FIRST TRIO BORN IN PENNS GROVE
Multiple Births Unexpected and Rare
By Nan Claxton
Triplets were born to James Griffith and Elizabeth Jess Griffith on February 10, 1917 at their home on the comer of Turner Avenue and Poplar Street,
Penns Grove, New Jersey. The first born was Edna (6lbs 8 oz), followed by George (7lbs 12 oz) and James (7lbs 8 oz). Dr. C. L. Fleming was the
attending doctor. The attending nurse was Verna Jess, Elizabeth's sister.
Each triplet received an engraved silver spoon. Edna said that Mrs. R F. Willis, of the Willis Hardware family, collected money from the townspeople and
had silver spoons made for each of the triplets. They had to send away and have them made. Edna has her spoon. * There was a request made by some
of the townspeople to put the triplets on display and let people pay to see them to help defray the expense of the multiple births. Their mother, Elizabeth~
was very adamant and told everyone "they were not for sale."
The home they were born in had been built by James' parents~ Henry and Eunice Griffith, so they actually were born in their grandparents' home. As
many did years ago, when your children married the parents shared their home. The house of Henry and Eunice was big, but soon became too small.
They still had several children at home. It is said that when the triplets were born, Beatrice keep running into where the other children were and telling
them there were two babies and then three babies. The other children were in disbelief. They thought Beats was being funny.
James and Elizabeth Griffith eventually moved their family across the way on the comer of Maurice Avenue and Poplar Street. (This house has been
The family was not aware that they were going to have a multiple birth event. They were only prepared for one child. They say there was a scurrying
around to get enough necessities to take care of the new arrivals. The dry good stores did a tremendous business that day, especially on cloth to make
diapers. We have been told that the family emptied three bureau drawers and made temporary beds for them. At that time, many babies slept with their
parents. Three in a bed would have been difficult.
Siblings of the triplets at the time of their birth were Beatrice, born January 26, 1911 and William born February 16, 1915. Following the birth of the
triplets, the Griffith had two more children, Charles born September 4, 1922 and Rae born January 1, 1925.
Edna is the only surviving triplet. James died in 1988. George was about 2-1/2 when he died in 1920. The family never knew what his problem was but
were told that he died "from eating green apples." This could have been a real diagnosis in those days.
Edna Griffith married Albert Powell and had four children: Albert, Jr., Judy, Frank and Tom. James had three children: James, Elizabeth Ann, and Denise.
Edna and her son, Tom, continue to live on the same farm Edna and Albert managed. At one time they were known as "The Turkey Farm." They no
longer raise turkeys. The original farm that the Powell family managed was built many years ago from ballast's from wrecked ships (it no longer exists).
The next farmhouse on their property was demolished by the weather. Edna continues to enjoy life. She belongs to and is active the Auburn Firemen's
Auxiliary. Edna makes quilts. She has donated several to the Fire Company for their fund raising activities. Edna celebrated her 84 birthday in February.
She continues to make a home for she and her son and you will find her helping her son with the farm. Her cupboards are full of items she cans every
year - she says there is nothing like your own "canned" vegetables and fruits.
Multiple births in the families: Jim had twin sisters, Edna and Lillian, born in 1893 living only a short time, dying the same year. Elizabeth's parents, Henry
and Chris Jess also had twins born in late 1880s.
HENRY ALLEN GRIFFITH FAMILY
Henry Allen Griffith (1867-1932) and Eunice Lloyd Griffith (1867-1937) were married in 1887.
Where they first resided in Penns Grove was named for them, Griffith Street. They then built the home on Turner Avenue. (The house remains at that
location, but has been totally renovated.)
James (March 19, 1890 -1967) Edna and Lillian (1893-1893) Mary (1896-1913)
William (1898 or 1899)
Anna (9/30/1904 - 3/18/93) Wilmer (6/23/1909 - 1974)
The silver spoons that Mrs. Willis collected money from the townspeople were intricately engraved. A stork holding a baby is on the spoon handle, the
stork's feet are on the top of a house. Bowl has a clock fully engraved the hands pointing to the time each baby was born. On the pendulum of the clock
was the weight in pounds and ounces, month, day and year they were born. Around the edge of the bowl was "Birth recorded, Penns Grove NJ." On the
back of the bowl of the spoon was engraved "First Trio in Penns Grove."
*The silver spoons were ordered from
S. Kind & Sons
Diamond Merchants Jewelers and Silversmiths 1110 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, P A
(Date of article unknown)