Biography of John J. Griffin

John J. Griffin. There are several reasons for the success of John J. Griffin, superintendent at Iola of the Wichita Pipe Line Company, and these may be said to be energy, system and practical knowledge. The range of his activities had been large, but from the beginning of his career he had sought to work steadily and energetically for ultimate results, and had never been content to labor merely for the present. Self help had accomplished about all the worth-while things in the world, and as a general rule the men who have found success have not awaited the knock of opportunity, but have gone forth upon their own initiative to seek the rewards awaiting them in life.

John J. Griffin was born on the Allegheny River, at Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, New York, October 28, 1883, and is a son of John J. and Johanna (Quilter) Griffin. The family originated in Ireland, from which country the grandfather of John J. Griffin emigrated to Canada, and later removed to New York State, living there near Buffalo for some years. He subsequently became a police officer in Canada and was killed while engaged in the performance of duty during a riot in the Province of Ontario. John J. Griffin, the elder, was born in 1853, near the City of Buffalo, New York, and there passed his entire life. Like his father, he met a violent death while performing his duty, although his was in the line of railroad service, his death occurring in a wreck on the Erie Railroad, at Salamanca, in 1887, when he was serving in the capacity of conductor. Mr. Griffin was a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a democrat in politics, but took only a voter’s part in public matters. He married Johanna Quilter, who was born in 1855, in the Province of Ontario, Canada, and she survives him and resided at Sedalia, Colorado. They became the parents of three children, namely: Bessie A., who is the wife of Charles A. Merrow, agent for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and resided at Sedalia, Colorado; Patrick, who is a machinist by trade and lives at Fort Worth, Texas; and John J.

John J. Griffin received his education in the graded and high schools of Salamanca, New York, being graduated from the latter in 1901. He had lost his father when he was but four years of age, and from early youth had been taught the value of industry and had learned lessons of honesty and fidelity from a wise and attentive mother. In 1902 he went to Bucyrus, Ohio, where he became associated with his uncle, F. J. Quilter, who was master mechanic in the car shops of the Ohio Central Railroad. During the two years that followed Mr. Griffin was engaged in putting air brakes on engines and coaches, but at the end of this period was called to another line of endeavor. About the beginning of 1904 the Logan Natural Gas Company started operations in Ohio, and Mr. Griffin recognized and accepted the opportunity for gaining a knowledge of this business, as well as advancement in his career. He accordingly took a position as inspector, and in this capacity remained in the employ of the concern for about three years. However, during this period, he did not give his entire time to the company, for another interest claimed his attention for a part of each year. From the time that he was a boy, he had displayed remarkable prowess as a baseball player, and had secured a good training among a number of “sand-lot” and amateur teams in the neighborhood of his home in New York. In 1905 he was offered and accepted the position of first baseman with the Newark Baseball Club, in the Ohio State League, and in 1906 joined the Mobile, Alabama, Club, in the Southern League. He completed the season of 1906 with the latter club, became a decided favorite with the fans, batted and fielded well, and no doubt, had he chosen, could have become one of the stars in the national pastime. Mr. Griffin chose, however, a business career rather than one in which there are so many uncertainties as occur in baseball, and in 1906 came to Kansas, which state had since continued to be his home. He first located at Topeka, where he became inspector for the People’s Light, Gas and Power Company, having been induced to join this company’s forces by Thomas Griffin, an uncle, who was consulting engineer for the firm. In the capacity of inspector, Mr. Griffin assisted in installing the first natural gas appliances in the City of Topeka, a work in which he was engaged for one year, and then went to Wichita, where he became assistant superintendent of the Wichita Natural Gas Company. While occupying this position he put in the first natural gas appliances in that city, in the residence of ex-Governor Stanley. Mr. Griffin was next identified with the Kansas Gas and Electric Company, with which he remained six years, and then went to Emporia, where he established himself in business as the proprietor of a plumbing shop. After one year, in January, 1915, he came to Iola, and here became superintendent of the Wichita Pipe Line Company, a position which he had since retained. This company is operated by the Henry L. Doherty interests of New York City, and brings gas from the Cushing fields of Oklahoma, north through Caney, Neodesha and Chanute to Iola, supplying all the smelters, manufacturing plants, etc., and selling more industrial gas than any other pipe line in the State of Kansas. Mr. Griffin is an experienced man in his line of endeavor and had the full confidence of his associates and employers. His business offices are located in the Northrup Bank Building, at Iola, and his residence is at No. 415 South Jefferson Street. In political matters Mr. Griffin maintains an independent stand, preferring to use his own judgment in selecting candidates, rather than to depend upon party alliance. He had never been an office seeker himself, his entire time having been devoted to his business affairs, but he takes a good citizen’s interest in those things that affect the welfare and prosperity of his city and its people. He was reared in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, to which he had always been faithful. As a fraternalist, he belongs to Iola Lodge No. 569, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

In 1906, while a resident of Topeka, Kansas, Mr. Griffin was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Griffith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Griffith, the latter of whom is deceased, while the former is a resident of Chicago, Illinois, and an engineer in the employ of the Santa Fe Railroad. To Mr. and Mrs. Griffin there have come two children: Bess, who was born September 30, 1911; and Jack, born August 7, 1913.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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