Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy Third Birthday!

(Photo by Debbie)

Know Their Stories is three years old today.  Happy blogoversary to me!  I'd like to say a special thank you to my friend Sierra at Up In the Tree for providing the initial inspiration to start writing.  This blog has given me the perfect forum to share my family's stories and connect with newfound cousins.  I've learned so much more about my ancestors in the last three years.  I look forward to writing many more stories about them!


The most popular posts on Know Their Stories in the past year:

Heritage Day: Helping Children Celebrate Their Ancestors

Major Breakthrough: How Searching for a Surname Solved Two Big Mysteries and Revealed an American Revolutionary

Immigrant Ancestor: William Dickson

Five Reasons to Write a Family History Blog



What I'm Working On Now:

  • My mother's cousin Mary surprised me recently with a large bag of photos and letters that I'd never seen. The photos are mainly of my grandmother's cousin, Gil Cook, who I've written about many times. There are letters between Gil and his mother, Magdalene Barrett Rutherfurd, and his grandmother, Nellie O'Hare Barrett.  I'm still reading and scanning, and look forward to sharing some of these treasures soon.


  • I've just started a series about my Murray ancestors, starting with my great-grandmother, Genevieve Murray Smith.  I'll be writing more about this line in the coming months.


  • I'm still writing about my struggle to make sense of my Griffin ancestors.  This has been a long journey with many breakthroughs, but many remaining questions.  I'm actually hoping to take a trip to Westchester County, New York, later this year to do some additional research.


Thanks for reading!


Monday, June 20, 2016

The Lineage of John T. Griffin

The harbor at Mamaroneck, New York, ancestral home of my Griffin ancestors. (photo by June Marie)


I've been working hard to prove the ancestors of my second great-grandfather, John T. Griffin.  As mentioned in previous posts, this family has always been something of a mystery, since John T. Griffin divorced my second great-grandmother, Annie Dickson, before the birth of their only child and then disappeared from their lives.

Earlier posts have detailed my search to determine John T. Griffin's place of death and the names of his parents and grandparents.  While I was fairly certain I'd located his parents in New York census records, attempts to verify his paternal grandparents ended in a confused muddle of conflicting documents.  Since I believe John's grandparents were from Westchester County, New York, I contacted the Westchester County Historical Society to see if they could help.  They quickly responded to my request and set to work copying any related Griffin materials for me.  I received a package in the mail shortly thereafter, so many thanks to the helpful librarians at the Westchester County Historical Society.  The good news is that WCHS did have multiple documents relating to my Griffin family.  The bad news is that they weren't quite the slam dunk that I'd hoped to find.  I do think I have strong circumstantial evidence for this family's lineage, but I'll continue looking for more concrete connections.

Here, I present the case for the ancestry of John T. Griffin.

John T. Griffin (1838 - 1933)
Place of birth: Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Source: 1920 US Census, 1930 US Census, Florida Death Records
Parents' names: Thomas Griffin and E.J. Carpenter. Source: Marriage record (Annie Dickson), marriage record (Elizabeth Rice), Florida Death Records.

There is some conflicting information about John's place of birth and his parents' place of birth.  The 1900 US Census lists John as having been born in New York and his parents in Pennsylvania.  His Florida death record says his place of birth was Pennsylvania, and his parents place of birth was Pennsylvania.  However, I know that John lived in New York as a young man.  He married his first wife, Ellen Pearsall, there in 1859 and was living in Brooklyn at the time of the 1865 New York State Census. So, I started my search for John's parents in New York, and found a match.

In the 1850 US Census, I located a family that appears to include my second great-grandfather, John T. Griffin.  He is shown living in New York City with parents Thomas Griffin and Eliza J. Griffin. John is 10 years old at the time of this census, which is the correct age.  The census indicates that he and most of his siblings were born in Pennsylvania, while his parents and eldest brother are recorded as having been born in New York. One very interesting piece of information is that the eldest brother, Charles, is employed as a ship's carpenter.  This is the same career John would take up just a handful of years later.  It is recorded as his occupation in the 1865 New York Census and the 1900 US Census.  That he sailed boats on the Great Lakes was one of the few things Annie Dickson would tell her son about his father.  So, here we have a correlation of dates, location and occupation that indicates this is the correct family.

Thomas Griffin (1806 - ?)
Place of birth: New York. Source: (1850 US Census, 1855 New York State Census)

While the 1900 census and John Griffin's death certificate list Thomas' place of birth as Pennsylvania, that information was given by third parties (John's father-in-law and wife) after Thomas' death, so I favor the two census records where Thomas himself reported the information.  The 1855 Census specifically states that both Thomas and Eliza were born in Westchester County, New York. Interestingly, this census also lists Thomas' first name as "Thorn," which is repeated in the 1880 census and on the death certificate of his son Joseph.  This is clearly the same family, with the same children, but Thomas is sometimes listed as Thomas Griffin and sometimes as Thorn Griffin.

I moved my search to Westchester County, hoping to find records there that would connect Thomas to his parents.  I quickly located a couple living in Mamaroneck, Westchester County, who appeared to be candidates.  His potential mother's surname was Thorne, which would explain why Thomas also bore the name Thorn or Thorne.

Stephen Griffin (Abt 1780 - 1847)

Stephen Griffin and Jerusha Thorne were married in Chappaqua in 1800.  The will of Jerusha Thorne's father, written in 1821, mentions his grandson Thomas Griffin.  I was hoping that the Westchester County Historical Society's documents would concretely prove the assertion that Thomas was the son of Stephen and Jerusha.  They sent me the 1847 records of the Westchester County Surrogate Court regarding the will of Stephen Griffin.  The will itself leaves goods to Stephen's wife, Jerusha, along with his children, Abigail Griffin, Joseph Griffin and John C. Griffin.  While nothing appears to have been willed to Thomas, and he is never listed as a child of Stephen Griffin, in the will there is a mention from a court surrogate that, "This deponent served said citation on Thomas T. Griffin by delivering a copy of the same to him personally..."  While this isn't the slam dunk I was hoping to achieve, it does link Stephen Griffin and Thomas Griffin.  The Westchester County Historical Society also sent me a document listing Stephen and Jerusha's children with a note that this information comes without source citations.  Those children were Thomas, Abigail, Amy, Joseph, Hannah and John.  So, we have a lot of circumstantial evidence indicting that Stephen and Jerusha were the parents of Thomas.  I decided to go back another couple of generations to see if I could find any more information about the family that might nail down this lineage.

Joseph Griffin (1737 - 1807)

Joseph Griffin, father of Stephen and likely great-grandfather of John, is the descendant of a family that arrived in America in the early 1600s from England.

Joseph Griffin of Mamaroneck married Jane Cornell of Scarsdale in Westchester County and they had six sons, including Stephen.  Joseph's will mentions Stephen, so this connection seems solid.  While the 1790 and 1800 census listings don't include any names other than Joseph's, Stephen is presumably one of the five "free white males" under age 16 counted in the household in 1790 and one of the males between 16-26 listed in the 1800 census.

More Griffiths

According to a number of published genealogies, Joseph was the great-grandson of Edward Griffin, an Englishman who sailed to Virginia on the ship Abraham in 1635.  I will need to do the due diligence of checking each connection in this line, however.  In a brief review of the writings about this family, there seems to be a lot of debate about Edward's origins and his reasons for coming to America.  Nothing has been easy about tracing this Griffin line, and it looks like the challenges will continue.




Paperwork regarding the last will and testament of Stephen Griffin





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Genevieve Murray Smith (Part 2)

Genevieve Murray Smith

In my last post, I wrote about the Bay Area childhood of my maternal great-grandmother, Genevieve Frances Murray.  After graduating high school and moving to Los Angeles, Genevieve married my great-grandfather, Glenn Alvin Smith in 1913.  They had seven children together.

Glenn Alvin Smith was a serial entrepreneur; a true businessman.  Up until the mid-1930s, he owned an export business that shipped barrels of oil to Asia.  This work required him to go on some lengthy trips to China, and Genevieve often accompanied him.  Business was good and the Smith family prospered.  However, in the mid-1930s, the export business collapsed.  I've heard various accounts of the reason for this failure, including the Great Depression, the proliferation of tanker ships that replaced barrel shipping, and increased political tensions as World War II drew nearer. Glenn then engaged in a series of other ventures, including oil wildcatting in Texas, which was unsuccessful, and wine production and shipping, which was more successful.  During the ups and downs of these years, Genevieve supported Glenn's endeavors and raised their children.

Genevieve Murray Smith with six of her seven children.  My grandfather, Glenn Murray Smith, is at center.  His sisters (L-R): Virginia, baby Joan, Patricia, Shirley and Barbara.  About 1924.

What I know of my great-grandmother's temperament and personality comes largely from the accounts given by her daughter-in-law, my grandmother, LaVerne Smith, her son-in-law, William B. Ross, and her grandchildren.  My grandmother always had nice things to say about Genevieve, whom she liked very much.  She said she was a good mother-in-law, who never interfered with the households of her adult children.

My mother describes Genevieve as being rather formal, not one to get down on the ground and play with her grandchildren, but she always enjoyed spending time with her grandmother. Genevieve liked to take my mother and her siblings to Disney movies. Genevieve apparently had a real fondness for Disney films.  My mother also remembers her grandmother taking her to lunch at places like the Bullocks Wilshire tea room in Los Angeles, which was an elegant and memorable location for a child.

Genevieve in Los Angeles

Another of Genevieve's granddaughters recalls that Genevieve would stop by their home in Hancock Park after shopping at Bullocks Wilshire and have coffee with her eldest child, Virginia.  Virginia was by then married with children of her own, and she and Genevieve would stand in the kitchen and talk while sipping their coffee. However, some of the best accounts of Genevieve's personality come from William B. Ross, Virginia's husband.  I quote below from memoirs written by William B. Ross in 1995.

If Glenn was a driven type-A businessman, she [Genevieve] was his match as a family woman.  She was charming, well-dressed, well educated, very intelligent and knew absolutely her family goals and her expectations for her children.  In other words, she ruled the home roost PERIOD!  She had a housekeeper while the children were growing, but she did not spend her time at teas, bridge parties and idle socializing.  She shopped, she cooked, she involved herself with St. Paul's school and church and kept an eye on the children's progress. 
Mother Smith was a great believer in education.  She herself had been well-educated in Catholic schools through high school.  But, even in her forties, she was continuing to enroll in courses at UCLA extension.  She was a grammarian, an English scholar with a good vocabulary and excellent sentence construction verbally and in writing.  She had done office work after graduation from high school.  For her children, she encouraged them to work during Christmas and summer vacations, but her goal was to give them a university education.  And she and Glenn did!  Virginia and Joan to USC; Glenn Murray to Stanford; Barbara and Patricia to UC Berkeley.

Along with education, she stressed her Catholic religion.  She had a deep and personal faith and transmitted it to her children.  Yet she had no trouble with those who were non-religious or Protestant.  She told me that faith was a gift from God, and the fact that her husband was not a Catholic and her eldest daughter married a Presbyterian (who five years later became a Catholic) didn't bother her at all.

Before we grant her sainthood, let's acknowledge that Mother Smith had a couple of very minor faults.  She had a temper (but that temper helped run a large household) and she was very sensitive about her age.  Her girls were instructed that as adults they must never tell their ages.  She never told hers but it was known that she was a teensy bit older than her husband.  However, if you visit Resurrection Cemetery, you will find a headstone she ordered for herself with the same year of birth as Glenn.  Now that is a white lie... and probably the only one in a long and meritorious life. 
Virginia once told me an amusing story about the Genevieve Murray Smith Irish temper.  One evening she got into some kind of household policy argument with her husband.  Finally she said she was flying north the next day to see her sister Gertie in Oakland.  Glenn then could run things to suit himself.  Sure enough, she got the kids off to school and then drove out to the Glendale airport where rather primitive planes took off with a dozen or so passengers.  She bought her ticket, boarded the plane, flew off, but soon heard the motor sputtering. They landed in a field or pasture somewhere in Santa Barbara County and eventually returned in a bus.  Guess she showed Glenn. 
One final note on Mother Smith.  She was a wonderful friend and companion and I never knew what "mother-in-law problems" were all about.  She never told me what I should or shouldn't do.  If she had any criticisms, I never heard them and if I did something she admired I heard it frequently.

When their children were grown, Genevieve and Glenn sold the house on Buckingham Road in Los Angeles and moved to San Marino, just east of downtown Los Angeles.  They lived at 1210 Mill Lane for the rest of their lives.  Genevieve died of cancer on July 29, 1968 at the age of 80.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Glenn, who died in 1960. They had been married 46 years.  She was survived by all seven of her children and forty-seven grandchildren.

Genevieve and Glenn Smith with their son, Glenn M. Smith, and grandson Tom

Monday, May 9, 2016

Genevieve Frances Murray

Genevieve Murray in 1912.  This may have been an engagement portrait.

Genevieve Frances Murray was my great-grandmother.  Her eldest son, Glenn Murray Smith, was my maternal grandfather.

Genevieve was born in July 4, 1888 in Oakland, California.  She was the daughter of John Bernard Murray, an Irish immigrant from County Down and Catherine "Kate" Daly of Massachusetts.  John Murray had previously been married to Mary Lyons and together they raised eight children in San Francisco.  Upon being widowed, he moved to Oakland, married Kate Daly and fathered another nine children, so he was the patriarch of a very large family.  My great-grandmother Genevieve was the second-youngest of his seventeen children, but her younger brother died an an infant, so Genevieve was really the baby of the family.  Her parents were advancing in years by the time she was born.  John was 54 and Kate was 37.  Her father owned a tailor shop, and the family lived in Oakland throughout her childhood.

Genevieve as a young woman

Known for her independent spirit, one story of Genevieve's youth remains, passed on by my grandmother, and tells us something of her nature.  When Genevieve about eight years old, the circus came to town.  She was walking home from school and saw the tent and decided she wanted to go inside and see it.  She did not have the ticket fare, so she snuck into the tent and then sat through the whole afternoon circus show, enthralled.  She loved it so much she stayed for the next show and didn't come home until nearly ten o'clock at night.  Needless to say, her family was very worried, but Genevieve had been so carried away by the circus that she couldn't think of anything else.

Genevieve's teenage years were marred by a series of tragic occurrences.  In 1904, when Genevieve was sixteen, her elder sister Julia died of Tuberculosis.  Julia was just twenty-three.  By all accounts, Julia was a bright and charming young woman, much beloved by her family.  She was very close to her sister, and Genevieve mourned her loss greatly.  Two years later, Genevieve's mother, Kate, died on May 24, 1906, just a month after the great San Francisco earthquake destroyed the city across the bay.

Genevieve's beloved sister, Julia Murray.  She died at age 23.

I don't know much about the period between 1906 and 1913 in Genevieve's life.  During this time, she completed school and moved to Los Angeles, but the details of these milestones have been lost.  I believe that Genevieve may have followed one of her siblings or half-siblings to Los Angeles, but there is no written record of it.


I also don't know for sure how Genevieve met her future husband.  She worked as a secretary in an office in Los Angeles, and she may have met him in the course of her job, but none of our living family members remember the details.

Glenn Alvin Smith, husband of Genevieve Murray

Genevieve married my great-grandfather, Glenn Alvin Smith, in Los Angeles on June 5, 1913.  The wedding mass was held at St. Vincent's Church.  After their marriage they lived for several years in a home at 3925 West 28th Street in Los Angeles.  They later settled in a home at 1744 Buckingham Road, in Mid-City Los Angeles, where my grandfather and his siblings were raised.

Genevieve and Glenn had seven children together:

Virginia Kathryn Smith (b. 1914)
Glenn Murray Smith (b. 1916)
Barbara Frances Smith (b. 1917)
Patricia Anne Smith (b. 1920)
Shirley Mary Smith (b. 1922)
Joan Yvonne Smith (b. 1924)
Kevin Anthony Smith (b. 1929)

Genevieve with two of her children.

Link to Part 2 of this story

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandad



My maternal grandfather, Glenn Murray Smith, would have been 100 years old today.

He was born on March 19, 1916 in Los Angeles, California.  He was the second of seven children born to his parents, Glenn Alvin Smith and Genevieve Frances Murray.  Glenn, along with his siblings, Virginia, Barbara, Patricia, Shirley, Joan and Kevin, grew up on Buckingham Road, near Crenshaw Boulevard, in what is now Central Los Angeles.




Glenn attended Loyola High School.  A sports enthusiast, he played football and tennis, and also enjoyed boxing.  While Glenn was a teenager, his parents began traveling quite a bit, due to the demands of their oil exporting business.  This provided many opportunities for Glenn to get into mischief and the freedom to attend events all over Los Angeles.  During his junior year of high school, he met my grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd, at a party at a skating rink.  On their first date, Glenn took LaVerne to see King Kong at Grauman's Chinese Theater on Sunset Boulevard. It was also his seventeenth birthday-- March 19, 1933.


 


Glenn attended Loyola University (now Loyola Marymount University) for two years, and then transferred to Stanford University.  During this time he took up rowing, worked many hours at a local garage to help pay tuition, and spent a summer wildcatting oil in Texas with his father.  He continued to date my grandmother, LaVerne, and upon returning to Los Angeles after graduating from college, he proposed marriage.

My grandparents in 1936, during their college years, at an air show in Los Angeles

Glenn Smith married LaVerne Rutherfurd on November 1, 1941 in Los Angeles.  They would have five children, including my mother, in the next fourteen years.


Glenn's parents had closed their exports business and moved into wine production as World War II loomed.  After his marriage, Glenn went to work in the family wine business.  When the United States entered the war, my grandfather joined the Navy, which meant several moves around the country to training facilities and officers' schools.  The war ended just as Glenn and his fellow officers were preparing to head overseas, so he never saw any action. After the war, Glenn settled his family in San Marino, California.  He took up a career of his own, commuting to downtown Los Angeles to work for A. Carlisle & Co. The printing and design company was located at 9th and Hill, and Glenn designed their product labels.  He would work there until he retired.

Glenn, LaVerne and their oldest child in the mid-1940s

I was fortunate enough to know my grandfather for two decades and have many memories of him.  I remember his love of boating and the ocean.  He owned a small sailboat, and used to take his children out sailing when they were young. He wasn't using it much anymore by the time I was growing up, but he still loved to be by the sea. Sometimes, he and my grandmother would rent a vacation house on Balboa Island in the summer, and we would visit them there.

My grandfather loved growing camellias, and he would display especially lovely blooms at the local flower show.  He was the president of the Southern California Camellia Society for several years.  He was also very fond of birds.  He and my grandmother owned two cockatiels, and Glenn was often to be found with a bird happily perched on his shoulder.  My grandfather was also a wine aficionado. He'd developed a great knowledge of wine when working for his parents' wine business and living near a vineyard they owned in Forestville, California.  I remember sitting at the dining table with him, after he and my grandmother had moved from San Marino to Dana Point, while he explained how to read a wine label.


My grandfather with his youngest child, boating off Balboa Island in the 1960s

My grandfather died on July 21, 1988 in Dana Point, California, at the age of 82.  He had suffered for years with Addison's Disease, an endocrine system disorder.  He is buried in Lake Forest, California, alongside my grandmother, who survived him.  They had been married for forty-seven years at the time of his death.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wedding Wednesday: Herb & Florence Lacey



My great-uncle, Herb Lacey, married Florence Freitas in 1945 in Northern California.

Herbert Brendan Lacey was born on October 14, 1915 in San Francisco.  He was the fifth child born to my great-grandparents, Thomas Lacey and Sarah Kilcullen, both Irish immigrants who settled in San Francisco.  Herb was three years older than my grandfather, David Austin Lacey.

Sometime between 1915 and 1918, the Lacey family moved to Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco.  Herb grew up there, completed high school, and began working in "marine engineering," per the 1940 census.  Alameda in the early-to-mid 1900s was notable for being the site of the Alameda Naval Air Station and the Alameda Works Shipyard.  The city's waterfront was one of the largest shipping and ship-building centers in the country.

On June 3, 1941, Herb enlisted in the Navy.  Six months later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America entered World War II.  Upon completion of his service in the Pacific Theater, Herb returned home to Alameda and married Florence Freitas in 1945.

Florence Loretta Freitas was born January 29, 1919, the daughter of John Freitas and Catherine Madeiros. Her father was a Portuguese immigrant, as was her maternal grandfather. She was raised in Washington Township, which later became Fremont.  Fremont is about 25 miles south of Alameda.

I have not been able to determine at which church Herb and Florence were married. Presumably, it would have been a Catholic church in Fremont or neighboring cities.  After their wedding, Herb and Florence settled in Newark, adjacent to Fremont, and raised two children.  It was, by all accounts, a happy marriage.

I remember visiting Herb and Florence at their home when I was young.  Herb was much like his brothers, with the same boisterous personality and big laugh.  Florence was kind and lovely.  I remember playing in their big garden and eating meals at their kitchen table.

Florence died on August 15, 1987.  My family visited Herb after Florence's death and I recall that he was distraught and depressed.  He grieved the loss of his wife deeply for the rest of his life.  Herb died on November 19, 1993.  Florence and Herb are buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, near Herb's parents and his elder brother Frank.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Who Were Thomas Griffin's Parents?

Forested hills in the Lackawanna Valley (photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli)

In my last post, I discussed my quest to find the parents of my third great-grandfather, Thomas Griffin.  An Ancestry Member Tree had asserted that Thomas was the son of Stephen Griffin and Jerusha Thorne of Mamaroneck, New York.  When I started trying to find proof of this connection, it initially seemed promising.  Stephen and Jerusha lived in Westchester County, where Thomas was born.  Records indicated that Thomas' middle name was actually Thorne, which would make sense if he was Jerusha Thorne's son.  I also found a death record suggesting that Thomas was buried in Mamaroneck in 1881.

Another piece of key information: In the book The Journal of the Reverend Silas Constant, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church At Yorktown, New York, the author mentions the will of Thomas Thorne of New Castle, NY (adjacent to Mamaroneck). In this will, Thomas Thorne in 1821 names his wife, several children and a grandchild.  Among them is his daughter, Jerusha Griffin and her son Thomas Griffin.  This proves that Thomas was the son of Jerusha Thorne Griffin.

Then, it all started to go downhill.  I couldn't find a census record for Stephen Griffin in Mamaroneck, which meant I couldn't place a child of Thomas' age in his household.  I could not locate wills or deeds that definitively connected father and son.  Where was the proof I needed?

The question of Scranton, Pennsylvania also continued to loom large in my mind.  If Thomas and his parents were from Mamaroneck, then why did Thomas spend so many years living in Scranton, far from both his parents and the New York City boroughs where he settled with his children?  I decided to take a closer look at Scranton and see if there might be some clues in that area.

Almost immediately, I found something exciting.  Records for the city of Scranton indicate that five Griffin brothers from Westchester County were early settlers in the area.  These brothers began farming in Providence, in the Lackawanna Valley, which was later incorporated into Scranton, in the early 1800s.

The original Griffin in Providence was Stephen, who in 1794 left Westchester County, N.Y., to battle with Pennsylvania forests.  He located near Lutze's fordway. Thos. Griffin became a resident of the valley in 1811, James in 1812, and Joseph and Isaac in 1816. [History of the Lackawanna Valley by Horace Hollister]

If Thomas Griffin's father and uncles had moved from Mamaroneck to Scranton, that would explain why I could find no record of Stephen in Mamaroneck during Thomas' childhood, and also why Thomas and his family lived on and off in the Scranton area in later years.  However, right away there were a few problems with this idea.  "Scranton Stephen Griffin" left Westchester County in 1794.  The Stephen Griffin I was researching married Jerusha Thorne in Westchester County in 1800, and his son Thomas was born there about 1802.  Multiple census records confirm Thomas' birth year and place.  The database "US and International Marriage Records 1560-1900" records the Griffin-Thorne marriage as taking place in 1800.  How could the Stephen Griffin I was researching be a Pennsylvania settler, while also marrying and having children in New York?

I did some investigating of the Stephen Griffin who settled near Scranton.  His wife was variously recorded as Mary Place or Polly Place.  I could find no mention of a wife named Jerusha.  The Stephen Griffin in Scranton had several daughters, likely including Matilda (b. 1799), Jerusha (b. 1802 and married Henry Treadwell Fellows), Amelia (or Armelia) (b. 1804) and Maria (b. 1807). He also had two sons, Jackson and Egbert.

The Griffins were early inhabitants of Connecticut and from that state removed to Dutchess county, NY, where the birth of our subject's grandfather, Stephen Griffin, occurred.  He was a farmer and drover by occupation and about 1810 he settled in what is now Lackawanna County.  Subsequently, his brothers, Joseph, Thomas and James, and a sister, Mrs. Mead, also came here and their descendants still remain in this valley. Stephen married Mary Place, a native of Connecticut and daughter of a pioneer of this county, and of their union two sons were born, Jackson and Egbert. [Portrait and Biographical Record of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania by Chapman Publishing Co.]

Given the lack of connection to either Jerusha Thorne or a son named Thomas, I don't believe the Stephen Griffin who settled in Scranton can be the father of my third great-grandfather.

Is it possible that there may have been two Stephen Griffins in Westchester County?  Was there one who went to Scranton and married Mary Place, and another who stayed in Mamaroneck, married Jerusha Thorne, and had a son named Thomas?

This leads us to another bit of contested information.  Who was the father of Stephen Griffin?  Online family trees tend to record the same parents for both Scranton Stephen and Mamaroneck Stephen: Joseph Griffin and Sarah Burling.  Here, again, things are not as simple as they might at first appear. The record cited most often in online trees for this family is found in the database Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870, Pomfret Vital Records 1705-1850.  It shows a Stephen Griffin born in Pomfret, Connecticut on March 6, 1777, son of Joseph and Sarah Griffin.  However, upon closer examination, it appear that this Stephen was not the son of Joseph Griffin and Sarah Burling, but rather Joseph Griffin and Sarah Brown, whose marriage was registered in Pomfret in 1755.  Joseph Griffin and Sarah Burling were from Westchester County.  In The Burling Books: Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling by Jane Thompson-Stahr, there is mention of a Joseph Griffin (of Mamaroneck) and Sarah Burling (of Eastchester, NY) who had a son, Stephen in Westchester County in about 1775.  Did this Stephen Griffin turn out to be Scranton Stephen or Mamaroneck Stephen?  I can't find any conclusive evidence.

This is why online family trees are so dangerous.  It would have been easy to look at the names this tree provided and the circumstantial evidence connecting Stephen and Jerusha to Thomas Griffin, and absorb this into my tree. When I started really looking at these individuals carefully and trying to apply a standard of proof to their relationship, it just wasn't there.

I believe it's quite likely that Thomas was the son of Stephen and Jerusha Thorne of Mamaroneck.  I just can't prove it.  I also don't know what to make of the Scranton issue.  There was clearly a Scranton connection in my family.  My second great-grandfather, John Griffin, son of Thomas Griffin, was born there.  Thomas and Eliza Griffin lived there for a time.  It just doesn't seem possible that the Stephen Griffin who settled there in 1794 was the father of Thomas Griffin.

This family never fails to frustrate, but I will continue to search for answers.