Biography of Calvin C. Griffith
Napa County, CA Biographies





CALVIN CHESTERFIELD GRIFFITH.
This biographical memoir deals with a character of unusual force and eminence, for Calvin Chesterfield Griffith, whose life chapter was closed June 14, 1907, was for many years one of the prominent and influential citizens of Napa county, having been among the very first to come to this section in pioneer times and having assisted in bringing about the transformation of the county from the primitive conditions of that early day to its latter day state of improvement and prosperity. There were in him sterling traits which commanded uniform confidence and regard, and his memory is an honored one. Mr. Griffith was a native of North Carolina, and he was born in 1828, a son of James and Elizabeth (Rogers) Griffith. The father was a native of South Carolina and his ancestors came from Wales, while the mother was of English antecedents. When Calvin C. Griffith was about twelve years of age the family moved to the state of Missouri, and in 1845, when he was seventeen years of age, he joined the first caravan successfully to cross the plains to California. Captain C. Grigsby was in command of the company, which started from Missouri in April, 1845, and landed in Sacramento, California, in October of that year. They passed through many hardships and thrilling experiences and, being the pioneers over the route, they literally' had to travel on faith, lacking the information as to the best routes which favored those who came after them. One member of the party shot an Indian chief, and the Indians, determined on reprisal, demanded that the guilty man be turned over to them, with the threat that if it were not done they would attack the party. The man was turned over to the red men, who skinned him alive, and the party was allowed to proceed without further trouble.

Mr. Griffith was associated with General John C. Fremont, the "Pathfinder," and assisted in the raising of the historic Bear flag at Sonoma in 1848. He acquired a ranch near Sonoma and to him belongs the distinction of having planted the first fruit orchard in the Sonoma valley. He was a member of the California Volunteers and was a veteran of the Mexican war. He also had a ranch near Fulton, at what is now known as the Mark West Hot Springs, in Sonoma county. In 1870 he sold these properties and moved to Rutherford, Napa county, where he bought another ranch, which he successfully operated until 1882, when he sold out and moved to a ranch on the Napa river. He was an active and energetic man, possessed sound business judgment and was keen and farsighted in his business affairs. When he arrived in Napa county, in 1845, there were but three houses in the county, and wild animals, such as panthers and grizzly bears, were numerous. He took an active and efficient part in the development of the country, assuming his share of the burdens of the new community, and he lived to witness the wonderful transformation which has taken place here. He served as road master of his district for twelve years and was also a justice of the peace for a number of years. He was a generous and kindly man and rendered material assistance to many who were less fortunate than he.

On September 6, 1854, at St. Helena, Mr. Griffith was married to Miss Lydia M. Sensibaugh, who was born in Missouri in 1837 and crossed the plains in a covered wagon in 1852. To their union were born ten children, seven of whom were reared to maturity and four of whom are now living, namely: Alice, who became the wife of Fred W. Loeber, who is now deceased; Clara, who became the wife of W. H. Taplin; Albert J., who was married to Miss Mary A. Shurie; and Jesse G. Mrs. Griffith was a helpmate to her husband in the truest sense of the word, enduring the hardships and discomforts of those early days without complaint, devoting herself heart and soul to the rearing of her family and ministering upon occasion to the needs and ailments of her neighbors.

Fred W. Loeber was a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and he was born November 5, 1855, while his death occurred in Baltimore, June 5, 1906. He came to Napa county in 1876 and engaged in the breeding and raising of fine horses, in which connection he gained a splendid reputation throughout the state. He was a man of fine personal qualities and enjoyed a high measure of respect and esteem. To Mr. and Mrs. Loeber were born three children: Emma is deceased; Grova Alice, who died in 1922, was a school teacher and was well and favorably known in St. Helena; Ivy M. is engaged in business in San Francisco.

From:
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
and Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1926


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