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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Nathaniel A. Griffith

With Nathaniel Griffith agriculture is a science to be carefully studied, continually improved and indefatigably pursued. No carelessness or laxity on his part is indulged in, thus preventing risks in the successful and complete utilization of the great forces of nature at his command. When he first located on his present ranch in Sonoma county he undertook the raising of grapes, with a few acres of mixed apples. The Gravenstein variety proving the best adapted to this soil, he gradually replaced the vines and other varieties of apples with Gravensteins, of which he is today the largest and most successful grower in this section of Sonoma county. All that is his today is the result of his individual effort after a careful and comprehensive study of the best method to pursue in the cultivation of the apple, and results are abundant evidence that he has made no mistake in singling out the Gravenstein variety as his specialty, in the cultivation of which he is an authority throughout this section.

The earliest recollections of Mr. Griffith are of a home in Iowa, where he was born in 1850, the son of Thomas and Lucy (Bell) Griffith, the former a native of Kentucky, and the latter of Indiana. The father is now deceased, but the mother is still living, having attained the good old age of eighty years. The early married life of the parents was passed on a farm in Wapello county, Iowa, and it was in this community that Nathaniel A. was reared and educated, and it was there too that he gained his first knowledge of practical agriculture. By the time he was twenty-four years of age Iowa seemed limited in its opportunities and in removing further west he found larger scope for his ambition. After an experience of nine years in Nevada he came to California in 1883. At that time he purchased seventy-eight acres of land near Santa Rosa, but in the meantime has disposed of a portion of his land, now owning fifty acres. At the time of purchase the land was uncultivated and altogether unpromising in appearance, but he undertook the task of cultivation with a will, and while not altogether successful at first, has persevered until he is now one of the most successful ranchers in the county. In addition to twenty-four acres in grapes, he planted several acres to mixed apples, but study and experience proved beyond question the superiority of the Gravenstein, and the greater part of his ranch, thirty-five acres is now in this variety of apple, one of the largest bearing orchards of this variety in the county. For several years he picked and marketed the fruit himself, but since then he has sold his crops on the trees to the packers Frank Simpson & Co., of Los Angeles. The average returns from his apple orchard for the past few years have been $5,000, an excellent showing and one which is well deserved by this intelligent and thrifty rancher.

Mr. Griffith's marriage in 1882 united him with Miss Ida J. Fleming, a native of New Jersey. The eldest of the four children born of this marriage is Guy F., born in November, 1883, who is at home and assisting in the care of the home ranch; Grace M., born in May, 1885, is the wife of Charles B. Allison, of Santa Rosa; Alice F., born in July, 18986, is still at home, as is also Nellie B., born in 1890. Mrs. Griffith's parents were both natives of the east, the father born in New Jersey and the mother in New York state. Politically Mr. Griffith may be said to be independent, adhering to neither of the great political bodies, but voting for the man possessing the highest principles combined with his ability for the office in question.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011