Pybus History

E. T. Pybus Company History

Wenatchee Daily World — Front Page article April 5, 1961

Industry Builder E.T. ‘Tom’ Pybus Taken By Death

The death of E.T. Pybus at 10:10 a.m., today closed another chapter in the history book on Wenatchee pioneers.

He died at the age of 87 in a local rest home.

Mr. Pybus was an ingenious pioneer, whose small “village blacksmith” shop at the foot of Orondo Avenue has become one of the major industries in Wenatchee.

Reared in North England, E.T. Pybus is the son and grandson of blacksmiths. He used to say he didn’t decide to come to America; that was one of those decisions made for him. Stories about the land across the Atlantic fascinated his father, who decided to investigate. The senior Pybus set up a blacksmith shop in Corwith, Iowa, in the “land of opportunity” where he could earn more in a single day than he paid his apprentice in England for a whole week’s work.

After their marriage, July 14, 1900, in Hastings, Minn., Mr. and Mrs. Pybus live for a while in the Midwest, but the winters proved too rugged for Mrs. Pybus, so the Pybuses, including baby Jessie, now Mrs. Al Bond, headed for California. En route they decided first to visit life-long friends at Yakima. Again destiny took over. He became a blacksmith on the Tieton Canal until cold weather came and the crew was laid off.

Mr. Pybus next worked for the Bureau of Reclamation, and then purchased part ownership in a ferry at White Bluff which he later sold and bought an alfalfa patch. The alfalfa patch eventually was traded for a little house on Malaga St. in Wenatchee.

His first glimpse of the future “Apple Capital” in the summer of 1911 was board sidewalks, dusty streets and a stifling hotel. He used to say the whole valley seemed a furnace.

E.T. Pybus soon began to work for Bert Richardson, who operated a blacksmith shop on the present Pybus, Inc., site. He had an opportunity shortly thereafter to buy the small shop from Charley Ogilvie to whom Richardson had sold.

While Wenatchee was still young, every merchant ran his own delivery. Mr. Pybus’ first big job was building a merchants’ fleet of 14 or 15 rigs for A.E. Wilson. E. T. Pybus build the very first stage to operate commercially in the area.

A fire in 1918 led to the expansion of the Pybus business. He bought the lot on which the old building stood and two additional lots, this providing for expanding business.

By 1921 the pioneer blacksmith shop had expanded until it bore little resemblance to the original shop, and by 1929 the enlarged building covered a quarter of a block.

By this time much heavy road equipment was “doctored” at the Pybus shop. Then there came a demand to build steel spray tanks for orchardists.

Business poured into the Pybus shop–first from the Rock Island Dam construction, then Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph and later the Rocky Reach Dam project [major hydro electric projects on the Columbia River].

During the early 1930s a 60 x 60 foot foundry was built, near (by) coming at an opportune time for helping solve the “fruit-washing problems.” The company then manufactured gray-iron, brass and aluminum bearings, sprockets, gears and brackets to keep the machines running. One of the first jobs turned out at the foundry was to make manhole covers for Wenatchee’s streets.

Next there came the tractor-business. One of the wonders turned out by the company was a huge refrigerated van, designed to haul on a non-stop trip 10 tons of fish to the south and return with a cargo of citrus fruit. Made largely of steel, the van had 10 wheels with extra large-sized tires. Dry ice furnished refrigeration.

¬her wonder was the construction of two 15,000 gallon tanks for Howe Sound [a gold mining corporation with an operation at Lucerne on Lake Chelan]. Still another big job was the gigantic fire truck “custom-built” for the town of Garfield.

Along came World War II and E.T. Pybus Inc., began to build for the [U.S.] Navy and Air Force. the first telescopic torpedo-handling crane ever used on destroyers was build in the Pybus shop. Another ingenious job turned out by Pybus was the “Hedges Gas Motor,” a motor designed to give double power for the same weight due to its two-way piston operation.

After World War II, the company closed out the tractor business and concentrated on steel. That’s when they constructed the aluminum building below the Great Northern tracks on Orondo Ave. to house retail steel.

Although a hard-working individual, E. T. Pybus had time for a few pleasures. One was his church affiliation. For years he served on the board of stewards and as Sunday school superintendent and teacher. During his term as president of the Wenatchee YMCA [Young Men’s Christian Association], the Boy Scouts of the region were organized. The local Scout work began under the sponsorship of the YMCA.

E.T. Pybus was a staunch Rotarian. He missed being a charter member by only one year. Jones & Jones is in charge of the funeral arrangements.