For more than a half century Joseph F. Griffin, of Ketchum, has resided in the northwest. A native of Kentucky, he was born in Cumberland County, December 10, 1831. The family is of Scotch origin, and the first American progenitors were early settlers of South Carolina and participants in many of the events which form the colonial history of the south. Jesse Griffin, the grandfather of our subject, was one of the pioneers of Kentucky, where occurred the birth of Burrell Bell Griffin, the father of Joseph. Having arrived at years of maturity he married Miss Sally Thogmorton a native of Tennessee, and a representative of an old family of North Carolina. They became the parents of twelve children, eleven of whom reached years of maturity, while nine are still living. In 1852 the family crossed the plains to Oregon, and settled on the Rogue River, where they took up a government donation claim, upon which the parents spent their remaining days. The father attained the age of seventy-three years, and the mother, surviving him two years, passed away at about the same age. They were members of the Christian church, and were held in the highest regard by their many friends.
Mr. Griffin was educated in Missouri and Oregon. He was in his fifteenth year when he arrived in the latter state, and during his boyhood he alternated his lessons with farming and placer mining, early forming the habits of industry and diligence which have characterized his entire life and which have led to his success. From the government he secured a donation claim of three hundred and twenty acres of good land, and as a companion and helpmeet on life’s journey he chose Miss Elizabeth Howard, their marriage being celebrated in 1865. The lady is a daughter of James W. Howard. From that time on Mr. Griffin assiduously devoted himself to the task of acquiring a competence, in order to provide for the wants of his family, and his efforts have been crowned with a fair measure of success.
Previously, however, he had rendered valuable service to the northwest in contests with the Indians. He volunteered and fought in the Rogue River war, as a member of Captain Rice’s company, and later under command of Captain John S. Mills, a brother-in-law of our subject. They had an engagement with the Indians at Little Meadows, where one of the white men was killed and three wounded. The fiercest Indian fight in which Mr. Griffin participated was at Thompson’s Ferry, on Rogue River, where they attacked the red men, killing many of them, the loss to the volunteers being one killed and four wounded. Mr. Griffin was with his company when they attacked twenty-four Indians, killing twenty-one of them, while later two others were found dead. John Hailey located the party, and thirty-six white men surrounded their camp in such a way as to exterminate the whole band. This occurred in December, and several of the white men froze their feet while waiting for daylight, in order to make the attack. On another occasion it was found that old John’s band, eighty strong, were in three cabins. The volunteers sent to Fort Lane for a howitzer, but when it was being hauled to the place of action the mules rolled off the trail into Applegate River, and the shells were lost. They were then obliged to send back to the fort for more shells, and it was evening before they were brought to the volunteers. Loading, they fired at the cabins and two Indians were killed, but the darkness prevented further action that night, and in the morning it was found that the Indians had escaped. In the war Mr. Griffin furnished his own horse and equipment, for which, in 1863, the government paid him forty-four dollars and forty-four cents in greenbacks.
In 1866 he went to Payette, Idaho, and accepted a position as division agent of the stage line owned by John Hailey. Later he engaged in farming at Payette, raising hay and grain. In 1882 he came to what was then Alturas County, now Blaine County, and took up one hundred and sixty acres of government land, three miles up the river from Ketchum. He built a residence there, and has since engaged in dairy farming, but in the meantime has also erected a home in Ketchum, where he and his estimable wife spend the winter, while in the summer months they reside on the farm. They formerly sold butter at fifty cents a pound and milk at seventy-five cents a gallon, and secured from their business a good income, having as high as twenty-five cows at one time.
Mr. and Mrs. Griffin have reared an interesting family of children. The eldest daughter. Mary L., is now the wife of Fred Gooding, a prominent citizen of Shoshone; Sally W. married F. J. Stone, a druggist residing in Colfax, Washington; Leona B. is a successful schoolteacher, making her home with her parents; and Leonora, the youngest, is also teaching school. The family attend the Methodist church and are people of the highest respectability, enjoying the warm regard of many friends throughout the community. In his political associations Mr. Griffin is a Democrat, and has taken an active part in the work of the party, doing all in his power to promote its growth and insure its success. While in Ada County he was elected and served as a member of the territorial legislature. Through his business interests and his experiences in Indian warfare, he has largely promoted the development of his region, and as one of its valued citizens well deserves representation in this volume.