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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