Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 320
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
CAPTAIN FREDERICK J. GRIFFITH
Captain F J Griffith, a descendant of an aristocratic family of England and Wales, and an honored pioneer of Kansas, was born at Longtown, Wales, February 2, 1820, a son of James and Charlotte (Prosser) Griffith, the former a native of England and the latter of Wales, where they were married. Both families had landed estates in Wales and had farming conducted extensively. Thus when his ancestors died James, the father of our subject, inherited large landed estates in Wales, a portion of which yet remains his undivided estate. During the war between England and France he was in the commissary department and made heavy purchases of cattle and other supplies, but was a heavy loser by the transactions. In 1824 his wife died and left him with seven children, namely: Charlotte, the wife of P Stephens; Elizabeth, who married William Harris and yet resides in Longtown, Wales; Caroline, who became the wife of George Lingham; James J, Jr, who died in Wales; John, who died in Battle Creek, Michigan; Frederick J, the subject of this sketch; and William, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, now living in Ohio. The father of this family was a man of considerable political influence, was a Chartist, and used his influence to destroy the appointive power of the government, believing in a government by the people and that the House of Lords should be elected by the people. The government took action against all these agitators and he with others was banished from Wales, and in 1828 he brought his family to America. One of his daughters, who had married, remained in Wales and took charge of her fatherís estates and interests there, where she died. He landed at New York city, where he remained a few years and then came to Ohio, locating in Lorain county. He was reared in the faith of the church of England but after coming to America united with the Methodist church. He had plenty of money and was not compelled to engage in any business. He never married again, and after his son, the subject of this sketch, was married he made his home with him, and died in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Captain Frederick J Griffith, whose name introduces this review, came to America when about eight years of age, went to Ohio when thirteen years of age and soon afterward apprenticed himself to a shoemaker. Later he joined a journeyman shoemaker, traveled with him and so learned the trade. They went to Canada, working at London, Chatham and other towns in the Dominion for a number of years. While they were in Canada the rebellion broke out and our subject volunteered, was made lieutenant of his company and participated in the battle of Fighting Island, where he and all of the forces had to retreat. He buried his sword and returned to America, but afterward returned, secured his sword and then went to Detroit, where he was employed at his trade for some time, and there he was married. He then returned to Ohio, where he joined his father and family, remaining with them until 1847, when he moved to Pittsburg, where he followed his trade for a time and then worked in a rolling mill. He was converted to Christianity before he was twenty years of age, and soon afterward began exhorting. Later he was licensed to preach, and in September, 1860, he was ordained a minister by the Ohio conference. In 1883 he was made elder of southwest Kansas. He was under several conferences, traveled a circuit containing twenty-one different charges, and his ministry was blessed by the conversion of many souls. About 1897, on account of his age, he left the circuit and has since given less time and strength to ministerial work, only occasionally filling vacancies. When he left Pittsburg he moved his family to Hanging Rock, Ohio, where he engaged as a clerk on a steamboat for eighteen months, during which time he preached every Sunday. From that place he went to Portsmouth, where he engaged as a traveling salesman for a wholesale house, in which position he continued two years, preaching every Sunday. In 1871 he moved to Kansas, located in Rice county, entered the conference, received a charge and traveled one year, receiving for his services only sixteen dollars and a half, and as he had to furnish his own conveyance and pay his own hotel expenses he could not afford to continue the work longer. He was then elected to represent his county in the legislature, serving in 1871-2, and was chiefly instrumental in effecting the organization of Rice county. The governor had proclaimed Atlanta as the county seat, and there considerable business had been done, and Captain Griffith secured the passage of the bill which legalized all transactions. He also introduced and secured the passage of a bill requiring every section to establish a public board. Later he received the appointment from the governor as mail agent on the Santa Fe Railroad, running west from Hutchinson, which position he filled for eight years, after which he again entered conference and continued preaching until 1897, when he retired.
While at Portsmouth, Ohio, he helped raise a company of volunteers, entered the service as a private, but upon its organization was made captain of Company C, Fifty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was consigned to the Fifteenth Army Corps, Second Division. He saw much hard service, being engaged in seventeen hotly contested battles and many minor engagements and skirmishes. At the battle of Shiloh he lost many of his men. They were next engaged in the battle of Corinth, and at the battle of Missionary Ridge he was severely wounded, a minie ball piercing his right shoulder, where it yet remains, causing him much suffering. He was too patriotic to leave the field and never went to the hospital, but although he continued with his command he was disabled for active service and took charge of the camp. Later he received from General Grant a furlough of thirty days, which was later extended. During his furlough the term of enlistment of the regiment expired, the men were honorably discharged and returned home. Soon afterward, however, most of the regiment veteranized and Captain Griffith was made chaplain of the regiment, in which position he continued to the close of the war. The government recognized his valuable service and gave him a pension.
After the close of the war he took up a homestead claim in Rice county and improved a good farm, which he conducted as long as his age would permit. He built a commodious residence at Chase, where he yet resides, enjoying a well earned rest and having retired from all active labor. In 1840 he was married, in Detroit, Michigan, to Miss Mary Wood, a native of England, when her father emigrated to America, settling in New York state, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits and he and his wife died in the faith of the Baptist church. Their children were: Esther, who became the wife of Henry Clay; Lydia; Mary, the wife of the subject of this review; Jane, who married John Morgan; and Ann, who became the wife of Hiram Wing. The marriage of our subject and his wife was blessed with the following children: James J, who died when nineteen years of age; Julia, who married H Dodridge and died in 1897; Matilda M, who became the wife of Thomas Oliver and died in 1874; Frederick J, who died at the age of fourteen years; Amelia J, wife of W Nichols; Arletta M, wife of Oscar Noyes; and Eugenia, who became the wife of Albert James, and now resides at the homestead and cares for her father. On the 26th of September, 1899, the mother was called to the home beyond, after she had spent sixty years of loving and faithful companionship with her husband. Him she ably assisted in all his ministerial labors for the conversion and elevation of men, as she was a very intelligent and cultured Christian woman, and one whose death was deeply mourned by her many friends and the entire community, while to her sorrowing husband and children the thought of her loving, self-sacrificing devotion to them is a sweet and hollowed memory and her earnest Christian life of helpfulness to others is a constant incentive and inspiration to them to emulate her noble example.
In his political affiliations Captain Griffith was formerly a Whig, but when the Republican party was formed he joined its ranks and does all in his power to secure the growth and promote the success of the party. As a citizen he takes a deep and active interest in all measures for the advancement and upbuilding of the community along educational, material and moral lines, and he commands the highest respect and confidence of his fellow men, by whom he has been chosen and elected to many positions of public trust, all of which he filled with great credit to himself and entire satisfaction of his constituents. He served as postmaster of Chase for four years, in a prompt, businesslike and acceptable manner, and was a progressive, practical, energetic and enterprising business man while engaged in the active duties of life, while in the quiet retirement of old age he is still much beloved for his sterling traits of character and is well worthy of representation in a work devoted to biography.