Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
WILLIAM C. GRIFFITH, farmer,
postmaster and townsite proprietor of the town of Griffith, Adams county,
is a native of Carlton, Ontario, born January 26, 1852. He is the
son of Richard and Edith (Leach) Griffith, natives of Ireland, the father
of Welsh descent. The father came to Canada from the country of his
birth when eight years old, and the mother was born during the voyage of
her parents to the American continent. After their marriage the parents
settled in Ontario, where the father's father lived and died, and there
the subject's father died on a farm at the age of eighty and the mother
at seventy years of age.
Owing to the imperfection of the school system
it that time, Mr. Griffith received no schooling during his youth, and
at the age of thirteen years he was apprenticed for three years to a carpenter
in order to learn the trade. His wage was to be twenty dollars for
the first year, forty for the second, and twice forty for the third.
However, because his master insisted on his caring for the children of
the household young Griffith summarily resigned at the end of six months,
entering the employ of another carpenter and completed his trade.
Since that time he has worked at carpentering in many quarters of the United
States, he having come to this country immediately after finishing his
apprenticeship. He went to Orma, Wisconsin, in 1869, worked at his
trade three months then set out to walk to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He
left home with thirteen dollars, and before reaching his destination he
passed through many hardships and embarrassments. He was compelled
at one time to trade a part of his clothing for food. Finally a gentleman
took compassion upon him to the extent of purchasing him a ticket to Carroll
City, Iowa, with the understanding that Mr. Griffith was to return the
money when he became able. This he did out of his first earnings.
He worked first on a farm in Iowa, and in 1874 he went to California.
When he reached that state he was penniless, but soon secured work on a
hay press. He later worked in the harvest fields, and in the timber.
He purchased land in California and for one winter he was engaged in getting
out ties for a railroad company. In the spring following his advent
in California he purchased the stage route between Soquel and Santa Cruz,
but after eleven months he sold this business, married and again engaged
in farming. Later on he engaged in the lumber business in California
and for seven years he was foreman of a large lumber yard. In 1887
he came to Washington and purchased two hundred acres of land, taking at
the same time a pre-emption of one hundred and sixty acres. He returned
to California, where he spent the winter, but in the following spring he
came to his land, erected a store and engaged in the mercantile business
coupled with that of farming. He also helped institute the postoffice,
of which he has since been postmaster. He has engaged more or less
in the buying and selling of land and has been successful. At the
time of opening his store, Mr. Griffith engaged in the meat business, which
was of the greatest help to him during the panic of 1893 since he had a
contract to furnish meat during all of that year to a construction gang
on the railroad. He also deals heavily in produce. During the
summer of 1891 he shipped eleven thousand dozen of eggs to Spokane.
Mr. Griffith has his land well improved, his
buildings being among the best in the county. He now owns nine hundred
and sixty acres of land, all of which is being cultivated.
On May 19, 1878, occurred the marriage of
Mr. Griffith to Anna E. Wall, a native of California, whose parents, natives
of Missouri, died when she was in early girlhood. She was reared
by an aunt, C. Wentz.
Mr. and Mrs. Griffith have been parents of
six children; Jesse, deceased; Edith, married to C. E. Olson, Adams county;
Gracie C., deceased; George L., Bertha E. and Elmer M., the latter three
of whom are living at home.
Mr. Griffith is a Republican, and at the hands
of his party was elected county commissioner in 1889, holding office four
years. He is now road supervisor of his district. He is a member
of the Old English church, though he never now attends its services.
In the fall of 1902 Mr. Griffith ran a telephone
wire from his farm to Ritzville. This was done as an experiment,
but proved so successful that in a short while many of the farms installed
'phones and connected with the wire, since which time the rural telephone
has been considered almost a necessity in the Big Bend. In the institution
of this line Mr. Griffith was co-operated with by a neighbor, J. A. Willis,
and these two are known as the originators of the barb wire telephone system,
which has become so generally popular. The original barbed-wire line
used by Mr. Griffith has been replaced by him with a high wire line.
In June, 1904, Mr. Griffith disposed of his
store, leased his land for three years, and resigned the postmastership,
which latter has not yet, however, been accepted. This was for the
purpose of giving him a much needed rest. He will spend the summers
of each year in Idaho where he owns timber interests, which require his
personal supervision, for at least a portion of the time.