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Grinnell Lore

Stories about famous and infamous Grinnells.

Mary Wodell Grinnell and the Magna Carta Barons PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Friday, 29 April 2011 16:35

Daniel Grinnell (2) married the daughter of William and Mary Wodell about the year 1663, probably in Portsmouth, RI. She was born in Boston in November, 1640. Her father had been forced to leave Massachusetts by 1643 because of his religious beliefs. He settled in Portsmouth. His ancestry, and thus Mary's, is quite interesting. Mary and Daniel had three sons, Daniel (1664), Richard (1669) and Jonathan (1670), all of whom have numerous descendants. A summary is given below on the connection to the English Barons at the time of the Magna Carta (1215).

According to John Wurt's massive record, Magna Charta, Mary Wodell, who married Matthew's youngest son, Daniel (1636), was descended from not one, but ten of the Barons who forced King John to accept the terms of the Great Charter. Quoting from Wurt's, "When John became King in 1199, he abused his power. He demanded more military service from the feudal class..... sold royal positions to the highest bidder. He increased taxes without obtaining the consent of the Barons, which was contrary to the feudal custom. John's courts decided cases according to his wishes, not according to law.

".....a group of Barons and church leaders..... drew up a list of rights they wanted John to grant them. The King twice refused..... The Barons raised an army to force the King to meet their demands..... He agreed to the articles on June 15, 1215 (at Runneymede, a meadow southwest of London)..... Four days later the articles were engrossed (i.e., written out in legal form) as a royal charter. Copies..... were made for distribution throughout the Kingdom. (It was written in medieval Latin.) For many years, the document was commonly known as Magna Charta, but in 1946, the British Government officially adopted the Latin spelling, Magna Carta, meaning Great Charter."

By Wurts' record, the names of the Barons whose descendants through inter-marriages over the nearly 400 years from 1215 on down to William Wodell and his daughter, Mary, born in 1640, are as follows: Roger and Hugh Bigood, Richard and Gilbert de Clare, John FitzRobert, Robert FitzWalter, John de Lacie, William Mallet, Saire de Quincey and Robert de Vere. This information can be found in Volume IV, page 860, of the Magna Charta by John Wurts. The merits of the Magna Carta may be argued pro and con. The claim that it is the first document of human liberty in England has been disputed. There are 63 points or articles, mostly benefitting the Barons. Some of the points granted freedom of the church from Royal interference. A few articles guaranteed the rights of the middle class. It has been pointed out that there are few references to ordinary freemen or peasants.

However that may be, the greatest contribution and the reason the Magna Carta lives on in the free world, is from the articles that become the foundation for modern justice, due process of law and trial by jury. One article states no freeman shall be imprisoned, deprived of property, sent out of the country, or destroyed, except by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. It was a monumental step taken for freedom and for many of us, we can say our maternal ancestors were there!

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:24 )
Grinnell Land and Grinnell Peninsula PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Friday, 29 April 2011 16:33

In the far north of Canada, among the islands of the vast section known as the Baffin Region of the Northwest Territories, are two pieces of real estate that acquired the Grinnell name in the mid 1800s. One of these is on Ellesmere Island, that is situated off the north west shoulder of Greenland. Even though dwarfed by the world's largest island, Ellesmere ranks 9th in size. The 80th meridian of latitude bisects the island at the point on the east coast that is known as Grinnell Land.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:25 )
Grinnells in the United States Congress PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 14:27

The Grinnells who have served in Congress, on the State level, are too numerous to mention. Political positions below the State Legislatures, held by Grinnells, are legion.

The Grinnell’s two brothers, along with two other Grinnell relatives occupied seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for a total of 12 terms. They were:


George Grinnell Jr, Greenfield, MA, Five Terms

  • 21st Congress (1829-31)
  • 22nd Congress (1831-33)
  • 23rd Congress (1833-35)
  • 24th Congress (1835-37)
  • 25th Congress (1837-39)


Moses Hicks Grinnell, New York City, One Term

  • 26th Congress (1839-41)


Joseph Grinnell, New Bedford, MA, Four Terms

  • 28th Congress (1843-45)
  • 29th Congress (1845-47)
  • 30th Congress (1847-49)
  • 31st Congress (1849-51)


Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, Grinnell, IA, Two Terms

  • 38th Congress (1863-65)
  • 39th Congress (1865-67)


Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 April 2011 14:29 )
Grinnell Brothers Music House PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 14:03

Ira Leonard & Clayton Albert Grinnell- The founders of Grinnell Brothers Music House in Detroit, Michigan were Ira and Clayton Grinnell, sons of Ira and Betsey (Balcom) Grinnell. The elder brother, Ira L., was born in Niagara County, NY in 1848 and Clayton was born in the Town of Barre, Orleans Co., NY on the 2 December 1859. When their parents died suddenly, the father from an accident in the woods and Betsey, two months later, in 1865, the boys went to live with an older sister, Sarah Lucretia Grinnell Poucher, in Michigan.

In 1872 Ira started selling sewing machines in Ann Arbor, MI on a door to door basis, gradually adding musical merchandise. In 1879, Clayton and he opened a store in Ann Arbor. Soon another store was started at Ypsilanti, a suburb of Detroit. In 1882 a third brother joined the company, Herbert Balcom and a store was opened in the City of Detroit. This became the company headquarters.

Grinnell's carried everything from guitars to large size organs, their own pianos, made at Holly, Michigan, band instruments, drums, amplifers, sheet music, radios, records, even household furniture. For the annual State of Michigan Music Festival, Grinnell’s supplied the pianos and organs. At their peak they had 42 stores scattered through out the mid west and Canada.

In 1955 the family sold the business and it has changed hands several times. In April 1981, after some hard struggling, the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, ordered the company to cease operations at all locations and the assets were liquidated.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 April 2011 14:12 )
The Sylvia Ann Howland Trust And Hetty Green PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Thursday, 28 April 2011 13:53

One branch of the Grinnell family became financially involved with a large estate settlement in 1916. It came about in this manner. Sylvia Ann Howland, daughter of Gideon Howland, Jr. must not be confused with her Aunt, Sylvia Howland Grinnell, the wife of Cornelius Grinnell, Senior. Sylvia Ann had inherited a good sum of money and when she died the 2 July 1865, she left a residuary estate in trust to her niece, Mrs. Hetty H. (Robinson) Green, daughter of Abbey S. (Howland) Robinson (Sylvia's sister). Mrs. Green was to receive the income thereof during her lifetime. Upon Hetty's death, Sylvia directed that the trustees of the estate were "to pay over, distribute and divide the whole.. and among all the lineal descendants then living of my grandfather, Gideon Howland.. ..they shall share the said estate equally and shall be paid in equall shares..."

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:26 )
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