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Eastwick Letters cover

  • eBook Edition
    • 978-1-03-917914-1
    • pdf files
  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-917912-7
    • 7.0 x 10.0 inches
    • Standard Color interior
    • 404 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-917913-4
    • 7.0 x 10.0 inches
    • Standard Color interior
    • 404 pages
  • Keywords
    • Railroad history,
    • Philadelphia,
    • Transportation,
    • Imperial Russia,
    • Journals and letters,
    • Family history,
    • 19th century

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Eastwick Letters
by David J Knapp

EASTWICK LETTERS transcribes and illustrates 117 individual sheets written 1844–51 by Andrew McCalla Eastwick, his wife Lydia, their children, and business associates as the family set up works, and home in 19th century St. Petersburg, Russia. Eastwick was one of three partners in the Philadelphia firm of Harrison, Winans & Eastwick. The business had been awarded a $3 million/ five-year contract to build rolling stock, (locomotive engines and cars) for Czar Nicholas I for a railroad to connect St. Petersburg and Moscow. The enterprise required Eastwick and partners to take possession of a large Imperial industrial complex on the Neva River, known as Alexandroffsky Head Mechanical Works. Once in operation they were to use serf labor and Russian materials to fulfill the contract. Concurrently, Major George Washington Whistler (West Point civil engineer and father of the famous artist), was to oversee the construction of the 420 miles of railway track and railbed required. Presented chronologically and extensively illustrated, EASTWICK LETTERS opens a window into the private emotions of the writers, and illustrates a colorful story of Russian life and times at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. More so than early photographs, the letters vividly reveal the inner thoughts of each writer, and what they observed in a foreign land. In 1851 the Eastwick family returned to Philadelphia where Andrew purchased Bartram’s Garden along the Schuylkill River and saved it from industrial development. Years later after Andrew’s passing, Lydia Eastwick bequeathed the property to the City of Philadelphia where today, Bartram’s Garden is a landmark. The conservatory is open to the public and carries on the legacy of John Bartram, first American botanist to the Colonies.

David Knapp was born in New York City in 1937 and graduated from the McDonogh School, (a military academy near Baltimore, MD) in 1955. He earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1959. A year before graduation, Knapp married his childhood sweetheart, Estelle Stephens. He served as a supply officer in the US Army Ordnance Corps, and worked for a year as track engineer for the B&O Railroad. After military discharge, in 1962 he was accepted to a management training program with a manufacturer of rolling mills in Pittsburgh. The experience allowed him to rise steadily in manufacturing management. From the beginning Knapp was drawn to foundry work which developed into a 60-year career in metal casting. In his off hours he developed his skills as a painter producing detailed scenes of foundries around the world in acrylic on canvas. Unknown to him when they met, his wife Estelle was a direct descendent of Andrew M. Eastwick (1810–79), a Philadelphia Industrialist, who built the first rail engines and cars for Czar Nicholas I in 1844. In 1976 Knapp developed an interest in genealogy, particularly in his wife’s forebears. The descendants always fell back to remember their once famous ancestor who went to Russia to make his fortune, but the letters were difficult to read being written in long hand script of the period, and in many instances, as “cross letters” to conserve paper and postage. On learning of the letters fragile state, Knapp offered to transcribe them. His two-year effort produced a typed transcription. In 2022 the original letters were gifted to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. For fifty years the manuscript remained unpublished until a Russian railroad historian, Igor Kuvaldin, learned of the manuscript and encouraged Knapp to self-publish. This work is the result.


David J Knapp
Igor Kuvaldin

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