Southern Vermont Mirror
Friday, August 7, 1903
Notwithstanding the unceasing rain on Tuesday, there was a very large attendance at the funeral of Mr. S. L. Griffith, and many people journeyed long distances by rail and team to pay their last sad respects to a beloved relative, former employer, valued business associate, or respected friend.
Anticipating a large attendance at the services in the afternoon, the body was placed in the church in the morning, and at nine o’clock the cover of the casket was removed and all who wished to do so were permitted to take a last look at the lifeless form and features of him who had for years been such an important factor in the business and social life of this community. There was an almost continual stream of visitors till the time appointed for the service, two o’clock. Notwithstanding the long journey of five days from California in the closed metallic casket, Undertaker Stearns was able to restore much of the natural appearance to the remains, and it was with sad countenances that all passed before the bier of their employer and friend.
An hour before the time fixed for the services to commence the church commenced to fill rapidly, and soon there were no vacant seats except those reserved for the mourners and the deceased’s business associates, among whom were the officials of the Baxter National Bank at Rutland, of which Mr. Griffith was vice-president and a director. The church becoming filled, the crowds congregated in the churchyard, where they stood in the rain, with bowed heads, during the progress of the services within. Hundreds of others, having viewed the remains, refrained from attempting to attend the services, and when the funeral procession reached the cemetery there were fully two hundred people gathered there, the majority of whom came from the vicinity of the cemetery or points beyond, and had made no attempt to go to the overcrowded church.
Preceding the services, Mr. J. Harry Engels of Rutland rendered in sweetly solemn tones upon the church organ Wagner’s “The Pilgrim’s Chorus” and Voigt’s “Night Shades,” after which the Episcopal burial service was read by Rev. Samuel Jackson of Burlington, who had been selected by Mr. Griffith to conduct the services. Miss Minnie E. Bushee of this village than sang the “Holy City,” which was followed by the reading of the Scripture lesson by Rev. William Jackson of Dummerston. A quartette, consisting of Miss Bushee, Mrs. D. A. Cocklin and Mr. E. C. Paige of Rutland and Mr. E. H. Miller of Brattleboro, then sang “There is a Green Hill Far Away,” and Rev. Sam.
There was such a large number of them that we will not attempt to give the names of those from out of town who attended the funeral. Among them, however we noticed Governor McCullough, Gen. E. L. Bates, Vermont’s secretary of civil and military affairs; M. J. Scouton of New Whatcom, Wash.; C. Whitney Tillinghast of Troy; A. B. Marshall of New York City, W. J. Bigelow of Burlington, and many others.
Mrs. Griffith desires to express her deep appreciation of the sympathy extended her, and kindly acts done in her behalf by so many old friends and neighbors of herself and her late husband, and wishes to thank each one of them therefor.
Tribute From a Business Competitor.
In this connection we are pleased to print a character sketch of Mr. Griffith from the pen of Mr. M. J. Hapgood, who on account of his continuity to Mr. Griffith has had exceptional advantages to study his life:
“Probably no other name has been as prominent in southeastern Vermont for a great many years as that of Silas L. Griffith. In many places, and in many respects, his, name has been a household word. Now that he is dead it is well for us to calmly consider some of his most prominent traits and the means by which he obtained his success and prominence.
“The youth and boys of today can well learn a deep lesson from his life. His early advantages were of the most meager character, and schoolmates of his all how that his scholarly qualifications were extremely limited. Mr. Griffith was a person who made full use of all of his opportunities—and that is the whole secret of his success. He had no vantage ground from which to start, but he ever used what strength was in him to the best and fullest purpose. He was a man who had a distinct aim for all his actions, who knew where and when and what to strike and who never expanded his strength in beating the air. He was a man intensely practical. He loved terseness and brevity and sought to reach the kernel of things by a direct thrust at the center.
“Mr. Griffith as an antagonist was a foeman worthy of any man’s steel; and the harder the contest the keener his enjoyment. His phrenological bump of combativeness was highly developed; and he had little respect for a man who would not stand up for his rights, even as against his own interests. Business with him was a game—to see which party would win—and it must be admitted that more often than otherwise he was himself the winner.
“Hospitality was with him a study—a part of the routine of daily affairs. I doubt if anyone in these parts has been able to bring it down to a finer point, and to cause guests to feel more at home and perfectly at ease in their surroundings—just as though they themselves owned it all. His parchment diploma of Doctor of Hospitality was well earned.
“Mr. Griffith was able to pass that supremest of all tests—he was a public spirited citizen. Even his friends were surprised at the utterly disinterested course of his actions during his senatorship. His political convictions were honest and no influence could induce him to swerve from them. Besides, he was keen in his insight into character.
“On the whole, thoughtful persons must acknowledge that Mr. Griffith’s death is a great loss to the community. His example as a man of wide-awake ideas was alone worth much. Although like all persons of decisive actions, he had his faults, but his virtues predominated. And it can safely be asserted that had he lived, the ensuing years of his life would have been largely devoted to matters of public welfare. His character and methods were so forceful and unique that it will be a long time before his like, or anything near his like, again appears among us.
“As the real intent and purposes of his heart, God alone only knows and must be the judge. As for me, although often the mark for his missiles as well as the recipient of his favors, one shining fact alone offers all due proof for my conviction. He loved the flowers well nigh to a passion. Even his office table was always decked with them, and there was no business care so absorbing as to long distract his attention from them. Flowers and music! Such love dwells not in hearts of baseness. Amid such companionship ill will and hatred cannot thrive.”