John Graves
B: 1715
D: 1792
Father: Thomas Graves
Mother: Ann Davenport
Married: Nancy Slade
Our Child: Ann Graves

The following provided courtesy of Joyce Hetrick

John Graves-6

[1712 1792]

Captain Thomas Graves-1; John-2; Thomas-3; John-4; Thomas-5; John-6; Ann-7

From references in several sources, we can be fairly sure that THOMAS-5’s oldest son, JOHN GRAVES-6, moved with a wife and at least one child, probably more, from Spotsylvania County, Virginia, to that part of Orange County, North Carolina, that became Caswell County, North Carolina, about 1754. The Kimbrough family, with whom they had intermarried, went to the same area probably about 10 years later. BARTLETT YANCEY-8, JOHN-6's grandson, wrote: [North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 5, October 1928, No. 4 pp. 421 429.]

This County was first settled about the year 1750; from that time until 1754 or 5 there were about 8 or 10 families in that part of the county now known by the name of Caswell....The Lea's, Graves, Peterson and Kimbros came to this County about 1753 5; they came from Orange and Culpepper...The object of the first Settlers was to possess themselves of fertile land and good pastures. I am told by the first settlers that cane was so plentiful that their cattle went through the winter without feedin'....The Country line land, so called from a creek of that name, which empties into the Dan River, near where the counties of Caswell and Person join the Virginia line, is generally esteemed of the first quality in the County....

BARTLETT YANCEY may have been partly in error in attributing the settlers origins to Culpepper and Orange County, Virginia. Although JOHN GRAVES-6 appears to have leased land in Orange County, Virginia, from Lewis Davis Yancey, it is possible this might be another John Graves. In light of the later connections of the YANCEY and GRAVES families though, it is very possible that the families were connected by marriage or vicinity prior to coming to Caswell County. The Kimbroughs owned land in Orange and Louisa Counties in Virginia. Spotsylvania appears to be where the families resided, however.

There is no doubt which JOHN GRAVES-6 is being spoken of in the records, as it mentions his residence in North Carolina and gives other family connections. There is no doubt that JOHN GRAVES-6 of Caswell County, North Carolina is the son of THOMAS-5 of Spotsylvania, Virginia.

There are frequent references to JOHN GRAVES-6 in the court record of land transactions in both Virginia and North Carolina, and some associations and kinships are noted. In November 22, 1782, it records:

JOHN GRAVES of North Carolina, eldest son and heir at law of THOMAS GRAVES of Spotsylvania County, Virginia to William Pettus of Virginia. Whereas sd. THOMAS GRAVES by his last will and testament, after certain legacies were paid, directed the remainder of his estate equally divided among all his children or their heirs, but did not empower his executors to convey the same, the title so far, therefore remains vested in the said JOHN GRAVES as eldest son and heir at law, etc. and it being found necessary to sell and convey certain tracts of land in Spots. County, whereof said THOMAS-5 GRAVES died, seized, etc. this indenture witnesseth the sd. JOHN GRAVES for the sum of L 451 gold or silver, to be pd by the sd. Pettus to the Executors of the said THOMAS-5 GRAVES the sd. JOHN hereby conveys to the sd. Pettus 399a in Spotsylvania County, etc. Witness Joseph Graves, Jno. Graves, A. Graves Jr. Jon. Arnold, Jno. W. Pettus April 17, 1783 [Spots.County Rec. Deed Bk. K 1782 1785 p. 372, Crozier.]

When he got to Orange [what would become Caswell County, North Carolina,] JOHN-6 bought 640 acres [in Orange County] from Hugh Dobbin in June of 1757. He was also granted 21 acres [Grant Bk 14, p. 404] March 6, 1762, on the head of Ready Fork; 394 acres, [Grant #8, Bk. 14, pg. 403] March 6, 1762, on the Country Line Creek; and 457 acres [Grant #50 Book 14 pg. 407] October 13, 1761, on the south fork of Country Line Creek. After Caswell County was formed from that part of Orange County in 1777, there were several grants all in this same area to "John Graves" some of which are to JOHN-6 and some to his son, John Herndon Graves-7. Since both men were large landowners, it would take a very careful search to untangle just who owned what! John Herndon Graves was not born unti1 1746, so was old enough by 1767 to have business transactions of his own.

Some researchers believe JOHN-6 had children by at least two wives. Martha Hiden, a noted and skillful researcher, believes his first wife probably died sometime about 1749, before the family came to North Carolina. Some researchers think there may have been three wives. Some Lea [Lee] family researchers think that Isabella Lea's mother, Ann, was surnamed Herndon and that there was only the one wife, and they make a good case for this. It would account for the son of JOHN-6 being named John Herndon Graves. The Graves, Leas, and Herndons had been connected for several generations. The name Herndon, as a given name, passed on in the Graves lines, but only in those from John Herndon Graves, so there may have been several Herndon connections in the Lea/Graves lines.

If, indeed, JOHN had only one wife, and she was Isabella Lea, the daughter of James and Ann [Herndon] Lea, then these people would also be our ancestors. [Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 5:99 106]

Older group of Children of John Graves-6

First wife, unknown.

Captain Thomas Graves-1; John-2; Thomas-3; John-4; Thomas-5; John-6; Ann-7

  1. James Graves-7 was born before 1740 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and died apparently unmarried and without issue in Caswell, North Carolina, about 1790. His estate named his siblings.

  1. Thomas Graves-7 was also born in Spotsylvania County, and died in 1799 in Caswell County, North Carolina. His first wife was named Miles, and the second, Hannah Simmons. His children were: John Graves-8; Jacob Graves -8; James Graves -8; Nancy Graves -8, who married William Moore; Azariah Graves -8; Major Graves -8; Thomas Graves -8; Isbel-8; Patsy Graves -8; and Lewis Graves -8. Both his and Hannah's wills are found in Caswell. Interestingly enough, the use of the given names of Major and Isbel by Thomas-7, one of the older children, and presumably, not the son of Isabelle Lea, points toward her actually being his mother.

  1. NANCY “ANNE” GRAVES-7 was the only girl in the older group; she married BARTLETT YANCEY, Sr. None of the children of this lady bore the given name Herndon, though she apparently used many other heirloom names among her children.

  1. John Herndon Graves-7 was born in September 1749[1746?] in Virginia, and died in October, 1829, in Caswell County, North Carolina. John H.-7 married Nancy Slade in 1770. He fought in the Revolution and was a Captain in the North Carolina Militia. He attended the Hillsborough Constitutional Convention in 1788 and the Fayetteville Convention when North Carolina voted to adopt the Constitution. Another of VIRGIE's relatives, David Wilson, was also there. John Herndon Graves and Nancy's children were: Catherine Graves -8, who married Groves Howard and moved to Kentucky; Elizabeth Graves -8, who married Thomas Kimbrough; Delilah Graves -8, who married David Womach first and second, Abner Miles; Ann-8 [Nancy] Graves married her cousin Bartlet Yancey, Jr.; [the son of her Aunt ANNE GRAVES-7 YANCEY], Mary-8, married James Melbane; Thomas Graves -8 moved to Georgia; William Graves -8; General Barzillai Graves -8; Azariah Graves -8 and Elijah Graves -8. John H. Graves -7 had 57 grandchildren. Nancy Slade Graves died before 1808, when John H. Graves married Elizabeth Coleman, the widow of another Revolutionary soldier. He and his last wife had no children together.

Children of John Graves-6 & Isabella Lea, the daughter of James & Anne Lea.

  1. Reverend Barzillai Graves-7, born December 12, 1759, and died July 14, 1827; married Ursula Wright; was a Primitive Baptist minister. Children: Solomon Graves -8, Jeremiah Graves -8, Isabella Graves -8, who married Hosea McNeill, Mary Graves -8, who married General Thomas W. Graves, Elizabeth Graves-8, who married James Lea, Margaret Graves-

  2. Isabella Graves-7 married Thomas Slade; their children were Isabella Slade, who married William Russell May 29, 1825; Susan Slade; William Slade; Nancy Slade, who married John Stamps, June 13, 1810; John Slade, and Polly Slade, who married James Graves, April 15, 1800.

  1. Solomon Graves-7, born April 29, 1766, married Ann Smith Brooks in 1789; [Louise Graves states the wife was named Frances Lewis of Virginia] Solomon served in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1795 97. He moved to Newton County, Georgia, about 1819 and received a land grant of 4,000 acres which he called Mt. Pleasant. He died in 1830 and is buried on his plantation. His children were William Byrd Graves-8, Dr. John L Graves,-8 who married Mrs. Martha Williams, daughter of General Azariah Graves; Frances Lewis Graves-8, who married Dr. Wm. P. Graham; Iverson Lea Graves-8, Barzillaia Graves-8, Solomon Graves-8, Sidney Graves-8, Margaret Graves-8, and Mary Graves-8.

  1. General Azaria Graves-7, born October 29, 1768, married Elizabeth Williams on June 3, 1790, and died March 1, 1850. General Azaria Graves-7 was the commander of the 18th Brigade, 13th Division, of North Carolina Militia, and in the State Senate in 1798 and 1805 to 1811. There were several men named Azaria Graves in the Caswell area besides this man. There was Azaria son of Thomas, Azaria son of Azaria, and Azaria son of John Herndon Graves, among others.

  1. Mary Graves-7 born April 3, 1756, married John Kerr, Sr. John Kerr signed the estate of JOHN-6. Mary-7 died February 22 ,1831. Mary-7 and John Kerr's children were Nancy Kerr, William Kerr, Mary Kerr, John Kerr, Brazillia Kerr, Alexander Kerr, James Kerr, Isabella Kerr, Elizabeth Kerr, and Solomon Kerr. [Heritage of Caswell County, pg. 242, and Estate Papers of JOHN GRAVES-6, Caswell County.]

There has been a great deal of speculation among researchers about the number of wives of JOHN GRAVES-6, and just which children are by each wife. If there was a wife [or wives] previous to Isabella Lee, most researchers agree the her name is unknown. One candidate for the honor, though, is a Mary Lee [Lea?], but documentation for any wife except the last is lacking. Some researchers think that there were three wives, others think two, and at least one group thinks Isabella Lea was the only wife. Because JOHN's-6 son was named John Herndon Graves," some researchers think that a first wife was surnamed "Herndon," but as far as this researcher able to find out, there is not any proof.

That the widow who survived JOHN-6 was Isabell Lea Graves is not contested. Some researchers place the birth date of Isabelle Lea as after 1737, the supposed birth date of her older sister, Nancy. If that birth date is correct, then she would indeed have been too young to be the mother of the older of JOHN GRAVES'-6 children. We know that John Herndon Graves was born in 1746, therefore, Isabella Lea Graves was only eight or nine years older than he was.

Isabella Lea was the daughter of James Lea, and his wife, Ann. James Lea died intestate in Caswell County, North Carolina. The evidence, though circumstantial, is overwhelming, that James Lea's wife was Ann Herndon. The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 5, pages 99 106, makes the case for this, first with land ownership, Spotsylvania interests, family names, and genealogical references.

First, the power of Attorney, from James Lea:

State of North Carolina:

Know all men by these presents that I, James Lea, the son and heir of William Lea, dec. of the county of Caswell, have....made, and appointed my true...friend, Thomas Phillips of the County and State aforesaid ...lawfu1 attorney for...a certain tract of land in King and Queen County in Virginia.

The land was part of a 100 acre parcel on the north side of Mattapond River in St. Stephen's Parish, King and Queen, County. William Lea had received a grant for this in 1714. William Herndon had patented some land in this neighborhood in 1673 and Edward Herndon had also purchased a tract in this same area. The last-mentioned parcel was deeded to Edward Herndon, son of Edward Herndon, and fell into Spotsylvania County later.

The Spotsylvania interests noted are that William Lea, father of James Lea, also left a son named John and they are mentioned in Spotsylvania Records.

Apparently, John Lea also married a woman named Ann about 1745, the daughter of George and Elizabeth Carter. The Carters made a deed in February giving 185 acres to the couple "in consideration of the natural love and affection, they the sd. George and Elizabeth, bear unto the sd. John Lea, their son in law." About seven years later, John and Ann Lea were living in Orange County, North Carolina, and they sold that land. James Lea and John Graves [our JOHN GRAVES-6] were witnesses to the deed.

James Lea and Edward Herndon were members of the vestry of St. George's Parish until James Lea left for North Carolina in 1755.

The Graves and Lea lines both frequently use Herndon as a given name. The oldest daughter of James Lea, and his wife Ann, who was named Nancy [nickname for Ann] named her first son Herndon Harlson. The second daughter, Isabella, named a son John Herndon Graves if she were the first wife. James and Ann Lea's second son was named Major Lea. Major Lea named his son Herndon Lea. Herndon was also the given name of many other members of the family.

Mrs. Hiden, the long time researcher of the Graves family of Spotsylvania, cited the use of the name Herndon in JOHN GRAVES-6'S family as proof that JOHN had a wife previous to Isabelle Lea, since some researchers had inappropriately attributed James Lea's wife as Ann "Talbot" instead of "Herndon," but the use of the given name of Herndon in the Lea family proceeding the Graves marriage, pretty well precludes this as valid. The name Major, as a given name, appears frequently in the Lea family, and then passes into the Graves family.

The other children of James Lea and Ann, besides Isabella and Nancy Lea, were Major Lea, Luke Lea, Will Lea, Lucinda Lea, John Lea, and Philadelphia Lea, and maybe another daughter who married Jacob Miles. James Lea founded the town of Leasburg.

The exact date of JOHN GRAVES-6's death is not known but he died intestate. An administration bond was posted with the court January 18, 1792, appointing Azariah Graves-7 and Solomon Graves-7, executors of their father's estate, with John Williams and Jesse Carter named as bondsmen.

An inventory of the estate of JOHN GRAVES-6 is listed in the Caswell County Court records as follows:

Negroes, 17, horses 17 head, cattle 81 head, hogs 169 head, 1 waggon, 1 ditto [stage], sheep 25 head, I still, crop of corn, tote, hemp, etc. Sundry plantation tools, cash in hand money L 270. A riding chair and horse given to the widow by consent of all legaties [extraordinary] also one smiths anvil and bellows given to Barzillai Graves by consent of legatees and quantity cyder.

This may certify that the above mention part of said estate has been divided agreeable to all our satisfactions. Signed: Isabell Graves, Azariah Graves, Thomas Graves, Barzillai Graves, John Kerr, ANN YANCEY, John [Herndon] Graves, Thos Slade, Solomon Graves.

An inventory of the part of the estate lent to the widow during her life is as follows: 4 feather beds, & furniture, one black walnut table, 15 chores, I looking glass, 2 sugar boxes, 2 chests, 3 trunks, parcel old books, I spice porter, I case and bottles, 6 jugs, 2 batter rolls, 17 earthen plates, 4 bottles, 2 sets cupps and saucers. I box iron, I flat iron, fire tongs and shovel, 2 glass tumblers, 1 vinegar cruet, 2 Washington tubes, 4 pails I churn, 2 old cotter wheels, 2 flax ditto, 19 pewter plates 6 pewter dishes 15 spoons, 10 basons, 2 cases knives and forks, I tea kettle, I coffee pot, I small bowl, I pint mug, I black jack, 4 posts, 2 skillets.

An inventory of the part of the said estate that has not been divided   4 new hogs heads, 18 old ditto [hogs heads], 8 cyder casks, 2 small ditto [cider casks], 4 powdering tubs [to salt meat in] 3 small barrels, I iron riddle, I wood ditto [riddle?], 7 sack bags, 5 bee hives, 2 pr. steel yards, 2 small barrels, 2 old shot guns, quanity salt, I grind stone, small barrell nails I pr. money scales, 2 gimbietts, 1 whip saw, 2 cross cut saws I old bearsharo & courter [a gun?], parcel reap hooks, 2 sithes and cradles, parcell old files, I steel trapp, 3 iron wedges, 2 foot adz, smith tongs and hammers 1 old stone hammer, I smiths vise, 2 small hides leather 2 raw hides some bells." [Caswell County, North Carolina, Wills and Court Minutes.]

JOHN's-6 estate inventory shows that he died an affluent man, if not rich; secure in his family and his estates, and respected in his community. The children seemed to be close to each other and to his widow, and the records seem to indicate that there were few, if any, squabbles over the estate.

JOHN's-6 children were the pillars of the Caswell County community, the sons being prosperous landowners, businessmen, military leaders, and ministers, and the daughters marrying men of their brothers' caliber. One of JOHN's-6 sons was a Baptist minister of some note, establishing the "Country Line Baptist'' Church. We don't know which church, if any, that JOHN-6 subscribed to, but probably Baptist would be the best guess.

By the time JOHN GRAVES-6 died in 1792, he already had several great grandchildren, as well as many grandsons in the community. He was probably nearly 80 years old.

Left a widow in early middle age with 10 children, ANNE GRAVES-7 YANCEY never remarried. Most young widows remarried during this time in our history. It was almost an economic and social necessity. The affluent status of ANNE probably decreased her need to remarry. She must have been an independent woman to run her own plantation and household without the help of a husband. Slave ownership was both a benefit to the widowed woman trying to run a plantation, but also a responsibillity for she must oversee the slaves. ANNE may have hired an overseer to assist her with the plantation, or some of her older sons may have assumed that task. James, John and THOMAS YANCEY were almost adults by the time their father, BARTLETT, died, so they were old enough to assist their mother in maintaining the plantation in working order.