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‘Altogether fitting and proper’

‘Altogether fitting and proper’
‘Altogether fitting and proper’
Harrison County historian Frederick Porter Griffin, 88, draws praise Sunday during the ceremony naming the Carnegie Library in Corydon after Griffin. On his left, library chair Dr. Leonard Waite, Maxine Brown, Larry Ordner and Christine Pendleton applaud. (Photo by Sean M. Schoen)

Beneath a clear-blue sky and chilling breeze, a crowd of about 250 people applauded the Harrison County Public Library board’s dedication by proclamation Sunday afternoon of the Carnegie Library to Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy.
Moments after the 88-year-old historian, joined by family, arrived at the library on Beaver Street in a white, horse-drawn carriage, Dr. Leonard Waite, chair of the library board, welcomed the crowd.
Introducing Griffin, Waite pointed out Griffin’s many publications and honors. In 1979, Griffin received the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor and was presented the state’s highest honor, Sagamore of the Wabash by Gov. Otis R. Bowen, in 1987 by Gov. Robert D. Orr, and again in 1997 by Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon.
While many have been named a Sagamore, Waite said few have been so designated three times.
Waite introduced three Harrison Countians who spoke of Griffin’s contributions to society: Maxine Brown, curator of the Leora Brown School; Larry Ordner, editor of the pictorial compilation of Corydon, ‘A Place to Belong,’ and retired school teacher Christine Pendleton, library board trustee.
Brown thanked Griffin for the research and the data he has compiled on blacks in Harrison County.
‘They were all productive citizens in our community who most of us didn’t know,’ she said. ‘Thanks to Fred Griffin, I have come to know them well, not just as faceless memories.
‘Thanks to Fred’s diligence, we have extensive files on every one of them. Thanks, Fred, for preserving the history of the community.’
Ordner noted how fitting it was to honor Griffin in person for his deeds.
‘The simple fact is we humans have the best intentions, but we’re not at our best when it comes to recognizing’ a person, he said.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Ordner said, ‘ ‘It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.’ ‘
‘He made lives better for being here,’ Ordner said. ‘So it is with Fred Griffin.’
He added: ‘With Fred, the job is never done. Every day is a new day in history.’
‘This was indeed an unexpected honor,’ said a smiling Griffin, clad in a tan sport coat, bright red vest and dark brown slacks, following a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.
‘Corydon’s main product is history,’ said Griffin, never one to miss a chance to remind all of the town’s status as the First State Capital. ‘No other can boast of that.’
As one speaker after another referred to Griffin’s deeds and accomplishments, Griffin said:
‘If all that has been happening, no wonder I’m so tired in my old age!’ he said to laughter, and added sincerely: ‘Thanks to all who came today, and thank you for being my friend.’
By proclamation of the library board, Waite officially named the recently restored library for Griffin.
Corydon’s town board president Fred Cammack and Ordner unveiled a short black and white sign (to be replaced with a stone one when it’s completed) on the east side of the steps. By proclamation, Waite officially named the library for Griffin. Together, they climbed the steps to the front door, where Griffin cut the red ribbon, once again to applause.
He then greeted well-wishers in the library, and after that attended the reception next door in the new Harrison County Public Library, where cider and cookies were served. Music was provided by David Thompson of Corydon.
One of Harrison County’s newest citizens, Jim Epperson, director of the Harrison County Convention and Tourism Bureau, said:
‘In the past year I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much history and depended on Fred so much to help get me up to speed on the past, I am grateful.
‘Even for a newcomer, I could tell it was a proper tribute.’
Later, Griffin declared the afternoon a wondrous event. He said he was most impressed that so many people turned out for the ceremony. ‘I saw so many people that had touched my life in one way or another.’
He added: ‘I was happy that my family could be with me, the Griffins as well as the Ashtons (ancestors of his late wife, Eleanor).
‘I just couldn’t believe it; I just couldn’t believe it.’