Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 101, Dickerson Mine, Mine Hill, NJ
Records, 1813-1842, 0.4 linear feet / 2 volumes
Call Number: MG 101
Financial records of the Suckasunny or Dickerson iron mines, owned and operated by Mahlon Dickerson (1770-1853) in Morris County.
It is probable that the Lenni Lenape, the American Indians of the region, knew of and used Dickerson Mine, located in what is now Mine Hill, Morris County, New Jersey. John Reading, however, “discovered” what became known as Suckasunny Mine in 1715 and sold it the following year to Joseph Kirkbride. Kirkbride’s descendants owned it until 1779 when Jonathan Dickerson (1747-1805) and his partner Minard Lefevre began purchasing shares. By the time of Dickerson’s death in 1805, he owned approximately 2/3 of the mine property.
Silas Dickerson (1771-1807), Jonathan’s son, took control of the mine for two years before his own death, at which time his brother Mahlon Dickerson (1770-1853), a lawyer and politician in Philadelphia, assumed control of the operation. By 1810, Mahlon Dickerson had bought out Lefevre and was sole owner of what was now known as Dickerson Mine. Mahlon permanently relocated to New Jersey, build his home near the mines and called the mansion Ferromonte, meaning “Iron Mountain.”
The mine itself was very rich, producing good quality iron that during Dickerson’s lifetime was thought to be inexhaustible. By 1868 its biggest vein was 25 feet wide with slopes 900 feet in length, and by 1882, approximately 800,000 tons of iron had been taken from its veins.
During the early years of Mahlon Dickeron’s ownership, the mine was profitable with a workforce of approximately 8-10 men, mostly of English descent. The growth of manufacturing and intermittent military actions increased the need for iron and the mining operation grew. During the later years of Dickerson’s ownership (1840s-50s) approximately 40 men, mostly of Irish descent, were employed by the mine.
Mahlon Dickerson remained politically active after his move to New Jersey, serving as governor, a U.S. senator, and the secretary of the Navy, and causing his periodic absence from his New Jersey residence and business. During these times his nephew Frederick Canfield (1810-1867), who also resided at Ferromonte, oversaw the daily operation of Dickerson’s properties. From 1828 until his death in 1867, Canfield managed Dickerson Mine.
Upon Mahlon Dickerson’s death in 1853, his heirs, Philemon Dickerson, Mahlon D. Canfield, Frederick Canfield, Jacob Vanatta, Edward N. Dickerson, Silas D. Canfield, and Philemon Dickerson, Jr., created the Dickerson Suckasunny Mining Company, incorporated on February 24, 1854. The company owned the Dickerson, King, Black Hills, and Canfield Mines in Morris County, which they leased out for profit.
Beckwith, Robert Russell. Mahlon Dickerson of New Jersey, 1770-1853 (Columbia University Doctoral Dissertation, 1964), pgs. 171-176.
History of Morris County, New Jersey, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers (W.W. Munsell & Co.: New York, 1882), pgs. 63, 291.
The source of this collection is unknown. The latter volume, previously Manuscript Group 173, was combined with the earlier record book at the time of processing.
The records consist of two daybooks from the Dickerson Mine dating from 1813-1842. The first daybook, running from May 10, 1813 to October 24, 1828 is labeled Ferro Mont, while the second, running from October 24, 1828 to May 31, 1842 is labeled Suckasunny Mine. The volumes list the mine’s daily transactions, mostly recording the purchase of ore, though later entries include the payment for food (sugar, salt, coffee) and board by the miners. The volumes are in the hand of Mahlon Dickerson and his nephew, Frederick Canfield, and contain a small number of loose receipts and one piece of undated correspondence to Dickerson from David Mills concerning the mending of his carriage.
Manuscript Map 1049, Ferro Mont, Morris County, NJ, by F.H. McDowell, E.M.
Processed by Kim Charlton, April 2000 as part of the "Farm to City" project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
The New Jersey Historical Society