Before Coatesville became a city, the only one in Chester County, it was called Bridge-Town, following the two bridges crossing the Brandywine River. A village named “Midway”, named as a result of its station owned by the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad midway between Philadelphia and Lancaster, was formed in 1834 on the western bank of the Brandywine. The village of Midway and the village of Bridge-Town merged in 1867 to become the borough of Coatesville. Coatesville citizens voted to become a city in 1915.
Coatesville exploited the natural energy of the Brandywine River. Jesse Kersey, Moses Coates’ son-in-law, partnered with the ironmaster Isaac Pennock and purchased over 110 acres (0. 45 km2) of Moses Coates’ farm along both sides of the Brandywine River in 1810. They formed the Brandywine Iron Works and Nail Factory, the forerunner of Lukens Steel. Charles Lukens, MD, married Isaac Pennock’s daughter Rebecca in 1813. Following her husband’s death in 1825, Rebecca Lukens took over the operations of the mill, purchasing it from her mother.
She directed operations through an amount of turmoil and market panic, developing it into a prosperous mill. Rebecca Lukens was one of the first women to work a major corporation in the United States.
Varying cultures of Native Americans lived in this area. The first known settlement in the area which would be known as Coatesville was a historic Lenape village built along the West Branch of the Brandywine River. This settlement was a post for fur trading with the earliest American settlers. The Brandywine River has featured prominently in the history of Coatesville.
William Fleming, originally from Scotland, is one of the earliest landowners on record. That he built a log cabin in the region of Harmony Street and 5th Avenue and owned about 207 acres (0. 84 km2) of land bordering the Brandywine River.
Moses Coates, a prosperous farmer and the namesake of Coatesville, bought the cabin from Fleming’s son in 1787. With the economy rising in the years after the United States gained independence, Moses Coates’ son-in-law, Jesse Kersey, came up with a plan to produce the area by selling frontage on the recently completed Lancaster Turnpike which crossed through their land. The Lancaster Turnpike was the very first toll road in the U. S., authorized in 1792 and completed in 1795. A tollgate was located within the present-day Coatesville city limits. Because Coatesville was located roughly halfway between Philadelphia and Lancaster on the turnpike, it became a popular stopping place.
Pierre Bizallion, a French fur trader, settled in the area in the early 18th century. He was believed to serve as an interpreter between William Penn and Indigenous American peoples. The Veterans Administration Hospital now occupies a large piece of the roughly 500 acres (2. 0 km2) of land which was once owned by Bizallion.