The Marriage of Harold and Evelyn Griffis

There are a number of stories that reference the marriage of Harold William Griffis and Evelyn Teresa Dutcher. Given the number of photographs and documents related to their marriage it is befitting to provide a story solely to the subject.

Evelyn and Harold wedding day June 29 1926
Evelyn and Harold on their wedding day, Charles Griffis, Harold’s father, is on the porch looking on, June 29, 1926. . Click for larger view.

Leading Up to the Marriage

Harold Griffis and Evelyn Dutcher began dating during their last two years at Gloversville High School, Gloversville, New York. Both were honor students and participated in a number of clubs and activities in their high school careers. William graduated from Gloversville High School with a commercial diploma and initially worked in the Gloversville YMCA after high school graduation. Evelyn graduated with a classical arts degree and immediately went on to obtain a college degree at the New York State teacher’s college in Albany, New York.

Having decided to become a minister while he was in high school, Harold realized the need to obtain a college degree. In his post high school graduate year he was tutored by his high school sweetheart, Evelyn, to take the required college entrance exams to enter college. With Evelyn’s help, Harold passed the college entrance exams. Harold then applied and was accepted to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Being one year ahead for Harold in her college studies, Evelyn Dutcher graduated from the New York State College for Teachers, Albany , New York in 1924. She went back to the Gloversville area and taught Latin at the Johnstown High School in Johnstown, New York while living with her parents [1].

After Harold’s graduation in 1925, he began is career as a minister and pastor at two local Methodist Episcopal church: Jonesville and Groom’s Methodist M.E. churches in New York state.

Wedding Day

They were married on Harold’s birthday June 29, 1926. After their wedding, they immediately left for Harold’s pastoral duties and initially lived in the Jonesville parsonage. 

The following photo was taken on Harold and Evelyn’s wedding day. Harold and Evelyn are peeking out of the window behind their parents and Harold’s aunt Kate Sperber. The photograph was taken at Evelyn’s parent’s house, 27 North Judson Street, Gloversville, New York. In the photograph from left to right: Aunt Kate Sperber, Ida Sperber Griffis, Charles Griffis, Mary Jane Platts Dutcher, and Squire Dutcher.

Kate Sperber Ida Sperber Charles Griffis Mary Jane Platts Squire Dutcher
June 29, 1926, wedding day in front of Evelyn’s House. Click for larger view.

The photograph of the wedding party below is also taken at 27 Judson Street. From left to right: Bernice Dutcher, who was Evelyn’s cousin; Evelyn Dutcher; Harold Griffis; and Russell Lane, Benice’s future husband. On the porch, to the right, is Charles Griffis looking on as the photograph was taken.

Bernice Dutcher Evelyn Dutcher Harold Griffis Russell Lane
Click for larger view.

The following is Harold and Evelyn’s marriage guest book. Harold W. Griffis and Evelyn T. Dutcher were married in the Fremont Street Methodist episcopal Church by the pastor David W. Reid. their witnesses were Bernice Dutcher, Evelyn’s cousin and another cousin, Paul Snyder. The pages that include names of individuals who attended the wedding or gave gifts must have been amended many years after the actual date. The name ‘Nancy Evelyn Griffis’ is listed but Nancy is Harold and Evelyn’s fourth child.

Cover of their Guestbook 6 inches by 8.5 inches, click for larger view.
Pages one and two of the Guestbook. Click for larger view.
Pages three and four of the Guestbook. Click for larger view.
Pages five and six of the Guestbook. Click for larger view.

1926 was a year of many milestones for both young Harold and Evelyn. It began their 35 years together as husband and wife. Harold was starting his career as a pastor. Harold lost his father, Charles, in the latter part of the year. Evelyn ended a brief teaching career after graduating from college and devoted her attention to her role as a pastor’s wife until Harold passed away a day after his birthday on June 30, 1961.

Twenty Five Years Later – 1951

The following handwritten notebook pages were attached in the Guestbook. After viewing their handwriting, I believe the poem was written and transcribed by Evelyn. She probably placed it into the Guest book around their 25th wedding anniversary. Click for larger view.

The following are the three handwritten notebook pages that were attached in the Guestbook.

Sources

[1] New York State Census, 1925, Fulton County, Gloversville, Election District 1, Ward 3, Assembly District 1, Page 17, Lines 10-12

Click Image for larger view.

Harold William Griffis – College Years 1921-1925

Wesleyan University 1922-1923
Young Harold, click for larger view.

Harold William Griffis (June 29, 1903 – June 30, 1961) was the patriarch of the Griffis family that resided in the Albany-Troy-Schenectady (tri-city), New York area for four of the most recent generations of our family in the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Many of the living members of our current family unfortunately did not get the chance to know Harold Griffis given his untimely death a day after his 58th birthday.

He had a great sense of humor. He would be the first to laugh about himself and would provide stories to any audience to produce laughter and remind everyone of what it is to be human. He had great patience with his family. Harold accepted everyone regardless of limitations or faults and his tacit aim was getting the best out of each individual he came into contact with.

An only child, Harold was born on June 29, 1903 in Gloversville, New York. His parents were Charles Arthur Griffis and Ida May Sperber. Harold’s father Charles, passed away at the age of 49 after Harold graduated from college in 1926.

High School Graduation

Cover of Commencement Exercise Pamphlet: Source: Evelyn Dutcher 1920 Scrapbook. Click to enlarge.

William graduated from Gloversville High School with a commercial diploma and initially worked in the Gloversville YMCA after high school graduation. The following are photos of the original Gloversville commencement exercises program that Evelyn Dutcher Griffis saved and had in a scrapbook. The commencement took place a week before Harold’s birthday. Harold Griffis gave the “Class Oration”. Harold was the senior class treasurer. Harold and Evelyn Dutcher, Harold’s high school sweetheart were part of the five member Class Day Committee. Evelyn was listed as “Ever Dutiful” and Harold was deemed as a “Handy Gentleman”. Kenneth Dutcher, a distant cousin of Evelyn’s, evidently did not enjoy academics as much and graduated in the lower half of the 52 member 1920 graduating class. His senior year moniker was “Knof Done’!

  • Page 1 of Graduation Exercises June 22, 1920

Evelyn Dutcher saved local Gloversville newspaper articles on the high school graduation. Although the Commencement exercises program listed 52 students of the graduating class, the newspaper clipping indicate 56 graduated in 1920 and 25 students had a grade point average over 80. Both Harold and Evelyn were on the honor list of graduates. Evelyn received a ‘Classical’ degree and had a grade average of 87.4 while Harold received a Commercial degree and had a grade average of 84.7. Evelyn was the top in the class in terms of the number of ‘academic counts’ of courses taken in her four years of her high school career. She also received honors providing the best senior recitation.

Newspaper clippings from a scrapbook of Evelyn Dutcher, 1920. Click to Enlarge.

Evelyn was the top in the class in terms of the number of ‘academic counts’ of courses taken in her four years of her high school career with 97 and Harold was top among the commercial degree graduates with 87.

Gloversville High School 120 Graduates, Source: Scrapbook of Evelyn Dutcher Griffis, click for larger view.
Harold Griffis, High School Graduation, Source: Scrapbook of Evelyn Dutcher Griffis, 1920, click for larger view.
Evelyn Dutcher, 1920 High School graduation photograph. Click for larger view.
Evelyn Dutcher, high school senior photograph 1925. Source: Personal scrapbook of Evelyn Dutcher Griffis. Click for enlarged view.

The photo below captured 21 of the 24 young men that graduated in 1920. Harold is the fifth person from the left.

The boys of 1920 Gloversville graduation class, 21 of the 24 young men that graduated. Source: Evelyn Dutcher personal scrapbook. Click for larger view.
Evelyn Dutcher second on the left, 1925. Source: Evelyn Dutcher personal scrapbook. Click for larger view.
Class of 1920 Gloversville High School Class Photograph. Harold is left center of the photograph in the center; Evelyn Dutcher is in the lower right hand corner of the female graduates. Click for enlarged view.

Having decided to become a minister while he was in high school, he realized the need to obtain a college degree. In his post high school graduate year he was tutored by his high school sweetheart, Evelyn Theresa Dutcher, to take the required college entrance exams to enter college. While Harold was working, Evelyn went on to teacher’s college immediately after they both graduated from high school.

The following are three postcards of the Gloversville YMCA circa 1920 where harold worked for a year before he went to college.

  • Gloversville YMCA Postcard 1920s
    Gloversville YMCA Postcard 1920s

Freshman Year

With Evelyn’s help, Harold passed the college entrance exams. Harold applied and was accepted to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Wesleyan Student Body 1921-1922. Click for enlarged view.

To see where Harold Griffis is in this panoramic photo click for the enlarged view of this photo:

Harold as a freshman with the Wesleyan University ‘frosh’ hat 1921. Click for larger view.
Harold sleeping at Sigma Nu Fraternity House, source: Evelyn Dutcher Griffis personal scrapbook. Click for larger view.
Harold Griffis, Madison, Connecticut April 22-23, 1922. Source: Evelyn Dutcher Griffis scrapbook. Click for enlarged viewed.

Sophomore Year

All the college students – Wesleyan University 1922 – 1923 Click for larger view.

It is challenging to figure out where Harold Griffis is in this photo, here is a copy of the photo which identifies where Harold is in the photo.

Also a section of the photo provides a glimpse of Harold in the group photo.

Letter from Charles Griffis to Harold Griffis while at college. Click for larger view.
Sophomore Class Wesleyan University. Harold is in the top row fifth from the left. Source: 1923 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1923, Page 97. Click for enlarged view.
Oxford Club 1922-23
Oxford Club, Wesleyan University 1922-1923. Harold is in the first row on the right. Click for enlarged view. Source: Scrapbook of Evelyn Dutcher Griffis

Junior Year

The annual panorama photograph of the entire student body of Wesleyan University for the 1923-1924 school year, Harold’s Junior year. The three photographs scan the student body from left, middle and right. Harold is in the right portion of the panorama, second top row on the extreme left, partially cut on the left hand frame of the photo.

Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 51. Click for enlarged view.
Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 52. Click for enlarged view.
Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 53. Click for enlarged view.
There’s Harold! Click for larger view.
The Junior class of 1923-192, Harold is in middle next to the gentleman with the “W” sweater. Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 100. Click for larger view.

The following is a postcard that Harold sent at the beginning of his Junior year in college on September 19, 1923 to his Aunt Kate Sperber. Kate Sperber was a sister of Ida Sperber, Harold’s mother.

Post Card of Sigma Nu Wesleyan University 1923
Postcard Harold Griffis sent to his Aunt Kate. The arrow indicates where his room his in the frat house. Click for enlarged view.
Post Card of Sigma Nu Backside Wesleyan University 1923
Backside of postcard with short note Aunt Kate. Click for enlarged view.
Harold Griffis is in the middle of the middle row. Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 228.. Click for enlarged view.
Harold Griffis is in the bottom row, second to the right. Source: 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924, Page 242. Click for enlarged view.

Senior Year

Alas, the student body panorama photograph was not documented in the yearbook when Harold graduated.

The following are photographs of a hiking trip with Evelyn and friends to Mountain Lake on July 4th, 1924, in between Harold’s junior and senior year.

  • Hike to Mountain Lake July 4, 1924
    Hike to Mountain Lake July 4, 1924
Senior class photograph and yearbook senior class photograph, source: 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925, Page 75 Click for enlarged view.
1925 Senior Class, Wesleyan University. Harold Griffis is in the last row second from the left with his graduation cap on. 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925, Page . Click for enlarged view.

Harold was President of the Oxford Club in his senior year. He was also a cabinet member of the Christian Association.

1925 Oxford Club, Source: 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925 Click for enlarged view.

In the early 1900’s, Typhoid Fever was still a formidable disease. Its presence in the United States was reflected in Harold’s senior year yearbook in a poem (below). Typhoid fever is no longer a household word in America. However, during Harold’s school years, the disease frequently broke out in epidemic form. [1] The disease is characterized by a persistently high fever, rash, generalized pains, headache and severe abdominal discomfort that can lead to intestinal bleeding and even death. Ten percent of those who got the disease a century ago died.

Source: Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, Healthy Water, Incidence of Ty[hoid Fever, by Year – United States 1920 – 1960, Page updated 24 Aug 2012, page accessed 20 Mar 2021. 
1925 Senior Class, Wesleyan University. Harold Griffis is in the last row second from the left with his graduation cap on. 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925, Page 280 . Click for enlarged view.
Senior Class Wesleyan University 1925, Harold is in the middle of the second top row with glasses. Senior Class Photo 1925, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, photo was cropped in PDF version of the yearbook. 1925 Olla Podrida, Wesleyan University, Middletown, 1925, Page 60 Click for larger view.

Sigma Nu Fraternity

Harold Griffis’ Sigma Nu Fraternity Card, Click for enlarged view.

Harold, as with many of the Wesleyan University students joined a Fraternity during his four year stay at college. He joined the Sigma Nu Fraternity which had recently established a local chapter at Wesleyan in 1920. Each fraternity had their group personality: some were party goers, others were the athletes of the college, and others were scholars.

Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) is an undergraduate college fraternity founded at the Virginia Military Institute on January 1, 1869. The fraternity’s values are summarized as an adherence to the principles of love, honor, and truth. [2]

Harold’s Fraternity Paddle. Original object 20 inches by 4 inches with signature of Fraternity brothers. Click for larger view.
“Gaylord”: A charcoal caricature of Harold’s son James D. Griffis while he was a college student at Wesleyan University. Click for enlarged view.

The Sigma Nu fraternity’s collective identity was captured in a poem, entitled De Fraternitatibus, in the 1925 Wesleyan University yearbook, Harold’s senior year. Evidently, the Sigma Nu boys were known to be tee totalers yet a happy bunch and stuck to college rules and received good grades.

It is interesting to note that the third last stanza of the poem describes the character of another fraternity DKE, Delta Kappa Epsilon. One of Harold’s sons, James Dutcher Griffis, also went to Wesleyan University. Given his personality as a gregarious, athletic, party-loving individual, much different than his father Harold, young James entered the DKE fraternity in the early 1950’s. It appears that the DKE house did not change since the early 1920’s. “They loved to dance, were broad minded in their views, and had a cool disdain on temperance”.

Source: 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925, Page 262 Click for larger view.
Source: 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925, Page 263 Click for larger view.

Below are photographs of Sigma Nu that were in a personal scrapbook compiled by Evelyn Dutcher, the photographs were taken around 1922.

  • This aint natural
    This aint natural
Sigma Nu Fraternity 1923, Harold was a sophomore. Source: 1923 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1923 Click for larger view.
Weslyan Sigma Nu Fraternity House 1922
Sigma Nu Boys Reading the Paper – Harold on the left 1925; Source: Evelyn Dutcher Griffis, Scrapbook. Click for enlarged view.
Sigma Nu 1923-1924, Wesleyan University. Source: Evelyn Dutcher Griffis personal scrapbook. Harold is in the third row, fourth from the right. Click for enlarged view.
Sigma Nu Fraternity in front of their house, freshman year for Harold Griffis 1921-1922, Source: 1922 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1922, page 151  Click for larger view.
On the steps of Sigma Nu Feb 1925
Harold Griffis on the steps of the Sigma Nu Fraternity House, February 1925. Click for enlarged view.
Sigma Nu Boys Wesleyan University
Sigma Nu Boys 1925, Harold Griffis is in the middle of the third row. Click for enlarged view.
1925 Sigma Nu Members, Source 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925 Click for enlarged view.
Harold Griffis in the top row with friends in 1925. Click for larger view.

College and Beyond

Harold and Evelyn began dating the last two years at Gloversville High School. Evelyn Dutch graduated from the New York State college for Teachers, Albany , New York in 1924. She went back to Gloversville and taught Latin at Johnstown High School for one year. [3]

During his sophomore year at college, Harold applied to the Troy Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church to be accepted and ordained as a Deacon. He obtained a Local Preacher’s License, signed by the Fremont Quarterly Conference of Troy Annual Conference, held in Gloversville March 11, 1920.

March 11, 1920, Local Preacher’s License for Harold Griffis, click for larger view.

After Harold’s graduation, they were married on Harold’s birthday June 29, 1926. After their wedding, they immediately left for Harold’s pastoral duties initially at a church in Jonesville, New York. He then began his career as a pastor for the Methodist Episcopal Churches in Jonesville and Grooms, New York. His father Charles Griffis passed away on September 21, 1926.

1926 was a year of many milestones for young Harold and Evelyn: marriage, Harold starting his career as a pastor and the loss of his father’; for Evelyn, ending a brief teaching career after graduating from college and devoting her attention to her role as a pastor’s wife.

Evelyn and Harold 1925
Evelyn and Harold in 1925. The photograph was taken at Evelyn Dutcher’s house in Gloversville. Source: Evelyn Dutcher Griffis personal scrapbook. Click for larger view.

Photographs on their Wedding Day

This is a photo of Harold and Evelyn’s wedding day. Harold and Evelyn are peeking out of the window behind their parents and Aunt Kate Sperber. Left to right: Aunt Kate, Ida Sperber Griffis, Charles Griffis Mary Jane Platts Dutcher, Squire Dutcher, click for larger view.
Evelyn and Harold on their wedding day, Charles Griffis is on the porch looking on, June 29, 1926, click for larger view.
Bernice Dutcher, Evelyn’s cousin, Evelyn, Harold, Russell Lane, Bernice’s future husband, Charles Griffis is on the porch on the right.. Click for larger view.

Sources

The featured image is a panorama of all the students at Wesleyan University for the school year 1922-1923, from 1923 Olla Podrida, Annual College Yearbook, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT, 1923 , page 43. Harold Griffis was a sophomore. To view the entire photo click here.

[1] DiBacco, Thomas, When Typhoid was Dreaded, Washington Post, January 25, 1994

[2] Sigma Nu (ΣΝ) , Wikipedia, Page paced on 12 Feb 2021, was last updated 27 Nov 2020

[3] Letter of Recommendation from E. L Ackley, Superintendent, Johnstown Public schools, Johnstown, New York, March 3, 1930

Letter of Recommendation from E.L. Ackley. Click for larger view.

Photograph sources:

  • Dutcher, Evelyn, Personal scrapbooks
  • Family photgraphs
  • 1922 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1922
  • 1923 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1923
  • 1924 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1924
  • 1925 Yearbook, Olla Podrida, Middletown: Wesleyan University, 1925