THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH-1935
Author: Curtis Allen
JOHN GRIFFITH, LOCAL OCTOGENARIAN, CROSSED OCEAN ON 2nd STEAMSHIP EVER TO MAKE TRIP
In a neatly kept little bungalow, 66 Binns Blvd., lives a distinguished looking little old man. You may have seen him on the street. If you have you won’t forget him and his well trimmed white beard. John T. Griffith, who says he is hale, hearty and healthy, will vote in this coming election for the 16th time. Mr. Griffith is 87 years old and when he was 21 he voted for Grant in his second term.
He was born in Merioneithshire, Wales, in 1848. His father was Rev. John Griffith, a congregational minister in Wales (mother Jane Jones). Mr. Griffith says like many other people in the old country, when he was 17 he got the “American Fever” and came across with his sister, (Catherine), and brother in law, (Evan Jones) on the second steamship every to journey across the ocean to the U.S. While at sea the ship became a victim of Asiatic Cholera and Griffith’s brother in law and niece (one year old Catherine) died one day before land was sighted. The ship landed in Nova Scotia where many of the victims died. The boat was there for six weeks and many of the people had to sleep on boards as the ship was smoked every day and all belongings that were exposed to the disease were thrown away.
Griffith’s sister found refuge in a tent with some people from London and he had to sleep on the ground because there was no more room in the tent. When he awoke the next morning he was covered with three inches of snow. After many hardships which many of the immigrants were compelled to endure, Mr. Griffith’s citizenship records were put on file in Newark, Ohio.
After spending a few years in Newark he went to Granville and learned the carpenter trade. He says he helped build the second building on the Dennison University campus, and can point to may store fronts there today which he built under a contractor who was 20 years ahead of his time.
In 1868 he went west and bought his first farm which covered 80 acres (in Dawn, Livinngston, Missouri, which he later sold to his cousin Robert Jones.
He was married in 1879 and he and his wife (Margaret Elizabeth Evans) are still enjoying good health. After living on the farm a short time he went to Chicago where he stayed until the great fire swept the city. Laughingly he says “I remember seeing the first smoke of the fire and after the city was burned down decided to return to Granville.
The local octogenarian has lived in Columbus for 62 years and has been a resident of the Hilltop for 13 years. He says the house on the southwest corner of Belvedere Avenue was the first house on the Hilltop. After spending 30 years with the Columbus State Hospital as a carpenter he retired at the age of 60.
He has two sons, Edwin Thomas, who lives in Detroit, and William, who lives in Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Griffith says he has seen many panics, and thinks of the one of ‘90 as one of the worst but says this one has it all over the rest. He is going to vote this year but has not decided yet who he’ll vote for. Griffith says that he reads the articles “DO You Remember” and “25 years Ago Today” and can remember them all.
Only last year he was seen driving his car or riding his bicycle. Two years ago-at the age of 85, mind you-he painted his entire house.
Suzanne, great granddaughter
Catherine Jones was pregnant at the time of the voyage and her son, Evan Griffiths Jones was born in Granville Ohio two months later. Two years later Catherine married Evan David Evans, a widower with two children. Evan Evans adopted Evan Jones. They had had two additional children, Theophillus who died in 1879 following a sledding accident and Jesse who died in 1965. Catherine died in 1873.
John T. Griffiths died in 1938 in Columbus, Ohio of pneumonia. He was the son of Reverend John T Griffith, Rhydywernen Chapel, Merionethshire Wales.
The Columbus Dispatch
Location: Columbus, Franklin, Ohio
John T. Griffith John T. Griffith, 91 retired contractor, died last night at his home at 66 Binns Blvd. of heart diease. A native of Bala, in north Wales, he came to the United States when he was about 16 years old and lived in Newark and Granville Ohio. He became a contractor and was associated with the firm that erected some of the first buildings of Denison University in Granville. For 35 years he was a contractor employed by the state and built several of the older buildings at the State Instituion for Feeble-Minded on West Broad Street at Orient. He retired in 1905. He was a member of the Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church and of the Odd Fellows. Surviving are two sons, William C. Griffith of Dayton Ohio and Edwin T. Griffith of Detroit Michigan. Four grandchildren also survive.(Phyllis Marion, Ross Thomas, Richard Edwin Griifth and William Griffith)
Margaret Evans Griffith, his wife died in 1936.
Son Edwin Thomas in 1977 and son Will Crane in 1974.
I remember my grandfather, Edwin telling us that when he was young the family attended church seven evenings a week and twice on Sunday. When he was older he told his mother that he "didn't have to attend church to be religious or believe in God" and would "never set foot in another church unless someone died or was married" and he never did.