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George Bancroft Griffith, a well-known littérateur residing in Lempster, N.H., was born February 28, 1841, in Newburyport, Mass. His parents, Robert and Charlotte (Merrill) Griffith, were both natives of that town, with whose mercantile interests his paternal grandfather, who also bore the name Robert, was for many years identified. The elder Robert Griffith married Nancy Bartlett, a native of West Newbury; and their family of seven children were as follows: Rufus, Robert, Augustus, Isaac, Angeline, Henrietta, and Elizabeth.
Robert Griffith, Jr., George B. Griffith’s father, was reared and educated in Newburyport; and when a young man he entered the clothing business. He displayed a natural capacity for business pursuits, which gave unusually bright prospects for his future success; but he was not permitted to realize these anticipations, as his death occurred in August, 1849, when he was but thirty years old. His wife, Charlotte Merrill, who was a daughter of Samuel Merrill, died January 31, 1897. She was the mother of four children, namely: George B., the subject of this sketch; Robert; Willie; and Nancy, who died at the age of seventeen years.
George Bancroft Griffith resided in Newburyport until after his father’s death, when he accompanied his mother to the neighboring town of Rowley, Mass. After graduating from Dummer Academy, South Byfield, Mass., he entered mercantile pursuits as a clerk in Newburyport. A short time later he went to Haverhill, where he was employed for some two years in a grocery store kept by David Emery; and he subsequently engaged in that business upon his own account. On May 25, 1863, he enlisted as a private in Company A, First Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Artillery, and was eventually appointed by General Grant to serve in the medical department as hospital steward. He was discharged at Concord, N.H., in September, 1865. After his return from the army he resided in Charlestown, Mass., for some years; and in 1875 he removed to Lempster, Sullivan County, N.H., where for two years he was engaged in the lumber business. In 1879 he purchased the Timothy Bruce place, which he now occupies, and since taking possession has made various improvements in the property.
Mr. Griffith’s poetic genius began to develop when he was ten years old, at which time his first poem was printed. He has written frequently both in prose and verse, and many of his pieces have been illustrated, and some set to music. Many of his productions have been given to the world through the columns of the Youth’s Companion, St. Nicholas, Christian Work, New York Independent, New York Observer, and other well-known periodicals; and several may be found in “Poems of Places,” edited by Longfellow, in Drake’s “Legends of New England ,” in “The Scholar’s Speaker,” “Poets of America ,” “Wayside Flowers,” and other standard collections of verse. His reputation thus extends far beyond the limits of the New England States. An extended biographical sketch of Mr. Griffith, with a portrait, appeared a few years since in the Boston Home Guest, and more recently in the Magasine of Poetry, Buffalo, N.Y., and in two anthologies published in Chicago. The leading elocutionists of America are using Mr. Griffith’s poems in their readings; and his “Swiss Good Night,” which is extremely popular, has been translated into several languages. Mr. Griffith has been engaged for years in editing a large work on the poets of Massachusetts, and contemplates publishing a volume of his own miscellaneous poems at an early day, to be followed by a collection of his local poems in New Hampshire. In 1888 he finished the compilation of “The Poets of Maine,” which was issued in Portland; and the work has secured for its compiler the unanimous praise of its readers as a most excellent judge of the best efforts of Maine’s poetical writers.
On September 1, 1861, Mr. Griffith was united in marriage with Anna S. Howe. She was born in Bradford, N.H., January 3, 1842, daughter of Lyman C. and Sophronia (Bartlett) Howe, the former of whom was a native of Henniker, N.H., and the latter was born in Newburyport, Mass. Mrs. Griffith’s parents resided for many years in Bradford, N.H., where her father was engaged in agricultural pursuits. Lyman C. Howe died in April, 1868; and his wife died in December, 1881. They reared five children, as follows: Moses B., who died at the age of forty-four years; Micah C., who married Hattie Smith, of Henniker, N.H., and is now a retired farmer of that town; George L., proprietor of a restaurant in Saco, Me., who married for his first wife Ellen Bagley and for his second wife Martha Fletcher, of Gardner, Mass.; Anna S., who is now Mrs. Griffith; and Jason C., who is residing in Contoocook, N.H.
Mr. and Mrs. Griffith have five children, namely: Agnes Irving, born January 16, 1863; Emma Mortimer, born September 4, 1865; Annie V., born August 11, 1868; Charles Warren, born September 4, 1869; and Pearlette, born September 20, 1872. Agnes Irving married C. C. Richardson, a native of Lempster and a travelling salesman for a Lowell house. They reside in Melrose Highlands, and have had four children: Margaret C.; Edmund B., who is no longer living; Lillian V.; and Elizabeth. Emma M. married for her first husband the Rev. Charles Henry Leet, of Claremont, N.H., a Methodist minister. He died May 27, 1890; and she is now the wife of Willard Whitehouse, an engineer of Manchester, N.H. Annie V. married Charles Cragin, a prosperous farmer of Lempster. Charles Warren is a caterer in Fitchburg, Mass. He married Martha Simmons, of Ashby, Mass., and has one daughter, Violet, born in May, 1892. Pearlette married L. Dexter Isham, of the Vermont Central Railroad, May 13, 1897, and resides at Bellows Falls.
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Mr. Griffith is connected with St. John Lodge, F. & A. M., of Portsmouth, and is also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and an official of the Methodist Episcopal church. Politically, he is a Republican; and he was Postmaster at East Lempster in the years 1883 and 1884.