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Biography: Griffith Rutherford Harsh born September 30, 1860 – photograph

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(Sep. 1860 – 1934)

Jefferson County, Alabama

Griffith Rutherford Harsh, of Birmingham, Alabama was born on a farm Sept. 30, 1860, near Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee to Nathan and Mary (Rutherford) Harsh.

His father, Nathan John Harsh, born at Pottsville, Pa.,(b. Apr 11, 1824, PA-d. Jul 5, 1873, NY) was one of the early prosperous merchants of Nashville. He moved with his parents to Tennessee, when a child, and he resided there until 1870 when he moved to New York City where he looked after the eastern connections of his Nashville business. He died in New York City in 1873 and the family returned to Nashville.

Nathan was the son of Dr. Phillip Harsh and wife Magdalene (Kehler) Harsh, who lived in Pennsylvania and later in Tennessee. Dr. Phillip Harsh was born in Germany and eventually located in Nashville where he built the first brick house on the public square.

The maiden name of Griffith’s mother was Mary Jane Rutherford, b. 1831 TN-1870 TN) a daughter of Griffith Weakley Rutherford and Elizabeth (Johnson) Rutherford who lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee. The father of Griffith Rutherford was General Rutherford of Revolutionary fame.

Griffith Rutherford obtained his education at Franklin college, Tennessee, and at the public schools of New York City and Nashville, Tenn., and entered Vanderbilt University in 1880 and graduated from the law department. He was awarded the Founder’s medal as a best graduate. After graduating he went west and engaged in various occupations for several years. He was among the first to go into the Coeur d’Alene gold fields in northern Idaho.

He moved to Birmingham in January 1886, and began the practice of law and soon became a member of the law firm of Bowman and Harsh, which later was changed to Bowman, Harsh, and Beddow. Like most young lawyers there were periods when clients were few, but his sound abilities eventually won him precedence, and for many years he has been recognized as one of the foremost lawyers of the city. This firm had a very large and lucrative practice.

Griffith was also one of the organizers of the first civic organization in Birmingham, the predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce. He was first vice president of the Birmingham Civic Association and an elder in the Christian Church for many years.

On Oct. 17, 1889, at Nashville, Tennessee, he married Alice Moseley LeSeur, (b. May 1863 TN -d. 1926) daughter of Edwin Leseur.

They had the following children:

  1. William L. Harsh
  2. Griffith R. Harsh, Jr., who later became associated with their father in his law practice. Griffith R. Harsh, Jr. served as a first Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery, spent some time in France and the war zone, but for the most part, was detailed as an instructor.

Mr. Harsh was a Democrat, a Mason and both he and his wife were members of the Christian church.


  1. Notable men of Alabama By Joel Campbell DuBose 1904
  2. A History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of …, Volume 2 By George M. Cruikshank

This biography can be found in Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume VI 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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