This portrait of Epaminondas Ludwell Grigsby was e-mailed to me on May 8, 2012,
and is located in the collection of the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County.
Today's profile will be a very special one, as I received some invaluable help in putting it together! The following biography on Zanesville, Ohio Mayor Epaminondas L. Grigsby is a perfect example of what "historical detective work" is about, and I am forever grateful to Jim Geyer, Mitch Taylor and the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County for their help in finding more information on this wonderfully named man. The rare portrait of Grigsby shown at the top of this article was found by Mr. Taylor in the Muskingum Historical Society's collection and was e-mailed to me earlier today by Mr. Geyer. As mentioned before, this political profile would not exist without the help and research of these gentlemen and the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County!
I'll begin with a bit of background on how exactly this particular article came about. Late last month I managed to stumble across a book entitled William's Ohio Register and Business Mirror for 1857, located on Google books. While perusing this work I found a section which gave a list of then incumbent Mayors of various Ohio cities and towns who had been elected within the last year. Many of these names were abbreviated by their initials, which made research on them a bit more difficult. When I came to the Zanesville section I noticed the name of the mayor, a certain "E.L. Grigsby" and seeing that the book neglected to mention his full name, I quickly set about doing a Google search on him.
You can probably imagine my surprise when I found a Find-a-Grave page for a man named Epaminondas Ludwell "E.L." Grigsby, who was listed by said website as being elected as Zanesville's mayor in 1857! After doing some jubilant shouting over this great new name discovery I began a furtive search for more information on him (as well as a possible portrait). After an hour or so, I came to the conclusion that finding further information/pictures of this man would be totally futile, and a search for the Arc of the Covenant would probably yield better results!
A day or two after becoming aware of Mr. Grigsby's existence I made it a point to fire off an e-mail to the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County, asking for assistance in finding more information on this unusually named politician. Soon after sending this e-mail I developed some correspondence with the Director of Museums Jim Geyer, who in further e-mails graciously provided me with some previously unknown facts on Grigsby's life!
I now fast forward to earlier today, when I was pleasantly surprised to find a new e-mail Jim sent me, this one containing the portrait of Epaminondas Grigsby shown above! I was beginning to think that I'd never see a portrait of this mysterious Ohio figure, and I also want to give thanks to curator Mitch Taylor, who located the portrait of Grigsby in one of the museum collections. This rare portrait was donated to the historical society by a certain Ludwell Larzalere, a man who I presume was a descendant of E.L. Grigsby. With that interesting backstory out of the way, we now proceed to the profile!
Epaminondas Ludwell Grigsby was originally born in Loudon County, Virginia on January 17, 1815, the son of Lewis and Hannah Bradfield Grigsby. One can surmise that Lewis Grigsby bestowed the unusual name "Epaminondas" upon his firstborn son in honor of the famed Greek general and statesman Epaminondas (418 BC- 362 BC), who was killed at the Battle of Mantinea. It is unknown what inspired the elder Grigsby to give his son this amazing first name, but one's imagination can run wild just thinking of the possibilities!
It is presumed that Epaminondas received his education in schools local to the Loudon County area and he is known to have married a Ms. Nancy Cummings on May 4, 1840 in the town of Waterford, Virginia. Three children were eventually born to the couple, and two of their children didn't survive past infancy. Robert W. Grigsby (1843-1902) was the first born, followed by Mary Grigsby (born 1847), who died at age one in April 1849 and Florence Grigsby (born in March 1852) died aged nine months on December 31, 1852. A small notice on the Ancestry.com website mentions that Grigsby and his wife resettled in Zanesville (located in Muskingum County, Ohio) in either 1840 or 1841 and resided here for the remainder of their lives.
Little could be found on Grigsby and his early years in Zanesville. One interesting piece of information centering on his early Zanesville residency was brought to my attention by Jim Geyer in one of the earlier mentioned e-mails. In 1852 Grigsby was named as the Treasurer of the newly formed Star Hose Company, one of a few volunteer fire stations that existed in Zanesville during the mid 19th century. The blurb below mentioning Grigsby was found in the History of Muskingum County, Ohio, published in 1882.
In the year that he was named treasurer of the aforementioned fire company (1852), Grigsby was named to his first political office, that of city councilman for Zanesville. He was one of ten new councilmen elected that year and The History of Muskingum County lists him as such, but somehow manages to misspell his last name as Grisby!
On April 6, 1857, Epaminondas L. Grigsby was elected as Mayor of Zanesville. I originally couldn't find out how long his term as mayor was, but have since found that it was a two-year term that concluded in April 1859. A blurb mentioning Grigsby's tenure as mayor is located in the History of Muskingum County and has been posted below. If one looks closely at the following passage, you'll see the name of Lewis Grigsby listed in the Assessors section. I'm quite certain that this is Epaminondas' father, who died in Zanesville in August 1862 at age 79.
Little else could be found on "E.L" Grigsby's life in the years following his stint as mayor. He is listed as being a founding member (and later treasurer) of the Howard Encampment, No. 79 of the local Odd Fellows lodge in 1858 and is also mentioned as being a cigar manufacturer by the Find-a-Grave website. Other than this brief mention on Find-a-Grave, no further information could be found on his involvement in the manufacturing of cigars.
Epaminondas Ludwell Grigsby died shortly before his 78th birthday on January 11, 1893, in Zanesville. He was subsequently buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Zanesville next to his wife Nancy, who predeceased him in 1888 at age 68. Also interred in this cemetery are Epaminondas's son Robert, two infant daughters, father, and brother James Nathaniel (1817-1906). Epaminondas's mother Hannah (who died in 1825 and was Lewis Grigsby's first wife) is believed to be buried in Virginia, as no record exists of her being interred in the Greenwood Cemetery.
As stated earlier, this article wouldn't exist without the aid of the earlier mentioned folks at the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and that is certainly the case here! A thousand thanks for your help!!!