The Winterthur Library

The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

 

 

OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION

 

            Creator:          Wurts Family

            Title:               Papers

            Dates:             1847 – 1952 (bulk: 1900-1919)

            Call No:           Col. 544                       

            Acc. No:          00x23

            Quanity:          1 cu. ft.

            Location:         35 I 1

 

BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT

 

Charles Stewart Wurts (d. 1857) was a prominent and prosperous wholesale dry goods merchant in Philadelphia.  He married Mary Van Uxem (1802-1877), the daughter of Jacques Jean (James) Van Uxem (1746-1824) and Rebecca Clark (d.1806).  Charles Stewart Wurts and Mary Van Uxem had four children: Louisa, Mary, Henrietta, and Charles Stewart Wurts II.  Charles II married Martha Haskins and, second, Mary S. Wood and had three children: Mary, Anna R., and Charles Stewart III.  Charles S. Wurts II studied medicine in Paris, but did not seriously pursue a medical career after returning to America.   The Wurts’summer home, located in Belvidere, New Jersey, was reminiscent of a Gothic villa. 

 

Charles Stewart Wurts III also studied medicine and practiced his profession at 1701 Walnut Street in Philadelphia.  He married Elizabeth Wister in 1892.  They had four children: Mary Stuart, Charles Stewart IV (who used the suffix Jr.), John Wister, and Elizabeth Fisher. Charles IV, born in 1901, was a student at the Episcopal Academy, graduating in 1919.  John Wister Wurts also attended Episcopal Academy.  Mary Stuart married Samuel Grey Dayton.

 

Around 1909 Dr. and Mrs. Charles Stewart Wurts III bought and moved into a house at 926 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, a narrow four story row house, that was part of a series of buildings called “Portico Row” because of their classically canopied entrances.  Thomas Ustick Walter, a distinguished Philadelphia architect, built these houses over the course of three years, 1831-1833.  There was ample space on four floors to raise the Wurts’ four children, and the house remained in the family until Mrs. Wurts died in 1953.  Over time, the Wurts’ neighborhood had changed from one where affluent middle-class families lived in elegant houses to an area where some of the houses were subdivided into small rental units.

 

In 1977, Peter and Alice Dayton Strickland bought her great-grandparents’ home at 926 Spruce Street.  (Alice was the granddaughter of Mary Stuart and Samuel Grey Dayton, and the daughter of Samuel Grey Dayton, Jr.)  By 1980, the Stricklands were renting out space in the upper floors and working on restoring the place in anticipation of opening it as a house museum called the “Wurts House.”  They hoped to complete their restoration work by 1988 and then to run the place as a living museum while also residing in the house.  Planning to show how a well-to-do middle class family lived and furnished its home in 19th  and early 20th centuries Philadelphia, the Stricklands decorated the house using period pieces from the family, donations from friends, and purchases.  Some of the furniture they assembled shed light on several lesser-known furniture makers from Philadelphia.  Unfortunately and for various reasons, the Wurts House project was not a successful venture.

 

SCOPE AND CONTENT

 

This collection of papers focuses on the activities of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Stewart Wurts III and their families during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Philadelphia.  It includes records from a wide variety of sources, including social groups, financial institutions, civic organizations, schools, historical societies, scientific organizations, the Franklin Institute, Laurel Hill Cemetery, churches, political groups, benevolent societies, and various businesses.  In addition, there are copies of wills of prominent Philadelphia residents, as well as information on hotels and restaurants assembled from Wurts and Wister family travels, and journal articles about Philadelphia architecture and taverns. The largest group of papers relates to the Episcopal Academy, the school attended by the sons of Charles Stewart and Elizabeth Wister Wurts.  Included are Commendation Day programs, academic report cards, graduation programs dating from 1913-1919, and the school’s catalog, 1915-1918.  Further, the collection has reproductions of the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, distributed by John Wanamaker in celebration of Washington’s Birthday, in 1913.

 

Some of the papers relate to Elizabeth Wister Wurts’ family, including penmanship copy books kept by her sister Sarah Logan Wister; items from her uncles Francis and William Wister; and other items from Sarah Logan Wister and her husband James Starr. 

 

ORGANIZATION

 

The collection is housed in four boxes and consists of 53 folders.  The first box contains family papers covering social events and schooling.  The second box holds papers on Philadelphia related business, organizations, institutions, architecture, religious bodies, etc. dating from the last part of the 19th century into the 20th century.  Box three houses two printed wills, papers on miscellaneous organizations, and information on non-Philadelphia topics.  The fourth box has papers on membership in the Academy of Natural Sciences and reproductions of the Declaration of Independence.

 

PROVENANCE

 

Purchased from Peter Strickland, 1999.

 

 

 

 

RELATED MATERIALS:

 

Wistar Family Papers, Col. 94;

Travel diaries of Henrietta Wurts, Doc. 1145.

 

 

ACCESS POINTS

 

People

                Lydia T. Morris, d. 1932

            Sarah Logan Wister Starr, b.1873

            Francis Wister, 1841-1905

            William Rotch Wister, 1827-1911

Charles S. Wood, d. 1873

            Charles Stewart Wurts

            Charles Stewart Wurts, Jr., 1901-

            Elizabeth Wister Wurts, 1870-1953

                       

Topics

            Van Uxem Family

Wistar Family

Wurtz Family

 

            Academy of Music (Philadelphia, Pa.)

American Society for the Extension of University Teaching (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Bell Telephone Company of Philadelphia

Cavendish (Club: Philadelphia, Pa.)

Civil Service Reform Association of Pennsylvania

            College of Physicians of Philadelphia

            Episcopal Academy (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Germantown Academy (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Germantown Cricket Club (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Hasty Pudding Club (Harvard University)

            Laurel Hill Cemetery (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Philadelphia Gas Works

            Philadelphia Museum of Art

            Public Baths Association of Philadelphia

            Rittenhouse Trust Company (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Saving Fund Society of Germantown and its Vicinity (Philadelphia, Pa.)

            Seaside House for Invalid Women (Atlantic City, N.J.)

University of Pennsylvania

Western Saving Fund Society of Philadelphia

           

            Architecture – Pennsylvania - Philadelphia

Associations, institutions, etc. – PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

Banks – PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

Hospitals – Pennsylvania - Philadelphia

            Learned institutions and societies – PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

            Philadelphia (Pa.) – Intellectual life

            Philadelphia (Pa.) – Politics and government

            Philadelphia (Pa.) – Social life and customs

            Taverns (Inns) – PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

            Women – Societies and clubs

 

            Billheads

Copybooks

            Menus

           

 

 

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION

 

Location: 35 I 1

 

Box 1:

 

Folder 1: Charles Stewart Wurts, Coat of Arms

 

            Folder 2: Ulster County, New York, bank note, 1847, addressed to Maurice Wurts

 

            Folder 3: Wurts family post cards, family invitations

 

            Folder 4: Princeton Commencement for Charles Stewart Wurts IV (Jr.), 1923

 

Folder 5: Notes concerning the Van Uxem Family, 1923, by Francis Van Uxem

 

            Folder 6: Copy books of Sarah Logan Wister, Jr.

 

            Folder 7: Business cards of Francis Wister, stock and note broker

 

            Folder 8: Philadelphia Gas Works, 1905; William Wister’s gas bills, 1866-1873

 

            Folder 9: “Chart of the Descendants of John Wister,  (1708-1789)” (partial chart)

 

            Folder 10: University of Pennsylvania, 1888-1941: invitations, etc.

 

Folder 11: Invitations to members of the Wister or Wurts families, 1891-1944

           

Folder 12: Academy of Music: program for the “Silver Jubilee of His Britannic Majesty King George V, 1935”

           

Folder 13: Swedish Colonial Society, 1938; American Swedish Historical Foundation, 1948

 

Folder 14: Balls: Bachelor’s, 1859; Germantown Academy, 1860; German American, 1905

 

Folder 15: The Weekly Roster of the Medical Organizations of Philadelphia, 26 May 1906, 9 March 1907

 

            Folder 16: College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1903-1907: notices of meetings,          ballot, lecture notice

 

            Folder 17: The Philadelphia Orchestra, 1901: concert series announcements

 

            Folder 18: The Assemblies: 1896, 1899, 1906: invitations

 

Folder 19: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1929, n.d.: invitations to an entertainment and to an exhibit opening

Folder 20: Clubs: The Hasty Pudding, 1881 (text of the farce “Poison”); Germantown Cricket, 1915 (bills for James Starr)

 

Folder 21: Episcopal Academy: academic reports, Wurts, 1909-1912; S. Wurts and J. Wurts, 1916

 

Folder 22: Episcopal Academy: Commendation Day programs, 1909-1915

 

Folder 23: Episcopal Academy: activities & graduation, 1913-1919: play programs, commencement programs, athletic programs, class day programs, etc.

 

Box 2:

 

Folder 1: Episcopal Academy: catalog, 1915-1918

 

            Folder 2: The Rittenhouse Trust Company, Philadelphia: brochure about services

 

Folder 3: Western Saving Fund Society, Philadelphia, 1902-1906: notices for managers’ meetings, 1902 annual report, statement for Jan. 1, 1903

 

            Folder 4: Saving Fund Society of Germantown: annual statements, 1941-1942

 

Folder 5: The American Society for the Extension of University Teaching, 1903-1906: announcements, invitation to a lecture

 

            Folder 6: Civil Service Reform Association: annual report, etc., 1905-1906

 

Folder 7: Religious material: Philadelphia Sabbath Association reports; card for the King’s Daughters; notice of summer services in Fairmount Park; The Sunday School World; Church Vocabulary, etc., 1905-1906, n.d.

 

Folder 8: Political groups in Philadelphia: Young Republicans, Committee of Seventy, 8th Ward Committee City Party, 1905-1906

 

Folder 9: Benevolent societies: Pennsylvania Prison Society, Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania, Society for Organizing Charity, Foster Home Association, Philadelphia Home for Incurables, Southern Home for Destitute Children, Philadelphia Boys Club, Female Society, Bedford Street Mission, etc., 1902-1925

 

            Folder 10: Bell Telephone Company of Philadelphia: contract for service, 1902

 

Folder 11: Companies in Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives, Reliance Insurance Co., United Gas Improvement Co., 1902-1906

 

Folder 12: Associations: The Cavendish, 1903-1904 (women’s whist club); Public Baths Association of Philadelphia, report, 1905

 

Folder 13: Historical Organizations: meeting notices of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1906-1907; dinner program of the State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania, 1914; address delivered to the Sons of the Revolution, 1909; Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities ball invitation, 1891

 

Folder 14: Franklin Institute, Philadelphia: announcements of lecture series, monthly bulletins, 1902-1907

 

Folder 15: Scientific societies and American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia: Zoological Society, Philadelphia Natural History Society, Academy of Natural Sciences, Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1906-1907

 

Folder 16: Hospitals: Howard Hospital, 1854-1904; The Pennsylvania Epileptic Hospital and Colony Farm, 1905

 

Folder 17: Architecture and taverns of Philadelphia (journal articles)

 

            Folder 18: “Laurel Hill Cemetery of Philadelphia”

 

Box 3:

 

Folder 1: Wills: Lydia T. Morris (d. 1932), Charles S. Wood (father of Mary S. Wood, wife of Charles Stewart Wurts II; d. 1873)

 

            Folder 2: Hotels and restaurants: menus and other notices, 1891, 1892

 

Folder 3: Schools: Cheyney School summer announcement 1905; Saint Peter’s Choir School, closing exercises, 1952

 

            Folder 4: Seaside House for Invalid Women, Atlantic City, annual report, 1906

 

            Folder 5: Arundel Society, London: notice of change in publication, 1893

 

            Folder 6: Publications and books: notices about publications, 1906

 

Folder 7: “The Importance of Sanitary Treatment of Sewage,” an address by Samuel G. Dixon, 1906

 

Folder 8: Advertisements of various companies: F.P. Garrettson and Co.; Buckleys Drug Store, Rio Chemical Co., Denver Chemical Mfg. Co., 1906

 

Folder 9: Italian companies: Aemilia Ars, Industrie Femminili, Italiane, G. Boncinelli

 

 

Box 4:

 

Folder 1: Academy of Natural Sciences: membership certificate of  Elizabeth Wister Wurts, 1924

 

Folder 2: Reproduction of the original draft of the American Declaration of Independence, distributed by John Wanamaker, February 22, 1913 (5 copies)