My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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FRANK GRINNELL, a miller and farmer in Miami Township, Greene County, is the occupant of one of the handsomest residences in the country round about, and the owner of a valuable piece of real estate. The farm comprises three hundred and thirty-five acres in one body, nearly all under cultivation and bearing the improvements which are commonly effected by men of enterprise and ambition. The dwelling now occupied by the family was completed in the fall of 1858 at a cost of about $10,000. Since 1862 Mr. Grinnell has also owned and operated the mill property, displaying in the management of both it and his farm the shrewdness, energy and perseverance which are characteristic of the natives of New England.

The Grinnell family is of French origin, the first settlement of the family in America being in the neighborhood of New Bedford, Mass. The grandfather of our subject was Cornelius Grinnell, a captain in the merchant marine service, who sailed from New York City principally. His family comprised seven sons and a daughter, named respectively, Cornelius, Jr., Joseph, Abram, Henry William, Silvia, Moses H. and James. Henry fitted out the first Arctic expedition to search for Sir John Franklin; Moses H. was the business manager of the firm of Grinnell, Minturn & Co., ship owners; Joseph was a member of Congress from New Bedford, Mass.; he was present in the House when John Quincy Adams fell over, dead, and caught the famous statesman in his arms.

Cornelius Grinnell, Jr., was a man of great business ability, who amassed a fortune prior to his death, which occurred at the early age of forty years. He entered the counting house of Post & Grinnell as a boy and worked up a position in the firm, but after a time sold out and invested his money in sperm oil and shipping, by means of which he made rapid accumulations. Although his own death occurred at so early an age, he belonged to a long-lived family, his father having lived to the age of ninety-three years, and his brother Joseph lived to be ninety-six years, three months and twenty days old. In the maternal line, also, our subject traces his ancestry to an old and honored family. His mother was Eliza T., daughter of Gilbert and Lydia (Morton) Russell. Of the ten children born to her five are now living. The maternal great-grandfather of our subject was Joseph Russell, in whose honor the city of New Bedford was named, as he bore the same name as the Duke of Bedford.

Frank Grinnell was the eighth child born to his parents, his natal day being November 5, 1821. He was educated in New Bedford, Mass., under the tuition of private instructors until sent to boarding school at South Kingston, R. I. After a time he was transferred to a school at Cambridge, Mass. He also attended an educational institution at Jamaica Plain and then at Northboro, where he was under the instruction of the Rev. Joseph Allen, now deceased. Upon reaching maturity he bought his father’s old country place known as the Potomska Place, near New Bedford, and also engaged in oil speculations for a time with his brothers. In 1846 he took a companion in life and settled down on the New Bedford farm, where he remained about eight years. He then turned his footsteps westward and June 9, 1855, arrived at Yellow Springs, Ohio. The old hotel was then owned by his uncle, Moses H. Grinnell, who still holds the title to ranch valuable land, now in the northern part of the city of Yellow Springs. Buying the farm and mill property which he yet owns, our subject began his residence in the Buckeye State, where he has since remained, winning success by diligence and prudence.

The lady who became the wife of our subject and who throughout their married life has manifested the qualities of noble womanhood, was formerly Miss Marion Gales Johnson, daughter of Robert R. Johnson, of North Carolina. She is a neice of William R. Johnson, who has a very prominent position among turf men, and of Gales and Seaton of the old National Intelligencer. The Gales family was of English ancestry and the Seatons of Scotch origin. Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell are the parents of nine children, all living. Cornelius H., who married Clara Saberton and is the father of two children, is a stockman in Wyoming; Altona Halstein became the wife of Bailey Willis, son of N. P. Willis, the poet; their home is in Washington, D. C., Mr. Willis being a member of the United States Geological Survey. They have one child. Robert J. married Adda Sylvie Goe, who has borne him four children; they live on his father’s place and he is now Trustee of Miami Township. Frank M. married Minnie H. Robison, has one child, and also lives on his father’s estate; Gales M. married Millie Goe and lives with his parents; Ernest A. is a widower; the next member of the family is Nellie W., who is unmarried and at home; William L., whose home is in Portland, Ore., married Ethel Galloway, and Morton R. is still with his parents.

Mr. Grinnell was originally a Whig and later a Republican. He has been active in political affairs so far as to work diligently for a pure ballot. By birthright he was a Quaker but has not retained his connection with that body; his wife is a member of the Episcopal Church. Mr. Grinnell takes a great pride in the ancestral history of both lines of his progenitors, justly feeling honored by their achievements and reputation, while in his own person he carries out the principles that brought them worldly success, and lives an honest industrious life. In the features of the portrait of Mr. Grinnell, which we herewith present, may be discerned some of the lineaments belonging to an old and worthy race of people.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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