April 19: Dan Graham to Speak at Historical Commission Meeting

The Historical Commission presents Dan Graham, Tuesday, April 19, 7:00 PM, at the Township Building.

Noted PA iron heritage historian Dan Graham will discuss the four periods of the Pennsylvania colonial iron industry from its founding to the end of the Revolutionary War.  He will provide a special emphasis on how Northern Chester County’s three ironworks: Coventry, Reading and Warwick Furnace, fit in that development. Graham is an early Pennsylvania iron researcher and a Potts and Rutter family historian. He holds a B.S. from West Virginia University and an MPA from George Washington University.  He is retired and lives in Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

The Development of the Pennsylvania Colonial Iron Industry — 1716-1782

In 1715, Thomas Rutter (1660-1730), blacksmith, Baptist minister, and Pennsylvania Assemblyman, traveled up the Schuylkill River on the Manatawny Road and “on his own strength” built Pennsylvania’s first charcoal iron work. Called Rutter’s Bloomery and located near present-day Pottstown, it was making iron by 1716. Over the next sixty years, the Pennsylvania’s iron industry developed and grew, making it one of Pennsylvania’s strongest.

Warwick Furnace circa 1812, Watercolor by Benjamin  Latrobe

Warwick Furnace circa 1812, Watercolor by Benjamin Latrobe

“Philada ye 5th of febury 1716/17” (1717), Jonathan Dickinson tells Jno. Askew about the building of the Rutter Forge: “This last Summer one Tho Rutter a Smith who Lives not farr from Jerman Town hath removed farther up in the Country & of his own Strength hath Sett upon making Iron.

“The inhabitants of the British Colonies having already erected several Furnaces and Forges for the making of Bar Iron…they will be induced to work up the said Iron themselves, to the great Decay and Prejudice of the Iron Trade in this Kingdom.”  (Petition of the Merchants and Ironmongers to the House of Commons, 1736)