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Israel R. Berry family papers


Held at: West Caln Township Historical Commission [Contact Us]P.O. Box 175, Wagontown, PA, 19376

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the West Caln Township Historical Commission. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Israel "Iz" R. Berry (born 1862) was an influential citizen of West Caln Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, known for his successful farm and involvement with the township school board. He was the second son and fifth child of Milton and Susanna Berry

Milton Berry (born in West Caln in 1825), was a carpenter, acquired a 47-acre farm, and was active in township government. A Republican, Milton served the township as constable, assessor and tax collector for nine years, as well as two terms as school director, one term as supervisor, and five years as justice of the peace. Milton Berry married Susanna Regester in Philadelphia in 1852.

Israel R. Berry attended public schools in West Caln, and later worked for four years as a brakeman and fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad before deciding to pursue farming, a profession he engaged in for 62 years. He purchased his father's farm in 1894, and later added to his farm holdings when he purchased the adjacent 97-acre Willaner property.

Berry became president of the West Caln Township School Board in 1900, acted as school director for 29 years, and also served as secretary of the board. He also held the position of road supervisor for the township. Politically, Berry aligned with the Republican party. An enthusiastic sportsman and collector of butterflies and bird eggs, Berry travelled across the country to collect specimens and became a recognized authority on birds.

Israel R. Berry married Sarah Elizabeth Hartman in 1893 and they had two children who both died in infancy before Sarah passed away (between 1900 and 1910).


Cope, Gilbert and Henry Graham Ashmead. "Berry, Israel R." Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania, vol. 1. Chester County (Pa.): Higginson Book Company, 1904. Page 372. Accessed October 29, 2013.

"'Beck' and 'Bess' Will Hear New Voice; Israel Berry Decides He Will No Longer Follow the Plow." Clipping found in collection.

This collection includes a large amount of records of the West Caln Township School Board, on which Israel R. Berry served for decades in various capacities, as well as assorted personal papers and family papers, principally from Israel and his father, Milton Berry.

The West Caln Township School Board records date from about 1904 until 1940. They include: a minute book, 1924-1935; a ledger including a list of students enrolled at West Caln schools, circa 1915; check stubs, circa 1905-1940; blank forms; school district newsletters; lists of teachers; insurance policies; and correspondence, financial records, advertising circulars received (e.g. school supplies), and other records, 1933-1940.

The personal and family papers mostly relate to Israel R. Berry, with some from his father, Milton Berry. They include estate-related documents, including deeds from 1864 and 1894, receipts and invoices, some correspondence, several ledgers, and Milton Berry time books (circa 1878). There is a ledger for Israel R. Berry's time as a fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad in West Philadelphia (1892-1893), another ledger relating to his work as road supervisor for West Caln Township, and a volume from the Rod and Gun Club. Various printed materials and books are also included in the collection.

Purchase, circa 1990.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact West Caln Township Historical Commission directly for more information.

West Caln Township Historical Commission
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Contact West Caln Township Historical Commission for information about accessing this collection.

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