Harry Pyle

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Harry Pyle
Born 1870
Died 1949
Employer J.F. Pyle Cannery
Occupation Canner and orchardist

Harry Pyle was the son of early canner John Francis Pyle, and operator of the J.F. Pyle Cannery for many years. Pyle sold the cannery in 1923[1].

"While we have not yet signed papers with Mr. Barron and Mr. Gray," said Harry Pyle today, "we have just come to terms. We are selling just our plant - nothing else. Our labels, trade, etc. we retain... we are getting out at present because we are tired of being squeezed... When it comes to hiring labor and making improvements we have the American plan on one side and the labor unions on the other. Then when it comes to buying and selling our fruit we have the fruit associations, who as a steep price for their fruit, on one side and the fruit jobbers on the other and we are between the upper and lower mill stones and are squeezed. So we don't want any more of the game for the present."

Pyle continued to run orchards in the Santa Clara valley for many years, and was also a director of the California Prune Pool and United Prune Growers[2]. Pyle was elected director of the United Prune Growers at its founding in 1932[3]

In 1936, an advertisement from Safeway's "Farm Reporter" noted that Pyle and his brother operated four fruit ranches covering 450 acres and producing 1650 tons of prunes. They also grew pears and walnuts. Their "home ranch" was 68 acres in Berryessa; the 80 acre Singleton ranch had walnut trees. Two other ranches were in Gilroy and Hollister.

"I think I know something about the problems of the fruit rancher. I've lived with these problems for many years. In addition - because for some time my brother and I ran a fruit and vegetable cannery - I know how fruit goes to the consumer.

"We operated our cannery in the days before there were many chain stores. We were among the first to have dealings with the chains in our part of the U.S.

"What's interested me, of course, is the effect of chain store distribution on my own crops - prunes and walnuts. But it's the same principle for all farm products. And I say the chain stores like Safeway have brought great benefits to both consumer and producer.

"We grow crops on a mass production basis. These crops must be sold on a mass production basis.

"We farmers have had to use the most efficient methods of producing. We grow, pack, and ship under modern methods. We control quality and grade. But we can't follow through to the final consumer. Some distributor must do that for us. we've had our troubles and surpluses - sure. But it would have been a lot worse if there had been no chain stores to take our products to the consumer."

Pyle lived for many years at 887 South Seventh St., San Jose. On a 1930 census form, he listed his occupation as "retired".


  1. Pyle Cannery Will Change Ownership: February 9, 1922 San Jose Evening News.
  2. "I want grocerying that works for farmers." September 4, 1936 Lodi News-Sentinel.
  3. Prune Leaders Organize in San Francisco. August 30, 1932 Healdsburg Tribune. Other directors were Arch Wilson (Cupertino), Douglas Chisholm (Windsor), C. K. Schnabel (Yuba City), and W. W. Lester (Santa Clara).