Joseph Grinnell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th district
In office
December 7, 1843 – March 3, 1851
Preceded byBarker Burnell
Succeeded byZeno Scudder
Personal details
Born(1788-11-17)November 17, 1788
New Bedford, Massachusetts, US
DiedFebruary 7, 1885(1885-02-07) (aged 96)
New Bedford, Massachusetts, US
Political partyWhig
Sarah Russell
(died 1865)
RelationsMoses H. Grinnell (brother)
Henry Grinnell (brother)
OccupationMerchant, banker, railroad executive

Joseph Grinnell (November 17, 1788 – February 7, 1885) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and friend of Abraham Lincoln, and the brother of Moses Hicks Grinnell.[1]

Early life

Grinnell was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on November 17, 1788. He was the son of Cornelius Grinnell (1758–1850) and Sylvia (née Howland) Grinnell (1765–1837). His siblings included Henry Grinnell and Moses Hicks Grinnell.[2]

After completing preparatory studies he moved to New York City in 1809, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits.[1]


In 1815, he aided in establishing the firm of Fish and Grinnell, which later became Grinnell, Minturn & Co.[3] His two younger brothers, Moses and Henry Grinnell, became members of the firm in 1825.[4] When Joseph retired in 1828, his place was taken by Robert B. Minturn.[5][6]

He served as president of the First National Bank of New Bedford in 1832, president of the New Bedford & Taunton Railroad in 1839, and a member of the Governor's council from 1839-1841.[1][7]

In 1840, he became a director of the Boston & Providence Railroad, the following year its president, resigning that position in 1846, but remaining a director until 1863. He also served as president of the Wamsutta Mills from 1847 until 1885.[1]

Public office

Grinnell was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-eighth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Barker Burnell. He was reelected to the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Congresses and served from December 7, 1843, to March 3, 1851. He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1850.[1] After serving in Congress, he resumed his former business activities.[1]

Personal life

Grinnell was married to Sarah Russell (1788–1862), the daughter of Abraham and Sarah (née Schumacher) Russell. Joseph lived in New Bedford for fifty-six years, often traveling to Europe.[5]

His niece and adopted daughter Cornelia Grinnell married the poet N.P. Willis.[5]

He died in New Bedford, Massachusetts, February 7, 1885 and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "GRINNELL, Joseph - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  2. ^ Emery, William Morrell (1919). The Howland Heirs: Being the Story of a Family and a Fortune and the Inheritance of a Trust Established for Mrs. Hetty H. R. Green. E. Anthony and Sons, Incorporated. pp. 249-250. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Grinnell Family Papers in the New Bedford Whaling Museum". New Bedford Whaling Museum. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  4. ^ Scoville, Joseph Alfred (1866). The Old Merchants of New York City. Carleton. p. 113. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Grinnell, Joseph". Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. 3. D. Appleton and Company. 1892. p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  6. ^ Hunt, Freeman (1846). Hunt's Merchants' Magazine. Freeman Hunt. p. 584. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  7. ^ The Bank of America. New-York: DeVinne Press. 1887. p. 106. Retrieved 27 April 2018.


U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byBarker Burnell Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district December 7, 1843 – March 3, 1851 Succeeded byZeno Scudder