia Hoopes): William gives his sympathies regarding the loss of Fanny but assures Virginia that she is safe now from the pains and sorrows of life. There is an addition from R.C.R. in which she, also, extends her sympathies towards Virginia.


Russell, Anna (8 Letters)

-December 3rd, 1876 (addressed to Virginia Hoopes): Anna sympathizes with Virginia in regards to the recent loss of her Daughter Lizzie.

-November 15th, 1877: In Maryland while Charles is travelling. Happy about Virginia’s improving condition. Reports activities at a recent Quaker meeting.

-December 6th, 1877: Compliments both Amanda and Virginia on their strength and generosity.

-March 22nd, 1878: Sympathies regarding the loss of Fanny, Virginia’s second child. Concerned for both Virginia and Father [William]’s health.

-May 1st, 1878: After father has passed, she gives gratitude for her sisters’ loyalty and support.

-May 18th, 1878: Virginia is getting better after her last illness; Anna discusses Amanda taking certain family heirlooms.

-April 27th, 1888: Apologizes for delay in writing; talks about having to move out of the house after father has passed.

-December 24th, 1893: Overcoming an illness; thanks Amanda for a gift she recently received.


Russell, Charles (1 Letter)

-June 2nd, 1887: He is sorry to hear of his sister Amanda’s poor health, but is very appreciative of her husband Thomas’s support


Russell, Rebecca (1 Letter)

-January 21st, 1877 (To Virginia Hoopes): She extends her kindness and sympathy towards Virginia after the loss of her daughter Lizzie.


Frances L Sharpless (2 Letters)

-May 25th, 1899 (To Amanda, Helen, and Emily): Frances is travelling on a steam boat to London and discusses various aspects of life aboard the ship such as dinner calls and the ethnicity of the passengers.

-May 27th, 1899: He hopes to hear from the family more often and wishes the best to Thomas and the rest of the family.


Russell, Thomas (2 Letters)

-December 4th, 1876: The letter begins with a section written by Amanda’s mother showing concern for Amanda’s health and sympathy for Virginia and William regarding Lizzie. Their father Thomas also extends his sympathies and mentions a powerful sermon he heard at a recent meeting.

-January 11th, 1877 (To Amanda and Virginia Hoopes): Thomas discusses the death of a family friend named John Shoemaker as well as the cold and icy weather conditions in Maryland.


Folder 6: Letters: Carrie-Sue (First Names)

Carrie (1 Letter)

-December 20th, 1887: She read about an explosion in West Chester, Arthur was nearby but survived; Aunt Rachel becomes very feeble after a fall.


Dora (1 Letter)

-February 26th, 1858: She misses Amanda very much and presents her with a short poem.


Emily (8 Letters)

-January 12th, 1878: She discusses Virginia’s condition as well as her children and the snowy weather conditions.

-April 16th, 1878: Emily sympathizes with Amanda regarding the recent loss of her father. Anna and Virginia are both still sick.

-May 26th, 1878: She continues to sympathize with Amanda for her loss, but mentions that her own father is now ill-stricken.

-September 14th, 1885: There is a debate as to whether or not to send her son, Charles, to boarding school due to some recent behavior. Also included is a description of her trip to the mountains.

-January 30th, 1887: Maurice visited Emily and her family recently. Willie has moved out of Amanda and Thomas’s home.

-October 9th, 1887: Emily is happy that Amanda feels better now that she has entered the Water Cure. She mentions Anna’s recent enrollment to a college in Bryn Mawr.

-April 29th, 1888: She discusses Cousin Amy’s recent visit.

-June 3rd, 1888: Amanda is considering visiting the Elmira Water Cure again.


R.C.R. (2 Letters)

-May [unknown]: She gives much sympathy for Rachel and is very concerned and doubtful that Virginia will recover from her current illness.

-May 5th, 1878: She gives her sympathies to both Amanda and Virginia regarding the loss of their father.


Rachel (1 Letter)

-September 23rd, 1877: Rachel replies to Amanda’s offer to take care of her daughter temporarily while she is so busy. Rachel is very grateful and accepts the favor.  


Sue (3 Letters)

-August 17th, 1879: She is in Europe and travelling on a Carriage. She is not enjoying herself very much and wishes to go home soon.

-July 3rd, 1887: She is in London and exploring various teaching positions in the surrounding areas.

-August 2nd, 1887: She discusses the recent parties she has attended and describes some of her students.


Folder 7: Miscellaneous Items

-Collection of 36 stamps, both American and European

-Wedding invitation: Roland and Susan Smedley, May 25th

-20 empty envelopes, addressed to Amanda Hoopes.

-Elmira Water Cure pamphlet containing information on the facility’s overall purpose and weekly rates for patients

-Elmira Water Cure newsletter containing information on its Spring reopening in 1888

-31 blank postcards, 7 blank envelopes

-11 blank postcards of Dr. Robert Grinnell