The Griffin Legacy of Martin County NC - Part I

Prologue:  This post has been such an evolution! Originally it was supposed to be about the things I'd already learned about the Griffins. But as I pulled together information for the post, I first went back and found a document that I hadn't looked at in quite a while, the Griffin Bible. I realized that I had failed to include a ton of information from it in my family tree! So that was a huge step. Second, I got pulled on a "tangent" trying to confirm that my g-g-g-grandfather had indeed served in the Civil War. Boy what a ride that has been! So if my post seems a bit disjointed, that is why. I've started and stopped, and written and deleted, so many parts. But it's all so exciting! I now see why my AAGSAR "tribe leader" +Luckie Daniels pushes us all so hard to blog. It has become an invaluable process in my genealogical work.
For North Carolina farmers, the Griffin family has been quite easy to find and trace all the way back to the 1860 Brick Wall (as I call it). Because of a few things that I have found I theorized that Jonas Griffin (1819-1898) may have been a free man. Unfortunately, so far I have not been able to confirm one way or the other. His son, Joshua L. Griffin (1849-?) most certainly was educated and savvy (as seen in his executorship of his father's estate). But before I get too ahead of myself, here's part of the Griffin family tree:

Jonas Griffin -Mary Lanier Griffin
Joshua Larnee Griffin = Fannie Griffin Smith = 
Fed Griffin = Alice Griffin Spruil = Amanda Griffin Gaylor

Jonas Griffin was born around 1819 to Fed Crisp and Frankie Griffin (unconfirmed), but the where and under what conditions, is still a mystery. The first evidence I thought I had of him was the 1870 census. But as I've worked on this post, I found out that the first evidence I have of him now is his Civil War record!

The first clue that he served came when I found him in the 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War:
I searched and searched but couldn't find any record of him anywhere else on Ancestry or any websites that claimed to list Civil War soldiers. I started to think that maybe he had "misremembered" his service in the War (unsettling, but understandable). 

In my desperation, I paid to retrieve any records of his service from the National Archives, using the information provided in the Census, as I deciphered it -- service in Company H, of the 5th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), from 11 November 1865 to 11 July 1867. [That's $30 down the drain. In this case, it literally pays to be patient.]
Sidenote: I did think it odd that he enlisted in the last days of war and served until way after the official end of the war on 10 May 1865. But then again many of the southern states did not go quietly back into the union, and then there was reconstruction. So I suppose there was still much to do. 
After many, many, many Google searches, and a detour to Family Search, looking for information about the 5th Regiment, I wound up (thanks to Michael Hait's blog post on back at and the U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865 database. Instead of searching the database, I decided to browse the images. I looked for Jonas Griffin in each 5th Regiment included in the database -- Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry -- but to no avail.

I decided to just search the database for Griffin and see if anything jumped out at me. Sure enough, on the first page, there was a entry for a Griffin from Martin County (Jonas's county!) who was in the 37th Regiment (not the one I was looking for), BUT his name was Josiah (Josiah - Jonas, close enough). I looked at the multi-page file and sure enough, the first entry had the name Josiah on it, the second had Jonah and then the rest had Jonas! I imagine that with a name like Jonas, particularly for a black man, Josiah/Jonah/Jonas was close enough for his regiment leaders. [I did check the rest of the search results to make sure there were no other Griffins from Martin County (all 411 of them) and no others fit]

The dates in this file also fit with what was listed in the 1890 Census, although the regiment is wrong and the enlistment year is off (but the month and day are correct!).

While Jonas's records were very interesting, they didn't have as much detail or extra information as other soldier's. BUT I'm grateful for finding them at all and confirming that at least one of my g-g-g-grandfather's was a Union Army Veteran.

There are two pieces of information included in the file (on the last page, above) that puzzle me: (1) what is a "Bounty" and who is it due to? and (2) what does the remark mean - "Joined original organization."? [if anyone reading this knows, I'd be super grateful if you posted your thoughts in the comments section]

[NEW thanks to one of my AAGSAR friends and her comment below]
It looks like Jonas and his widow Rosa [remember her from Jonas's will!] both applied for a pension (invalid and widow's). Next week I will be headed straight for the National Archives to see what's included in the file. Hopefully it will be filled with new and exciting details about my g-g-g-grandfather and his life!

All of my googling wasn't in vain. I did stumble across this great website - the North Carolina U.S. Colored Troops Project. This is some of what they compiled on the activities of the USCT 37th Regiment:


This Company was organized at City Point, Virginia, and mustered into the service of the United States on the 25th day of May, 1864, and immediately ordered to Wilson's Wharf, Virginia where it, however, remained but a few days, being ordered with the remainder of the regiment to the front of Petersburg. While there this Company saw some hard service. Although raw recruits, just mustered in, the men behaved like veterans, displaying dauntless courage and much bravery in this their first and consequently most trying engagement. The Company participated in all the battles this regiment has been engaged in, doing throughout good service and behaving in a soldierly manner, thereby eliciting the well-merited approbation of the commanding officers. In November, 1865, this Company was ordered to Newbern, North Carolina, and from thence transferred to Fort Hatteras, where it now constitutes the garrison.

BATTLES (In Which The Regiment Was Engaged) 

Second Petersburg - June 27, 1864 
New Market Heights - September 27, 1864 
Fort Harrison, Va. - September 30, 1864 
Fair Oaks, Va. - October 27, 1864 
First Fort Fisher Campaign - December 3, 1864 
Second Fort Fisher Campaign - January, 1865 
Sugar Loaf - February 12, 1865 
Near Wilmington, N.C. - February 21, 1865 
North-East Station, N.C. - February 22, 1865 
Cox's Ferry, N.C. - March 24, 1866

It provides a list of the commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and privates, as well. Why they leave out my g-g-g-grandfather on this list is beyond me, because they include him on the Descriptive Rolls for Company F. But I charge it to their head and not their hearts, because it truly is a labor of love to compile and upload this information for free! I plan to volunteer my services if they are still working on the project.

They also have a great resources page for anyone doing research on North Carolina-based Colored Troops in the Civil War.

That is where today's chapter of the Griffin Legacy ends. Next up is Joshua L....(to be cont.)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nia sis, I just love it when our ancestors make us get our "hustle" on to find them and you definitely got your workout on this one -- EXCELLENT research.

    Let me just say that this won't be the last time you will find your ancestors' given name and surname spelled various ways in databases and records. We have to consider the literacy level of the person recording the information. Then there are errors made in the transcription process to contend with as well. So you may want to keep a given name and surname log sheet where you can add to it all of the different ways you've found your ancestors' name spelled in your research process. Then you can refer to this list the next time you use a database and hopefully one of the variations will help you locate the information you're looking for.

    I also did a quick search and I believe Bounty Land Warrants is what you may need to explore. According to Genealogy - Bounty land warrants were grants of free land issued to veterans in return for military service. Professional Genealogist, Kimberly Powell, goes in more detail at this link -

    This was indeed an excellent post to kick off your genealogy research for 2014! Happy New Year and Happy Ancestor Hunting to you this year too!

  3. Very nice find on your ancestor. Harry Bradshaw Matthews might be able to help with your other question about "joined original organization." Check this page:

  4. Nia, Nice post, and great work with your research! Keep doing what you're doing! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great post. You are certainly on the right track with your research. Being in the Colored Troops was an honor and you have every right to be proud of your ancestors.

    1. Thanks, I agree and I'm so excited that I was able to find him among their rolls!

  6. Great Post. I am researching in Martin County. My great aunt, Annie Williams Blount is from there. Her families are the Statons and Williams. Her grandfather was Henry Staton and his parents are Rhoda Staton and Nathan Crisp. I believe they were from edgecombe county and transported to Martin County with slave owners.

    Second, you can see if Jonas applied for pension. has a database and gives you a pension record number. For right now, I know pension records are stored at the National Archives. Pension applications have a huge amount of info and could give a slaveonwer. I live in the DC area and have Inbox if you want my help. Trisha Blount Hewitt

    1. Thanks Trisha! I look forward to sharing resources with you!!

  7. You did a great job tracking down your ancestors. I am very impressed with your research skills. Great job!

  8. Your hard work really paid off! I love the links you included :)

    1. Thanks Erlaine! And it keeps paying because the information keeps rolling in. :)

  9. Wow! you have really done your research. Excellent post! great job on your blog. :)

  10. Nia the details are wonderful. Great Post! I need to do more resourcing. This was Great!

  11. Really enjoyed reading your post despite being in England and having no idea who was who in your Civil War. It is amazing you could find out so much about him.

    1. Thanks, Simon! So glad to have a reader from across the pond. :)

  12. Hello!
    We may be related. I am of the Griffin clan that hails from NC with ties to Norfolk area. My family owned land there. The Griffins owned quite a bit of land throughout that area my family tells me. I queried Google to learn more and I see some of the names of my ancestors are either the same or similar names of some of your ancestors and some other Griffins from the same area. I guess they passed the names down over the centuries! Pretty neat. Glad I came across!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Would love to share research. If you're interested, please email me.


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