It's been less than a week since Andy Griffith, a beloved actor here in the United States, passed away.
As I blogged about earlier this week, I visited his native Mt. Airy, NC four times, most recently in March. It's a good stopping point for when we drive from upstate New York into points South. It lies in beautiful Surry County, just a few miles from the Virginia birthplace of General J.E.B. Stuart - a story for another day.
On this March 2012 trip, I decided to investigate Mt. Airy past the tourist areas to see if I could find any Civil War monuments. I was going to feature whatever I found in a blog post, but had never quite gotten around to it. Now is as a good a time as any, because my search for Civil War information led me to a little mystery I wondered about and perhaps now would be a good time to ask if any of my readers have the answer.
But first, some background.
On the same street, but a few blocks from where the Andy and Opie statute in Mt. Airy, NC has become a temporary shrine for fans of Mr. Griffith to pay tribute, is a war memorial that pays tribute to all the war dead of Mt. Airy. The war dead are listed, by war, from the Revolutionary War forward, so this is technically not a Civil War monument. (There is also a historical Civil War marker in Mt. Airy, again a story for another day.)
The Civil War dead section was several columns wide. Sadly, no surprise there. But first, a little about the monument itself.
The monument from a distance. A lot of this monument consists of lists of war dead. For a town the size of Mt. Airy, it looks to be a rather large list.
Here is the beginning of the list of names. You'll note the war memorial calls the war the Civil War. This is not the preferred name of the war to a lot of Southerners. But North Carolina had a complicated role in the Civil War. North Carolinians fought on both sides. North Carolina and its neighboring state, Tennessee, were the last two states to secede.
Look at the third name on this panel. I immediately thought, "was this an ancestor of Andy Griffith?"
I did a very quick Internet search, and I find several mentions of a Samuel Griffith in Mt. Airy - one born (Samuel W) about 1869, another, Samuel T., born about 1873, but obviously neither one of these men would have fought in the Civil War. I also tried Family Search (the Mormon database) but came up empty. (There was a Samuel Griffiths, with a "s", a Union soldier, who died in 1865, but appeared to be from Maine.)
Another site, Census Diggins, is only up to "Go" surnames, has not cataloged the "Gr" soldiers yet.
If anyone has information regarding any of these Samuel Griffiths and if any were related to the late Andy Griffith, I would love to know about it.