Family Profile

John Henry & James G. Griffen


Mary Helen Allen

Family Profile ofJohn Henry & James G. Griffen

While doing research for my husband's ancestor James Greene Griffin who was one of the children of William G. and Anna (Griffin) Griffin, (James and Anna were second cousins) I discovered some rather interesting information about his brother, John Henry Griffin. In the vertical file at the State Historical Society in Columbia Missouri I found an article that had been written in the Capper's Weekly, dated September 5, 1961. Johnny Griffin, Amazing Soldier From Missouri. Within this article was a photo of John. It explained that John had met with a misfortune at a very early age and suffered from a paralysis that prevented him to ever have the use of his legs. He didn't let this stand in his way and he made the very best of his situation. He built up his body through exercise and was able to get around using his upper body strength to move on his hands. He learned to ride a horse and them to be sensitive to his handicap. When commanded they would lie down on the ground so that John could crawl onto them. He attended school then eventually became a school teacher. He taught in Macon County for around twenty years. His first teaching job was at the Moody School House at age fifteen.

When the Civil War broke out, John was determined to serve and at around twenty one years of age joined a Confederate regiment raised in Missouri. As a young boy he had become an expert marksman, always mounted on his horse and shot his rifle for sport and for protection. John and his faithful black horse, Ceilim first served with Price's army in Lexington, went on to Lone Jack and continued on to the Wilson's Creek battle near Springfield, Missouri after being injured slightly.

After WilsonÕs Creek a new officer took command and didn't want to deal with John's handicap. John became ill and stayed in an old mill that was serving as a hospital. When Jayhawkers from Kansas came, John went to the woods. He was accompanied home by Jack Richardson, but after arriving home militiamen arrested him and he was held for about a month until his father posted a $10,000. (another reference stated $5,000.) bond that he would keep the oath. John went back to teaching and married Mary Ann Coiner on February 22, 1862. She had been one of his previous students. When interviewed about being a strict disciplinarian and whipping his students, he replied "Why, to be sure I did," he said, laughing, "I had to whip my wife once, and I think that's why she fell in love with me."

John was in partnership with his brother, James Greene Griffin in Cairo, Missouri. They had a general merchandising business. That was from about 1874 until 1878. He came back to Macon County and bought, sold and shipped stock for awhile. Then in 1882 he was elected county recorder. He served in that capacity for several years. He also sold real estate and was a loan agent in Macon.

John Henry was born October 31, 1840 in Ten Mile township and he died April 27, 1910. He and his wife are buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Macon Missouri. They supposedly had no children of their own, but interestingly in the 1880 census, there is listed with John H. and Mary A. Griffin; Willie, Apprentice to Shoemaker, age 7, born in Missouri, states of parent's birth's unknown.

James Greene Griffin married Laura Belle McKinney March 12, 1872 in Cairo and after the birth of their eight daughters went to Independence, Jackson County, Missouri where he owned and operated a laundry, tire shop and the Majestic Theater on North Main Street.

They are both buried at the Mt. Washington Cemetery in Independence.

References The Macon Republican, Saturday, April, 1910
Cappers Weekly, September 5, 1961.
Death Certificates for Mary Ann Griffin and John Henry Griffin
Macon County History 1884 and 1910

Some Descendants of Mordecai McKinney,

Edited by Gerald McKinney Petty and Eulah McKinney Redgway, 1953

(contributor, Willa Griffin).

Mary Helen Catlett Allen Columbia MO September 1, 2007

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Ernie Miles