Document Collection

Finding Aid for the Wadsworth-Burns Collection, Gift of Judith Wadsworth, 2016

The Wadsworth-Burns collection was donated by Judith Wadsworth, whose husband’s family was related to the descendants of Peter Burns, Sr. (1797-1877). Three generations of the Burns family men were influential in the construction of many important buildings in Berwyn. Upon detailed examination, it was discovered that this collection of three clippings scrapbooks and some 35 loose photographs was in fact assembled by Franklin Lorenzo Burns (1868-1946).

Frank Burns worked as a painting contractor and was an avid amateur ornithologist. After he retired in the mid-1930s he also became a keen local historian. He was a charter member of the TEHS and its second President. He wrote almost forty articles for the History Quarterly between 1936 and 1946. He never married. His identity as the creator of this collection was confirmed after comparison with handwriting samples, and the fact that so many of the photographs in the collection have a connection to him or his family. The connection to the Wadsworth family became clear when it was learned that Frank Burns’ younger sister Martie Burns married John Harvey Wadsworth in 1901, and their son Charles very likely inherited the collection and passed it on to the next generation of Wadsworths.

Loose Photographs by Lucy Sampson:

The following are by Lucy Sampson, all identified in her handwriting. These are stored with the rest of the Sampson photographs in the TEHS photography collection. The final entry for her below is the only one not printed on postcard stock.

Diamond Rock School (TEHS Image Collection: DRS4)
The Covered Bridge, Valley Forge, PA (TEHS Image Collection: KCB6)
Valley Forge Creek at the Covered Bridge (VC10)
Valley Forge Hills (VFP69)
Newtown Baptist Church, Newtown, Del. Co. Pa. (OLA58)

Huntington Park, Valley Forge, Pa. Addressed on verso to Franklin Burns with the message on the front:“ I did not get to the City today - Call (tomorrow) Tuesday evening to hear about the enlargement, L. A. Sampson.”

“Residence for fifty years of Peter Burn Sr.,” mounted on gray card stock, inscribed in white ink along bottom edge: “L. A. Sampson/ Photo Artist / Photographed 1902 / Erected 1767.” (HOU167)

Other loose photographs – all stored with the TEHS photography collection (Book 27):

Baptist Chapel, Berwyn, by Julius Sachse, stamped on back with his name. (TEHS Image Collection: (BBC01), a much better print than this one.)

“Rear of the Mennonite Church near Diamond Rock/ Taken by Chas. Groff, January, 1898 ” (MEN11)

“Diamond Rock School House / a relic of colonial days / Taken by Chas. Groff, January, 1898” (DRS32)

Ruins of the Devon Park Hotel, 1929 (DEI30)

The W. H. Burns Planing Mill, Berwyn, probably late 1890s (TEHS Image Collection: BPM05)

Snow-covered home of Mildred Bradley (HOU169)

Rumrill Home, Conestoga Road. (Compare to HOU4)

“Photograph of the ‘Double Tree’ one mile south of Berwyn, Chester County, Penn.” Taken early in 1897 by Wilbur Speakman. [two large white oaks joined low to the ground].(TRS10, a much better print than this one)

Residence of W. H. Burns, Berwyn, Pa., 1890 (HOU168)

Formal studio portrait of Franklin Burns, by “Marceau,” ca. 1920 (PEO68)

Group of eight commercial postcards, all addressed to Miss Edna Speakman, dated either 1906 or 1912, and signed “Bob.” Titles: Homestead of Gen. Anthony Wayne; Indian Head Rock Perkiomen Creek near Oaks Pa.; Glimpse of the Perkiomen From Mont View, near Oaks, Pa.; Perkiomen Bridge near Oaks, Pa.; Keyser’s Mill on Perkiomen Creek near Oaks, Pa.; Penn R.R. Bridge on the Perkiomen near Oaks, Pa.; First Home in America of John J. Audubon; Fort Washington, Valley Forge, As It Was.

Five miscellaneous photographs of local scenes, all titled on verso in the same handwriting (that of Franklin Burns): Titles: Hammer Hollow Mill, July 6, 1942; Remains of Wall of Woolen Mill, Howellville, July 6, 1942; The Rev. Dr. Sagebeer’s house; The McNamee House / Residence of S. Paul Teamer; Work of a Pileated Woodpecker on a dead chestnut tree, Hawk Mountain.

Group of five photographs of TEHS events and members, inscribed in the same hand as above: Titles: June 8th, 1938 / The Chain at West Point, Paul Teamer, F. Burns, Mrs. Bradley; Three pictures of the unveiling of the Plaque at the Stone Chimney Picket Post by TEHS club members (very similar to Image Collection ECH 16 and 17); June 19, 1938 / Cape May Point Buried Treasure – S. Paul Teamer (shown with a shovel).

Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks:

Three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings were part of the Wadsworth-Burns gift. In all three the clips are glued onto the pages of a printed book. The clips date from the first three or four decades of the twentieth century and relate to history, locations and persons from Wayne to Malvern, as well as other sites in Chester County. The dates of the articles are not consecutive.

Scrapbook A seems to the earliest. The handwriting on the front covers and several pages of the scrapbooks is also that of Franklin L. Burns, and identical to the identifications on the backs of many of the loose photographs (other than those by Lucy Samson). Scrapbook A is titled “Churches, Family Reunions, Historic Buildings, Meeting Houses, Obituaries, Schools, Taverns, Valley Forge, Gen. Wayne, Personages, etc.” The book in which the clippings appear is “Shell Loading at Amatol, N. J.,” (Atlantic Loading Co., 65 Broadway, New York, NY, 1918).

There are hundreds of clippings, many with good photos and some from the gravure sections of the newspapers. The first 21 pages of this book are a lengthy illustrated article from The Main Line Daily Times, dated by Dec. 22, 1930, which states that it reproduces in full the text of Julius Sachse’s book The Wayside Inns Along the Lancaster Roadside Between Philadelphia and Lancaster, published in 1915. On page 44 there is a short obituary of Dr. Sachse and a picture of him. The scrapbook compiler created an index to the clippings which has been tipped in at the start of the volume. The last 40 or so pages of the book are still pristine without clippings.

Scrapbook B is very similar to Scrapbook A. It is titled in Burns’ hand “Churches, Farms, Family Reunions, Fires, Meeting Houses, Maps, Mines, Personages, Obituaries, Schools, School Reunions, Etc.” The clips are glued onto the pages of a financial ledger, and an index to the clippings appears at the front.

The third scrapbook may carry an “H” or an “I” on the spine and is untitled. It is similar to Scrapbooks A and B in that the clips are glued onto printed pages, in this case a book of blank checks from the Paoli Bank and Trust Co. This book contains far fewer photographs than Scrapbook A or B, and a similar index to the clippings appears at the start of the volume. There are many articles on the Swedish population of this area. This book also contains four ornithology articles written by Burns: an offprint of Burns’ March, 1929 article: “The Mechanical Execution of Wilson’s American Ornithology;” and three issues of the journal Oölogist (April 1929, June 1933, and October 1937).

Wadsworth Family Manuscripts:

File of material re Wadsworth family reunions and genealogical notes, 1951-1976 (approx.).

Bound volume of handwritten minutes and descriptions of Wadsworth family reunions, 1915 to 1964. Genealogical notes appear at both the front and the back of the book.

Two certificates marking the retirement of John Wesley Wadsworth from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and two letters re his annuity.

Two certificates commending John W. Wadsworth for his civilian service in World War II.

Cheryl Leibold