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Graves Family Association


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Minutes of the Meeting of the GFA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, March 17, 2007

John Graves, GFAMAC Coordinator, conducted the meeting.
Ernie Graves, Arlington, VA
Emily Graves, Alexandria, VA
Tim Graves, Manassas, VA
Jenine Graves, Manassas, VA
Joe Rowe, Orange, VA
Doug Graves, Graves Mill, VA
Patrick Shaughness, Washington, D.C.
Linda Graves Shaughness, Washington, D.C.
Mike Coleman

Introductory remarks by John Graves:
  • Financial report: $201 positive balance.
  • John shared his map of VA showing where members reside.
  • John recommended the following web site for assistance in converting 8mm film to DVD: mastercomputervideo.com
  • John encouraged attendees to bring in family mementos from archives for interesting conversation. For example, John brought in the black and white photo of his grandparents Edmond and Phoebe (Dye) Graves in Indiana that inspired his interest in genealogy. His interest was not limited to his own family line, but expanded laterally to understand people who lived full lives in other generations.
  • Don’t forget about the Graves Family reunion in mid-June in Williamsburg. Register on Ken Graves’s website: www.gravesfa.org
  • Location and time of next meeting: May 19th at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester VA at 11:30 a.m.

    Ken Graves has requested help.
  • In particular, he has had difficulty reading the May 1689 will of John Graves # . Mike will send .pdf file of “how to read old characters” to people who want it. This should help.
  • Ken needs help transferring his Word versions of genealogy to Family Tree Maker files. Mike Coleman is familiar with this software and cited an issue with sources being documented in software. He volunteered to do this for #166. Further, he will work on publicity with other genealogical societies.
  • Curtis Fruit will convene a meeting of Graves in the Newport News area, which may be more convenient for those living in North Carolina.

    The New England Genealogical Society (NEGS) advertised a portal of used book sellers and sells 25,000 books each day. URL is: http://www.abebooks.com. Doug Graves has another portal that would be similarly helpful.

    Tim Graves gave the main presentation starting with his parents in Indiana and going back in time to early settlement in three northwestern Indiana counties (Tippecanoe, White County, and Morocco in Newton County) preceded by settlement in Ohio and before that the Shenandoah Valley. He passed out copies of several very interesting handouts that document this genealogy, land holdings and wills in detail and describe settlement of Ohio and Indiana. John Graves has copies of these documents in the GFAMAC library, available for perusal at any GFAMAC meeting. [This is the family of John Graves of Frederick Co., VA, genealogy 116.]

    Below is a synopsis of some key elements of Tim’s talk with just a few notes about some of his interesting ancestors. Tim began with a few family photos. One means of identifying date and location of people is by researching itinerate photography studios. These early photographers moved about the country in order to keep in business, and faithfully labeled and dated their work.

    Tim’s mother was Wanda Lee Culumber, and his father, John Elwood Graves (1918-2006), was the youngest son of Samuel Graves and Linnie Pearl Helfrich. Linnie Pearl was killed by a drunk driver in 1919, the year Prohibition was enacted, and his father later married Lulu Scott. John, a veteran of WW II, made his living as a salesman of various products, including home appliances, commercial folding doors, and insurance, and ultimately as an apartment building developer in Madison, WI. Amusingly, one of his early customers was the wife of his marketing professor, who in apparent retaliation gave him a failing grade, which was rescinded by the university dean.

    Tim’s father, John, had three married siblings and a stepsister who did not marry: Lawrence Samuel (m. Evelyn), Mary Pearl (m. Edward Brayack), Bessie (m. Mr. Maple), and Vivien. Mary, who rescued brother John from their burning house one month after her mother was killed, and her husband, Edward, owned the first and oldest Schwinn bicycle shop in the United States in Gary, IN.

    Tim’s grandfather Samuel had 11 siblings, including 2 sets of twins and 3 who died as infants. His great-grandfather John Graves (1847-1917) and his wife, Susan Webb, daughter of John and Martha Long Webb, were born in Indiana. Their children were all born in White Co., IN. John Graves was the youngest of 8 children and was born 11 years after his oldest sister.

    Included in Tim’s handouts were excerpts from a sesquicentennial 2002 history of Morocco, a town located two counties northwest of White County, IN. Well noted are the Graves Hotel, Graves Brothers Store and the Golden Harvest Cigar Factory. Tim’s relationship with the Morocco Graves is through his great-great-grandfather’s brother Benjamin, born in 1794 and married to Mary Ann “Polly” Pierce (daughter of James Pierce). Benjamin’s grandson James W. assumed proprietorship of the Hotel in 1876 with his wife, Jemima Brennesholtz, who then bought it from Eliza Veatch (wife of George Veatch) 5 years later. James W. had returned to Morocco after living 11 years in Minnesota.

    James’s father, John Willard Graves, was born in Indiana after his parents moved west from Ohio. They lived in Tippecanoe County for 20 years and then moved on to a farm near Morocco. J.W. had attended Leoni College in Michigan and then in 1861 enlisted in Co. E, 99th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Despite his participation in the battles of Vicksburg, Mission Ridge, Jackson, Lookout Mountain, the Atlanta campaign, the march to the sea, and through the Carolinas, he was not wounded nor sick a single day. Perhaps the most famous of the Newton County Graves was Captain Daniel Morgan Graves, who was noted for recruiting men for the Northern Army in the Civil War.

    “One of the most fascinating aspects of growing up in a small community such as Morocco, where many of the families have lived for a long time, is the complex web of relationships that exists. Years ago, when families were larger the number of cousins, aunts, uncles, and shirttail relatives might include half the town. It created quite a sense of belonging and security to know that one was part of a large and extended family….I lament the passing of the small town, for it is at the very basis of what America is all about.” (written by Gerald Born, whose mother was a Graves, for the Morocco Courier)

    Tim’s great-great-grandfather James Graves (father of John Willard) was born in Coshocton Co., OH, in about 1811 and moved at age 28, with his wife, Christina, and their first two children to White Co., IN. Christina Potter had been born in Pennsylvania in 1811 to Philo and Mary Hixenbaugh Potter, who then moved to Coshocton. Her brother Jacob Potter married Lucinda Graves, older sister of her husband, James. (Brother and sister married sister and brother.)

    James and Lucinda had 12 siblings, none of whom died in infancy. Perhaps not unusual for a woman of that era, but certainly outstanding for any woman today was the fact that their mother, Susannah, had these 14 healthy children in 30 years, the youngest when she was 19 and the eldest when she was 50 in 1824. They were generally long-lived as follows: one to 15, 3 to their 30’s or 40’s, 4 to their 50-60’s, 3 to their 70’s, and 2 to their 90’s. The youngest sister, Sarah, even lived into the 20th Century.

    Tim’s great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Graves was born in 1760 in Frederick County, VA, and died in 1838 in Tippecanoe, IN. He was married to Susannah Dyer, who was daughter of John Dyer, a tenant of the Manor of Leeds in the Shenandoah Valley, and in 1814 moved with his brothers John and Wesley and sister Sarah from the Shenandoah to Ohio. Family tradition has it that they wished to move to a state where slavery was against the law. They bought land and raised families in Virginia Township, Coshocton County, OH, so named for the high concentration of settlers from Virginia. Coshocton County had been created in 1810 out of Muskingum and Tuscarawas Counties.

    A wonderful source of information about the frontier life these settlers lived is in a book entitled, “Wesley Graves and His Descendents.” It states that a Kentucky cousin of Wesley’s who represented Louisville district for several years in Congress won a well-publicized duel in 1838 against Mr. Cilly, a congressman from Maine. (Other Graves researchers dispute that this congressman was a relative). The duel, in which Mr. Cilly was killed by the third shot, was on the Marlboro Road to Baltimore, 2 miles north of Washington, and drew the attention of the press and public meetings where dueling was denounced. The book well documents several wills of relatives in Coshocton County, in which were bequeathed various parcels of land, horses, household goods, and other livestock to each surviving wife and child.

    This book describes the hardships of the families who likely came in covered wagons to the impenetrable forests of the Ohio wilderness. Land was surveyed, titles given, trees felled, and underbrush cleared in order to ready the land for farming. The country was wild, and there were plenty of wild animals and never-ending tasks for clearing, building a cabin, planting crops—simply civilizing the wilderness. Neighbors helped each other in building log cabins, and skilled axe-men ensured corners were expertly notched and logs saddled and plumbed. Many cabins were assembled with few tools and no nails, screws, hinges, or glass. Furniture was unimportant, as priority had to be given first to growing crops for the animals, raising chickens, and hunting venison and fishing for food.

    “We are told that this first log cabin stage lasted for about twenty years. After that, the family tended to move into a more stately mansion, for by then the dense forest dotted with cabins had given way to cultivated fields and green pastures; a two-story residence, painted white with green shutters; a great red barn nearby surrounded by stock pens and lesser buildings such as sheep shed, pig sty and hen house….Surely our ancestors settled in the Ohio wilderness far from any market, carrying all their earthly possessions and supplies in their covered wagons, and faced with providing for themselves against odds, they must have developed an independent spirit and a moral fiber that are as important a legacy as could have been left to us.”

    Tim’s papers explain that each township was 25 square miles and split up into single-square-mile or 4,000-acre (6¼ mi²) parcels. Coshocton is unusual in that its townships are 25 mi² instead of the 36 mi² usual throughout the Midwest. Tim showed us delineations of Coshocton County identifying Virginia Township, Moscow, OH, and the main land owners. Also of interest and in Tim’s documentation is how land such as Coshocton County was originally part of the U.S. Military District in OH. Parcels of this district were given to soldiers and widows of soldiers who served in the War of 1812 as payment in lieu of a pension. Some moved to settle the area while others sold the land patents for well-needed income to agents, who sold the parcels to settlers. Coshocton had been the capital of the Delaware Indians, white settlers first moved into the area in 1795, and then the railroads moved into Coshocton in the late 1860s and the Indians moved west.

    In 1832, after 18 years in Ohio, Joseph and his children’s families moved on to Tippecanoe, IN.

    Joseph’s father, John Graves of Frederick County, (#116) moved to the Shenandoah Valley by 1769 and leased land from Lord Fairfax, who as proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia held a royal grant of over one million acres. For building a house and planting an apple orchard, as required by Lord Fairfax, John Sr. received an exclusive lease of the land and paid a small quit rent annually. By specifying his son and grandson in the lease, he extended the life of the lease to its maximum length. Actually, this was the last feudal land holding in America, dissolved by the Supreme Court in 1816. By 1800, the Graves held over 1200 acres of land where they farmed, raised tobacco, and operated a gristmill. John was probably born in southern England and came to America in 1760 or earlier. DNA testing links his descendents to those from Cambridgeshire, England.

    The area where John Graves leased land from Lord Fairfax’s Manor of Leeds was between Ashby’s Gap and Manassas Gap, along the eastern side of the Shenandoah River. It later became part of Clarke and Warren Counties. John owned slaves but later in life came to believe slavery was wrong. Unfortunately, due to Virginia law, he could not afford to free his slaves and so according to the book about Wesley Graves “disposed of them to a good master.” Virginia required anyone liberating slaves to post a cash bond, be personally liable for the former slaves’ debts for a number of years, and establish the former slaves with property and a means to support themselves.

    Tim Graves has thoroughly researched his Graves lineage and has numerous primary and secondary sources documenting the genealogy summarized above. His presentation was rich with descriptions of the Graves heritage that parallel America’s early settlement.