Peter Grubb (mason)

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Peter Grubb
Born c.1702
Brandywine Hundred, Delaware
Died 1754
Wilmington, Delaware
Occupation Mason, Ironmaster, Real Estate Investor
Known for Founded Cornwall Ironworks
Spouse(s) Martha Bates (m. 1732 )
Hannah Mendenhall (m. 1741)
Children Curtis Grubb
Peter Grubb, Jr.
Parent(s) John and Frances Grubb

Peter Grubb (c.1702—1754), the founder of the Grubb Family Iron Dynasty, discovered Cornwall Iron Mines and established Cornwall Iron Furnace, together one of the largest ironworks in Colonial Pennsylvania.[1] The Cornwall Iron Mines are the largest U.S. iron mines ever discovered east of Lake Superior.

The youngest of the seven sons of John Grubb and his wife Frances of Brandywine Hundred, Peter first learned the stonemasonry trade. In 1729, he built a water corn and boulting mill in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He constructed his first iron bloomery (a crude form of furnace) in 1737 at Furnace Creek, on the modern border of Lancaster and Lebanon counties.[2]

Grubb constructed a regular iron furnace, known as Hopewell on Hammer Creek near his bloomery. As he started to operate Hopewell, Peter soon located three mountains of magnetic iron ore just west of the furnace. He decided to mine the ore and by 1739 had acquired over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) that he called Cornwall Iron Mines, in honor of his father's birthplace. In 1742, he opened Cornwall Iron Furnace to take advantage of the discovery. Peter Grubb's Hopewell Forge Mansion, completed around 1740 and later occupied by his son Peter Jr., still stands about six miles (10 km) from Cornwall on present-day Route 322.[3]

In 1745 Peter decided to relinquish direct control of the ironworks, and he leased the operation to Cury and Company for 20 years at £250 a year. He moved with his wife to Wilmington, Delaware, where he engaged in the buying and selling of real estate and lived out his life.[4]


Peter's sons Curtis and Peter Jr. inherited the ironworks after his death in 1754.[5] They took over operation around 1765, after the lease expired, and quickly expanded the business, later becoming significant providers of munitions to the Revolutionary War effort. Unfortunately, most of the Cornwall ironworks fell out of the Grubb family's hands by 1802. But later generations, starting with Peter Jr.'s son Henry Bates Grubb, built on the remaining holdings with great success. From 1840 to 1870 the Grubbs were among the leading iron manufacturers in Pennsylvania, with Mount Hope Estate serving as their center of operations.[4]

Personal life[edit]

On 2nd mo. 12, 1732 at Caln Meeting, Peter Grubb married Martha Bates (or Bate), widow of James Wall.[6][7] Martha Bates, a native of Newton Township, New Jersey, was the daughter of Jeremiah Bates and Mary Spicer, and the granddaughter of William Bates, a founder of Newton Colony in 1681.[6] Peter and Martha Grubb had two sons, Curtis Grubb (circa 1733 - 1789) and Peter Grubb, Jr. (1740–1786). After Martha died, Peter remarried on 12th mo. 10, 1741 to Hannah Mendenhall, widow of Thomas Marshall.[8] In 1745, Peter and Hannah Grubb retired to Wilmington, Delaware, where he engaged in the buying and selling of real estate.[4]

Notable descendents[edit]


  1. ^ Payton, Philip (1999). The Cornish Overseas. Fowey, Cornwall UK: Alexander Associates. 
  2. ^ Cope, Gilbert (1893). The Grubb Family of Delaware and Pennsylvania. 
  3. ^ Dieffenbach, Susan (2003). Cornwall Iron Furnace, Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide. Stackpole Books. 
  4. ^ a b c Dibert, James (2000). Iron, Independence and Inheritance - the Story of Curttis and Peter Grubb. Cornwall Iron Furnace Associates. 
  5. ^ Bining, Arthur (1987). Pennsylvania Iron Manufacture in the Eighteenth Century. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 
  6. ^ a b Clement, John (1877). "William Bates". Sketches of the first emigrant settlers in Newton Township, Old Gloucester County, West New Jersey. Camden: Sinnickson Chew. pp. 47-56
  7. ^ Craig, H. Stanley. South Jersey marriages. Merchantville, NJ: H. Stanley Craig, publisher. [1]
  8. ^ Grubb, David (2008). The Grubb Family of Grubb's Landing, Delaware. Higginson Book Co. 

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