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, néé 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, néé 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, néé 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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