Library to honor Griffin
It’s almost impossible to enter the well-preserved Carnegie Library in Corydon without feeling the influence of Frederick Porter Griffin, now 88.
Harrison County’s historian emeritus is a living, breathing repository of local genealogical and historical information. He spends hours each week in the subdued light of the restored Carnegie Library studying family trees or doing research at the sturdy wooden tables between the bookshelves crammed with local history, much of which he has collected, organized, written and donated. With help from Jill Harrison of Byrneville, a former Corydon Capital State Historic Site guide, Griffin is getting ready to release his most recent effort, a history of Corydon buildings and who lived there.
In addition to his own books and extensive Griffin family history files, Griffin has given three boxes containing hundreds of black and white photographs to the library. Those were combined recently with Kenneth Flock’s estate’s 13-volume collection of about 500 pictures from old Corydon Democrat files, all carefully cataloged and covered in plastic by genealogy department supervisor Jim Burnside.
Griffin’s exhaustive genealogical files on approximately 1,000 local families fill 12 heavy, fireproof file cabinets that his late wife, Eleanor, thought they should provide for the library. Eleanor, a nurse, died on Thanksgiving Day 2000. They had been married 46 years. Both came from families that had lived in Harrison County for generations.
Although Griffin retired in 1983 from the family dry goods business that had flourished through four generations at two different locations on the square in Corydon for 117 years, he’s practically on-call 24 hours a day, said library executive director Vi Eckart. He answers questions from the library staff and researches inquiries from local people and elsewhere throughout the United States. ‘He can tell us so much from memory,’ Eckart said.
Because Frederick Porter Griffin has been such an important part of the Harrison County Library through the years, the library board started thinking a year ago about how it could properly honor him. They decided to name the Carnegie Library after him. It will be called the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy.
‘This has been his lifetime work,’ said Eckart. ‘This will be a good tribute to Fred Griffin for his life-long work and wonderful contributions with the historical data he’s compiled, his collection of genealogy and local history.’ He and Eleanor served a total of 20 years on the board of the Corydon Public Library, which later became the Harrison County Public Library.
The dedication ceremony will take place Sunday, Nov. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Carnegie Library on Beaver Street, behind the new Harrison County Public Library (formerly the Old Capital Bank and Trust Co.). Weather permitting, the ceremony will take place outside the front of the Carnegie Library, and the public is encouraged to attend. In case of bad weather, the program will take place in the Harrison County library.
There will likely be five speakers in addition to Griffin: library board president Dr. Leonard Waite, who will give the welcome; Corydon native Larry Ordner, who edited the photo history book about Corydon, ‘A Place to Belong’; Maxine Brown, the curator of the Leora Brown School in Corydon; Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack, and concluding remarks by Christine Pendleton, a member of the library board.
Light refreshments will be served. David Thompson, the field commander of the Corydon Central Vanguard, will entertain with classical guitar music.