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 various 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 family-owned for about sixty years.

Both daughters married and remained in Berwyn. Sarah Garber (1901-1981) married Abram Pyle (1902-1985) and their 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, one of dozens of History Quarterly articles concerning his grandfather or Garber's Store). (Several Quarterly references for Henry "Zeke" Pyle are listed below.) Four generations of Garber's 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 over 300 photographs, both loose and in albums, with about three-quarters of this total being family-related; the remainder are Berwyn-related. There are also deeds to two properties in Berwyn, and several other 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 Garber-Pyle 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, dated 1926, which shows the lot on which Garber’s store was located, (with Waterloo Ave. mis-marked 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 undated newspaper clippings, undated, one referring to the sale of Garber’s store to a Mrs. Jester, and one about Henry “Zeke” Pyle.

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

Commencement Program for T-E High School, 1919.

In the Artifacts collection: 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 contains a very important collection of photographs of groups of Berwyn residents. These include groups of students, or student-athletes, adult male baseball teams, the Berwyn Fire Company, and a 1917 civic rally. This group of prints adds several new images to suites of photos already in the collection, and their presence in Garber’s estate attests to his central place in the Berwyn community. They also suggest he was a friend of well-known Berwyn photographer Lucy Sampson. Her stamp or her inscription on many of these prints also lends strong evidence for Lucy as the author of all the prints in these already published suites. All of the Garber-Pyle non-family prints have been inscribed on the verso with the TEHS Image Collection identifier numbers and the words “2020 Gift.” These photographs have been dispersed into the relevant boxes within the TEHS Photograph Collection.

Nine group-photographs of Tredyffrin-Easttown students, posed as a class in front of their school, 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- age 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 the Easttown School, 6th grade, 1943. (Box 20)

Six 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)

Three 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 she is the photographer for all the photos in this suite.

Six mounted photographs of adult male baseball teams. Henry Garber appears in five of these (TEH78-81 plus a duplicate) 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 are taken on the same 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.

Five 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 Identifiers TEH60 to 63.

An additional item was lent for photography and returned to the donor. It is a certificate appointing Henry Oscar Garber to the position of Postmaster for Berwyn. His appointment was signed by the Postmaster General on Dec. 15, 1904, and by President Theodore Roosevelt on Jan. 13, 1905.

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

“Club Members Remember Things We Used To Do By Hand,” 31/3, July, 1993

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

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

Cheryl Leibold

HCS updated 1/30/2022