PETER WILL GRIFFITH, an honored veteran of the late war who is now living in Murphysboro, and who is a representative of one of the prominent pioneer families of Jackson County, was born in Somerset Township December 28, 1845. His grandfather, John Griffith, was a native of Wales, and after emigrating to this country became a farmer of Pennsylvania. In Somerset County of the Keystone State, John J. Griffith, father of our subject, was born and reared, and when a young man came west with teams and wagons, making a permanent location in Jackson County. Here he entered land, built a small log house and began the development of a farm. He engaged quite extensively in the raising of stock, which he drove to market in St. Louis, and his wheat he hauled to Chester in the early days. During the war he engaged in buying horses for the Government and was a very successful trader. He owned four hundred and forty acres of land and became well-to-do. He belonged to the Lutheran Church and was a Republican in politics. His death occurred in 1863, at which time his entire family were ill with typhoid fever. The father, mother, three daughters and a son all died within three months. The mother, Mrs. Harriet Griffith, was a daughter of Peter Will, one of the honored pioneers of this county. In the family were eleven children, seven of whom are yet living.
Our subject early became familiar with farm work in all its details, and experienced the arduous labor of developing wild land. His educational privileges were limited to the opportunities of the subscription schools. In 1864, at the age of nineteen, he joined Company H, Eighteenth Illinois Infantry, and was mustered out at Springfield. The troops went down the Mississippi and up the Red and Yazoo Rivers, participated in the Bank's expedition and raised the blockade at Greenville, Miss. Mr. Griffith was actively engaged during his entire service, which ended only with the close of the war, when he went to Vicksburg and was honorably discharged.
Returning to his home, Mr. Griffith formed a partnership with Dr. F. C. Bierer in the dry-goods business, which continued three years, when he sold out and turned his attention to farming in Somerset Township. His line of work was again changed in 1870, when he established a livery stable, which he carried on for eight years in connection with dealing in stock. He bought and shipped cattle and hogs to St. Louis, and in that venture met with good success. While in the livery business he raised grain and hay enough to feed his stock. He had thirty-six head of horses, a fine line of carriages, and from the public he received a liberal patronage. As his financial resources increased he made judicious investments in land and now owns four good farms, comprising four hundred and eighty acres. In the city he also owns five good residences and is a stockholder in the City National Bank and the Jackson County Homestead and Loan Association.
Mr. Griffith has been twice married. He first wedded Miss Sarah Francis, a native of Westmoreland, Pa., where their marriage was celebrated. She died in Murphysboro, leaving one son, Frank P., who is now in the freight and transfer business in Murphysboro. In East Cairo, Ky., in 1881, Mr. Griffith married Miss Leona, daughter of B. F. Sams, of Cartersville, and a native of Jonesboro.
Socially, Mr. Griffith is connected with Amity Lodge, I. O. O. F.; the Knights of Honor, and Worthen Post No. 128, G. A. R. He also belongs to the Zion Lutheran Church and is one of its liberal supporters. In politics he is a stalwart Republican and has served as a member of the County Central Committee. He has been honored with local offices, was twice elected Alderman from the First Ward and was once a member of the Council from the Fourth Ward. He was as faithful in his official duties as when on the field of battle aiding in the defense of the Union. In his business he has met with excellent success, his enterprise, industry, perseverance and careful management having brought him a handsome competency.
Extracted 22 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 560-561.
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