REESE H. GRIFFITH, one of the leading merchants of Rushville, is an American by adoption, his native land being Wales; there he was born November 5, 1824. His parents were Humphrey and Mary (Davies) Griffith, the latter a native of Hanover, Wales. His father was reared in the Independent faith, and became a minister of that denomination in Wales. In 1825 he, with his wife and one child, sailed from Liverpool for America. Landing in this country he settled in Somers, Westchester county, New York, where he was pastor of the Presbyterian Church until 1832. He then removed to Michigan Territory, and located in Tecumseh, Lenawee county. Michigan was then a wilderness, and the greater part of the land was owned by the Government. Mr. Griffith purchased a tract near Tecumseh, in which place he was later called to the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church, he being the second minister of the society. His family had remained in Detroit while he was preparing a home for them in Tecumseh. In the fall he started back for them, but was taken ill at Ypsilanti, where he died. Thus his wife was left a widow with four small children, one of whom died soon after the father. Fortunately for her and those dependent on her, she was a woman of superior education and unusual energy. To support herself and children, she opened a select school in Tecumseh and became prominent among the early educators of that State. In addition to providing for her family, she lifted a heavy indebtedness that rested upon the land purchased by her husband. Her last days were passed in Rushville, Illinois, where she died in 1877, in her seventy-ninth year. The three children, who attained a mature age, were: Reese H., the subject of this notice; Humphrey, who died in Sacramento, California; and Theophilus D., a resident of Kansas City, Kansas.
Reese H. was an infant when his parents crossed the sea to this country, and was but eight years old when his father died. He was thus reared and educated by his mother, who, fortunately for him was a woman of unusual intelligence and activity. He later attended a branch of the Michigan University, and when nineteen years of age commenced to teach, which profession he followed in Michigan for nine years. He then went to northern Alabama, and was engaged for five years in teaching in Florence. In the spring of 1852 he came to Rushville, Illinois, where he taught school one year, which terminated his career in that capacity. He next embarked in the hardware business, in which he has been very successful. He, his son Charles and a nephew, Humphrey Griffith, compose the corporation under the firm name of the Griffith Hardware Company.
Mr. Griffith was married March 15, 1852, to Susan P. Stebbins, an estimable lady, a native of Simsbury, Connecticut, and a daughter of Samuel S. and Laura (Bester) Stebbins, also natives of that State. They have six children: Charles, Effie, Harry, Edwin, Laura and William. The nephew, Humphrey Griffith, has been a member of the home circle since early youth, and is esteemed as a son. The parents and children are members of the Presbyterian Church.
Politically, Mr. Griffith was formerly a Whig, and cast his first vote for Zachary Taylor. Since the formation of the Republican party, he has been a supporter of its principles, and has served that party in various positions of trust. He has been a delegate to numerous county, district and State conventions; and in 1892 was alternate delegate from his district to the National Republican convention at Minneapolis. He also takes a prominent part in all church matters of his denomination. He has always taken a deep interest in Sabbath school work, has served as president of the Illinois State Sabbath school Association, and was the first president of the Schuyler county Sunday School Association, having been a member of the executive committee of the latter society since its organization. In 1861 he acted as delegate to the Presbyterian Conference at Syracuse, New York, and went to New York in the same capacity in 1889.
It is a matter of congratulation that Rushville should have a man of such superior intelligence and morality, for though this combination is very pleasing, it is too often conspicuous for its absence. He who founds his life on these lines builds with success, and is eminently worthy of the esteem of all good men.