Martin McGraw I

**UPDATED 30 Dec 2022 due to new information**

Hopefully someday soon I’ll be able to provide more information about this specific Martin McGraw. I’ve dubbed him the First, I, or Senior. Meanwhile, here’s why I believe these are my ancestors, Martin and Margaret McGraw, Sr, as they traveled out of Pennsylvania en route to Greenbrier County, West Virginia pre-1796.

What I’ve Discovered

1. Martin “Magraw” appears in the 1790 Federal Census in Washington County, Maryland. I’ve wondered for years if this “my” Martin McGraw? The names fit…

a. Free White Persons – Males – 16 and over: Martin McGraw, Sr (Head of Household);
b. Free White Persons – Males – Under 16: 4 = sons George Anthony (b. 1775), John (b. 1778), Martin Jr (b. 1785), and William (b. 1788-1790);
c. Free White Persons – Females: (wife & mother) Margaret, daughters Mary Ann (b. 1781), and Elender (b. 1788).

1790 Federal Census, Washington Co, MD

2. Martin Sr. appears in the Augusta County, Virginia property tax lists for the years 1792, 1793, and 1795. The image below shows the listing for 1795 with 3 titheables = Martin and sons George Anthony (now about 20 years old) and John (now roughly 17 years old):

1795 Augusta Co, VA tax list for Martin McGraw Sr.

Augusta County, VA is also the location that Martin Sr’s son, Samuel McGraw, gives as his place of birth on the Fayette County, WV Voter’s list about 1866. Samuel’s age is given as 74 years old upon the date of registration (15 Sept 1866). Subtract 74 from 1866 and that gives us 1792:

West Virginia Voter Registers, 1866-1890, Fayette County

3. Subsequent to 1795, Martin Sr appears for the first time to my knowledge in the 1796 Tax List for Greenbrier County, now West Virginia.

  • Oddly enough, Martin McGraw I appears on the tax list on April 17, the same date as minister Benjamin Grigsby, second pastor of the Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg. Grigsby lived in what is called the Manse or the Stone Manse at Caldwell, WV and it was he who presided over the nuptials of Anthony McGraw and Betsy Brian in 1796 as well as John McGraw and Sally Anderson in 1799. My conclusion is that the McGraws and Grigsby were likely neighbors.

3. In the 1850 Federal Census of Virginia, two of Martin Sr’s sons, my ancestor Martin McGraw Jr, and John McGraw who married Sally Anderson, gave their birthplaces as Pennsylvania in the in the respective counties in which they resided:

  • John McGraw, 1850 Russell County, VA;
  • Martin McGraw, 1850 Putnam County, VA (formed from Kanawha County, WV in 1848).
4. Martin Sr’s wife’s name was Margaret, spelled “merget” in the image below. This is apparent from the “permission” note he provided to the county clerk of Monroe when his daughter Mary Ann wanted to marry William Wood. Whether Margaret was a first or second wife is unknown as well as where and when on the planet they were married.
Permission for Mary Ann McGraw to marry William Wood listing her parents Martin and "Merget" McGraw. On file with the Monroe County Court in 1994 before all documents were made digital.
5. Martin died, it is believed, *before the 1810 Tax List because Margaret’s name appears instead on the 1810 tax list in Greenbrier County. Any future appearances in the tax lists and censuses in Greenbrier and surrounding counties are for Martin McGraw Jr. Only once did the two men appear on the same tax list: That of the 1806 Monroe County Tax List. *10 May 2024: it is likely that Martin died after the 1806 Tax List but before the 1809 Tax List. This is because his son William is listed in the 1809 Greenbrier County Tax List and the 1812 Monroe County Tax List. Something happened to William after 1812 because his mother Margaret, wife (or widow) Lucretia, and widowed sister-in-law Elizabeth “Betsy” McGraw are listed in the 1813 Monroe County Tax List. I’ve yet to locate mention of William as a War of 1812 Soldier but I have tried.
11 April 1815 tax list of Monroe County, WV showing widow Margaret McGraw, daughters-in-law Elizabeth "Betsy Brian" McGraw and Lucretia Withrow McGraw.
6. He is related via DNA to Thomas McGrew (see also this post) who appears first in Greenville, South Carolina then migrated to and died in Calloway County, Kentucky. In his application for a soldier’s pension (Revolutionary War), Thomas McGREW gives his birthplace as Pennsylvania. His age in the censuses and other records puts his birthdate within 20 years of Martin McGraw Sr’s alleged date of birth. As of this writing, it is not known if Martin McGraw Sr and Thomas McGrew’s relationship was that of Uncle/Nephew or first cousins.
NOTE: There is no middle name or initial for Martin McGraw I. I’ve seen some trees that give his name as Martin V. McGraw; the V was misunderstood and was actually an ampersand in one of the original documents discovered in which the parents’ names were listed as Martin “v” Margaret McGraw. Further, his wife Margaret’s surname was NOT Shores. Be careful when you copy other people’s genealogies – you’re adding their mistakes to your own and making it impossible to trace much further.
What I Don’t Know

1. Whether Martin McGraw of Wheatfield Township, Westmoreland County, PA (1786, 1789, 1798) is my ancestor is highly speculative. It is possible without proof, that he is the same Martin McGraw of Hopewell Township, Bedford County, PA (1775-1786) who found himself in the newly formed Westmoreland County after it was formed in 1773 from part of Bedford. Then there is the issue of him appearing in the tax list of Westmoreland County, PA in 1798, two years after Martin McGraw I  (the bonafide ancestor) is listed in the tax list of Greenbrier County, West Virginia.

However, one of the Tax documents shows that Martin McGraw/McGrew of Westmoreland County, PA was “not in” and that the taxes were uncollected. I’m unable to locate further information on the Westmoreland County Martin McGraw after 1798 and quite, frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this.

2. Whether or not for a fact that Martin McGraw in the 1790 Washington County, Maryland Census is my Martin McGraw I. According to genealogist Peggy Bledsoe of the Historical Society in Hagerstown, who I contacted way back in the 90s, was unable to dig up any other information on this Martin McGraw in the county records after 1790. But then, I’m not certain what records she researched.

Taken with the fact that Pennsylvania and Maryland disputed the boundaries between the two states before and around this timeframe makes me wonder if our ancestors were actually born in Maryland.

3. Whether Martin McGraw of Dock Ward, Philadelphia, PA 1774 is my ancestor. I believe this is the same Martin McGraw of Whitpain, Philadelphia County, PA in 1780 thereby creating the reality that this Martin McGraw and that of Northumberland – Bedford – Westmoreland Counties are not the same man.

I don’t care who you are, you can’t be in two places at the same time.

4. Then there is Martin McGraw of Bedford County, PA 1779-1788. Is it possible that they are all the same Martin McGraw? Doubtful. We’ll see.

Will the real Martin McGraw please stand up?

UPDATE: Due to Y-DNA Matching at and the generous contributions of several individuals surnamed “McGraw,” I am on a research quest of Martin McGraw of Bedford County, PA. That post is DNA & the Quest for Martin McGraw.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Comment