House of James Graham, Sr., at Lowell

The house is a two-story one, built of hewn logs, chin­qued with stone, and is about 24×30 feet. The sills are of wal­nut, and, though near the ground, are in a good state of preser­va­tion to this day. There are two large stone chim­neys. The fire­place in the front room is six feet wide and has a wooden arch five feet high. The chim– [42] ney at the east end has two fire­places down­stairs and one upstairs. There are three room down­stairs, the front one being large and roomy. The rear is sep­a­rated by a cross par­ti­tion, mak­ing two rooms with a fire­place in each. There are also three rooms upstairs. The most notable part of this build­ing is in the archi­tec­ture of its roof. There are three prin­ci­pal pairs of rafters, one in the cen­ter and one at each end of the house, which are about seven inches square with a purlin run­ning length­wise of the house of the same size, framed together at the mid­dle prin­ci­pal rafter. This frame serves as a sup­port of the reg­u­lar rafters, which are of them­selves very large and strong. We do not hes­i­tate to believe that the frame­work of this roof, prop­erly pro­tected from the weather, will stand the storms of cen­turies to come. This house was built before the days of cut or fac­tory made nails and all the nails used in its con­struc­tion were made in the black­smith shop and called wrought nails. Like­wise, was all the lum­ber sawed by hand [43] with the old-fashioned whip­saw. Tra­di­tion fur­ther tells us that the stone in the chim­neys were boated in canoes from a point about a mile down the river called the “Nar­rows”. This house, at the time of its con­struc­tion, was con­sid­ered the best, if not the “finest” in all that section.

At the time that Gra­ham first set­tled at this place, it does not appear that there was a pre­vi­ous set­tle­ment in this imme­di­ate local­ity. it will be remem­bered that, after the break­ing up of the white set­tle­ment on Muddy Creek and Big Lev­els by the Indi­ans in 1763, at which time all the white set­tlers were either killed, cap­tured or fled for their lives beyond the east­ern slopes of the Alleghany, no fur­ther attempt was made toward again set­tling the Green­brier coun­try until the year 1769. Even then those who saw fit to haz­zard their lives by thus ven­tur­ing into the wilder­ness, which had pre­vi­ously been made red by the blood of their friends, took the pre­cau­tion to first occupy that por­tion of the coun– [44] try near­est the east­ern set­tle­ment from which they came. Thus was the local­ity around Fort Union, now Lewis­burg, and Donnally’s Fort far­ther to the north­west, set­tled before any attempt was made to ven­ture far­ther down the river. Nei­ther the pages of his­tory nor the dim lines of tra­di­tion tell us of the order in which all the set­tlers occu­pied land or secured for them­selves homes, as the tide of immi­gra­tion pressed itself down the Green­brier Val­ley, but suf­fi­cient is known that such valu­able land lying up the river from Low­ell, as the Riffe Bot­tom, Wolf Creek Bot­tom, Lanes Bot­tom and the bot­toms on which the town of Alder­son now stands, were not occu­pied until after the Low­ell set­tle­ment; hence we con­clude that Col. Gra­ham and those who set­tled near him, were not only the first to occupy this ter­ri­tory, but that they passed by the then known lim­its of all white set­tlers on the Green­brier and made their homes in this, then remote, wilderness.

One thought on “House of James Graham, Sr., at Lowell

  1. Before my dad passed away in 1997, my par­ents, Jack and Eve­lyn attended the Gra­ham reunion here and vis­ited the ceme­tery. My father left me the fam­ily tree book. I have thor­oughly enjoyed read­ing it and would like some infor­ma­tion how I can add my fam­ily and my children’s gen­er­a­tion to the fam­ily tree.

    Thank you, very much.

    Kristi Gra­ham

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