Caswell County Family Tree

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  • ID: I1890
  • Name: Calvin Graves 1 2
  • Sex: M
  • Reference Number: 1915
  • Birth: 3 JAN 1804 in Caswell County, North Carolina
  • MAP:
  • LATI: N36.3948
  • LONG: W79.3357 2
  • Burial: Trinity Baptist Church (Old) (Locust Hill, Caswell County, North Carolina)
  • Death: 11 FEB 1877 in Locust Hill, Caswell County, North Carolina 2
  • Note:
    Calvin Graves (1804-1877)

    Calvin Graves

    Graves Calvin

    (click on photograph for larger image)

    For a historical sketch see: C alvin Graves.

    His biographer says, "When eminent abilities, valuable public services, an unblemished political integrity, and a stern private virtue contribute to adorn the character of an individual, then it is most proper to set it forth prominently as an example to those who would make themselves useful to their fellow men." Hon. Calvin Graves was preeminently a man of sterling worth and ability, well educated, thoroughly equipped as a lawyer, a wise counselor and statesman. He served his state in the Constitutional Convention of 1835, as a member of the House of Commons in 1840, as Speaker of the House in 1842, as a member of the State Senate in 1846 and 1848, and on the Board of Internal Improvements in 1849 and 1850. He was without personal ambition and declined more prominent positions than he accepted, preferring to be a useful rather than a conspicuous citizen. He gained for himself, by a conscientious discharge of every duty, the confidence and esteem of everyone who knew him.

    Source: Graves Family Association - Captain Thomas Graves Genealogy.

    Mary Lea, widow of William Lea, had at least one daughter, Margaret R. Lea, who became the wife of Charles Iverson Graves, Sr., nephew of Calvin Graves who married the widow Mary Lea, as his second wife. The first wife of Calvin Graves was Elizabeth Lea. Documentation can be found in the Manuscripts Department of the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Southern Historical Collection (#2606 Charles Iverson Graves, Jr., Papers). Charles Iverson Graves Papers

    On page 92 of An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes (1979) is a photograph of the Brown-Graves-Yarbrough House (Locust Hill Township), accompanied by the following commentary:

    Photo 81. Brown-Graves-Yarbrough House. ca. 1780. Sophisticated Georgian style 2-story frame double pile house, with hip roof, modillion cornice, pedimented entrance porch with profuse vernacular classical trim. Well-preserved interior with center hall plan, closed string stair, restrained manetls. Possibly built before 1782 for John Brown. Home from 1843-1877 of Calvin Graves, noted Caswell County senator, whose Greek Revival style law office stands in the front yard. Remarkably complete antebellum plantation. [National Register]

    Yarbrough Farm.

    Calvin Graves Photograph.

    Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions
    January 1853

    "Calvin Graves took oath as Justice of Peace."

    Source: Historical Abstracts of Minutes of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1877, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1976) at 78.

    Graves, Calvin
    Papers, 1833-1950

    His journal records plantation business relating to overseers, tobacco, weather, horse breeding, settlement of accounts, and hire and sale of slaves, listing 130 slaves, their value, births, and deaths. Also in journal are recipes and remedies; expenses of travel, schools, and colleges; Caswell County North Carolina election statistics; and statistics for the University of North Carolina on salaries, revenues, disbursements, and investments. Correspondence includes letter from daughter at school in Salem; letters from Graves and Alexander H. Stephens to Charles I. Graves about his studies at U.S. Naval Academy; and letter from 27 citizens of Caswell County asking Graves to run for the legislature.

    1 volume and 40 items

    North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
    Division of Archives and History
    4614 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699-4614

    "There was a great Temperance celebration last night in the Court House. The Court House illuminated yes. John E. Brown and Mrs. Carton are moving into Crawley?s house and will live here next year. Moved here to educate his children. Brown is sold out. Calvin Graves has bought old Jethro Brown?s old place at $9,000.00.Sold his place to James Neal Fatham? @ $2,700.00."

    Source: Paul A. Haralson 25 December 1842 Letter.

    "Breaking Ground for North Carolina Railroad?

    A big celebration, with a barbecue, at the ceremony of breaking ground on the North Carolina railroad, took place July 11, 1851. The first shovel of dirt was thrown by Honorable Calvin Graves, of Caswell county, whose vote as speaker of the House of Representatives, gave Greensboro this great railroad. The dirt was taken from the middle of South Elm street, about in front of the present fire depot building. The barbecue was in a pine grove where the depot now stands and embraced all the ground between the railroad tract and Buchanan street. Thousands of people were present.

    Source: Greensboro (1808-1904): Facts, Figures, Traditions and Reminiscences Collated by Jas. W. Albright. Greensboro, North Carolina: Jos. J. Stone & Company, 1904.

    "North Carolina Railroad Has Proved Profitable Investment--It Lent Money to Confederacy and Has Returned State and Individual Stockholders Profit of More Than $14,000,000 in 94 Years"

    Raleigh, Feb 9, 1944--(AP)--A $4,000,000 investment which survived and lent money heavily to the Confederate States in the Civil War, has returned the State of North Carolina and hundreds of individual stockholders a profit of more than $14,000,000 in 94 years. The investment is the North Carolina railroad, now owned by the North Carolina railroad company -- or the State and its hundreds of co-partners. Chartered in 1849, it now is under lease to the Southern Railway company for 99 years at a net annual rent of 7.15 percent of the owners net capital stock -- or $214,007 a year. Add to that the revenues derived from special dividends from the sale of special rights and property along the line itself. Taken over a period of 47 years since the lease was signed, the operating company now has paid to the owners something like $10,058,294 in rental percentage payments alone. At the end of the 99 years a new lease must be signed or the property goes back to the owners.

    The company owns 224.12 miles of trackage extending from Goldsboro to Charlotte, through Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, High Point and Salisbury -- an area embracing the heart of the State's agricultural and industrial region. Mileage from Greensboro to Charlotte is double-tracked and forms a vital segment of the Southern's mail line between Washington and Atlanta.

    When the road was chartered, the general assembly of that year authorized the appropriation of $2,000,000 as the State's share in the investment. Private citizens contributed another $1,000,000. Later, when more funds were needed to complete the line, the State appropriated another $1,000,000. Today, of the 40,000 shares of common stock outstanding in the debt-free company, the State owns 30,002 shares. The remaining 9,998 are owned by individuals, many of whom are descendants of the original investors.

    Speaker pro-tem Calvin Graves of the 1849 senate sometimes is called the father of the State's railroad business. It was he who actually created the road. After passing the house by a six-vote majority, the bill creating the road came before the Senate. Here the vote was 24-24. Graves voted in the affirmative and the Raleigh register said the "applause was deafening." Graves broke the ground at a ceremony at Greensboro on July 11, 1851. "A crowd of people appeared such as we may safely say has never before been seen in our town," The Greensboro Patriot said at the time. Graves delivered the address.

    As he closed his speech, Graves dug up "a few spadefuls of earth and deposited them in a box, along with a list of officers, stockholders, distinguished guests, coins and newspapers of the day, and an address to be read on the 100th anniversary of the occasion when the box is to be opened." The company now has a standing reward of $100 to the person finding the box.

    Actual track-laying was started at Goldsboro and Charlotte in early 1854. Daily trains began operating from Concord to Charlotte the following September, the last rail was laid 4 1/2 miles west of Greensboro on Jan. 29, 185_. The next day mail and passenger trains made their first trips from Goldsboro to Charlotte.

    During the Civil War the road lent money to many of the Confederate states--never repaid--and its last payroll in Confederate money still is in the company's files. Much of the stock is owned by fifth generations.

    Source: The Robesonian (Lumberton, North Carolina), 9 February 1944.

    Calvin Graves is buried in the Trinity (Old) Baptist Church cemetery in Locust Hill, Caswell County, North Carolina. Trinity Church was organized as an arm of Country Line Church. Members came from Wolf Island, Lick Fork, Dan River, Pleasant Grove, and many other churches. William Pleasants was the first pastor; Calvin Graves, clerk; Alexis Howard, treasurer. Mr. Howard, William Dupree, and John Stamps were elected deacons. Azariah Graves, A. Howard, and William Slade were trustees of the church property. Calvin Graves, William Dupree, and A. Howard were delegates to the Association held 1840 in Yanceyville. R. W. Lawson offered a site for church and school. In 1842, Zachariah Neal from Bethesda Presbyterian Church united with Trinity and applied for a license to preach and received same in the fall of 1842.

    In the fall of 1842, Trinity united with Yanceyville and called Joshua J. James [also seen as John Joshua James] as pastor. The Association was held at Trinity in 1843, and a revival was held in connection with the Association that lasted twenty days. At this time, Judge Thomas Settle made a profession and joined the church on August 13, 1843. About this time, Hosea McNeil made a motion to organize a church at Sycamore Grove near Major Kerr's home, which became known as Kerr's Chapel Baptist Church. In 1844, the Milton Baptist Church was organized as an arm of the Yanceyville Baptist Church, and Reverend J. J. James served three churches. At this time, Thomas Settle was J. J. James's assistant and was at Trinity Baptist Church each month.

    The first Sunday School organized in this section of the state was at Trinity 10 April 1844, with twelve officers and teachers and forty pupils. Many slaves attended this church and had their membership at Trinity Baptist Church.

    Gracefully and Handsomely Done - - The Hon. Calvin Graves, of Caswell, was in this city [Raleigh, North Carolina] last week, and on entering the lobby of the House of Commons as, a spectator, on motion of Mr. Ransom, he was unanimously invited by the House to a seat on the floor. He was conducted to a seat by Messrs. Ransom and Ferebee. On motion of Mr. Cunningham, the same honor was unanimously shown Mr. Graves by the Senate on his entering the lobby of that body. This was a graceful compliment to a good man and sterling patriot. Mr. Graves was for many years, up to 1848 inclusive, a member of the Legislature, and has been Speaker of both the Commons and Senate; and while Speaker of the latter body, as our readers will remember, he gave the casting vote which passed the charter and the appropriation for the Central Railroad. Long may he live, doing good by his example as a man and as a statesman, and enjoying the affection of his neighbors and the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens generally.

    Source: Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina), 26 January 1859.

    "Two Total Abstainers--Calvin Graves"

    John C. Calhoun, it is said, never drank one drop of whiskey or spirits in his life. The same is said about Hon. Calvin Graves, of Caswell county, the man who gave the casting vote, as Speaker of the Senate of North Carolina, in favor of building the North Carolina Railroad. Several years ago a gentleman told us that when Mr. Graves was dying, the doctors wanted him to take some stimulants, but he said no -- that he had promised his father, when a young man, never to drink intoxicating liquors of any sort -- that he had kept that promise, and would not break it at death's door. Calvin Graves was a noble man. He retired from public life, voluntarily, after giving that casting vote, for it greatly displeased the people of his section of the State. He wanted no office -- the vote was solely a patriotic one. -- Charlotte Democrat.

    Source: The Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina), 23 February 1888.

    John C. Calhoun of South Carolina held major political offices, serving terms in the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate and vice presidency, as well as secretary of war and state.

    The father of Calvin Graves (1804-1877) is General Azariah Graves (1768-1850).

    The vote by Calvin Graves when he was Speaker of the North Carolina Senate broke a tie and passed a statute establishing an east-west railroad in North Carolina. His constituents in the Caswell County area were upset because they were in favor of a north-south railroad that, they hoped, would run through their section of North Carolina and stimulate commerce.

    Yanceyville Baptists Have New Building

    Baptists of Yanceyville entered their new church building for the first time on March 25 [1951], Easter Sunday. The structure is one of which the congregation is justly proud. It is of red brick veneer construction. The auditorium, with extra chairs, can seat 500 people, and under it is a full basement recreation room.

    The educational part of the building is of two-story construction and contains departments for each of the Sunday school divisions, including a nursery. The educational unit can acommodate 500 people. Connecting with the recreation room is a fully equipped kitchen. Some 250 persons can be served at one time in the recreation dining room.

    All windows in the building were donated as memorials, as were a goodly number of the pews, pulpit stand, table, and desk for pastor's study.

    The young people's department is to be named in honor of the Poteat family. The Poteat children and grandchildren made substantial donations for this purpose. (Dr. William Louis Poteat, Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, and Miss Ida Poteat, all so well known among Baptists, were reared in the old home at Yanceyvill.)

    The First Baptist Church of Winston-Salem gave $1,000 in honor of Dr. H. A. Brown, who was ordained in Yanceyville Church. The pastor's study is being named in his honor.

    Many members made great sacrifices to effect the completion of the new building, so many that it would be impossible to name them all. A few who can be named for special services are the pastor, W. T. Baucom, who made untiring efforts to raise money; E. O. Foster, chairman of the building committee, who gave hours of labor and sacrifice in keeping the construction going; and A. H. Motz, who handled the money faithfully and conscientiously from the beginning in the completion of the program.

    The Yanceyville Church has an interesting history. From an article written by R. S. Graves [Robert Sterling Graves], which appeared in the Caswell Messenger on June 24, 1926, we learn that the church was organized in 1840 and the first building was erected in 1841 on a lot donated by Col. Thomas Graves of Georgia, probably a former resident of Caswell County. The deed, dated 1839, was made to the first trustees, Thomas W. Graves, Jeremiah Graves, Phillip Hodnett, and Calvin Graves.

    Members of the church were formerly connected with a church known as Country Line Church, situated in the same general vicinity. There were arguments as to church doctrines and policies affecting missionary work, ministerial education, etc., and the congretation was divided.

    Among the early pastors, prior to the Civil War, was Mr. Tobey, an able preacher and scholarly gentleman. His wife was buried in the church cemetery. Mr. Mason, who was pastor in 1860 and some years after, married and baptized most of the parents of the present generation. He baptized both white and colored members, as both races belonged to the same church.

    Like many of the churches of that time, the building originally had galleries at the side and to the rear and the colored members, all slaves, worshipped in the galleries. During the pastorate of Mr. Murchison 1911-1918, the galleries were taken down, the building was remodeled, and a large Sunday school room erected, almost doubling the seating capacity.

    Among the former pastors named by Mr. Graves [Robert Sterling Graves] are: F. H. Jones, J. J. James, J. R. Jones, Mr. Chappell, C. A. G. Thomas, S. B. Wilson, O. A. Keller, D. W. Overby, M. C. Murchison, J. A. Hackney, R. W. Prevost, and C. W. Hood, who was pastor at the time the article was written [24 June 1926]. Mr. Hood resigned in December, 1927, and the next June P. T. Worrell was called. He served until May, 1944, and in December, 1944, the present pastor, W. H. Baucom, was called. He began his work in 1945. The plans for a new building were first projected about 1940, but the fund grew slowly at first. Mr. Baucom worked energetically at increasing the fund, and by the end of 1950 there was $42,185.00 on hand. Work was begun in March 1950, and completed in time for the first service on March 25, 1951. Total cost of the building, including $15,000 borrowed and labor and material donated, is estimated at $72,000.

    R. S. Graves, who wrote the article about the early history of the church, served as clerk from May 1897, until January, 1935. P. F. Sutton succeeded him and served until January, 1946. Since that time S. H. Abell has been clerk.

    Source: Article dated 19 May 1951 (may have been published in the Biblical Recorder).

    The "Baptist Enigma"

    A major issue before the North Carolina Legislature during the 1848/1849 term was funding the North Carolina Railroad. Some favored a north-south line, while others supported extending the railroad to Charlotte to open the western parts of North Carolina.

    When the bill proposing the east-west route to Charlotte came before the North Carolina Senate, Caswell County's Calvin Graves was Speaker. Following is Senator Rufus Barringer's account of the episode, which effectively ended the political career of Calvin Graves as his constituents favored a north-south route that would pass through Caswell County (on to Danville and Richmond):

    "The chances in the Senate were all in doubt. That body was Democratic; and up to this time, no special effort had been made to draw the old ship from its Jeffersonian moorings. And such men as Henry W. Conner, John H. Drake, A. B. Hawkins, John Berry, George Bower, W. D. Bethel, George W. Thompson, and John Walker were hard to lead and could not be driven. And above them all sat Speaker Calvin Graves, a recognized force from a county just under the nose of Danville, and devoted to Richmond. The speaker was tall, angular, and singularly ugly in feature; but his character was high; he was strictly impartial, and with all courtesy in bearing.

    "From first to last no one could divine a leaning either way. But now a mighty effort was made to teach these born men of the plow and of the people a new tenet of republican faith, an awakening to what the State owed the public. Judge Romulus M. Saunders [from Caswell County] and W. W. Holden [of Kirk-Holden War fame] both stepped forward and made strong appeals for the new departure [against the bill]. But all to no purpose. And then some of the Whigs, left out by the Ashe bill, stood aloof. From these and other causes, it was seen from day to day, in all the preliminary skirmishes, as also in the final struggle, the result would be very close, and that all might hang on the "Baptist Enigma," Calvin Graves.

    "By consent, the first and second readings were chiefly formal, to get the measure in shape, and to secure all sides and parties a just showing. This was after the old style, quiet North Carolina way, when, as a hundred years before, Dissenters and Churchmen were alike honoring King, Queen and Royal Governor by naming towns, counties and mountain peaks after them, but at the same time, solemnly resolved to hurl them instantly from power 'if they did not do exactly the fair thing.'

    "So here, every courtesy was shown opposing parties and interests until January 25, when the bill came regularly up, after full debate, and was put on its third and final reading. The Senate chamber was packed with visitors and strangers from all quarters to see the fate of the momentous struggle, now so full of weal or woe to the dear 'Old North State,' and which might settle here once for all the mighty effort to awake North Carolina from the long sleep of her death-like 'Rip-Van-Winkleism.'

    "Speaker Graves calmly announced: 'The bill to charter the North Carolina Railroad Company and for other purposes is now upon its third reading. Is the Senate ready for the question?' Feeble responses said, 'Question.' The roll call began; and as feared nearly every Democrat voted 'No.' The tally was kept by hundreds, and when the clerk announced 22 yeas and 22 nays, there was an awful silence. The slender form of Speaker Graves stood up, and leaning slightly forward, with gavel in hand, he said: 'The vote on the bill being equal, 22 yeas and 22 nays, the chair votes Yea. The bill has passed its third and last reading.'"

    Source: "Party Politics in North Carolina, 1835-1860," Joseph Gregoire de Roulhac Hamilton (1916).

    U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970
    Name: Calvin Graves
    SAR Membership: 94544
    Birth Date: 14 Feb 1804
    Birth Place: North Carolina
    Death Date: 14 Feb 1876
    Death Place: North Carolina
    Father: Azariah Graves
    Mother: Elizabeth Williams
    Spouse: Elizabeth Lee
    Children: Caroline Hannah Graves

    1850 United States Federal Census
    Name: Calvin Gravert [Calvin Graves]
    Age: 46
    Estimated birth year: abt 1804
    Birth Place: North Carolina
    Gender: Male
    Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Caswell, North Carolina
    Household Members: Name Age
    Calvin Gravert [Graves] 46
    Elizabeth S Gravert [Graves] 48
    Caroline H Gravert 18
    John W Gravert [Graves]17
    George A Gravert [Graves]12
    Bettie L Gravert [Graves]10

    1860 US Census
    Name: Calvin Graves
    Age in 1860: 56
    Birth Year: abt 1804
    Birthplace: North Carolina
    Home in 1860: Not Stated, Caswell, North Carolina
    Gender: Male
    Post Office: Locust Hill
    Value of real estate: $18,000
    Value of personal estate: $55,500
    Household Members: Name Age
    Calvin Graves 56
    Mary L Graves 43
    Geo A Graves 22
    Maggie R Lea 19
    Bettie L Graves 19
    John W Lea 21

    1870 United States Federal Census
    Name: Calvin Graves
    Birth Year: abt 1804
    Age in 1870: 66
    Birthplace: North Carolina
    Home in 1870: Locust Hill, Caswell, North Carolina
    Race: White
    Gender: Male
    Post Office: Locust Hill
    Household Members: Name Age
    Calvin Graves 66
    Mary Graves 53
    Bettie Graves 30
    Colvin Graves 53

    Father: Azariah Graves b: 29 OCT 1768 in Caswell County, North Carolina
    Mother: Elizabeth Williams b: 15 OCT 1773 in Orange County, North Carolina

    Marriage 1 Elizabeth Lea b: 28 JUL 1801
    • Married: 2 JUN 1830 in Caswell County, North Carolina
    • Note:
      Caswell County Marriage Record: Calvin Graves - Elizabeth Lea, June 2, 1830. Paul A. Haralson, bondsman and witness, Page 111.

      Groom: Calvin Graves
      Bride: Elizabeth Lea
      Bond Date: 02 Jun 1830
      Bond #: 000015553
      Level Info: North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868
      ImageNum: 004694
      County: Caswell
      Record #: 01 111
      Bondsman: Paul A Haralson
      Source: Ancestry.Com North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868
    1. Has Children Caroline Hannah Graves b: ABT 1831
    2. Has No Children John Williams Graves b: ABT 1833
    3. Has No Children Sarah Emily Graves b: ABT 1836
    4. Has Children George Alexander Graves b: ABT 1838 in North Carolina
    5. Has No Children Elizabeth Lea Graves b: ABT 1840 in North Carolina
    6. Has No Children Unknown Graves b: 3 MAR 1842

    Marriage 2 Mary Lea Willson b: ABT 1817
    • Married: 14 FEB 1859 in Jackson, Tennessee 1
    • Note:
      Honorable Calvin Graves of Caswell County, North Carolina, to Mrs. Mary L. Lea, formerly of Petersburg, Virginia, 14 February 1859, in Jackson, Tennessee. Source: Caswell County North Carolina Will Books 1843-1868, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1986) at 177.

      Note: Mary Lea Wilson was first married to William Lea, which gives her the widowed name of Mrs. Mary Lea Wilson Lea.

    1. Details: Caswell County North Carolina Will Books 1843-1868, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1986) at 177
    2. Details: Gravestone at Trinity Baptist Church (Caswell County, North Carolina)
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