Isaiah Franklin McGraw: Russell, VA to Nicholas, WV

My brother attended High School in Greenbrier County, West Virginia many years ago and one of his classmates was Herman McGraw. My dad teased them about being cousins but what he didn’t realize (I don’t think) is that they truly were distant cousins. My younger sister also attended school with a girl who descended from the same family as Herman Edward McGraw. Here is what I was able to glean from the records.

As you know Martin McGraw Sr. and his wife Margaret __ had a second son they named John McGraw who married Sally/Sarah Anderson in Greenbrier County, WV on 15 Feb 1799 according to the records on file at the WV Archives. John and Sally left Monroe County after the 1801 Tax List and moved down into Russell County, Virginia where he appears in the 1802 Tax List. They had a gang of children. Among them was a son they named Thomas McGraw who was born about 1810 (let’s not confuse him with my direct ancestor Thomas McGraw of Greenbrier – Putnam County, WV).  Thomas McGraw married (1) Malisie Nancy Hurt in Russell County, VA about 1839 as Thomas appears in the 1840 Census with a wife and two children. Note: a daughter, Elizabeth, married in Iowa at the age of 71 giving her parents’ names as Thomas McGraw and Nancy Hurt on the marriage record. Prior to 1850, Malisie Nancy Hurt died of Typhoid Fever and Thomas had not yet remarried by the time the Census was taken. He then married his second wife (2) Catherine Lewis on 17 Aug 1860 in Russell County and had several more youngins. Of particular interest to this blog post is Isaiah Franklin McGraw, born 29 July 1853 in Russell County, VA.

In 1880, Isaiah Franklin is in the household of his (half) sister Elizabeth and her first husband, William Sprague, in Kinderhook, Pike County, Illinois. Fast forward four years and Isaiah is back in Russell County where on 18 Oct 1884 he married Leticia Elkins. But Leticia passed sometime between 1910 and 1920 because she does not appear in the 1920 Census; plus Isaiah’s status is widowed in the 1920 Census. Why do the two youngest children of Isaiah and Leticia not appear in the 1910 Census? It is possible that they are in the home of a relative being cared for, especially if Letitia is already ill or feeble and unable to tend to them. The two youngest are Herman Hugh McGraw (born 1905) and Laura Jean McGraw (born 1907), both of whom appear in the 1920 Census of Nicholas County, West Virginia.

Now, I hope that you find this as remarkable as I do because, although the McGraw’s began their migration from Pennsylvania in the 1780’s and wound up in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, spreading out from there, many of our ancestors moved from Greenbrier to Nicholas County (part of which became Fayette County) and spread out even more from there. Isaiah Franklin McGraw is accounted in this census living in a town named Kentuck, WV, near the border of Nicholas County with Jackson County, WV and just a few miles north and easterly of, where else? Kanawha and Putnam Counties where my McGraw – now McGrew – ancestors were living and propagating.

Of particular interest to us is Isaiah and Letitia’s son, Herman Hugh McGraw. On 2 March 1925, Herman Hugh McGraw married Easter Ann Evans in Laurel Creek in Fayette County, West Virginia. They too had a large family, and for the purposes of this post, namely a son named Rodney Ashworth McGraw. On 26 May 1961 Rodney Ashworth McGraw, a resident of Crawley, Greenbrier County, WV, married Leona Jean Perry, a resident of Charmco, Greenbrier County, WV in or near Clifton Forge, Virginia – about 50 miles, give or take, east of Lewisburg, WV on Rt 60 (aka the Midland Trail). Back then, Interstate 64 didn’t exist yet. That’s where folks went to get married without the requisite 3 day waiting period in WV.

Rodney Ashworth McGraw and Leona Jean Perry had four children to my knowledge: Vanessa; Herman E., my brother’s friend and schoolmate; Ben; and Cheri. Herman passed in 2004, long before I was able to research all this info and share with him and my brother Jonathan.

And there we have one family member whose ancestors began in Greenbrier County, WV and whose descendants circled back “home.”

So, Jonathan: You and Herman E. McGraw (and his siblings) are/were 5th Cousins, Once Removed (5C1R) through Martin McGraw Sr. and wife Margaret (no last name).

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