Griffin’s history lessons will live on for the ages
The Corydon Democrat continues its new feature for this year, ‘Top 26 of 2006,’ that takes a look at 26 people, places or things that our readers suggested make Harrison County a great place to live or work. The remaining 22 stories will be published before the end of the year.
Anyone who has ever researched an event or person with Harrison County connections has probably used resources provided by longtime historian Frederick P. Griffin of Corydon.
Griffin was born in Corydon and returned home to teach high school business classes after earning a degree from Indiana University in 1939. He eventually ran the family’s dry goods store until 1983.
He began assembling his own collection of local genealogy and history around the age of 13 and said everybody in his family kept newspaper clippings, family writings and other historical pieces of information.
Prior to Griffin’s official appointment in the early 1990s as county historian, he served in that capacity by self appointment. Many of the news articles Griffin accumulated over the years were compiled into two volumes of books, called ‘History of Corydon and Harrison County Indiana, A Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings,’ and he’s put together genealogical files on more than 900 Harrison County families.
In the last few years, Griffin has donated his records to the Harrison County Public Library. Most of them are housed in the old Carnegie library, which the library board renamed in 2003 the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy.
Anne Cabaniss, one of the readers who suggested Griffin as a Top 26, did so because he served as the county’s historian and made his collections available to the public.
Besides providing history in written form and pictures, Griffin was instrumental in the 2004 opening of the reconstructed Coburn-Porter Law Office in Corydon. The original law office was used by Henry P. Coburn, the second clerk of the Indiana State Supreme Court, who later sold the business to William A. Porter in 1837. Judge Porter was Griffin’s great-grandfather.
Fred Griffin and his brother, the late William M. (Tim) Griffin, provided the funds, research and artifacts for the Coburn-Porter Law Office, which is now part of the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site.
Griffin, who will celebrate his 91st birthday on Friday, was honored last year with a public birthday party.