BICENTENNIAL
Early Batavia lawyer was cousin of Grant

April 24th, 2014    Author: Administrator    Filed Under: Opinion

John S. Griffith, Lawyer, was born July 2, 1813, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was the first son of 11 children of James Griffith and Mary (Simpson) Griffith.

James Griffith, father of John (brother in law of Hannah Simpson) a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and a blacksmith by trade, moved to Ohio in 1817, in Bethel, Clermont County, where he farmed during the latter years of his life, and died in 1864. The mother of the subject of this notice, Mary, was also a native of Bucks County and a daughter of John Simpson, who settled in Clermont County in 1818, where he was a leading agriculturist until his death in 1837.

Hannah, daughter of John Simpson, was married to Jesse R. Grant, father of General Ulysses S. Grant. The ancestors of John Simpson were identified with the Revolution and the War of 1812.

His preliminary education was limited and received at the common schools. In early life he worked on his father’s farm and in the blacksmith shop, alternating with speculating on the river, until he was about 25 years old.

In 1839 he began reading law under Thomas J. Buchanan, a prominent attorney of Batavia, being admitted to the bar in 1841. He immediately entered upon the practice of his profession in Bethel, Clermont County, laboring industriously there until 1852, when he moved his office and residence to Batavia. Mr. Griffith has since remained in Batavia, having built up a large and paying practice.

In 1857 he was elected Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of the Fifth Judicial District of Ohio, serving for three years, at the end of which time he was renominated and defeated by the Know Nothing Party. In 1857 he was again elected Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas. He was the first in his district to be elected Clerk under the new Constitution, the office having been previously filled by appointment. With the exception of this one public office, Mr. Griffith has always refused to accept political preferment, notwithstanding frequent solicitation.

In 1843 he married Ann Amelia Harris, of Berks County, Pennsylvania, by whom he is the father of seven children.

Batavia is celebrating its bicentennial this year, and The Clermont Sun is publishing a series of historic vignettes. John Griffith is Ulysses S. Grant’s cousin, whom he would visit in Batavia. The Griffith home may have been on Main St. on the site of the current Clermont Sun offices.

Source: The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Ohio of the Nineteenth Century, Cincinnati: Galaxy Publishing Company, 1876, p. 479. Available at the Batavia Library.

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