Saturday, October 06, 2007

Graves Street (Mount Airy, North Carolina)

Graves Street Name to Remain Intact

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2007 11:05 PM CDT
Tom Joyce

Staff Reporter

When considering a street-name change Thursday night, Mount Airy officials decided not to mess with history.

The board was faced with a proposal to rename Dixie and Graves streets to Willow Street in connection with a recent realignment of Dixie and Willow streets.

The possible change arose from concerns that the realignment has created a confusing situation with the multiple street names.

Motorists traveling north from the police station toward Independence Boulevard, for example, travel on three different-named streets, although they never make a turn.

This presents problems in trying to give directions to those unfamiliar with Mount Airy, officials said.

Before Thursday night, the city Planning Board already had voted unanimously to recommend that Dixie and Graves streets be known as Willow Street.

Though the commissioners supported the change involving the Dixie Street portion of the proposal, they stopped short Thursday night of changing the Graves Street segment. Board members explained that they wanted to preserve an important name in Mount Airy's history.

A resulting amendment to the proposal was led by commissioners Todd Harris and David Beal.

“I have no problem renaming Dixie Street to Willow Street,” said Harris, “but I would not be in favor of renaming Graves Street” out of respect for the Graves heritage.

Beal pointed out that he had researched local history and found that B.Y. Graves was Mount Airy's first mayor after the city was incorporated in 1885. A man named B.F. Graves also held that position in the 1890s. Other prominent Mount Airy citizens have included S.P. Graves and Jesse Franklin Graves, whose homes were in the vicinity of present-day Graves Street, according to Beal.

He added that when another project arose several years ago affecting Graves Street, members of that family contacted him in an effort to leave the name intact because of “the heritage they have in the city.”

“I don't see any good reason to change the name of Graves Street,” Beal said. He added that officials should retain that name “if we have any sensitivity to history at all.”

Commissioner Tom Bagnal also lent his support to that stand, and a board vote on the amended proposal was unanimous.

With the move, Dixie Street officially will become Willow Street and Graves Street will remain.

No street or mailing addresses will be affected, officials say.

Contact Tom Joyce at, or at 719-1924.

The foregoing article is courtesy of The Mount Airy News, which retains all rights.

This article and the decision reported therein with respect to Graves Street in Mount Airy, North Carolina, are of interest to Caswell County because the Graves family for which the street was named originated in Caswell County.

B. F. Graves = Bernard Franklin Graves (mayor of Mount Airy)

S. P. Graves = Stephen Porter Graves
B. Y Graves = Barzillai Yancey Graves (mayor of Mount Airy)
Jesse Franklin Graves
Solomon Graves
Reverend Barzillai Graves

Bernard Franklin Graves and Stephen Porter Graves are sons of Jesse Franklin Graves
, born 1829, who served in the North Carolina House of Representatives, and was later Judge of the NC Superior Court. His brother, Barzillai Yancey Graves was a mayor of Mount Airy (possibly its first mayor). The father of Jesse Franklin Graves and Barzillai Yancey Graves was Solomon Graves, born 1784, who was NC State Senator. Solomon married Mary Cleveland Franklin, whose father Jesse Franklin was a U.S. Senator and Governor of NC. The father of Solomon Graves was Reverend Barzillai Graves, born 1759, who lived and died near Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina, and was said to be the most prominent Baptist clergyman of his time in VA, NC, and TN.

To see more on the Caswell County Graves family go to the Caswell County Family Tree.

To see more on the broader Graves family go to the Graves Family Association.


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