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GFA History PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Sunday, 17 April 2011 17:01

The Grinnell Family Association of America, Inc. was founded in 1979 by the "founding five," Wiley B. Grinnell (GFA #1), John E. Grinnell (GFA #2), Ed W. Grinnell (GFA #3), James L. Grinnell (GFA #4), and James E. Grinnell (GFA #5). Wiley had already published a small volume, documenting a number of New England Grinnell lines, which itself expanded on the work of William Emery, who published the first Grinnell genealogy back in the 1930s to satisfy the requirements of a very complicated will that dictated a sum of money was to be given to every living Grinnell with proven links to the bequestor, pro-rated by the distance in relationship to the bequestor (those whose family ties were the most distant from the bequestor got approximately 1/7200 of the bequest--by that time, just a few dollars).

These five gentlemen met at the home of Wiley Grinnell in Beaumont, TX to discuss Grinnell history, and the formation of a genealogical society dedicated to researching and documenting the descendants of Matthew Grinnell, who, at that time, was believed to have been a French Huguenot of noble ancestry, but later was proved to have come from southeastern England.Our first newsletter was published in 1979, and the Grinnell Family Association of America was incorporated in the state of Rhode Island in 1980, and soon after received IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-profit tax status. Our first reunion was also held that year, at the Ramada Inn, in Seekonk, MA, where we return every five years.

Presidents came and went every two to three years or so, with such great individuals as Wiley Grinnell, John E. Grinnell, William G. (John) Grinnell, Ed W. Grinnell, Ed J. Grinnell, James H. Grenell, Richard C. Grinnell. The less said about one former president, who shall remain nameless, the better. This former president was convicted of embezzling the GFA treasury of approximately $12,000 in 1998. Only the very smallest amount of money was ever recovered. Through the amazing generosity of six anonymous members, sufficient money was added to the treasury to permit the GFA to meet some substantial obligations it had incurred in publishing a new edition of the Grinnell genealogy, as well as sufficient money to send out annual membership renewals--the GFA would not have survived without them. Following the removal from office, Lawrence J. Grinnell was asked to complete the former president's term. For the next four years, until the Las Vegas reunion in 2001, Lawrence held the office. Allan H. Grinnell accepted the position at the Las Vegas reunion, but sadly and suddenly, he passed away in October of that same year. The GFA board of directors again asked Larry to take over, and he served as president for another four years, until he was succeeded by F. Hugh Grinnell in 2005. Hugh was succeeded by Katherine L. G. Asbury at the 2010 reunion in Providence.

The GFA has published two editions of the Grinnell genealogy--first in 1984, researched, authored, and edited by Ed W. Grinnell with the invaluable assistance of Richard W. Grinnell and James L. Grinnell. A second edition was published in 1997, authored and edited by Lawrence Grinnell, with the research and assistance of James L. Grinnell and Donald McMahon, along with previous research from Ed W. Grinnell and Richard W. Grinnell. The second edition is now out of print. A third edition, with many corrections and additions, is scheduled for publication in late 2011 or early 2012. In 2005, the GFA produced a historical video of the Grinnell family, spearheaded by F. Hugh Grinnell. This video is available from this website.

The GFA joined the world of the high tech when its first website went on-line in 1998. In 2000, the GFA got its own URL,

Over our 32 year history, the Grinnell Family Association has been successful in spreading the word about our family and its history, and plans to continue to do so for many years to come.


Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:43