Monday, June 21, 2010

Captain John A. Graves (1822-1864)

From The Greensborough Patriot (Jan. 9, 1862 – Pg. 1)

A Screw Loose.

We are not disposed to complain of our State or Confederate authorities, or to copy many complaints of both that we find in our exchange papers. But the following is so singular a case, presented by a well known Democrat, and published in a Democratic paper, that we think it but right to copy it. Capt. Graves is from Caswell, of which county he was formerly a Representative in the Legislature:--Fayetteville Observer.

From the Raleigh Standard.

Camp Ruffin, Dec’r 21, 1861—Mr. Editor—Dear Sir:--A short time since, I visited Raleigh for the purpose of obtaining an order for cloth to make overcoats for the men whom I have the honor of commanding. I was told by the authorities I could not get one, they having some time previous resolved not to give any more orders. Whilst begging and pleading with all my power, and reminding them that they had given other Captains in the regiment orders for full suits and more, they or one of them had, a few days previous, given an order to a merchant in my county, for two hundred and fifty yards, who was selling it for one dollar and fifty cents per yard, in came a Colonel of a regiment not yet in actual service, and applied for an order to clothe his regiment, at which time and in my presence, he was refused. When I arrived at the depot on my departure, I met with the Colonel, and feeling that we were fellow sufferers, I asked him how he succeeded after I left, and he told me that he got the order. I, of course felt that myself wrote to his Excellency, the Governor to do me the favor to inquire why it was. I suppose from the vast amount of business he has declined or neglected to answer, and for the purpose of having the matter explained, I earnestly request that you do the authorities at Raleigh, my company, their friends at home and myself, the favor of giving this a place in your paper.

Your ob’t serv’t,


This Captain John A. Graves is believed to be John Azariah Graves (1822-1864), who attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate States of America Army. He died in a Union prison (Johnson's Island Prison, Lake Erie, Ohio).

Whether the above photograph is that of a portrait of the John Azariah Graves of this entry has not been confirmed. The portrait purportedly once hung in the John A. Graves Chapter of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina). While no factual basis has been found, some have assumed that the John A. Graves Masonic Lodge Chapter in Yanceyville was named for Lt. Col. John Azariah Graves (c.1823-1864) to honor his Civil War service. This had been the Clinton Lodge (No. 107, chartered in 1842), and John A. Graves was a member. The charter of this Clinton Lodge was surrendered around 1887, and the John A. Graves Lodge (No. 494) was chartered in 1898. John Azariah Graves was a Yanceyville lawyer, became a Confederate lieutenant colonel, and died at Johnson's Island Prison.

If one assumes (of course without any basis therefor) that the image dates from before the war, Graves would have been no older than around 38-40. Remove the moustache, and the image seems that of a reasonably young man, and certainly could be John Azariah Graves. It is believed that John Azariah Graves at one time had his law office in the Graves-Florance-Gatewood House. He married Catherine M. Dodson as her second husband, and they had two known children. John Azariah Graves is buried at the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville. One daughter, Mary John Graves (1849-1925), married DeBerniere Yancey Mebane (son of Giles Mebane and Catherine Yancey). Their descendants include many well-known Alamance and Caswell families.



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