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Rufe Bros Plumbing (and down the rabbit hole we go)

6 November, 2015

An advertisement for the Rufe Bros Plumbing remains faint but legible on the front of a house in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

The 1897 publication of The Metal Worker (‘a Weekly Journal of the Stove, Roofing, Cornice, Tin, Plumbing and Heating Trades’ – exciting!) reported that the Rufe Brothers ‘[installed] a fine system of heating and ventilation of the indirect type in the residence of Hugh B. Eastburn’. We hope you enjoyed your indirect heat and ventilation, Mr. Eastburn!



Travelling further down the rabbit hole of digital archives, the Author has uncovered the mildly interesting history of the Eastburn family, and Mr. Hugh B. Eastburn in particular.

According to William W. H. Davis in A Genealogical and Personal History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania (published 1905), the Eastburn family is ‘an old and honorable one’. The first Eastburn to come to our fair shores was John Eastburn, a Quaker who fled religious prosecution in Yorkshire to immigrate to Penn’s Woods (Pennsylvania) in 1684. The year prior, John’s father and fellow Friends were imprisoned in Yorkshire for gathering for worship. Poor Quakers.

Skipping down many, many generations, Hugh B. Eastburn—the owner of the Rufe Brothers installed heating and ventilation system–was born in 1846 in Doylestown, Buck County. He taught at Friends’ Central, a sporting rival of the Author’s own high school (as far as Quaker rivalries go), studied law at the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected district attorney (with a ‘handsome majority’). Throughout his life, he was always ‘deeply interested in educational matters, and his voice and pen [were] potent in every movement for the advancement of education’. Jolly good, Mr. Eastburn.

William W. H. Davis uses a peculiar phrase to note when an Eastburn descendant leaves Bucks County: ‘David Eastburn removed to Delaware…John Eastburn removed to the west’ –as if no one would ever leave Buck County of one’s own accord, and if one does, one is never heard of again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sally Jarvis permalink
    6 November, 2015 10:37 am

    I love ghost signs – a good time of year for it



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