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.
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.
- (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
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
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 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 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
- 1753 Deed for Pennsylvania signed by John Lukens, Survey or General
- 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
- 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
- (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
- 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
*See Morton survey of 1775 and Morton signature
|–||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|