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Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1255624760000
Classification: Query
Surnames: griffin, mahan, walling, wood, byrd,
Seeking any information on the family of Benjamin Griffin b: abt 1772, Halifax Cty, VA married Mary Polly Byrd/Bird born 1772 in Virginia. They are buried in Griffin Cemetery in Bibb Cty Alabama. Some sites state that they were involved in the Fort Mims massacre and that a son Walt Griffin died there but I am not finding him on the list of white settlers dead or military dead. So, I am not ruling out the possibility that Walt was among the Indian dead (that this family is mixed Creek + Irish/Welsh) and thus not identified. Benjamin's son David A. Griffin married Mary B. Mahan and went to Texas after 1856 and before 1860 where they are enumerated on the 1860 Rusk Cty, Texas census. Their (David and Mary Mahan's) adult son Oen (Owen)David Griffin married Catherine Elizabeth Wood and had travelled before them to Texas (1852) from Heard county GA where they settled first in Bosque Cty.TX and later moved to Whitney in Hill County TX. I have the original family bible that came with them from Georgia to Texas. Any information on the Griffin families associated that lived in Talladega, Coosa, Bibb Cty and Perry Cty is appreciated. These Griffin families moved back and forth between Georgia and Alabama for a while before moving on to Texas...some say because the Frt. Mims incident had so frightened them. Please note that I am aware that their are Griffin's from these counties that are both white and African American and I am interested in hearing from both/all.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279389014000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin
Jan, I am a descendant of Benjamin Griffin, b. 1773 in Halifax, VA, died in Bibb Co, AL 1846. I am descended from Robert W. Griffin (brother of David A.) of Bibb Co. whose son Bird migrated to Walker and Polk Co, TX prior to 1861. I have lots of info to share on this branch of the family, since we still have yearly family reunions in TX. However, I haven't been able to find any sources in VA to document the lives of Benjamin or Polly. Any advice you can offer is appreciated. Thanks, Donna Griffin Heite, San Antonio,TX

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279420340000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin, Bird, Byrd, Wood
Hi Donna,
I've spent about the last four years focusing almost exclusively on finding the history associated with our/this Griffin line. I believe I have tracked them back from Texas to Alabama (the Mississippi Territory) then to Georgia and then Virginia to 1656 and am fairly confident in my research. The criticial period and clue about our Griffins seems to revolve around the Fort Mims massacre story/their early involvement in the Mississippi Territory. That story, combined with research and a box of family photos and our original family bible from 1848 which were recently located gave me alot of other supporting clues. When I started researching the Fort Mim's massacre, I noted in alot of the research that it mentioned that the majority of the people that took refuge at that fort were "Mixed Breeds" or "Friendly Indians". These "mixed breeds" were generally early white frontiersmen with Creek or Cherokee Indian wives and their childen. They took shelter there because the Redsticks (Creek traditionalists) did not like the "white ways" which included larger plantations, running cattle, owning slaves, etc. and thus the Creek Indian war was essentially a "civil war" among differing tribal perspectives about white encroachment/practices. To read more about how common this was in this region (Indian + white) at this time period, there are several books I'll list below. The dynamics around the Creek Indian War and the contributing impact of Indian/White families are critical to the understanding of what our family was doing there in 1805 and to why they (Walt) would have been at the fort in the first place in 1813. Anyway, In my box of photos which we found, there were some photos of family members who do not look like Griffin's today. The Griffin men in my line and others (by their report) are generally big strong square men. Either Red/Auburn hair and blue eyes and fair or Dark Wavy thick hair with dark eyes and a tendancy to be olive complected. And, at least in my line, decidedly stubborn folk. Anyway, the folks in the pictures I found looked at least part Native American, part white. These photos are cabinet cards so date to around 1870. At first I had dismissed the Fort Mims story as a family myth but when I got the box of photos I began to wonder if there was not some truth to it. In any event, several lines have reported some belief that the Griffin's were part Indian and that Mary Polly Bird might have been Indian. Also some family lines pass on the description that we are "Black Irish"-my grandfather told me this. That term, "Black Irish" has two connotations but for folks in the south at that time up until about 1850, that term was specifically used to describe white + Indian families (see wikipedia). Creek matrilineal practices may explain why no Griffins are listed among the dead at Fort Mims. There are however Byrds listed among the dead. If Mary Polly Bird Griffin was Cherokee or Creek, the children would have been recognized by the tribe as being their mother's clan...thus Bird/Byrds not Griffins. Further support that Mary Polly Bird may have been indian is the presence of a Census record listing what is likely her mother in Halifax County NC (sits directly below Halifax county VA as a Free Person of Color) FPC persons could be Indian, Black or anyone not considered "white" at that time.
1790 United States Federal Census
about Polly Bird
Name: Polly Bird
Township: Edgecombe
County: Halifax
State: North Carolina
**************Number of All Other Free Persons: 4*********
Number of Slaves : 1
Number of Household Members: 0

They are living Next to Peggy Bird and Richard Bird
Number indicated below is number of "Other Free Persons" No age info is recorded. This Polly is listed as head of household so this is not Polly herself but could be her mother and daughter and 2 other individuals.

Bird, Peggy 3
Bird, Polly 4
Bird, Richard 2

In any event, I believe Benjamin to be the son of Anthony Griffin born Halifax County VA, born about 1740 who married 1-"Ann unknown" and later Susanne Crenshaw. From records, Anthony was apparently a tax resistor who got fed up in Virignia and removed to Wilkes County GA after purchasing land from William Starke in 1785. I believe Anthony Griffin to be the son of Richard Griffin born Prince George, VA abt 1700 died Halifax County VA 23 Sep 1766. His parentage of Anthony is established by presence of court order July 7, 1788 referencing Anthony as son of Richard. COURT ORDERS - CHARLOTTE COUNTY, VA
EXTRACTS FROM BOOK SEVEN 1786 - 1789. Richard Married Mary Green. I believe Richard Griffin to be the son of William Griffin III born 1685 Richmond, VA d: 1751 Lunenberg VA. He married Elizabeth Griffith. His will names his children including Richard. I believe William III to be the son of William II born abt 1665 d: 1725 Sittingbourne, Richmond, VA. William II married Rebecca. William II owned land on the other side of the Rappahannock river from his father William Sr.Griffin born 19 October 1628 d: 1684. William Sr. married Jane.

I've done genetic testing for this paternal line and autosomal testing for myself individually to see if that would provide further clues. 4 Autosomal tests have detected the presence of Native American ancestry on my father's side...most closely matching the current living Lumbee tribal population of NC.

My tree is located on rootsweb along with all my research notes and source documentation.

If interested, please contact me at the email shown on my tree. I can also give anyone related access to the family bible and photo archive and a little video I've put together. Hope this is helpful.

Relevant books:
A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814 (Fire Ant Books) by Gregory A. Waselkov (Paperback - Sept. 28, 2009)

A Way Through the Wilderness: The Natchez Trace and the Civilization of the Southern Frontier by William C. Davis (Paperback - Sep 1996)

Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World by Robbie Franklyn Ethridge (Paperback - Sep 26, 2006)

Mixed Blood Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South (Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures) by Theda Perdue (Paperback - Mar 28, 2005)

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279507115000
Classification: Query
Jan and Donna, my Alabama Griffin ancestors go back to the Griffins who mostly lived now and in the mid to late 1800s in Perry, Hale, and Tuscaloosa Counties in Alabama (surrounding Bibb County).

I haven't learned much yet about this line, but I know it goes back to John W Griffin (b abt 1852 in AL) who married Alamarinda Rebecca Martin (b Dec 1848 in AL, d Dec 1929 Hale Co, AL). Several of us who are from different descendants of John W Griffin have heard he was part Native American.

I searched through your public tree on, Jan, but didn't see a connection. Still, I thought I'd ask if either of you happen to know anything about this line. Their children were:

1. Charlie Griffin (b 15 Jun 1874 AL, 14 Oct 1962 Tuscaloosa, AL) married Sarah Elizabeth “Sallie” Davis

2. Thomas Jefferson Griffin (b Monroe Co, MS Oct 1878, d 6 May 1959 Hale Co, AL, married Denie Hollis and Harriet Elizabeth Connor

3. John William Griffin (b May 1880 AL) married Ida Lou Williams

Thanks for sharing anything you might know - Jeff.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279523470000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin, Bird, Wood, Martin
Hi Jeff,

Although I don't know the specifics of your family line, I have run across the Griffin/Martin folks while researching and would suspect a connection. I would have to research more to see how they fit together.

In general, I believe a good many of the Griffin's in early Alabama and Georgia are related distantly and again it all goes back to some critical historical events. Prior to their arrival in GA and later The Mississippi Territory from VA and some from NC, the Great Awakening (a huge religious revival movement) seems to have affected a great many of them and appears to be a discerning factor among two historical Griffin lines.

To illustrate, when I found our family bible, in it were several odd "clues". (Bare with me here). There was some circled scripture and a torn out section of a poem. Upon researching that little bit of scripture and the poem, it turned out that the poem was an excerpt from The Dream of Eugene Aram written by Thomas Hood. The poem was published in 1831. Thomas Hood lived 1799-1845 and was a prominent Methodist poet. The poem is a telling about the guilt experienced by a murderer named Eugene Aram. Eugene Aram was a real person who was hung for murder in 1791. The poem was reviewed/published in the 1860 Methodist Quarterly. So, it's likely my 4th Great grandmother got the Methodist Quarterly at church and clipped the poem and stuck it in her bible.

The scripture that was circled turned out to be the primary scripture quoted by John Wesley in one of his landmark sermons (Sermon 33).

In any event these two items and the fact that I knew that my 4th great grandparents had been members of the Hill County Methodist Church in Texas and that some lines of our family passed down the first name Wesley, told me there was a strong Methodist connection somewhere which seemed odd because most Griffin's I met were Baptists.

So googling Methodist + Griffin + Alabama, I came across Rev. Thomas Griffin. Rev. Thomas Griffin was one of the earliest circuit preachers who rode the Mississippi Territory circuit all along the Tombigbee settlements. If you search google books you can find: A Complete History of Methodism as connected with the Mississippi Conference. His journals are also published. In his journals, he references visiting other Griffin relatives in the Tombigbee settlements. These early Griffin's along the Tombigbee are shown on an early map in the book "A Conquering Spirit" as mentioned in my prior post.

Anyway, his journals explain that his father was a Baptist but at the point when his family moved to Wilkes County GA (note my Benjamin Griffin also moved from VA to Wilkes County GA at the same time) there were Methodist preachers (possibly John Wesley himself when he visited Oglethorpe) preaching the Gospel and many Griffins became "converted to Methodism". So, now I had an explanation for the two lines of Griffins" The Baptist Griffin's and the Methodist Griffins.

As another odd coincidence, the bible of Rev. Thomas Griffin's parents (John Thomas Griffin Sr. and Mary Ann Andrews) is the same type of bible as our 1848 Bible in that it is an early Episcopalian bible which included at that time the Apocrypha (like Catholic bibles do now).

Turns out that Thomas Griffin's line tracks back to William Griffin II and Rebecca mentioned in my prior post. So my Benjamin Griffin and Rev. Thomas Griffin would have been 3rd Cousins. Although we don't know our third cousins alot these days. Folks back then would have. In most cases they moved in groups of extended family members, not alone. So, I think that when Rev. Thomas Griffin started preaching, many of the Griffin's of his extended line were already pushing west into the fringe settlements along the border of GA/the Mississippi Territory (The Creek Nation).

By the early 1800s they were all along the Tombigbee, Tensaw Districts and later in the Coosa River valley.

There was even a place called "Griffin Village" settled by "Friendly Creeks". Friendly Creeks = Indian Countrymen

GRIFFIN VILLAGE. A small and unimportant community in Marshall County settled by friendly Creeks by permission of the Cherokees about the time of the Creek War of 1813-14. It was located west of Brown"! Creek on the old "Bill Griffin" place, about 2% miles south of Warrenton, and 4 miles north of Brown's Village. Its Indian name, If any, has not been ascertained.
REFERENCES.—O. D. Street, in Alabama History Commission, Report (1901), vol. 1, p. 418; Ala. Hist. Society. Transactions, 1899-1903, vol. 4, p. 193.

But as the Creek war heated up, especially after the Fort Mims massacre, many of the mixed White + Indian families (which I believe were our folks) fled back to GA for a period until after the Battle of Horeshoe Bend. The Redsticks wanted to kill the "Indian Countrymen" (white + Indian families) because they aligned too strongly with Andrew Jackson's "Plan of Civilization" for the Indians.

Eventually, as we all know, sadly the Indians were forcibly removed to Arkansas (first) then Oklahoma. Among the early removal records is a listing for one James Griffin (a white man) with Indian family members. This family was in the first wave moved and associated with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. As removal progressed, it appears some mixed families chose to leave and others (because some were quite wealthy and influential in the community) were allowed to stay.

General Winfield Scott’s Cherokee Indian Removal Enforcement Orders
Cherokee Agency TN
May 17, 1838

“White men and widows, Citizens of the United States, who are or have been intermarried with Indians and thence commonly termed “Indian Countrymen”; also such Indians who have been made denizens of particular states, by special legislation, together with the families and properties of all such persons, will not be molested or removed by troops until a decision is made on the principles involved can be obtained from the War department. And like indulgence, but only for a limited time, and until further orders, is extended to the families and property of certain Chiefs and head men of the two great Indian parties (on the subject of emigration) now understood to be absent in the direction of Washington on the business of their respective parties. "

As time went by, it became increasingly unpopular to be a mixed Indian family and prejudicial laws even came into play. For this reason, I believe a good many Griffin's who by this time showed little outward characteristics of their earlier (colonial period) Indian heritage, simply gave up their history or covered it up. Others, like my line went to Texas which at the time was more tolerant and later described themselves to their descendants as "Black Irish". Others, as we know....went to Oklahoma by force. There are hundreds of Griffins on the Cherokee rolls. Whatever the case, perhaps the reason many of us on these lines get "stuck" in ALabama and GA and can go no further back is because of the exact politics of the period which dictated that their history be lost. Sorry this is such a long post. Truly hope it is helpful. A video of all my research as it pertains to this line of Griffins of Texas, ALA, GA and VA is can be viewed here: Historical photos and scans of the bible and pages from our "family box" can be viewed here:

Anyway, I'll spend a little time and see if I can find anything pertaining to your line. If not, I hope some of this information may help you connect a dot or two.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279578335000
Classification: Query
Surnames: GRIFFIN
Hi, Your research on Rev. Thomas Griffin interests me, as I believe he is in my line of Griffins! I, along with the help of other cousins in my line have documentation about this line going back to "Jonas" Griffin who left Cumberland Co., NC, taking his young wife & family by boat, and settled in the Walnut Hills area of the Mississippi Territory in 1802. He had a son named Thomas whom we speculate was born to a wife prior to the one he went to Mississippi with, as he appears to be born before Jonas married Janet Bettis. We are pretty sure Thomas is the same Circuit Preacher you found. This family was Methodist from the time they arrived in MS. The history of this Griffin Line is detailed in Mary Helen Griffin Halloran's book: "A Mississippi Family:The Griffins of Magnolia Terrace, Griffin's Refuge, and Greenville 1800-1950 [Paperback] If you follow this link: :

you can view the synopsis under "first pages".


Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279580798000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin, Mississippi Territory, metis, Indian Countrymen
Hi Kathy,

I'm familiar with the book you've referenced. I do however think there were two Rev. Thomas Griffin circuit preachers. The Rev. Thomas Griffin of which I posted left behind a journal/diary wherein he names his parents and their children and when I ran across the Magnolia Terrace book during my research, there appeared to be a disconnect somewhere.

Here is a bit of reference information regarding Rev. Thomas Griffin born 24 Sep 1787

Mississippi Department of History and Archives
Z 2079.000
Original journal is restricted; reference photocopy must be used instead

Thomas Griffin was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, on September 24, 1787. He was the youngest child of John and Mary Andrews Griffin of Virginia. John Griffin moved his family to Oglethorpe County, Georgia, in 1792, settling about ten miles from Lexington. Thomas Griffin worked on his father’s farm until he became a Methodist circuit rider. The Methodist Conference sent him to the Carolinas where he traveled and preached for several years before being sent to the Mississippi Territory along with ministers Lewis Hobbs, Richmond Nolley, and Drury Powell.

At the end of his first year of preaching in the Mississippi Territory, the Reverend Thomas Griffin reportedly earned one-and-a-half dollars from his congregation and eight dollars from the Mississippi Methodist Conference. Griffin rode the Red River circuit in 1813, encountering hostile Indians, malaria, and rough terrain. He attended the first Mississippi Methodist Conference in Jefferson County in November of 1813, and he rode the Natchez circuit during the next year. Griffin was the presiding elder of the Louisiana district in 1815. He was a delegate to the general conference of Methodists in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1820. However, Griffin’s anti-abolitionist speech during a debate on slavery drew some attention and was noted in several Baltimore newspapers.

Griffin married Ann Ford Ervin (1796-1852) of South Carolina on August 8, 1820. She was the daughter of the Reverend John Ford and the widow of Hugh Ervin. The Griffins had six children: John Wesley (1822-1892), Mary Ann (b. 1826), Susan, Martha, Eliza (1838-1917), and Thomas M. Although Griffin traveled widely as a Methodist circuit rider throughout much of the rest of his life, seeing expanses of countryside from the Carolinas to Texas, he also farmed in order to provide for his family. He began farming near the Pearl River, probably in Hinds County, Mississippi, in 1823, but he was unsuccessful two years in a row due to droughts and floods, so he transported wooden rails to supplement his farm income.

Despite some local opposition, Griffin brought one of the first regularly organized Methodist worship services to Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Mississippi, in 1827. However, he eventually left Port Gibson because of continuing opposition to his preaching. In 1832, Griffin moved near Canton, Madison County, Mississippi, where he planted cotton. He continued to preach and preside over the Mississippi Methodist Conference, sometimes traveling to camp meetings and religious conferences. Griffin died in 1851.


This is not to say that these two Thomas Griffin's were not related (cousins perhaps) and that one was influenced by the preaching of the other possibly. I think Methodism was spreading like wildfire. From reading on the time period, prior to the arrival of the Circuit Preachers, the Mississippi Territory was described as being inhabited by a very wild "unchurched" lot who played hard, drank hard, etc. It was a ripe territory for hell-fire preachin' so to speak. Anyway, Thomas as a first name at least is very common in our line and our folks seemed to really like repeating family names on multiple lines (to our confusion). The other thing of note about this Rev. Thomas Griffin is that two of his brothers (David and Jesse ...they were twins) were killed in the Baschi Skirmish which was an event around the Fort Mims massacre/Creek Indian War.


In any event, I'm glad this post has attracted so many folks attention. Perhaps with all of us looking we can find some more clues to share with each other. I do think all the secrets are hidden in the Mississippi Territory/Creek Nation period though and it's a fascinating puzzle for us all to sort out and rediscover. There is not alot written in history books about this period. But searching in Google Books and library archives under (Indian Countrymen, Metis, Mixed-Breed Indians, Half-Breed Indians, early fur trappers and traders) seems to help retrieve a variety of sources that help bring this whole period into focus as quite different than what was put in most history books. It seems the politics of the period and later prejudices sortof swept the "melting pot" of the early frontier under the carpet so to speak. Anyway, no need to continue that legacy in 2010.

I would encourage anyone with a direct living Griffin male descendant to do their Y-DNA testing and join the Griffin surname project as that may be another way we can connect these confusing Griffin lines of the Mississippi Territory era.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279692864000
Classification: Query
Jan, your reply and your posts that I’ve seen are very intriguing and loaded with great information. Even if the Griffins you’ve researched and shared about are not related to my Griffin line, you’ve presented such quality material in a way that is so interesting that I’d be happy to read and study it all regardless. I loved the Griffin family history video you made – LOVED IT! I encourage everyone to view it. It's informative and engaging, and just so well done. Unique family details are presented with a great backdrop that reminds me of historical events that I needed reminding of and a few things I’d not studied. Very helpful. Thank you for your time and expertise – Jeff.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279773561000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin, Mississippi Territory, Native American, Indian Countrymen, Metis, Half-Breeds, Mixed-Breeds
Jeff, thanks for your kind words. I really do appreciate it and glad you liked the video. There is alot not made particularly clear in our history books. What I've learned from this is that it is so helpful to understand the history of what was going on in our ancestor's lives. Another book I am currently reading which I highly recommend is "Lies My Teacher Told Me, Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" by James W. Loewen. Chapter 4: Red Eyes particularly lays out the reality of life on the early Southern Frontier. I also recommend searching google books and to read some of the original manuscripts and historical accounts written prior to 1860. They do much to shed light on things. In any event, I'll keep digging and hopefully together, we can all learn more about our shared frontier histories.

Re: Griffins of GA, Alabama and Texas

Posted: 1279775374000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Griffin
Also, it is also important to note, that there were Griffin families not only mixed with Native Americans during the Colonial Period but also with Africans.

Paul Heinnegg, an award-winning researcher has compiled the names of individuals by surname of Free Persons of Color and Indentured Servants and others who intermarried or had children together during the colonial period for Virginia, NC, Maryland and Delaware. His research is taken from court records, census, wills, deeds, etc.

Within those records, are several lines of Griffin's which like many other Griffin's may have moved into Georgia and The Mississippi Territory with westward expansion. For those lines, if a family researcher assumes that they are looking soley for white relations during the colonial period, this may be why nothing is turning up. Prior to say 1840, some folks may be listed as Mulatto or Free Person's of color. Further, mulatto could mean a variety of things. At that time, the child of perhaps an indentured servant who was Irish who married an Indian would be listed as Mulatto.

In any event, Mr. Heinegg's research on the Griffin line is located here:

Perhaps the most well documented mixed-heritage Griffin descendant of the Mississippi Territory was Mary Musgrove. "Known as Coosaponakeesa among the Creek Indians, Mary Musgrove served as a cultural liaison between colonial Georgia and her Native American community in the mid-eighteenth century. Musgrove took advantage of her biculturalism to protect Creek interests, maintain peace on the frontier, and expand her business as a trader. As Pocahontas was to the Jamestown colony and Sacagawea was to the Lewis and Clark expedition, so was Musgrove to the burgeoning Georgia colony.

Musgrove was the daughter of the English trader Edward Griffin and a Creek Indian mother who was related to Brims and Chigelli, two Creek leaders."

I do not think anyone has traced successfully the ancestry of her father Edward Griffin.

I always for years why I met so many Griffin's who were white, black and Indian. I had always thought the African American lines had taken the surname from Griffin slave owners (as there were many Griffin slave owners), but it turns out that this is much less likely the case. Some of these Griffin's carry the surname, because they directly descend from colonial period Griffin relationships/marriages. They simply are...Griffins.

So the point here is to not assume that every single one of your anscestors was of 100% European ancestry. In my personal research of 15 or so years, I have at least 5 direct ancestors from the Colonial period and later that were not identified as "white" at some point.

We truly are a melting pot and all God's children.
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