Family Stories

David G. Griffith, Biography

from Clayton County, Iowa, History and Biography

David G. Griffith was a resident of Clayton County for about thirty years and gained prestige as one of the able and successful representatives of the newspaper business in the Hawkeye state.  At the time of his death he was associated with his only son in the editing and publishing of the Elkader Register and Argus, which represents a consolidation, in September, 1907, of the Elkader Register and Elkader Argus.  Of the former paper he had long been editor and publisher, and he had made it an effective exponent of local interests as well as a safe and able leader of popular sentiment.  He was a man of strong intellectual powers and sterling character, one of the leading citizens of Elkader, commanding an impregnable place in popular confidence and esteem, and his high standing in this county makes it imperative, as a matter of historical consistency and just deserts, that in this publication be entered a tribute to his memory and a brief record of his career.  David Golden Griffith was born at Mohawk, Herkimer County, New York, on the 17th of October, 1845, and was a son of Ira and Nancy (Golden) Griffith.  Ira Griffith, who was engaged in the hotel business during much of his active career, was a son of Jesse Griffith, and the latter was a son of William Griffith, Jr., who was a member of the New York Rangers during the war of the Revolution, his birth having occurred in 1762, and he having been a resident of Worcester, New York, at the time of his death, on the 9th of October, 1838; his father, Captain William Griffith, was an officer of the continental army in the war of the Revolution.  Mrs. Nancy (Golden) Griffith was a daughter of John Golden, and her maternal grandfather, James Eaton, was, with his family, among the few survivors of the historic Indian massacre at Wyoming, Pennsylvania.  David G. Griffith was the only child of his parents, and after the death of his mother his father contracted a second marriage, the one child of this union being a daughter Frances, who became the wife of Rensaeller D. Hubbard, of Mankato, Minnesota.  David Golden Griffith was not yet nine years old at the time of his mother’s death and thereafter he lived mainly with her kinfolk, at Utica, New York, until the autumn of 1861.  In the meanwhile he profited fully by the advantages afforded in the Utica schools and there had finally entered upon a practical apprenticeship to the printer’s trade.  On the 25th of October, 1861, about two weeks after he had celebrated his sixteenth birthday anniversary, he enlisted for service as a soldier of the Union in the Civil War.  He became a private in Company M, Second New York Artillery, his enlistment having been for “three years or during the war,” and in November 1863, he re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer, his service continuing until he received his honorable discharge on the 15th of October, 1865.  His regiment was a part of the Army of the Potomac and saw much severe service.  It was attached to the First Brigade of the First Division of the Second Army corps, under command of General Hancock, and the famous Irish Brigade likewise formed a part of this gallant corps, while the division was in command of General Nelson A. Miles.  The Second New York Artillery ranked eighth in the number of its losses in the war.  Of the original Company M with which Mr. Griffith went to the front, he was one of only five that returned at the close of the long conflict, and he held commission as second lieutenant of his company at the time when he was mustered out.  At the time when Manassas Junction was captured by General Stonewall Jackson’s corps, Mr. Griffith was captured but, with other enlisted men, he was paroled on the field of the second battle of Bull Run.  After passing three months in the parole camp at Annapolis, Maryland, he was exchanged, whereupon he promptly rejoined his regiment.  He served in the battles and minor engagements from Spotsylvania to Petersburg, and at the latter place, on the night of June 16, 1864, he was so severely wounded that he was sent to the north for proper treatment and care.  In the following November he rejoined his regiment, with which he served during the final campaigns against the forces of General Lee.  At Burksville Station, after Lee’s surrender, he commanded the guard having in charge the artillery surrendered by the great Confederate leader.  He was mustered out October 15, 1865, two days prior to his twentieth birthday anniversary.  Soon after the close of his gallant career as a youthful soldier of the Union Mr. Griffith entered the office of the Utica Morning Herald for the purpose of completing his apprenticeship as a printer.  He continued his services in newspaper offices at Utica, New York, until April, 1870, when he came to Iowa and established his residence in the village then known as Buffalo Grove, near the present town of Aurora, Buchanan County.  There, on the 14th of December, 1870, was solemnized his marriage to Miss Mary A. Carpenter, who was born at Trenton Falls, New York, on the 6th of February 1845.  One of her brothers had been a former comrade and tentmate of Mr. Griffith in the army and had sacrificed his life to his country.  After his marriage Mr. Griffith worked at his trade in Dubuque and Chicago, and from the latter city he returned, in 1872, to Dubuque, where he retained a position on the Daily Herald until August 1, 1880, when he came to Clayton County and established his permanent home at Elkader, where he had shortly before purchased an interest in the Elkader Register.  In the control of this paper he was associated with George A. Fairfield until January 1, 1893, when Mr. Fairfield retired from the partnership and was succeeded by Harry L. Griffith, the only child of the subject of this memoir, who has continued the business since the death of his father and concerning whom individual mention is made on other pages of this publication.  David G. Griffith filled a large place in the community life of Elkader and Clayton County and was splendidly influential not only through the medium of his excellent paper, but also in a direct personal way.  For many year he gave his allegiance to the Democratic Party, but in the later period of his life he was aligned with Republicn Party.  He served three terms as mayor of Elkader and was postmaster of this place during the first administration of President Cleveland.  He was always active and influential in public affairs in Elkader and the county.  He held membership in the Baptist Church, and in the time-honored Masonic fraternity his affiliations were with Elkader Lodge No. 72, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Harmony Chapter No. 41, Royal Arch Masons; and DeMolay Consistory, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, at Clinton, this state, in which last he received the thirty-second degree.  He was identified also with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and other fraternal organizations, the while he was a specially appreciative and honored member of E. Boardman Post, No. 187, Grand Army of the Republic, through the medium of which he manifested his abiding interest in his old comrades in arms.  It has already been stated that Mrs. Griffith was born at Trenton Falls, New York, and it may further be noted that she is a daughter of Bradford James Carpenter and Jane Laura (Jones) Carpenter, the former of whom was born at Richford, Vermont, September 25, 1807, and the latter of whom was born at Troy, New York, on the 4th of January, 1807, their marriage having been solemnized at Berkshire, Vermont, on the 2nd of April, 1833.  Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter passed the closing years of their lives at Arlington, Fayette County, Iowa, where his death occurred July 23, 1881.  Of their four children who attained to maturity Lorin D. and Charles W., both of whom were soldiers in the Civil War, are now deceased, as is also Sarah B., the one surviving child, besides Mrs. Griffith, being Homer R., a resident of Atlantic, Iowa.  Since the death of her husband, Mrs. Griffith has continued to reside at Elkader, a place that is endeared to her by the hallowed memories and association of the past and in which community she is held in affectionate regard by all who know her.

7 replies »

  1. thank you for the bio on David G Griffith he is father-in-law of sister-in-law of sister-in-law of grand uncle to me. Love learning about my family history.

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