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Thomas J. GRIFFITH, M. D.

Dunn, Jacob Piatt. Indiana and Indianans: a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statheood.
Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919, p 1326.

Thomas J. GRIFFITH, M. D. An old and honored physician and surgeon of Crawfordsville, Dr. Griffith since 1910 has been secretary of the Montgomery County Historical Society and in many ways outside of his profession has used his influence and means to preserve that fine community spirit which has been one of the best assets of Crawfordsville. He belongs to an honored family and has had a praiseworthy interset in preserving the facts and records concerning his relatives and ancestors. Much of the information concerning the Griffith family was obtained by Dr. Griffith from his father. The Griffith family has a legendary history dating back to Edward, King of England, 1239, when they were governors of provinces in Wales. The nameewas honored in Shakespeare's play of King Henry VIII (1528) when Griffith was gentleman usher to Queen Catherine and when he says: "Noble Madam - Men's evil manners live in brass; their vitures we write in water. May it please your highness to hear me speak his good name?" Katherine: "Yes, good Griffith." Giffith is a Welsh name and was originally spelled Gryfyth. Three brothers came to America some time in the 1600s landing at Philadelphia and settled on the Brandywine River. They became opulent, but through selling much of their property and exchanging it for continental money during the Revolutionary War became impoverished. The great grandfather of Dr. Griffith was Joseph. He served in the Revolution and was the 1st revolutionary soldier buried at Indianapolis - 1823. A statement to Dr. Griffith from the Ware Dept shows that there is 11 # of English money due to the heirs of this Revolutionary patriot. Joseph Griffith married Mary Thornton, an Englishwoman. To them were born: Abraham 1774; Sarah 1777; John 1778; Joseph 1780; Elizbeth 1783 and Amos in 1786. Dr. Griffith's great grandmother was lost in making a visit across the Allegheny Mountains and no trace of her could be found. Abraham Griffith grandfather of Dr. Griffith was born in Chester Co PA Nov 30, 1774. He married Joanna JOHN a grandaunt of D. P. John of Depauw University Oct 12, 1798. Joanna died Aug 12, 1815 in Frederick Co MD. To Abraham and Joanna Griffith were born: Lydia T.; Hannah; Thornton; Townsend; Barton and Clifford. Abraham Griffith, with his brother Amos and sons Townsend and Barton came west after the death of his wife, accompanied by two grown daughters, Lydia and Hannah, about 1822 or 1823 settled in Covington Indiana. In 1824 Abraham Griffith took the contract to build the first jail in Crawfordsville for $243. He died at Crawfordsville June 19, 1829. His son Barton died 1834. Thorntown Griffith, father of Dr. Griffith came west later than his father and brothers. He was born in Chester Co PA July 8, 1799. He was on the Island of Porto Rico in the summer of 1825, superintending the building of a wharf for a Philadelphia sugar company. While there a three-masted schooner came into San Juan with a double decked cargo of 500 negros from Africa, all in Mother Nature's costume. The negroes were unlaoded on the beach to clean up and the third day they departed for some American port. This exhibition of man's inhumanity to a man made an abolitionist of Thornton Griffith. In the campaign of Gen William Harrison in Indiana in 1836, Thorntown was honored by a committee of Crawfordsville citizens to deliver the address of welcome. Feb 4, 1836, he married Mary A. HALL, daughter of Thomas and Margaret (HERRON) Hall. She was born in Nebury Co SC June 18, 1807. Her mother died in SC Dec 10, 1821 leaving several children. James F. Hall, brothe rof Mary was one of the county commissioners that built the courthouse at Crawfordsville. Her father and mother were born in Co. Moaghan, Ireland, and landed at Charleston SC in 1765. Two brothers of Thomas Hall were soldiers in the Revolutionary war in Gen. Francis Marion's army, one being an officer.

Thornton Griffith and wife were married at "Fruits Corner" in Ripley Twp, Montgomery County and moved in the Spring of 1836 to the wilds of Clinton County on Wild Cat Creek, four miles NE of Frankfort on a 160-acres tract that had been entered from the government. Here in a log cabin they began the battle of life, with wolves and wild cats for nocturnal serenaders. Thornton Griffith taught school one year in a log schoolhouse with greased paper for window lights and slabs with wooden legs for seats and slabs for flooring. Aobut that time he was a candidate for the Legislature on the Whig ticket from the counties of Clinton & Montgomery which counties were largely democratic. It was becoming apparent that he would be elected when the democrats started a faslehood and defeated him. THis so disgusted him that he would never again consent to be a candidate for office. He was a man of pleasing address, an easy and fluent speaker, invincible in argument, a great reader and possessed of a splendid memory. He was a member of the Friends Church but had a broad catholicity characteristic of his benevolent spirit. In his later years when "moved" he frequently preached to the Friends. He died at his home in Darlington June 23, 1869. The three children born into the Clinton County home were: Thomas J, born April 2, 1837; Joanna M, born Nov 25, 1839; Nancy E born Aug 1, 1842. Joanna died Feb 13, 1865 from cerebrospinal meningitis. Nancy E. was married Dec 10, 1861 to Joseph BINFORD and now resides at Crawfordsville. The mother of these children has been described as a noble, thoughtful woman, devoted to her home and family and was a devout Presbyterian. She died NOv 3, 1886. Her father deserved mention. Being convinced that slavery was wrong and being unable to free his slave sin SC as there was a statute against such action, he told his negroes to look around and choose their masters without breaking families. This they did. He then removed to Butler Co Ohio and remained there about two yers, when with his children: Thomas, John A, Mary A, Elizabeth, Nancy and Henry L, he came to Ripley Twp, Montgomery County locating at what is now Fruits Corner in 1829. He bought a large farm and died there in 1848. For 50 years he was a ruling elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Townsend GRIFFITH, one of the brothers of Thornton Griffith was born in Chester Co PA April 4, 1801 and came to Crawfordsville in 1822. Nov 1, 1837 he married Mahala CATTERLIN. She was the daughter of Ephraim Catterlin, a pioneer settler near Crawfordsville. Townsend Griffith was prominent in the early development of the county, both in politics and civic affairs. In the summer of 1852 he made a business trip to Minnesota and died of cholera June 2, 1852 at Galena, ill. After a time his remains were brought home and laid to rest in theMasonic Cemetery. Of the children of Townsend Griffith and wife a brief record is as follows: Matilda, one of the first children born in Crawfordsville, married Benjamin GALEY who died many yeaers ago and she passed away in her 85th year. Sarah A. was married to George WORBINGTON (Warbitton) of a prominent family of Montgomery County and died many years ago. Ephraim C. and Amanda were twins, born Jan 5, 1833; Amanda became the wife of Morg!
an SNOOK, a son of Dr. Henry Snook, a prominent pioneer physician of Montgomery County; Ephraim married Feb 14, 1855 Mary J. Brasfield, who was born August 5, 1837; Ephraim died Feb 11, 1901, and was noted for his hustling businessability. His widow is now living with her son, Howard. Ephraim and his wife had the following children: George well known as an architect; Frank E died young; William Douglas who married Dec 14, 1910 Agnes A. WALSH; Howard E and Birdie all of whom live in Crawfordsville. Mary Griffith, the next child of Townsend Griffith and wife, married Charles Bowen and both are now deceased, their two surviving children being Arthur and Clara, the latter married and living in KS. Rebecca Griffith died in infancy. Abraham Griffith lived to manhood and was thrown from a horse and killed. John Warner Griffith was an express messenger from Indianapolis to St. Louis and was killed in a railroad wreck.

George, a son of Ephraim and Mary Griffith, married March 10, 1880, Ida M. Coster. He was born in Crawfordsville March 13, 1856. William Douglas another son of Ephraim was born June 22, 1861; Frank E, was born June 2, 1858; and Howard E Dec 30, 1876. George and Ida Griffith have two sons, Claude and Karl. Claude married Helen Nolan and has one son and Karl is married and lives at Urbana, Illinois and has 4 daughters.
Rev. Thomas Griffith, a cousin of Thornton Griffith was the 1st minister in Crawfordsville. He preached in a small frame church where the present MEthodist Church now stands. He married Lucy DANIELS and was a brother-in-law of John Crawford, a pioneer merchant. Their sons were John and Thomas B. John was a druggist and died many years ago, Thomas a soldier in the famous 86th Indiana Infantry in the Civil War and after the war married Oct 15, 1864 Amanda WiIlhite by whom he had a son, William Griffith. Thomas Griffith died 35 years ago and his remains lie in the Masonic Cemetery. Rev. Thomas Griffith is buried in theOld Town Cemtery.
Amos Griffith, a brother of Abraham Griffith, the grandfather of Dr. Griffith went to Warren County, Indiana in 1830 and married an indian woman with a large land inheritance. Dr. Griffith's father visited them in 1832 and their home was a model of cleanliness. No children were born to them.

Dr. Thomas J. Griffith is a member of the Montgomery County Medical Society organized 46 years ago and is the last living charter member. He is not only the oldest physician in the county in active practice but the oldest in years of practice, his services voering 51 years. He is an ardent arechologist and has a valuable collection of Indian relics which he has been 50 years in collecting. One rare relic is a mound builders copper axe found 40 years ago in the eastern part of Mdison Twp in digging the state ditch. He has been offered $50 for it. The Dr. is a member of McPherson Post, Grand Army of the Republic,and is a past post commander. Of this he is quite proud. He is secretary of the Montgomery County Historical Society and is enthusiastic in its promotion. He is a charter member of the prohibition party in Montgomery County and cast the first prohibition vote in Darlington for his favorite, John P. St. John in 1884. For 12 years he was the party's county chairman. In religion he is a Unitarian.

File Created: 2007-May-25 2007-May-25

Dr. Thomas J. GRIFFITH

H. W. Beckwith History of Montgomery County, Indiana (HH Hill: Chicago, 1881)

Dr. Thomas J. GRIFFITH, physician, Darlington, one of the leading professional men in this part of the County, is a native of Clinton County, this state, having been born there April 2, 1837. His parents, Thornton and Mary (HALL) Griffith, were married in Montgomery County in 1836, the latter having come to this country from South Carolina in 1826. His father, who was a native of Pennsylvania, was a descendant of an old Welsh family, as the name implies, the first members of which arrived in this country about 1630. According to the family tradition two brothers came from Wales about that time and landed in Massachusetts, subsequently settling in Pennsylvania, where their descendants acquired large landed and mill interests on the Brandywine river, which were, however, lost to the family at the close of the revolutionary war. After their marriage the doctor's parents removed to Clinton County, where they continued to reside unti1 1846 when they returned to Montgomery County and located at Crawfordsville for four years, when they moved to a farm northeast of the city. Here they lived for sixteen years, then removed to Darlington, where, on June 24,1869, Mr. Thornton Griffith died. During his youth Dr. Griffith worked on his father's farm, and received his early education at Crawfordsville, and on the breaking out of the war enlisted in the 135th Ind. reg., where he served as commissary sergeant. On returning from the war he studied medicine with Dr. J. S. MCCLELLAND, of Crawfordsville, for some years, and graduated at Miami Medical College, Cincinnati, in 1867, beginning practice at Darlington in May of the same year. On October 4, 1871, Dr. Griffith married at Madison, Jefferson County, Miss Martha E. HUTCHINGS, M.D., daughter of John and Elizabeth (CRAVENS) Hutchings, old settlers of Clark County. Mrs. Griffith is a lady of fine education, a graduate of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania and ranks high in the profession to which she has devoted her talents. They have one son, James Barton, born July 7, 1873. Mrs. Griffith is a member of the Christian Church (Disciples). The doctor is a prominent member of the A.F. and A.M., and in politics is affiliated with the independent party. He is an enthusiast in archeology, and has one of the finest collections in the County, comprising over 300 arrow-heads of various sizes and designs, 40 spear-heads, several axes and other rare specimens of Indian implements. He also has an extensive cabinet of old and rare coins.


Portrait & Biographical Record of Montgomery, Parke & Fountain counties, Indiana.
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1893.

Thomas J. GRIFFITH, M. D., a prominent man and skilled physician of Montgomery County, is the gentleman of whom this sketch is written. He is well known through the state, for in every convention of the Prohibition party Dr. GRIFFITH´S voice is heard in denunciation of the traffic in spirits.

Dr. GRIFFITH was born near Frankfort, Ind., April 2, 1837, and he was the son of Thornton and Mary A. (HALL) GRIFFITH. The former was a native son of Chester County, Pa., and the mother was born in Newberry County, S.C., and both came with their parents to Montgomery County when young. Abraham GRIFFITH, the grandfather of our subject, came to this county about 1820, and erected the first jail that was ever built here, but it is not standing, as it burned down. He died in this place about 1832-33 and had carried on a business of cabinet-maker.

Grandfather HALL came here in 1830, became a prominent farmer in Ripley Township, and died in 1848. He had for fifty years been an Elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Mary HALL married Thornton GRIFFITH in this county in 1836 and the same year the young couple moved into Clinton County. Mr. GRIFFITH was a mechanic, but he opened up a farm in Clinton County. In 1846 he returned to Montgomery County and settled in Crawfordsville, in 1850, five miles northeast of the village, and remained for eighteen years and saw the village grow into a city. In 1868 he moved to Darlington, where he died June 23, 1869. His skill as a carpenter is attested by several houses which still stand in Crawfordsville built by him in 1835, the old ELSTON homestead being one. In his political opinions he was a Whig, and was a candidate for Representative to the Legislature at one time, and was always a strong Abolitionist. In his religious belief he was Friend, his mother having been a member of that gentle sect. His widow survived him until November2, 1886, and three children were born to them: Thomas J., Joanna M., and Nancy E. Joanna died in 1865, aged twenty-five years. Nancy is Mrs. Joseph BINFORD, of Crawfordsville.

Thomas J. GRIFFITH was reared upon a farm and lived with his parents. He attended a seminary at Crawfordsville, and then entered a store and clerked for on and a half years for William BOWERS. In 1863 he enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, and soon after was promoted to be Commissary Sergeant and was located in Lexington, Ky. He served through Tennessee and Alabama for four months, and was discharged in the fall of 1864. At this time he entered the office of Dr. James S. MC CLELLAN, 1865-66, and attended lectures at Ann Arbor, Mich., continuing his studies until he graduated in the class of 1867 at the Miami Medical College at Cincinnati.

In 1867 Dr. GRIFFITH opened an office at Darlington, where he practiced medicine for twenty-one years. In the fall of 1889 he came to Crawfordsville, and has had a general practice here. Through the county and state he has been very active in medical matters and has given special attention to the treatment of diphtheria by what is known as "the ice treatment.' He has read details of such treatment before the societies, and has written treatises upon it in various medical journals. His theory is that the diphtheritic membrane requires heat above the normal condition of the body in order to develop, and the use of ice reduces that heat and prevents the membranous growth. In support of the efficacy of his treatment in twenty-five years of practice Dr. GRIFFITH has lost but on patient from diphtheria. He applies the same theory to scar Latina when any throat trouble exists.

Dr. GRIFFITH was married October 4, 1871, to Miss Martha E. HUTCHINGS, M. D. He is a man of genial disposition, much given to independence of thought and habits of study and investigation. The bent of his mind is toward Spiritualism, although he holds Unitarian views. In his political belief he is a Prohibitionist and now is Chairman of the County Committee, and is every campaign he is found on the stump in the interest of the cause of temperance. His social nature has brought him into connection with the Masonic fraternity, and he is also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic post. Dr. GRIFFITH is a member of the Indiana State Medical Society.


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Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the submitter, for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information.

Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the copyright holder(s), for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information. © 2014 by Karen Zach, and licensed to the Indiana GenWeb (INGenWeb) Project and the USGenWeb Project. May be used in personal research with a citation.

This page created:  28-Dec-2009