Jess Griffin

1846 - 1848

First Wharton County Sheriff

Jess R. Griffin was born in Delaware in about 1812. He immigrated to Wharton County on June 30, 1841, and didn't file for land until April 1847. He was a carpenter by trade in Wharton County. We know he was married and had a family in 1847 as he made an application for 640 acres of land "which he was entitled being married and head of a family".

Jess Griffin was appointed Sheriff on July 13, 1846, just four months after the creation of Wharton County. Texas was a new state of the United States in it's infancy. The land was wide open and more and more settlers were coming to Wharton County. Appointed commissioners were Wm. J.E. Heard Alexander Moore, Daniel Kincheloe, Isham Thompson and John D. Newell, these men were to locate the site of the new county seat. Once done Griffin was appointed Sheriff and the Persiding officers was Wm. J. E. Heard, Chief Justice was Maclin Stith, County Commissioners were John D. Newall, Isham Thompson and Charles Messer. The new Assessor - Collector appointed was John Foster and Treasurer was Daniel Kincheloe.

At the time of Griffins appointment there was no jail and no courthouse until 1847, but there was not an abundance of crime in Wharton County. The home of Daniel Kincheloe was used as a temporary courthouse until one could be built. All the towns were spread out with no central area as of yet. Mostly small town built around a main plantation like Egypt, Quinan, El Campo, Preston,Prairie Switch etc.

Most people during this time were concerned with settling their land and didn't meddle in others affairs. Women and children as well as men hunted game, horses and worked alongside family members getting their crops in or their land ready to settle. The Karankawa Indians had all been cleared out, so there wasn't much trouble from them in the area.

Settlers were settling near our main rivers the Colorado and San Bernard and their many branches and creeks.The Colorado where Wharton was situated on had a large raft which blocked any traffic coming down the river. The entire time Jess Griffin was sheriff this raft was in place many people complained about it.

In the Criminal Court records we find just a few arrests that Jess Griffin made: In 1847 he arrested Charles L. Bolton for Cruel Treatment of slaves, he was fined $200.00, in March William Dawdy was arrested for Gaming and the same month Bartley Stanchfield was arrested for assault and battery and fined $10.00. In April of 1848 Jess Griffin arrested George Cottrell for murder.

The job of Sheriff did not just involve arresting people. He had to serve court papers, carry out the orders of the court, and then collect any fees that were due the plaintiffs, hold public sales and in some cases deliver people to other places. In the first court documents we find that Jess Griffin did all these things.

On March 4th 1847 Jess Griffin had to pick up three slaves named Gilbert, Jackson or Jack and Lucy from A.C. Horton and deliver them back to their rightful owners William Lovern and Patience, his wife, because they were afraid they would injure or treat them badly, or worse take them out of the state. The Leverns took A.C. Horton, Joseph Anderson and Samuel Thomas to court to regain possession. Back then the summons began "To the sheriff of Wharton County..." below is a copy of the original summons and the note that Jess Griffin wrote on the back of the summons saying he had delivered the slaves back to the Loverns. For this he was paid 1.00 for levying sequestration, 3.00 for delivering suppeonas, 2.00 for supplies .50 for taking bond, .65 for serving supeoneas.

The State of Texas

Wharton County

To the Sheriff of Wharton County Greetings. Whereas William H. Lovern and Patience Ann his wife have exhibited their petition against Albert C. Horton Joseph Anderson and Samuel Thomas Charging them with having taken from their pofsession unjustly three negro slaves two negro men named Gilbert and Jackson or Jack and one woman named Lucy and prayed for a unit of sequestration and having made affidavit that they ( the planitiffs fear the defendants will injure or ill-treat or remove said slaves out of the limits of this state during the pending of this suit and having executed bond with security according to law

These are therefore Commanded you to take into your pofsission the above dis: cribed slaves to be found in the county and keep the Same subject to the future order of the District court for said county unlefs the defendants or either of them or the persons from whose pofsession such slaves may be taken shall Replerey the same according to law - And make one return of this first day District Court to be holden in and for said County at the town of Wharton on the second Monday after the second Monday of this month certifying how you have executed this unit,...witness Thomas Moore. Clerk of the said district of Wharton County. Given under my hand and private seal (there being no seal of office) as clerk aforesaid and in the county aforesaid this March 4th 1847 Thomas Moore C.D.C.W.C.

Written on back by Jess Griffin: Received 4th of March 1847 and executed by me on the 5th day of March 1847 by taking into my pofsession the within negro slaves named Gilbert, Jackson or Jack, and Lucy who I found in the pofession of the within named Joseph Anderson which slaves now received by A.C. Horton & then delivered back possession of said Anderson on giving the obligation required by law signed by A.C. Horton principal & J.K. & S. Kincheloe security which obligation is herewith return to court This March 22nd 1847.

Jefse Griffin sheriff of Wharton County (Texas)

Griffin then had to collect and court costs owed during the case, the above being 48.88 and the Sheriffs expenses were $7.15.

On March 29th Jess Griffin received an order from the district court and that day he advertised the property for sale at the courthouse door on the 12th day of April 1847...He wrote this on the back of the summons... No.2 Received March 29th 1847 and on the same day I advertised the within property [of Gustavus E. Edwards] for sale at the court house door in Wharton on the 12th day of April 1847 according to law.

And on the said 12th day of April 1847 at the court house door in the town of Wharton I proceeded to offer for sale the property within mentioned as is commanded___, to the highest bidder for cash when the same was bid off and knocked down for the sum of two hundred and eighty three dollars and seventy one and one half cents, to the highest bidders.=

And of the said sum of $283.71 1/2 deducting therefrom my commissions for the sale, $6.25, I have paid over upon the judgment in favour of Lewis Watson as the same Spurlock the sum of $203.10/100$ and on the within named judgment I have paid over to G.E. Edwards the balance the sum of $74.36 to which upon the pro rato distribution he is entitled=

April 12, 1847

Jefse Griffin

Sheriff of Wharton Co.

Wharton Co: The proceeds of the sale of perishable property referred to in the within order of sale $235.15 1/2, deducting therefrom any commissioners for selling $5.10 being apportions "pro-rated" as by the judgts in favor of Watson and Edward Spurlock it is ordered. I have paid over to Lewis Watson $168.9 1/2 then of, and to the within G.C. Edwards $61.54 being the amounts to which they are entitled upon their judgments.

Jefse Griffin

Sheriff Wharton County

There is little record of Jess Griffin in Wharton County.

On the 1860 Census of Wharton County we find a Jacob R. Griffin with a wife and child. He is working as a carpenter and has married a woman named Susan who was born in Mississippi. They have a 10 year old daughter L.S. Griffin who was born in Mississippi. I don't know if this is our sheriff or his son or even a brother, but it is the only other Griffin in Wharton County in this time period.

On the 1860 Slave schedule he shows as owning one female slave aged 50 and one male slave, a mulatto aged 12. Probably mother and son. He owns 5 acres of improved land and 5 acres of unimproved land. He has 2 horses, 1 mule, 7milk cows, 2 oxen,14 head of cattle. He raises Indian corn, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes on his land. He is shown as having $1000.00 value in livestock.

Jacob R. Griffin is shown as being arrested for Harboring a runaway slave in_________. 'In March 1852 J. R. Griffin was elected County Coroner as per County Commissioners minutes, page 83

Page: 87

Special Court August 12th 1852

..The Chief Justice then proceeded to open the election returns, when it appeared that the following officers were elected having the number of votes opposite to their names....

Jackson Stubbs Sheriff.........97 votes

Jacob R. Griffin Coroner.......84 votes

County Commissioner Minutes Books

April 1847 County Court 2nd Term


No.6 Class 4th

Jesse Griffin appeared and made application for a certificate for six hundred and forty acres of land to which he is entitled as a married man and the head of a family by virtue of his emigration before the 1st day of January 1842. or he says, and having taken oath of the ias required by law and made proof of the same by Lewis Watson and I.H. Schrock as the law directs It is ordered and that he had resided in this county for three years and more, It is ordered that an unconditional certificate issue to him therefore: (Isfsued this 12th April 47) (imigrated 30th June 1841.) (Reported 30th April.

No.7 Clafs No.4

Isaiah H. H. Schrock appeared and made application for an unconditional Certificate for three hundred & Twenty acres of Land to which he is intitled as a single man by virtue of his imigration before the first day of January 1842 as he says, and having taken the Oath & made proof of the same by Jefse Griffin & Lewis Watson as required by law and that he has resided in this state three years as a Citizen. It is ordered that an unconditional Certificate be issued to said I.H.H. Shrock (Issued clafs 3rd this 12th April 47) (imigrated Dec 1840.) Reported 30th April 47

Page 17

Court met in pursuance of adjournment

Jefse Griffin Made application to have his accounts against the County allowed and audited. Ordered that the Clerk of this court give him a Warrent against the County Treasury for Twenty five dollars to be paid at [?Sight?] out of any monies in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated - and then the court adjorned until in course...Warrent No.5 Ifsued to Jefse Griffin for $25.00 this 12th Apl 1847.

No. 3 July Term 1847

Page 19

Jefse Griffin Shff presented his account against Wharton County for his attention and Services in the District County & Probate Courts to the amount of $46.50 -

It is decided and ordered that Jefse Griffin shall have fifteen dollars paid him now by draft on the County Treasury (for $15.00) and the County Clerk is hereby authorised and required to Ifsue a draft in favour of said Griffin for the said Fifteen dollars

January Term 1848

Page 24

Ordered that Twenty five dollars be appropriated for the payment of Jefse Griffins allowence by the District Court to this date for his attendance as Sheriff and that the Clerk draw his warrent on the treasury therefore payable to M. Mackay said Griffins attorney.

[Above M. Mackay is Griffins Attorney and then I find the entry below where he is named as sheriff, but there is no election or appointment recorded]

Page 28

Mark Mackay Sheriff of Wharton Co presented his acct for services rendered the County in attending the Courts of said County & for articles furnished for the use of the District Court, all together Amounting to thirty dollars Sixty five cents, It is ordered that a warrent be ifsued to Said M. Mackay on the Treasury of this county for the Said sum of Thirty dollars Sixty five cents to be paid out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise Appropriated.

It is ordered that Jefse Griffin be paid out of the Treasury of this county two dollars for Summoning a Jury of inquest on the body of A. Woosley last fall 1847.


At the regular term of the county Court of Wharton County held at the Clerks office od said County this the third Monday (19th day) of May A.D. 1851 when the following proceedings were had


Mason L. Weems-Chf Justice

Thomas Thatcher, H.G. Mercer, Samuel W. Lam-Commifsioners

R.E. Davis Sheriff of Wharton County made Return of the sales of the lumber of the old Court House, & filed in the Court, the following named notes viz:

B & W Milburn Note with Jos. H. Deadrick.....

J.R. Griffin Note for One Hundred & Ninety Eight Dollars Payable the 1st of January 1852 with B.F. Milburn and Mr. K. Lawson as Surities.... Page: 173

February Term 185

It is ordered by the Court that a warrent ifsue to J.R. Griffin for $11.00 for flooring rooms of Court House.


August 14th 1856

[Election results]


Benj F. Armstrong....68 votes

Jas M. Cook......15 votes

J.R. Griffin....5 votes


August Term 1856 City Council

Jacob R. Griffin presented an a/c against the county amounting to $61.00. It is ordered by the court that a warrant issue for forty four Dollars on the said account. Seventeen Dollars of amt having been rejected by the court.

Page: 194

November Term 1856

It is ordered by the Court that a warrant ifsue in favor of J.R. Griffin for the sum of five dollars for a screw pump for the use of the county out of any funds not otherwise appropriated.


Call Session December 8th 1856

It is ordered by the court that the sum of Eight Dollars and fifty cents be allowed J R Griffin balance on a Book Case Made for the County Clerks Office & that a warrant ifsue for the amt out of any funds not otherwise appropriated

Page:[not shown]

August 12th A.D. 1858

[Election Results]

For Coroner Wharton County

P. James received 9 votes

R. Caldwell received 16 votes

J.R. Griffin received 22 votes

The following are the persons Elected County Officers according to the foregoing vote of Wharton County:

J.R. Griffin Coroner he having received 22 votes

This page researched and written by Janet Barrett Hobizal in June 2007,

From records found at the Wharton County Historical Museum

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