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|HISTORY OF TOLLAND COUNTY, CONNECTICUT
by J. R. Cole
W. W. Preston & Co. New York 1888
Page 480 – 483
Rockville Public Library, Rockville, CT
CHAUNCEY WRIGHT GRIGGS was born in Tolland, Connecticut, December 31st, 1882, which town had for four generations been the family home. The Griggs family came from England to the New World quite early in its history, and have since that time figured prominently among that class of their fellow-citizens, honorable and honored, who have given America her reputation for virtue and valor. In the church, in politics and in their country's battles they have always been leaders. The honors of Captain Chauncey Griggs, the father of the subject of this sketch, as an officer in the war of 1812, as deacon in the Congregational church of Tolland, and as a member of the state legislature for a number of years, were no other than any one would have predicted for the heir of his family history. Colonel Griggs' mother was Heartie Dimock, and through her he is connected with the nobility of England; the Dimocks in New England, through Elder Thomas Dimock, an early settler of Barnstable, Mass., tracing their descent from the Dimocks of England, who from the time of Henry the Second to that of Victoria, have held and exercised the office of hereditary champion of the kings of England, and for their services have been knighted and baronetted. The direct line of barons failed in the early part of this century. On this side the Atlantic the Dimocks have always been influential and worthy citizens, and were especially prominent in the revolutionary war, many of them being officers in the army.
Colonel Griggs received a common school education in Tolland, and at about the age of 17 went to Ohio, where he was for a short time clerk in a store. Returning home he finished his education by graduating at the Monson Academy, Massachusetts, at that time one of the best institutions of its kind. He taught school for a time, and went West finally in 1851; starting first in Detroit in a bank, then in Ohio again in the mercantile business, then to Iowa, then back to Detroit, where he was for a time engaged with one of his brothers in the furniture business. In 1856 we find him in St. Paul, running a supply store, contracting, speculating in real estate, etc.
April 14th, 1859, he married Martha Ann Gallup, of Ledyard, Conn., and the honor of whatever success he has achieved in life must be shared fully with her, one of the noblest of women, who has given him honorable sons and daughters, and has filled an important social position in St. Paul with dignity and grace. She has been especially prominent in church and charitable work, having held various positions in the Protestant Orphan Asylum Board, of which body she was for many years the honored president. Their children are: Chauncey Milton, born February 19th, 1860; Herbert Stanton, born February 27th, 1861; Heartie Dimock, born December 12th, 1866; Everett Gallup, born December 27th, 1868; Theodore Wright, born September 3d, 1872, and Anna Billings, born June 17th, 1874.
In 1861 Colonel Griggs organized a company for the Third Minnesota infantry, and was, for honorable and brave service, promoted through the various grades to that of colonel, and undoubtedly would have been brevetted general had he not been obliged to resign in 1863 on account of sickness.
Returning to Minnesota, he was for some years located at Chaska, a small town some thirty miles west of St. Paul, engaged in the brickmaking business, dealing in wood, contracting for the government and railroads, etc., also representing his county as state representative.
He returned to St. Paul in 1869, and his progress from that time was rapid in politics and business. Until 1887 he was a prominent coal and wood merchant, at first in partnership with J. J. Hill, now president of the Manitoba Railroad, then with General R. W. Johnson and finally with A. G. Foster. He organized and was for some time president of the Lehigh Coal and Iron Company, but in the spring of 1887 sold out his entire interest in the fuel business.
While better known in connection with his fuel business, he was always interested in a great many other ventures, in anything, in fact, which promised good rewards for energy, push and ability. He has been particularly prominent as an investor in lands, having handled much property in the twin cities, and throughout Minnesota, Dakota and Wisconsin. Of late his investments have been in the pine lands of Wisconsin and in Montana property. He is prominent, too, as a wholesale grocer, having in 1883 formed a partnership with others as Glidden, Griggs & Co., and having now a large moneyed interest in the firm of Yanz, Griggs & Howes, one of the largest wholesale grocery firms in the Northwest, in which firm also he has placed as a member his eldest son, Chauncey Milton Griggs.
In the future, however, Colonel Griggs will be known as one of the millionaire lumber men of the Pacific coast, and together with Henry Hewitt, Jr., formerly of Menasha, Wis., as having carried through undoubtedly the largest lumber purchase ever made.
In May, 1888, these two gentlemen obtained from the Northern Pacific Railroad contracts for the sale of some eighty thousand acres of land and timber lying near the city of Tacoma, Washington Territory. This is the finest body of timber in the United States and will cut from eight to ten billion feet. Associated with many other prominent men in the East and West, as the St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company, with Colonel Griggs as president, they are now establishing lumber plants on an enormous scale in Tacoma,. viz.: two large mills with a cutting capacity of two hundred million feet per year, employing from five to seven thousand men.
When it is remembered that Colonel Griggs had made his million already, and at the time of the above purchase was fifty-six years of age, with a large family and one of the finest homes in the Northwest, we can appreciate the energy and ambition of the man who can leave such a home and become a pioneer in a new country and a new business. As founder and president of a company commanding so much capital and with such magnificent prospects before it, Colonel Griggs is sure to occupy for some time a foremost position in the business world. Judging from his past record we may predict new and enlarged honors in his new and enlarged field of action. He has made Tacoma his permanent home.
Colonel Griggs has for years been prominent in banking circles, being a stockholder and director of three banks and vice-president of one. His record as a banker is given in the recently published "History of Banks and Banking in the United States." In person he is tall, well proportioned, of fine presence, with handsome features and erect figure. In politics he has always been a strong, conservative democrat, but never has supported a corrupt official or candidate or a questionable party measure. He was a member of the state house of representatives in Minnesota two terms and state senator three terms. He was city alderman for seven terms in St. Paul, and since his retirement from the active personal politics of the city has held positions of honor and trust on various city committees and boards, his eminent financial and executive ability making his services invaluable. His public offices have always been public trusts. In religion he is a Congregationalist, always responding liberally to the needs of the church. By his generosity the life of more than one decrepit or infant church has been renewed.
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