DANBY’S GREAT LOSS.
By the Death of lion. S. L. Griffith Danby Has Received a Blow, the Effects of Which Will be Felt for Many Years to Come.
Although more or less prepared for the shock, the people of this community keenly felt the blow that was dealt them when the news of the death of Hon. S. L. Griffith reached here early last Wednesday morning. Mr. Griffith left us six months previous for a three or four months’ stay in Southern California, in the hopes that the mild climate of that region would greatly benefit his impaired health and permit him to return to his native town and put into force a number of cherished benefactions which involved the out-lay of a considerable part of the money accumulated here through the skillful prosecution of his vast lumber and large mercantile enterprises.
Though Mr. Griffith had been afflicted more or less with blood and skin diseases all his lifetime, they did not assume a dangerously virulent form till upwards of a year ago. Just a year ago he was confined to the house and was seriously ill for many weeks; but his condition afterwards became so much improved that he was able to make an extended trip into Iowa in the search of horses for use in his extensive lumber business during the then approaching winter. Shortly after this he decided to go to California and remain through the period when Vermont is wrapped in snow and the air uncomfortably keen and penetrating, even to people of rugged physique.
The subsequent purchase of the fine fruit ranch near San Diego is a matter that has been so recently told about in the MIRROR that we will not repeat the details—and for the same reason we will not biographically sketch his life. Our issue of May 29 contained such in-formation quite as fully as would now be possible to give it.
Mr. Griffith had fixed several dates for starting upon the long journey to his beloved Vermont home, but either his unsatisfactory physical condition or the hope that he would receive greater benefits by remaining in California a still longer time caused him to postpone his return. Had he started upon his journey home at the first appointed time his townsmen would have again had the pleasure of grasping his hand and knowing that he was again among them in the flesh. Had he re-turned to us weeks ago, however, it is not probable that it would have pro-longed his life—and it is possible that it would have hastened his death.
After fixing a date in June for his return to Danby, Mr. Griffith decided to go down into Mexico, to some noted hot springs, and he did so. Here he took what are termed mud baths—that is, was virtually buried in the hot mud of that locality for stated periods. We are told that this treatment was detrimental to his condition, rather than beneficial—in fact, it left him in a state that it made it impossible to then with-stand the fatigue of the long journey home, and his sufferings increased till death released him.
Mr. Griffith’s really dangerous condition was not fully realized here till the receipt of a telegraph message late last Saturday afternoon, which caused his head financial representative, Mr. Wilbur H. Griffith, to take the first train that would start him upon his journey to California. Within twenty-four hours another dispatch was received which expressed the fear that the latter would not arrive there in time to find his suffering employer alive.
As we have told our readers, Mr. Griffith had arranged for the erection of a handsome library building in this village and endowing it with a fund that would insure its perpetual maintenance. We presume the carrying out of this purpose is provided for in his will, but it is probable that there are many other benefactions of a similar nature that he had in mind that are forever lost to this community by Mr. Griffith’s untimely death—among them an electric light plant, a plant for the bottling of mineral and spring waters and carbonated beverages, the erection of a fine building for his mercantile business, tenement houses, and several others of a greater or lesser public benefit.
Some of our contemporaries, in their published accounts of Mr. Griffith’s death, have stated that he had donated an electric light plant to this village. Such, however, is not the case. He has had in mind the installation of such a plant as a business proposition in connection with his own needs in the way of lighting facilities but he well knew that the people of this village would not undertake the burden of the maintenance of such a plant with the limited demand that now exists.
Negotiations are also in progress for the sale of about all of Mr. Griffith’s timber land holdings, and parties still hold options on the same, which do not expire till the middle of next month. General Manager Riddle was in New York the early part of this week with regard to the deal, but the holders of the options have not yet accepted or rejected any of them. Mr. Griffith’s death will not in any way prevent the deal going through, if the parties desire the property. Mr. Riddle thinks, how-ever, that it would be of advantage to the estate if the property is retained.
The latest advice received from California state that Mr. W. H. Griffith reached San Diego last night, and that they will start for Vermont with Mr. Griffith’s remains on Monday of next week. Funeral services will be held there before leaving, and the telegram states that the services here will be held at a date after arrival which has not yet been fixed. Starting on Monday, they will not arrive here before the following Friday, as it requires five days for the journey under favorable circumstances—and it is not improbable that the remains will not reach here before Saturday. It is expected that the funeral will not be held before Monday, August 3, and possibly later, as it is desired to give ample notice, that his many friends in all parts of the state may attend if they desire.
Mr. Griffith celebrated his sixty-sixth birthday on June 26th at “The Palms,” his handsome California residence. On this occasion there was much feasting and rejoicing, and the supposition is that Mr. Griffith injudiciously partook of too great a quantity of the good things that had been prepared for the feasting of his guests. At any rate, his condition almost immediately became more unfavorable, in consequence of which the trip to the Mexican hot springs was decided upon.
In accordance with Mr. Griffith’s expressed wishes, in speaking of his possible death some time ago, the works here and his business generally are going on uninterruptedly, and will probably do so until the funeral or the arrival of the body here. The office at the depot, and the store in this village have been draped in mourning, and every one of his hundreds of employees feels in his death a personal loss akin to that of a near and dear relative.
The little coterie of elderly men whom Mr. Griffith has been wont to entertain at his mountain lake resort every year feel, perhaps, his loss more keenly than many others, as their number has been already depleted by the death of two of them since their last gathering. Failing physical powers have also greatly incapacitated others, and it now seems that their annual gatherings have come to an end. Mr. Griffith had planned to give the “boys,” as they are familiarly called, their annual outing upon his return to Danby, but the unaccountable act of an all-wise Providence has disrupted his cherished plans and caused grief to become universal among his acquaintances.
We expect to be able to give more definite information regarding the holding of the funeral in our next issue, which will appear about the time of the supposed arrival of Mr. Griffith’s remains—also some additional facts concerning his death, which distance now prevents us securing for this issue. The disposition of his property will not be authoritatively known till the reading of his will, and it would be un-wise and unfair to offer any speculations regarding the provisions he has made in that respect. It is known that Mr. Griffith has for many years carried heavy insurance upon his life, but those who know the exact figures deem it prudent not to give them out for publication.