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Subject: [CADATA] Ca-Yolo-Shasta-Trinity Co. Bios (Griffith)
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2007 23:39:58 -0500

Yolo-Shasta-Trinity County CA Archives Biographies.....Griffith, A. 1856 -
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File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher February 3, 2007, 11:39 pm

Author: Lewis Publishing Co. (1891)

A. GRIFFITH, a retired merchant of Cacheville, Yolo County, was born in
Newcastle, Staffordshire, England, September 17, 1822, a son of Aaron and Sarah
Griffith, who had six sons but no daughter. The father was one of five brothers,
four of whom came to the United States in 1813. Three of them settled in
Elizabethtown and engaged in the manufacture of stone crockery; the fourth went
West and all trace of him was lost. The eldest son, Edward, acted in a father's
place for his younger brothers, by furnishing a home and keeping them together
for a number of years. Before he was five years of age the subject of this
sketch lost both his parents, and he, being the youngest, was placed in the care
of a grandmother. He worked in the crockery business in Stoke-upon-Trent,
Staffordshire. After he had passed into his twenty-first year he left home for
Liverpool, with only about sixpence in money, and walked the entire distance,
fifty-two miles, and found a home with John Lancaster, a barber. To obtain a
little cash he first pawned his flute and then his silk hat; the flute he
redeemed. Soon afterward he pawned his coat, while he borrowed another from Mr.
Lancaster. In the meantime he was going the rounds of the docks endeavering to
obtain a berth on some ship in order to leave England. At length Messrs. Lord &
Co. desired a few apprentices on their barque Miracle, and young Griffith bound
himself to them for a term of seven years, wages to be one pound the first year
and to be raised a pound each year. His first voyage was to Quebec, Canada, for
lumber; second, to St. John, New Brunswick; third, to Savanna, Georgia, in the
spring of 1844. At this time he was coxswain of his captain's "gig," as his boat
was called, and it was his business to keep it clean and ready for use. He was a
favorite of the captain's and was learning some points of navigation from him;
but more confidence was placed in him than he desired, as he with others were
planning to run away from the ship. With only twenty-five cents and a few
miscellaneous articles he struck out for Charleston, South Carolina, which point
he fortunately gained the next day, as a stage-driver took him through for a
little china tea-set he had with him. The same evening he was on a steamer
working his passage to New York city. The mate of the steamer gave him
twenty-five cents in money, as balance due him besides his passage, and so he
had fifty cents when he landed in New York. He directly but by accident found
distant relatives there, and found his way to his uncle Robert Griffith, at
Elizabethtown, one of the four brothers, and after stopping with him a short
time returned to New York and got a situation as clerk. The California gold
excitement broke out in 1848 and Peter Stuyvesant, a grandson of old Governor
Stuyvesant, introduced Mr. Griffith to one of the Aspinwalls, who gave him a
position as stoker on the steamship Panama. Leaving New York December 1, 1848,
they were out but five days when the cylinder-head of the engine burst off and
they were obliged to put back to New York, by sail, arriving Thursday. During
the ensuing winter Mr. Griffith was a clerk in a store and until July 15, 1849,
he again obtained an opportunity to work for his passage to California, this
time on the steamer Empire City to the Isthmus, and thence on the steamer
Oregon, Captain Robert Pearson, to San Francisco, arriving September 16. On the
night of October 2 he camped on the bank of Cache Creek, at the point where
Cacheville is now situated. He and his companion helped an old man named Cochran
to build a rude sort of hut for a country tavern, and then proceeded on their
way to the northern mines, arriving at Shasta after prospecting and finding
nothing. The rainy season setting in, they returned to Cochran's, a distance
from Shasta of 200 miles, and spent the winter there, Mr. Griffith acting as
cook. Only two or three other settlers were then within the compass of several
miles,—William Gordon, seven miles southwest; Knight's, twelve miles northeast,
and Mat. Harbin, four miles east.

During the next summer he worked in the Trinity mines, saving up about $500,
which was soon stolen from him by a treacherous fellow traveler. He returned
disgusted with mining, and worked as cook again for Mr. Cochran for a while, and
in the fall of 1851 Cochran left for Australia, being greatly in debt, and owing
Mr. Griffith with others considerable money, and he has never since been heard
from, except that he wrote a letter shortly afterward from San Francisco to Mr.
Griffith, making a request that he remain with Mr. Hammack in the management of
the "hotel," sell his stock and pay his debts; which was done. This arrangement
was followed until the autumn of 1852, when J. A. Hutton, who owned land near
and had a wife, came with her and they and Hammack became proprietors. In the
fall of 1853 they opened a store and employed Mr. Griffith to clerk for them, at
a salary of $75 a month and board. In December, 1854, Mr. Griffith married his
present wife, Mary Rush, who had crossed the plains that year, and he continued
as employe in the store. In 1855 Mr. Griffith bought out Mr. Hammack and the
firm became Hutton & Griffith. In 1857, when the county-seat was removed from
Washington to Cacheville, Hutton & Griffith sold out, and in 1859 Griffith
bought out the store of White & Weaver, at Cacheville; there were then several
mercantile establishments in the place. In 1861 Mr. Griffith purchased the store
of H. C. Yerby, the first brick store in the town if not in the county, and he
succeeded J. A. Hutton (who had been county judge of Yolo many years) as
Postmaster, and he also became agent for the Wells-Fargo Express Company, which
agency he held for about sixteen years. He retired from active business about
1880. He has a ranch of 2,320 acres in the foothills of Colusa County, and he
raises sheep, hogs, cattle and horses, and wheat and barley. His home place
consists of fourteen acres, whereon is a comfortable residence. In September,
1885, while in San Francisco with his wife and four youngest boys, his house
burned down, at a loss of about $10,000. There was no insurance.

Thus Mr. Griffith is able to contrast with a peculiar vividness the original
wild condition of the country here with the present state of affairs; and he
considers the valley one of the most fertile in the world.

In 1855 the first camp-meeting in the county was held, by the Methodists, and
the next year Mr. and Mrs. Griffith joined that church. In September, 1857, he
was selected as superintendent of the first Sunday-school there, a position
which he holds to-day. Mr. and Mrs. Griffith have eight children living, with
one gone to the other world. Their names are: Olive M., William H., Jessie E.,
Hattie M., Jenny P. (who died at the age of four years), George L., J. Scott,
Aaron S. and Edward R.

Additional Comments:
Extracted from

Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California.

Illustrated, Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast
from the Earliest Period of its Occupancy to the Present Time, together with
Glimpses of its Prospective Future; Full-Page Steel Portraits of its most
Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of many of its Pioneers and also of
Prominent Citizens of To-day.

"A people that takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will
never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote
descendents." – Macauley.


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