Summary Information
Title: Branton H. Henderson Papers
Collection Number: DAR.1937.11
Creator: Henderson, Branton H. (Branton Holstein), b. 1823

Collection Dates: 1833-1888
Extent: 1.25 linear feet (6 boxes)

Language: English

Branton H. Henderson was a businessman who worked in the coal, steel, and finance industries in northwestern Pennsylvania during the mid- to late 1800s. This collection of correspondence details his professional and personal life, which were often interconnected.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

September 2008

Finding aid prepared by Matthew Strauss.
Revision Description:
November 2009:
Controlled access terms revised (dar)


Branton Holstein Henderson was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1823. In 1827, Branton moved to Mercer, Pennsylvania, with his mother, Elizabeth Henderson, and his brother, Samuel Holstein Henderson following the death of his father. He attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and later moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania, with his mother.

Branton was engaged in a number of business endeavors throughout his life, some of which involved coal, iron, horses, and the construction of furnaces. He seemed to have an especially close relationship with his nephew, Matthias Holstein Henderson, who lost both of his parents before reaching adulthood. As a young man, Matthias worked at a store owned by Branton, and would later follow his uncle in other professional and personal pursuits. After Elizabeth's death in 1871, Branton and Matthias relocated to Sharon, Pennsylvania, and worked for the First National Bank of Sharon, where they would become vice presidents. Both were also prominent Freemasons, with Matthias reaching the rank of Grand Master.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This collection consists of six letterpress books containing the personal and business correspondence of Branton H. Henderson. There are also letters written by Elisabeth Henderson and Matthias H. Henderson, though to a much lesser extent. Many of the letters are addressed to one another, revealing a close-knit family that regularly kept in touch over periods of separation. There are a number of letters from other companies in the area, as well as George S. Whitney, who seemed to have been the Branton's stock broker. Also included within the collection are business records such as bills and bank statements, as well as several poems, copies of sermons, and cooking recipes likely written by Elizabeth. The line between family and business was often blurred for the family, as Branton and Matthias were business partners who also had financial interactions with several relatives.

Many of the letters contain routine information such as business arrangements, travel plans, family updates, and descriptions of the weather. A sizeable portion of the correspondence consists of letters from Branton to Matthias. Branton often sent his nephew instructions concerning the day-to-day operation of their store, as well as advice about what kind of clothing to buy. Branton also seemed particularly worried about counterfeit money being used at the store, and passed along numerous warnings to his nephew on this topic. A bulk of the material dates from the 1850s through the 1880s, though there are few references to notable events of the time.

Subject Terms

  • Businessmen -- Pennsylvania -- New Castle
  • Businessmen -- Pennsylvania -- Sharon
  • Poetry

Personal Names
  • Henderson, Branton H. (Branton Holstein), b. 1823 -- Correspondence
  • Henderson, Elizabeth, d.1871 -- Correspondence
  • Henderson, Matthias H. (Matthias Holstein), b. 1845 -- Correspondence

  • Meadville (Pa.)
  • New Castle (Pa.)
  • Sharon (Pa.)

  • Bank statements
  • Bills of sale
  • Commercial correspondence
  • Personal correspondence
  • Recipes

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift to the Darlington Memorial Library in 1937.

Custodial History:

This collection was located in the Darlington Memorial Library in the University’s Cathedral of Learning until 2007 when it was moved to the ULS Archives Service Center for processing, storage, preservation and service. However, it remains in the custodianship of the ULS Special Collections Department.

Preferred Citation:

Branton H. Henderson Papers, 1833-1888, DAR.1937.11, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Matthew Strauss in March 2007.


No copyright restrictions.

Collection Inventory
Box 1 Elizabeth Henderson's Correspondence Book, 1838-1871
Box 2 Family Correspondence Book and Miscellaneous Documents, 1833-1878
Box 3 Business Correspondence Book, 1874-1878
Box 4 Business and Family Correspondence Book, 1878-1880
Box 5 Business Correspondence Book, 1883-1888
Box 6 B.H.H to M.H.H Letterpress Book, 1855-1877