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Biography of James Patrick McGriff
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The name of McGriff is inseparably linked with the early history of Pulaski County. James Patrick McGriff, the subject of this sketch, is the son of Patrick Thomas McGriff and Frances Sutton McGriff. He was born in Pulaski County, May 31, 1869. He received his early education in the schools of Hawkinsville and later had extensive training at Eastman’s Business School in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., graduating from there in 1886. Returning home, he engaged in the mercantile business until 1893. During that year he, was elected to the position of clerk and treasurer of the City of Hawkinsville, and served until 1901. Then he was owner of a machine and general repair business until 1919, at which time he- was appointed postmaster of Hawkinsville, and served in that office through 1925. After that, he engaged in the gas and oil business as president of the Home Oil Company, until 1931. Since then he has been in the cotton business. As a boy he was a leader in athletics, and is still a lover of all sports, which may be one of the reasons he carries his years solightly. He is a man of great integrity.
In April 1893, Mr. McGriff married Miss Annie McCormick, daughter of the late D. G. McCormick, and a talented musician. She played the piano at the age of four. Later she played eight instruments at the same time. She now plays three distinct tunes at one time, and also plays with her back to the piano with hands crossed behind her.
To this union were born nine children, seven of whom are living. They are: Emmie, wife of Judge H. A. Haskins, Ordinary of Pulaski County; David Patrick, cashier of the Planters Bank, who married Miss Georgia Jelks; Anne, now Mrs. R. Pate Watson, whose husband is connected with the Highway Department; Martha Sutton, who holds a government position; J. P., Jr., bookkeeper of Planters Bank, who married Miss Carolyn Richardson; Patti, wife of Frank R. Talbird, of Macon, prominent in the newspaper business; Madge, whose husband, Freeman R. O’Neal, is manager of the Georgia Power Company in Hawkinsville; and Mildred and Edith, deceased. There are three grandchildren: Katherine and David, Jr., children of D. P. McGriff, and Emily Ann Watson, daughter of Anne McGriff Watson.
Mr. McGriff is a descendant of Patrick McGriff, who came to this country from Ireland in 1810. His father was Ordinary for forty-one years and one of Pulaski County’s most prominent citizens. His life is written up in Memoirs o f Georgia, Evans’ Military History, and Knight’s History.
Patrick Thomas McGriff was born in Pulaski County, Georgia, July 20, 1833, and died in Hawkinsville, October 6, 1913. He was of Irish lineage, his paternal grandfather emigrating to America from Ireland the middle of the eighteenth century. He was a son of Thomas McGriff, Virginian, who settled in Pulaski County in 1812. He was educated in the common schools of Pulaski, and when sixteen years of age served three months in the Florida Indian War. In 1862 he raised a company of cavalry for the Confederate service which was incorporated in the Nineteenth Battalion, Georgia Cavairy. This battalion saw service in Tennessee and Kentucky under General Joe Wheeler, and was consolidated with the Tenth Regiment of Confederate Cavalry. Captain McGriff’s company became part of General Pegram’s Brigade, participating in the Battle of Murfreesboro and raids in Kentucky. He served under General N. B. Forrest in the Battle of Chickamauga, and in Wheeler’s raids and battles following that campaign. He was with Wheeler through the DaltonAtlanta campaigns, engaging in constant fighting and distinguishing himself as an able and gallant officer.
By reason of Captain McGriff’s expertness in the saddle, acquired in his long cavalry service, he was deputized to escort President Jefferson Davis from Irwin County to Jacksonville for embarkation to France. President Davis was accompanied by his family. His little daughter, Winnie, beloved daughter of the South, attracted Captain McGriff’s attention, and he often told of tickling the little girl on the chin with a twig, very much to her merriment. President Davis refused to leave his family and next day was captured by Northern soldiers.
After the war Captain McGriff resumed farming until 1873, when he was elected Ordinary of Pulaski County, in which capacity he served until his death. During forty years as Ordinary he was absent from his court only three times-twice on account of death in his family, and once during his last illness. He was a charitable man and often made reductions in his fees or donated them entirely to widows and orphans or others of limited means.
For fifty-one years Captain McGriff was a member of Mount Hope Lodge, No. 9, F. & A. M., serving as Worshipful Master. He was Past High Priest of Pulaski Chapter, No. 19, R. A. M., and a Sir Knight Templar of St. Omar Commandery, No. 2, at Macon. He was president of the city board of education, mayor of Hawkinsville, and occupied various positions of honor and trust.
He married Mary A. Dykes in 1857. Rufus J. (deceased) was the only child of this union. His second wife was Frances Sutton Cowan, widow of Dr. Cowan, whom he married December 23, 1866. James P. and Frances, children of this union, survive.
At the ripe old age of eighty-one this foremost citizen of his native county and State passed peacefully away, and all that is mortal of him reposes in the bosom of the county he loved so well. The sighing pines sound a sad requiem over his last resting place, while his memory is forever enshrined in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
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