Griest: William Walton Griest Collection, Series 02 Business Affairs, 1898-1939

Call Number:  MG-65, Series 2 Business Affairs

8 boxes     104 folders     4 cubic ft.

Repository:  LancasterHistory (Organization); PV7

Shelving Location:  Archives South, Side 2

Description:  This collection contains business and personal correspondence relating to politics, education, immigration, roads and waterways, railroads, economic issues, agriculture, trade and commerce, taxes, the Postal Service, the Susquehanna Iron Company, the Susquehanna Bridge, and many other topics. There are also Congressional bills and speeches, financial information for the businesses he was involved with, and papers reflecting his efforts to improve Lancaster County’s road system and to survey the county’s waterways for expanded uses.

Creator:  Griest, William Walton, 1858-1929.

Conditions for Access:  No restrictions.

System of Arrangement:  Griest’s original folder titles and contents have been retained. The collection has been organized by subject into 26 series.

Conditions Governing Reproductions:  Collection may not be photocopied. Please contact Research Staff or Archives Staff with questions.

Language:  English

Source of Acquisition:  Gift of W. W. Griest’s daughter, Rebecca W. Griest.

Administrative/Biographical History:

In 2003, the Lancaster County Historical Society received a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission grant to rehouse and inventory the William Walton Griest papers. Many of these papers date from the 1880s to the 1930s and focus on Griest’s business and political interests. The grant has allowed the historical society to open this previously inaccessible collection to researchers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and United States history.

William Walton Griest was a prominent member of Congress from 1909 until 1929.  His papers reflect his influence not only in matters of national concern, but also those of Lancaster County.  His term in office spans a tumultuous era of United States history, dealing with such topics as Women’s Suffrage, Prohibition, and the First World War.  The collection sheds light on what members of Congress felt about these issues, and also what Lancasterians felt about them.  Numerous letters and petitions were written to Representative Griest on issues which divided the nation and Lancaster County.

William Griest did not begin his career as a politician, but rather started as a public school teacher. After graduating from Millersville State Normal School in 1876,  he taught at schools in East Donegal and Mount Joy townships for three years before taking another career path.  His education led him to become a writer and later editor of the Lancaster Inquirer, a weekly newspaper published by his father Ellwood Griest.

Griest was an unostentatious man; nevertheless, he was a well-respected man in the community.  He lived on South Queen Street with his wife Elizabeth Paxson Smith, son George W. Griest, and daughter Rebecca Walton Griest. The family was extremely close. Files containing personal correspondence between the family give insight into the quiet life of such a public man.

His first election to public office, as a member of the Lancaster City School Board in 1884, probably derived from his background as a teacher. With this success, his political career had been born and Griest continued to run for increasingly more prestigious offices. He was Chief Clerk for the County Commissioners, leader of the Republican party in Lancaster County, delegate to Republican National Convention from 1896-1920, and finally a representative to Congress from 1908 to 1929.  His political career of more than forty years extended over an era of great change in both the county and the country.

Griest was heavily involved in the economy of Lancaster County.  Not only was he a noteworthy Congressman, he was an equally shrewd businessman.  He became an investor in many of the local public utility companies, the most prominently featured in his papers being the Lancaster County Railway and Light Company. Documents in the collection shed light on Griest’s involvement in the company as well as the company’s financial information and its interactions with other utility companies. Under his leadership, the company turned around from a dying operation on the brink of bankruptcy to an operation netting a profit of more than $100,000 a year.

Griest invested in another failing company, the Susquehanna Iron and Steel Company, at Columbia.  He purchased the company in an attempt to save the mills from closing and losing the industry in the area.  His papers contain many of the financial ledgers and employment records of the company.  The documents give further insight into not only Griest’s business dealings, but also the lives of local men that worked for the company.

A large portion of the collection deals with Griest’s Congressional career.  He held many influential positions while in Congress, including chairman of the Personnel of the House Service Committee and the Post Office and Post Road Committee, one of the largest committees in the Congress. He also sat on the Committee of Committees.  The documents in this part of the collection contain bills that were proposed to Congress, speeches given by members of Congress, and reports given by many of the committees.  Griest kept records on topics ranging from agriculture, veterans affairs, income tax, and child labor, to commerce and trade.  On many of these issues, the collection has letters and petitions from voters from Lancaster County urging Griest to remember Lancaster County in congressional deliberations.

Griest’s major accomplishments in Congress included creating the Lincoln Memorial, improving mail service, and assisting returning World War I veterans to cope with entrance back into their local community.  Locally, he assisted Lancaster County in pushing bills that would benefit the county with its economy based in agriculture and by creating a local farm bureau.  He also sought to improve the road systems in the county and to survey waterways throughout the county for expanded uses.

William Griest was very close with many of the leading political figures of Pennsylvania during the early 1900s. The collection contains correspondence between Griest and men such as Gifford Pinchot, Boise Penrose, William Vare, and William Cameron Sproul.

The William Walton Griest collection is a wonderful source of information on one of Lancaster County’s leading 20thcentury citizens. Thanks to the generous support of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission this collection will be available to both professional researchers and students of history.  Those interested in the period and in local history will find these papers extremely valuable as a primary source.

Processing History:  KC, 2002-2003.

Note:  This project was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Archives and Records Management Grant, ME 230340, 2002-2003.


Box 4

Folder 1  Conestoga Traction Company, 1901-1951. Contains Annual Reports; The Wheel; a plan for the consolidation and merger of Conestoga Traction Company and the Street Railway Company; a stock certificate; letters to stockholders and envelopes from Conestoga Traction Company, Christiana & Coatesville Street Railway Company, Lancaster & Rocky Springs Railway Company, Lancaster Mechanicsburg & New Holland Railway Company, Lancaster & Quarryville Street Railway Company, Elizabethtown & [ ___ ] Street Railway Company; letters to holders of voting trust; letter from Lancaster County Railway & Light Company; and  newspaper clippings from the New Era concerning Conestoga Traction Company.

Folder 2  Conestoga Traction Company, 1923-1928. Contains an agreement between Pennsylvania Water & Power Company and the Edison Electric Company; a letter from Lancaster City Car Service; letters concerning Car Trust Certificates and an increase in car fares; an inter-department letter of Conestoga Traction Company; Conestoga Traction Company record of weekly passes; comparative statement of earnings and expenses of leased lines; comparative statement of passenger earnings; comparative statement of operating revenues; cost of paving, 1917-1926; a schedule of fare rates in Pennsylvania; the cash balance for Lancaster Properties, 1927; and “Report on Fare and Service Changes on Conestoga Traction Company,” by Walter Jackson.

Folder 3  Center Square Building, 1904-1928. Contains a statement of payment; letters concerning stock selling, Fort Pulaski, the Woolworth Building, the purchase of Hirsh property, Penn Square, Farmers Trust Company, Centre Square, Griest Building office rentals, Lancaster County Railway & Light Company, New Holland Turnpike; information on the Rebel steamer Emma; photographs of the Griest Building; an excerpt from the minutes of the board of directors of Conestoga Traction Company; qualifications for the Ananias Club; and subscriptions to bonds of New Conestoga Building. Photographs transferred to the Photograph Collection, 23 October 2017.

Folder 4  Detwiler and Griest Land, 1904-1917. Contains article of agreement between W. H. Roland and Thomas Detwiler; property agreements; receipt; mortgages on West End; declaration by William Griest concerning the Thomas C. Detwiler agreement; certification of check; approval of disposition; and certification of mortgages.


Box 5

Folder 5  Lancaster County Railway & Light Company, 1915-1921. Contains minutes of the executive committee; assignment of dividends of the first preferred stock of the United Gas & Electric Company; an invoice; and correspondence.

Folder 6  Lancaster Railway & Light Company, 1915-1926. Contains correspondence; resolutions adopted by the board of directors; a memorandum concerning subsidiary companies and refinancing; executive committee regulations; list of department heads, 1923; stockholders agreement to board of directors; Lancaster companies’ salaries and wages of employees; net earnings of Lancaster utility companies; and other financial information.

Folder 7  Spy Publishing Company, 1917-1921. Columbia Daily Spy

Folder 8  Baker Case, 1927

Folder 9  Sale of Properties, 1902. Contains rules governing trimmers and inspectors of the Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company; a comparison of cost of open and enclosed arc lamps; the location of lamps; and a list of transformers in stock and in use on city circuits.

Folder 10  Financial Correspondence, 1916-1929. Contains a letter concerning stock; the amount paid by Lancaster County Railway & Light Company for management and auditing; and account information from The American Exchange-Pacific National Bank.

Folder 11  Commercial National Bank, 1902-1914

Folder 12  Lititz & Manheim Gas Company, 1925-1926

Folder 13  John Leonard & Company and Empire Trust Company, 1912. Contains Collateral Trust Indenture.

Folder 14  Edison Contract Renewal, 1919-1924. Contains an annual report for Pennsylvania Water & Power Company, 1919; information on electric power plants in Pennsylvania; and the sums paid by Edison to Pennsylvania Water & Power Company.

Folder 15  Columbia Old Home Week, 1913

Folder 16  The Lancaster Trust Company, 1911-1920. Contains balance statements and deposit slips and a condensed statement of earnings of Lancaster County Railway & Light Company.

Folder 17  Consolidation of Companies, 1924-1926. Contains condensed balance sheets of Lebanon Valley Light & Power, Farmers Electric Company of Northern Lancaster County, Newmanstown Electric Light & Power Company, Conestoga Traction Company, Conestoga Transportation Company,  Conestoga Realty Company, Edison Electric Company, Conestoga Terminal Company, Lancaster Gas Light & Fuel Company, Columbia Gas Company, Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company, Berkshire Electric Company, Lancaster Ephrata & Lebanon Street Railway Company; and letters concerning mergers of companies.

Folder 18  Susquehanna Railway, Light & Power Company, Lancaster County Railway & Light Company, and Conestoga Traction Company, 1908-1919. Contains a letter concerning Lancaster & York Furnace Street Railway and a statement of operation for Consumers Gas Company.

Folder 19  Long and Griest, 1908-1917. Contains an agreement between Susquehanna Railway, Light, & Power Company and the Bank of Manhattan Company; statements of stocks and loans; and correspondence.

Folder 20  Long and Griest, 1917-1928. Contains correspondence, promissory notes, and a fact sheet about South China.

Folder 21  General Business Affairs, 1914-1927. Contains papers from the Northern Trust and Savings Company, Lancaster, and The Northern National Bank; a bill for Rand McNally Company; a memorandum of agreement between the utilities; Conestoga Traction Company resolution; a speech of dedication of Lancaster Light & Power Company; and information on electric and track switches and division built and date of first car operation.

Folder 22  List of Power Consumers and Steam Users, no date. Contains lists of electric motors in service in Lancaster and steam users in Lancaster city.

Folder 23  Conestoga Electric Light & Power, 1904


Box 6

Folder 24  Operating Expenses, 1904-1907. Contains earnings and operating expenses for Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company; an estimate on capacity of power houses and costs of running them; comparative cost of steam and electricity at a fixed rate; a letter concerning estimate costs of operating Slackwater and Wabank; and the cost of feeding horses.

Folder 25  Westinghouse Electric Company, 1899. Contains a proposal from Westinghouse Church Keer & Company engineers to Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company and the court case between Westinghouse Electric and Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company.

Folder 26  Lancaster Electric Heat & Power Company, 1887-1909. Contains bills to the City of Lancaster; a proposal; expenses of the Philadelphia office; a letter concerning land development of Conestoga Creek; and a defendant’s affidavit of defense, Joseph P. Breneman vs. Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power.

Folder 27  Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company, 1899-1908. Contains bills to the City of Lancaster; rules and regulations; a comparison of Allis Chalmers and S. M. Smith prices; treasurer’s reports; court papers; statements regarding capital stock, corporate loans, gross receipts; and Lombard, Replogle, Holyoke drawings for governor at Slackwater.

Folder 28  Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company, 1898-1909. Contains a proposal for substation equipment; specification for a new substation building on East Orange Street; a bond from Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company; a petition for credit settlement; Westinghouse letters and proposal on vertical generator for Rock Hill; General Electric proposal on vertical generator for Rock Hill; Platt Iron Works suits; and an estimate of the cost of repairing properties.

Folder 29  Wabank Penstock, 1904-1908. Contains the hours for the Wabank plant; expenses; earnings; and specifications and contracts an addition.

Folder 30  Rock Hill, 1905-1907. Contains a letter to Edward D. Ruth from Allis Chalmer; information on a proposed plant at Rock Hill and estimate of earnings; hours for the Rock Hill plant; factory expenses; notes on operations; and contract and specifications for rebuilding.

Folder 31  Correspondence between Breneman and Wilson, 1905-1908

Folder 32  Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company, 1898-1899. Contains a proposal and prices of General Electric Company; specifications for furnishing and installing electric machinery at Slackwater station; specifications for incandescent plant; a proposal from Westinghouse for power house equipment; and a proposal for storage battery.

Folder 33  Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company, 1897-1901. Contains a sketch; an estimate for Rock Hill; a report on Rock Hill canal excavations;  an estimate for cost of arc lamp plant; a list of Edison Electric mortgages; route to Slackwater; and the location of arc lights for lighting city of Lancaster.


Box 7

Folder 34  Blue Prints, no date. Contains diagrams from the Lombard Governor Company; drawings submitted by Replogle Company for governor for 42″ Slackwater wheels; and a detail of hand-wheel for Slackwater 42″ wheel governor, Holyoke Machine Company.

Folder 35  Harrisburg Trust Company, 1909-1924. Contains correspondence, promissory notes, and bills of interest on loans.

Folder 36  Hub Shock Absorber Wheel Company, 1914-1915. Contains information for stockholders and shareholders; assignment of invention; a letter concerning selling the company; patent testimony and rights of invention; expenditures; and by-laws.

Folder 37  The Security Bank of New York, 1912-1925. Contains a letter concerning stock of American Brake Shoe and Foundry Company.

Folder 38  Woolworth Building, 1912

Folder 39  List of Stockholders, 1905. Contains a list of stockholders of Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company.

Folder 40  Hertzler Loans, 1908

Folder 41  Documents Relating to Suit against Pennsylvania Water & Power Company, 1911

Folder 42  List of Dividend Checks, 1899-1900

Folder 43  W. F. Beyer Affair, 1905-1907

Folder 44  License papers of S. M. Brua’s Patent, 1893-1895. Contains a license to manufacture flour.

Folder 45  Slackwater, 1893-1913. Contains the hours of the Slackwater plant and the cost of the Slackwater governor.

Folder 46  Mine La Motte,1914-1922. Contains letters to stockholders and bondholders of Mine La Motte Lead & Smelting Company; a trustee agreement of mortgage certification; a settlement agreement from bondholders protective committee; and a mortgage certificate.

Folder 47  McGrann’s Park Tract, 1908-1915. Contains a deed from Union Trust Company; a report on managing McGrann Park and  financial information.

Folder 48  McGrann’s Park Tract, 1915-1927. Contains correspondence; financial information; bills for City of Lancaster tax;  a deed from Frank B. McClain and wife to William Griest; notification to build a sidewalk;  and statement of condition of McGrann Park Development Company.

Folder 49  First National Bank of Williamsport, 1912-1924. Contains promissory notes; correspondence; bondholders protective agreement of Northumberland County Traction Company; opinion of Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia vs. Northumberland County Traction Company; and court paper for Pennsylvania Steel Company vs. Sunbury & Susquehanna Railway Company.

Folder 50  First National Bank, 1918-1924

Folder 51  Lamp Committee Documents, 1897-1907. Contains correspondence and a contract between the Lamp Committee and Gustovus Groezinger.

Folder 52  Estimates and Instructions, 1901-1904. Contains a proposal between C. & C. Electric Company and Safe Harbor Water & Power Company; Western Electric cycle prices; instructions for setting up a Chapman Regulator; the bearings and distances of a tract of land, property of Mary Lefever, situated at the junction of Big Conestoga Creek and Little Conestoga Creek; and a diagram of thrust bearing and curbing.


Box 8

Folder 53  Sale and Lease Agreements, 1898-1914. Contains a bill of sale between Spence and Lancaster Electric Light Heat & Power Company for R. H. Mill Machinery; a lease to the Star Bell Retaining Company of two Westinghouse motors; a supplement farmer’s line contract between David H. Hess and Bell Telephone Company; an agreement with the City of Lancaster; and specifications at Wabank.

Folder 54  Financial matters of City Trust Company, 1901-1905

Folder 55  Court Files, 1907. Contains a memorandum of proof and notes for the Brenneman suit and the plaintiff’s statement for William F. Beyer vs. David Locher and Lila Reno Locher.

Folder 56  Letters between W. W. Hepburn and John M. Groff, 1916-1918

Folder 57  R. Y. Filbert, 1916-1919

Folder 58  East End Mill, 1916-1920. Contains correspondence and a resolution passed by board of directors of Susquehanna Iron Company.

Folder 59  Legal opinions, 1917

Folder 60  Directors Meeting, 1917-1918. Contains correspondence related to the Susquehanna Iron Company.

Folder 61  Kauffman Suit, 1919-1921

Folder 62  Edwards Lease, 1912-1918. Contains lease between Susquehanna Iron Company and E. T. Edwards.

Folder 63  Description of property, 1907-1919. Contains the general description of plants at Union Street, Aurora, Vesta, York, Pipe, East End, Susquehanna, Columbia; the charter of Susquehanna Iron Company; a letter concerning equipment for mill; the blueprint for Union Street Rolling Mill; a sketch showing land adjoining property of Columbia Gas Company; and Class B # 3 Hyde Water Tube Safety Boiler blueprint.

Folder 64  Insurance, 1908-1918. Contains a memorandum on Mill property; the insurance costs of mills; and Standard Fire Insurance tables.

Folder 65  William Walton Griest, 1920

Folder 66  Judgment, 1917. Contains information and a copy of the judgment for the suit against Susquehanna Iron Company.

Folder 67  Wrightsville, 1916. Contains an article of agreement with Susquehanna Iron Company; a mortgage agreement between Susquehanna Iron Company and Commonwealth Title & Insurance Company; a memorandum on Wrightsville; an Aurora Furnace inspection report; a newspaper clipping, Wrightsville Iron Work Sold; and a statement of Commonwealth Title & Insurance Trust Company.

Folder 68  Marietta Vesta Property, 1914-1917. Contains an agreement for purchase of furnace; an article of agreement between Yonkers National Bank and Susquehanna Iron Company; a resolution of Susquehanna Iron Company concerning East Donegal property; the business card of Edwin G. Rust; bill information on cinder; an inspection report of Vesta Furnace; and bid regulations for Vesta Furnace.

Folder 69  Susquehanna Iron Company, 1902-1919. Contains a copy of the acknowledgment of Steacy-Schmidt Manufacturing check for tract of land; letter concerning notice to vacate, the sale of York property, and the Rolling Mill deed; description of plant goods manufactured and general inventory of East End, Union Street, Vesta Furnace, York property, Columbia, Susquehanna; a brief description of Susquehanna property; reports on Susquehanna Iron Company; a description of Rolling Mill property; a map of property of Susquehanna Iron Company of Spring Garden Township; and a plan showing a tract of land owned by Susquehanna Iron Company.


Box 9

Folder 70  Susquehanna Iron Company, 1916-1919. Contains a letter concerning Marietta and York properties; a statement of certification of cost of sale; and a resolution to sell land.

Folder 71  Susquehanna Iron Company Resolutions, 1920. Contains information on the purchase of Cola Mill; minutes of meeting of board of directors; a memorandum and resolution on sale of real estate; a description of tract # 9; and resolutions to audit books, convey property, and sell property.

Folder 72  Susquehanna Iron Financial Statement, 1916

Folder 73  Susquehanna Iron Company Financial Statement, 1916-1917

Folder 74  Susquehanna Iron Company Owner Certificates, 1911-1918. Contains stock certificates and correspondence.

Folder 75  Correspondence between E. T. Edwards and Susquehanna Iron Company, 1912-1916. Contains letters concerning rental properties and Columbia Mill; a memorandum regarding Susquehanna Iron Company; and an inventory of Pipe Mill.

Folder 76  Correspondence between E. T. Edwards and Susquehanna Iron Company, 1916-1920

Folder 77  Susquehanna Loan and Liability, 1914-1916. Contains letters on condition of company; a list of Susquehanna Iron Company bondholders; transcripts of records; and statement of debt.

Folder 78  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1914. Contains cash contributions, payments, and liabilities.

Folder 79  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1910-1917

Folder 80  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1912-1919

Folder 81  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1917-1924

Folder 82  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1903-1919


Box 10

Folder 83  Susquehanna Iron Company Accounts, 1907-1922

Folder 84  Northumberland County Railway & Light Company, 1905-1913. Contains stock certificates; a letter concerning liquidation of the company’s liabilities; and a report on the financial status of the company.

Folder 85  Union Trust Company, 1913-1924

Folder 86  American Exchange National Bank, 1912-1916

Folder 87  Conestoga National Bank, 1912-1925

Folder 88  First National Bank, 1914-1919

Folder 89  First National Bank, 1912-1919

Folder 90  The Christiana National Bank, 1911-1918

Folder 91  The Christiana National Bank, 1910-1919

Folder 92  The Fulton National Bank, 1910-1925

Folder 93  The Fulton National Bank, 1914-1924

Folder 94  Pennsylvania Marble and Granite Company, 1915-1939. Contains a statement of quarry operations and a history of the company and bondholders committee records and books.

Folder 95  P. B. Shaw Correspondence, 1894-1921. Contains an agreement with Edison Electric Illuminating Company; memoranda of contracts  and loans; an agreement to issue bonds of Lancaster County Railway & Light Company; and a letter concerning an audit of Susquehanna Iron Company.

Folder 96  P. B. Shaw and William Griest, 1910-1920. Contains a draft of Poco Farm and a memorandum of agreement regarding bonds of Niagara Lead & Balter Company.


Box 11

Folder 97  P. B. Shaw and William Griest, 1911-1919. Contains an assignment of stock; financial information of Susquehanna Iron Company;   and notes on battery.

Folder 98  Lancaster Trust Company, 1912-1918

Folder 99  Lancaster Trust Company, 1912-1919

Folder 100  Peoples Trust Company, 1908-1917

Folder 101  Peoples Trust Company, 1910-1917. Contains a list of stock for Pennsylvania Building Company.

Folder 102  Ledger and List of Bondholders, no date

Folder 103  Susquehanna Iron Company Petty Cash Book, 1916-1918

Folder 104  Susquehanna Iron Company Cash Receipts and Disbursements, 1916