Joshua T. Griffith, Clerk of the Daviess County Court, Owensboro, son of Daniel M. and Virginia Shelby (Todd) Griffith, was born in Owensboro, April 1, 1861, and received his education in the schools of that city. During President Cleveland’s first administration he was deputy collector of Internal Revenue under Hunter Wood, collector of the Second district. He was elected clerk of the Daviess County Court, and is now serving his second term in that office, in which his faithful attention to business and gentlemanly demeanor have won for him a popularity which few men in the county enjoy. He was married June 11, 1891, to Jettie Rothchild, and has one child, Virginia Griffith, born January 29, 1895.
Mr. Griffith is a descendant of a long line of ancestry on both sides of the family, who figured conspicuously in the early history of the Republic, state and county; and he reveres the names and deeds of his noble ancestry, whose lives were unblemished by word or act, while he cherishes the laudable ambition to emulate their good works and to preserve their name unspotted before the world, as becomes the scion of a noble ancestry.
William Griffith, the first of the name to come to America, arrived from London, England, in June, 1675, and settled on the Severn River in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
He was married to Sarah Maccubbin, daughter of John and Elinor Maccubbin, and had the following children, viz.: Orlando, born October 17, 1688; Sophia, born April 27, 1691; Charles, born January 20, 1693; William, born April 15, 1697. William Griffith died 1699, leaving a will, proved at Annapolis, Maryland, October 23, 1699.
Sarah Griffith, his widow, married Thomas Reynolds, sheriff of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and died April 22, 1716. Orlando Griffith, born October 17, 1688, eldest son of William and Sarah, married June 6, 1717, at Annapolis, Maryland, Katherine Howard, daughter of John and Mrs. Katherine Greenberry Ridgely, and had the following children, viz.: Sarah, born May 13, 1718; Nicholas, died in infancy; Henry, born February 14, 1720; Greenberry, born December 31, 1727; Joshua, born January 25, 1730; Benjamin, born November 22, 1732; Lucretia, born February 5, 1739; Orlando, Jr., born April 27, 1741; Charles Greenberry, born May 17, 1744.
Orlando Griffith died March, 1757, leaving a will dated April 8, 1753; proved April 25, 1757, at Annapolis, Maryland. His wife, Katherine Howard Griffith, died February, 1783.
Henry Griffith, born February 14, 1720, son of Orlando, married second time—June 4, 1751—Ruth Hammond, daughter of John and Ann Hammond, and had the following children, viz.: Samuel, born May 7, 1752; John H., born April 20, 1754; Philemon, born August 29, 1756; Charles, born December 16, 1758; Ann, born February 24, 1762; Joshua, born March 25, 1764; Eleanor, born March 9, 1766; Elizabeth, born December 16, 1768, and Ruth. Henry Griffith died September 28, 1794. His will was probated at Rockville, Maryland, October 10, 1794. Ruth, his wife, died January 27, 1782.
Joshua Griffith (great-grandfather) of Maryland, born March 25, 1764, was twice married: first in 1783 to Elizabeth Ridgeley of Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She was born in 1765 and died in 1797. His second wife’s name, county and state were the same as that of his first wife. She was born in 1769; married Joshua Griffith in 1798 and died in 1803. By the first marriage there were three children: Lydia, married in 1808 to Warner Crow; Remus, born 1786, married in 1809 to Sallie Handley, died 1845; and Ruth, married Moses Cummins. By the second marriage there was one child: William (grandfather), who was first married to Aria Mosely, in 1822; and again to Martha Hopkins, in 1848, and one child of this union, Carey, died in infancy. His children by his first wife (Aria Mosely) were Ridgely, born in 1823, died in 1841; William Henry, born in 1825, married Margaret Calhoun in 1845, died in 1848; and Daniel M. (father), born February 28, 1826, married Virginia Shelby Todd in October, 1857, died November 3, 1893.
Joshua Griffith (great-grandfather) was one of the most charitable men of his day. The following instance of his love and generosity towards his neighbors is remembered: At a time when there was a great scarcity of provisions in the county, a number of men came to him wanting to buy his large stock of provisions, but he positively declined to sell, saying, if they had money to buy provisions with they would not suffer, and he must care for his neighbors and supply the wants of those who had neither money or meat. He had some knowledge of medicine and, although he was not an educated physician, his medical advice was sought by his neighbors for miles around. He cheerfully rendered what service he could to ameliorate the sufferings of others, but he never charged one cent for such services. He was one of the few men who lived and died in the county without an enemy. His useful life, so helpful to others, was spared until he reached a ripe old age, being eighty-two years old when he died.
William Griffith (grandfather) was born in Maryland, and died in 1845. He was eleven years of age when he came to Kentucky and, owing to the primitive condition of the country, schools were impossible, but he received a fair education in schools at Hartford and at St. Joseph College. He was a soldier in the War of 1812-14; and, upon the organization of Daviess County and the opening of the County Court, he was appointed the first clerk of the court. He was afterward admitted to the bar and practiced law for several years. In 1822 he married Aria Mosely, daughter of Captain Thomas Mosely, an early settler in Kentucky, who came from Virginia. She died in 1828; and, in 1841, he married Martha Hopkins, daughter of General Edmund Hopkins of Henderson County. He became largely interested in real estate, owning at different times many thousands of acres of land. Titles for larger landed possessions passed through his hands than were ever given by any other individual in Daviess County, unless by his son, who succeeded him. He encouraged and secured the settlement of a great number of families in different parts of the county, selling land at low prices and on favorable terms. He was gifted with superior business qualifications and was generous to a fault. He would say to the surveyors of the land which he proposed to sell to throw in five or ten acres rather than make it short by a rood. He was prominent in the development of the county and was a popular leader in every movement for the public weal. He served his county in the legislature for a number of terms and his district in the senate three or four terms, and in this he served his constituents industriously and conscientiously.
The excellent name of his honored father was kept in remembrance by the noble deeds of the son, whose life was full of charitable deeds, generous consideration for others and whose public spirited enthusiasm and enterprise did so much to make his county one of the best in the Ohio Valley.
Daniel M. Griffith (father) was the eldest son of William Griffith. He received a collegiate education at Centre College and at old Transylvania, graduating from the latter in the class of 1847. He studied law and was duly admitted to the bar, but abandoned the active practice of his profession in order to attend to the large landed estate of his father; and became quite as extensively interested in real estate as his father had been. His legal training served him well in this business, as he was especially well versed in the intricate laws relative to titles and conveyances. His personal knowledge of almost every acre of land in the county, together with an unerring judgment as to its value, gave him great advantage in the purchase and sale of property, and he was the owner of or the agent for thousands of acres of land in Daviess and adjacent counties.
Business reverses, such as are liable to all men of large enterprises, came to Mr. Griffith and he virtually had to begin at the bottom again and rebuild his fortune; and, by patient perseverance, business tact and large experience, he fully recovered his losses and owned a larger estate at the time of his death than he had ever owned before. Like his father and his grandfather, he was in his day the most widely known and popular citizen in the county. He was a man of unimpeachable character; few men could have been concerned in as many real estate transactions, large and small, without incurring the displeasure of some of the parties to such transactions. His honesty and integrity were never questioned. He never deceived anyone to gain a personal advantage. Only those who knew him personally and intimately could appreciate the true nobility of his character, his kindness and gentleness toward all, his generosity and liberality to those who needed assistance, his fidelity to his friends, and above all, his sacred devotion to his family. Always calm and self-possessed, he never deviated from the courtesy which he held was due to every man, whether prince or pauper. There was no harshness in his nature and the humblest menial could approach him with the assurance that he would be kindly received. By his uprightness and straightforwardness he won friends from among all classes. He left the impress of his strong personality upon the community in which he was a prominent figure, and his death was looked upon as a public calamity. Popular as he was and qualified as few men are for public service, he never aspired to office and only once, in 1847, did he yield to the solicitation of friends, who elected him to the legislature. Some few years before his death, which occurred November 3, 1893, he adopted the faith of the Catholic religion, having contemplated that step for many years.
Daniel M. Griffith was married in October, 1857, to Virginia Shelby Todd, daughter of Charles S. Todd and granddaughter of Governor Isaac Shelby. Her father was minister plenipotentiary to Russia under President Harrison’s administration. The maternal ancestry of Joshua T. Griffith were prominent in the early history of the state and nation, and their lives and deeds having become a matter of history a repetition is uncalled for in this volume. The names of the children of Daniel M. and Virginia Shelby Todd Griffith were as follows: Letitia, born in 1858, married H. C. Watkins in 1880, and died in 1894, leaving two children—Virginia, born in 1883, and Shelton, born in 1888; Virginia, born in 1859, died in 1877; Joshua T., born April 1, 1861, married June II, 1891, to Jettie Rothchild, has one child, Virginia, born January 29, 1895; Florence, born 1863, married H. A. Miller, now living in Asheville, North Carolina, her children are Amelia, born in 1886; Virginia, born in 1888; Griffith, born in 1889, died 1890; Daniel M., born September 19, 1867, married Susan M. Herr, November 7, 189s; Rose, born 1865, married Dr. E. S. Watkins in 1887 and had three children: Sue R. and Rose Yandell (twins), born in 1888, Rose Yandell died 1884; Ruth, born 1870, died 1884; Todd, born 1871, died 1880; Clinton, born 1873; Mary Ridgeley, born 1876.
Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.