JOHN WILLIAM GRIFFITH. A son of William P. Griffith, the late pioneer settler of Ash Valley Township, Pawnee County, whose experiences, trials and hardships and successes have been recorded on other pages, John William Griffith was old enough to share in some of the hard work and vicissitudes that characterized the early residence of the Griffith family in this part of Western Kansas, and his own career has been a succession of well directed efforts and with all the set backs he has attained real and substantial prosperity.
Mr. Griffith was born in Lee County, Iowa, December 18, 1865, and was thirteen years of age when he came with his parents to Pawnee County. Since that pioneer day he has been out of the state only once, and all that he is and possesses has been the fruit of his efforts within the limits of the Sunflower commonwealth. He had the advantages of the common schools of Iowa before coming to Kansas, and he also attended to a limited degree the frontier schools maintained in Pawnee County thirty-five years ago.
As the oldest child he had to shoulder heavy responsibilities at a tender age. Until he was twenty-one he frequently worked out for others in order to contribute to the supply of necessities required at home. He would herd cattle, and worked here and there by the day and at whatever legitimate employment offered. At the age of twenty-one he owned a pony, and he then contracted to buy another on time. With this nondescript team he farmed as a renter for one year in the home locality. His team he then traded for a relinquishment, and in that way got possession of his first tract of land. It was proved up as a homestead, although he used "all his rights upon it." He was not married at the time, and his home was a box shanty 8 by 10 feet, which served him as a place in which to sleep and to do his cooking and other domestic work. To break and farm this place he bought a mule team, on time. At the end of about two years he was able to build a one-room house 14 by 16 feet. To pay for this improvement he raised a crop of wheat. His crop failures were more frequent in those days than his crop successes, and sevenal[sic] times the first of the year found him farther behind than at the beginning of the season. But he never had to imitate the example of many of his neighbors and leave his own land in order to make a living. After proving up his homestead he was considerably better off than when he started.
The nucleus of his livestock interests was a cow which he bought at the same time he married. He gradually got into the stock business, keeping just what he could reasonably support on the farm.
His homestead, the southwest quarter of section 12, township 20, range 18, he finally sold and then bought three tracts of eighty acres each in Ash Valley Township in sections 14 and 23. This land he started to improve, and his first home there was a two-room house. He occupied that before he was married. His main business was as a wheat grower. He finally sold this farm and returned to Conkling Township and eventually bought in section 9, where he owns the northwest quarter, upon which his buildings are located. He also owns the southwest quarter of section 4, an eighty acre tract in the northwest quarter of the same section, and the southeast quarter of section 17. Of his estate he has under cultivation 400 acres, and it is chiefly cultivated to wheat. Mr. Griffith in 1914 harvested a crop of wheat which yielded twenty-five bushels to the acre. In his experience as a wheat grower he has sold as low as 33 cents a bushel, and the maximum price he obtained for his cereal was $2.50 a bushel. The efforts of many years have put him in good financial circumstances, and as a farmer he has a place which is modern in every detail and has all the conveniences and comforts. An eight-room residence was built in 1910, a granary with a capacity of 6,000 bushels was constructed in 1914, and his 40 by 54 foot barn was built in 1916.
Mr. Griffith is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator of Sanford, Kansas, the elevator at Rush Center, and in the new farmers' elevator at the station at Vaughan on the Anthony and Northern Railway, only recently completed through Pawnee County. In politics Mr. Griffith began voting as a republican. His first presidential vote was given to General Harrison in 1888. For one term he served as township clerk of Conkling Township. While not a church member, he has contributed to the support of churches and to other enterprises promising good to the community. His wife is a member of the Methodist faith.
On February 26, 1907, in Pawnee County, Mr. Griffith married Miss Katie Tiday, who was born in Ash Valley Township of Pawnee County October 25, 1879, a daughter of Henry and Sarah (Underwood) Tiday. Her father came to Kansas from Champaign County, Illinois, in February, 1877, and spent all his active career as a farmer. The Tiday children were: Cora, wife of Abe Nelson, of Conkling Township; Jesse W., also of Pawnee County; Mrs. Griffith; Dudley, of Pawnee County; and Essie, wife of Bert Conard. Mrs. Griffith was educated in the district schools of Ash Valley and before her marriage she taught nine terms of country school. Mr. and Mrs. Griffith have four children, named Edith Maud, Winifred W., George Norman and Elsie Grace.
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.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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