University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Gardiner Fulton Papers

1813 - 1989


Manuscript Collection Number: 403
Accessioned: Purchase, 2001
Extent: .3 linear ft. (49 items)
Content: Financial documents, correspondence, receipts, ephemera, will, and handbills
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Sally W. Donatello, March 2001

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Gardiner Fulton (b. ca. 1785) was an Irish immigrant who settled into a farming life in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. In the 1820s Fulton was living in Oxford Township, Philadelphia County, with his family. Ten years later he had relocated to Menallen in Fayette County. By the 1840s Fulton lived in Frankford, Philadelphia. In the 1850 U.S Census (the first census that recorded occupation, place of birth, and value of real estate) Fulton was listed as a sixty-five-year-old Irish-born male with real estate valued at $15,000. He continued to live in Frankford Borough, which became home for the rest of his life. Living with Gardiner Fulton and his fifty-nine-year-old wife Mary were James Fulton, a thirty-eight-year male; John Hawk, a thirty-year-old laborer; Bridget Shelley, a ten-year-old female domestic from Ireland; John Call, an eight-year-old male child who was attending school; and, Charles Fulton, a fourteen-year-old male who also was attending school. The collection has documents that refer to some of Fulton’s relatives: brother Thomas, son James R., and niece Elizabeth and nephew Andrew.


1820-1850 U.S. Census for Pennsylvania

Historical and biographical information obtained from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Gardiner Fulton Papers, spanning the dates, 1813-1889, consists of .3 linear feet of financial documents, correspondence, and ephemera. The forty-nine items in this collection contain clues about the life of a mid-nineteenth-century farmer in Philadelphia County, which is located in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania. Fulton resided for a time in Oxford Township, but spent most of his life in rural Frankford, a farm community and the first stage stop north of Philadelphia on the Philadelphia-Trenton Turnpike. The documents record numerous transactions between Gardiner Fulton and the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company during the early years of its gunpowder manufacturing business in Wilmington, Delaware. Founder of the company Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) traveled to Philadelphia often, and letters in the collection imply that du Pont and Fulton saw each other during some of these journeys.

The collection is arranged by papers related to Gardiner Fulton, his son James R. Fulton, Charles Fulton, and ephemera. The contents of each file are arranged chronologically. The majority of Gardiner Fulton’s papers is business correspondence, which includes fifteen transactions with the du Pont de Nemours Company (F2). Although limited, these papers do provide some insight into the kinds of supplies used in northeastern Pennsylvania farming communities. For example, Fulton ordered blasting powder and gunpowder continuously from 1823-1857 for his Sloop Farm. These products may have been used for removal of rock to build fences, houses, or barns, and to create fields for planting. Additional documents verify that Fulton owned several properties (F4) and the farming life often involved uncomfortable relationships with neighbors (F6). A few personal letters came from relatives, and other correspondents’ identities are unknown (F3).

The most valuable part of this small collection is the papers (F2) that connect Fulton to E.I. du Pont and his company, as well as the Mellon Bank. Many of the receipts from the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company are penned by Éleuthère Irénée du Pont and one of the letters was written by him. Another is from Alfred Victor du Pont (1798-1856), who was E.I. du Pont’s son and who ran the company from 1834-1850. Additionally, there is a document from Thomas Mellon (1813-1908), of the well-known Pittsburgh banking firm, Thomas Mellon & Sons (F1), forerunner of the Mellon National Bank.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

F1   Business correspondence, 1818-1852
     8 items
     Consists of a will, receipts, a memorandum dated
     September 1843 from
     T.[Thomas] Mellon, Pittsburgh.  This correspondence
     gives Fulton information about a 108-acre farm in
     Clarion County, Pennsylvania.  The last item is an
     account statement from Livezey & Balldwin for building
     materials purchased from March 1851 to January 1852.

F2   Business correspondence with E.I. du Pont de Nemours
     and Co., 1823-1857,
     15 items
     Among these financial documents are six receipts (1823-
     1829) and a letter dated November 9, 1829, which is
     written by E.I. du Pont.  There is another letter dated     
      October 6, 1848, which is written by his son Alfred
     Victor du Pont.  On the verso is a hand-written short
     “love” tale, possibly Irish.  Additionally there is an
     1857 statement of account from the E.I. du Pont de
     Nemours Company that lists kegs of blasting powder (84)
     and gunpowder (10) bought by Fulton in 1856.

F3   Personal correspondence, 1818-1856
     4 items
     Contains a letter from Fulton’s brother Thomas, a
     letter from John Gabley,
     a letter from his niece Elizabeth and nephew Andrew,
     and a letter from Sam Riddell about Fulton seeking

F4   Property holdings, 1848-1857
     5 items
     Various types of financial records including leases, an
     annual tax assessment, a guardianship from the Alms
     House with release from indentures, and an ordinance
     from the Philadelphia Department of Highways.
F5   Pennsylvania Rail Road Company, 1856 Aug 6
     Announcement of an adjourned meeting of the Building

     James R. Fulton

F6   Documents, 1824-1847
     3 items
     “Directions for drawing circular hemispheres” is signed
     by Gardiner Fulton’s son, James Fulton, and Isaac
     Gillam.  A letter signed by James asks a neighbor to
     keep his farm animals from trespassing on the wheat.
     James says, “ I heard my father say, he was fully
     determined to save the bread.”  The last item is a
     debit receipt for clothes from George W. Farr,
     Charles Fulton

F7   Documents, 1873-1888
     9 items
     Various papers including an announcement, receipts,
     membership renewal
     for the Joseph Lodge in Frankford, a lease, and a
     letter from The Pennsylvania Railroad Company to R.G.

F8   Ephemera, 1860-1899
     4 items
     A card announcing “A Social Japanese Hop” to be given
     on Worthington’s Island, Bucks County, on Wednesday,
     August 29, 1860.  A handbill from Odd Fellow’s Hall,
     Frankford, to advertise the play “Two Orphans,” for the
     benefit of the National Cornet Band, March 11-14, 1878.
     A handbill from Odd Fellow’s Hall, Frankford,
     announcing “Octoroon,” for the benefit of the Widows’
     and Orphans’ Fund of Kearney Post, no. 55, March 13-15,
     1879.  A tourist brochure for Hotel Velvet, Old Orchard
     Beach, Maine, built in 1899.  Hotel named by the owner
     and manager H.L. Hildreth.

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