Griest: William Walton Griest Collection, Series 26 Post Office

Call Number:  MG-65, Series 26 Post Office

6 boxes     85 folders     3 cubic ft.

Repository: (Lancaster, Pa.)

Shelving Location:  Archives South, Side 2

Description:  Series 26 contains documents regarding the postal service, including stamps, rural delivery, parcel post, postage rates, and employees.

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 45

Folder 1          Postal Service

Folder 2          Postal Service

Folder 3          Postal Service

Folder 4          Postal Improvements

Folder 5          Postal Improvements

Folder 6          Postal 1919-1921

Folder 7          Postal 1919-1921

Folder 8          Postal Matters 1925-1928

Folder 9          Parcel Post

Folder 10        Bus Mail

Folder 11        Cuban Parcel Post

Folder 12        Post Office Department


Box 46

Folder 13        Post Office Department

Folder 14        Post Office Matters

Folder 15        Postal Matters

Folder 16        Postal Note Bill

Folder 17        Postal Savings Systems

Folder 18        Stamps

Folder 19        Stamped Envelopes

Folder 20        Postal Suggestions

Folder 21        Mail Investigation

Folder 22        Mail Permits

Folder 23        Postal Rate

Folder 24        Postal Rate

Folder 25        Postage Rate

Folder 26        Rate Protest

Folder 27        Rate Protest

Folder 28        Second Class Rate

Folder 29        Protest of Revenue Act

Folder 30        Drop-Letter Postage


Box 47

Folder 31        Penny-Postage Rate

Folder 32        Postage Rate

Folder 33        Postage Rate

Folder 34        Second Class Mail Rate

Folder 35        Postal Rates

Folder 36        One-Cent Rate

Folder 37        Postal Compensations

Folder 38        [Post Office-to be determined]

Folder 39        Postal Compensation

Folder 40        Postal Compensation

Folder 41        Salaries of Clerks


Box 48

Folder 42        Postal Compensation

Folder 43        Compensation of Postal Workers

Folder 44        Compensation for Injuries

Folder 45        Postal Mail

Folder 46        Postal Mail

Folder 47        Postal Appointments

Folder 48        Postal Guards

Folder 49        Postal Employee Legislation

Folder 50        Postal Employee Legislation

Folder 51        Postal Clerks

Folder 52        Postal Clerks

Folder 53        Substitute Rural Carriers


Box 49

Folder 54        Railway Postal Clerks

Folder 55        Post Office Advisory Employees

Folder 56        Superannuated Postal Employees

Folder 57        Postal Appointments

Folder 58        Postal Appointments

Folder 59        Post Office Commissions

Folder 60        Compensation Claims

Folder 61        Rural Carriers

Folder 62        Rural Carriers

Folder 63        Speeches of William Griest

Folder 64        Volunteer in Military of Postal Employees

Folder 65        Parcel Post

Folder 66        Village Mail


Box 50

Folder 67        Village Mail

Folder 68        Railway Postal System

Folder 69        Mail for the Blind

Folder 70        Indemnity for Post Office

Folder 71        Postal Legislation

Folder 72        Miscellaneous Postal

Folder 73        Miscellaneous Postal

Folder 74        Lancaster Post Offices

Folder 75        S. S. Lewis

Folder 76        Columbia Public Building

Folder 77        New Freedom

Folder 78        Quarryville

Folder 79        Marietta

Folder 80        Manheim

Folder 81        New Holland

Folder 82        Lancaster Mail Service

Folder 83        Lancaster

Folder 84        Lancaster

Folder 85        Postal Matters