A HISTORY OF THE CLARENCE FRANKLIN GRIFFIN, SR. AND IDA GRIFFIN FAMILY
By Mrs. Mary Ida Ligon and J. Clark Griffin
Clarence Franklin Griffin, Sr., was born in Kountze, Texas, on July 17, 1886, the son of Thomas Jefferson Griffin and Sarah Jane Lyon. When Frank was seven years old, his parents moved to Woodville, Tyler County, where Thomas was a farmer and Sarah Jane was the hotel proprietor. The Woodville school ran only through the eighth grade when Frank was a boy, but Frank's favorite joke was that he had gone to school only one day in his older brother Carl's place.
His father, Thomas J. Griffin (d. September 19, 1914) was born in Mobile, Alabama, on March 17 1844, and moved with his parents to the northend of Beaumont, Texas (near the French School), where his first employment was at a brickyard. About 1859, the family moved to Hardin County, Texas, where T. J. Griffin was enumerated in the 1860 census. His father, James Griffin (b. April 28, 1809-d. July, 1890) was of English parentage, and his mother Sarah Ann Jones, was born in Mobile, Alabama, on April 28, 1820.
Sarah Jane Lyon Griffin was born on October 4, 1851, in Quitman, Mississippi. Her father, Elisha Lyon (b. Ca 1791-d. November, 1851), was a lawyer, born in Scotland, and her mother, Sarah Woodard Nieson (b. Ca. 1808-d. October, 1867) was from Ireland.
According to his Civil War pension application, Thomas Jefferson Griffin enlisted in Company D, Col. A. W. Spaight's 11th Texas Battalion in January, 1862, and served until the Civil War ended. His unit was basically a Tyler County company, commanded by Captain W. J. Spurlock, who, along with four privates of his company, were killed at the Battle of Fordoche Bayou, Louisiana, in September, 1863. At a subsequent engagement in Louisiana, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, fought on May 6, 1864, another Company D soldier, Private Jackson Risinger of Woodville, was killed and several others of that company were wounded. Company D was mustered out of service on May 24, 1865, at Beaumont, and T. J. Griffin applied for his Civil War pension on July 31, 1909.
On September 30, 1907, Frank Griffin married Ida Clementine Johnson. She was born in Woodville, Texas, on March 17, 1887, the daughter of Judge William Andrew Johnson and Mary Jane Clark Johnson. Before her marriage, Ida Griffin taught school at both Woodville and Rockland, Texas.
Soon after their marriage, Frank and Ida Griffin moved to Beaumont, where Frank was a brakeman for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. While living there, their first two children were born, C. Frank Griffin, Jr., on April 14, 1909, and John Clark Griffin on March 12, 1912.
Around 1913, the Griffin family moved to Port Arthur, where Frank continued his career with the railroad, and where son Goodwin Griffin was born on January 22, 1915, and son Wilbur Ivins Griffin was born on July 28, 1917. In Port Arthur, the Griffin family became close friends of the Raymond Ivins family, who later, would once more induce the Griffins to become their neighbors in Nederland. On August 16, 1915, a devastating hurricane, driving a large tidal wave in front of it, swept into Port Arthur and inundated Proctor Street with salt water to depths of two to six feet in places. Frank Griffin sought refuge for his family in the Kansas City Southern depot, while his home on Tenth Street, was flooded with more than one foot of water inside.
In 1919, the Griffin family moved back to Woodville, although Frank was working out of Colmesneil at that time. He ran the local wood yard, which supplied firewood to the Tyler County courthouse, schools, and business buildings. While living at Woodville, their first daughter, Mary Ida Griffin, was born on August 20, 1920.
In 1921, the Frank Griffin family moved to Nederland and built their home at 104 Thirteenth Street, on the exact spot where the First United Methodist Church stands today. The R. P. Ivins family, who had been their neighbors in Port Arthur, lived across the street at 103 Thirteenth. Frank went to work at that time for The Texas Company (Texaco) refinery in Port Arthur, first as a railroad brakeman, and later he served many years as the company yardmaster. He retired in 1951, following thirty years of employment there. He suffered a near-fatal ruptured appendix on Christmas Day of 1950.
The last two Frank Griffin children were born in Nederland, a son, Fred Lindsey Griffin, born on February 14, 1923, and another daughter, Willie Jane Griffin, born on January 9, 1929.
Frank and Ida Griffin were charter members of the Church of Christ, and they raised their seven children in a disciplined, loving Christian atmosphere. They had sixteen grandchildren. As of 1991, there are now three step-grandchildren and four great great grandchildren.
Frank Griffin served on the Nederland School Board from 1926 until 1930. He served as Nederland City Judge from 1956 until 1961. In his every endeavor, he took his work most seriously and gave to it his best efforts and total devotion. Frank Griffin remained a longtime member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.
His wife, Ida Griffin, was a longtime member of the Rebekah Lodge and the Ladies' Aid Society of the Christian Church. Both she and her husband strove diligently to be good parents, Christians, neighbors, and community members, and as a result, they earned and commanded the respect of their peers and neighbors.
Among their siblings, Frank and Ida Griffin each had ten brothers and sisters, and of the total of twenty siblings, the Frank Griffin family of seven brothers and sisters is the only one in which all of the children are still alive (as of February, 1991).
C. Frank Griffin, Jr., the oldest child, married Hazel Lee Myers of Griffing Park, Port Arthur, on June 14, 1934. They currently live in Baytown, and are parents of one aughter, Carolyn Ann, who has two children and two grandchildren.
John Clark Griffin married (1) Ruby Shires of Port Neches on June 23, 1932. They had three children, Jerry Clark, Marscha Eva, and Vickie Marie. Ruby Griffin died on October 26, 1962. Later Clark Griffin married (2) Edna Spalding of Port Neches on May 29, 1964. Edna was the mother of one son, George. They now have seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Goodwin Griffin married Bobbie Williamson on January 21, 1937. They have three sons, Wilbur Dale, Earnest Kent, and Mark Scott, as well as six grandchildren.
Wilbur Ivins Griffin, known as "Nook" Griffin, married Rowena Herbert in May, 1943, in California. They have two children, Jeffrey Wayne and Shawna Gail, and one grandchild. They currently reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Mary Ida Griffin married Rayford Scott Ligon of Lewisville, Texas, on July 3, 1948. They had two daughters, Ida Kathryn and Frances Raye. Rayford Ligon died on March 1, 1971, Mary Ida Ligon has three grandchildren, and all of her family live in Houston.
Fred Lindsey Griffin married LaVera Shepard of Port Neches. They are parents of two sons, Philip Lindsey and Craig, and they have three grandchildren.
Willie Jane Griffin married (1) Jasper Steve Snyder of Charlotte, North Caroliana, on March 25, 1948. They had three children, Jasper Steve, Mary Janelle, and James Franklin. On June 30, 1977, Willie Jane Snyder married (2) Donald Edward Fontenot, who had two children, Ronald and Donna Lynn. Don and Willie Jane have thirteen grandchildren.
About 1956, shortly before the current sanctuary of First United Methodist Church was built, Frank and Ida Griffin sold their home at 104 Thirteenth Street to the church. They then built a new home at 927 North Seventeenth Street, where they raised a garden and flowers and lived out their retirement years. Ida C. Griffin died at age 82 on October 29, 1969, and was buried at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches. Her widower, C. Frank Griffin, Sr., survived his spouse for two years, dying on November 14, 1971, at age 85, and he is buried beside his wife in Port Neches. Although they had burial plots in Woodville, Texas, they chose instead to be buried nearer to their children, grandchildren and their many friends in Mid-Jefferson County.
C. Frank Griffin and Ida Clementine Griffin loved their adopted city of Nederland, Texas, dearly, and they lived out their lives and reared their family in such a manner as to contribute to that city's progress and improvement. They are still remembered and are sorely missed by children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren, as well as a host of friends whose lives they touched.