Samuel J. Entrikin Papers

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Collection Title: Samuel J. Entrikin Papers

Collection Number: 139

Dates of Collection: 1870–1941, bulk 1892-1940

Box Numbers: 1-3

Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Kimberly F. Burton


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Samuel J. Entrikin was born September 26, 1862 to Thomas and Sarah Jane Cloud Entrikin in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. When his mother died around 1865, a young Entrikin was sent to live with Sarah Entrikin— his aunt and a notable West Chester physician. Schooled in West Chester, Samuel was a printer by trade, yet he pursued many other interests— among them, teaching, mining, farming, and inventing. However, Entrikin is best known as one of West Chester’s locally famous Arctic explorers.

As a young man, Samuel began his career under Philadelphia area printers F. Sharpless Hickman (ca. 1879–85) and Thomas S. Dando (1885–86). After six years, he abandoned the trade to take up teaching in Aiken South Carolina at the SchofieldNormalIndustrialSchool for “colored people.”

By the fall of 1891, Entrikin had moved on to pursue a Science and Engineering education at SwarthmoreCollege. After studying for just a year, Entrikin then joined the Peary relief expedition of 1892 and ventured to the Arctic.

In the coming years, Entrikin traveled to the north twice more—first, as second in command of the Peary Northern Greenland expedition (1893–94) and later as a member of a government-appointed party assigned to measure the height of Mt. St. Elias and other mountain peaks of Alaska (1896–97).

On returning from Mt. St. Elias, Entrikin came across the small Alaskan towns of Dyea and Skaguay, from which originated the famous Dyea and White Pass Trails, respectively. Curious to learn these routes, which led to the Yukon gold fields, Entrikin, with the aid of native Hingit packers, trekked both. For the next four years, Entrikin spent his days between the Alaskan gold country and the western United States coast, namely Seattle and San Francisco, working for the Philadelphia Exploring and Mining Company and the US government. As he was quite unsuccessful in his personal pursuit of gold, Entrikin earned his living as the captain of a steamship that ferried other prospectors. During this period, he married his first wife, San Franciscan Estelle Baker—from whom he separated soon after for reasons unknown.

In 1901, Entrikin returned to the Schofield school in South Carolina, only to resign in 1904 when he accepted a superintendent position at the Arizona Consolidated [copper] Mining Company, near the Mexican border. In 1908, he married widow Sara Scott Buffington and the couple resided in Johnson, Cochise County, Arizona.

Entrikin returned to the Schofield school for a short year in 1910, citing that the Arizona climate was proving detrimental to his health.  For similar reasons, the Entrikins left South Carolina for the last time and returned to Samuel’s boyhood home, Chester County, PA where they purchased the old Franklin Miller farm near Pughtown. The Entrikins farmed in Pennsylvania until Samuel procured a management position on a Florida farm.

They moved to Narcossee, Florida in 1914 and there they lived out their remaining days. Samuel made his living as a farmer and ice merchant while spending his free time hunting and devising new contraptions. In 1933 U.S. patent number 629,212 was issued, granting Samuel exclusive rights to his “metal grab or hand.”

After intermittently suffering for a number of years from mental illness (it is unclear exactly how severe her illness was, although at times, she was admitted to an institution), Sara Entrikin passed away of pneumonia in February 1940. Just a little over two years later, Samuel followed, having suffered from stroke-related complications.

Some would classify “Sam” Entrikin as “among the famous and noted residents of West Chester.”[1] Well known in all of Chester County, Samuel J. Entrikin led a well-rounded life. In addition to being a celebrated Arctic explorer, he was a printer, teacher, gold miner, farmer, inventor, and devoted husband.[2]

Biographical Timeline: (dates are approximate)

1862: Born Juniata County, PA

186_: On mother’s death, went to live with Dr. Sarah Entrikin, Aunt

1879: Learned to print under F. Sharpless Hickman

1885: Printer for Thomas S. Dando

1886: Teacher/Superintendent of the SchofieldNormal & IndustrialSchool, Aiken, SC

1891: Science and Engineering student at SwarthmoreCollege

1892: Peary relief expedition

1892: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1893: Northern Greenland expedition

1894: Worked for Merganthaler Linotype Machine Company

1896: Mt. St. Elias Expedition

1897: Explored route to gold country

1897: Married Estelle Baker

1897: Worked in gold country

1900: Worked for Govt. in Alaska

1901: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1902: Attempted but failed because of illness, to join Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition

1902: Returned to SchofieldSchool

1904: Resigned SchofieldSchool to go to AZ to work at copper mine

1908: Married Mrs. Sara Scott Buffington

1910: Resigned at Copper mine b/c of poor health

1910: Returned as superintendent at SchofieldSchool

1911: Purchased Pughtown, PA farm

1914: Sold farm to go to Narcossee, FL; lived as farmer, ice merchant, and inventor

1933: Patent 629,212 passed on “metal hand or grab”

1940: Wife Sara died of pneumonia

1942: Died inOrlandoFlorida from stroke related problems

[1] Daily Local News, 2- 24-42, Editor Local News

[2] Various newspaper clippings from Daily Local News, Chester County Democrat, and Morning Republican (1892–1942), Chester County Historical Society Newspaper Clippings Collection.

Collection Scope:

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Collection Scope: 

This collection documents the years 1870–1941, with the majority of the materials originating between 1892 and 1940. A very incomplete collection, it consists of journals, letters, maps, and other miscellanea, which document small portions of Entrikin’s life. Of particular interest are Entrikin’s Arctic journals and correspondences with other well-known explorers such as R.E. Peary and F.A. Cook, both of whom claim to have been the first to reach the North Pole.



The Samuel J. Entrikin manuscript collection consists of the following nine series:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arctic Expeditions
  3. Correspondence
  4. Financial
  5. Genealogical data
  6. Inventions
  7. Miscellaneous
  8. Personal Memoranda
  9. The Southwest

Collection Arrangement:

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Collection Arrangement: 

The series and folders are arranged alphabetically. Within the folders, documents are arranged chronologically, unless otherwise noted.

Note: Series II Arctic Expeditions is divided between boxes 1 and 3. The materials are contextually alike; however the format dissimilarity of the files warrants separate storage.  Additionally, the collection contains some oversized materials, which, although they belong to a specific series, are kept separate in an oversized materials folder.

Related Material:

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Collection Contents:

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Collection Contents: 

Box 1

Series I: Alaska

Folder   1- Mt. St. Elias Expedition— Photograph inventory[i], supply memorandum; 1897

Folder   2- Yukon Gold Rush— Contracts, Correspondence, Maps, Supply lists; 1897–1901[ii]

Folder   3- Yukon Gold Rush— Miscellaneous notebooks with inserts; ca. 1897–1901


Series II: Arctic Expeditions (See box 3 for more on Arctic Expeditions)

Folder   4- Miscellaneous trips, Baldwin-Ziegler (1902), Byrd (ca.1929), Cook (1908),         Correspondence and press release relating to–; 1902, 14, 16, 28, 30, 31 (arranged alphabetically by last name, then chronologically)

Folder   5- Peary trips (1892, 93–94), Correspondence, maps, notes/lectures, slide inventory,     and items relating to–; [1892–1900]                                    

Series III: Correspondence

            Folder   6- Astrup, Eivind and family; 1894, 96

            Folder   7- Baldwin, Evelyn B.; 1898–1930

            Folder   8- Bryant, Henry G.; 1896, 1927

            Folder   9- Cook, Frederick A.; 1902–21, 1937          

Folder 10- Entrikin, Sara­— Letters to and concerning–; 1908–09

Folder 11- Family

            Folder 12- Henson, Matthew A.; 1895, 1926

Folder 13- MacMillan, Donald B.; 1919, 24

Folder 14- Miscellaneous personal correspondents; 1891–1941, N.D. (arranged alphabetically by last name)

Folder 15- Peary, R.E. and family; 1892–94, 1923, 1939

Folder 16- Stokes, F.W.; 1901, 26, 30

Box 2

Series IV: Financial

            Folder 17- Account ledger; 1916

            Folder 18- Arizona Consolidated Mining Company Stock; 19.04, 32, N.D.

            Folder 19- Equitable Life Assurance Society; 1889–1908, N.D.

            Folder 20- Liberty Loans; 1919

            Folder 21- Miscellaneous receipts, policies, correspondence, etc.; 1892–1940

            Folder 22- National Surety Company; 1920, 23–24

Folder 23- Sale ledger; 1938–39                               

Series V: Genealogical Data

            Folder 24- Vital Statistic information/Biographical Documents

Series VI: Inventions

            Folder 25- Plans

            Folder 26- Plans and patents; 1893, 1932–33

Series VII: Miscellaneous

Folder 27- Lodges and Social organizations; 1894–1937 (arranged alphabetically by organization name, then chronologically)

            Folder 28- Miscellaneous items need dates on folder; 1918–38        

Series VIII: Personal Memoranda

            Folder 29- Address book; N.D.

            Folder 30- Entrikin, Sara, Last wishes of, (pocket slate w/ pencil); 1932

            Folder 31- Pennsylvania counties; ca. 1880

            Folder 32- Pottstown Storage Ledger; 1913

            Folder 33- Purchasing memorandum; ca. 1880

            Folder 34- Purchasing memorandum/quote book; ca. 1880

            Folder 35- Report Cards; 1870–79

            Folder 36- Scott, Florence M. Autograph album of; ca. 1882

Folder 37- Writing: articles, short stories, notes; 1897, 1898, 1937, and N.D. (arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by title)

            Folder 38- West Chester journal from boyhood; 1877–88

Series IX: The Southwest

            Folder 39- Arizona Mining Company; 1908–09

Box 3

Series X: Arctic Expeditions: (cont. from box 1)

            Folder 40- Journal, Eskimo words; 1892, 93-94

            Folder 41- Journal, Peary’s second Arctic expedition, no.1; 1893–94

Folder 42- Journal, Peary’s second Arctic expedition, no. 2; 1893–94 (see folder 42a for accompanying papers)

Folder 43- Journal, [Peary’s second Arctic expedition]; 5/13-6/30/[1894] with biographical summary; 1862–ca. 1932

            Folder 44- Miscellaneous notebooks with inserts; 1892

            Folder 45- Miscellaneous notebooks; 1893[–94]

[i] See CCHS Photograph Collection, Samuel J. Entrikin, DN58.

[ii] Contains oversized item(s) which are stored separately.

Made Possible By: 
This project made possible by a grant from IMLS Museums for America 2004-2006.