Notes for Jeneral Jackson Griner: narrated by Jeneral Griner to grandson Glenn Rickey Griner who prepared the written version; ~1989)
Jeneral Jackson Griner is the senior living member of the Griner family. He is a man with a gentle spirit having a deep rooted belief in Christianity, believing in the unity of the family and faith in God. He has regularly attended church throughout his life and has instilled values in his children that today are being passed on from one generation to the next. God has blessed Jeneral with long life as now he is 100 years of age. His life is evidence of the divine truth proclaimed in Proverbs 3:1,2 "My son, forget not my law, but let thine heart keep my commandments; For length of days, and long life and peace, shall they add to thee." Jeneral has indeed studied God's word and surely God has seen his faithfulness. Proverbs 4:10 "Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of thy life shall be many."
Jeneral has lived a simple yet fulfilled life. He has worked hard, raised a large family, and has lived to see fifth generation children. He has the respect of all who know him and is an example for all to follow. This biography traces the life of Jeneral Jackson Griner and provides some facts for future family reference.
Jeneral was born on 4 Nov 1889 in Mitchell County, Ga near a little town called Phelem. He was born to Henry Jackson and Amy (Howell)Griner. Jeneral's grandfather was John Griner who died in the service during the Civil War, apparently of natural causes, before his son Henry was born. Jeneral's father Henry and his brother Kernal, as we shall see, were to play the vital role that led to his life at Pond Creek. We now turn our attention to Henry Jackson Griner and the events that led he and his family from Moultrie, Ga to Pond Creek community where Jeneral now lives.
Other than his family, the land at Pond Creek has been the single most important thing in Jeneral's life. Not only to Jeneral's descendents, but to all descendents of Henry and Amy, the land symbolizes the source of our heritage; representative of our roots. Jeneral and the land provides a strong bond that has kept the Griner family unified. Our beginnings are at Pond Creek and our love for the land will not be diminished as time runs its course. The land has meaning. In Margaret Mitchell's book "Gone With the Wind," Scarlett O'Hara's father acknowledges that he plans to pass on the plantation "Tara" to her but at 16 she was more interested in a future husband than the land. Gerald O'hara being Irish outbursts in a roar "Do you stand there, Scarlett O'Hara, and tell me that Tara--that land-- doesn't amount to anything? Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, tis the only thing in the world that lasts, and don't you be forgetting it! Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for--worth dying for”.
Living off the land at Pond Creek was difficult as Jeneral's life testifies. It is typical northwest Florida sand land with little nutrients capable of providing a livelihood from farming. It is a land of scrub oaks and pine trees which grow rapidly. Each 10 to 15 years a new crop of pine trees are grown and sold to Lumber mills for lumber and/or pulpwood. Living on this land by farming with no other source of income would not support a family. Jeneral raised a large family. Farming had to be supplemented by whatever jobs could be found. Among the many jobs that Jeneral had during his life were: turpentining, logging, school bus driving, and other miscellaneous jobs. The land at Pond Creek provides no source of revenue to any of the Griner family yet it has great meaning. It provides all with a beginning; a sense of security; the feeling of belonging no matter what trials and tribulations life may bring. Pond Creek has a special place in our hearts. We continue to find peace and contentment, solace, comfort, and a rekindling of our spirits by brief visits there.
After Kernal's death, Amy was determined to have the land. She was never to legally realize Kernal's dream during her lifetime. Henry bargained with W. J. Davis for the 40 acres of land surrounding the "pretty little knoll" and signed a contract for payment. Henry agreed to pay $5.00 per acre for twenty acres and $3.00 per acre for the remaining twenty. The difference in price was because the first twenty acres had a good stand of pine trees. That brought the total price to $100.00 for the first 20 acres and $60.00 for the second 20 acres for a total of $160.00. The contract required that equal payments be made of $80.00 at the end of the first and second years. Henry and Jeneral built a house there in the latter part of 1912 and Henry and Amy lived there until their deaths in 1935 and 1936.
Times were hard in 1912 and 1913. Henry was ready to move to a new place to live so he didn't pursue the debt. But Jeneral persisted, saved his money and paid only $50.00 of the required $80.00 the first year. At the end of the second year, Jeneral saved $85.00 more and had arranged with Campbell's First National Bank of Defuniak Springs to borrow an additional $25.00 to pay off the balance of what was owed for the land. When Jeneral went to pay off the contract at the end of the second year, J. W. Davis told him that he had broken the contract because he didn't pay the full amount of $80.00 at the end of the first year. In the meantime, Davis had already sold the land to Britton and Rose who started Britton Lumber company. Jeneral went to Britton and Rose and asked for his deed but he was told that Davis had legally sold them the land and had transferred the deed to them. The last time Jeneral saw W.J. Davis he recalls telling him "I hope you live to be as poor a man as I." W.J. Davis unethically sold the land out from under Jeneral. Gal 6;7 ... whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." W.J. Davis died a poor man!
Jeneral and his family lived on the land without owning it (squatters) from 1913 to 1938 (25 years) before he would become legal owner of the land. During these years, Jeneral was employed for Britton Lumber company and was allowed to live on the land rent free. In 1938 Briton decided to sell the land and asked Jeneral to buy it. Jeneral agreed to buy three 40 acre parcels at $4.5 per acre. Tom and Maggie Griner had moved into Henry's house after his death in 1937. Jeneral asked Tom to buy Henry's original 40 acre parcel but Tom refused. Britton indicated that Claude Hinote was trying to buy Henry's forty acre parcel. Therefore, Jeneral had no choice but to buy the original 40 acre plot in addition to his 120. Thus, Jeneral bought 160 acres of land from Britton Lumber company for $4.50 per acre ($720.00) and paid for the land at $50.00 per year until the debt was complete. This time the deed was secured and ownership of the land legally passed to Jeneral.
More About Jeneral Jackson Griner and Leah Williams: Marriage: January 18, 1914, Leah's home in Sand Valley, Florida.
Children of Jeneral Jackson Griner and Leah Williams are:
+Alonzo Allen Griner, b. October 17, 1914, Mossy Head, Florida, d. February 05, 2005, Niceville, Florida.
+Floyd Jackson Griner, b. October 02, 1916, At Farm in Walton County, Florida, d. June 13, 1996, Defuniak Springs, Florida - buried in Magnolia Cemetary.