Walter Cresson, Saw Manufacturer -
Walter Cresson - Philadelphia
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"... there were several small industries started by
Jonathan Paul in 1840, J. Bringhurst in 1842, James Turner in
1843, and Walter Cresson in 1845."
Simmons Hardware Company
Several other writers and historians of the era also mention Walter Cresson,
a sawmaker. Among them are Edwin T. Freedley, J.
Leander Bishop, J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott,
William J. Buck, and R. A. Smith. All of them however, supplied only a
few words confirming that such sawmaker existed.
Contemporary writings are limited to short notes in
The Directory of American Toolmakers (EAIA, 1999) and listing in
the Hand-saw Makers of North America (Schaffer, 1999).
This sketchy picture was a motivation for ongoing
research and a summary of my findings are presented here.
The most successful discovery of new information is from the Pennsylvania State Reports-Cases
Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, (Philadelphia,
1881), Vol. 91, compiled by court reporter Norris Wilson. In
this publication the case of Walter Cresson is recorder under
the title "Cresson's
Appeal". The case was reviewed by the Supreme Court of
Pennsylvania on June 20th, 1879 and consisted of:
"Appeal of Walter Cresson from the decree of the court
confirming the report of the master in certain proceedings
for a partnership account, wherein Ann R. Cresson,
administratrix of the estate of William Cresson, deceased,
filed a bill in equity against said Walter Cresson."
document provides testimony of Walter Cresson,
Ann R. Cresson, a widow and "administratrix" of the estate
of William Cresson, and report of court appointed master for
reexamination of the facts. Based on those findings, we
can establish a time frame for saw manufacturing business,
partnership arrangement between brothers, and how
business and finances were managed.
The document also shows date of
business dissolution and sale to Henry Disston, describes
proceeds received from sale and investment in new business
venture. I used this document as most reliable basis for a
timeline to compile this
1881 Pennsylvania State
Walter Cresson was born in Philadelphia, March 11, 1815.
His parents, John Head and Rachel (Walter) Cresson, were members
of the Society of Friends, and in the doctrines of that faith he
was carefully educated and trained. About the year 1842,
however, he joined the Protestant Episcopal Church, in which he
was for many years an earnest and faithful worker.
On May 29, 1844, Mr. Cresson married Alice Hannum, daughter of
Joseph and Ann (Fairlamb) Hannum, of near Concordville, Delaware
County, Pennsylvania. The Hannum family were among the early
settlers of Delaware (formerly Chester) county, and the old
homestead where this marriage took place had been occupied by
them for several generations.(2)
William Cresson was born in Philadelphia
November 12, 1810. He became blind in early
childhood as the result of an illness. In spite of this
affliction he was well informed on all subjects, and was
gifted with a cheerful disposition and good sound
judgment. He married on May 11, 1853, Ann R. Leedom,
born on May 21, 1811, daughter of Jonathan and Sarah
(Jones) Leedom. They had one child, Lucy Cresson, born
on March 30, 1854.(3)
In 1837 William Cresson, the older of two brothers, had a merchant business on 14 N 14th
Street. At that time Walter did not appear
in the M‘Elroy's Philadelphia Directory for 1837. William and Walter lived
with their father John H. Cresson at 314 N 6th Street.
The father held a position of secretary and treasurer at Mine
Hill and Schuylkill Haven Railroad Company.
Sometime before 1839 Walter joined William and they worked
together as merchants with their business located at 14 N 14th
It appears that there were no changes in the business for several
years. The directory listings for business location are
all the same through 1839 - 1841 period.
In 1842 small change appeared in the M‘Elroy's Philadelphia
Directory. In addition to separate listings, combined
listing was also placed. Now they appear as Cresson William & Walter,
merchants, at 14 N 4th Street. I am not sure of the meaning
of this change. It is possible that they became formal
partners a year before.
Notes & Bibliography
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