Slave History in the Graham Family

At the age of 78, David Graham wrote his History of the Graham Family (1899), where he apologized for including information on the slaves held by his ancestor, Col. James Graham, Sr. As a man born into a slave-holding family in 1821, David Graham’s prejudices are on display. He was already 44 years old at the end of the war, and likely already had his sensibilities formed. In 1899, 34 years after Appomattox, he writes:

To his descendants (for whom this book is especially written) it may not be uninteresting to know the names of the slaves and to whom they were given, especially to the younger generation, to whom may have been handed down the names of slaves owned by their immediate ancestors, without the accompanying information of from whence they came. To such it is hoped that a very brief sketch of his slaves and to whom, they descended will be fully pardonable and even appreciated.

Col. James Graham and his wife Florence Graham had ten children: six sons and four daughters (source: David Graham, “James and Florence Graham’s family,” in History of the Graham Family (privately printed, Clayton, West Virginia, 1899). According to the section “Slaves of James Graham, Sr.” of David Graham’s book, the slaves held by Col. James Graham, Sr. were given to his children as follows:

William (5 Dec 1765 – June 1836, m. 1809, Catherine Johnson): “To his son, William, he gave a negro man named Bob, who died while in his (William’s) possession.”

John (22 Dec 1767 – 1777; killed by Shawnee Indians)

Elizabeth (29 Mar 1770 – 1858captive of Shawnee Indians, 1777-1785; m. 1792, Joel Stodghill): “To Elizabeth Stodghill, his oldest daughter, he gave a negro servant whose name cannot now be recalled.

David (1772 – 1818; m. circa 1795, Mary Stodghill): “To his son, David, was given a negro man named Neese, and also a negro woman, whose name was Phillis. David also owned several other slaves.”

Jane (1774 – ?; m. circa 1792, David Jarrett): “To his second daughter, Jane Jarrett, he gave a negro named Rose. Rose lived a a very old age and died in the Jarrett family about 1850 to 1860.”

James (1777 – circa 1815; died of the milk sickness; m. 1800, Leah Jarrett): “A negro man named Plim was given to his son, James, Jr., at whose death he fell to his widow, who kept him till she moved west in 1827, when he was sold to James Jarrett of Muddy Creek. Jarrett was a brother of the widow.”

Samuel (1780 – ?; m. circa 1808, Sallie Jarrett): “To his son, Samuel, was given a negro man named Caesar, who remained in the family until about the year 1836, when he was sold, the widow of Samuel having about that time moved to Tennessee. Caesar spent the remainder of his days at Union, Monroe county.”

Lanty (1783 – 1839; m. 1814, Elizabeth Stodghill): “To the youngest son, Lanty, descended a negro named Ben, who, at the moving away to the west of Lanty’s widow in 1841, passed into the hands of Joel Stodghill, as did also the negress, Phillas, who belonged to David. Ben and Phillis were man and wife, after the manner of such relations as existed among slaves.”

Rebecca (1786 – ?; m. Joseph Graham, a cousin, in 1803): “To his third daughter, Rebecca, descended a negress named Dianna, which name was always abbreviated to “Dine”.  “Dine” lived to see slavery abolished and died only a few years ago.”

Florence (1789 – ?; m. William Taylor): “His fourth daughter, Florence Taylor, fell heir to a negro woman named Clara, who, when Florence moved to Indiana, was sold to Peter Miller of Monroe county.”

Recasting this another way, based on this document the known slaves of James Graham, Sr., were:

Bob who died while in the possession of William Graham.

An unnamed woman, who was given to Elizabeth Stodghill, neé Graham.

Neese (a man) and Phillis were given to David. (Phillas was later the property of Joel and Elizabeth Stodghill. Phillas was the wife of Ben.)

Rose was give no Jane Jarrett, neé Graham.

Plim was given to James Graham, Jr.

Caesar was given to Samuel, and after Samuel’s death, was sold to someone in Union, Monroe County, Virginia.

Ben was married to Phillas, above. Originally, he was given to Lanty, but after Lanty died, and Lanty’s widow moved west, Ben was the property of Joel and Elizabeth Stodghill.)

Dianna, or “Dine” was given to Florence Graham, and lived to see the end of slavery. Since David Graham says in 1899 that she “died only a few years ago,” she is probably in the census in 1870 and 1880.

Clara was given to Florence Taylor, neé Graham, who sold her to Peter Miller of Monroe County, before moving to Indiana.

Writing down that litany of “givens” and “owners” is yet another reminder of how inhumane the practice of slavery was; yet it was treated as such a “civilized” institution at the time….

There are interesting tidbits here. Since David Graham knew many of these people, there is some likelihood that many of the relationships are correct, even if dates might be incorrect for events that occurred so many years before her wrote his history. I’m intrigued by the possibility of doing descendancy research on some of the slaves, such as Dianna and Phillas and Ben, to see if I can link them to descendants who might be doing research, and struggling with the complexities of African-American research.

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