Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: Winter 1997 Volume 35 Number 1, Pages 3–20

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The signs marking the east and west entrances to Paoli on Lancaster avenue read "Founded 1755". That may be stretching things a bit. Pasquale Paoli was appointed a general in the Corsican army in 1755 during its fight for independence, but likely he was not yet known in these parts.

The inn or tavern stop established a decade or so later on the old Provincial road between Philadelphia and Lancaster gave Paoli its name. In his 1769 license application, Joshua Evans declared the tavern was on the road from Yellow Springs to the Newtown Square -- the Darby road -- hoping his competition to the east and west on the Lancaster road would permit him to coexist.

The license was duly issued, and in time the inn came to be known as "The Paoli", in honor of the Corsican patriot. There was no great concentration of population. No doubt a blacksmith, a wheelwright and such services may have located nearby. A post office opened in the inn, but not until 1826. The railroad selected a route which, when completed in 1836, stopped at the door of the inn.

Development followed, but it was a gradual clustering of the homes of railroad men. A tiny Episcopal mission was established in 1877, the first church in the village. Three years later a newly constructed Friends meetinghouse opened in Malvern. Goshen Friends chose to meet there starting in 1889. Although it was three miles distant, a distinct Quaker influence was to be felt in the Paoli community. Presbyterians followed in 1893 when they built a small chapel on Darby road which became the third house of worship. The year 1893 also saw the construction of the new Pennsylvania railroad station in the village.

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The stage was set for the coming years of Paoli's greatest growth. Many persons contributed to this development. Some of them have been profiled in the following biographical sketches prepared by our club members. They are presented, generally, in the order of birth of the profilees. Interestingly, only two of these early town fathers were natives of Tredyffrin township.


Robert Finley Matthews

by Ida Matthews Hardester

Robert Finley Matthews, born in Barbourville, Clay County, Kentucky, was destined to become one of the most influential men in Paoli during the years of its emergence as a thriving village. His father, Thomas Matthews, of Welsh heritage, arrived in this country from Ireland in 1839 and initially settled in Kentucky. Thomas was a handsome man of intelligent mien. It is believed he married Matilda Finley after his arrival here, but the circumstances under which they met are not known. The Finley family was resident in Easttown as early as 1826 when Alexander E. Finley became the landlord at the Stage Coach inn located at the fifteenth milestone on the Philadelphia and Lancaster turnpike. Two sons were born to the young couple in Kentucky, Robert in 1841 and Andrew in 1843. Thomas Matthews (he often spelled the name Mathews) likely brought money with him, for after a few years he moved from Kentucky to Philadelphia and, in 1859, purchased a small farm in Easttown at the border of Tredyffrin. It was located on what was then the old Provincial road in Reeseville, later to be named Berwyn. His younger brother Richard, a founding elder of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Reeseville, had bought an adjoining farm a few months earlier. Richard died unexpectedly in 1864 at age 37.

Little is known about the early years or formal education of Robert F. Matthews. His obituary notes that he was eleven when he came to Philadelphia. In his early teens he apprenticed to learn horticulture. Finding that the environment caused him health difficulties, he went to Delaware and took up shipbuilding carpentry in Wilmington. In 1860 he married Isabel H. Linton of St. Georges, Delaware. Robert F. Jr was born to them in 1863. Isabel died in childbirth with their next child, when Robert Jr was six years old.

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Returning to his father's farm in Reeseviile, after a few years Robert married a second time, Eliza Fulton, daughter of Joseph Fulton of Willistown, Robert purchased a farm of 34 acres in Willistown located not far from the Fultons (likely with financial aid from his father) on April 1, traditional moving day, in 1872. The property was located between South Valley and Grubb Roads with the farmhouse on the western border off Grubb Road. Six sons were born, beginning in 1873: Joseph Thomas, William C, Norris A., James Garfield, Harry H. and Ira, born in 1883, who died in his first year.

Robert's parents, Thomas and Matilda, and his brother Andrew came to live in the house on Grubb Road. Thomas sold his farm in Easttown in 1882. Andrew became a printer in Philadelphia, but came to the farm in the summer to help harvest the crops and was known as a "champion cradler" of grain. He died single in 1896 at age 53.

A sizeable dairy was developed and farm crops were grown for a large extended family. Certainly all of Robert's sons assumed responsibility for chores and general farm work as they grew, and in those days neighbor helped neighbor. Robert took produce in a heavy farm wagon, a Dearborn, to the old Philadelphia market. In winter, hogs were butchered on Mondays. J. Garfield's son Elmer, a farmer near Lionvilie today, remembers the story of how his father was responsible for having kindling ready for the fire, heating a vast amount of hot water needed for dressing the hogs and making sausage and scrapple. Joseph later made the best scrapple in Chester Valley, undoubtedly his father's recipe.

A large butter churn, operated by horses on a treadmill, made butter. As much as 75 pounds a week went to market, in addition to other dairy products, some of which were from the neighboring Fulton and Davis farms and sold on commission. It is said that the meat and dairy products not sold during the week were stored in a frigid facility nearby. One of the sons would drive the horse and wagon home to the farm on Thursday, the first day of market, and Robert would return by train to Paoii late Saturday. Of course, there was no Sunday market.

Robert was active in community affairs. An association was formed in Willistown for protection against horse thievery with dues of $1.00 a year. Members received a metal plate which read "Member W.U. Asso." which is still in the family. A stolen horse was paid for and the thief usually apprehended.

A believer in the importance of education, Robert served on the Willistown School Board for many years. Ida M. Bavis taught at the East Willistown school on South Valley road, boarding with the Matthews. There she met Joseph T. and after a time, not proper to remain in the household, she transferred back home to teach in Charlestown and married Joseph in 1898. She had taught Garfield and Harry at the school in Willistown. The oider Matthews boys were taught by earlier teachers. The school building is still standing, converted to residential use.

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Robert's parents continued to live and work on the farm for the rest of their lives. Matilda died in 1886 and Thomas in 1893. His father-in-law, Joseph Fulton, died a month earlier in 1893, and it appears that the passing of the older generation motivated Robert to redirect his efforts away from the farm.

On May 23, 1894, he bought a lot in Paoii on the Lancaster Turnpike at the southwest corner of Spring Street, just east of the site which in a few years was to become the Eachus livery stable. There he opened a grocery store. A bill head dated November 19, 1896 found in the files of the Chester County Historical Society reads "R. F. Matthews, Dealer in Groceries, Meats & Provisions." Later under the name of Robert F. Matthews & Sons, it was operated by Joseph T. and J. Garfield for several years. Still later, it was run by Walter T., a grandson.

Robert sold the farm in 1897 to R. Mason Lisle. At the same time he bought from Mr. Lisle an adjoining 13-acre tract just up South Valley Road. Many acquisitions of real estate followed in and around Paoli. On one of these lots he built a large frame house on the State Road (Paoli Pike), opposite Good Samaritan Church, for his even larger family, which included the four orphaned children of his oldest son, Robert F. Jr, who, in 1896, died at age 33 of tuberculosis, Their mother, Eliza H., had died two years earlier at age 30. The oldest child was Walter T, who founded the Matthews Ford Agency in Paoli in 1921. The other three were Clara R. (Mrs. William Siddons), William Powell and Isabella May. The house had a deep cellar, four rooms up and four rooms down, a finished third floor, indoor plumbing and gas lights. The excellently preserved house still stands, inhabited.

To house the growing children, Robert built another frame house, just east of the big house, known as the "little house." The younger children were moved into it, under the care of Kate Fulton, maiden sister of Grandmother Eliza Fulton Matthews. The youngest two, William Powell and Isabella May, were taken in when they were 10 and 7 in 1897. Both died in 1905, in their teens, of tuberculosis. What grandparents they had! The second house on Paoii Pike later became, after their marriage, the first home of Waiter T. and Edna Matthews.

Robert's next enterprise was a coal, feed and lumber business. A 1910 bill head shows the names J. T. Matthews and N. A. Matthews operating under the name of Robert F. Matthews' Sons. Later, when it was located on Plank Avenue, J. Garfield was involved for two years, until, in 1918, he moved his family of six to Anselma to take up farming. Joseph T. had moved to a farm off North Cedar Hollow Road in the early 1900s. (Robert bought the farm in 1899.) Norris A. also decided to farm and moved to Coventryvilie in northern Chester County.

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Robert visited the Anselma farm by taking the train at Paoli, transferring at Frazer to a train to Bacton and on to Anselma near Chester Springs. To Norris' farm he traveled by train from Paoli to Glenmoore and on to Coventryviile with an additional walk of several miles. He walked the two miles from Paoli to Joseph's farm in the Valley many times. There was no bank in Paoli in those days. Robert usually walked to the Malvern bank. A brother-in-law, Morgan Ruth, served as the local justice of the peace and notary public there.

A man of integrity, perceptive judgement and intelligence, always keenly interested in local politics and his community's welfare, Matthews served as treasurer of the Willistown township Board of Supervisors, and was a member of the Town Association. He was also a charter member of the Paoli Fire Company, where he served as its first vice president. It is said that in 1909 he advanced the down payment for the purchase of the lot on which the first fire house was built.

The Paoli Sabbath School founded in a chapel on Darby Road by Trinity Presbyterian Church of Berwyn grew to become the First Presbyterian Church of Paoli. Robert F. and Eliza Matthews were founding members of the new church on October 26, 1899. At its first session meeting the next week, Robert became an elder and remained, with his family, very active in the growth of the church. When a new church building was occupied on Lancaster Pike in 1907, the original chapel became the Town Hall, then Paoli library in 1920 until 1986, when it was relocated, beautifully preserved, to the church's new grounds on South Valley Road. After over 100 years it is still in use -- original cost $1275!

The Paoli businesses were sold shortly before Robert's death in 1919. His wife, Eliza, had died early in the same year. His funeral was described as one of the largest seen in the area, for Paoii had lost one of its finest citizens, held in high respect. Both Robert and Eliza were interred in a large family plot at Malvern Baptist cemetery.

Father, grandfather, businessman, churchman, public servant, a fine example to his family and community -- Robert Finley Matthews.

old Matthews invoice

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James Hervey Dewees

by C. Herbert Fry

James Hervey Dewees, known more particularly as J. Hervey Dewees, came to this area about 1885 from Iowa as a 20-year old to join Henry Hall, his future brother-in-law (and likely a cousin as well), in the coal, feed and lumber business in Paoli. Dewees spent the next 25 years in the Paoli community, but has gained scant mention in newspaper clippings and the local history of Chester County where many of his contemporaries are named. He was a Quaker, as was Hall, and his acceptance of plain living most certainly contributed to his relative obscurity. Even his death notice published in the Philadelphia newspapers gave the scheduled date of his funeral as Fourth Day (Wednesday), a use of plain language not common in the twentieth century.

From information found at the Friends Library on Swarthmore College campus, a picture of Hervey Dewees begins to come into focus. William Wade Hinshaw's Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy and Index to Quaker Meeting Records supply some useful historical perspective. The first meeting of Friends west of the Allegheny mountains was established, after the Revolutionary War, at Westland in southwestern Pennsylvania. There, groups of Friends from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia were joined by a large movement from the Carolinas and Georgia. Probably the greatest factor in Quaker migration from the South was the slavery issue. After the passage of the famous Ordinance of 1787, Friends knew that the territory north and west of the Ohio River would be forever free from slavery. There were, doubtless, other contributing reasons also, such as the availability of good land at a cheap price, the lure of the frontier, and the natural urge for expansion.

For whatever reason, the Friends moved on into eastern Ohio and in 1800, Concord (Colerain) Monthly Meeting was opened there. Family names of some of the early settlers (HalI, from Contentney MM, NC via Westwood 1802; Dewees, from Catawissa MM, PA 1805; Branson, from Mt. Pleasant, OH 1805 and Bracken) would be numbered among the residents of Paoli 100 years later.

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Hervey Dewees’ father and mother, William and Maria (Embree) Dewees and their first-born child, Matilda, left family roots in Ohio in 1853 to take up life in Linn county on the Iowa frontier. Hervey Dewees was born there on January 23, 1865. in the records of Springdale MM are also found the names Barclay and Isaac, believed to be older brothers. Although Hervey is not a common name, sons so christened appear sprinkled through several generations of families, including Hall, Dewees and Branson later resident in Paoli. (Eli Hoover, grandfather of Herbert Hoover, also settled in the same Iowa locality in 1853.)

In the fall of 1879 Isaac Hall moved to the emerging village of Malvern and bought the coal and lumber yard there. Two years later on January 29, 1882, David Evans, the founder of Malvern, noted in his journal that Friend Isaac Hall had taken his nephew, Henry Hall, into the business, "therefore a pleasant member will be added to our meeting ...." in the Quaker tradition, young Hall returned to Ohio to marry, on October 4, 1882, Ann Eliza Branson at Flushing MM. She was a former schoolmate of his at Mt. Pleasant Boarding School, Belmont County, Ohio.

One stop on the railroad east of Malvern, a different Evans family set in motion events which would lead to the development of Paoli. Just before Christmas of 1881, John D. Evans disposed of the then 329-acre "Evans Farm", site of the renowned Paoli Inn, to The Paoli Heights Land Company. One of the first actions of the land company was to sell to Isaac Hall and Henry Hall the site for a coal, feed and lumber yard, across the railroad tracks from the Paoli lnn, west of North Valley road.

In a few years, about 1885, Hervey Dewees arrived in Paoli from Iowa to join Henry Hall in his latest enterprise. Dewees, too, returned to Ohio to marry, on September 23, 1892, Emma Jane, sister of Ann Eliza Branson who had married Henry Hall ten years earlier. (There were six sisters in the Branson family, no brothers.) Ann Eliza deeded a small lot of about a quarter acre on the south side of Central Avenue in Paoli to her newly married sister when she arrived in Paoli - perhaps a wedding gift, In time a house was built on the lot and sold to another of the Branson sisters, Mary Ellen, in 1905.

By reference to the records of the deeds office in West Chester we can infer some of the Dewees family history. Early in 1895, Hervey Dewees bought a residence, the third house down on the east side of Darby Road, south of the Lancaster Pike. His first daughter, Marion, had arrived on August 30, 1894, and living space was needed. Alfred was born on November 29, 1896, and twins Dorothy and Sarah on June 1, 1901.

Dewees also bought a lot on the south side of Central Avenue near the lumber yard late in 1894, and either constructed himself or had built a house he sold when it was completed six months later.

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Edward Bracken, third Quaker member of the firm, came from Ohio to work with Hall and Dewees in the Paoli business sometime in the early 1890s. Bracken was unmarried and five years younger than Dewees. When Henry Hall decided to return to Philadelphia to serve as business manager of the Friends Asylum (later known as Friends Hospital) in Frankford, he sold the lumber, coal and feed business to Hervey Dewees and Edward Bracken at the end of June of 1898. They continued to operate it as partners under the business name of "Dewees & Bracken" for thirteen years.

Dewees and Bracken a!so entered into a number of development transactions involving Paoli real estate familiar to us today. In 1899 the partners bought the lot behind what is today Matthews Ford fronting on both Paoli Pike and Lancaster Avenue. There they built a single house and later a double house. They soon added the southwest corner of the Lancaster Turnpike and Valley Road and both the northwest and southwest corners of South Valley Road and Circular Avenue to their holdings. Dewees bought the northwest corner property outright in 1905. He sold his house on Darby Road and moved to South Valley about that time.

When the community came together to form the Paoli Fire Company in 1909, Hervey Dewees was one of the charter members. He also was the first to hold the office of treasurer.

The Dewees and Bracken partnership was dissolved sometime around mid-year in 1911. Dewees & Bracken billheads in the Chester County Historical Society files dated in August of 1911 are overstamped "Edward F. Bracken, Successor." No reason has been determined for the split. Dewees received Bracken's share of the property at Lancaster and Valley as part of the winding up of affairs. In 1919, six months before his death, he sold the west half to Eric Ottey, which became a garage, and the east side, which then contained a drug store, was sold back to Ed Bracken.

How long Dewees continued to live in Paoli is not known precisely. His name appears in a Paoli telephone directory of around 1916 showing his residence on South Valley Road. His membership in Quaker meeting was transferred from Goshen (Malvern) to Philadelphia (Fourth and Arch) on June 24, 1915. He lived at 4740 Hazel Avenue in Philadelphia where he died on First Day (Sunday), November 23, 1919, at age 54. His funeral was held three days later at Philadelphia MM, and he was laid to rest in the Southwest Burying Ground. His death at a relatively early age leads one to conjecture that his retirement from business was attributable to a health problem.

His will dated November 27, 1912, witnessed by Mildred E, Mateer and Edward F. Bracken, gave all his possessions to his widow, Emma Jane. She continued to live in Philadelphia until her death on April 7, 1954, aged 91 years.

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Rev. Horace A. Walton

by Shirley Hough

In 1870, when Horace Waiton was five years old living in Philadelphia, he never dreamed that the little village of Paoli would play such a large part in his future. At the time, the village was comprised of - a railroad station, a genera! store (Schofield's), a few scattered cottages, mainly occupied by railroad workers, an old stone tavern called the Franklin House (later the Wayside Inn), and the Paoli Inn. The inn was a popular summer resort for well known Philadelphia families.

That year, 1870, mission work and a Union Sunday School were started in Paoli, and meetings were held in the east parlor of the inn. The ministers who conducted meetings at the mission were circuit ministers who served other churches also. Later the Sunday School met at other locations in the village, and evolved into a mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Eventually ground was secured in 1877, at the present site of Good Samaritan Church. Part of the land included a depression marking the old Indian trail that led to Lancaster.

In 1896 a Rev. Mabley took charge of the mission. He decided the little church erected on the property was inadequate for the congregation and began alterations. His vision and plans were a bit too ambitious for the congregation's pocketbook; still, Rev. Mabley, with two Italian workers, dug the foundation, went to an old quarry and blasted and cut stone and started laying a foundation and building a tower. The old quarry had furnished the stone for Girard College.

The church was legally incorporated in 1902, and Rev. Mabley left as missionary in charge shortly thereafter. At the age of 37, Rev. Horace A. Walton became the first rector of the newly organized church. He took charge on October 1, 1902.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Walton attended Episcopal Academy, the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a B.A., B.D. and M.A., and General Theological Seminary in New York. Before coming to Paoli he had served at St. James Church and, as an assistant, at St. Peter's Church in Philadelphia. Rev. Walton brought his sister with him to Good Samaritan, and she worked at his side for forty years.

When Rev. Walton arrived at Good Samaritan it was a work in progress as, due to lack of funds, the new building was far from being completed. Through his efforts, the new church was finally dedicated by the bishop in 1905.

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By 1912 the church had a new pipe organ, and the writer of the church history says "was splendidly equipped and furnished." At this time, Rev. Walton's report states there was:

  • a rectory;
  • a parish house, with bowling alley, shuffleboard, stage and scenery, lantern slides, a Men's Club room, a dining room and kitchen;
  • an athletic field and tennis courts.

More acreage of land had been acquired and a cemetery was consecrated behind the church.

Later in Rev. Walton's tenure, these facilities were added:

  • a baptistry and lady chapel;
  • Sunday School and choir rooms;
  • a fine chime of twelve bells, one of which was donated by Walton on his 30th anniversary.

Rev. Walton organized the St. Mary's Guild, a sewing school and a Women's Guild. The church gained recognition throughout the diocese. Rev. Walton founded a Men's Club in 1906, shortly after his arrival in Paoli. He had a motto which the club adopted, stating his own beliefs and the standards he desired for the group. "I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." On this note of simplicity the Men's Club began. It was a nondenominational organization, and over the years it prospered. On July 2, 1949, after his death, and thanks to the efforts of the club, ceremonies were held to dedicate the new athletic field at the corner of Cedar Hollow Road and Paoli Pike as the Horace A. Walton Memorial Field -- a concrete expression of the regard in which he was held.

Among Rev. Walton's other notable accomplishments at Good Samaritan was the formation of Paoli Troop I, the first Boy Scout troop in Chester County. For over 20 years he served as Chaplain of the troop and was a good friend to the boys, and offered them spiritual guidance. Col. Clifton Lisle, long time scout master of Troop I, authored a tribute to him which was published in the Upper Main Line News. It verbalized the feelings of the community that he had a special talent for working with boys. He also had influenced and had given spiritual aid to many young men during Worid War I.

After his death at the age of 77, on November 14, 1942, the entire community gathered to celebrate his caring life. In his forty years of service to Good Samaritan he was instrumental in bringing about growth and change. His was a life that made a difference.

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Dewees and Bracken statement


Edward F. Bracken

by Barbara Fry

Edward F. Bracken was born in Ohio and died in Florida, but his working years were spent in Paoli where he saw local villages grow from "cow path crossings to bustling towns."

He was born in Colerain, Belmont County, Ohio, on March 14, 1870 to Lindley M. and Anna (French) Bracken. In the late 1880s or early 1890s he joined Henry Hall and Hervey Dewees in the lumber, coal and feed yard at Paoli. Hall left Paoli in 1897 to take a position in Frankford (Philadelphia); at that time the business became known as Dewees & Bracken.

It was located on the north side of the Pennsylvania Railroad, west of Valley Road and between the railroad and Central Avenue. Many of the older houses of Paoli were built of wood from the lumber yard of Dewees & Bracken. Four horse teams and wagons were used to haul lumber for the business.

On June 15, 1900, the West Chester Daily Local News reported a recent fire at Dewees & Bracken with the assurance that the business was insured but with concern that the valuation was not what it should be, for "the value of the stock had increased considerably over the last two years."

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The partnership remained Dewees & Bracken from 1898 until 1911. Bill heads for the business can be found in the newspaper clipping files of the Chester County Historical Society library. They show the partners selling coal, lumber, flour, feed, grain and hay. Specialties listed were re-cleaned oats and D. & B. horse feed manufactured by Dewees & Bracken. Prompt delivery was promised. An August 1, 1911 bill head shows the firm name overstamped to read Edward F. Bracken, successor to Dewees & Bracken. A year later Bracken continued to offer substantially the same list of products, adding "F. S." and "Eaco" flour. The 1912 bill head shows also the phone number, Bell 19.

Bracken was a Quaker. In 1899 he joined the Goshen Monthly Meeting which met at Malvern meeting house. The meeting had moved from Goshenville to Malvern in 1889.

In 1902, Goshen MM granted Edward Bracken a certificate to Philadelphia MM dated July 31 to marry Lois Sellew, daughter of Edwin P. and Virginia (Jones) Sellew. She was seven years younger than he. The Sellews were most prominent in the Philadelphia MM. They moved to Paoli, living next door to the Brackens on Central Avenue. Mr. Sellew was, at the time of his death in 1913, the editor and publisher of the Quaker publication "The Friend."

Lois and Edward Bracken did not have children. They devoted their years to the many organizations that grew up along the Upper Main Line as it became a mature community.

Bracken was associated with the lumber, coal and feed business for 25 years and then sold out to Great Valley Mills in 1923 when he went into real estate and insurance. His interests were wide. He participated in a variety of community activities.

In 1923 Bracken made application along with J. Everton Ramsey, Lowell Gable, John D. Burns, W. Stewart Paschall and Ellis G. Young for a charter for the Paoli National Bank. Bracken was the first president of the bank which opened on schedule, May 1, 1923, in temporary quarters in the old McDermott drug store at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Valley Road. The new bank building on the corner across Lancaster avenue was completed a year later.

One of Bracken's first loves was the Paoli Fire Company. He was the first fire chief when the company was organized in 1909, and later its treasurer for 33 years.

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Early on he had been associated with the Malvern and Duffryn Mawr Savings & Loan Association. He served as a director of the Dime Savings Bank in West Chester. He served as president of Memorial Hospital for several years. He was a member of the Bachelor's Club, president of the Footlighters in Wayne, and member of the Board of the Chester County Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

The Brackens lived on Valley Road in their later years here. The property contained what was said to be renovated out-buildings from the old Paoli Inn. Today, all has been leveled and the two large brick buildings making up 30 South Valley Road have been buiit on the property.

In 1941, after Goshen MM was dissolved, the Brackens moved their church membership to Valley Meeting on Old Eagle School Road in Tredyffrin.

After more than 50 years as a stalwart community member, Bracken and his wife retired to Lakeland, Florida, where they had spent many winters. At a testimonial dinner in Bracken's honor held at the new Paoli Inn (former Tredyffrin Country Club) in September 1950 to wish him farewell, over 80 friends and associates paid tribute to the genial Mr. Bracken. Mrs. Bracken was heard to say, "We've got to leave town now, for we can't live up to all the nice things that have been said."

Edward F. Bracken died in Lakeland, Florida, on January 25, 1953 at age 82. Mrs. Bracken lived on there until 1970 when she died at the age of 92.


John Garrett Eachus

by Frank Fuller

John Garrett Eachus, son of William H. and Mary S. (Garrett) Eachus, was born in East Whiteland township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 1870, and died at the home of his daughter on Circular Avenue, Paoli, on August 30, 1953. He was 83. A resident of Paoli the greater part of his life, he lived most of that time in the large red brick house he had built next to the livery stable he operated.

When he was ten years old, in 1880, his father moved to Malvern and opened a large livery stable there. The journal of David Evans, the founder of Malvern, establishes the date of the new livery stable as 1884. Evans wrote on November 23, 1884, "My new livery stable is about done and ready for horses. I expect one of my tenants, William H. Eachus, will carry on the business." William Eachus bought the property from Evans in 1888.

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John Eachus grew up learning much about horses and the business. In 1897 his father purchased a lot of about half an acre in Paoli just west of the Robert Matthews grocery store, at the south east corner of Circular Avenue and the Lancaster Turnpike, where the State road veers off to West Chester. No doubt the elder Eachus sensed that Paoli was poised for a period of rapid growth and, with a son of an age to assume responsibility for another livery stable, wanted to expand his successful business.

Fate was to rule otherwise, however. Having written his will dated December 1, 1897, in which he left a life estate to his wife Mary, he also empowered his executors (wife and son) to use the liquid assets of his estate "... in building and improving on the ground which I already own, leaving it entirely to their judgment as to the kind of building or buildings which they may choose to erect....", William Eachus died four months later on April 4, 1898.

Mary Eachus and her son John decided to proceed with the building. Within the year the livery stable was completed, and then the house beside it. It was just after they moved into the house, in 1899 that the Paoli Inn, across the turnpike, burned down. The Malvern location was sold to A. L. Craft.

John Eachus was age 27 and had not married when his father died. Three years later, on November 27, 1901, he wed Margaret Collier, daughter of James Collier, manager of the Colket Wilson farm in the Chester Valley, and Sarah (Lawrence) Collier. They had five children: Mary G., Walter L., Helen (m. Elmer Kleppinger), John G. Jr., and Elizabeth (m. Edgar Paxson). Second born, Walter, died at seven months in 1904. Wife and mother Margaret Eachus died October 27, 1955.

The livery stable in Paoli was operated by John Eachus for thirty years. When the automobile age outran any possible need for horse power, Eachus gave away his last three horses - putting them out to pasture. Following the closing of the stable, he rented the building out, first for a garage to Francis Motors, and then to Bill Murray for an electrical appliance store. Eachus became assessor for Tredyffrin township, a position which he held for twenty years. He retired from this job in 1948.

Active in many service organizations, Eachus was widely-known throughout Chester County. He was awarded the medal of merit for fifty years of service from the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Lodge 290, Paoli, and was a member of the Chosen Friends Encampment. He was also a charter member of the Paoli Fire Company, and a member of the Chester County Firemens’ Association.

John Eachus was laid to rest in the Malvern Baptist Cemetery, mourned by a great convocation of friends in Paoli.

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Robert Coffman Hughes, M. D.

by Mary Stevenson Lamborn

Dr. Robert C. Hughes, son of William M. and Martha E. (Coffman) Hughes, was born May 25, 1887, on a farm just east of the old Salem School on Yellow Springs Road in Tredyffrin township; he died on February 28, 1964, at his home in Paoli, at age 76. A History of Chester County,Pennsylvania, C. W. Heathcote, editor, published in 1932, includes this tribute to the high moral standing of Dr. Hughes, "He has met with well deserved success," says the writer, "which he [the doctor] lays almost entirely to the early training and sacrifices of his parents, who were of the old God-fearing type, who have been the backbone of this country."

In 1912, Dr. Hughes married Estelle A. Clark. She died March 31, 1959, the same day as my mother, Elizabeth Stevenson. Estelle was a graduate of Chester County Hospital School of Nursing. Dr. and Mrs. Hughes moved into the house built by his father, next to the First Presbyterian Church of Paoli (now a Baptist church). They had two daughters - Esther (Mrs. George Holby), now deceased, and Helen Roberta (Mrs. Warren Croll Jr).

Dr. Hughes was in general practice for 54 years. He received his early schooling in Tredyffrin at both the Salem School and at the Presbyterian School in the Great Valley, and he was graduated from the High School then located in Paoli on South Valley Road, now an apartment building. A graduate, also, of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, he received his M. D. degree in 1909. He did his hospital work at Chester County Hospital in 1909 and 1910, and joined the staff of the hospital that year.

On August 1, 1910, Dr. Hughes opened his first medical office on the second floor of the building at the south west corner of Darby Road and Lancaster Pike, above a grocery store. He first made the rounds to visit his patients on a bicycle. During those years he treated pneumonia, septic throat, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid and similar illnesses not yet tamed by modern medicine, In World War I there was a flu epidemic which created an urgent need for an ambulance. Mrs. A. B. Coxe donated, to the Paoii Fire Company, the first motor ambulance in Chester County. Dr. Hughes served in the U. S. Army Medical Reserve during World War I, and for some time thereafter.

The rise in accidents as use of automobiles grew after the war prompted Dr. Hughes to develop, over a period of years, the Hughes Portable Fracture Apparatus to immobilize and transport patients and apply traction, for which he received widespread recognition. The first to use the invention were the Paoli and Malvern Fire Companies.

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Dr. Hughes was known to have served as many as five generations of some Paoli families during the long years he practiced in the village. He delivered over 3000 babies in private homes, and in Chester County Hospital, during his career. He held membership in a number of medical associations, including the Chester County Medical Society, of which he served as president in 1933.

Although he was a busy man, he found time to work throughout the years for community betterment. He was a member of Paoli's first civic group, the Town Association, and he was a trustee, elder and life-long member of Great Valley Presbyterian Church. He joined the Paoli Fire Company in 1911 when the engine was still horse-drawn. He was also a member of the American Legion, Paoli Business Association (charter member), and Paoli-Berwyn-Malvern Lions Club. He served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Paoli Bank and Trust Company, later Paoli Bank, and still later, after merger, Upper Main Line Bank. Dr. Hughes had a "green thumb" in his makeup and was fond of gardening. He planted roses along the Pennsylvania Railroad bank at the Paoli station, which helped beautify the village.

After the death of his first wife, Dr. Hughes, in 1960, (was) married a second time (to) Mrs. Ruba Jack, a mid-western native who made her home with a married daughter, Mrs. Boyd Humphrey, of Daylesford Village.

Dr. Hughes was the first person I "saw" - he delivered me on March 1, 1914 at home on Maple Avenue, Paoli. Later he also delivered my brothers William Stevenson and Charles Stevenson, out on the A. B. Coxe estate. I remember when Dr. Hughes came in a wagon to attend my father who had double pneumonia. He told me he always remembered that "hard" case. Mrs. A. B. Coxe had a nurse over until my father was well.

On June 8, 1943, Dr. Hughes delivered Ted, my first son, in Chester County Hospital. The fee was $50, with a 10-cent hospital charge for we had insurance. On November 3, 1945 he delivered my second son, John, also at Chester County Hospital, but the charge was a bit higher.

Paoli Bank sign

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William Frederick Isinger Jr.

by Elizabeth Kirkner Weaver

No history of Paoli would be complete if it did not mention William Frederick Isinger Jr. He was the son of William F. and Mary J. (White) Isinger, and was born in 1887 at New Centerville, Tredyffrin Township, the area known today as Gateway Shopping Center. His education began in Fairview School, a one-room building on Swedesford Road which was later converted into a residence.

In 1902, at the age of 15, William's interest in nature asserted itself. He and William Doyle of Berwyn went into the surrounding woods, dug up thousands of white dogwood trees, and planted them all over Valley Forge Park where they still provide beauty for many thousands of people every spring. Horse-drawn wagons were used to take the trees to the park. The story was told that Mr. Doyle had big patches on the knees of his trousers, constantly needing replacement, during this project. The pink dogwood variety we admire so much today was added to the park in the 1930s.

In 1904, the family moved to the C. Colket Wilson farm on Swedesford Road, about two miles north of Paoli. There were nine children in the family. Quite a few might remember the family later living on Maple Avenue, Paoii, where they moved in 1917 after the death of Mr. Isinger Sr.

In 1915 and 1916, William ran the Great Valley Mill. In 1917 he wed Ethel Mae Davis whose family lived on the property directly west of Diamond Rock Octagonal School. He was 29, and she 24. Her mother's maiden name was Kirkner, the same as Millie Kirkner's and mine; therefore, we were cousins several times removed. William and Ethel made their home at 106 Circular Avenue, Paoli.

That same year, 1917, the Isinger Coal business was established on North Valley Road, Paoli and along the Chester Valley Railroad. During the early years, horses were used to haul the coal. It was a long, hard pull for them coming up North Valley Road, and the farrier had to keep their hooves very sharp to keep them from slipping. Shortly after William Isinger started his coal business, people began asking him to haul away their trash. Many a plant headed for oblivion in the dump was saved by him and used to make a rock garden of beauty on the Chester Valley Railroad bank at North Valley Road.

In those days, when a carload of coal was ordered, there were only four to six tons in a car. Today the cars hold around 75 tons. Starting with no tonnage, Isinger built his business to where 9,000 tons was a yearly volume. When the coal yard was eventually sold, the most modern of trucks and methods were being used.

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One resident in Paoli always had her winter coal supply put in during the summer. Two trucks had dumped their loads into the coal bin before William Isinger arrived with the third load. He looked into the cellar to adjust the chute and noticed the bin had burst. While he was shoveling the coal back into the bin, the lady of the house appeared and berated him soundly for carelessness and scolded, "Mr. Isinger would never do anything like this, and I intend to tell him about it." This mild and gentle-mannered man had many a chuckle over this woman's failure to recognize him. I remember seeing him many times, covered with coal dust. I know for a fact that Ethel did not allow him in the back door without first removing his shoes.

William served as a director of Paoli Bank for many years, and as president from 1948 until his death in 1955. He was a director of Paoli Building and Loan Association, and was a member of Paoli Fire Company, Paoii Business Association, and the Paoli Library board, on which he served actively. He was also a very involved member of the Paoli Methodist Church, and interested in the schools; in short, he was one of the town's most influential men.

William R. Isinger Jr. died, following a heart attack, at his home on July 3, 1955. His wife Ethel survived until 1986. Their children, Robert and Dorothy, married children of Charles and Mrs. Rowland who lived nearby on Wistar Road. (Robert married Blanche Rowland in 1941, and Dorothy wed Robert Rowland in 1947.) Both of the Isinger children reside in Florida, and until a few years ago I corresponded with Dorothy.


    Burns, Franklin I., History of Berwyn. (Unpublished manuscript: TEHC Archives)

    Carlson, Robert E., Chester County Medical Practitioners. (West Chester: 1986)

    Chester County Archives. (Records of deeds, wills and marriages)

    Chester County Historical Society Library. (Newspaper clipping file)

    Heathcote, C. W., ed., A History of Chester County, Pa. (Harrisburg: National Historical Association, Inc., 1932)

    Highley, George Norman, compiler, History of Malvern. (Downingtown: Chester Valley Press, Incorporated, 1964)

    Hinshaw, William W., Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy and Index to Quaker Meeting Records. (Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1938)

    Ligget, Frances H. (History notebooks: Paoli Library)

    Malvern, Pa. 1889-1939. (Fiftieth anniversary program: August 25-27,1939)

    Philadelphia City Archives. (Record of wills)

    Tredyffrin Easttown History Club. (Quarterly: Various issues)

    Wiley, Samuel T. and Gardiner, Winfield Scott, Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chester County, Pa. (Philadelphia: Gresham Publishing Co., 1893)


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