HON. S. L. GRIFFITH.
Sketch of the Career of One of Vermont’s Most Successful Self-Made Business Men—Familiarly Known as the “Lumber King.”
Many of our readers have wondered why a sketch of the career of our honored townsman, Hon. S. L. Griffith, has not before appeared in the MIRROR. While this omission has perhaps appeared strange to our readers, it will not appear so when the reason is known. It has been our earnest desire from the beginning to print this sketch ; but, unlike some of our readers, we have realized the magnitude of the undertaking if complete justice were to be done to the subject. Mr. Griffith’s protracted illness, which came on even before the first issue of the MIRROR, has been a hindrance to our gathering the necessary data for such a sketch, much of which could be only supplied accurately by himself, and the limited capacity of the MIRROR’S modest printing plant and the inability to secure reliable help to man it until recently have deterred us from undertaking the task.
Much of the data for the compilation of this sketch was secured just prior to Mr. Griffith’s departure for California in the search of health, and in the matter of men employed in his business and other statistical facts and figures given were smaller than they would have been a few weeks later, as the force of workmen and teams was being daily increased and every branch of the business becoming more and more active till the height of the season was reached.
Silas L. Griffith was born June 26, 1837, in the town of Danby, his parents being David and Sophia Griffith, and is the second born of their family of four children—the others being Charles H., William B. and Mary, all of whom are living at the homestead of their late parents in this village.
Mr. Griffith attended the district school in this village till about sixteen years of age, when he entered the employ of Lapham & Bruce as clerk in their general store in this village, and continued in their employ for the larger part of two years. He then accepted a clerkship in the store of Mr. P. D. Ames at East Dorset, where he remained till about a year later, when he relinquished the position to enter upon a term of school in Kimball Union Academy at Meriden, N. H. Thus it was in the winter of 1855-56 that he and Mr. William Ames of East Dorset entered upon their term of schooling in that institution.
By frugal economy during his employ when in the stores above mentioned Mr. Griffith managed to save enough money to pay a term’s tuition in the academy, but had little left to provide for his living expenses during the period of study away from home. Consequently he and Mr. Ames decided to board themselves, and in this manner managed to complete the term and return home with empty purses but with a creditable addition to their stock of knowledge. Many hardships were experienced during the term, however, and it was only with the most strict economy that they were able to provide the necessities demanded by both hunger and cold—the thermometer registering forty degrees below zero, when they started on their return trip from the academy to their homes. Having learned from their study of physiology and hygiene that certain kinds of food possess more heat-giving properties than others, they decided to make buckwheat cakes and molasses their chief articles of diet while attending school as being the best adapted to fill this requirement as well as the important one of economy.
In the summer of 1857 Mr. Griffith had an opportunity offered him to teach school the following winter in a western town, and he forthwith set out for that point, stopping over at Buffalo to visit relatives. While there the memorable panic of that period set in. He had no money to take him farther along toward his destination, and nothing except gold and Canadian bank bills would be accepted as currency. He was, however, equal to the emergency —as he has been to every subsequent one that has occurred during his business career—and he engaged his services in the precarious occupation of rafting logs. While engaged in his work life received letters from home, urging him to return and open a general store in this village. But he had no money to pay his transportation expenses from Buffalo to Danby, to say nothing of the still greater sum needed to buy the stock of goods. It was finally arranged, however, that Mr. Benjamin Barnes, who then lived where Judge Baker now resides, should loan Mr. Griffith $1,000, upon his note bearing his father’s endorsement, and the cashier of the Danby Bank, which was then doing business in the building which now does service as a house of worship for the followers of the Catholic faith, would advance him the money needed to bring him back to Danby. The offer appeared so tempting to him that he accepted it, and upon reaching his native town leased the lower floor of the building situated just across the stream from the MIRROR office and for many years past occupied by the late J. S. Perry and family—at that time being used as a shoe and harness shop.
Mr. Griffith built counters and put in shelving and drawers at his new place of business, and in September, 1858, with $1,000 in his pocket, started for New York City to purchase goods for a general country store. He tells us he had no difficulty in purchasing his first stock of goods, as he had the cash to pay for everything bought; but when we went to market again in the spring of 1859 to replenish his stock, he purchased the same fully believing his credit good enough to enable him to secure the goods on thirty days’ time, and was surprised, after returning home and waiting a reasonable time for them to arrive, to find the people from whom he had purchased the goods had been investigating his financial standing, and from the information received considered Mr. Griffith insolvent.
Not being at all discouraged by this obstacle, Mr. Griffith wrote to his cousin, Mr. H. G. Lapham, who was then doing business in New York City, telling him of the predicament he was in, and asking him to help him out of it. This Mr. Lapham quickly did by going to the houses with which the orders for goods had been placed, telling them to forward the goods and any others Mr. Griffith might order in the future, and if the latter did not settle for them Mr. Lapham would do so himself. Mr. Griffith tells us that this act of his cousin gave him good credit, and is happy to say that Mr. Lapham was never called upon to pay any of his bills.
Not only was the report of Mr. Griffith’s insolvency unfounded but his success in the mercantile business was such that in less than four years’ time he was called on for a report of the financial standing of the same man who reported him insolvent—both inquiries coming from the same commercial agency. In 1861 Mr. Griffith found he must have more room than he was then occupying, and in that year he built the store in which he is now doing business under the firm name of S. L. Griffith & Co.—the style being assumed simply to facilitate the keeping of the accounts of that business separate from the lumber business. After erecting the new building his business continued to increase till 1864, during which year he sold $48,000 worth of goods. The following year he sold out the business to his brothers, C. H. and W. B. Griffith, to devote his entire efforts to the lumber business, which at that time he was operating only at North Dorset, on some timber land which he had been forced to take in order to liquidate an indebtedness.
Up to this time he had been unable to make the lumber business a paying investment, owing to being unable to give it his personal attention to the extent required. In fact, Mr. Griffith did not at that time have a personal liking for that business, but was forced into it against his will. Among his early customers in the lumber business was Walter A. Wood of Hoosick Falls, N. Y., of mowing machine fame. It is related of Mr. Griffith that every time he called upon Mr. Wood, which was quite frequent, he took particular pains to tell the latter that lumbering was not his business, and considerable pride in telling him that merchandising was the business he wished to be understood as engaged in. Finally Mr. Wood asked him if lumbering was not a pretty good business, and Mr. Griffith frankly admitted that he did not think it was but thought it a rather disreputable business instead—but he not long afterward changed his opinion, and came to the conclusion that it took about as good a head to conduct the lumber business successfully as it did the mercantile business.
At the time Mr. Griffith sold the stock of goods to his brothers, a man by the name of Howard owned what was then known as the Button Property in Mount Tabor and was engaged in the lumber business there. Mr. Griffith had assisted Mr. Howard, in money and goods, to the extent of several thousand dollars and taken a mortgage on the property as security. In order to get what was due him Mr. Griffith was forced to take the property, as Mr. Howard had made a failure of the lumber business—as had also two other parties prior to him at this place. This was the nucleus front which he built up his present extensive works, commencing in 1869. After operating the business for two yeas he sold it out to a party of Massachusetts gentlemen, who also made a failure of it, and he was obliged to take back the property in 1871.
Resuming the lumber business, he continued in that line till 1872, when he also commenced the manufacture of charcoal, making a contract at that time with Barnum, Richardson & Co. of Lime Rock, Conn., which called for one million bushels of charcoal at thirteen and one-half cents per bushel on board the cars at Danby station. This contract was subsequently increased by the sale to Senator Barnum, for the Lime Rock Iron Co., of 1,250,000 bushels, when the price was changed to thirteen and one-fourth cents per bushel for both contracts. After receiving about half a million bushels both of the Connecticut concerns refused to receive any more coal—giving as a reason that Mr. Griffith’s coal was not up to contract as to quality, when, in reality, the reason, was that charcoal pig iron had dropped in price from $65 to $40 per ton, and they could not afford to pay the contract price.
At the time of the refusal of the contractors to take the coal, Mr. Griffith had fully $25,000 invested in kilns for burning the coal and a like amount in wood that was cut and decaying. Something had to be done. Mr. Griffith paid a visit to Mr. Barnum, at his office in Lime Rock, and notified him that he would have to immediately begin receiving the coal on his contract or pay damages. Senator Barnum declined to do either, and told Mr. Griffith that if he commenced a law suit against him and his companies he would make it longer than the distance from Lime Rock to Montreal. Mr. Griffith replied by saying that was a long distance and the sooner he commenced the journey the quicker he would reach the end of it. Then, bidding the senator goodbye, he left him in his office, boarded a train and without stopping at Danby went through to Rutland and engaged Col. Wheelock G. Veasey and Col. Joel C. Baker to bring a suit for damages.
The Rutland attorneys informed Mr. Griffith that the suit would have to be brought in the state of Connecticut, and a practicing attorney of that state would also have to be engaged. Mr. Griffith and Attorney Baker then went to Hartford and engaged an attorney, and in less than three days after the visit to Mr. Barnum suit had been brought against him, as president of the two contracting companies, for $100,000. Mr. H. G. Lapham, who went security for Mr. Griffith’s purchase of goods at the outset of his mercantile career, again came to his aid by giving a bond of $50,000, as the magnitude and importance of the suit was such that a bond of that amount was required.
In less than two days after bringing this suit against Mr. Barnum, a telegram was received from that gentleman by Mr. Griffith, asking him to meet him at Lime Rock. Mr. Griffith replied to the telegram by saying he would meet him at Mr. Lapham’s office in New York. Before another week had passed, both Senator Barnum and Mr. Richardson met Mr. Griffith at Mr. Lapham’s office, and in less than two hours a settlement was arrived at that was perfectly satisfactory to Mr. Griffith, who returned to Danby feeling much relieved, and from that day till the day of Mr. Barnum’s death the two were the best of friends. Mr. Griffith sold him coal every year on verbal agreements; and to make sure everything was all right, when on his death bed, Senator Barnum sent a telegram through his private secretary to Mr. Griffith, asking him to come to Lime Rock. The latter did so, and although the doctors forbid his transacting any business, he had Mr. Griffith come to his room and state in the presence of his private secretary the specifications of the verbal contract then existing between them. Upon Senator Barnum’s death Mr. Griffith was among the sorrowing concourse that attended his funeral. Today Mr. Griffith frankly says that Phillip M. Moen of Worcester, Mass., and William H. Barnum of Lime Rock, Conn., were his two best friends in business while they lived.
Previous to bringing this suit against Senator Barnum, Mr. Griffith says he thought he would take an inventory. He commenced to do so, and so far completed his figures that they showed his liabilities exceeded the sum of $75,000. He then stopped making figures and closed the book. That he wiped out this indebtedness and has accumulated a nice surplus in the meantime is amply evidenced without the need of figures for proof. Mr. Griffith’s is by far the largest individual enterprise within the borders of the state of Vermont, and is conducted upon a system that has few superiors in the Business world.
In mentioning Mr. Griffith’s business interests we shall treat more explicitly those enterprises in which he alone is interested, although he has large property and business interests in common with Mr. Eugene McIntyre and others in Peru, Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, South Wallingford, and has but recently disposed of a very valuable tract of land in Groton, Caledonia county, which he and Mr. Charles L. Sowle owned in common.
The amount of land that Mr. Griffith now personally owns is upwards of 50,000 acres, and the present output of lumber is approximately twenty-five million feet annually. At the time the data for this sketch was secured, there were 613 employees on his pay-roll, exclusive of the salaried heads of departments; eighty oxen and 213 horse were owned by him and regularly employed in the business, while a great many teams owned by others are employed during the busy season in the hauling of logs and lumber. Of the annual output of lumber about 24,000,000 feet is spruce and 1,000,000 feet hardwood. About 1,000 cords of wood are also cut annually, the greater part of which is burned into charcoal, which industry is again on the ascendancy to such a favorable degree that he has cause for several new kilns to be built.
To saw the immense quantity of lumber that is now being annually turned out, nine mills are required, around each of which is a cluster of houses, occupied entirely by employees of Mr. Griffith, making a busy hamlet of no mean proportions. At one or two of these mill villages are regularly equipped government post offices, and though located at high altitudes of the Green Mountains in most cases, the inhabitants enjoy nearly all of the facilities of the villages of corresponding size in the valleys below. Connected with the works are six stores, where the employees may obtain about all of the household necessities as well as many of the luxuries. The employees are not, however, required to trade at these stores, but it is Mr. Griffith’s purpose to sell the goods as low as their cost will justify. The employees are paid monthly for their services, and can buy their goods where they wish. Mr. Griffith’s store in this village, from which the other stores are stocked, has a very large trade with the general public, and it is conceded that the prices are quite as reasonable as at any similar establishment in this section.
Boarding houses are run at all the different jobs by people especially employed for that purpose by Mr. Griffith. As there is no contract work done in connection with the business, everything being done by day’s labor, Mr. Griffith believes it economical to feed his men well, holding to the very reasonable idea that a well-fed man will accomplish more work in a day than one who is not satisfied with the quantity or quality of his food. For many years Mr. Griffith has employed a man for the special purpose of buying cattle and swine and butcher them, and another man to distribute the meat among the boarding houses. A few months ago he fitted up and opened a meat market in the village, principally for the accommodation of the general public—at that time a much needed institution.
In connection with the works at the railroad station in this village is a large steam mill for grinding feed, of which a large quantity is annually consumed by his own teams. Adjoining this mill is another one for working up the unmarketable lumber in shooks or packing cases, the demand for which comes largely from piano factories and knitting mills. Another shop is used for making and repairing sleds and wagons, and still another for the making and repairing of harness—from twelve to fifteen men being employed in the last two departments we have mentioned, all skilled blacksmiths, wheelwrights and harnessmakers.
As we have before noted, all the details of the business are very finely systematized. The products of the forest are very closely worked up —the unsalable spruce lumber into shooks, the edgings sawed from the board go to make charcoal, the unsalable hardwood into chair stock, and even much of the sawdust is sold for bedding horses and cattle and tilling ice-houses. Each mill is connected with the main office by Mr. Griffith’s private telephone line, for which sixty-five miles of wire and thirteen instruments are required. While a great deal of money is annually expended in the maintenance of this line in addition to the large first cost, it is such a time-saving institution, that it is considered a very profitable investment.
The horses and oxen used in the business consume about 600 tons of hay per annum, about a third of which is cut from Mr. Griffith’s land, and about 20,000 bushels of corn and 10,000 bushels of oats are required each year.
Mr. Griffith’s main office, situated just across the track from the railroad station in this village is both commodious and conveniently arranged for the expeditious handling of the business. The building and furnishings cost its proprietor upwards of $6,000, is lighted with acetylene gas, heated with hot water and provided with a large fireproof vault. The ground in front of the building is tastefully beautified with growing plants in variously formed beds and urns, which have constant care during the season by Mr. Griffith’s private florist.
When we consider the large number of men employed year after year by Mr. Griffith, it seems somewhat remarkable that the business has been so free from labor troubles and disturbances. There are a large number of cases, too, where men have been in his employ for exceptionally long periods, and not a few of such are still on his payroll. There have been but two strikes in the history of the business. The first one was in consequence of a demand for an increase in wages, which Mr. Griffith’s existing contracts would not permit him to grant; consequently, he paid off the old help the day following cessation of work, and on the second day started up the works with new help throughout. The second strike was instituted by the Knights of Labor, and Mr. Griffith quickly reconstructed his working force, and thereafter refused to employ any one who belonged to that labor organization.
To provide for his own requirements in that direction and the needs of his fellow townsmen, Mr. Griffith several years ago put in a splendid system of water supply, bringing the health-giving liquid from the “Grady Spring, situated some two miles distant from the village, at a cost of some $12,000 and giving to all who so desired an abundance of pure, cool spring water.
Mr. Griffith has always been endowed with a spirit of progress, both in business matters and general affairs, and the growth of his business is but an exemplification of the putting into practice his progressive ideas. One of his valuable ideas in the lumber business was the employment of specially constructed saws for the cutting down of trees, instead of the old way of chopping them down. The sawing method was first introduced in Mr. Griffith’s works, but it proved of so much time-saving value that it was soon adopted by all the lumbermen in this section of the country—and, in fact, it is now in pretty general use everywhere.
Thus far we have chronicled, in part, only Mr. Griffith’s business achievements, but there are quite as many acts in private life that deserve mention and commendation. He is very generous and public spirited by nature, but his inclinations in this direction have not found full vent till of late years, because of the exacting demands of his business upon his time and means. When the business reached such a magnitude that it was utterly impossible to give personal attention to all its details, and he had schooled a number of faithful and trusty employees in its conduct, he found that by dividing the business into departments and putting a competent man in charge of each, he had more time for doing the things that he had long wished to do.
In this connection we show a picture of Mr. Griffith’s handsome residence in this village, which he has taken great delight in building and fitting up in modern style and according to his splendid taste in such matters. We have not space here available to go into a detailed description of this model home—in fact, words could hardly portray its elegant and comfortable arrangement. Not only is the interior of the house very complete as to all details, but the outbuildings and grounds always present an appearance of luxuriousness.
Mr. Griffith is passionately fond of flowers — a fondness inherited from his sainted mother. He spends yearly for this purpose from $1,000 to $1,500, maintaining extensive greenhouses and employing a professional florist of rare skill. Mr. Griffith has never sold a flower, but has given freely of his supply for funeral purposes and to families where sickness is found, irrespective of race, color or condition. In fact, Mr. Griffith will at any time rob his own home of the flowers, he loves so well to give to funerals or supply the sick rooms of his native town, believing not only that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” but that there is more pleasure in giving than in receiving. There is seldom a Sabbath service in the church here that a vase of Mr. Griffith’s flowers cannot be seen on the pulpit, and on Easter the display of flowers at the special church service ,could cost in any city from $500 to $800.
In the culture of flowers Mr. Griffith claims no credit for himself, believing that the credit should be given to the Supreme Maker and not the grower, and that he is simply an agent in His hands to do His will. He takes much delight, however, in demonstrating how good an instrument he is in this direction, and whenever his flowers have been shown for prizes they have never failed to capture first even when he has had Dr. W. Seward Webb and Banker Trombly of New York as competitors, as has been the case at two or three of the annual charitable floral shows in Burlington. The Rutland Hospital and Old Ladies’ Home have also been supplied from his conservatories, and many flowers have been furnished to funerals and the sick in the adjoining towns.
Financially speaking, Mr. Griffith is the main support of the Congregational Church in this village, and except for his generous support it is probable there would be no settled pastor for that church, as for the past twenty years he has paid about one-third of the pastor’s salary—and more, if required. He is also deeply interested in children, and not a Christmas passes that he does not see that there is Christmas tree services on his lumber jobs, and is always present at that festival at one of the lumber camps or at the village church. On these occasions he always invites and urges all children to be present, regardless of religious preferences or whether or not they ever attended any church, his earnest endeavor being to bring all children together at this time. He contributes liberally to the fund for providing presents for the children, and if any distinction must be made in the distribution of gifts he endeavors to have it in favor of the poor—believing that on this day of the year, above all other days, there should be “On earth peace and good will to men,” and give the people just such a Christmas as he understands Christ would wish him to give them. He also delights in giving the children rides to his mountain lake retreat.
At one time Mr. Griffith took a great interest in the fish hatchery business, and expended upwards of $20,000 fitting up a model plant. The business did not prove as successful as anticipated, and Mr. Griffith abandoned it, taking the trout to Lake Griffith (formerly Buffum Pond), where they have grown and increased till the lake is literally “alive with them.” This lake is situated just over the top of the mountain range running on the east side of this valley, in the corner of Peru, and is reached by two expensive wagon roads, which were constructed by Mr. Griffith, the first one costing $5,000 and the second one $12,000. At this lake he has erected a commodious building of the hotel or club house order of construction, equipped with every need for the entertainment of himself, family and guests. This house contains some twenty or more fully furnished rooms, and a party of twenty to twenty-five people can be comfortably housed and entertained there. A commodious barn is also to be found there.
During the summer season Mr. Griffith keeps a competent force of help at this mountain retreat and the larder stocked with food sufficient to entertain a large party of guests at a moment’s notice. No one can purchase entertainment at this club house, as it is generally termed, but everything is absolutely free to his invited guests—which he and his family entertain in large numbers every season. A special feature Mr. Griffith has made for several years is the entertaining for two days a party of some fifteen or twenty old gentlemen, which gathering has come to be known as the “Boys’ Club.” This outing has been so thoroughly enjoyed by all in the past that it is looked forward to for a whole year with pleasurable anticipation by the surviving participants in each annual gathering. It is the sincere wish of all of the “boys” that Mr. Griffith will be able to be with them again this year, though he has been sorely afflicted with ill health since the last outing.
As most of our readers are aware, Mr. Griffith has been sojourning in California since the first of January with the hope of benefiting his impaired health. He has recently purchased a handsome winter residence property there, of which due mention was made in a previous issue of the MIRROR, and it gives us much pleasure to show two views of it in connection with this article. The property is known as “The Palms,” so called from the long entrance avenue lined on either side by palms of unusual large size. In that section it is known as a fruit ranch, having some twelve acres of fruit-bearing, nut and ornamental trees, among which are 350 naval orange trees, 421 lemon trees, 41 tangerine trees, 28 mission olive trees, 27 peach trees, 15 prune tries, 14 strawberry guava trees, 12 apricot trees, 10 Bartlett pear trees, six apple trees, six pomelo trees, four lime trees, three fig trees, two plum trees, two quince trees, two walnut trees, one persimmon tree, three mulberry trees, 300 Logan berry, six date palms, 27 fan palms, six rubber trees, one pepper tree, four camphor trees and one Norfolk island pine tree. This property is valued at $30,000, and is one of the most desirable of its class in that vicinity.
As indicative of the resources of “The Palms,” it might be appropriate to here mention the component parts of the dinner that was set before Mr. William Riddle upon his recent visit to Mr. Griffith in his California home. As Mr. Riddle remembers it, that meal consisted of roast beef, new potatoes, asparagus, green peas, turnips, over, strawberry shortcake, strawberries and cream, angel food, bananas, oranges, olives, apples, guavas, tangerines, loquots, raisins, dates, English walnuts, with tea, coffee, Bradley carbonated water, port and Riesling wines to wash it down. With the exception of the beef, raisins and drinkables, the dinner was the product of “The Palms.” The decorations of the table were also of home production, consisting of a cactus centerpiece of purple-pink, shading toward the center to lavender; orange and lemon blossoms, a calla lily with a five-foot stern and blossom eight inches long and five inches wide, wild larkspur and lantana. So it would seem that Mr. Griffith has an abundance of good things to eat that are entirely the product of his Southern California home.
“The Palms ” property is located near National City not far from San Diego—in fact, it is situated on an eminence overlooking that city, the bay, the famous Coronado Hotel and the Table Mountains of Mexico. The avenue of palms which leads from the highway to the house is some seven hundred feet in length, and adds much to the attractiveness of the ranch. We trust that Mr. Griffith will so far regain his health that it will not be necessary to make an annual trip to California as a precautionary measure, as he and Mrs. Griffith, who is now with him, are greatly missed in their Vermont home. We understand that Mr. Griffith could sell this property at any time at a good profit over the purchase price—in fact, has already had such an opportunity.
Mr. Griffith has been an incessant worker for forty-three years, with both body and mind, and his power of endurance has been such that he did not collapse until last summer. He made the trip to California to get away from business and to rest. To just what extent he has been benefited is not apparent at this writing, but it is to be hoped that he will return to us in such a bettered condition that his ultimate recovery will he assured. He feels that he has much yet to accomplish here for the benefit of the community and his fellow townsmen, from which he can derive much pleasure if reasonably good health should again be his. He says that “to make heaven for others is heaven enough for him,” and believes that the heaven that is in store for him after the breaking of the “silver chord” is the heaven he has made and is still making for himself on earth.
Mr. Griffith expects to return to Danby the first week in June; and we have it from a reliable source that he will immediately thereafter take steps for the erection of a fine public library building in his native village—one of his long cherished undertakings. It is not only his purpose to erect this library building, but to stock it with books, properly heat it, light it either by gas or electricity, and endow it with a fund sufficient for its maintenance for all time. Mr. Griffith has more than once expressed himself as holding to the belief that “there is nothing too good for Danby,” and we can be assured that this library building and its appointments will be of the most complete order.
Though very closely tied down to business about all his life, Mr. Griffith loves to travel, and has traveled considerably. Besides journeying to many points of the United States he made a trip, a few years ago, to the Orient and the Holy Land, visiting Jerusalem and the scenes made somewhat familiar to him by a study of the Book of Books. He delights en recounting to his friends at home the sights he beheld while abroad and advising all who can afford it to take the trip.
While Mr. Griffith has had little time to devote to politics, he has always been an ardent supporter of the nominees of the republican party, in town, state and national affairs, and a few years ago was chosen by the voters of his party as one of the representatives of Rutland County in the state senate. The editor of the MIRROR firmly believes that inasmuch as he has succeeded in placing his business in such capable hands, Mr. Griffith would make a splendid governor for the Green Mountain State, for the welfare of which he has the keenest interest. Upon presenting this proposition to him, however, he emphatically objects. While he has the best interests of his native state always at heart, and willing and anxious to further such interests at all times, he feels that he is not only physically unequal to the task we would set for him but that his political ambition reached its height when he was called upon to serve his constituents in the state senate. Therefore, it is desired that all readers of this article understand that Mr. Griffith wishes to be understood as being in no wise in the gubernatorial race and refuses to be brought into it.
The following poetic contribution to this sketch is furnished by Judge Baker, who composed it especially for the occasion:
A BUSY LIFE.
(Dedicated to Hon. S. L. Griffith.)
Our lives are but a crooked road—
We wander here and there,
In hope to find the proper food
Idleness is the bane of life,
And sloth its deadly foe,
While labor saves from evil strife,
The thoughts from evil, too.
Some worthy object all should have
To occupy the mind,
That idleness should never prove
A snare unto mankind.
A busy life bears fruit at last
To those who persevere ;
No matter where their lot is cast,
Success is waiting there.
To have some purpose in our life,
Some noble object find,
Excites the witch’ry of the strife,
And so relieves the mind.
The busy one will take the lead
In the advancing line
That marks the progress and the need
Of any age or time.
A single purpose in the mind
Will best conserve the age ;
To have that purpose well defined
Should every thought engage.
The world at large has gained the most
By those of one idea,
Who follow it at any cost
Untill success appears.
The workman’s worthy of his hire,
The artist of his fame—
All others also who aspire
To earn a noble name.
Thus we close this necessarily incomplete sketch of one of the most successful business men Vermont has sheltered during the past century, and one who has risen to this high business station, too, from most humble beginning and by his own efforts alone.