Rev. John Graham

Submitter Unknown

The Rev. John Graham, one of the most active Baptist preachers in Jefferson and Switzerland Counties, lived from roughly 1785 to Sept. 3,1862. He was aged 78 years 3 months, 22 days when he died, according to his tombstone in the Sanders Cemetery in Delaware County.

John was born in Pennsylvania, and was almost certainly the son of James Graham Jr. James and his family would move to Estill Co., Ky., from Bedford Co., Pa., by 1808. James moved to Switzerland County, where he married the widow Lavina Richards Bell. He died in Boone Co., Ind., between Nov. 10, 1845 when his will was written and Jan. 24, 1846, when it was probated. The will mentions John Graham, but does not call him a son. However, in a 1914 newspaper interview with John's daughter Phoebe Ragan states that James Graham was John's father.

John married Nancy Rogers, daughter of Rev. War Soldier Stephen Rogers, about 1807, although official no record has been found. Again, Phoebe Ragan states Stephen was Nancy's father. Nancy's maiden name is also given on the marriage application of their son Joseph on Dec. 7, 1887 in Tipton Co. (His third marriage). Nancy lived ca. 1789-April 17, 1864, age 65, according to her tombstone.

The biography of grandson, David W. Graham, son of Joseph Graham, states that John Graham "was a minister of the Gospel and served in the War of 1812-14." John is listed on an Estill Co. tax last dated Apr. 25, 1821 for the year 1820. He is listed for the last time in Estill Co. in 1821. John Graham Sr. was a very active Baptist minister. In his the nineteenth-century writings, printed as The Swiss Settlement of Switzerland Co., Ind., Perret Dufour refers to John as a frequent preacher in the Vevay area from 1814 through 1818 and later in Craig Township. (Either Dufour was wrong about the dates, or the man on the tax list is a different John Graham.)

In any event, the Grahams followed Stephen Rogers to Indiana, as he had already moved there by 1819. John's brother Elijah, who lived alternately in Craig Township and in Carroll Co., Ky., would also moved to Switzerland County, along with their father James, who lived there only briefly. His ordination occurred shortly after the third Saturday, September 1824 when the minutes of Brushy Fork Church reflect a call from Long Run Baptist Church for aid in Graham's ordination.

At some point, the Graham family settled along Indian Creek in Pleasant Township. John and Nancy sold 68 acres in the N1⁄2 SE1⁄4 Section 19 Twp. 3N Range 3W on March 12, 1849. The deed notes the property borders Indian Creek. During this period, the family is associated with the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Meeting House, which was organized by Oct. 4, 1833, when land in the SE1⁄4 Section 19 was deeded to trustees, including William Graham. J. Graham was an elder in 1842 when the church sent messengers to Macedonia Baptist Church during the latter's formation.

John bought four lots in Bennington on June 4,1847 and the whole family seems to have moved. Jackson, William, and James all purchased town lots over the next four months, while Joseph Graham purchased land adjoining Bennington in September. The Grahams' move may have doomed the Mt. Pleasant Church. The trustees, including Elijah Graham, sold the church property to Joseph Graham on Jan. 22, 1848. John Graham was the founding minister of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Bennington, in 1842. He preached at many Baptist churches in eastern Jefferson Co., and western Switzerland Co., including Macedonia, Brushy Fork, Milton and Union.

Much of the Graham family left Switzerland Co. John and Nancy are listed 1850 in Pleasant Township, but sold lots 29-32 to Joseph Graham on Jan. 20, 1851. They probably moved to Delaware Co. at this time. In the 1860 census, John and Nancy Graham are listed next to John Graham Jr. and his wife, Nancy, (also nee Rogers). Apparently, the elder Graham retired from the ministry as the census gives his occupation as farmer. The 1914 interview with Phoebe Ragan says her father died in Delaware Co., while her mother died in Hamilton Co.

Few of John's children are proven, although one researcher says the sons are proven in records of an annual family reunion. The daughters are more problematical and the following list is only a theory.

Children of John Graham and Nancy Rogers?

1. William Graham born 1805 Ky. He married on May 13, 1825 in Switzerland Co., Nancy Turner born 1806, Maryland. Listed in the 1850 Switzerland Co. census. No further record.
2. Joseph Graham, Dec. 27, 1807-March 7, 1891 He married on Aug. 13, 1829 in Switzerland Co., Sarah Griffin. He married Nov. 12, 1840 Switzerland Co., Hannah Farrell and lived 1850 in Switzerland Co. He moved to Tipton Co. about 1853. He m. Dec. 7, 1887 in Tipton Co., Retta J. Swanningan. His third marriage application lists him as son of John Graham and Nancy Rogers.
3. Elijah Graham b. 1809 He married on July 29, 1829 in Switzerland Co., Charity Griffin. He married on Apr. 28, 1833 in Switzerland Co. Kesiah Rogers and lived 1850 in Switzerland Co.
4. John Graham b. 1809⁄10 He married in 1830 in Switzerland Co., Nancy Rogers b. 1814⁄15 They lived 1860 Salem Twp., Delaware Co., but is not listed in the 1870 census. Her relationship to Nancy Rogers, wife of John Graham Sr., is not known.
5. Melinda Graham b. ca. 1811? She married on Feb. 4, 1830. in Switzerland Co., David H. Todd. No proof she is a daughter but Mary Graham Rogers named a daughter Melinda. Also, the Todds intermarried with the Stephen Rogers family.
6. Stillwell Graham b. ca. 1812 in Kentucky Listed 1830⁄1840⁄1850 Switzerland Co., Census. Died 1894 Hamilton Co., Ind. He married on Aug. 27, 1828 in Decatur Co., Frances Duncan. His wife also died in Hamilton Co. It seems possible that Nancy Rogers Graham died in Hamilton Co. while living with this couple. One researcher speculates Stillwell is a younger brother to John Graham, but he does not appear to be mentioned in James' will in Boone Co.
7. James Graham, b. ca. 1813. He is almost certainly the James who m. Lucy Twinham on 5 Aug. 1844 in Switzerland Co. James is not listed in the 1850 Switzerland Co. census and has not been found otherwise. A note from Mary Vizbara of Clearwater, Fla., on March 12, 1992, relates notes from a Olive Graham Habben, granddaughter of Andrew Jackson Graham, states that James married Lucy, that he was born in 1822 in Switzerland Co. and died in Sept. 1891 in Troy, Ohio.
8. Sabra Ann Graham Dec. 29, 1813-Jan. 5, 1892, buried Slawson Cemetery. She married on Nov. 27, 1835 in Switzerland Co., John W Turner. John's daughter Phoebe Graham Ragan named a daughter Sabra, so Sabra is possibly a daughter.
9. Sarah Graham Aug. 10, 1815-Sept. 10, 1907 She married on Nov. 26, 1834 in Switzerland Co., Benjamin Brown She died Clinton Co., buried Oak Hill Cemetery.
10. Phoebe Graham Aug. 16, 1819-Dec. 3, 1916, born Kentucky She married on March 25, 1840 in Switzerland Co., Benjamin Locke; he married on March 2, 1843 in Switzerland Co., Thomas J. Ragan. They lived 1850 Pleasant Township. Moved to Delaware Co. then to Tipton Co. at age 60. A 1914 biographical sketch lists her as daughter of John Graham and Nancy Rogers.
11. Mary Graham 1819⁄20-ca. 1870 (before 1870 census, last child born about 1862) She married on May 20, 1839 in Switzerland Co., Ind., Elijah Rogers 24 Nov. 1818-last week of 1892 (per item in Vevay newspaper) burial place unknown. Mary is not proven as a daughter. However, it seems more likely she was John's daughter, as the Rogers were members at Brushy Fork Baptist Church when John preached there. Elijah married on Nov. 24, 1864 Switzerland Co., Mrs. Julia Turner (divorced.) She lived in a separate household 1870 in Switzerland Co. He married on March 3, 1874 in Jefferson Co., Elizabeth Hankins They were divorced by 1880.
12. Andrew Jackson Graham Nov. 30, 1824-Sept. 12, 1875 He married in Jan. 26, 1843 in Ripley Co., Lucinda Rogers Apr. 14, 1825- Feb. 5, 1869, both buried Randolph Cem., Howard Co., Ind.
13. Elizabeth Graham She married on Dec. 22, 1846 in Switzerland Co., Jonathan Tower Jr. No proof she is a daughter, but the Towers lived in the same neighborhood. It's possible she was a granddaughter of John. William Graham sold land to Lewis Tower in 1847.