WILLIAM HENRY GRIFFITH


William H. Griffith, Mayor of Savanna, is one of its foremost citizens, and is well worthy of the highest and most responsible office in the city, to which he has been thrice called. He is one of its most enterprising and prosperous business men, and Savanna is greatly indebted to him for its rapid and healthy advance in all directions during the last few years. In his official capacity he devotes himself with characteristic energy and wisdom to the task of giving it a good, pure government, and in various other ways is encouraging and strengthening its high social, moral and financial interests.

Our subject is a native of Wales, Montgomeryshire being his place of birth, and April 10, 1846 the date of that event. His father, William A. Griffith was a native of the same shire, as was his grandfather, George Griffith who is still residing there at the venerable age of ninety-seven years. He was formerly a stock-raiser and farmer, and his son, father of our subject, was reared to manhood on the old farm in his native place. He did not, however, commence life for himself in the occupation to which he had been bred, but turned his attention to the mercantile business, beginning as clerk in a hardware store. After he had attained man's estate he established himself in that line in Newton, in his native shire. In 1853 he sold out, and coming to the United States with his family, located in Buffalo NY. Five or six years later he removed with his wife and children to St. Catherines, Canada and still resides there. He has two brothers, one, George Griffith, a farmer and stock-raiser in that place and the other, Robert is an officer in the British army, and is now commanding troops in the Soudan. His wife, the mother of our subject, whose maien name was Catherine Harper, was born in Newton, Wales. Her father, Arthur Harper was a native of the same town, and was a cabinet-maker, and spent his entire life there. His son, Arthur Harper, served as drillmaster in the British army many years, and now lives in retirement in Newton. There were five children born to the parents of our subject, as follows; William H.; George Arthur, who lives in Chicago; David A. died in Wisconsin in 1888; ALice J. married George Griffith and lives in St. Catherines, Canada; Horation H, lives in Morrison IL.

The subject was seven years old when he came with his parents to America, and part of his early schooling was received in Buffalo, NY and his education completed in St. Catherines. He worked on his uncle's farm in that place until he was sixteen years old, when he commenced to learn the trade of blacksmith and was employed three years in the carriage factory of Wales & Smith. After that he returned to Buffalo and the ensuing two years was a sailor on the Lakes. He subsequently went to Chicago and worked in Miller Brothers' ship-yard, to practice and study engineering, and remained with them twelve years. He was there at the time of the Great Fire, living on the corner of Larrabee street and Chicago avenue, and his dwelling was burned, but he was fortunate enough to save most of his goods. From Chicago he went to Morrison IL and started a rendering establishment in that city, continuing there and in Sterling until 1881, when he came to Savanna and engaged in the same business and by his excellent management and superior financial ability, he has accumulated a comfortable property.

Mr. Griffith was united in marriage to Miss Mary Clare, a native of Chicago, in 1868 and of their wedded life seven children have been born - William H., Caroline, Janetta, George J., David A. Two died in infancy, Walter and May Josephine. The family are all valued members of the Episcopal Church.

Since first taking up his residence in this city Mayor Griffith has exercised a strong influence for good in this city; his fellow-citizens early seeing in him a man of fine character, sound understanding and exceptional ability, a desirable civic officer, have elected him to the most important local offices, and his poularity has ever been on the increase. He was elected City Alderman in 1885, and in that year was first elected Mayor of the city, in 1887 was re-elected and also in April 1889 and is still an incumbent of the office. He is one of the leading Republicans of this district, and is prominently identified with the following social organizations; Mississippi Lodge No. 385, A.F. & A.M.; Lanark Chapter; Savanna Lodge No. 164, I.O.O.F.; Deering Lodge No. 128 K of P.

Portraits & Biographical Pg 814

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