Friday, October 10, 2014

Griffin Family of West Virginia During Civil War

This is the story of our Griffin family’s life and involvement during the Civil War.  They lived in western Virginia at the time (which would soon become West Virginia).   That portion of the state had mixed views of the situation and about secession.   Many settlers had come there from New England states, as ours did.   They stood strong for the Union, but there were differences of opinion even in one family.    Jonathan and Rachel Griffin had five sons and two daughters.  The sons were a little old for fighting, but grandsons enlisted.   Abraham’s family still lived on the Stony Creek property in Pocahontas County.   Benoni, William, Jonathan Jr., and Samuel had moved to Nicholas/ Webster Counties over the mountains, as had Margaret who married Isaac Hamrick and lived on Point Mtn. in Webster Co.  Rachel, widow of Jonathan Sr., had gone to live with daughter, Margaret.   Daughter, Rachel, married Charles Ruckman, a teacher and minister, and they had gone to Ohio, supposedly because he differed with his brothers’ southern sentiments.

You may want to have a map handy while you read this.  As I gathered our family info, I realized I don't have much about THE WAR.  But the people are what it's all about.   We just learned all of this in the past few years by connecting dots and gathering what various cousins had passed along at family reunions and in letters.    Not surprisingly, the same accounts kept popping up.   Since my Gt Grandfather, Samuel Young Griffin, had died fairly young and before our branch of the family moved to Oklahoma, we only had his obituary, saying that he was a "little drummer boy".    As it turned out, he was very ill during much of the war and was assigned close to the hospitals and was a guard.  According to his pension papers, the effects of the typhoid fever eventually took his life at age 51.  

The Griffin, Harris and Miller families were all related by marriage, through the daughters of James Rodgers.  The Griffin heritage was from Wales to Connecticut to Virginia --- educated, religious, active in local politics, always moving further into unknown lands.  Suddenly a war was moving into their community. Cousins raised on the same farm land were choosing sides according to their family's leaning.  Many young men in Pocahontas County signed up for the "Pocahontas Rescuers" in 1861.  Matthias Potts Griffin, first cousin of my gt grandfather, son of Abraham Griffin and Nancy Waugh, was only 18 or 19 when the Pocahontas Rescuers gathered in Huntersville to be mustered into Confederate Service.  The following is a summary of news articles describing the Rescuers.
Listed is the muster roll which includes a Capt. D.A. Stofer who was issued a blanket and a pair of gloves, Lieut. Skeen, blanket , Sgt. Slarker (no blanket listed), Two Musicians, and 49 Privates (including Matthias P. Griffin).   A few were issued blankets, and two fellows got a pair of shoes and a shirt.

“The Pocahontas Rescuers marched from Huntersville about 10 a.m. on May 18, 1861.   A large crowd of ladies and gentlemen were present and at the moment of marching, hardly an eye that was not wet with tears.   Many gentlemen and ladies accompanied us to the bridge.   Then the Rev. Mr Flaherty addressed the crowd and all meekly bowed the knee in the public road while he fervently addressed a prayer in behalf of those marching and of the parents and friends left behind. Halted at night in front of William Gibson’s and the company were entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Gibson, John and John B. Hannah, and I.M. Hogsett.”

From the journal of Lieut. Skeen:  “Sunday the 19th –  After the company attended church at I.M. Hogsett’s and heard a patriotic sermon from Rev. Flaherty, they marched to J. Varner’s.   Just as the company arrived, the Cavalry under Capt. McNeel came in sight. They were received with all honor     The company then heard a sermon from Rev. J.E. Moore and were dismissed and entertained by Jno. Varner, Josiah Herold. Colonel Gatewood at Big Spring , John Bath Cavalry and Company.   Then across the Mountain to Marshall’s.   Rain during the evening and all night.

Monday 20th –  March resumed at 61/2 a.m.   Halted an hour at J.W. Marshall’s and marched to Jacob Conrad’s, a few going with John McLaughlin, 5 to Snyder’s, and the rest quartered upon Jacob Conrad.   Rained at intervals all day.”

[my note: This is where Lieut. Skeen   stopped writing his journal.   He was responsible for purchasing and keeping receipts, etc.   So he lists the expenses for a few more days… these purchases included shoes, socks, combs, gloves, bacon, tallow, flour, meal, horse feed, etc. ]

The newspaper editor   Mr. Price, in 1941 writes:
“ Mr. Skeen started off fine to keep a   report on the daily progress of the “Pocahontas Rescuers” but I guess he got too busy, for after three days, he quits in the middle of a page.

And in speaking of this march, the old soldiers referred to it as the “Tin Cup Campaign.”   A cup was all the equipment furnished them.   They provided their own arms.
They met the invaders at Philippi, Barbour Co., and had no luck in repelling them.  
[My note: I have found that the battle at Philippi bridge, on June 1, 1861, was the first land battle of the area.]

“The Cavalry referred to was Capt.   Andrew McNeel’s   Company.   On their return from Philippi,   this company was disbanded and the men joined the 11th Virginia –  Bath Squadron –  and Capt. William L. McNeel’s and Capt. J.W. Marshall’s companies, 19th VA Cavalry.

On the return of the Pocahontas Rescuers, the company was disbanded and the men, with a number of additions, made up company I, 25th VA Infantry.   J.H. McLaughlin was elected First Lieutenant.

This Company was engaged in the following battles:
Philippi, McDowell, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Seven Days, Fight around Richmond, Slaughter Mountain, Second Manasses, Brestow Station, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Second Winchester, Gettysburg, Mine Run, and the Wilderness.   At the Wilderness, the 25th was captured; the Pocahontas Rescuers and replacements had been reduced to seventeen men, of these seventeen, , eleven lived through the war, six dying in prison. …..”

[The Battle of Sharpsburg (also called Antietam)   took place Sept. 17, 1862.   Matthias Potts Griffin {called Potts}was killed in this battle, at age 20. ]

Matthias Potts Griffin's death is noted in Louise McNeill Pease's "Milkweed Ladies".   Griffin's spinster sister, Malinda, lived in the McNeill household [though not related to any McNeill's] and shared "visions" and stories. Louise McNeill Pease writes,  "Aunt Malindy was full of signs and portents.  She had her death-bell sign, her howling hound dog, and, from her girlhood, that strange, death-ridden omen which she had seen one long-ago summer midnight:  the great fireball screaming in the sky over Buckley Mountain the night her brother Potts was killed at the battle of Gettysburg."  [Note it was actually the Battle of Antietam, although his company did fight at Gettysburg the following year.]

Meanwhile, over the mountain in the area of Webster Springs, other Griffin cousins as well as their extended family of Harris and Millers, were standing up for their beliefs also.  William Griffin was one of the few that opposed secession in his township at the breaking out of the Rebellion. Family letters coming from various sources have been put together to tell the story.   William and Elizabeth Griffin's oldest son, Joseph had died before the war, and now three more of their sons were in harm's way.  Samuel Young Griffin, age 21, and  James M. Griffin, age 19, enlisted in the Ohio Vols 47 Reg., in 1861,  and the next year, Levi J. Griffin, age 18, signed on at Sutton with the West Virginia Infantry, 10 Reg.    Of these three, only Samuel, my gt grandfather, returned home, his brothers dying of measles or other disease in camp.   A letter from Samuel to his father is on my blog.

Samuel's maternal Uncle, Adonijah Harris, and his son-in law, John J. Miller, were very close to the Griffin family.  Miller was age 30 at the beginning of the war, and Harris was 50.  Miller was an abolitionist and disagreed with even his own father.   A descendant of the Millers gives this account ( so you see things from Union view here.):

"Thousands of soldiers passed by continually during the first year of the Civil War. John J. was an abolitionist, disagreeing with his father, about reimbursing slave owners. John J. Miller, Taylor Sutton and James Harris (all sons or sons-in-law of Adonijah Harris), were  forced to hide in the mountains for months to escape rebel soldiers. Diana Mary, John's wife, was forced to support herself and four small children. John J. was taken prisoner in 1861 or 62 at the home of his father, a rebel. Upon the protest of his parents he was left in the home, a prisoner with two soldiers left to guard him.

The guards fell asleep one night and John J. escaped to his own home 40 miles away, wading through mush ice in the rivers 5 times. He was quite ill by the time he reached home. The illness proved to be measles, which all but two members of several families contracted, and which caused the deaths of Adonijah Harris' daughters, Julia Ann Harris (unmarried) and Mrs. Elizabeth Jane "Harris" Sutton, mother of two tiny children.

Immediately after Miller's escape, the families were taken, in 1862, by government wagons to Clarksburg 175 miles away as refugees. This removal from the family home near Suttonville to Clarksburg, W.VA was made upon the advice and with the assistance of a friend, Col. Samuel Young, who was afterwards the founder of Radical City, KS.

[My note: In 1862, William Griffin’s brother, (Samuel's Uncle) Benoni, Union Homeguard, who had led a raid from Suttonville to Laurel Creek, against his own neighbors, moved to Clarksburg area of Harrison County WV as well. He lost one son, George, at Rocky Gap 1863, and another son, Isaac H., was wounded in Union service. These were two more first cousins of my gt grandfather, Sam Griffin.]

In 1863 Webster had officially become a county.  At the first election, Benoni Griffin  was elected a member of the house of delegates for the fourth delegate district.  I would guess that he was eligible as he still owned land, even though his family had been moved to Harrison County for safety.

In the year 1864, the Harris/ Miller family was moved to Fairmont, WVA, where John Jackson Miller enlisted in the Union Army, leaving wife and four children. The family also lived a short time in Grafton WVA.

In the meantime the father of John Jackson Miller had lost everything possible in raids by bush-whackers, rebels, etc. and nothing left at the end of the war but a house with an attic filled with honey and bees. He died about 1870.

From the book “Moccasin Tracks and Other Imprints” by William Christian Dodrill, “The human can scarcely depict the chaotic condition existing in Webster County at the close of the Civil War.  … No battles were fought in the county, but many shooting affrays occurred between irregular bands of partisans, which were not always bloodless.  Many refugee outlaws found a safe retreat in the mountains and terrorized the citizens with deeds of lawlessness.  ….Houses were plundered and burned, … fences and farm buildings destroyed… farms became overgrown with briers and bushes.”

After returning from one year's service at the close of the War, John J. Miller and the Griffin and Harris families went back to their homes near Suttonville and found all the buildings gone and the farm overgrown with saplings and weeds. Their sympathies for the Union brought persecution from their the extent that at one time they had to hide in a water filled ditch.  One family letter states that William Griffin's family--father, mother and all the kids -- had word someone was coming after them since they were northern sympathizers.  The parents hid the entire family in a deep ditch near their home and spent the night there.  That was bad enough---it seems the ditch was full of water also.  The ten children of William Griffin were of ages 4 - 24.   At some point when it was safe to escape, they got out of there and soon got on board a river boat to head for safer territory. Too discouraged to begin again in that place, Miller traded the land for 80 acres near Exira, Iowa where the families prepared to move.
Family letters state that in 1865, William and Elizabeth and ten children, along with Harrises and Millers, maybe more, boarded a steamboat on the Ohio River (probably at Marietta, OH), and   sailed down the Ohio to the Mississippi, then to the Missouri River and up to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  As John Miller had land in Exira, Audubon County, Iowa,  the family must have traveled there by wagon.  Elizabeth Griffin had an uncle who had gone to Iowa years before the war.  I'm sure some letters were exchanged and on that long and difficult journey, Elizabeth's two aunts in their 80s, one blind, went to live out their days with their brother in Lacona, Iowa. 

As stated in Miller’s story, the Griffins, Millers, and Harrises farmed for a short time in Iowa, then they heard about the Osage reservation land in the Kansas-Oklahoma being opened up for purchase. They left Iowa to make a claim but heard wild tales of difficulties with Indians. Instead, they moved to Carthage, MO, and finally to Montgomery County, in southeastern Kansas, in 1871.  Griffin Hill in Sycamore Township became the home of this family and descendants for many years. Eventually the younger generation married and went on to further frontiers of Colorado, Oregon, California, Washington, Oklahoma, and Texas.   In each branch of the family, bits and pieces of the Griffin story have been passed along.  The account continues to evolve as we gather more cousins and share our  pieces of the patchwork.  

Daneille Griffin Grimes

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Come a Hip, Come a Whoop, Come a Hi Low

This is a song passed down in our Griffin/ McGill family for at least 4 generations. We always thought it was a nonsense song, as the "poor reindeer" couldn't have climbed a tree. But now as I search the Internet, I find it was a hunting song about a fox "Beau Reynard". I am wondering which branch of my family tree brought this song into the family lore, and which generation "mis-heard" the lyrics. Here are the words we know and below are the lyrics from a hunting song from Cornwall.



Come a hip, come a hoop, come a hi-lo

Across the merry way.

With a rip tip tip, and a rap, tap, tap,

And hurrah, boys..

And a bow wow wow and a roodle doodle doo,

And the bugle horn plays fee fie eeedle-ey I - dee oh...

And through the woods we’ll run brave boys,

And through the woods we’ll run.


The first thing I saw was a school boy a-comin’ home from school

He said he saw a poor reindeer a - swimmin’ in a pool...



The next thing I saw was a blind man, as blind as he could be,

He said he saw a poor reindeer climb up a hollow tree...



Published in "The Book Buyer, Vol 11" in 1894, the song was at least 50 years old when printed. The writer says it was brought from Cornwall at that time.

Come all ye merry sportsmen

Who love to hunt the fox,

Who love to chase bold Reynard

Among the hills and rocks!

Come a whoop, come a whoop, come a hi lo

Along the merry lane

With a rap tap tap and a rip tip tip

And hurrah boys, with a bow wow wow

And a roodle doodle do goes the bugle horn

Sing fee-fi-fiddle-di- i -dee-ay

And through the woods we'll run brave boys,

And through the woods we'll run.


Another version, attributed to the Germans, says:

With a hoop, hoop, hoop and a heigh-O

Along the narrow straat.

Rat tat tat and a tippee tippee tap

With a bow wow wow

Come a hoodle doodle do

And a bugle sound.

As through the woods he ran brave boys,

And through the woods he ran.

Followed by many verses about Beau Reynard, the fox.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

To Those Who Drop in Regularly

I see that a few readers stop by regularly at this blog and I need to apologize for not adding anything new in a long time. Since this blog has touched on all different branches of our families, I would love to have some comments on what would make your searches worthwhile ! Please leave a note and let us know what you might be interested in finding when you arrive at this site. We have so many stories to share. Been working on the Griffin and McGill 2009 tree at so if you would like to visit there, I can send a guest invitation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Early School in Edray District, Pocahontas County, WV

I believe the description below, found in the History of Edray Community by S.B. Moore, and published in the Pocahontas Times in 1926 is the school our ancestors attended, probably between 1820 and 1850. The school mentioned was built very near to the Griffin property near Stony Creek in the Edray area of Pocahontas County. The teacher who led classes in this school was William Young. He came from Madison Co, in Eastern VA, and may have had connection to our Rodgers ancestors who hailed from that county. I think the sons and grandsons of Jonathan and Rachel Griffin may have been educated at the school described in this passage. The Baxter family mentioned has descendants who now live on the old Griffin land. They may have been very near by in those days as well.

"Some of the first schools were taught in the old farm homes. One among the first, if not the first was in an old house near Mrs. George Baxter's home. The house was a round log structure, clapboard roof, held in place with press poles. The fire place took up most of one end of the house. It was made of rough stone. Chimney made of slate and mud. Now,for light, paper was pasted over the cracks and creased to let in the light. Other cracks in the building were chinked and daubed. Seats were made of split logs or poles, holes bored and pins put in for legs. The term of school was about three months. The salary was one dollar per scholar a month. Writing was done with quill pins. The teacher boarded with the scholars. My father Isaac Moore, taught at this school when a young man. The first schools were called "Open Schools." Everyone spelled and read aloud." S. B. Moore

Jonathan's sons, William and Benoni, became teachers, going over the mountain to what became Webster County, and teaching near Point Mountain. Jonathan is also listed as a teacher and may have held school in his home before the above school was built. His daughter, Rachel, married a teacher, Charles Ruckman. Her children became teachers in Ohio where they moved. The Griffin tradition as educators goes on through other branches of the family to our generations today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

William Terry & Charlotte Clark, of Kent, England

William Terry, our gt. gt. grandfather, was born in England around 1812-15. Charlotte Clark, according to family letters, was born in England in 1806. Family letters tell us that William's parents were William and Ann Terry. The parents of Charlotte are said to be John and Nancy Clark. Both families are from the County of Kent. Watch for more to come on these families as we search further.

The name of Terry is found throughout the county records. We find this marriage record of William Terry and Charlotte Ann Clark at St. Luke's Anglican Church, Old Charlton, Kent, England. (Current photo of St. Lukes' above.)
William Terry
Spouse: Charlotte Ann Clark
Marriage: 12 September 1836
St. Luke, Old Charlton
Kent, England
Family lore says that Charlotte was disinherited by her father, John, when she married. William Terry was a tradesman, a carriage maker or wheelwright. John Clark, her father, was superintendent of Government Military Hospitals, stationed at Woolwich. The engraving below is the Woolwich area, drawn in 1775. The St. Luke's Church is mid-left in the skyline.

The County of Kent is east of London, on the southeast coast of England. The cliffs of Dover are in this area, as well as several castles. The ancient town of Bath and legendary area of Canterbury are found in Kent.

Several children were born to William and Charlotte Terry in England, before the family left for America in 1848. We have found birth registrations for: Charles Terry, Amelia Terry, and Edwin A. Terry in Kent County England Records. Family letters state that the family sold their carriage making business in Deal, Kent County, and took a sailing shop to America. Below is a view of the city of Deal, seen from the harbor. Not far from Deal is Dover, famous for the white cliffs. The White Cliffs of Dover would be the first view of England seen by those crossing the English Channel from France (unless they are taking the "chunnel.")

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dan Harrell Griffin

My Daddy, Dan H. Griffin of Edmond and Oklahoma City, OK. Posting his obituary here at Father's Day, along with a few comments made by minister at Daddy's funeral.

DAN HARRELL GRIFFIN, 85, died Thursday, September 30, 1993, at Edmond. He was born before statehood at Edmond, OK, October 26, 1907, oldest son of early settlers of Oklahoma Territory, Charlie and Hattie Griffin. He was preceded in death by brothers, Forrest Lynn (Jiggs) Griffin and Charles Warren (Chick) Griffin, an wife of 55 years, Bess Eloise Avera Griffin.

(I have edited out list of living descendants: Three daughters, one son; nine grandchildren; and now fifteen great grandchildren.)

Mr. Griffin’'s mother, Hattie McGill, was an 89er, daughter of Daniel Patrick McGill, who staked a claim at Deer Creek during the Run of '‘89. Paternal grandmother, Lizzie Terry Griffin, and family settled near Edmond in 1890. He grew up in Edmond and in Cotton County, graduating from Normal Highschool in Edmond, and then from Central State Teachers’ College in Edmond in 1932, with a degree in Industrial Arts Education. For nearly 14 years, he traveled throughout several states working for Phillips Petroleum Co. on seismograph drilling crews. With the establishment of Griffin Drilling Co. in 1946, he and his family returned to Edmond, then to Oklahoma City in 1950. He was always personally involved with every phase of the family business even after retirement and to the final weeks of his life.

He was a member of Edmond Masonic Lodge, #37, Scottish Rite Consistory in Guthrie, and a member of the India Temple Shrine in Oklahoma City. He was an avid sports fan, bird watcher, flower gardener, photographer, and constant student of every type of earth and natural science, geography and history. Sharing these loves with his family, he had traveled to 41 states, Canada, Mexico, and Cuba.

During the past few months he was a resident of Teal Ridge Retirement Community at Edmond where he will be missed by many friends.

Services will be Monday, October 4, at 10:30 a.m. Baggerly Funeral Home in Edmond, with burial at Memorial Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

Notes from Minister for Dan Griffin's funeral:
Dan... Grandaddy
Determined, persevering, integrity, never a quitter, his word was his bond.
Always interesting and interested, more to learn.
Natural teacher, knew much information.
Telling the young guide, and the tour crowd, in Capitol rotunda about the acoustic bounce.
When he took kids on vacation, it was "industry on Parade", touring factories, dams, etc.
Explaining scientific principles to family.
Multi-faceted, world class student of everything.
Wanted everyone to learn how to do well.
For brief period, a wealthy man, but not very materialistic.
Told future son in law: "Don't marry ___ for my money, I intend to spend it all."
But he didn't ---Generous man.
As a husband, he was the Boss.
As a father, the authority.
As a father in law, a role model and an affirming and generous man.
As a boss, all business to employess, but made lasting friendships with many.
As a Grand Daddy, lively and fun, showing you how to do it. Wanted the grandchildren busy.
OU fan - big time - red jacket - football and basketball.
Type A personality behind wheel of a car.
Taught sharing and giving, very practical. Always picked up the check.
Mad a bird trap (for birds he didn't want in his yard). Took them away opened trunk and bluejays and sparrows flew. Leaving the birds he loved and fed, watching from his office window.
Word person, oral and written communication. Frustration in later years when a stroke left him with problems of communication.
Enjoyed life, did what he wanted to do, was finished.

Miss you, Daddy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

More About Samuel Huston of Iowa

The History of Iowa County Iowa by Union Historical Company
Publ 1881 – Available on Google Books

Page 672
SAMUEL HUSTON – Sec. 11, P.O. Koszta, is one of Iowa’s earliest settlers, coming to Johnson County in 1839, and soon after entering a quarter section where Tiffin now is. When arriving there his wealth was two dollars and fifty cents, and not owning a horse walked from Tiskilwa, Illinois where he had been in business but lost everything in the panic of 1837. He built his first house in Iowa—a cabin—on his claim and kept bachelor hall; breaking up his first 50 acres by procuring the use of a neighbor’s team by breaking two acres [in exchange] for the use of the team and plow, and one acre for himself, and the farm thus broken up is now [1881] known as the Tautlinger Farm near Tiffin. His first crop was that of pumpkins which he had gathered and was about effecting sale of them when an early and unexpected freeze blasted his plans, but being plucky, and never known to give up, he soon conceived the idea of manufacturing them into pumpkin butter, and from the proceeds of which and the sale of wild turkies [sic.] sold at Iowa City, he replenished his badly dilapidated wardrobe –at that time consisting partly of a suit made of a white Indian blanket and a wolf skin cap – he buying his first Sunday suit in Iowa. In 1850 he went to California, returning to Iowa in 1852. Selling his farm in Johnson County, in 1854 he moved to Iowa County, settling in Honey Creek township, at Koszta, he being the original proprietor of that village, where he dealt in real estate and carried on a general merchandise business and also farmed extensively. His farm now consists of 597 acres, and he is ranked among the wealthy men of Iowa County and is now filling the position of Vice President of the First National Bank of Marengo. He was born in Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania in 1811, and has been married four times. His present wife was Margaret B. Lamberton of Marengo, whom he married March 13 1866. He has two children living: George A. Huston (of Clifton, Kansas) Emma L. (wife of Dr. D. B. Darr of Ladora). Mr. Huston is Republican in politics and both he and his wife are members of the M.E. Church.

From pg. 664 “He laid out the town of Koszta, built the bridge over the Iowa River and made other improvements.”

From History of Solano and Napa Counties, California – found online
One of the early immigrants to California was Samuel Huston, of Pennsylvania, who after eight months of weary travel across the plains, arrived here in 1850. For two years he farmed in the Suison Valley but in 1852 went [back] to Iowa by way of Panama, and remained in that state, engaging in farming and merchandising until his death in 1892. He married Mary Been, [this being her surname from first marriage] a native of Indiana, and two children were born of this union, George A. and Emma L.

More about George A. Huston of Napa CA, in this article.