Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grahams in early St. Louis

Burr-Hamilton Duel
So, how many John Grahams could have lived in St. Louis during the late 1700's and early 1800's? Apparently more than I expected. There were 925 inhabitants in St. Louis in 1798----most of them were French. I'd estimate only about 150 were Americans or "Bostons" as they were called. To see how the communities of Carondelet and Florissant compared, click here. Remember most of these people were French.

And, yet, there seemed to be more Grahams in St. Louis than probably any other Anglo name and a lot of them were associated with duels.

There was James A. Graham---a bright lawyer from Pennsylvania who died in 1811. According to Fred O Wyant in his article "Dueling Masons":

The first recorded duel west of the Mississippi was that between Dr. Bernard G. Farrar and James A Graham. Farrar was a Freemason and the first American physician in the vicinity of St. Louis. Farrar was at first merely the bearer of the challenge, but Graham refused to accept it on the grounds that the issuer, "was not a gentleman." By the code of the day, Farrar then became a principal. The duel was fought on "Bloody Island" in the Mississippi River, a later scene of many duels. Graham was severely wounded and never fully recovered, dying a year later on a trip East. His estate was administered by Robert Wash, a member of Missouri Lodge No. 1.
James A. Graham was from Cumberland Valley Pennsylvania and was from a well-respected family according to other reports.

But, that wasn't the only duel associated with the Graham family. Charles Lucas (above) who was one of the law clerks for John Graham, Jr.'s will was also killed in a duel on "Bloody Island".

And another prominent Graham in St. Louis during this time was Richard Graham whose brother-in-law was Thomas Biddle. The story goes that Thomas was near-sighted, so he and Spencer Pettis decided to fire at 5 feet. (they both died) Several thousand specatators witnessed that duel from the bluffs over-looking "Bloody Island". Click here for more information on "Bloody Island."
Even Abraham Lincoln met for a duel on Bloody Island. Click here.

So, we have James A. Graham (the duelist) from Cumberland Pennsylvania, John (Juan, Jean) Graham Senior (our ancestor), John (Jean) Graham Junior who owned a lot of horses, Richard Graham (from Virginia)who married into the wealthiest family in St. Louis---Mullanphys (his brother-in-law was Thomas Biddle in a duel).

Richard Graham also had a son John Graham whose daughter was Fanny Graham Wickham mentioned in the photo above (the genealogy above is not quite accurate). At first we thought we were possibly related to that family because that family had members who were close associates with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (whom William Graham named two sons after). But, despite what that photos says, her grandfather was Richard not John.

We think from that family came another John Graham who was sent to St. Louis to spy for Jefferson----Aaron Burr (the duelist pictured at the top of the page) was trying to get Louisiana Territory to form a separate nation with himself as the leader. Click here for info on that. That John Grahm was only in St. Louis for a few years as the clerk of the territory.

In summary:
James A. Graham, duelist (Pennsylvania)
John (Juan, Jean) Graham, Spanish Land Grant
John (Jean) Graham, son of the above
Richard Graham (who had a son John Graham who was a Navy captain) (Virginia)
John Graham, Jefferson's confidant and spy (Virginia)
John Graham, Major in Louisiana territory 1812 (we have no idea who this is---maybe the spy?)

So, before 1822, there had been possibly 5 John Grahams in St. Louis. But, there were still two more Grahams in this list of pioneers here: James G. Graham and Hugh Graham. James G. was here with the military.
Hugh was also a Spanish Land Grant, coming as early as our John Graham in the late 1790's. He was also from Cumberland Valley, PA like James A. Graham. His son Samuel settled in Jefferson County like our ancestor William Graham. We are leaning to our John Graham(AKA Jean, Juan) and Hugh Graham being brothers.

We also know that John (Juan, Jean)Graham Senior was the administrator of Thomas Halfpenny's estate. The probate records can be seen on line. Click here. Again, you'll see the name Vincent Carrico in those records, too.

We don't know much else about our John Graham other than he was married to Mary McGauley in St. John's Episcopal Church in Joppa, Maryland which is also in the Cumberland Valley. We also know he was close friends of the Carrico and Quick families who were originally from Maryland. So, we're thinking that most of these early St. Louis Grahams were from two families: Dumfries,Virginia and Cumberland Valley (Pennsylvania and Maryland)

We no longer believe that John Graham or Mary McGauley are ancestors of ours, but. . . 

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