Caswell County Family Tree

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  • ID: I3304
  • Name: Barzillai Graves 1 2 3
  • Sex: M
  • Reference Number: 3344
  • Title: General
  • Birth: 12 MAR 1802 in Caswell County, North Carolina
  • MAP:
  • LATI: N36.3948
  • LONG: W79.3357 1 2
  • Death: 21 SEP 1867 1 2
  • Note:
    General Barzillai Graves (1802-1867)

    General Barzillai Graves, one of the most highly respected and best beloved of the early citizens of Alabama, was born in Caswell County, N. C., March 12, 1802, and died September 21, 1867. He belonged to a family all of whom stood high in the estimation of their fellow-citizens in his native state. He was one of six brothers, all of whom preceded him to the tomb.

    He received his education at the University of North Carolina, located at Chapel Hill, and afterward studied law in the school of Judge Henderson, located, it is believed, at Hillsborough, Orange county, North Carolina. Immediately after being admitted to the bar, he was made solicitor of the judicial circuit, and continued to practice law until his removal to Newton County, Ga., about 1832. His habits were those of a student and he was greatly devoted to learning and general politics. While Gen. Graves was not an exceptionally brilliant man, yet he was well informed, supremely honest in his modes of thought, cautious in his argument, self-reliant, courteous and dignified, earnest, calm and logical.

    He was not so much a literary man as he was a scholarly gentleman. His reading was not so extensive as it was deep and thorough. While his perceptions were not so quick as is sometimes the case in others, yet they were extremely and surprisingly accurate, and as may be inferred, from what has already been stated, his reasoning powers were more highly developed than were the faculties of his imagination; or, in other words, his emotional nature was in subordination to, his intellectual nature, which resulted in a kind of character more and more demanded by modern conditions of life-a model worthy of the most careful study, respect and admiration. His judgment of men and things was rarely equaled and still more rarely excelled.

    Owing, however, to his patrician family, education and associations, his manners were somewhat senatorial and severe-too much so for popular controversies. While in the usual acceptation he was not an orator, which is implied in the subordination of his emotional nature, yet he was an effective speaker and a most troublesome antagonist in debate. He was a great admirer of the forensic abilities of Daniel Webster, and was very fond of reading to his young friends extracts from that great statesman's speeches in jury trials, and of pointing out their complete finish and great power.

    He was a most earnest Union man and a warm admirer and fast friend of Gen. Andrew Jackson. He was present at the second nullification meeting ever held in Georgia, probably in 1832. The occasion was one of great excitement and one which proved the quality of his courage to a most eminent degree. Col. Thomas F. Foster, then a member of congress from Georgia, Mirabeau B. Lamar, brother of Associate Justice Lamar, John J. Floyd, a man of subtlety, learning and tenacity, and Rev. Alexander Means, M. D., LL. D., all took part in the debate, and all were in favor of nullification. The multitude was carried away with their eloquence and went wild with enthusiasm. Gen. Graves stood alone in favor of the Union and in defense of Andrew Jackson, and, like President Jackson, he stood calmly, bravely, grandly defying the storm of fierce partisan passion that assailed him. He was denounced as a "Federalist" and false to his section, but the most vehement threats of personal violence failed to silence him. And he bore himself through this most trying ordeal with propriety, dignity and courage, conscious of the correctness of his position, which has been overwhelmingly justified by subsequent events.

    Gen. Graves was married July 13, 1837, to Miss Sarah M. Goneke, of Athens, Ga., with whom he lived until his death in the most happy relations. Shortly after his marriage he was appointed one of the trustees of the University of Georgia, and in that position zealously and faithfully served the cause of education. About this time he removed to southwest Georgia and for six or seven years devoted himself to the pursuit of agriculture. Twice he represented his senatorial district in the state legislature with his usual zeal and accustomed ability. In 1844 he was a district elector on the Polk and Dallas ticket, and after the presidential election of that year he was frequently mentioned in democratic newspapers and in private conversation as a most eminently proper person for governor of the state; but he by this time came to regard all official honors with indifference, and it was understood that he was averse to the excitements and labors of political life. His name, therefore, was not submitted.

    About this time a more absorbing theme than any connected with earthly honors took possession of his mind and heart, and that was the salvation of his soul. While he had always been a gentleman, exemplary in his speech and manners toward believers and unbelievers, yet he had not always been a believer himself in the gospel of Christ. He had been a quiet, not an obtrusive and noisy, skeptic. A change now came over his thoughts and convictions, the result being a thorough conversion in faith and practice. He formed a connection with the Baptist church, and to the day of his death he remained a bright and shining example of Christian zeal and charity.

    In the fall of 1851 he removed to Tuskegee, Macon county, Ala., for the purpose of educating his four children, all of whom survived him, but only three of whom are at present living. His health, never robust, had now become considerably impaired, but still in his worldly affairs he continued industrious and successful. Through all the troubled and exciting years immediately preceding and during the great Civil war; he remained, as he ever had been, one of the most active, earnest and zealous of southern democrats. Thus he lived until the day of his death, respected and beloved by all. During the month of September, 1867, he returned from his plantation, in Butler county, to his home near Tuskegee, in better than usual health, as he thought; but a chill came upon him which was soon followed by a high fever, which all too quickly terminated in his death.

    His widow survived him until 1880, and the three children who still remain are Rev. W. W. Graves, a Baptist minister, located at Bristol, Tex.; Capt. E. L. Graves and Sallie, wife of L. J. Threadgill. Capt. E. L. Graves was born May 11, 1845, in Randolph county, Ga., and in 1862, at the earnest solicitation of his father, who desired to prevent him from entering the southern army, he became a student in the university of Alabama; but setting aside paternal authority, he joined company B, Col. Swanson's regiment, as a private soldier. He was soon promoted to first sergeant, and he subsequently became captain of his company. His term of service was principally with the army of Lee in Virginia. He participated in the battle of the Wilderness, of Winchester and of Gaines's Mill, in which latter he was in charge of a corps of sharpshooters, and while on picket duty was struck by a minie ball in the ankle, which so disabled him that he was compelled to retire from active service. From that time to the surrender he acted as enrolling officer at Montgomery, Ala. For some time after the war he was engaged in educational work at Brooklyn, Conecuh county, whence he removed to Barbour county, where he has since resided as a successful planter. In the meantime he has taught school at Fort Deposit,Lowndes county, and while there he organized a military company of which he became captain.

    He takes an active interest in political matters, and is now serving as a justice of the peace. He is master of Ebenezer lodge, No. 210, F. & A. M., and is a deacon in the Baptist church. He was married in. Barbour county, in April, 1867, to Miss Carrie Hamilton [Hamiter], daughter of Joel Hamilton [Hamiter], and to this marriage has been born one son, E. H. Graves, now pursuing his literary studies with a view of entering the legal rofession.

    Additional Comments: from "Memorial Record of Alabama"

    Source: B arbour County, Alabama Archives (Biographies).

    State of North Carolina )
    Caswell County )

    Pursuant to notice and in obedience to a commission directed to any Judge, Notary Public, or Justice of the Peace in the State of North Carolina issuing from I. W. Eurich, a Justice of the Peace for Jefferson County in the State of Kentucky, I John E. Brown, a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Caswell, State of North Carolina, proceeded to take the deposition of Barzillai Graves at the Court House in Yanceyville on the 19th day of August 1844 to be read in evidence in a suit now pending before I. W. Eurich a Justice of the Peace in the County of Jefferson and State of Kentucky as aforesaid wherein Elijah Graves is plaintiff and Lewis Shirley is defendant.

    Barzillai Graves being first duly sworn _____ sayeth as follows. That some time in the year 1823 or [18]24 to the best of his knowledge Elijah Graves [applied] to him for a small sum of money the amount not now recollected and stated that he had an order (a verbal order this deponent believes from Lewis Shirley on this deponent for that amount) -- This deponent replyed to Elijah Graves that he would not pay the order for he held Lewis Shirley's receipt in full for all he was due _____; and for the satisfaction of the aforesaid Elijah Graves this deponent did subsequently show and exhibit to him the aforesaid receipt signed by Lewis Shirley and this deponent further sayeth that he never did pay to Elijah Graves any money for Lewis Shirley and further this deponent sayeth not.

    Barzillai Graves

    Sworn and subscribed to before me the day & year first above written.

    John E. Brown JP

    It appears that Elijah Graves sued Lewis Shirley in a Kentucky court, possibly to collect a debt. Lewis Shirley apparently defended the claim by stating that the debt had been paid as a result of Barzillai Graves paying to Elijah Graves an amount owed by Barzillai Graves to Lewis Shirley. The Barzillai Graves deposition is to the effect that the debt to Lewis Shirley had been paid, as evidenced by a receipt from Lewis Shirley, and that Barzillai Graves paid no amount to Elijah Graves in satisfaction of the apparent Lewis Shirley indebtedness to Elijah Graves.

    The identity of this Barzillai Graves has not been determined, but he was not the well-known Reverend Barzillai Graves (1759-1827). Possibilities: (1) Barzillai Graves (1782-1850), son of John Herndon Graves and Nancy Slade (had a brother named Elijah Graves); Barzillai Graves (1802-1867), son of Solomon Graves (but believed living in Georgia in 1844); and (3) Barzillai Graves (1820-1903), son of Jeremiah Graves and Delilah S. Lea.

    John E. Brown, Justice of the Peace, is believed to be Dr. John Edmunds Brown, M.D. (1800-1846), who for many years served as a Justice in Caswell County, North Carolina. At the time, a justice of the peace would have been a member of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. This body, while serving as an inferior court of limited jurisdiction, also functioned as the county's executive branch. In 1868, the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was replaced, with respect to its executive authority, with the Board of County Commissioners.

    Alabama State Census, 1820-1866
    Name: Bazillai Graves [Barzillai Graves]
    County: Macon
    Census Year: 1855

    1850 United States Federal Census
    Name: Basaler Graves [Barzillai Graves]
    Age: 44
    Birth Year: abt 1806
    Birthplace: North Carolina
    Home in 1850: District 5, Randolph, Georgia
    Gender: Male
    Family Number: 31
    Household Members: Name Age
    Basaler Graves 44
    Sarah M Graves 31
    Wm W Graves 9
    Louisa J Graves 5
    Florida H Graves 3

    Father: Solomon Graves b: 29 APR 1766 in Caswell County, North Carolina
    Mother: Frances Lewis

    Marriage 1 Sarah Maria Goneke
    • Married: 13 JUL 1837 1 2
    1. Has No Children John Sidney Graves b: 1839
    2. Has No Children William W. Graves b: ABT 1841 in Georgia
    3. Has Children Eugene Louis Graves b: 11 MAY 1845 in Randolph County, Georgia
    4. Has No Children Florida H. Graves b: ABT 1847 in Georgia
    5. Has No Children Sallie Graves b: JUL 1858 in Alabama

    1. Details: Barbour County, Alabama Archives (Biographies)
    2. Details: Graves Family Association Genealogy #270 (John Graves)
    3. Details: Descendants of Zachery Lewis
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