Monday, September 15, 2008

Carter Griffin

Mr. Griffin was a resident of Port Tobacco from around 1840-1860. He is mentioned in all three censuses in that timeframe. The 1840 census doesn't give us much information to go on other than his name and possible age (35). The census of 1850 lists him as 45, and the 1860 census as 55 years old.

So what's so special about Carter Griffin? From the census data, the only thing that stands out is his financial state in 1850-1860. During that time, his personal value almost tripled from $2500 to $6000. His real estate value went from nothing to $5000 during that time. Mr. Griffin was a wheelwright and up until when the automobile took off in the early 20th Century, wagons and horses were still the best overland transportation next to the railroad. So imagine if you will, traveling in a wagon and going from place to place on dirt roads. Pretty bumpy ride. And wagons didn't have rubber wheels or shocks to help with the comfort level of the ride. (they did have metal leaf springs that weren't very different from those on automobiles today.) A typical wheel prior to the Civil War was made out of wood with a metal tire on the outside.

Now we know that around 1857 the Atzerodt brothers (you remember them, right?) supposedly had a carriage shop in Port Tobacco. They certainly would have needed the services of a wheelwright. Could there be a connection here? It's possible that there was a business venture between the two brothers and Carter Griffin.

I will ask our wonderful volunteer, Elsie, to look at the Port Tobacco Times abstract for any information on Carter Griffin and then post an update if anything comes up. And Elsie, since I know you read this, thank you in advance.

- Peter

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