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Asa Packer Biographical Material and Memorabilia

Identifier: SC MS 0058

Scope and Contents

This collection contains assorted memorabilia (Lucy Packer Linderman’s fan, two samplers dated 1821 and 1848, assorted photographs) but mostly notes, correspondence, deeds, daughter, Mary Packer Cummings’ will, and several copies of a paper, entitled “Asa Packer: A Connecticut Yankee in King Coal's Court,” written by Milton C. Stuart about Asa Packer for the Newcomen Society presented at Lehigh University in 1938.


  • Creation: 1805 - 1940


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English with two German items

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1805 in Connecticut, Asa Packer as a young man walked to Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania in 1822 to be a carpenter’s apprentice to a relative Edward Packer. In 1828 he married Sarah M. Blakslee. In 1833 they moved to the Lehigh Valley impelled by the new industries of coal and the railroad in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. With his useful trade as carpenter he worked as a canal boat builder. He acquired a canal boat and began hauling coal from Carbon County, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Packer was the first to take coal directly into New York by the Schuylkill Canal . He and his brother, Robert W. Packer, formed a partnership. They opened a general merchandise store in Mauch Chunk and expanded business to include canal boat building in Schuylkill County. They became celebrated for large transactions between the Lehigh and Schuylkill Valleys. The partnership dissolved with Robert taking the Schuylkill Valley area. Asa Packer remaining in Lehigh Valley developed its coal lands, timber and agriculture. In the 1840s there was a movement toward expanding railroads beyond their purpose as feeders to the canals. In 1851 Asa Packer’s name appears as a member of the board on a charter for the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad. He secured control of the enterprise risking his entire fortune. He pushed the work to completion in face of many difficulties. The railroad was renamed the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1855. For a quarter of a century he was president and guiding force of this railroad until his death in 1879. Packer served his community, State and Nation in public office. He earned his title of Judge after a five-year term on the bench as Associate Judge of the County Court. In 1853-55 Asa Packer served in the 33, 34, 35 Congresses. He was also a member of the State Legislature (1852-53) and Representative of the Democratic National Congress for two terms, Favorite Son of the Pennsylvania delegation for president at the 1868 Democratic National Convention and in 1869 for Governor. Likewise, he was Commissioner of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. He founded Lehigh University in 1865 and was a benefactor of St. Marks Church in Mauch Chunk, Carbon County, Pennsylvania now a historical landmark. Asa and Sarah Packer are buried in Mauch Chunk (now named Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania on a hilltop above their mansion located on Front Hill also a historical site in Jim Thorpe, PA.


2 Linear Feet : 4 boxes (includes boxed fan)


This collection contains some memorabilia, photographs but mostly notes, correspondence, and several copies of a paper, titled “Asa Packer: A Connecticut Yankee in King Coal's Court,” written by Milton C. Stuart for the Newcomen Society in 1938.


Collection is loosely arranged chronologically. Box 1 contains material related as Asa Packer biographical much written by Professor Milton C. Stuart, material about the Packer family in Mystic, Connecticut, St. Mark’s Church in Mauch Chunk, Lehigh Valley Railroad, some material related to the Packers Golden Wedding Anniversary, assorted land deeds and last will and testaments, the Asa Packer life size portrait. Box 2 contains the framed samplers and Lucy Linderman portrait. Box 3 contains Lucy Packer Linderman’s black feather fan. Box 4 contains an assortment of photographs of various subjects related to the Packer family and Lehigh University.

Asa Packer Biographical Material and Memorabilia
Special Collections Staff
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)