Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: January 1979 Volume 17 Number 1, Pages 7–12

Sixty Minutes in Berwyn

A Hurried Sketch of it and its People
Showing How it is Growing into a Place of Well-Merited Importance

from the Daily Local News

Page 7

The casual rider up or down the Pennsylvania Railroad cannot fail to be impressed with the word "Berwyn", as the gentlemanly and prompt conductors announce the arrival of their trains at that point. To one who from childhood knew the place as Reeseville, this new and sort of manufactured-to -order name does not strike him favorably, and unconsciously he reflects upon the changes which follow in the wake of receding years.

Berwyn is the capital of Easttown Township, Chester County, and is a pretty spot with bright prospects for its star of hope. But for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the old name might have outlived its tradition, for to this corporation is due the honor and credit of the change. First the station took the name, and soon after the little hamlet followed suit with the obedience of a bound boy at a "huskin."

Into this village it was our lot one day last week to take our way. Ten years of absence served to point out to us many changes, and all for the better. As if suddenly awakened from a long sleep of inactivity, the new inspiration has written its work on everything...

Though Berwyn is young, in fact in its swaddling clothes, still there are smaller places in our land, and there are larger ones, too, with less exhibition of zeal and business spirit in them. Indeed, taking into consideration its population of about 150, few places can boast of such a profuse sprinkling of the several branches of trades, pro­fessions and business in general. As an evidence of our brief look into its industries we may, perhaps, with some degree of interest, allude to what serves to form the backbone and muscle of the little town.

Page 8

Beginning with dry goods and groceries we find no less than three, the leading one sailing under the "Pinafore" pennant, with I. A. Cleaver for its energetic Commodore commander. The "Pinafore" is one of the best stocked country stores in the county and in it you buy anything, from an eight-penny nail to the most improved kind of combined mower and reaper. The other two stores are also well-stocked and their business is presided over by the Brooke's Bros. and Joseph Williamson, respectively.

Mr. P. W. Lobb also keeps a store — some might call it a jewelry store. He deals largely in diamonds, black ones, quarried from the coal vaults in the land of the "Molly Maguires." He also keeps a good stock of lumber, besides flour end feed, of any brand, from X to as many X's as the barrels and bags will conveniently allow lettered thereon.

Then, too, there is I. P. Bloom, blooming in the happy conviction of transforming sides of leather into saddles and harness. He handles a sprightly awl, and all his ends are waxing for the good of his patrons and the world at large. The vulcan of Berwyn is James Milson. It is he who strikes while the iron is hot and loves to hear the bellows roar. He is a good mechanic, and it is said has the trade to such a nicety that he not only makes the thing, but even the tiling that makes it.

James Reilly and Chas. A. Weaver are tinners. Each one has a shop, and to them the good people of the village and for miles around look to have their coffee pots kept in good repair, as well as for all the bright ware pertaining to kitchen and creamery, and for the roofs which protect them from winter's cold and summer's heat.

Such is the rapid strides of progress in this enlightened age that wherever we find a few houses huddled together, there also will be found the barber. The tonsorial artist of Berwyn is Charlie Jones, and he is credited with handling the glittering blade and brush with an air of grace such as one day will lead him to ply his profession in some place of more metropolitan pretensions. No odds how bearded and grizzly-looking his ugly customers may be, he turns them out looking like a trade dollar fresh from Uncle Sam's silver die.

In every community there is a certain few who have no table of their own — no place to lay their head. It is this demand that creates boarding houses, and boarding houses, you know, lead to "hash." At this point, Mrs. E. R. Lewis supplies this need and she does it in such a manner as to reflect credit upon her good management as well as to impart a sleek satisfaction to the faces of those who feed at her board.

Page 9

Every story, every phase in life, every town has its grave side, and Berwyn is not an exception. Its people will die. They must be buried, and just here is where Mr. T. C. Morton finds place for his energies and business tact. He is the undertaker, but by no means is his usefulness confined to this avocation. Of Mr. Morton, besides buying a coffin, you can also obtain a ticket over the smooth-riding, world-renowned Pennsylvania Railroad to any point on its line, you can send your box of anything (except powder and nitro-glycerine) through him by the famous Adams' express, and having done all these things (bar­ring the coffin) then hand him a penny for today's West Chester Daily Local News, and you will find yourself about as well provided for as people generally are this side of the Elysian Fields. He is a perfect gentleman, and if you fail to have this made evident to you, it will be because he is not at home.

Do you sing? We ask you this because of the name of Mr. John F. Kauff­man suggesting this inquiry. Mr. Kauffman is a "sweet singer," and he is well known throughout this and adjoining counties as having a peculiar talent for imparting his knowledge of music to others. He is a scarred veteran in the role of a singing school teacher, and besides, as a careful and practical conveyancer, has few superiors.

In all ages there have been hewers of wood and drawers of water — and Berwyn has both. The first mentioned we classify as carpenters, and the latter refers to everybody, because there isn't a drop of anything "hard" in the place. Even the water is as soft as a baby's hand at two days old. The men who shove the jack plane and build houses for the comfort of others are F. A. Lobb, Charles Jones, J. M. Lewis and W. H. Webster. The only wielder of the hammer and trowel is Peter Burns, who, with eye and hand well skilled in the use of the "plumb," guage and square, goes in advance of the knights of the saw and plane in the good work of building up the town.

Those with whom Death has to struggle in his search of victims are Doctors Aiken and Angle. Of these professional gentlemen the small but certain self-acting pill may be obtained, and if you have an aching tooth, they will extract it after the manner prescribed in days of Auld Lang Syne.

Although it is claimed that "truth is stranger than fiction," Berwyn for the sake of variety shows a liking for both, for it is here that Mr. F. H. Stauffer resides, he who so gracefully wields the romancing pen for that story paper — the Saturday Night.

Fashion's agent, the "Fickle Goddess," goes hand in hand with civilization, promising, wherever a few are assembled together, there to be certain and sure, Sundays not excepted. As an agent for the gratification of the female mind the dress-maker holds no unenviable position.

Page 10

Into her hands dainty and obese forms are placed, and she ordered to mould them at her will, at so much per yard. This branch of industry is carefully taken care of by the Misses Lizzie Wells, Rachel Davis and Sallie Potter, and through their hands, to the music of the sewing machine shuttle, calico, gingham, silks and satins pass, done up in all the modern styles known to the furbelow art.

But let us be more serious. The spiritual department of the place needs a brief glance, and then we will again pass on to matters more temporal in their character. There is a liberal percentage of the population who seek the way of truth and right as set forth by the Episcopalian book of Common Prayer. For them, in the public hall, Rev. Dewitt C. Loop, pastor of the church of the "Good Shepherd" located between Villa Nova and Rosemont, dispenses the Divine teachings. For the Baptist portion, Rev. Geo. A. Pierce, of Valley Baptist church, labors with an earnestness such as is fitting in a cause so good, and the result of his work is well-manifested. The Presbyterians are at present without a shepherd, but the flock keeps well banded together, their past teachings being sufficient to retain them securely within the fold. Father Flemmington Riley, pastor of the Villa Nova Catholic church, makes weekly pilgrimages to the village and reinspires those of his followers by masses, prayers and good words, such as seldom fall on barren soil. They, too, worship in the borough hall, that building being a place wherein the several creeds are expounded, and with that unity and harmony which tradition accords to the time of the building of King Solomon's temple.

The artists in oil are H. C. Hardy and S. H. Tompkins, These gentle­men draw a steady, clean brush, and, look where you will, a hand­writing on the wall, attesting their artistic accomplishments, is plainly visible.

The town, too, enjoys a building association, which meets on the third Monday evening in each month. It is in a healthy condition, and all its ways are of pecuniary peace and prosperity.

Even the sick horse and cow have their medical friend in the person of Joseph Thompson, and his patients have unbounded faith, both in his theory and practice.

The public school is well eared for by the present teachers, Miss Abbie Byre, of West Chester, and Mr. Enoch Wells. A peep therein shows to the gaze of the visitor budding statesmen of the first water, and no doubt some day one or more of their number will rant and tear his hair at Washington over some matter of no particular importance to the Berwynites or the world at large.

There is also a day school — styled by the boys "Bunker Hill Academy". Of this Prof. J. T. Doran is principal and proprietor, assisted by Mrs. Doran as teacher of music and Miss Freeman of Latin. The school is measurably well sustained, and bids fair to continue in its knowledgegiving work.

Page 11

Almost every town along the Pennsylvania Railroad has its railroad contractor. Here Mr. David Ryan fills the bill; with him work is plenty and recompense proportionately agreeable.

By mentioning Mr. James L. Wallace, he who caters to the town palate in the way of such dainties as ice cream, oysters and clam soup, we about clean up the town in a business sense, hoping as we do so that no deserving man, woman or child has been omitted from our roll of honor...

Berwyn is emphatically staunch Republican in its politics — Democrats being like angel's visits — few and far between. The former are well and thoroughly kept in the true way by Commodore Cleaver, assisted by Lieutenants Frank Davis and Wm. Wayne, Jr.

One of the time-honored citizens of the place informed us that the town was pleasant and quiet enough, with the exception of squalling babies. These he said were in large numbers, and owing to the fresh, pure air of the locality they were exceptionally strong in lung and vigorous in action. With this single exception we found every one happy with his lot having been cast in such a pleasant place. With these few desultory references to Berwyn we will close, hoping if we have omitted anything, some one, having the interest of the place at heart, will acquaint us of the omission.

* * * * *

To the exceedingly interesting article published in your columns a few days ago, entitled "Sixty Minutes in Berwyn" (evidently written by the master spirit of the Daily Local News), no exception can be taken, affording as it does an amusing as well as useful directory of Berwyn's population; yet it may prove not uninteresting to the public generally to be informed of the "why and wherefore" of the change of name from Reeseville to Berwyn...

The Post Office of our place was changed to Berwyn because it was im­portant to the interests of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the Post Office Department and the public in general, that the name of the railroad station and our Post Office should be the same.

The new name, "Berwyn," which was unaminously adopted by the citizens of, and its vicinity, gives great satisfaction to everybody — to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and its gentlemanly conductors, because it is short, significant and euphonious; and what is equally remarkable, it is the only name of the kind in the United States, "never having been introduced or even suggested as a name for any 'person, place or thing' in this country until it superseded the name of Reeseville."

Page 12

These novelties of Welsh nomenclature for stations on the line of the Pennsylvania Railroad have done much good, but to no place more signal service than to this. All the changes and improvements noted from time to time in your columns have been made within the last year or two; and what would supply with equal force to other places is strikingly illustrated here. For instance, there is now more industry and less idleness; more business and less balderdash; less gossip and more gospel; less talk and more truth...

We cannot close this letter without inviting the "Quill" of the Local to visit Berwyn very soon, and again delight us with another of his rare and racy, spicy and spontaneous letters.


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