James Olin Griffin

Male, #11458, (30 Jan 1871 - 31 Jul 1953)
Father*William Henry Griffin (20 Oct 1847 - 21 Feb 1924)
Mother*Clarissa Eugenia Culpepper (13 Apr 1848 - 29 Nov 1947)
Birth*30 Jan 1871 James was born at Good Hope (near Lineville), Clay Co., Alabama, on 30 Jan 1871. 
Employment* James's occupation: physician. 
Census*1880 He was in the in 1880 census at Lineville, Clay Co., Alabama
Photographed*say 1890 He was photographed say 1890 at Lineville, Clay Co., Alabama.1
James Olin Griffin
Marriage*16 May 1900 He married Minnie Dallas Strickland at Standing Rock, Chambers Co., Alabama, on 16 May 1900 at age 29.2 
Birth of Son6 Mar 1904 His son Joseph Wyeth Griffin was born on 6 Mar 1904 at Hackneyville, Tallapoosa Co., Alabama
Census1910 He was listed as a resident in the census report at Hackneyville, Tallapoosa Co., Alabama, in 1910. 
Birth of Son1 Jun 1913 His son James Maurice Griffin was born on 1 Jun 1913 at Hackneyville, Tallapoosa Co., Alabama
Birth of Son6 Oct 1915 His son Lewis Wyman Griffin was born on 6 Oct 1915 at Hackneyville, Tallapoosa Co., Alabama
Death of Father21 Feb 1924 His father William Henry Griffin died on 21 Feb 1924 at Olive Branch, Clay Co., Alabama
Death of Mother29 Nov 1947 His mother Clarissa Eugenia Culpepper died on 29 Nov 1947 at Ashland, Clay Co., Alabama
Death of Spouse19 Jun 1950 His wife Minnie Dallas Strickland died on 19 Jun 1950 at Memphis, Shelby Co., Tennessee
Death*31 Jul 1953 He died at Memphis, Shelby Co., Tennessee, on 31 Jul 1953 at age 82. 
Burial*2 Aug 1953 His body was interred on 2 Aug 1953 at Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby Co., Tennessee
Biography* James was named after his Uncle James Griffin. According to a son, James M. Griffin, James O. Griffin had blue eyes. Mrs. Charles (Margaret Whatley) Lee visited Alsie Rutland in LaGrange, GA and he spoke about James Olin Griffin: Alsie also said Uncle Olin used to teach at Standing Rock [Chambers Co., AL] and he knew him. Uncle Olin met Aunt Minnie at Standing Rock, as you know she was a Strickland. Uncle Olin boarded with her family when he taught there.
      The following biography is from Vol. 2, pp. 253-254 of the History of Alabama and Her People by the American Historical Society, Inc., 1927: JAMES OLIN GRIFFIN, M.D. The quarter of a century Doctor Griffin has devoted to his duties as a physician and surgeon has been spent in several Alabama localities, and includes also the period of about a year he was a medical officer in home camps and overseas during the World War period. Doctor Griffin is a physician and surgeon at Moulton. He was born at [Good Hope near] Lineville, Clay County, Alabama, January 31, 1871 [30 Jan 1871 per Griffin Bible record]. The Griffin family is of Welsh ancestry. His grandfather, Robert Griffin, was a native of Pike County, Georgia, and when in middle life moved with his family to Lineville, Alabama, where he engaged in farming and merchandising until his death. He married Ann Wise, a native of Georgia. Their son, William Henry Griffin, was born in Chambers county, Alabama, in October, 1847, and died at Ashland in Clay County, February 22, 1923. He grew up in Chambers County, was married in Clay County, and carried on successful operations as a farmer at Lineville until 1920, when he moved to another farm near Ashland. He was a democrat, held the office of justice of the peace many years, and at the time of his death was a member of the Clay County Board of Education. He belonged to the Missionary Baptist Church and the Knights of Pythias, and was one of the useful soldiers of the Confederacy during the Civil war. His wife, Clarissa Eugenia Culpepper, was born near Griffin in Pike County, Georgia, April 12, 1847 [13 Apr 1847 per Culpepper Bible Record and tombstone] and is still living. They had eleven children: Dora, wife of Bud Dean, a farmer at Ashland; Doctor James O; Robert Lewis, a commercial traveler, with home at Montevallo; Annie, wife of Isaac Reeves, a farmer at Lineville; J. Thomas, a farmer who died at Lineville of typhoid fever in June, 1922; Miss Lelia and Miss Maude, living at home with their mother; Joseph Albertus, who is credit man for the Haverty Furniture Company at Birmingham; George William, connected with the Handley Motor Company at Washington, D. C; Myrtle, wife of Robert Whatley, a farmer at Lineville; and Herman Milton, who died when eighteen months old. James O. Griffin grew up at Lineville, attended Lineville College, and had six years of teaching experience in Randolph and Clay counties. In 1898 he entered the medical department of the University of Alabama at Mobile, and was graduated M. D. in 1900. After six months of practice at Millerville he located at Hackneyville, in Tallapoosa County, and was an esteemed and successful physician in that community for a period of seventeen years. Leaving there he practiced at Goodwater, Alabama seven months. Having volunteered for service in the Army Medical Corps, he was commissioned a first lieutenant and was called to duty August 1, 1918 and was in training twenty-nine days at Camp Greenleaf Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He was ordered overseas as a casual landing at Liverpool September 29, spent five days at Winchester, England, reached Le Havre October 5, still as a casual, and was stationed at Laval Bonne, France from October 18 until January 6, 1919, being battalion surgeon of the First, Second and Third Battalions which were in training there. He then went to Nevers, France, with Bakery Company No. 320 remaining on duty there from January 6, 1919 to March 11, 1919. He was next at Mars Center, the American base hospital, until April 15th, was transferred to Savinay for a short time, and on April 20, sailed from St. Nazaire, landing at Hoboken New Jersey, May 1, 1919, and took his honorable discharge at Fort McPherson Atlanta, June 19, 1919. He now holds the rank of captain in the Medical Officers' Reserve Corps. Leaving the army, he resumed his practice at Goodwater for a brief time, and on January 2, 1922, engaged in practice at Leeds, left there on March 6, 1923, and was located at Eclectic until April 29, 1924, when he established his home and office at Moulton to engage in a general practice as a physician and surgeon. His offices are in the Moulton Drug Company Building on the Court house Square. Doctor Griffin was county health officer of Tallapoosa County in 1916-17 and is a member of the Lawrence County, Alabama State and Southern Medical Associations. He is a democrat, a member of the Missionary Baptist Church and is affiliated with Leeds Lodge No. 446, F. and A. M. Avondale Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Kamram Grotto of Masons at Birmingham. He married at Standing Rock in Chambers County, May 16, 1900, Miss Minnie D. Strickland, daughter of Henry A. and Julia (Halsey) Strickland, now deceased. Her father was a farmer in Chambers County. Doctor and Mrs. Griffin became the parents of nine children: Mary Erom, a teacher in the Coffee County High School at Enterprise; Joseph Wyeth, manager of a general store at Leeds; Ruth Valentine, attending the Alabama College at Montevallo; Sarah Louise, a senior and Julia Clarise, a freshman in the Lawrence County High School at Moulton; James Maurice, Lewis Wyman and Millie Frances, students in the Moulton Grammar School; and Olga Marie.
      James O. Griffin helped to found a Baptist church which was destroyed by a cyclone in 1916. A daughter, Ruth Griffin, wrote in a 31 Jan 1982 letter that "quite well do I remember the cyclone. [Great?] Uncle Joe Culpepper was visiting us at that time. He visited with us quite often. We lived very close to the church. It was a scary time for a few moments." The following is from p. 4 of the ALEXANDER CITY OUTLOOK Thursday, 17 Dec 1981: July, 1916 cyclone destroyed Church Coosa-Tallapoosa Echoes By Hoot Warren A Cyclone has long been a much dreaded weather maker. It was from a cyclone which hit the Hackneyville Baptist Church building - destroying it - that the church membership also suffered a devastating blow. This storm came in July 1916 and completely demolished the building causing the Baptists to seek help from the Presbyterians in the community. The ALEXANDER CITY NEWS dated Friday July 14 1916 reported a storm "which had hit the entire southern part of the United States leaving some 78 persons dead or missing and damage estimated into the millions of dollars." They further recounted that Montgomery, Selma, Prattville and several locations in Mississippi had extensive storm damage and crop loss from excessive rains. They reported over "one hundred hours of continuous rainfall" during this wide and costly storm. The ALEXANDER CITY OUTLOOK of mid-July was not on file, so an account of the happening could not be gleaned from this active Alexander City newspaper of that day. The DADEVILLE SPOT CASH did note on July 21 1916 that six states were involved in the storm and that the dead and missing was over 75 persons. Damage was extensive but there was no specific mention of the Hackneyville church in any of the articles. Local records state that the church was lost July 15, 1916 in that siege of bad weather which spawned localized storms. The congregation held a meeting and decided to sell the remains of the church building and make letters available to members to join the church of their choice at some other location. The membership was quite large at the time but did not feel financially able to replace the building due to anticipated crop losses. The Baptist Church at Hackneyville had actually begun when Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Cosper sold an acre and a half of land to the church trustees for only one dollar. This action took place back on November 19, 1904 and involved Mr. D. M. Vernon, E. W. Harlan, and G. W. Holdridge as trustees. The land was just west of where Dr. J. O. Griffin lived on the south side of the main road through Hackneyville. The J. D. Collins family later lived in that home and still later the location became the Fox Store and then the Walls Store. But Dr. Griffin was an active man and believed in both schools and churches so he became the power behind the movement in 1905 to actually get a church organized and a building on that land. It soon became a reality and services were held until 1916....
      A niece Mrs. J. W. (Lena Whatley) DeVaughn wrote that she and her sister, Mrs. C. H. (Margaret Whatley) Lee went to La Grange, GA and visited "a Rutland [William Huey Rutland?]": He told me about Uncle Olin Griffin wanting him to go with him in the woods to catch some rattlesnakes. Did your Daddy tell you how Uncle Olin Griffin, your Grandfather, loved to work with snakes? When I was a child, my parents would visit Uncle Olin, he would show us his snakes. In his last years I don't think he did, but when young he sure did. I enjoyed listening while he (the Mr. Rutland) told how he caught the snakes, put them to sleep and cut the poison from them, then how they would fight each other when waking up.... Down there is where he [James Olin Griffin] met Aunt Minnie [Strickland] at County Line or she lived at Standing Rock. Uncle Olin was teaching school there when he met Aunt Minnie....
      J. O. Griffin also liked to go hunting and at one time had several bird dogs. Later, he had a pet dog named Jigs that he loved to aggravate by twirling its tail. J. O. Griffin was a teetotaler and he ran a telephone exchange out of his office. A niece, Mrs. E. A. (Ellaree Dean) Speer, wrote in a 10 Jan 1992 letter: Uncle Olin had a good practice in Hackneyville & also telephone business & he still had that when I would visit [Olin's daughter, Mary] Erom [Griffin] & we worked the switchboard for Miss Cassie to go for lunch... & to have vacation.... Those were horse & buggy days. The switchboard was in a two room house & the other room was for medicine. If you called late p.m. night or early morning - no answer. Miss Cassie went to work about 7:30 or 8:00.
      Annie M. Rillett, 17, was listed as a telephone operator living at the James O. Griffin residence in the 1910 census. The following is from Birmingham News for Sunday, 28 Nov 1982: A Day in the Life of Alabama Switchboards and 'Central' once hub of small-town life By Clarke Stallworth News associate editor They called her "Central." Early in this century, she sat in a little office, in a small Alabama town, watching the spaghetti-like cords sprout from the small telephone switchboard. She ate, slept and lived within reach of the switchboard, and many nights would be roused out of bed to connect somebody with somebody else. From 1900 to 1921, Alabama was dotted with small telephone exchanges. Irma Russell Cruse, who worked for Southern Bell and South Central Bell as a writer wrote a story in a telephone magazine about one early- century switchboard, in Hackneyville, a small town in northwestern Tallapoosa County. The switchboard began when a dentist, a Dr. Bell, needed it to stay in touch with his patients. So he bought a switchboard and set it up at home. His wife manipulated the cords and answered to "Central." Then Dr. J.O. Griffin put in a larger exchange--15 lines--with four to eight parties on each line. Toll connections were established between Hackneyville and the Bell Company's exchanges at Alexander City and Goodwater. In her article, "Horse and Buggy Telephones," Mrs. Cruse wrote: "For the next 10 or 15 years, this telephone switchboard was the hub around which life revolved in the community. The primary purpose of the service was to enable the doctor to keep in touch with his patients. "Merchants soon found it helpful, however, to use the telephone to find out whether their orders of staple groceries had come in at the Central of Georgia depot in Alexander City. "Each family learned its code ring and the youngest child soon learned that 'two longs and a short' was for his telephone. Each family learned the other codes which designated others on the line and when Mrs. Brown's short and long ring was heard, others up and down the line rushed to see who was calling Mrs. Brown. It never occurred to the telephone subscribers that anyone would seriously object to everyone on the line listening in on conversations. Nor was it unusual for listeners to take part in the conversation and volunteer information." Dr. Griffin hired a young telephone operator, Nellie Ledbetter, and the operator lived with him and his wife in their home. Wrote Mrs. Cruse: "One of the by-products of her working days for Nellie was the romance with Charlie Russell, one of the young men of the community who had been away at school. "The two young people found the switchboard offered opportunity for frequent visits by telephone when business was quiet and the romance blossomed into marriage. "During the months before that marriage took place, in her role of 'Central' Nellie served the doctors well (Nellie's brother was practicing with Dr. Griffin). "Each morning before leaving for their house calls, the doctors prepared a list of their proposed visits and left it at the switchboard. If a call came in for the doctors in their absence, Nellie would check the lists, estimate just about where she would find the doctor who was needed and ring the telephone nearest that location. "Any telephone subscriber was always glad to stop work to answer the telephone to help locate the doctor. There was little danger of missing the doctor if he was scheduled to come along past the house being called, for the clip clop of the team of horses could be heard long before the buggy and its occupant would come into sight. Telephones changed. The wall set, with the crank on the side, became a dial telephone on a desk, and "Central" became "Operator," in a distant city. Telephone service got better -- subscribers could make calls easier and quicker than before. But the personal touch -- or much of it -- disappeared into the mists of history. Americans may have gained better service, but some who remember, miss the friendly voice of the lady in the cushioned chair, sitting by the rickety little switchboard, the lady who knew everybody's business. The lady down at "Central."
      A daughter, Ruth Griffin, wrote in a 31 Jan 1982 letter: Yes, I remember living at Hackneyville and quite a lot about everything. Daddy was a very prominent citizen there.... Hackneyville was a very progressive community when we lived there. Daddy had the home built where we lived. It was destroyed by fire sometime ago.
      The following is from p. 421 of the second (1952) edition of Who's Important in Medicine compiled and published by Institute for Research in Biography, Inc., Hicksville, NY: GRIFFIN, JAMES OLIN - Physician; born January 30, 1871, [Good Hope near] Lineville, Alabama; son of William Henry and Clarissa Eugenia (Culpepper) Griffin; educated at Lineville College, Medical Dept. Grants Univ., Medical Dept., University of Alabama, M.D., 1900; married Minnie Dallas Strickland, May 16, 1900; children-Mary Erom, Joseph Wyeth, Ruth Valentine, Sarah Louise, Julia Clarice, James Maurice, Lewis Wyman, Minnie Frances, and Olga Marie. In general practice, Alabama 1900-1928.
County Health Officer, Tallapoosa Co., Ala., four years; President, Board of Education, Hackneyville, Ala., several years; Staff Member, U.S. Veterans Hospital 88, Memphis, Tennessee, 14 years; Staff Member, Oakville Memorial Sanatorium, Memphis, Tennessee since 1942. Member: Tenn. State Medical Association, American Trudeau Society, Memphis and Shelby County Medical Society, American Cancer Society. Clubs: Oakville Civic, American Legion, National Association of Retired Civil Employees. Served as First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, World War I; Major retired, U.S. Army Medical Corps. Residence: 883 Hawthorne. Office: Oakville Sanatorium, Memphis 18, Tennessee.
      In a 29 Jul 1953 letter written just 2 days before his death, James O. Griffin wrote to his son, Lewis W. Griffin and family: I am in charge of three different buildings and it takes lots of walking to see the patients in all three of the buildings.... I am very thankful that I have a good job and I hope that I can keep it for at least five more years. I do not want to ever quit work. I hope and pray that the Lord will keep me fit and able to work as long as I live. I think that work and employment is as good or better medicine for old people as it is for young people. A busy individual, if he or she has any ambition, is, as a rule, a happy individual.
      The following obituary is from The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, TN, Saturday 1 Aug 1953: SUDDEN ILLNESS FATAL TO DR. JAMES GRIFFIN Practiced More Than 50 Years In Tennessee, Alabama RITES TO BE TOMORROW More than a half century of medical practice that endeared Dr. James O. Griffin to the hearts of lay persons and other physicians in two states ended yesterday when the doctor died at Baptist Hospital after a sudden illness. He was 82. Dr. Griffin became ill at noon Thursday while on duty at Oakville Memorial Sanatorium, where he was still active as staff physician. He died at 9 yesterday morning. Rites Set Tomorrow Services will be he]d at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon at McLean Baptist Church. Dr. H. C. Gabhart will officiate. Burial will be in Memorial Park. Dr. Griffin's long and prominent career began with general practice in Tallapoosa County, Ala., in 1900. He had earned his doctor of medicine degree earlier that year from the University of Alabama. The year was notable in another respect for the young doctor, for it was then that he married Minnie Dallas Strickland of Roanoke, Ala. Mrs. Griffin died one month and three days after the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 16, 1950. They raised nine children. During 28 years of general practice, Dr. Griffin also served as county health officer of Tallapoosa County for four years, and president of the board of education of Hackneyville, Ala. The family moved to Memphis in 1928 from Moulton, Ala. Their home is at 883 Hawthorne. With VA 14 Years Dr. Griffin's first service here was as staff physician at Veterans Hospital No. 88 on Crump, where he remained 14 years. He had been at Oakville Sanatorium the past 11 years. Born at [Good Hope near] Lineville, Ala., Dr. Griffin was the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Griffin. He attended Lineville College and Grant's University, Chattanooga, before entering the University of Alabama. Dr. Griffin was a member of the American Medical Association, the Southern Medical Association, the Tennessee State Medical Association, American Trudeau Society, Memphis & Shelby County Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society. Following service with the Army Medical Corps in World War I, Dr. Griffin was discharged as a major. He was a member of the American Legion, Oakville Civic Club, and the National Association of Retired Civil Employees. Known As 'Pops' He was a member of McLean Baptist Church. He was known affectionate]y as 'Pops.' He leaves three sons, James Griffin of Memphis, and J. W. Griffin and L. W. Griffin of Leeds, Ala; six daughters, Mrs. R. W. Vaughn, Mrs. C. W. Middlecoff Jr., and Miss Ruth Griffin of Memphis, Mrs. Hez Brown of Chattanooga, Mrs. W. T. Duscoe of Union City, Tenn., and Mrs. H. M. Lewis of Quitman, Ga; two brothers, J. A. Griffin of Sylacauga, Ala.,and G. W. Griffin of Lineville; four sisters, Mrs. Ike Reeves and Mrs. Robert Whatley of Lineville, Miss Maude Griffin of Ashland, Alabama and Mrs. W. T. Dean of St. Petersburg, Fla., and 15 grandchildren.
      The following obituary is from an unknown source: Dr. James Griffin, Of Oakville, Dies Staff Physician At Sanitorium Dr. James O. Griffin of 883 Hawthorne, staff physician At Oakville Memorial Sanitorium, died at 9:10 a.m. today at Baptist Hospital after a brief illness. He was 82. Dr. Griffin came to Memphis 25 years ago from Alabama to join the staff of Veterans Hospital 88 on Lamar. He had been with Oakville Sanitorium for 12 years. He was born in Clay County, Ala. Jan 30, 1871. He graduated from Alabama Medical College in 1900 and first practiced in Tallapoosa County, Ala., where he became health officer. He served as a major with the Army Medical Corps in France in War I. After 28 years of practice in Alabama, the last five in Moulton, he came to Memphis in 1928. He was a member of Southern Medical Association, American Medical Association, American Trudeau Society, Oakville Civic Club, American Legion, and McLean Baptist Church. He leaves three sons, J. W. Griffin and L. W. Griffin of Leeds, Ala., and James Griffin of the Hawthorne address; six daughters, Mrs. H. M. Lewis of Quitman, Ga. Miss Ruth Griffin of the Hawthorne address, Mrs. R. W. Vaughn of 3234 Spottswood, Mrs. W. T. Duscoe of Union City, Tenn., Mrs. C. W. Middlecoff Jr. of 1547 N. Parkway and Mrs. Hez Brown of Chattanooga and 15 grandchildren. Services at 3 :30 p.m. tomorrow at McLean Baptist Church, Dr. H. C. Gabhart officiating. Burial in Memorial Park. National Funeral Home is in charge.

The following is from Dr. Mary R. Lewis, Houston, TX, 17 Sep 2004:

Dear Lew, as you requested, I'll start my recollections of Grandmother and Grandaddy Griffin. I may think of some others later. I'll include information provided by my Mother, aunts and uncles and others, who told me things about them from their experiences.

My own experiences that I can remember begin with the annual trips that Mother, Marian, and I made to Memphis to visit them. It was very important to my Mother that we spend at least two weeks every year with them as this was a source of great renewal for her and she wanted Marian and me to know our Griffin relatives. We never lived in the same community with them. In my earliest years, Daddy sometimes drove us there because Mother did not learn to drive until we lived in Rochelle, GA (about 1939). He never wanted to stay as long as Mother did. So, more frequently, we went on the train (the
"Frisco") from Montgomery. Sometimes we stayed a month. Mother talked often about how much she loved being with her family and at her Mother's dinner table. Dinner there was a special time. There was a precise hour when everyone in the family was supposed to be home for dinner and the conversation was always interesting as we discussed what people had been doing all day or other stimulating topics. Remember, Mother was the eldest of the Griffin siblings and so James, Lewis, Frances, and Marie were still in high school and college and living at home during my early years. Marian and I were the first grandchildren. Annette and Barbara, Julie and Jimmy were not far behind. Annette and Barbara lived in Memphis, so we usually saw them, too, when we visited. James, Lewis, Frances, and Marie always made me feel very special and took me everywhere with them and planned special treats for us, such as going to the Memphis zoo, the outdoor theater, the parks, etc. I remember watching James teach Marie (maybe Frances too) to drive. I don't think Grandaddy liked to drive. One of his children drove him to work and one always went to get him in the afternoon by the time I knew him. After dinner, he always took a walk and often I went with him and his dog, Jiggs, when I was there.

There was always lots of laughter in the Griffin home, at dinner time and all the time. Usually when we visited, there would be a time when all the girls were at home. The ones who lived elsewhere would make a special point of coming home at that time to see my Mother, Marian, and me. I have special memories of all six of them getting in one room, telling their stories, with peals of laughter.

Grandad and Grandmother were totally devoted to their children and grandchildren and interested in their joys and sorrows. I always received Christmas and birthday remembrances from them as a very young child. Here is one story about my stillborn brother told to me by Marie that I did not know until both of my parents had died, and so I never had a chance to discuss it with them. My parents lost their first baby, a stillborn boy. Marie said that Grandmother came to Wetumpka, AL with Frances and Marie (ages about 5 and 7 then) to stay with Mother for a whole month afterwards to provide comfort and solace. Marie said that, even at age 5, she knew that my Mother needed to talk about it and she wanted to find a way to help her talk about it, but didn't know how. (Perhaps Grandmother found a way.) I knew that this experience had been horrible for my Mother because she told me about it many times, although I don't remember her telling me that Grandmother came with Frances and Marie. In telling me, she focused most upon the physical aspects of the long labor, saying that she nearly died in the process. (I think she must have had post-traumatic stress syndrome, because she needed to tell me, a child, about it several times. I learned to change the subject because it was painful to hear.) She had been told that this baby was perfectly formed and looked like the Griffins. I think it showed extraordinary love, concern, and sensitivity for Grandmother and Grandad to organize their lives so that Grandmother could come with Frances and Marie to stay a whole month with my Mother at that time.

Grandaddy made an annual summer trip in his car to visit his children and family-of-origin relatives in Alabama. His mother and some siblings lived in the Lineville, AL area. When I was a small child, his car would have two or three other family members with him, mainly James, Frances, or Marie. I think Lewis was not with them as often because he joined the Navy after he graduated from high school. I don't recall Grandmother being on these trips. I don't know why. I am under the impression that her health began to fail, so perhaps she did not feel like taking this trip. Remember, we did not have air conditioned cars in those days. Grandmother had cancer of the breast, but that was not the cause of her death. I don't know what the cause of her death was. Perhaps you could find it on her death certificate. The last time I saw her was in Memphis during my junior or senior year at Wesleyan College. I remember that when I went to tell her "Goodbye" before we left, she grasped my hand and looked at me in such a special way that I can recall this very moment. I had a feeling that I didn't understand then and now I am wondering if she knew that she might not ever see me again. Grandmother taught me to embroider. I still have a few items that I made then. She also attended to my requests. One of the things that Ruth gave to me was Grandmother's glove box. In retrospect, I remembered that I admired Grandmother's glove box very much. I must have spoken my admiration of it so often that Ruth remembered to give it to me.

My Mother once told me, after Grandmother had died, "I can sometimes feel my Mother's presence." It was in that connection, I think, that once when my Mother visited me (as an adult) in Colorado, she asked for reassurance that I would tell her if I had a problem. She said that when I was very young (I don't know the exact age, but very young), I would call her often if she was in a different room, yet when she appeared, there didn't seem to be anything that I needed or wanted, so she told me to quit calling her. Grandmother noticed this and told her that she should not tell me to quit calling her. Grandmother told Mother, "Some day, Mary is going to need you and she is not going to call you." Apparently, Grandmother was a model that her children admired and wanted to emulate. They all said that she never said a mean thing about anyone. She organized and managed a lovely home. In my youngest years, the family lived in a two story house on Central Avenue in Memphis. They didn't move to the house on Hawthorne Street until after all the children, except Ruth and James, had left home. Grandmother and Grandad wanted all of their children to feel that they could come home there whenever they needed, or wanted to. Even I, as a child, had the feeling that if anything ever happened to my own parents, I could probably go to live with Grandmother and Grandad. At the same time, they made it perfectly clear that their children should become independent and self-reliant.

I think that their child-rearing practices probably changed somewhat from the eldest to the youngest, although some things remained the same. One constant was that children did not speak disrespectfully to their parents. I was very surprised once while visiting at the house on Central Avenue when Frances was a teenager and spoke disrespectfully to Grandmother about something while the evening meal was being prepared. Grandmother immediately slapped her face! That was the only time I remember a show of anger from Grandmother.

All of the children were expected to help with the household chores in some way. My Mother spoke of her responsibilities for helping to care for her younger siblings. As the eldest child, all of her siblings addressed her as "Sister" instead of by her name. That tradition was carried on when some of her nieces and nephews addressed her as "Aunt Sister". The girls helped with preparing meals and house cleaning and washing and ironing clothes, although I remember that there was household help at the houses in Memphis. Perhaps while Grandad's medical practice was growing in its early phases, there wasn't as much money for employed household help, or there was enough for everyone to do even with household help. Remember that modern conveniences in kitchens and stores were quite different. They started from scratch in cooking, canning, making jams and jellies, and made most of their own clothes. I remember my Mother saying once, "I hope that you will never have to iron shirts!" Grandad always had to have a clean shirt and they may have gotten dirty more often in the days when he made house calls. I remember Clarice remarking once about Grandad always needing a clean shirt. I don't know what the boys' chores were, except that Mother once mentioned that Skip sometimes went with Grandad on his house calls. Remember that he graduated from Alabama Medical College in 1900, long before the automobile had been invented. He made house calls on horseback or in a horse and buggy. So he had to have a fresh horse. So Skip probably had some responsibility for the horse and buggy. Clarice told me once that nearly everyone had some responsibility relating to Grandad's practice of medicine. She said that one of hers was to hold the lantern at night if Grandad had to make a night call. She had to hold it while others got the buggy out of the garage, hitched up the horse, and helped Grandad take off. James also told me about being expected to accompany Grandad on his house calls. James said that sometimes Grandad would stay a whole day at one house, making observations, while he gathered the family medical history. He did not have available the modern tools of diagnosis, such as X-ray, sonograms, lab tests, etc. He also had some understanding that some physical illnesses are caused by emotional problems and family relationships. James said that he always made inquiries about these dimensions in taking the family history. He was aware of domestic violence and child abuse. James and my Mother said that he often told parents that they should not hit or punish their children anywhere around the face or hands. Part of the reason for staying so long at one home may have been to observe family interactions.

Grandad and Grandmother were married soon after he graduated from Alabama Medical College. He started his medical practice in Hackneyville, AL where my Mother was born. He went there because there was a gold rush there, meaning that lots of people would be coming there and needing a doctor. As soon as the telephone was invented, Grandad arranged to set up a telephone exchange for the whole community right in his own home, the kind that required an operator who had to negotiate the transactions between callers and receivers by plugging connections into various holes in the equipment. I don't know if the operator was always an employee or if some of the Griffin children had to learn to manage this telephone exchange also.

The boys may have been involved in chores relating to household maintenance. Great-Grandaddy Griffin was a carpenter and farmer, so Grandad learned a lot about houses and their maintenance from his own father. I remember their home being well-maintained. My memories include James painting, inside and outside, periodically and taking care of the lawn and flowers. Grandmother loved flowers. Her younger children, James, Lewis, Frances, and Marie told me about their memories of helping Grandmother in her flower garden and all four of them maintained beautiful gardens in their own homes.

Grandparents were always involved in the local Baptist Church. I am under the impression that Grandad helped to organize one or more Baptist churches. I think something was said about that in his obituary.

Grandmother must have been a superb organizer. Grandad volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I. He was too old to be drafted. He was accepted and soon sent to France. This left Grandmother at home alone with lots of very young children. My mother, the eldest, was in College by that time.

I mentioned earlier that perhaps their child rearing practices changed from the eldest to the youngest. Everyone seems to agree that Grandad was very bossy. Mother told me once that he also gave orders to Grandmother and she once heard her mother say, "Doctor, don't talk to me like that!" Apparently, at that time, she addressed her husband as "Doctor", but that changed in later years, as I did hear her call him "Olin". I mentioned in an earlier message that he decided what my Mother would major in at Judson College. I don't think that he entered those decisions of his younger children. I think the grandparents grew more relaxed in managing their younger children. At the same time throughout all, they were very generous and loving.

Grandparents were ambitious for their children and wanted them to go to College and encouraged the daughters, as well as the sons, to plan for self-sufficiency. One way to do that was to get a college education. I've already written about the Griffin girls as teachers and professionals. In this respect, I believe the grandparents were way ahead of many in their generation as many of my Mother's peers could not imagine themselves being in the working world or wanting to have professions.

Grandad attended the College graduation of each of his grandchildren as long as he lived. He attended Marian's and mine at Wesleyan College, and I suspect that he also attended Annette's, and maybe Julie's. He died in 1953 while I was attending the London School of Economics and Political Science in England. Grandad wrote letters to everyone in the family. I wish that someone had saved some of his letters. I remember the last letter than I received from him in 1953while I was in London. He wrote to me about the birth of John Charles Griffin and that the baby John had been stricken with polio. He wrote that he hoped that John had received the best medical care available and had conferred with Lewis and Mildred about this.

Well, I've come to a stopping point. I'll write again if/when I think of more.... 


Minnie Dallas Strickland (26 Oct 1877 - 19 Jun 1950)
Marriage*16 May 1900 He married Minnie Dallas Strickland at Standing Rock, Chambers Co., Alabama, on 16 May 1900 at age 29.2 
ChartsBenjamin (son of Joseph) Culpepper of Edgecombe Co., NC: Descendant Chart
John Culpepper of Randolph Co, AL: Descendant Chart
Last Edited7 May 2006


  1. Joe Inzer Griffin, Irondale, AL.
  2. Alburt Burton Moore, History of Alabama and Her People, Chicago, IL: American, Historical, Society, Inc., 1927.