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WWI Silks
Embroidered postcards from World War One are generally known as "WWI Silks." The WWI-themed cards were
in production until 1919. Cards wereproduced as war souvenirs and marked with the year they were made. Many
of the cards were prepared by French and Belgian women in their homes. Due to their beauty and uniqueness,
the WWI Silks were wildly popular with the Allied soldiers. This explains why the themes for most of the Silks are
patriotic, featuring British, French and American flags, symbols and greetings. The cards usually did not need
postage stamps as they were mailed home at no charge in Military Mail pouches. Some WWI Silks were bigger
than postcard size, so they were folded and put into a waxed envelope when mailing home. It has been estimated
that 10 million handmade Silks were made during the war. These cards became treasured mementos from "the
boys over there" and are excellent examples of front-line patriotic art quite unique to this specific period in
history.
Carl (Red) Spenner sent this Silk home to his Mother while he was in the war in France.
Carl and his wife Lillian Spenner spent most of their lives in Griffith after building their home at 730 N Broad St in
1939.
Student Army Training Corp
The Student Army Training Corp (SATC) was a group that came into being after the Selective Service Act of 1917.
The SATC utilized the facilities, equipment and faculty of colleges and universities to select and train officer
candidates and provide technical and vocational training during World War I. As a student at DePauw University
during these years, Hugh D. Hoot was an active participant in the SATC. The unit at DePauw was formed in early
1918 and trained officers as well as drafters. Universities, like DePauw, supported students leaving campus to join
the war effort by allowing them to receive full credit for the courses they were enrolled in.
Hugh Joined the Army on October 11, 1918, at the age of 18. He was terminated from the Army two months later
with an Honorable Discharge on December 11, after the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918.
At the World's Fair in Chicago in 1934, Hugh bought an acre of land in Griffith. Hugh, his wife Edith, and their
toddler son Kenneth, came to live in Griffith after building their house on that acre at 725 N Broad St. Their
second son Craig was born in 1948. Both Kenneth and Craig graduated from Griffith High School and joined the
Navy afterwards. Although Kenneth left Griffith after his service, Craig returned and raised a family in a house
built on the back half of the acre Hugh had originally bought at the World’s Fair, and has remained in town ever
since.
Pre-Griffith Indiana
The Indiana Territory was created in 1800, the first territory made after the passage of the Northwest Ordinance
in 1787. Early settlers into Indiana settled almost exclusively in the southern part of the state, leaving the
northern portion practically empty. Various efforts were made to encourage settlement further north during the
19th
century. These included actions like moving the capital from Corydon (in the very southern part of the state)
to Indianapolis (located in the almost exact center), heavy investments in statewide transportation systems like
paved roads, railroads, and canals, and the passage of the Swamp Land Act of 1850.
The Swamp Land Act was a piece of legislation that passed ownership of swampy, “unsaleable” lands from the
federal government to state control. The state could then sell these lands at an extreme discount to settlers who
would be willing to drain the land, giving people a way to get cheap land and the state a fast way to boost up its
income. Indiana began this process in 1852, and land sales took off quickly.
It took a little while for the effects of the Swamp Act to reach Lake County. Mathias and Anna Miller reached the
area in 1853, but, overall, sales of swamp lands in the county that year were so small that they weren’t even
counted in official state reports. In 1854, however, the area exploded, with around 36,000 acres being sold by
the end of October. The town of Griffith was still a half century away from incorporation, but early settlers were
starting to build the framework for a network of communities in the area that included Hammond, Crown Point,
Merrillville, and what would become Griffith.
The Early Days of Griffith
The self-proclaimed “Founders of Griffith,” Jay and Elmer Dwiggins, ran a Chicago-based real estate company. In
1893, the Dwiggins began running advertisements for land in a Chicago factory suburb town called Griffith. The
origins of the name of the town are unconfirmed, but it is believed to be named for a Mr. Griffith, who was a
Grand Trunk railroad surveyor assigned to this area. Railroaders using his maps called his area “Griffith’s Section,”
because he signed his name to them. Since most of the townspeople were associated with the railroads, the
nickname stuck and was used officially by the 1880s.
The Dwiggins’ pitch aroused excitement, and the small town initially flourished with a rapid growth in population,
industrial development, and economic opportunity. A historian writing in 1900 noted that “it seemed almost
magical how large buildings went up and people came flocking in.” The location of the town, at the joining point
of many of the major railroad lines, made it seem to be a sure bet for industry.
This boomperiod only lasted a shortwhile before coming to an abruptend, however. The growth and collapse of
early Griffith was compared to the lifecycle of a vine; it “came up in a night, and perished in a night.” The town
did not disappear, but remained for the very same reason it was started—because of the railroads. Railroads
were the major industry through the “slump” period of early Griffith, with the citizens who worked on the lines
being the majority of the people who stayed in the town. It is no exaggeration to say that Griffith is not only “the
town that came to the tracks,” but also “the town that stayed because of the tracks.”
Griffith Savings Bank
The Great Depression, starting in 1929, was responsible for the failure of the Griffith State Bank. To overcome the
loss of this institution, townspeople in Griffith banded together to make a new organization that could provide
funding for people who wanted to build homes. The owners of the McFarland Lumber Yard, along with Dr. and
Mrs. Malmstone, and a few others, were instrumental in starting the new Building and Loan Association in 1930.
Staff members tended to be people with strong connections to the area, resulting in minimal turnover. These
employees were dedicated to the community that they lived and served in, and accumulated a great base of
knowledge about their customers.
The Griffith Savings Bank was rare in that it was locally operated. Though it could not afford all of the bells and
whistles of some of the larger national banks, it retained a loyal customer base in Griffith because of its fair and
honest dealings with the community. Since the staff knew so much about the community, the Bank felt
comfortable giving loans to many new businesses and homeowners that could not have received the same level
of funding froma non-local bank. The Bank also contributed to virtually every non-profit venture in the town. The
Bank was truly a staple of the Griffith community.
With the pressures of the recession beginning in 2008 weighing heavily on the institution, the Bank Directors
chose to close the Bank in 2013. Today, United Federal Credit Union operates from the location on Broad Street,
retaining many of the former Bank’s staff and customers and providing services for the Town of Griffith.
The Town of Griffith
Railroads have remained an important part of the town of Griffith, but the town has clearly expanded beyond a
loosely clustered group of rail workers. After the slump had finished emptying the town, only about 500
residents were left. Fortunately for Griffith, these 500 contained within their number a core of men and women
who worked exceptionally hard to keep the town going and to push it forward. Early families like the Millers,
Beirigers, Christensons, Kuhns, Algers, Todds, Goverts, Helfens, Pennings, Malmstones, and Spitzes were critically
important towards expanding the industry in the town. They also created services like a volunteer fire
department and a School Board that improved life for everyone, and raised families that have remained
passionate and involved in the area. Early citizens were so committed to improving their town that they voted to
enact a “draft” system to get the work done for free. Between 1905 and 1910, all able-bodied adult men were
required to work 2 days a month on the roads, or pay $1.50 in fines for each day missed. The only excused men
were war veterans.
The contributions made by longstanding community members like these and plenty of others over the years, and
the enthusiasm that area residents have for their town, have made sure that Griffith has remained robust and
active to this day.
Griffith Diamond Jubilee
The Diamond Jubilee was Griffith’s celebration of 75 years of incorporation. The effort had its beginnings in late
1977 as a few volunteers met to find the perfect way to celebrate the town’s milestone. This initially small group
began to attract attention with their efforts to commemorate Griffith, and their project grew to include hundreds
of volunteers and contributors.
The first event of the Jubilee celebration was the Diamond Jubilee Kickoff Dinner in May, 1978. This fundraising
event provided the funds to hire Wayne Lemmon, a community consultant from the Roberts Company who
managed and planned the remainder of the Jubilee activities. Events included performances of the musical
“Griffith On Track!,” a Diamond Jubilee 4th
of July Parade, a Homecoming and Pioneer Day, and a Firemen’s
Jubilee Ball, which included a men’s beard judging contest. (The winner of the beard contest was Paul Boyle with
a red, white, and blue dyed, patriotic-themed beard.) This series of fun gatherings and events helped to bring the
town together to celebrate the wonderful 75 years of Griffith’s past, and to look forward to the years to come.
Griffith—Past, Present, and Future
The Town of Griffith continues to be an active, thriving community. The Griffith Historical Society hosts multiple
events and activities throughout the year to help townspeople feel educated and connected with their heritage
and their past. Whether you see us at our annual Railroad Days festival, stop by to see Santa in the Caboose, or
visit our museum, we want you to see our historic sites and repositories, and appreciate our collections. If you
have questions about the history of your family in the area, or the town in general, the Griffith Historical Society
is a great place to start a conversation or do a little research. We also welcome donations, and will make a
commitment to make sure that all of your family documents, images, and artifacts will be properly cared for and
kept safe in top-quality storage conditions. The Historic Society can only continue to preserve and remember the
legacy of our citizens through your support and dedication to our cause. We encourage you to let us know what
we can do to make your experience better, or to allow you to feel more connected with your history in this town.
Consider becoming a member today, so that you can pledge your support, get involved, and voice your opinions
on how to bring our past into the future!
Military Service
The Town of Griffith has always been proud to take part in its patriotic duty to service. Griffith sent its citizens out
to fight in every major conflict of the 20th
century, and has retained an active support network at home to bolster
the morale and resources of the troops. Our exhibit here showcases some of the memories and memorabilia
fromvarious conflicts, but we know there are still many more stories out there that remain untold. We are proud
to honor both those who have served and sacrificed for the safety and ideals of our country, and those who
stayed home to support and comfort. We encourage those with stories from the war front or the home front to
share their memories, so that we can continue to remember the service of our community members.
Griffith Churches
In the first few years of Griffith’s history, there weren’t any churches in the town. An attempt had been made to
build a church in the 1890s, but financial problems had stopped construction. Early settlers were still a devout
and religiously-minded people, though, and held prayer meetings in homes and storefronts all over town until
1911, when they started using Town Hall. Their ministers were itinerant, meaning that they traveled fromtown to
town along a circuit, instead of staying in one place week-to-week.
Through all this time, the settlers still wanted a place devoted exclusively to their worship. The first congregation
to accomplish this task were the Methodists in 1915, when they built a church at the corner of Lafayette and
Columbia. The new church had a main worship space, a sanctuary, a basement, and two classrooms, and cost
around $5,000. Raising that much money had taken a huge amount of fundraising, and the Methodists were the
envy of the town for three years. In 1918, however, thechurch was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
Though the Methodists probably felt a little discouraged at this point, they didn’t let it show, and built their
second church—from brick this time—just a few years later.
The Methodists weren’t the only ones with an idea of bringing a church to Griffith. The town has many different
faiths, and now has enough churches and religious institutions to support them all. Members of the churches are
responsible for many of the charitable and social events in Griffith every year, and are a key part of the
community.
Griffith Businesses
Since Griffith is “the town that came to the tracks,” it is easy to assume that railroads have been the driving force
behind the development of the town. This is true to an extent—rail lines like the Michigan Central, the EJ&E, the
Grand Trunk, the Chicago and Erie, and others, all went through Griffith and created work and economic
opportunity for the town. Griffith has grown beyond just being a railroad town, though, with all sorts of
businesses that help make the town interesting and diverse.
Beyond railroads, one of the earliest employers for Griffith was the Indiana Pipeline Company. Built in the 1880s
by the Standard Oil Co., this site was a main staging area for crude oil passing through to the refineries. These
original oil fields have long since dried up, but a number of pipelines and tank farms still exist in the Griffith area,
adding jobs and tax dollars to the town.
Griffith has also had a variety of other stores and businesses that have defined the town and the area. The Royal
Blue Store, owned by Ernest Strack and Meinhard Nissen, turned into the popular regional grocery store Strack
and Van Til. Lester and Ethel Blythe opened the Griffith Sport Shop in 1952, a business that has expanded and
been renamed Blythe’s Sports Shop. Gatlin Plumbing & Heating started out of Ivan Gatlin’s garage in 1938, but
moved quickly into downtown Griffith. Businesses like these, and the people that own and operate them, help to
make Griffith the special, unique place that it is.
Penning Family
This dress was worn by Naomi Todd Penning at her wedding to Adolph Penning. Adolph and Naomi were both
longtime Griffith residents, with Adolph being born here in the 1890s, and Naomimoving with her family in 1902.
Adolph was employed as a railroader, but ambitiously chose to also go to business schoolwhilehe worked the
Erie line. Adolph, and his brother William, left Griffith to join the armed services in World War I. Family legend
holds that their mother, Mathilda Ackermann Penning, begged them to join separatemilitary services so that at
least one of them would come back alive. William joined the Army, while Adolph went to the Navy; both came
back alive and safe, no doubtto their mother’s relief!
Soon after returning fromthe war, Adolph Penning began to involve himself with town affairs. Hebecame town
treasurer in 1922, and evidently did a fine job, because he served in the postfor a total of 26 years. Adolph also
founded the Republican Party in Griffith, was a charter member of the Lions Club, and participated in the Izaak
Walton League and the American Legion. The Pennings werelongtime residents of Griffith, and participated
greatly in its growth and prosperity throughoutthe 20th
century.

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Exhibit Labels (Combined)

  • 1. WWI Silks Embroidered postcards from World War One are generally known as "WWI Silks." The WWI-themed cards were in production until 1919. Cards wereproduced as war souvenirs and marked with the year they were made. Many of the cards were prepared by French and Belgian women in their homes. Due to their beauty and uniqueness, the WWI Silks were wildly popular with the Allied soldiers. This explains why the themes for most of the Silks are patriotic, featuring British, French and American flags, symbols and greetings. The cards usually did not need postage stamps as they were mailed home at no charge in Military Mail pouches. Some WWI Silks were bigger than postcard size, so they were folded and put into a waxed envelope when mailing home. It has been estimated that 10 million handmade Silks were made during the war. These cards became treasured mementos from "the boys over there" and are excellent examples of front-line patriotic art quite unique to this specific period in history. Carl (Red) Spenner sent this Silk home to his Mother while he was in the war in France. Carl and his wife Lillian Spenner spent most of their lives in Griffith after building their home at 730 N Broad St in 1939.
  • 2. Student Army Training Corp The Student Army Training Corp (SATC) was a group that came into being after the Selective Service Act of 1917. The SATC utilized the facilities, equipment and faculty of colleges and universities to select and train officer candidates and provide technical and vocational training during World War I. As a student at DePauw University during these years, Hugh D. Hoot was an active participant in the SATC. The unit at DePauw was formed in early 1918 and trained officers as well as drafters. Universities, like DePauw, supported students leaving campus to join the war effort by allowing them to receive full credit for the courses they were enrolled in. Hugh Joined the Army on October 11, 1918, at the age of 18. He was terminated from the Army two months later with an Honorable Discharge on December 11, after the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. At the World's Fair in Chicago in 1934, Hugh bought an acre of land in Griffith. Hugh, his wife Edith, and their toddler son Kenneth, came to live in Griffith after building their house on that acre at 725 N Broad St. Their second son Craig was born in 1948. Both Kenneth and Craig graduated from Griffith High School and joined the Navy afterwards. Although Kenneth left Griffith after his service, Craig returned and raised a family in a house built on the back half of the acre Hugh had originally bought at the World’s Fair, and has remained in town ever since.
  • 3. Pre-Griffith Indiana The Indiana Territory was created in 1800, the first territory made after the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Early settlers into Indiana settled almost exclusively in the southern part of the state, leaving the northern portion practically empty. Various efforts were made to encourage settlement further north during the 19th century. These included actions like moving the capital from Corydon (in the very southern part of the state) to Indianapolis (located in the almost exact center), heavy investments in statewide transportation systems like paved roads, railroads, and canals, and the passage of the Swamp Land Act of 1850. The Swamp Land Act was a piece of legislation that passed ownership of swampy, “unsaleable” lands from the federal government to state control. The state could then sell these lands at an extreme discount to settlers who would be willing to drain the land, giving people a way to get cheap land and the state a fast way to boost up its income. Indiana began this process in 1852, and land sales took off quickly. It took a little while for the effects of the Swamp Act to reach Lake County. Mathias and Anna Miller reached the area in 1853, but, overall, sales of swamp lands in the county that year were so small that they weren’t even counted in official state reports. In 1854, however, the area exploded, with around 36,000 acres being sold by the end of October. The town of Griffith was still a half century away from incorporation, but early settlers were starting to build the framework for a network of communities in the area that included Hammond, Crown Point, Merrillville, and what would become Griffith.
  • 4. The Early Days of Griffith The self-proclaimed “Founders of Griffith,” Jay and Elmer Dwiggins, ran a Chicago-based real estate company. In 1893, the Dwiggins began running advertisements for land in a Chicago factory suburb town called Griffith. The origins of the name of the town are unconfirmed, but it is believed to be named for a Mr. Griffith, who was a Grand Trunk railroad surveyor assigned to this area. Railroaders using his maps called his area “Griffith’s Section,” because he signed his name to them. Since most of the townspeople were associated with the railroads, the nickname stuck and was used officially by the 1880s. The Dwiggins’ pitch aroused excitement, and the small town initially flourished with a rapid growth in population, industrial development, and economic opportunity. A historian writing in 1900 noted that “it seemed almost magical how large buildings went up and people came flocking in.” The location of the town, at the joining point of many of the major railroad lines, made it seem to be a sure bet for industry. This boomperiod only lasted a shortwhile before coming to an abruptend, however. The growth and collapse of early Griffith was compared to the lifecycle of a vine; it “came up in a night, and perished in a night.” The town did not disappear, but remained for the very same reason it was started—because of the railroads. Railroads were the major industry through the “slump” period of early Griffith, with the citizens who worked on the lines being the majority of the people who stayed in the town. It is no exaggeration to say that Griffith is not only “the town that came to the tracks,” but also “the town that stayed because of the tracks.”
  • 5. Griffith Savings Bank The Great Depression, starting in 1929, was responsible for the failure of the Griffith State Bank. To overcome the loss of this institution, townspeople in Griffith banded together to make a new organization that could provide funding for people who wanted to build homes. The owners of the McFarland Lumber Yard, along with Dr. and Mrs. Malmstone, and a few others, were instrumental in starting the new Building and Loan Association in 1930. Staff members tended to be people with strong connections to the area, resulting in minimal turnover. These employees were dedicated to the community that they lived and served in, and accumulated a great base of knowledge about their customers. The Griffith Savings Bank was rare in that it was locally operated. Though it could not afford all of the bells and whistles of some of the larger national banks, it retained a loyal customer base in Griffith because of its fair and honest dealings with the community. Since the staff knew so much about the community, the Bank felt comfortable giving loans to many new businesses and homeowners that could not have received the same level of funding froma non-local bank. The Bank also contributed to virtually every non-profit venture in the town. The Bank was truly a staple of the Griffith community. With the pressures of the recession beginning in 2008 weighing heavily on the institution, the Bank Directors chose to close the Bank in 2013. Today, United Federal Credit Union operates from the location on Broad Street, retaining many of the former Bank’s staff and customers and providing services for the Town of Griffith.
  • 6. The Town of Griffith Railroads have remained an important part of the town of Griffith, but the town has clearly expanded beyond a loosely clustered group of rail workers. After the slump had finished emptying the town, only about 500 residents were left. Fortunately for Griffith, these 500 contained within their number a core of men and women who worked exceptionally hard to keep the town going and to push it forward. Early families like the Millers, Beirigers, Christensons, Kuhns, Algers, Todds, Goverts, Helfens, Pennings, Malmstones, and Spitzes were critically important towards expanding the industry in the town. They also created services like a volunteer fire department and a School Board that improved life for everyone, and raised families that have remained passionate and involved in the area. Early citizens were so committed to improving their town that they voted to enact a “draft” system to get the work done for free. Between 1905 and 1910, all able-bodied adult men were required to work 2 days a month on the roads, or pay $1.50 in fines for each day missed. The only excused men were war veterans. The contributions made by longstanding community members like these and plenty of others over the years, and the enthusiasm that area residents have for their town, have made sure that Griffith has remained robust and active to this day.
  • 7. Griffith Diamond Jubilee The Diamond Jubilee was Griffith’s celebration of 75 years of incorporation. The effort had its beginnings in late 1977 as a few volunteers met to find the perfect way to celebrate the town’s milestone. This initially small group began to attract attention with their efforts to commemorate Griffith, and their project grew to include hundreds of volunteers and contributors. The first event of the Jubilee celebration was the Diamond Jubilee Kickoff Dinner in May, 1978. This fundraising event provided the funds to hire Wayne Lemmon, a community consultant from the Roberts Company who managed and planned the remainder of the Jubilee activities. Events included performances of the musical “Griffith On Track!,” a Diamond Jubilee 4th of July Parade, a Homecoming and Pioneer Day, and a Firemen’s Jubilee Ball, which included a men’s beard judging contest. (The winner of the beard contest was Paul Boyle with a red, white, and blue dyed, patriotic-themed beard.) This series of fun gatherings and events helped to bring the town together to celebrate the wonderful 75 years of Griffith’s past, and to look forward to the years to come.
  • 8. Griffith—Past, Present, and Future The Town of Griffith continues to be an active, thriving community. The Griffith Historical Society hosts multiple events and activities throughout the year to help townspeople feel educated and connected with their heritage and their past. Whether you see us at our annual Railroad Days festival, stop by to see Santa in the Caboose, or visit our museum, we want you to see our historic sites and repositories, and appreciate our collections. If you have questions about the history of your family in the area, or the town in general, the Griffith Historical Society is a great place to start a conversation or do a little research. We also welcome donations, and will make a commitment to make sure that all of your family documents, images, and artifacts will be properly cared for and kept safe in top-quality storage conditions. The Historic Society can only continue to preserve and remember the legacy of our citizens through your support and dedication to our cause. We encourage you to let us know what we can do to make your experience better, or to allow you to feel more connected with your history in this town. Consider becoming a member today, so that you can pledge your support, get involved, and voice your opinions on how to bring our past into the future!
  • 9. Military Service The Town of Griffith has always been proud to take part in its patriotic duty to service. Griffith sent its citizens out to fight in every major conflict of the 20th century, and has retained an active support network at home to bolster the morale and resources of the troops. Our exhibit here showcases some of the memories and memorabilia fromvarious conflicts, but we know there are still many more stories out there that remain untold. We are proud to honor both those who have served and sacrificed for the safety and ideals of our country, and those who stayed home to support and comfort. We encourage those with stories from the war front or the home front to share their memories, so that we can continue to remember the service of our community members.
  • 10. Griffith Churches In the first few years of Griffith’s history, there weren’t any churches in the town. An attempt had been made to build a church in the 1890s, but financial problems had stopped construction. Early settlers were still a devout and religiously-minded people, though, and held prayer meetings in homes and storefronts all over town until 1911, when they started using Town Hall. Their ministers were itinerant, meaning that they traveled fromtown to town along a circuit, instead of staying in one place week-to-week. Through all this time, the settlers still wanted a place devoted exclusively to their worship. The first congregation to accomplish this task were the Methodists in 1915, when they built a church at the corner of Lafayette and Columbia. The new church had a main worship space, a sanctuary, a basement, and two classrooms, and cost around $5,000. Raising that much money had taken a huge amount of fundraising, and the Methodists were the envy of the town for three years. In 1918, however, thechurch was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Though the Methodists probably felt a little discouraged at this point, they didn’t let it show, and built their second church—from brick this time—just a few years later. The Methodists weren’t the only ones with an idea of bringing a church to Griffith. The town has many different faiths, and now has enough churches and religious institutions to support them all. Members of the churches are responsible for many of the charitable and social events in Griffith every year, and are a key part of the community.
  • 11. Griffith Businesses Since Griffith is “the town that came to the tracks,” it is easy to assume that railroads have been the driving force behind the development of the town. This is true to an extent—rail lines like the Michigan Central, the EJ&E, the Grand Trunk, the Chicago and Erie, and others, all went through Griffith and created work and economic opportunity for the town. Griffith has grown beyond just being a railroad town, though, with all sorts of businesses that help make the town interesting and diverse. Beyond railroads, one of the earliest employers for Griffith was the Indiana Pipeline Company. Built in the 1880s by the Standard Oil Co., this site was a main staging area for crude oil passing through to the refineries. These original oil fields have long since dried up, but a number of pipelines and tank farms still exist in the Griffith area, adding jobs and tax dollars to the town. Griffith has also had a variety of other stores and businesses that have defined the town and the area. The Royal Blue Store, owned by Ernest Strack and Meinhard Nissen, turned into the popular regional grocery store Strack and Van Til. Lester and Ethel Blythe opened the Griffith Sport Shop in 1952, a business that has expanded and been renamed Blythe’s Sports Shop. Gatlin Plumbing & Heating started out of Ivan Gatlin’s garage in 1938, but moved quickly into downtown Griffith. Businesses like these, and the people that own and operate them, help to make Griffith the special, unique place that it is.
  • 12. Penning Family This dress was worn by Naomi Todd Penning at her wedding to Adolph Penning. Adolph and Naomi were both longtime Griffith residents, with Adolph being born here in the 1890s, and Naomimoving with her family in 1902. Adolph was employed as a railroader, but ambitiously chose to also go to business schoolwhilehe worked the Erie line. Adolph, and his brother William, left Griffith to join the armed services in World War I. Family legend holds that their mother, Mathilda Ackermann Penning, begged them to join separatemilitary services so that at least one of them would come back alive. William joined the Army, while Adolph went to the Navy; both came back alive and safe, no doubtto their mother’s relief! Soon after returning fromthe war, Adolph Penning began to involve himself with town affairs. Hebecame town treasurer in 1922, and evidently did a fine job, because he served in the postfor a total of 26 years. Adolph also founded the Republican Party in Griffith, was a charter member of the Lions Club, and participated in the Izaak Walton League and the American Legion. The Pennings werelongtime residents of Griffith, and participated greatly in its growth and prosperity throughoutthe 20th century.