Whitaker, Joseph, 1789-1870.

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Joseph Whitaker was a leading American ironmaster in the mid-19th century.

Joseph Whitaker was born in 1789, the third son of Joseph Whitaker (1755-1838), a British soldier who deserted during the Revolutionary War and went to work in the charcoal iron industry of Chester County, Pa., safe behind the American lines. Joseph Whitaker, Jr., and his brother James engaged in the manufacture of cut nails at Philadelphia from 1809 until about 1820, when the two brothers leased the Delaware Iron Works near Wilmington and the Gibralter Forge at Reading.

In 1826, Whitaker joined with Benjamin and David Reeves in their nail works at Bridgeton, N.J. and a year later the three purchased the large Phoenix Iron Works at Phoenixville, Pa. He joined with his younger brother, George Price Whitaker, to purchase the derelict Principio Iron Works in Cecil County, Md., a famous producer in the Colonial Period, in 1836. The brothers rebuilt Principio in 1837, and in 1845 they constructed the two Rough and Ready Furnaces in nearby Havre de Grace. Joseph Whitaker remained at Phoenixville, and the Maryland properties were managed by George.

In 1847, after the death of Benjamin Reeves, Joseph Whitaker resigned from the Phoenix Iron Works and retired across the Schuylkill River where he built an estate, Mont Clare, and a steam sawmill, which he operated as the firm of Davis & Whitaker. At the same time, he, his brothers, sons and nephews bought the old Durham Iron Works in Bucks County, where they constructed two modern anthracite furnaces in 1848 and 1851. The Whitakers were also partners in the iron commission house of Whitaker & Coudon in Philadelphia, which was established in 1848 and managed by Joseph Coudon, III, the son-in-law of George P. Whitaker. In 1854, the Whitakers took a large share of the newly organized Crescent Manufacturing Company, a large rail-rolling mill in Wheeling, then in the State of Virginia. Anticipating disunion, the brothers agreed to separate their assets, with George taking full title to the properties in Maryland and Delaware and Joseph those in Pennsylvania.

Joseph Whitaker & Company sold the Durham Iron Works to Cooper & Hewitt in 1864, but the Whitaker family continued to play a major role at Wheeling. The Crescent Manufacturing Company was reorganized in 1875 as the Whitaker Iron Company, and it eventually evolved into the Wheeling Steel Corporation.

From the description of Papers, 1819-1888. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122567797

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Phoenix Steel Corporation. Records, 1827-1963. (bulk 1856-1949). Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Whitaker, Joseph, 1789-1870. Papers, 1819-1888. Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Crescent Manufacturing Company (Wheeling, W. Va.). corporateBody
associatedWith Davis & Whitaker. corporateBody
associatedWith Durham Iron Works (Durham, Pa.). corporateBody
associatedWith Phoenix Steel Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Reeves, Benjamin, 1779-1844. person
associatedWith Reeves, Buck & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Reeves, David, 1793-1871. person
associatedWith Schuylkill Navigation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Whitaker & Coudon. corporateBody
associatedWith Whitaker, George P. (George Price), 1803-1890. person
associatedWith Whitaker, George W., b. 1826. person
associatedWith Whitaker, Joseph R. (Joseph Rusling), 1824-1895. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Chester County (Pa.)
West Virginia
Bucks County (Pa.)
Agriculture--19th century
Coal trade
Iron industry and trade


Birth 1789

Death 1870

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