Jim Reis talks about two of his favorite American Civil War documents, a silk “Lincoln Ribbon” and a letter signed by Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War granting Joel Trumball the rank of Captain in the US Calvary.

by James J. Reis

As a collector of Robert Morris documents, as they relate to the North American Land Company, I had the opportunity to purchase hundreds of old land documents hoping to get one that might relate to Morris and his holdings.  The boxes of old documents contained a number of gems but one stood out as a diamond.

While reviewing one of those documents over and over I noticed a land deed from 1804 for a property on Seventh Street at High Street in Philadelphia, I saw that one of the parties mentioned was Jacob Graff, Junior.  It turned out that the document was a conveyance of a ground rent for a building owned by a bricklayer named Jacob Graff.  I knew the name Graff sounded familiar and upon further research, realized I had the deed for the ground where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and the property is now part of the National Park Service, located at 7th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.  The house was reconstructed in 1975 and may be considered hallowed ground by many history lovers.  The Declaration of Independence, which was to change the world, was drafted between June 10 and June 28, 1776.  Jefferson lived in the Graff house, as the aging Jefferson clarified when he lived at Monticello.  (At the time of writing that instrument I was lodged in the house of Mr. Graaf (Graff), a new brick house, three stories high of which I rented the second floor.  In that parlor I wrote habitually and in it this paper particularly.)

Apparently Abigail Physick conveyed the property to Graff in 1775 but retained the ground rent.  (In many older North Eastern cities the right to build was sold but the ground was considered valuable and was not sold but rented to the house builder through a ground rent and held in perpetuity.)  Graff paid Abigail Physick a yearly ground rent of 85 and 1/3 Spanish pieces of eight.

My deed represents the conveyance of the ground rent from the Physick’s to another member of the Physick family.  One of the Physick’s who signed this indenture was Philip Syng Physick, the founder of modern surgery.

Note:  In 1777 Jacob Graff, Junior, sold the house to Jacob Hiltzheimer and in 1801 Hiltzheimer died and his daughter Mary H. Rodgers inherited the building.  In December of 1801 Mary H. Rodgers and her husband sold the building to Simon and Hyman Gratz, who owned the property until 1826 when they went bankrupt.  They repurchased the building in 1835.  The Gratzs were well known Philadelphia merchants.

Declaration House Photo


Graff House 1804 Deed

NOTE: Signature of Philip Syng Physick (father of American surgery)


Graff House 1835 Deed & Plan (Gratz Deed)

NOTE: Includes plan outlining site


NOTE: Philip Syng Physick is referred to as the “Father of American Surgery”.

Deed for the Declaration House / Graff House from Jacob Graff, Junior, to Jacob Hiltzheimer.

40 Edmund Physick documents or receipts for warrants signed by Edmund Physick to sell property in Pennsylvania to someone.  Dated 1773 – 1776.

27 warrants for 18th Century property in Pennsylvania.

1776 Edmond Physick

1776 Warrant and Patent signed by Edmund Physick

1784 Peter S Glentworth Diploma

      • (3) Diploma’s with ribbons 1784 to Peter Sonmans Glentworth
      • 1782 William Thompson, Lt. in Pennsylvania line to Peter S. Glentworth
      • 1784 Tammany ticket to Peter S. Glentworth

1784 Tammany Ticket and 1780 Philadelphia Goal Notice to Peter S. Glentworth

      • 1789 notice from Philadelphia Goal to Peter S. Glentworth
      • 1790 Deed from Isaac Franks to Peter S. Glentworth signed by Plunket Fleeson
      • 1865 (2) Medical Degrees signed by Doctors of University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Joseph Leidy Diploma

      • 1868 Deed signed by Dr. Joseph Leidy
      • 1754 Deed signed by Dr. Joseph Redman and wife
      • 1825 Deed contributors to Pennsylvania Hospital to J.J.G. signed by Coates
      • 1835 Deed contributors to Pennsylvania Hospital to Richard Morris signed by Thomas Stewardson
      • 1837 Richard Morris to Dr. John Elkinton
      • 1840 Dr. John Elkinton to Adam McElroy
      • 1850 (2) Deeds contributors to Pennsylvania Hospital to J.D. signed by Laurence Lewis
      • 1866 Joseph Fenton to Dr. William Glentworth
      • (10) Deeds for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital


by James J. Reis

In May of 1772, 16 year old Mary “Polly” Masters married the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, 36 year old Richard Penn, the Grandson of Pennsylvania founder William Penn.
The Presidents House
The bride’s Mother, Mary Masters gave the bride and groom a “splendid city house” as a wedding present.  Located on High or Market Street, near 6th Street in Philadelphia.  The house eventually became the location of the Executive Mansion from 1790 to 1800, at which time the US Capital was moved to the Federal City, Washington, DC.

The Executive Mansion, the President’s House in Philadelphia was the Penn’s city house and later served as the Presidential Mansion for George Washington and John Adams from 1790 to 1800.  These 2 documents represent the receipt for the “deed of gift” and the surrender of the deed, and are dated 1775.

The history of the house is incredible as, during the Revolutionary War both General Sir William Howe and General Benedict Arnold lived in the house during their respective military commands in Philadelphia during the winter of 1777 and 1778.

The Penn’s owned the property until 1785 then sold it thru their attorney Tench Francis, to Robert Morris, the financier of the American Revolution.  Morris leased the property aka 190 High Street to George Washington and built himself a house next door at the corner of 6th and High Street for he and his wife.

Richard and Polly Penn returned to England in 1775, when the Continental Congress entrusted him with the Olive Branch Petition of King George III.  The Penn’s did not return to Philadelphia until 1808.


William Penn Charter

      • William Penn Charter Facimile for 1878 (4 pgs.)
      • 10 Deeds – 18th Century, John Penn at Allens Island near Harrisburg
      • 1739 Penn’s to Sam Grave in New Castle, Delaware signed by Thomas Penn
      • 1689 William Penn to R. Murdock signed by John Marchman and R. Turner – 1500A in Sussex City, Delaware
      • 1743 Penn Warrant signed by George Thomas near Boyertown, PA
      • 1774 Thomas and John Penn to Sarah Wister for Manor of Pomfret in Sunbury, Pennsylvania
      • 1821 Philadelphia Deed signed by Penn’s attorney
      • 1773 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Penn
      • 1737 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Penn
      • 1775 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Penn
      • 1775 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Penn
      • 1766 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Penn
      • 1773 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by Richard Penn
      • 1772 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by Richard Penn

John Lukens Surveyor-General

      •  1753 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Lukens, Survey or General

1746 Map of Poland

      • 1746 paper map in Latin outlining the area of Silesia, Poland, where the Gratz family originated
      • 10 documents related to Marian Gratz Etting, including ownership of a Synagogue seat

 1773 Richard Butler Note

      • A 1773 and 1776 dated Note between Richard and William Butler, Indian Traders to Barnard and Michael Gratz.  The manuscript is signed by Bill Simon, Moses Franks, John Potts, the Butlers, Aaron Levy, Michael Gratz.  Moses Franks was assigned the bond in 1786.
      • Deed 1795 John Boyd to Aaron Levy
      • 1872 Philadelphia Deed John Steiner to Daniel Rosenstein 1819 Philadelphia
      • Deed signed by Benjamin Gratz
      • 1817 Deed for 7th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia signed by Abraham and Simon Cohen
      • 1871 Philadelphia Deed signed by Abraham Stein
      • 1870 Philadelphia Deed signed by Joseph and Hannah Einstein and Leonhard and Eliza Rheistrom
      • 1822 Philadelphia Deed signed by Solomon Allen
      • 1802 Philadelphia Deed John Penn by his attorney Edmond Physick Israel Israel
      • 1786 Philadelphia Deed to Israel Israel signed by Plunkett Fleeson
      • 1801 Israel Israel, sheriff Philadelphia Deed

Pieces including Lincoln Ribbons and Stanton Letter

Lincoln Ribbon

      • (2) Deeds for property in Philadelphia signed by George McClellan and his wife
      • 1864 Muster Out order signed by Pennsylvania Governor Curtin
      • 1864 Muster Into service signed by Pennsylvania adjuctant General
      • 1864 Promotion to Lt. Trimble signed by Secretary of War Department Edwin M. Stanton
      • 1864 Lincoln silk ribbon made by T. Stevens of Coventry
      • 1864 $250 payment for volunteering into Marines
      • 1904 Pension for disabilities
      • 1904 (2) Letters referring to Pensions
      • Dagnerrotype by Brady of John C. Breckenridge published by J.C. Buttore
      • 1946 Stephen Foster Tribute
      • 1866 Sleeping Hero’s Tribute
      • 1868 Senator W. Trumbul note recommending Hay and Miller
      • 1856 +/- Judge J. Holt Advocate General


      • (17) Warrants to David Meconkey for land in Warsaw, Missouri – Service in War of 1812
      • 1911 Document signed by Howard Taft
      • 1930 Document signed by Herbert Hoover
      • 1922 Document signed by Warren Harding and US Attorney General Dougherty
      • 1893 Inaugural Ceremonies to Master Rutherford Hayes

 Deed Signed by Peter Eisenhower, Great Great Grandfather of Dwight D. Eisenhower

      • 1751 Deed from John Graff estate in Heidelberg Township, Lancaster County, PA.  The Deed is signed by his children including Great Great Grandfather of Dwight David Eisenhower, Peter Eisenhower signed in German script, and Elizabeth Eisenhower her mark.
      • (2) 18th Century documents relating to Graff estate
      • Loudoun County, Virginia
      • Loudoun County, Virginia
      • Note Loudoun County, Virginia
      • Bond Loudoun County, Virginia
      • Massachusetts
      • Pennsylvania – Bankruptcy
      • Pennsylvania – Stabbing
      • Estate – Philadelphia

18th Century Court Petition from Chester County, Pennsylvania Goal

      • (21) 18th Century Court Petitions from Chester County, PA Goal


      • Charles Storrs Halsey
        (Lectures and Letters) mid 19th Century
      • Mills College Letters
      • Sermons 19th Century



Religion: Indenture Signed by Cardinal Dougherty

      • Cardinal Dougherty
      • Reverend John Breckenridge



      • 1734 Chas. Grantorum, Katherine H/W and Lydia Morton to Andrew Boon
      • 1775 Joseph Boon to Andrew Boon
        See John Morton – Benjamin Chew
      • Copy of Andrew Swanson Boon’s Will 1760 certified
      • 1724 last Will of Hans Boon signed by him
      • 1793 order to open a Road from a stake in Boon’s land
      • 1772 John Morton mentions Chas. Grantorum
      • Empson to Bonsal 1729 – 120A. in Darby Twp.
        (now Andrew Boon land)
      •  pieces of James Hamilton Document
      • 1860 Due to Smith
        See Darin Morton son of John

John Morton Survey of 1775 and Signature

*See Morton survey of 1775 and Morton signature
*Are these Daniel Boone relatives

      • Tussey family Documents dating from 1670
        See Dr. Peter S. Craig
      • Ogle to Gelespie 1715 – 512A in New Castly
      • Cook to Pewes 1740 church land
      • 1730 Springer, Holly, Petterson to Mounce Justice 500A in Wilmington (King Street) Rev. John Eneberg
      • 1762 January to Smith by land of Swedes Congregation in Philadelphia
      • 1779 Black to Sharpless by land of Swedes Congregation in Philadelphia
      • 1761 Early Swedes to John Inglis next to Swedes Church in
      • 1832 – 1932 Wilmington, Delaware book mentions Early Swedes
      • 19th Century Deeds near Swedes Church in Philadelphia



Early Dutch Documents – primarily along  the Milston River in Somerset, NJ                          6

Early Dutch Document Signed by Geradus Beeckman, Reip Van Dam, Aert Aertson, Rutgert Van Brunt

Including Geradus Beeckman, Reip Van Dam, Aert Aertson, Rutgert Van Brunt

      • 18th Century Letters, Deeds, Bonds, Surveys, Mortgage, Will, and Survey             17
      • 19th Century                                                                                                       4


1756 Letter to Samuel Grubb 1756 Letter to Samuel Grubb mentions Indians killing settlers in Virginia

      •  Survey for land near Wilmington, Delaware

19th Century Fire and Title Insurance Policies                                            20

Early Fire Policy and Title Policy


Letter from Frank Schoonover

Frank Schoonover

Mary Ellen Freeman

Caspar Whitney

Herbert Spencer

Julia Magruder

Ray Stannard Baker

James Freeman Clark

Francis Parkinson Keys

Andrew Lang

Eric Knight

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Lord Dufferin

Edwin Booth

Alma Tadema

Harry Furniss

Luke Fildes

Walter Besart


Thomas Mifflin PA 2
James Wilson PA 1
John Morton PA 3
Thomas McKean PA 4
Jacob Broom DE 1
Francis Hopkinson NJ 1
John Dayton NJ 1
William Patterson NJ 1
David Brearly NJ 1

Signers of Constitution or Declaration of Independence

William Livingston  NJ 1
Jeremiah Wadsworth  NJ 1
Oliver Wolcott CT 1
W. Williams CT 1
R. Sherman CT 1
W. Hooper NC 1



Mayors of Cities

Frank Van Hart Camden, NJ
Samuel Hansell Philadelphia, PA
William Plumstead Philadelphia, PA
Matthew Clarkson Philadelphia, PA
Hilary Baker Philadelphia, PA
Matthew Lawler Philadelphia, PA
Thorougood Smith Baltimore, MD
Jacob Radcliff New York City, NY
Edward Johnson Baltimore, MD
Robert Wharton Philadelphia, PA
John Barker Philadelphia, PA
James Blake Washington, DC
George Neely Trenton, NJ
Thomas Goodwin Fredericksburg, VA
John Cox Georgetown, MD
Cornelius Lawrence New York City, NY
Jacob Davis Baltimore, MD
William Seaton Washington, DC
Thomas Smith Philadelphia, PA
Isaac G. Burnet Cincinnati, OH


Zachariah Poulson
Frederick Muhlenberg
William Bradford
Aaron Burr
Henry Gilpin