The following history of the Griffith Family is excerpted from the personal records of the late Davis Griffith-Cox (1941–2023), who established the homeplace as a public museum several years prior to his death.
“From the moment my Griffith and Clark forebearers set foot on Texas soil, there seems to have been great awareness of their roles in the formation of the state’s history and an ardent desire to preserve it.
“My own great-great-grandfather, William Clark, signed the Texas Declaration of lndependence and helped secure it. His son was a legislator for years.
“My great-grandfather, L.E. Griffith, M.D., was intimately associated with Sam Houston, Rusk, Henderson, Ogeltree, Three-Legged Willie and numerous other pioneers who helped shape the history of the state of Texas. Dr. Griffith listed Houston as his first patient after he arrived in Texas Dr. Griffith is credited with saving Houston’s leg after he was wounded at the Battle of San Jacinto.
“Dr. Griffith described these relationships and memories in an interview for Brown’s Indian Wars & Pioneers of Texas, 1896, (see excerpt below). He bought Thomas Rusk’s old home and the land that is now Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.
“Our cousin, Gen. John Summerfield Griffith, fought for the Confederacy, ultimately becoming a Texas state legislator he is considered key to the establishment of Rockwall County and the Terrell State Hospital.
“My grandfather, L.E. Griffith Jr., likewise realized the merit of his Texas heritage and helped establish Stephen F. Austin University. His will bequeathed the formerly adjacent property, Griffith Park, to the city. My grandfather’s idea that a specimen of every tree grown in Texas should be raised on these grounds ultimately resulted in the establishment the state Forestry Department, which has since earned national acclaim for its preservation efforts.
“My grandfather and my uncle, Tom B. Griffith, helped save and reestablish the Old Stone Fort, which was rebuilt at the intersection of Griffith and Clark boulevards adjacent to the campus. It was my Uncle Tom who helped co-found Sons of the S.D.I.T. and Republic of Texas.”
The following description of Dr. L.E. Griffith Sr. is excerpted from the book “Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas,” written by John Henry Brown and published in 1896.
Dr. L.E. Griffith Sr. was born at Clarksburg, Maryland, on Jan. 9, 1813. His parents were the Rev. Alfred Griffith, a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Miss Catherine School Griffith, a native of Maryland.
(Dr. Griffith) left his home in the spring of 1836 and came to Texas and located at San Augustine, nine days after the battle of San Jacinto, and there practiced his profession of medicine until 1842, in which year he moved to Paris, in Lamar County, Texas.
He remained there but a short time, as the country was so sparsely settled that there was not much business for physicians. Paris at that time contained but two log houses. In the larger one of these were kept the county records, together with groceries, general merchandise and whisky, which was a leading article of traffic and untaxed. It was a rare thing to see a drunken man, notwithstanding nearly everybody drank liquor, it being considered a great medicine and preventive of chills. In the other building was a blacksmith shop.
The same year, Dr. Griffith went to Clarksville, in Red River County. In the winter of 1846, the Doctor moved to Sabine County, near Milam, then the county seat, where he practiced medicine for about 12 years, removing to Nacogdoches in January 1857, where he remained for 27 years, engaged in the practice of his profession and merchandising.
In the spring of 1883, he moved to Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas, where he has since resided.
He was an active practitioner for upwards of 50 years and was familiarly acquainted with nearly all of the noted men of Texas of early days.
Gen. Sam Houston was his first patient in Texas, the Doctor attending (Houston) after his return from New Orleans, where the General had gone to receive medical and surgical attention after having been wounded in the battle of San Jacinto.
For a time during 1846, while the Mexican War was in progress, Dr. Griffith was in charge of a field hospital at San Antonio.
Eight children have been born to Dr. Griffith, four of whom, three boys and one daughter, are living. His wife dying some years since, his maiden daughter has charge of the household and is caring for him in his declining years.
One of his sons, L.E. Griffith Jr., is in the drug business at Terrell; another son, Dr. W.C. Griffith, is a practicing physician at Terrell, Texas, and the third son, T.B. Griffith, is engaged in the land, loan and insurance business at Terrell, Texas.
Although Dr. Griffith is quite a small, spare man, bis general health is much above the average, and he bids fair to reach the one hundred years mark.
Rather retiring in disposition, he is very jovial and talkative when once interested and can relate anecdotes and reminiscences of early days in Texas which are very interesting.
Following is a list composed by the late Davis Griffith-Cox describing the large collection of historic household items, artwork, books, and family heirlooms within the Griffith Homeplace. Many of these items can be seen in the virtual 3D tour on our homepage.
These books are available for purchase at Books and Crannies bookstore in downtown Terrell, Texas. Visit them online or call (972) 563-5481.