Henry Graham Ashmead was born June 30, 1838 to John Wayne and Henrietta Graham (Flower) Ashmead in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the West Chester Academy at West Chester, Pennsylvania and the Sauders Institute in West Philadelphia. He studied law under his father, who was the deputy attorney-general for the city of Philadelphia and in 1849 was appointed to be the district attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania by President Taylor. Henry Graham Ashmead was admitted to the bar in 1859, but had to end his practice a few years later due to a health condition. When the Chester Evening News was founded by F. Stanhope Hill in 1872, Ashmead was the first reporter and local editor. He also wrote for the Delaware County Republican daily paper. Later, he would become the editorial writer for the Chester Morning Republican.


During this time, Ashmead became a prolific and highly requested author of local history. He published numerous documents on the history of Chester and Delaware Counties, including: "Sketch of Delaware County" in 1876, A History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania in 1884, "Chester Street Nomenclature" in 1887, "Chester, Pennsylvania: A History of its Industrial Progress and its Advantages for Large Manufacturing" in 1889, Art Works of Delaware County in 1897, and a genealogical sketch tracing the descent of the children of Robert and Phoebe Ann (DeLaney) Wetherill through the Sharp, Keen, Sandelands, and other families in 1902. Ashmead also published several fictional works, including a number of plays such as "Mistress Nancy," "The Captain's Ward," "Miss DeCourcy," and "Hallowe'en Tangle."


On August 3, 1885, President Cleveland appointed Ashmead to be Postmaster of the city of Chester. He held the position for twenty years and instituted many beneficial programs. He was one of the founding members of the Delaware County Historical Society and served as its secretary. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania History Club and the State Commission to erect a State Hospital for the Criminal Insane.

He died November 27, 1920 of an illness due to a stroke.


Publications by H.G. Ashmead held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania


Old Market Street, Chester, Pennsylvania: historic incidents that have taken place within, or are associated with this highway. (1920)

The Chester Washington Knew: a talk before the New Century Club of Chesterm February, 22 1916. (1916)

History of the Delaware County National Bank: with biographical notes of its officers. (1914)

A Silent Witness (1902).

Philadelphia: the birthplace of the nation, pivot of industry, the city of homes. (1904).

Historic Homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Chester and Delaware counties, Pennsylvania. (In collaboration with Gilbert Cope: 1904).

Souvenir History of Chester. (1903)

The Captain's Ward; a drama in four acts. (1902)

Miss DeCourcy; a drama in four acts. (1902)

Mistress Nancy; a drama in four acts. (1902)

Genealogical sketch, tracing the descent of the children of Robert and Phoebe Ann DeLaney Wetherill. (1902)

Wootton: the country residence of George W. Childs. (1890?)

Historical sketch of Chester, on Delaware. (1883)

The Motor Company country house, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: a historical sketch. (1887)


Sources: from http://www.delcohistory.org

"Henry G. Ashmead, Historian Dies; Had Long Illness" obit. Chester Times Nov. 27, 1920.

Wiley, Samuel T. Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Revised and edited by Winfield Scott Garner, 1894.