JUDGE HENRY BRAXTON GRIFFIN
Judge Henry Braxton Griffin has filled the office of justice of the peace of Brawley since first appointed thereto in 1919 and has also served most acceptably in the position of city recorder. An earlier biographer wrote of him as “one of the leading citizens of Imperial county, and a man whose efforts have always been directed toward the development of the natural resources of this region and the advancement of its people.” The period of his residence in Brawley covers more than two decades, for here he took up his permanent abode in October, 1912.
Judge Griffin was born near Whiteplains, Alabama, May 20, 1876, his parents being Bryant Rhodes and Mary (Bollinger) Griffin, representatives of prominent and historic families of the south. The father, also a native of Alabama, passed away near Cameron, Texas, in 1898. He divided his time between farming and work as a local preacher of the Baptist faith, and was a leader in church and community work. He was a man who carried his Christianity into his everyday life, and was kindly and charitable toward all. When the war between the states broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving under Generals Bragg and Forrest and being aide-de-camp of the latter. His father before him fought in the War of 1812 under General Andrew Jackson. His grandfather, great-grandfather of Judge Griffin, was a soldier under General Marion of the patriot forces during the American revolution. It was a source of great regret to Judge Griffin that he had passed the military age limit when war was declared between this country and Germany, as he wanted to complete the military service of his family by also serving as a soldier. Bryant Rhodes Griffin married Miss Mary Bollinger, a native of Tennessee and a daughter of Peter and Catherine (Haynes) Bollinger, the latter a member of the same family as Robert Haynes, the noted orator, who leaped to fame through his controversy with Daniel Webster on the floor of the national congress. Mrs. Griffin died at San Marcos, Texas, in 1915, having borne her husband five sons who grew to maturity: Andrew Jones, Thomas L., William E., Bryant F. and Henry Braxton. Our subject was named in honor of General Braxton Bragg, under whom his father had served in the Confederate Army. Only two members of the family of Mr. and Mrs. B. R. Griffin survived, Henry Braxton and his brother William E.
In his early youth Henry B. Griffin as taken to Texas by his parents, and there he was reared, gaining his early education in several excellent private schools. Later he attended the University of Texas at Austin, Texas, and taught his first school in Milam county. After he had completed his collegiate work he became superintendent of schools at Seguin, Luling and Marfa, Texas, but after fourteen years in the schoolroom, he engaged in ranching on an extensive scale, becoming the owner of the “Frenchman Hills Ranch.” At the same time he served for ten years as United States commissioner. At Seguin and Luling he spent his time teaching in the schools during the school terms, and did post graduate work at the normal schools during the summer sessions. While in Texas he served on the state board of education, but, aside from this, did not participate actively in politics, although voting the democratic ticket.
When Judge Griffin left Texas he invested in some of the ranches of the Imperial Valley, both developed and underdeveloped, and two of the latter he improved himself. These he eventually planted to alfalfa, after many years of crop failures along other lines. At the present time he owns four ranches and is engaged in dairying. From 1914 to 1918 he resumed his teaching, serving as superintendent of schools at Brawley. He served twelve years as president of the elementary board of education. In 1919 Judge Griffin was appointed a justice of the peace and city recorder. In 1922 he was elected to the former office for a term of four years, and reappointed to the latter by the city board of trustees, it being an appointive one.
In June, 1905, at Rockdale, Texas, Judge Griffin married Miss Laura Allen, a daughter of Frank Allen. Mrs. Griffin secured her education at Baylor University of Texas under Doctor Burleson, the noted educator, and was a schoolmate of George Truitt and Governor Pat Neff. By her marriage she became the mother of two children: Laura Lee, who is the wife of Charles H. Marsh, a talented pianist and widely known musician living in Paris, France, and who is the mother a son, Ulad; and Allen Braxton, twenty years of age, who was born in California and is a graduate of the University of Redlands. He is president of Kappa Sigma fraternity and has received medals for his athletic prowess in college events.
Judge Griffin’s war participation, as before stated, was a civilian one, but he was very active in local war work, and a generous contributor to the different organizations. He is active in the work of the Baptist Church, and is the teacher of the adult Bible class. He also a worthy exemplar of the teachings and purposes of the Masonic fraternity, to which he belongs, and he is uniformly admired and esteemed for his upright, honorable and useful life.
Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.
Source: California of the South Vol. V, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 137-139, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 Joyce Rugeroni.