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History Made Personal: Wyeth-Sanderson Map of Chester County


In the entryway of the Sanderson Museum stands a framed map, its blue trim surrounding red, green and yellow highlights identifying the people, places and events that have made Chester County a part of history. Fifteen people and 45 places of interest are depicted, drawn by the artist Andrew Wyeth with historical references by Chris Sanderson.

Friends of the Brandywine first discussed generating a historical map of the area, and in 1935 Rolund Grubb, the group’s president, wrote to Sanderson. N.C. Wyeth agreed to make arrangements for its printing. A limited number of the maps were produced by the Beck Engraving Company of Philadelphia in 1937. Several copies from the first printing were recently donated to the museum and are available for sale to the public. The original can be found in the School Room on the second floor.

Of the historical personalities shown, most notable are William Penn, Bayard Taylor and Major General Anthony Wayne. Penn received a land grant from the British Crown to fulfill an obligation owed to his father and established the first counties (Chester, Delaware and Bucks) in what was to become the colony of Pennsylvania. Bayard Taylor – author of “The Story of Kennett,” world traveler, diplomat and minister to Russia and Germany – is depicted in the upper right hand corner. Anthony Wayne fought with Washington’s forces at the Battle of the Brandywine. William “Buffalo Bill” Cody is there, too, a legend who fought in the Civil War, scouted the Western territories and frequently visited West Chester and Coatesville. Baseball great of yesteryear Herb Pennock – who was born in Kennett Square, pitched in five World Series and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame  – stands proud on the left side, grinning with his ball held high.

The places shown are equally fascinating. Wyeth skillfully sketched miniatures of Valley Forge; the Star Gazer’s Stone, where Mason and Dixon made astronomical observations to delineate portions of the famed Mason-Dixon Line; the Lincoln (Coventry) Forge, the second iron forge built in Pennsylvania and owned by Mordecai Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s ancestor; Longwood Gardens; and Brandywine Battlefield.

Chris Sanderson often gave lectures about the Battle of the Brandywine to regional groups. Signposts along the trail of history include the birthplaces of two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas McKean and John Morton; a gathering place for escaped slaves on the “Underground Railroad,” now the Chester County Visitors Center; and Phoenixville, where the Phoenixville Iron Works made 75 percent of the cannons used by the Union to win the Civil War, including the first one fired at Gettysburg.

Stop by and see this special drawing at the Sanderson Museum – A Man’s Life, A Nation’s History at 1755 Creek Road (old Route 100) in Chadds Ford, just north of Route 1 or online at www.SandersonMuseum.org. For information on the author of this article, visit www.GenePisasale.com.