Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Griffins

George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd

My great-grandfather, George Roscoe Oliver-Rutherfurd, was the oldest of five boys raised by their mother, Annie Dickson Rutherfurd, and her husband, Malcolm Brakspear Oliver-Rutherfurd. However, George was not Malcolm’s biological child. He was the son of Annie’s very brief first marriage to John T. Griffin, and was adopted by Malcolm Rutherfurd when he married Annie.

The Rutherfurds, of Edgerston, Scotland, have a long and storied history. But what of John T. Griffin?  My family knew very little about him until recently, when a little sleuthing turned up some details about George’s biological father.

John T. Griffin was born in November 1839 and was raised in New York. There, he married Ellen Pearsall.

Ellen and John had five children together:

Ella May Griffin b. 1862
Howard B. Griffin b. about 1864
Clarence Griffin b. about 1866
Milton A. Griffin b. about 1876
Harry Pearsall Griffin b. 1879

John worked as a ship’s carpenter, and at some point before 1876, he moved his family from New York to Canada, just outside Detroit. He made a living working on boats on the Great Lakes.

John and Ellen Griffin are found in the 1881 Canadian census for Amherstburg, Essex County, Ontario. His occupation is carpenter. Their children are: Ella, Howard, Clarence, Milton, and Harry.

Ellen died in 1890. After Ellen’s death John married Anne Amelia Dickson.

Anne "Annie" Amelia Dickson

Anne “Annie” Dickson was born in Sarnia, Canada on October 27, 1870. As a young woman of 23, she was working as a nurse in a hospital in Detroit when she met John Griffin. Family lore has it that John was a patient there, and a May-December romance bloomed. John was thirty years older than Annie, a widower with five children. On January 2, 1894, Annie and John were married in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada. My grandmother, LaVerne Smith, the only child of George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd, told me that Annie and John's honeymoon involved a long boat trip to Florida. The details of this trip are unknown. What is clear is that the romance quickly faded. John and Annie separated after the honeymoon, and were divorced in less than a year. However, by the time of the separation, Annie was pregnant.

During the marriage, Annie’s parents and siblings had moved from Canada to Douglas, Wyoming. One of Annie’s brothers took a job at a telegraph station there, and the rest of the family went with him. Pregnant and separated from her husband, Annie joined her family in Douglas in 1894.

George Roscoe Griffin was born on January 23, 1895 in Douglas, Wyoming. There is no indication that he was ever introduced to his biological father.

On April 29, 1897, Annie married Malcolm Rutherfurd, a Scottish immigrant. Malcolm and his brother Archibald had moved from Scotland to Wyoming and were running a ranch in Douglas. After the marriage, Malcolm adopted young George, who was known to most as “Roscoe.” His name was changed to George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd. Annie and Malcolm had four boys of their own, Malcolm, Archibald, Robert and Arthur, before Malcolm’s untimely death from pneumonia in 1913.

After his and Annie’s divorce, John Griffin married Elizabeth Rice in Windsor, Ontario, on September 4, 1899. They are found in the 1900 census living with her father, Lewis Rice, in Detroit, Michigan. John is listed as a son-in-law to Lewis. On this marriage document John’s parents are listed as Thomas Griffin and E. J. Carter.

There will be more to come about John’s parents and the lives of his children from his marriage to Ellen Pearsall.

We do not know when John Griffin died. There is also no indication that he had any contact with Annie or George after their separation in 1894. Although George knew he had a different father than his brothers, it was not something he ever discussed nor wanted to explore.

(Continue to The Griffins, Part II)

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post, I have wondered about Annie's first husband. Your cousin, Deborah Rutherfurd Andrus