Current Focus: Martin McGraw (I)

Martin McGraw, whom I’ve dubbed “I” or Senior, is the granddaddy of most of the McGraw descendants in southern West Virginia.* He isn’t “Martin V. McGraw” as I’ve seen in so many ancestry trees: That “V” was an ampersand mistaken for a “v” in one of the documents discovered by a close relative. It appeared as “Martin v Margaret” McGraw in the document. There was never a “V” in Martin’s name. Need proof? Below is the death record in Putnam County, West Virginia of son Thomas McGraw (d. 5 Aug 1855). Take a look at the entire page on which this is recorded and you’ll find that “v” between many parents listed for other deceased individuals.

Ampersand not "v"
Martin & Margaret McGraw, not Martin V Margaret McGraw: Line 68;

The surname should not be construed to include Waller or Wallen “McRaw” in the Fayette County (WV) personal property tax lists prior to 1840. This McRaw family is actually known as McCRAW and came north to the western side of Fayette County to an area around Shady Springs, WV, from the southern part of Virginia and the northern part of North Carolina. I have yet to find any connection between the two families.

Nor should you, if you do your own genealogy work, hunt only for ancestors going by “McGraw.” As you may have already discerned, my surname is McGrew. I don’t know why my line started using McGrew. Yes, I know it may have had to do with the Civil War. But please know this: My second cousin Fred McGrew provided DNA for the Family Tree Project about 2006. His Y-DNA did not match that of any McGraw’s in the McGraw project. It did, however, match the Y-DNA of two lines in the McGREW Project.

We – my line of McGrews and McGraws – are most closely (genetically) related to Thomas McGREW who came out of Pennsylvania to South Carolina then to Kentucky, where at about 103 years old, applied for his Revolutionary War Pension. The second group to which there is a very close genetic relationship is Robert McGrew, one of if not the first, McGrew to come to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s from Ireland. So as you do your genealogical research, don’t forget to include McGREW, McGRUE, McGREIO, McGROW, Magrah, Megraw, and other spellings. What I have learned over the years is that the names have been used interchangeably up to and through the Civil War years.

What I do know definitely, is

  1. that Martin McGraw I is listed in the personal property tax lists of 1796 and 1798 Greenbrier County, West Virginia along with Anthony McGraw, very likely Martin and Margaret’s firstborn, and just as likely named for General Anthony Wayne of Pennsylvania.
  2. that Martin McGraw I died prior to the 1810 Census for Greenbrier County but wife and widow Margaret “Margarate” appears instead.
  3. that Martin McGraw I and Margaret McGraw were listed as the parents of Mary Ann McGraw in a permit allowing her to marry William Wood; and Thomas McGraw/McGrew’s (married Catherine Withrow) death record in Putnam County, WV.
  4. that Samuel McGraw (Greenbrier and Fayette), a son of Martin I and Margaret, claimed that Anthony McGraw was his eldest brother in an affidavit for Anthony’s widow Elizabeth “Betsy” Gill in her application for Widow’s pension.
  5. that there were no other McGraws listed in the personal property tax lists or Censuses for Greenbrier County other than Martin I and his offspring.
  6. that our McGrews/McGraws came from Pennsylvania, not from southern Virginia and upper North Carolina as some family historians assumed.

* By “southern West Virginia,” I’m implying Greenbrier, Fayette, and Nicholas Counties EAST of the New River. One has to be careful not to lump the McRaw/McCraw family that came into Fayette prior to the 1840 Census to an area that is now Raleigh County.

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