Pennsylvania family with 20 children


In October of 1952, Irma Griser of Pitcairn, Pennsylvania, welcomed her fifth set of twins — her 19th and 20th children.

In the most recent article I could find about Irma, she hadn’t yet named her most recent twins (a girl and a boy), so here are the names of her 18 older children:

  • Agnes, 17
  • Arthur, 15
  • Sarah, 13
  • Edward, 11
  • Delores and John, 10
  • Harvey, 9
  • Dorothy and Robert, 8
  • Mary and David, 6
  • James and Joseph, 5
  • Tommy, 4
  • Richard, Roy and Joan, 3
  • Sharon, nearly 2

What would you have named the twins?

And, which of the 18 names above is your favorite?

Source: “Fifth Set of Twins Makes 20 Children in Pitcairn Family.” Pittsburgh Press 2 Oct. 1952: 1.

16 thoughts on “Pennsylvania family with 20 children

  1. I love Arthur, Harvey, James, and Joseph. Keeping with the style and time period, I might have named the twins Linda and Gregory.

  2. I think the girl would’ve been Linda or Nancy. For the boy, Paul or Mark, maybe Michael or Kenneth. Harvey’s definitely the odd note in this list. Like Delores and Edward.

  3. I’m guessing the newest twins were Patricia or Kathy and Paul or Anthony.

    My favorites are Agnes and Arthur. Aren’t they glad they didn’t try to stick to A names? I can’t think of 20 A names that work together! I have to say, I love the fact they didn’t really match their multiples’ names, except for James and Joseph. That almost comes across as accidental when looking at the whole family, though.

  4. Nancy! I think I found Harvey’s obituary.

    It says he had sisters:


    and brothers:

    At my count, that puts 21 children in the family. The obit says Arthur and Bobby preceded him in death. With both a Robert and a Bobby listed, I wonder if Bobby died as an infant? Sam is listed, but not Edward, so maybe Edward went by his middle name? Plus, it looks like Harvey went by Harry.

    I’m guessing the twins were Susan and Leonard, so we were all wrong! I found another version of the same newpaper article you mentioned. Also, all of her babies were home births! It sounds rather sad; it looks like they had five children at home when these twins were born, and thirteen children in foster care or living with relatives.

    You’re right, Nancy, I am fascinated by these large families!

  5. I was going to say that these names actually go pretty well together when I saw that this was from 1952. That explains it. People with more than 2 kids seem to like to give their kids mismatched names these days.

  6. hi these names that you guys are comments on are my aunts and uncles. i think that my grandma griser was a amazing lady to have 21 kids. her last baby was named bobby and he died as a infant. she had no baby named harvey at all. her oldest son arthur died in 2001 from liver disease. just two yrs after she died. the last count when she passed away was 54 grandkids and 63 great grandkids but since then there is about over 100 great grandkids so far. so do not talk mean about the griser family name i think it a great name to have.

  7. Tammi, I promise we do not mean any disrespect. Aside from the joke from the first comment, I don’t see any mean comments about any of the names. As a group, most people on this site are just intrigued by names, especially those of very large families, and mean no harm.

    Your grandma sounds like a fascinating lady. Do you possibly have an Uncle Harry? That would explain the Harvey confusion.

  8. Tammi – I think it’s terrific that a family member has found this post. My great grandmother also had a large family — 11 births. In this day and age of small families, large families and their corresponding name sets fascinate us. It sounds like your grandmother lived a long and happy life.

  9. i know you mean no harm i was just trying to explain about my grandma thats all. yes i do have a uncle harry. the names are as follow for my grandmas kids. agnes
    arthur,sarah,dorothy,sharon,lenored,john (my dad),suzy,richard,robert(bucky),joey,jimmy,harry,joann,thomas,samuel(eddie),mary,delores,roy,baby robert,david. here is all of the kids names. the baby dies as a infant was named robert to. hope this helps you thanks and have a happy ester

  10. Tammi,

    I am your dad’s nephew. Your Grandad Art, had two brothers, Matt and Ed. He also had a sister Elizabeth. They are all deceased. If you want additional info on the Grisers, my phone number is 412-831-2522. (Business/Residence).My dad, Matt would be your Great Uncle.

    All the best,

  11. Hello this post is about my great grandmother! Dorothy ( which was one of the sets of twins) is my grandmother. She had 5 children Robert,Mary,Debbie, earl and Angie which would be just five of Irma’s grandchildren. Out of those grandkids there are 11 great grand kids ( including myself). We all have kids now pretty much and just from our bunch there will be 16 great grandchildren. We have a huge family and still till today I haven’t met all of them. I remember visiting my great grandmother a lot in the summer down by ligoneer. I do know a couple of my great aunts and uncle very well. Unfortunately the one I was closest with past in 2013. Which was Joseph. Its amazing to find post about my family and see how big of news it was.

  12. Hi I’m Chris Owens and my grandmother is Mary Griser son of Arthur and Irma. I am just doing my research and would love more info. My grandmother tells our family that Arthur was Native American is this true? Also, I found a post that Arthur left Irma and had nine more children with a woman in Cleveland. Does anyone know those children?

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