Griest: William Walton Griest Collection, Series 03 Election/Campaign, 1908-1929

Call Number:  MG-65, Series 3 Election/Campaign

5 boxes     53 folders     2.5 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 William Walton Griest 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 11

Folder 1  1908 Election. Newspaper clippings.

Folder 2  1910 (1898-1910). Contains a pamphlet of Republican Party’s candidates and what they stand for; the U.S. Bulletin of Pennsylvania cities’ condition; and the list of votes in Lancaster County for 1898.

Folder 3  1911 Election

Folder 4  Primary 1912

Folder 5  1912 Election, 1911-1921. Contains a Bull Moose Committee reminder; “How to become an American;” a rally song for Taft; an African-American in government service card; Taft’s sympathy for the race card; hostile democrats in 62nd Congress card; Baptists for Taft leaflet; duty to vote Republican pamphlet; official ballot for Warwick; and a “Vote for Taft” leaflet.

Folder 6  1912 Election, 1912-1916. Contains a list of townships and boroughs in Lancaster County; a Republican County Committee list; sample ballots; “What our Congressman has Done for Us” pamphlet; Theodore Roosevelt’s view of Quakers; and laws of campaign expenditures.

Folder 7  1912 Election, 1912-1916. Contains a letter to Veterans of Civil War from Committee of Civil War Veterans.


Box 12

Folder 8  Primary 1915 (1914-1915). Contains rules of the Republican Party of Lancaster County; a speech on Congressman Palmer; a speech on President Wilson; and Churchtown Post Office Civil Service laws.

Folder 9  1916 National Convention, 1915-1916. Contains tickets for the convention; poems on the American Flag; and a temporary roll of delegates and alternates to 16th Republican National Convention.

Folder 10  1917 Primary. Contains newspaper clippings.

Folder 11  1918 Primary, 1915-1919. Contains a pamphlet on John R. K. Scott; a William C. Sproul for Governor card; a campaign card to elect Heller; and a campaign card to elect Sproul, Beidleman, and Woodward.

Folder 12  1918 Election, 1918-1919

Folder 13  1919 Primary, 1916-1919

Folder 14  1919 Campaign. Contains a D. W. Sheaffer campaign card; an announcement card for Young Republicans; and facts about the tax rate.

Folder 15  1920 National Convention. Contains newspaper clippings.

Folder 16  November 1920. Contains nominations for election; duties of voters, candidates, political committee;  a tabulated statement of votes cast; Edith Roosevelt postcard to elect Warren Harding; “Why Women should Vote for Harding and Coolidge” flier; women’s suffrage first vote pin of Harding and Coolidge; and a pamphlet, “Appeal of Republican Party to Women.”

Folder 17  1920 Primary. Contains a reminder to vote for Sullivan Dennis; information on the Citizen Bond Issue Campaign Committee; a political cartoon; a campaign card of John F. Smith; a campaign card of Sylvester B. Sadler; and a letter regarding the Volstead Act. No date.

Folder 18  1920 Primary. Contains a questionnaire for candidate of the Central Assembly of Pennsylvania and information on the Volstead Act. No date.

Folder 19  November 1920. Contains a letter concerning women voters and campaign material of Baker.

Folder 20  Special Senatorial Election 1920. Contains official returns of special election in Lebanon County.

Folder 21  Special Senatorial Election 1920

Folder 22  1921 Primary. Contains Frank Musser’s pledge to voters and election results of Lancaster County.


Box 13

Folder 23  1922 Campaign. Contains “What Congressman Griest has Done;” a report to the Secretary of Labor; a protest of tax; an open letter to tobacco growers of Lancaster County; a summary of 1922 registration; remarks of Mrs. E. C. Shannon about Fulton Opera House; document regarding soldiers of Civil War and Spanish-American War; tickets to William Griest’s honor dinner; and a song sheet.

Folder 24  1922 Primary. Contains official tally of election results; an advertisement against Gifford Pinchot; and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen’s information of candidates to vote for.

Folder 25  1922 Primary. Contains letters concerning Prohibition.

Folder 26  1923 Primary, 1924-1926

Folder 27  1924 National Convention. Contains newspaper clippings.

Folder 28  1924 Primary. Contains official returns of election; a letter concerning the Association Against Prohibition Amendment; and a campaign postcard of Ralph Beaver Strassburger.

Folder 29  1924 Election, 1920-1924. Contains letters concerning the Presbyterian Church and railroad clerks, and a letter from Coalition Party.

Folder 30  1924 Election. Contains a Calvin Coolidge book by R.M. Washburn; Labor Party flier; “Rights of Motorists,” by J. Borton Weeks; Independent Party Advertising supplement; Daisy Betterline for Congress flier; 7th Ward committee information on current city administration; William C. Freeman Marching Club ribbon; and a political advertisement of Calvin Coolidge.

Folder 31 1924 Election, 1920-1924. Contains a county maps brochure and a map of Lancaster County; a letter to the farmers of Lancaster County; William Griest campaign photographs; a Samuel S. Lewis campaign postcard; “Steimen’s Sad Story” postcard; and speeches. Photographs transferred to the Photograph Collection, 23 October 2017.

Folder 32  1925 Primary

Folder 33  1925 Election. Contains Deputy Sheriff of wards listing; coalition government’s faults pamphlet; a history of conduits laid by Edison Electric; a story of a distillery bust; a transcript docket of Elwood Fiester; journal of the school district of Lancaster; and campaign advertisements.

Folder 34  1925 Election, 1923-1925. Contains a warrant for falsification of financial records; a listing of police of Lancaster; an ordinance for the regulation of appointments of police department; and photographs and description of where to place water mains. Photographs transferred to the Photograph Collection, 23 October 2017.

Folder 35 November 1925. Contains “Dr. Theodore Burton Appel for Mayor;” “ABC of Coalition;” “Facts, Figures, and Reason;” coalition songs; a photograph of Theodore B. Appel; a flier to vote no to bridge project; and a rental contract between the Republican County Committee and the Fulton Opera House. Photograph transferred to the Photograph Collection, 23 October 2017.

Folder 36   November 1925. Contains a list of assessments; school and city tax information; a flier on tax increase; and C. A. Forrest’s business card.


Box 14

Folder 37  1926 Primary, 1922-1926

Folder 38  1926 Primary. Contains the amendment of 1919 right to vote party ticket; a flier to voters to elect Pepper; a re-enrollment affidavit of change of party affiliation; J. S. Wertz’s business card; a postcard to vote Griest, Pepper, Fisher; and pamphlets on William S. Vare, Gifford Pinchot, and C. E. Gunzenhauser.

Folder 39  1926 Election. Contains a pamphlet on William Griest; a flier on William Griest and the Lincoln Memorial; a photograph of William Griest; and a George Wharton Pepper campaign booklet. Photograph transferred to the Photograph Collection, 23 October 2017.

Folder 40  1926 Election. Contains Historical Development Atlas of U.S.; “Democratic Book of Facts;” a liquor laws booklet; Meyer Jacobstein’s remarks in the House of Representatives; “The Rights of Motorists,” by J. Borton Weeks; and a flier to veterans.

Folder 41  1926 Election, 1926-1928. Contains a contract between the Fulton Opera House and the Republican County Committee; a flier to support Frank C. Musser; wet and dry candidates information questionnaire on Volstead Act; lists of books, speeches, and costs; breed of dogs bulletin; and a speech of John Q. Tilson.

Folder 42  1926 Election, 1924-1927. Contains a letter concerning federal corrupt practices; invoices for buttons and letterhead; a letter from Lancaster County Methodist Ministers Association; a letter concerning the Volstead Act; a letter to Greek-American citizens; and a Pledge of Allegiance immigration flier.

Folder 43  1927 Election, 1920-1928. Contains vacancies filed by board for L.C. Home and Hospital for insane; a letter in favor of highway improvements; and Lancaster County Tax Rules.

Folder 44  1927 Election, 1925-1928

Folder 45  1928 Primary, 1924-1929


Box 15

Folder 46  1928 Primary, 1928-1930

Folder 47  1928 Campaign, 1925-1928. Contains “Hoover on Human Relations in Industry” and “Hoover on Friend of Labor”; proposed bills on half holidays for government employees, on articles made, and on air mail; and the Federal Corrupt Practices Act.

Folder 48  1928 Campaign, 1926-1928. Contains Historical Development Atlas of the U.S.; Protective Tariff speech; speeches by Will R. Wood and Allen T. Teaducy; and a list of speeches and list of places sent.

Folder 49  1928 Campaign, 1927-1928

Folder 50  1928 Campaign, 1926-1928

Folder 51  1928 National Republican Convention

Folder 52  1929 Election, 1927-1930. Contains a pamphlet on price-fixing of wheat during war; “Our State and Nation”; an act to reduce taxation; and a flier on tax hike.

Folder 53  Women’s Register, 1920. Oversized