Document Collection

Finding Aid for the Garber-Pyle Family Papers
Gift of Spencer Pyle, 2020

The name Henry Garber was well known to residents of Berwyn for the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Oscar Garber (1862-1943) owned Garber’s Store on Lancaster Avenue in the heart of Berwyn. He was often referred to as “Harry,” and his store was a community gathering place. He was active in many civic endeavors, and was a keen game hunter. He and his wife Mary Patton Garber (1863-1931) had two daughters, Sarah Elizabeth (who was called Elizabeth or “Lib”) and Edna. Sarah ran the store for about five years after her father died. Thus, the store was in family ownership for about sixty years.

Both daughters married and remained in Berwyn. Sarah Garber (1901-1981) married Abram Pyle (1902-1985) and their eldest son Henry Grove “Zeke” Pyle (1930-2008) was, like his grandfather, an active member of the Berwyn community. He wrote a recollection of his grandfather and the store for the TEHS History Quarterly (Vol. 33, no. 3, July 1995; Garber or his store are referenced in numerous Quarterly articles. See below for Quarterly references to Henry “Zeke” Pyle). Four generations of this family served in the Berwyn Fire Company: Henry O. Garber (a charter member); his son-in-law Abram Pyle; his grandson Henry “Zeke” Pyle: and his great-granddaughter Whitney Pyle. Henry O. Garber’s great-grandson, Spencer Matthew Pyle, donated these materials to the TEHS in 2020.

The Garber-Pyle Collection contains primarily photographs, with over 230 prints, both loose and in albums. There are also deeds to two properties in Berwyn, and a few items of printed matter.

Contents of the Collection:

TEHS Photograph Book 34 contains over 50 loose photographs of Henry O. Garber, his wife Mary Patton Garber, and their daughter Sarah Elizabeth, her husband Abram Pyle, and their son Henry “Zeke” Pyle. There are four photographs of Garber’s Store (GRB10-04).

Book 34 also contains 24 loose photographs of Henry and Mary Garber’s eldest daughter Edna Garber (1887-1949), and her husband Raymond Dyson Burns (1893-1968). There is a group of small photographs which almost certainly document Raymond Burns’ U.S. Army service in 1918 and 1919, as well as about 40 unidentified photographs. The latter appear to be family members for the most part, given the format, dates, and style.

The Garber-Pyle document box, stored with the manuscripts collection, contains two small photograph albums assembled by Sarah Elizabeth Garber Pyle. These both date to the period from about 1910 to about 1930. Album #1 is the earliest and contains 181 photographs, a few of which are loose. There are several photographs of her parents, but most of the images depict either Sarah alone (wearing glasses in the later images), or with one of her children. Other images depict her family or friends, as well as group outings to seaside or camping locations. Album #2 contains 25 photographs of a trip to Washington D.C. and Virginia, as well as 11 other images of the family, dated to the late 1920s. Few photos in these albums are identified.

The document box also contains the following items:

Property deeds and other documents relating to 42 Bridge Avenue, the home of Henry “Zeke” Pyle and June Pyle. They bought it from the Williams family in the late 1960s; and 34 Bridge Avenue, the home of Sarah Elizabeth and Abram Pyle. Their son Henry ran his lawnmower repair business out of their two-story garage until 1981.

A small plot plan property diagram, dated 1926, which shows the lot on which Garber’s store was located, (with Waterloo Ave. labelled Waterloo Rd.) (Note: Every railroad atlas of Easttown (1887, 1897, 1900, 1908, 1913, 1920, 1926) cite Waterloo as an Avenue EXCEPT one. The 1912 Mueller Atlas refers to Waterloo as a Road. Yet the following year (1913) the Mueller atlas refers to Waterloo as an Avenue. There was no formal standardization of road names until the Post Office started house deliveries c. 1920s or 1930s. There are many examples of multiple names used for one road in deeds.).

Inventory of the Estate of Henry O. Garber, dated January 29, 1944.

Membership document allowing Henry “Zeke” Pyle to join the Berwyn Fire Company at age fifteen in 1945.

Two identification cards for Sarah Elizabeth Pyle, attesting her status as a volunteer member of the U. S. Air Force “Ground Observer Corps,” 1951.

Two small newspaper clippings, undated, one referring to the sale of Garber’s store to a Mrs. Jester, and one about Henry “Zeke” Pyle.

The Garber-Pyle gift also contained the following items:

Four oversize certificates: marriage certificate for Henry Garber and Mary Patton; 3 diplomas.

Commencement Program for T-E High School, 1919.

Artifacts: two conical hats with green tassels, for the “Tall Cedars of Lebanon” lodge, a women’s auxiliary of the Thompson Masonic Lodge in Paoli

Non-Family Photographs in the Garber-Pyle collection:

The Garber-Pyle donation also contained a very important collection of photographs of groups of Berwyn residents. All have been inscribed “2020 Gift,” and the image database numbers have been written on the back. These photographs have been dispersed into the relevant boxes within the TEHS Photograph Collection.

9 groups of photographs of Tredyffrin-Easttown students posed in front of their school, in class photos with the students wearing their good clothes. There are five mounted photos, one of which carries a line of print at the bottom: “Tredyffrin-Easttown Joint High School, Berwyn, PA. 1916.” Four photos printed on post card stock depict elementary school-aged children. Two of these are unidentified. The other two are inscribed along the left margin in Lucy Sampson’s hand: “Easttown Public School, Berwyn, PA,” and “May Pole Fete Easttown Public School, Berwyn, PA.” The latter is a variant of ETS09. This group also includes a good photocopy of students at tthe Eastown School, 6th grade, 1943. (Box 20)

6 shots of student-athletes, wearing team uniforms, (2 girls’ basketball teams, duplicates of images already in the TEHS collection, TEH39 and 76); the four others are new to TEHS: the 1917 football team with one black player and a few adults (TEH77); Boys’ Basketball for 1917 (TEH73); two postcards showing five football players (TEH74 and 75); in one they stand facing the camera, and in profile in the other. (Box 20)

3 mounted photographs of the Berwyn Fire Company. Two are duplicates of existing TEHS images: BE29 and BFC4. BFC13 is a new variant of the others, showing the fire truck standing parallel to the fire house. All three are signed in ink on the back of the mount: “L. A. Sampson, Berwyn, PA.,” proving that all shots in this series are by her.

6 mounted photographs of baseball teams (adult men). Henry Garber appears in five of these (TEH78-81) with arms across his chest and left hand in a baseball mitt. Two of these carry Lucy Sampson’s photographer stamp on the back. Three have a line of print at the bottom: “Berwyn Base Ball Club.” All five are taken on a baseball field, and the players’ uniforms carry a “B.” The sixth photograph (TEH82) and the best preserved of this group, shows a team with the year 1918 on the uniforms, posed in front of a stand of trees. For the latter photograph, all the players are identified on the back. Raymond Dyson Burns (Henry O. Garber’s son-in-law) is in the front row, 3rd in from the left.

5 photographs of the: Independence Day Rally at Berwyn, July 4, 1917” (TEH55-59). The event took place at the Tredyffrin-Easttown High School, and was accompanied by a printed program referencing the recent entry of the U.S. into World War I. The interesting program was part of the C. Herbert Fry donation of 2018, and has been scanned - see Image Collection TEH60-63.

References in the TEHS History Quarterly for Henry “Zeke” Pyle:

“Things We Used to Do by Hand,” 31/3, July, 1993

“Berwyn Fire Co. Honors 50 Year Member” Henry “Zeke” Pyle, 34/1, January, 1996

“A 1902 Cookbook Represents More Than Recipes,” 36/1, January, 1998

Cheryl Leibold