Katherine Johnstone Brinley Wharton


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The Wharton diaries are the most extensive in this study. When writing, she used every square inch of available paper, incorporated headings on each page, and pasted images or used calligraphy to decorate her pages. It is apparent from her entries and the sites she visited that she was among the affluent society.

Biographical Information:

Resided at 528 Walnut Street in 1863.

Diaries 1856-1922 Historical Society of Philadelphia Call Number: MS.Coll.1861

Excerpts from the diaries are in green text.

Tuesday April 8, 1856: went to Thornbeck’s Concert, rides omnibus

Omnibus, From the Image Collection of the Library Collection of Philadelphia.

April, 1856: goes to Burd Monument. “it is certainly most beautiful. Every time I see such things I admire them more.” [Burd Family Monument in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 19 S. 10 th St. Philadelphia, PA]

Burd Family Monument 1860. From the Image Collection of the Library of Philadelphia.

Burd Monument

St. Stephen's Church

Sunday April 20th, 1856: “A journal is a great pleasure, but I earnestly hope no one will ever get hold of this!”

Saturday April 26, 1856: Goes to Navy Yard; goes on board the Susquehannah and saw the Wabash? “the great ship they are now building.” Went with her mother, and her friends Marjie and Mary [note that women were taking trips to the Navy Yard]

Vine Street Wharf

Monday May 5, 1856: “After my music lesson I went to the Academy with coz. Tom”

Wednesday May 14, 1856: Blind Asylum listed as a heading on page, but she cut the entry out. She cut a lot of entries out of her journal…probably going back and being embarrassed by what she wrote, or fearing someone else would read it.

Blind Asylum Images

Monday May 19, 1856: “We left the house at 4 o’clock and drove first to Girard College…I went to the college years ago but do not remember much about it. It is a noble building, and as Mrs. Duane is director, we went into the school rooms. There are 300 boys there. The view from the roof is most beautiful and Woodstock [she visited Woodstock a number of times] looked very pretty in its nest of trees. We then drove to Fairmount. The afternoon was delightful and as I sat once more under waving trees with the sound of rushing water in my ears, I longed for my dear Newport and thought how glad I’d be to get back.”


Image Source: http://www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/schwarz/48-11.jpg

Fairmount Park links:


Fairmount Park Images

City of Philadelphia: Fairmount Park

Saturday May 24, 1856: “Marjie and I went out early and by 12o’clock we had accomplished a great deal. We were at 7th and Chestnut and we walked to Walnut in order to get an omnibus and ride up to Ida’s…That was certainly a most remarkable omnibus. At one time 16 people including children were in it and a spirit of kindness seemed to pervade everyone.”

Summers in Newport, RI June-Sept. When she’s there, attends Trinity Church (Episcopal)

Image Source: http://www.rootsweb.com/~rinewpor/postcards/TrinityChurchFrontLater.jpg

Newport Historical Society

January 13, 1857: often noted that she stayed in a lot….as if this was unusual behavior but relaxation welcome. Knitting for a friend this day.

Wed. January 28, 1857: “I generally make my plans for the day before I get up in the morning and sometimes everything happens “just so”, as other times, all is quite different as it proved today.” Also noted that her father has been sick.

Mon. Feb. 2, 1857: went on a morning sleigh ride.

Fri. Feb 19, 1857: went out to be fitted for a dress for Mrs. Robinson’s ball…but she notes that she doesn’t want to go and doubts she will enjoy herself.

February 23, 1857: goes to see an Opera, doesn’t like it very much.

Thurs. Feb. 26, 1857: went to early church at St. Mark’s. She attends church 2-3 times per week, not just on Sundays.

Mon. March 2, 1857: excited about running into Mr. James Hayward on Market Street.

Wed. March 4, 1857: noted that she and “E” (Elizabeth Meade) walked all the way to 4 th Street and talked along the way. Also read to each other at home as part of their visit.

Mon. March 30, 1857: trying to finish a chair she has been working on for Elizabeth’s wedding gift…(possibly needle pointing the chair cover?)

Sat. April 25, 1857: took the “half past eleven o’clock” car to Germantown…notes that it is ”so pleasant to get out of town.”

April 28, 1857: friend Elizabeth Meade marries Caldwell Biddle at St. James' Church (Episcopal)

April 30, 1857: visits Norristown for a weekend. “Quaint N[orristown] is always amusing"

May, 1857: mentions visit to Germantown

Germantown, PA

Wed. May 6, 1857: mentions that she visited “The Dell” the home of Mrs. Bove (?sic).

Thurs. May 14, 1857: departure for Reculver

May 31, 1857: departure for Newport, RI….what she calls “home”…“As I breathed the delicious air, I felt a thrill of exultation and found everything in the delight of being back again.”

July 1, 1857: “but perhaps, gentle reader, thou art one of those who think the days of romance are gone forever. Believe it not! O, believe it not! Thou hast at this moment in my heart as sweet a romance as was ever written. Thou art not less a woman because thou dost not sit aloft in a tower, with a tassel-gentle on thy wrist- Everyone has a romance in his heart. Sooner or later, some passages of everyone’s romance must be written, either in words or actions.” -Hyperion

July 13, 1857: Her 20 th birthday (she was born July 13, 1837)…”Times followed one another. Came a morn I stood upon the brink of twenty years, and looked before and after, as I stood woman and artist- either incomplete, both credulous of completion. There I held the whole creation in my little cup, and smiled with thirsty lips before I drank, good health to you and me, sweet neighbor mine, and all these peoples.” -Mrs. Browning

Thurs. Oct. 8, 1857: went “down” to Newark on train (E. Town listed at top of page for her location).

Sat. Oct 17, 1857: Back to Philadelphia

Nov. 23, 1857: news clippings about world events….here problems/uprisings in Delhi…not only concerned with her “high society” affairs?!

Dec. 21, 1857: Christmas shopping downtown…”in presenting a gift to a friend, you are presenting part of yourself.”

Thurs. Dec 24, 1857: she notes that she can’t believe it is Christmas already….time going fast.

Jan. 1958: party season….she mentions many that she attends

Feb. 7 th, 1958: mention of another walk with Elizabeth down Broad street this time to talk.

Feb. 13, 1858: cut out ad for Germania orchestra pasted in.

March 6, 1858: attended Germania orchestra with Elizabeth.

March 20, 1858: attended Germani orchestra again, included clipping of program…Verdi, Strauss, Mozart, Rossini, Bilse, Walace, and Cuzant.

Wed March 31, 1858: last entry in vol. 2…account of her long walk with an unnamed gentleman: up the Schuylkill, stood at end of Spruce Street, crossed the Market Street bridge, into West Philadelphia…can assume she does not travel to West phila very often by the way she excitingly described the walk. Heading for this page Hamiltonville and West Philadelphia.

On last page, sketch with caption “ the sort of general idea which a young man about to be married has of household furniture.” Shows pics of cast iron tea kettle, old wood powered cooking stove, iron bird cage, candlestick, umbrella, etc. Also on this page…clippings about death of Thomas I. Wharton, Esq and a note describing some Wharton family genealogy “written account of Mrs. Daniel B. Smith of Germantown.”

Some of the books she read in 1857:

Lectures on Life of Women (from French)

Story of My Life – A.C. Anderson

Cottage Lecture on Philgrim’s Progress-Vols 1 and 2

Voltaire’s Charles XIII

Life in India-Rev. J.W. Dulles

Infant’s Progress to Eglar

Stories from Italian Poets

Wuthering Heights

Jane Eyre

Life of Charlotte Bronte

Rellstab’s 1812

Henry Esmond Thackeray


1891 Social Register

Wharton, Mrs. Henry (Kate Brinley)

Wharton, Miss Fanny

Wharton, Miss Mary Chestnut Hill, PA

Wharton, Miss Emily

Wharton, Mr. Thomas I


1891 Blue Book Register

Wharton, Mrs. Henry, Gtn. Av. C. Hill


Correspondence Addresses:

February 22, 1919: 913 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA (letter from Henry Wharton, American YMCA US Army)

May 11, 1915: Alverthorpe (house in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia?) (letter from cousin Dick B., in the army guarding German POWs)

April 24, 1900: Main St. Chesnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA (her return address)