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Joseph Rhodes (1680 - 1732)

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Joseph Rhodes
Born in Ripley, Derbyshire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Marple Township, Chester, Pennsylvaniamap
Profile last modified | Created 6 Apr 2012 | Last significant change: 14 May 2019
21:01: Ellen Gustafson added Elizabeth (Jessop) Rhodes (1638-1696) as mother for Joseph Rhodes (1680-1732). [Thank Ellen for this]
This page has been accessed 386 times.


Joseph Rhodes was born on 5 Apr 1680 in Ripley, Derbyshire, England to parents John Rhodes and Elizabeth Jessup. He married Abigail Bonsall on 2 Jul 1702 in Darby, Chester, Pennsylvania. Children: Rebecca, Jane, Joseph, Abigail, Benjamin, Rebecca, John, Mary, Elizabeth, Abigail, James. He died on 29 Nov 1732 in Marple, Chester, Pennsylvania.

Business History of J. E. Rhoads and Sons: In 1702 Joseph Rhoads established a tannery on his 100 acre farm in Marple Township, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, who probably learned tanning .in.his.native England, typified the farmer-turned-tanner so prevalent in colonial America. In 1732, Joseph died. His wife, Abigail, operated both the farm and tanyard until 1743 when their youngest son, James, came of age and received:. . .a grant of land containing 65 acres, 52 perches (rods). . . with the buildings, including the tannery, improvements and all rights, privileges and appurtenances involved. . .

By 1774, Rhoads, the only tanner in Marple, had accumulated 192 acres of land, 6 horses, 9 cattle, and 1 servant—a rather prosperous homestead. In 1778 James died and left the farm and tanyard to his son, Joseph Rhoads II. During this early period the tanyard was probably of secondary importance and provided little income. Payments were usually received in hides and frequently produce, but rarely cash.

The 1780 Marple Township records list "Joseph Rhoads, tanner" with 150 acres of land, 3 horses and 3 cattle. Over the next decade, Rhoads added close to 400 acres and a scythe-stone quarry to his holdings. Joseph Rhoads II died in 1809 and left the farm, tanyard and quarry to 2 of his sons, George and Joseph III, who were to manage the business until the Civil War. The brothers farmed corn, potatoes, oats, wheat and hay in the summer, and tanned in the winter. Quarrying operations continued year round as weather permitted. The tannery, before 1840, consisted of 16 handlers, 5 leaches and over 40 vats, most of which were underlaid by wooden pipes or "trunks." A horse-powered pump facilitated the flow of liquids between vats through these pipes. In 1830 an early, stone edge- runner bark mill was replaced by one "constructed of iron," quite possibly of the coffee-grinder type. Again, horse power was utilized. A brook running through the property was diverted into a ditch to furnish, the tanyard with water.....(see Derganc, Christopher .pdf link for full text)

79 Rhoads tannery (1702 demolished): Rhoads established a small tannery there in 1702. His family's business, now known as J. E. Rhoads & Sons and based in Newark, Del., is believed to be one of the oldest firms in the United States run by the descendants of its founder.

The three homes became even more precious in 1965, when a fourth structure - the original Rhoads tannery - was torn down to make way for development, although not without protest from Lucas and her colleagues. John Rhoads, the family patriarch, left England in 1684, apparently after the death of his wife, according to a family chronology published by J. E. Rhoads & Sons. Rhoads settled in the Darby area and died in 1701. John Rhoads left his oldest son, Joseph, 100 acres between Crum Creek and the Great Marple Road," which is now Route 320.

Joseph Rhoads married another English Quaker, Abigail Bonsall, in 1702, and founded the tannery the same year. "He cleared a little land, built a vat or two, dug a few pools and started tanning leather for neighboring settlers in the county," the account reads. "Apparently, it was very successful," Lucas said. But in 1732, Joseph Rhoads died when his oldest son, James, was only 10 years old. He left behind six other children as well. And so his wife (Abigail) took over the business and ran it for 11 years, until 1743, when James reached the age of 21. "She was one of the premier businesswomen of the country," Lucas said. The tannery stood at Sproul Road (Route 320) and Reed Road. A fifth Rhoads house once stood on the present-day site of the Don Guanella School, Lucas said.


  • US Quaker Meeting Records
  • Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records
  • England and Qales Quaker Birth, Marriage and Death Registers
  • Derganc, Christopher, J.E. Rhodes and Sons Inc. circa 1902 2100 West 11th Street Wilmington New Castle County Delaware, Historic American Engineering Record (HAER DE-17) National Parks Service, Department of Interior, Washington DC 20240, August 1976

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Joseph is 14 degrees from Alexis Nelson, 15 degrees from Gregory Peck and 12 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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