Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Edward A. Griffith

EDWARD A. GRIFFITH. In the year 1879 there arrived in Pawnee County in a covered wagon the family of William P. Griffith, who had driven overland from Lee County, Iowa. Mr. Griffith was at that time in straightened financial circumstances. His labors in the Hawkeye state had availed him little, and as a final effort he turned his attention to Kansas, where he felt that success might await him. That his course was well taken is evidenced by his subsequent and present success. Ever since its arrival in Kansas the Griffith family have been worthy representatives of the various vocations which they follow in their several localities, and one who has attained more than an ordinary degree of prosperity in Ness County is Edward A. Griffith, one of the sons of the original settler.

Edward A. Griffith was born in Lee County, Iowa, November 15, 1859. His paternal grandfather, a native of England, died there many years ago, but the grandmother came to the United States and passed away in Pawnee County, Kansas. Two brothers of William P. Griffith, George and Alfred Griffith, also came to this country, the latter dying unmarried and the former passing his life in Lee County, Iowa, William P. Griffith was born perhaps thirty miles from the city of Bristol, England in March, 1839, and was nineteen years of age when he immigrated alone to the United States, making the journey in a sailing vessel which consumed six weeks in crossing the ocean. Going directly to Lee County, Iowa, where he had an uncle, he began working for wages, and also was employed among the neighboring farmers at a salary of eight dollars per month. In this manner he was enabled to gather together enough means to start farming on his awn account, but his efforts did not prove profitable and he eventually decided to come to Kansas and try his fortune as a homesteader. Accordingly, he left his Iowa home, and in a prairie schooner, accompanied by his family, struck off across the prairies and eventually arrived in Ash Valley Township, Pawnee County, where he homesteaded a tract of land and built a pioneer shelter of sod for his family and a like protection for his stock, which was composed of a span of mules and a mare. His financial resources at that time consisted, perhaps, of as little as twenty-five dollars, and he was compelled to arise early on his claim in order to journey away from home, where he earned fifty cents per day in assisting other early settlers, as the only kind of work which he had been trained to do, was that which could be accomplished with the hands. Thus it was that his start in Kansas was rather slow, but he persevered uncomplainingly and industriously, and when his claim was proved up he sold it for $200 and purchased another quarter for $400 in a more advantageous locality and on which a better house was located. From that time forward his prosperity has been a steadily growing one, and there he still resides. His best success has been made in the raising of wheat, and out of his profits he has become the owner of six quarter-sections of choice land, improved with two residences of substantial character, electric lights and other modern equipment, and a commodious barn equivalent to the large and generous barns of any country. His lands are fenced with stone posts and barbed wire, and he has all other improvements which stand as evidence of the development of the section from the habitation of the antelope and the wolf to that of the abiding place of the most thrifty and progressive people. During his participation in this great growth and development he has contributed to the community's welfare by public service as a member of the school board of his district and in other township offices, and has twice been commissioner of Pawnee County. He is a republican in his political views. During the war between the states Mr. Griffith served the Union as a member of an Iowa volunteer infantry regiment.

William P. Griffith married Miss Sophia Baldwin, a daughter of Thaddeus Baldwin, who came to Iowa from Vermont, and was a farmer. Mrs. Griffith died in 1913, at the age of seventy-one years, having been the mother of the following children: John William, a resident of Pawnee County, Kansas; Edward A., of this notice; Minnie, who is the wife of Curtis Munger, of Washington County, Arkansas; Miss Hattie; Lizzie, who is the wife of L. W. Arnold, of Pawnee County; Nettie, who is now Mrs. Burris, of Burdett, Kansas; Charles, a farmer of Comanche County, Kansas; Elmer, of Pawnee County, and a member of the board of county commissioners; Bert, who is a Comanche County farmer; and Ralph and George, who are farming in Pawnee County.

Edward A. Griffith received his education in the district schools, and was wont to walk three miles to attend his classes after coming to Pawnee County, Kansas. As it happened the school which he attended was a frame structure, but there were many in the locality which were still made of sod, just as there were many residences of the same material here. The sod house, or "Soddy," of the early days was a common thing, and the ingenuity used by some of the settlers in the construction of their homes was very remarkable. Mr. Griffith remained on his father's farm until after he had attained his majority, and when he began life independently was able to rent land in Pawnee County. He had prospered sufficiently five years after his marriage to purchase a farm of his own and selected land within two miles of the home of his parents. His first quarter section of land cost him $500, and to this original purchase he continued to add until he has accumulated 1,983 acres at the present time. While in Pawnee County he succeeded best as a wheat raiser and his best wheat year was that of 1903 when he threshed 8,000 bushels, and had more wheat than anyone else in the township. He had several kinds of failures, but not a harvest passed him that he did not cut some kind of wheat.

Mr. Griffith left his farm in Pawnee County in 1910 and went to New Mexico, spending fourteen months in Eddy County, where he tried irrigation farming with poor results. This disappointment turned his attention once more to the productive fields of Kansas, but instead of returning to Pawnee County he came to Ness County and purchased section 26, adjoining Utica, and now owns the east one-half of this section, being a mixed farmer and stockman. In the latter department he is using the Hereford males and is grading up toward the standard-bred cattle. Mr. Griffith voted first for president in 1884, when he gave his vote to James G. Blaine, the republican candidate, and since that time has not missed a presidential election. The only public office which he has filled has been that of school director, which he held in his home district while residing in Pawnee County.

Mr. Griffith was married January 8, 1893, to Miss Ida Christian, a daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth Christian, who came to Kansas from Vincennes, Indiana, near which place Mrs. Griffith was born January 2, 1863. Mrs. Christian now lives at Long Beach, California, and is the mother of four children, namely: Edward, a resident and farmer of Pawnee County, Kansas; James, who is also engaged in agricultural pursuits in that county; May, who is the wife of Albert Halliday, of Long Beach, California; and Ida, who is now Mrs. Griffith. Mr. and Mrs. Griffith are the parents of the following children: Glen, who is engaged as a cattle rancher in Gove County, Kansas; Gail, who follows the same line of business in Pawnee County; Ethel and Donovan, who are students of Wesleyan College at Salina, Kansas; Clyde, who is attending school at Salina; Royal and Loyal, twins, who are also attending school at Salina; and Eulalia, the baby. Mrs. Griffith is residing at Salina in order to be near her children while they are securing their educational training.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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