Griest: William Walton Griest Collection, Series 20 Patents, 1908-1915

Call Number:  MG-65, Series 20 Patents

1 box     4 folders     .25 cubic ft.

Repository: (Lancaster, Pa.)

Shelving Location:  Archives South, Side 2

Description:  Series 20 contains correspondence regarding patents.

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.

Processed by:  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 38

Folder 1     Patent Correspondence

Insert 1  Booklet, “Patents and How to Obtain Them.” A book for inventors. No date.

Insert 2  Correspondence with William J. Shiffer regarding his invention, an apparatus for oiling elevator guides. No date.

Insert 3  Folder, “All in a Nutshell About Patents.” No date.

Insert 4  Correspondence with F. E. Engle regarding copyright for the word “Hemachol.” 1910.

Insert 5  Correspondence with W. J. Brown regarding a patent attorney. 1910.

Insert 6  Correspondence with John A. Weitzel, The Weitzel Novelty and Plating Company regarding a patent for a mail receptacle. 1910.

Insert 7  Correspondence with W. B. Miller, Strasburg regarding a patent for a sterilizer  for milk. 1910.

Insert 8  Correspondence regarding and with G. E. Roumfort, Villarbes Jewel Company regarding a patent for statement and envelope combination. 1909-1910.

Insert 9  Correspondence with J. N. Eisenberger regarding a patent for a mail catching and delivery device. 1909-1910.

Insert 10  Correspondence with J. C. Wittmer regarding application for patent by Abram S. Dombach. 1908-1909.


Folder 2     Patent Correspondence

Insert 1  Correspondence with I. Park Althouse regarding a patent on a railroad rail and tie compound lock and gauge. 1912.

Insert 2  Correspondence regarding a patent and application made by C. M. Stever. 1912.

Insert 3  Correspondence with Dr. Warren A. Sherwood and others regarding Charles A. Hoover’s interest in patents for a tying device for U.S. Mail. 1909-1911.

Insert 4  Correspondence with H. J. Sundacher, M. S. Miller & Company regarding refunding of Patent Office fees. 1911.

Insert 5  Correspondence regarding a patent for trade mark of Conestoga Wagon for intoxicating and non-intoxicating drinks by W. W. Keefer. 1911-1912.

Insert 6  Correspondence with Elizabeth Sheaffer regarding patent laws. 1912.

Insert 7  Letter to President Benjamin Harrison from John W. Hassler, Pastor of Lutheran Church in New Holland recommending Major Ellwood Griest for Postmastership of Lancaster City Post Office. 1889.

Insert 8  Correspondence with E. E. Habecker, Lititz Book Store; Clarence Schock, Rollman Manufacturing Co.; and W. W. Appel and Son regarding House Bill #23417-Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 9  Correspondence with M. E. Darmstaetter, Darmstaetter’s regarding his protest against the Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 10  Correspondence with Charles F. Miller, president, Hamilton Watch Company; Alfred M. Moyer, The Non-Retailing Co.; and W. S. Oberling, jeweler regarding the Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 11  Correspondence with James Rose, Rose Brothers & Company and Eugene L. Herr, L. B. Herr and Son regarding the Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 12  Correspondence with N. H. Witmeyer, Modern Lighting Co., Penryn regarding the Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 13  Correspondence with John R. Roberts, Pennsylvania Retailers Jewelers Company; J. C. Benedict, Landis Machine Co.; and C. M. Togg, The Keystone Watch Case Co. regarding the Oldfield Bill. 1912.

Insert 14  Correspondence with National Board of Trade and with Keystone Watch Case Co. regarding the Oldfield Bill. 1912. 


Folder 3      Patent Correspondence

Insert 1  Correspondence with Harvey J. Hipple, Safety Bolt, regarding his patent application for a lock bolt. 1911-1912.

Insert 2  Correspondence regarding  Charles W. Miller and his patents regarding  Concrete Posts and Fences. 1912.

Insert 3  Correspondence with H. Frank Eshleman, Attorney for estate of D. H. Bausman regarding  possibility of extending his patent on an automatic stock watering contrivance. 1913.

Insert 4  Correspondence with C. C. Strickler, Register of Wills, Lancaster regarding foreign patents on Brauer’s Patent on Turbine Water Wheel. 1913.

Insert 5  Correspondence with Henry M. Brown co-owner with Ira Lloyd Kepperling regarding their patent for a ladies non-leakable syringe. 1913.

Insert 6  Correspondence with S. D. Pierce regarding  his patent on a mail box. 1913.

Insert 7  Correspondence with Harvey J. Hipple, The H.P.L. Washer and Safety Bolt Mfg. Co. regarding names and addresses of U.S. Consuls in six countries. No date.

Insert 8  Correspondence with Emanuel S. Muma regarding his application on an automobile attachment. 1914.

Insert 9  Correspondence with M. K. Lehr regarding his request for the name of a competent attorney. 1914.

Insert 10  Correspondence with George J. Root regarding registration of his new Bitters and Tonic with the Pure Food and Drug Act. 1914-1915.

Insert 11  Correspondence with Mrs. Emma Law regarding her patent on a tatting shuttle. 1915.


Folder 4     Patent Correspondence

Insert 1  Correspondence with A. P. Greeney, John L. Musser Real Estate regarding a  patent for spring arch for shoes.

Letter for Mason, Fenwick and Laurence, Patent Attorneys. 1915.

Insert 2  Correspondence with S. D. Pierce regarding  device for delivering mail. 1912.

Insert 3  Correspondence regarding  patent for H. C. Shank’s mail catching and delivering device. 1910-1912.

Insert 4  Correspondence regarding  patent for Ernest H. Braver’s Turbine Water Wheel. 1912.

Insert 5  Correspondence with Herman A. Phillips, Patent Attorney, 1912.