John W. Grabiel

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John Willington Grabiel

(Arkansas attorney
and political activist)

Born March 17, 1867
Rushsylvania, Logan County
Ohio, USA
Died April 13, 1928 (aged 61)
Washington County
Political Party Republican gubernatorial nominee, 1922 and 1924
Spouse (1) Laura Hartman Grabiel (married 1892-1908, her death)

(2) Edith Houck Grabiel (married 1912-1928, his death)

Religion Presbyterian

John Willington Grabiel (March 17, 1867 – April 13, 1928)[1] was an attorney in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who was his state's Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1922 and 1924.


Grabiel was one of nine children born to John Grabiel (1815-1900), a farmer, and the former Sarah Downs Tharp (1834-1913) in the village of Rushsylvania, in Logan County in west central Ohio. His paternal grandfather, Jacob Grabiel, migrated to Ohio in 1812 from Pennsylvania. Earlier, Grabiel ancestors settled in 1635 in Virginia. The ancestor of the Virginia Grabiels had lived in Germany and was a Calvinist refugee from Switzerland. The Grabiels were active Presbyterians. The Tharps were a Virginia family too and were related to the Zanes, among the early pioneers of Ohio.[2]

Educated in the common schools and Rushsylvania High School, Grabiel completed the liberal arts course at Ohio Northern University in Ada in Hardin County, took a special course at the newly opened Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio, and completed a law course at Ohio State University in the capital city of Columbus. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1900 and practiced in Bowling Green, Ohio, until 1912, when he relocated to Arkansas.

In 1892, Grabiel married the former Laura M. Hartman (1870-1908) of Findlay, Ohio. The couple had four children, Florence R. Ellis (1895-1965), Ruth R. Grabiel (1897-1984), John Kent Grabiel (1900-1970), and Richard H. Grabiel (born 1904). In 1912, four years after Laura's death, Grabiel wed the former Edith Houck (1881-1940) of Rochester, New York.

Civic and political affairs

Active in civic affairs while practicing law in Fayetteville, Grabiel was a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He was the first president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. He spoke on behalf of the U.S. entry into what became World War I.[2]

In 1922 and 1924, Grabiel, a lifelong Republican,[2] carried his party's gubernatorial banner. In the former year, he polled 28,055 votes (21.9 percent), having lost to the Democratic incumbent, Thomas Chipman McRae, who received 99,987 votes (78.1 percent).[3]

In the general election, held in October 1924, a month prior to the Calvin Coolidge/John W. Davis presidential contest, Grabiel was again defeated, this time by Democratic nominee Tom J. Terral.[4] The tabulation was 99,598 votes (79.8 percent) for Terral to 25,152 (20.2 percent) for Grabiel.[5]

Grabiel died in Fayetteville in 1928 at the age of sixty-one. His party did not win the governorship again for another thirty-eight years, with the victory of Winthrop Rockefeller, a native New Yorker, over the then Democrat James D. Johnson.


  1. John Willington Grabiel (1867-1928). Retrieved on August 22, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 John W. Grabiel. Retrieved on August 23, 2012.
  3. Arkansas Secretary of State, 1922 election returns
  4. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas: Tom J. Terral
  5. Arkansas Secretary of State, October 1924 election returns