Martha Pauline McGraw Bolt Boalt

There are a few researchers who have attached their ancestor, Martha Pauline McGraw Bolt or Boalt, wife of Harvey Gabriel Boalt, to my ancestor, Martin McGraw, Jr. Years ago a fellow researcher contacted me and asked if it was possible that she was Martin McGraw Jr. and Nancy Wood’s daughter. At the time, online genealogical records were s-l-o-w-l-y coming online so what did I know? She wasn’t a direct ancestor so I didn’t have any info to confirm or deny. Fast forward ten or fifteen years and you barely have to leave the house to find what you need.

Here I provide the evidence that Martha Pauline McGraw Bolt – Boalt is not the daughter of Martin and Nancy McGraw as well as evidence as to who her parents actually were. Let’s begin with the marriage record which can be viewed here (6 Aug 1870):

Harvey G. Bolt and Martha E. McGraw
“West Virginia Vital Research Records – Record Image”. 2021. Wvculture.Org.

The image above gives the names of the couple and their ages. The following shows the names of their parents:

parents of Harvey Bolt and Martha McGrawNote the name of Martha’s father: Alexander McGraw. Alexander McGraw is located in the 1840 Census of Fayette County living a few farms away from Martin McGraw. Let me put this in perspective for you. I am not yet certain which John McGraw is shown listed here; Nat (Nathaniel) Vaughn was Martin McGraw Jr.’s son-in-law and their properties bordered one another at Chimney Corner. George A. McGraw (son of Anthony McGraw) lived at Turkey Creek – that’s between Chimney Corner and Hawk’s Nest State Park. That’s if you need to map it. So, where did Alexander McGraw live?

1840 Fayette County Census

Let’s go forward to the 1850 Census (District 14) where we find Alexander, wife Nancy, and a gaggle of kids. Pay attention to the names.

1850 Fayette Census Alexander McGraw

Forward again to the 1860 Fayette Census. This time he’s in District 3 but the Post Office is Gauley Bridge (the changed the District Number, I seriously doubt that he’d moved). Therefore, Alexander – William Alexander McGraw – lived in the vicinity of Gauley Bridge. NOTE the names of the people in the household but also that Alexander McGraw is now Wm. A. McGraw. Further, he’s got a daughter named Martha aged 4 who was NOT listed in the 1850 Census.

1860 Census Fayette County Alexander McGrawThe names and the initials are spelled a little differently but not so drastically that we can’t match them to the 1850 Census. “E. F.” – Emily, aka Manerva – is gone but she’s now about 22 years old and married to James Taylor. The rest of the children are still living at home: Eliza J is now just Jane; W. P. is now Wm. J; and there’s Sarah, Miles, and Mildred plus the addition of Ervin, Martha, and James – one birth every two years in a 10 year period.

Hold on, hold on… If Martha was born in 1856 there’s no way she was 30 years old when she married Harvey G. Bolt. CORRECT. Either the Clerk/Recorder heard Martha’s age wrong, was told wrong (as we shall see), or was suffering from stress when her age was erroneously recorded but that’s just what her age (30) is on the marriage record: An error. Either that or a grand fabrication.

Move forward to the 1870 Census for Fayette County. Martha is now married to Harvey Bolt but she is listed as 25 years old: Wrong, she’s really only 14 or 15 years old. In the 1880 Census she is listed as 40 (aged a lot in 10 years, hasn’t she)? She should have been about 24 years old. There is no 1890 Census so jump forward to 1900 and she’s 54 years old. What does that tell you? Humans make errors so you must take court records and censuses records with a grain of salt. Apparently, Martha perpetuated the wrong year of her birth. Do the math: IF the 1860 Census has her age nearly right (4 years old), AND she didn’t appear in the 1850 Census, she would have been born about 1856. 1870-1856=14 years old when she married Harvey G. Bolt, not 30. For every census year, she should be 10 years older.

It’s likely that Martha didn’t remember her date of birth. But the fact is she doesn’t appear in the 1850 Census – I’ve accounted for the elder sisters listed so there’s no doubt in my mind that she is not one of them. And we can assume that she didn’t inform the Census Taker of her age in 1860, not at four years old. With this in mind, I firmly believe that Martha was born between 1850 and 1860, not the preceding decade and that the records and her descendants have helped make her much older than she actually was. Yes, I believe the date of birth recorded at is wrong.

Back to William Alexander McGraw: Who was he? According to his death record, on file and online at the WV State Archives (Cultural Center), under “Wm. A. McGraw,” he was the son of Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth Wood per line 34. He died July 1876 at Big Creek: whether that is the same side of the mountain as Chimney Corner or the opposite side nearer Gauley Bridge, I do not know, but it was in fact a big creek.

Death of William Alexander McGraw

Parents of William Alexander McGraw

Samuel McGraw was a younger brother of Martin McGraw Jr. Elizabeth Wood was a sister of Nancy Wood, wife of Martin McGraw. So yes, our DNA collides in this part of our family trees! William A. married Nancy Skaggs on 13 Feb 1838 in Fayette County. Sadly, their parents are not listed on the document.

There it is. I’ve done my due diligence to prove that Martha Pauline McGraw Bolt or Boalt was (1) not the daughter of Martin McGraw Jr. and Nancy Wood; and that she was in fact (2) the daughter of William Alexander McGraw and Nancy Skaggs.

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