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Colonial Iron Manufacture Ledger 1770-1773

Identifier: MS0312

Scope and Contents

The ledger book entries begin May 17, 1770 ending August 3, 1773, however, inside the front and back covers are the childish notations of Mary Bird (1753-1813), daughter of William Bird (1706-1761), builder of the Berkshire Furnace, indicating dates of January 7, 1767 and February 1767 among her efforts at practicing cursive handwriting. Mary Bird was the ninth child of William and Brigitte Huling (1710/5?-1790/92?) Bird. Mary married Colonel George Ross Jr. (b.?-d.1779) in 1773 in Christ Church, Philadelphia. Mary’s brother Mark (1739-1812) married Mary Ross (1744-1790), sister of Col. George Ross Jr. The ledger lists several furnaces and forges in the Berks County area and among the many recipients of the pig iron manufactured in the furnaces are John Huling (Brigitte Bird’s father), Thomas May, John Patton, Benjamin Lightfoot and Conrad Weiser. The pig iron was carried to the forges by Afro-American wagon drivers among others. The African-American drivers are noted in the ledger by the appellations: Conrad Negro, Mulatto Jame, Mulatto Jim, Job Negro, James Davies N. These men were entrusted with hauling significant amounts of pig iron or iron stove plates on many occasions. Most of the entries made by several clerks record business between Berkshire Forge, John Patton Esq., Charming Forge, Oley Forge, Moselem Forge, and Henry Smith and Company among others.


  • Creation: 1767 - 1773
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1770 - 1772


Conditions Governing Access

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection is open for research. Please inquire about copyright information.

Biographical / Historical

The furnace most frequently noted in the ledger is the Berkshire Furnace which was built by William Bird around 1755/6 on Spring Creek, Lower Heidelberg Township originally named Roxborough Furnace. William Bird was one of the first settlers in Berks County. He served his apprenticeship in iron making with Thomas Rutter at Colebrookdale Furnace, the first iron furnace in Pennsylvania. Bird was iron master at Pine Forge, Durham Furnace and built Roxborough Furnace. In 1744 he built Bird Manor House and established Birdsboro, Pennsylvania in 1751 He was appointed one of the first five Justices of the Peace in newly established Berks County in 1752. William Bird married Brigitte Huling and they had 13 children. William Bird died in 1761. His widow married John Patton (d.1790) an iron maker at Oley Furnace. Together with Mark Bird (1739-1812), they managed the Roxborough furnace changing the name to Berkshire Furnace. In 1764 Pennsylvania Orphans Court gave all the iron works in Bird’s name to Mark Bird. Mark sold his interest to Patton in December 1764. Patton managed Berkshire Furnace through the Revolution. In 1790 Berkshire Furnace was sold by John Patton’s widow, Brigitte Bird Patton to George Ege who lived at Charming Forge. He changed the name Berkshire to Reading Furnace. Oley Forge was also known as Lesher’s and John Lesher was one of the clients of Berkshire Furnace. He is listed as the master of his Negro named Conrad. Pine Forge was originally called Rutter’s Forge built by Thomas Rutter (1660-1730) in 1720, the first iron master in Pennsylvania, located on the Manatawny Creek. Pine Forge was rented 1760-1770 by Thomas May (1731-1792) also a client mentioned in the Ledger. Moselem Forge located in Richmond Township in the Manatawny region of Berks County was occupied by Christian Lower (1740-1806), a blacksmith, and his uncle Jacob Winey around 1767 (see Ledger entry Winey & Lower). The forge was connected to a rich ore deposit referred to as the “Moselem mine” an area along the Moselem Creek which provided ore to the Oley, Spring and other forges in the area. Pine Forge eventually is also referred to as Bailey’s or Potts. Charming Forge was built by John George Nickoll and Michael Miller about 1749 on the Tulpehocken Creek, two miles north of Womelsdorf also a client mentioned in the Ledger. Reading Furnace existed 1736 to 1783 was located on Spring Creek in Heidelberg Township, three miles from Womelsdorf also mentioned in the Ledger. In 1770 Tulpehocken Forge was purchased by Charles Stedman and name changed to Charming Forge. Tulpehocken Forge is also mentioned in the Ledger. The common denominator of all the entries in the Ledger is the relatively close proximity to Berks County and Reading, Pennsylvania.


1 book : Ledger measures 20 x 15.5 x 1 cm original marbled paper wrappers over paste paper boards, thread tied spine. Both front and back boards are titled Receipt Book but one cover board has written on it in addition the name John Patton. Inside the cover boards are handwritten - Mary Bird Her Book January 1767 and February 1767. Most of the pages have chipped edges. The Ledger contains 81 pages.

Language of Materials



The materials are arranged chronologically in a loose fashion.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, June 30, 2016.

Related Materials

Berks County Covered Bridges 1926 Photographs Birdsboro Steel Foundry Benjamin Lightfoot 1759 Survey from Reading to Shamokin Fairview Iron Works Documents and Records from Richmond Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania

Related Materials

Associates Titles: Berkshire Ledgers 1765-1769, Winterthur Museum Montgomery, Morton L. 1886. “History of Berks County in Pennsylvania.” Reed, Herbert P. 1981. “The Story of Berkshire Furnace, born 1750, died 1793.” Wernersville, PA. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Collection 212. “Forges and Furnaces, 1727-1921.” The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Collection 371. “Lightfoot Family Papers”

Materials Specific Details

Personal names: Adams, John Hains Andrew, Daniel Andrew, Samuel Arttillia?, Francis Becker, John Beylen Biddle, John Bird, Brigitte [Huling] Bird, Mark (owner of Negroes) Bird, Mary Bird, William Bittner, Israel Berger, Simon (Simeon) Blan, Robert Burns, James Burns, John Conrad, Negro Coulter (Colter), John Cox, Samuel Davies, James N. Davis, Jonas Deppen, Joseph Dickert (Deckert), Peter Ditzer, Jacob Doyle (Doyel?), Samuel Ege, George (owner of Negroes) Everly, Peter Faige, John Fetzer, Jacob Fisher, Michael Funk, Peter Fricher, John Fritzer, Jacob Funk, Peter Groover (Grüber), Adam Hains, Henry Hains, John Hains, Samson (Sampson/Simsan) Haller, Henry Hams, Fredrick Hams, John Hartman, John Hehns, Adam Hegerman, John Holtz, Elias Horst, George Housman, Martin Hughes, William Huling, John Job, Negro Kerlin, Jacob Lesher, John Lesher, Michael Lightfoot, Benjamin Lower, Christian (owner of Negroes) May, Thomas Maybury, Thomas. Melato (Mulatto) Jame Mollatto (Mulatto) Jim Moody, Simon Patton, Brigitte Huling Bird Patton, John (owner of Negroes) Patton, Robert Pauly, Casper Phela, Geroge Phetzer, Jacob Pricker, John Prichert, Peter Reed, Peter Richard, Godfry? Ringer?, George Ritter (Rutter?), Israel Rodburg, Simon Smith, Henry Sullivan, William Tomby, Michael Tomlin, Michael Walder, Jacob Weaver (Wever), Peter Weiser, Conrad Wenrich, Matthias Whinger (Winger?), Jacob Wickerham, Elijah Widmer, David Winger (Wingart,Whinert?), Lazarus Winey, Jacob Wiser, Martin Yocum, John Yocum, Peter Young, Isaac

Colonial Iron Manufacture Ledger 1770-1773
Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
July 21, 2016
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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)