I was all geared up to write about Deacon George Graves today, but I decided to first double-check my facts. My facts were fiction, as it turned out. So I've been spending some time learning about John Graves today, and his story needs to be told and honored in our family.
John Graves was born in 1622 somewhere in England (probably somewhere in Kent,) to Thomas Graves and Sarah, possibly Sarah Whiting. He came to the New World with his family and they first settled in New Haven and then Hartford, Connecticut. John took up land in Wethersfield, but it is probable that this land was just a short distance from his father and his brother Isaac, who stayed in Hartford for a time. This was very much a Puritan family, and there was a schism in the church which induced them all to leave their homes and settle again in Hatfield, Massachusetts, which was very much a frontier town, but which was comprised mainly of people with their religious beliefs. They arrived there probably about October 1, 1661, and the three families immediately began building shelter for the winter.
Thomas died in 1662, about a year after arriving at Hatfield. He lived to see several of his grandchildren born, and had had a good and respected life. Sarah died four years later.
In the meantime, John was building his own family. He married Mary Smith, daughter of Lieutenant Samuel Smith and Elizabeth Chileab, about 1651 or 1652. The first of their 10 children was born in 1653. When they made the move from Wethersfield to Hatfield, there were five children, John, Mary, Isaac, Samuel, and Sarah. Elizabeth, Daniel, Ebenezer, Bethiah and Nathaniel were born after they arrived in Hatfield, the last in 1671. John was a respected man, a weaver, and a man of education. When his wife died in December of 1668, John next married Mary Bronson Wyatt, a widow. It is possible that Nathaniel is her child, because his birth date is given as 1671 and that is supposed to be when the couple married.
He should be remembered for his life, but his death is also worthy of note. On September 19, 1677 John and his brother Isaac were working to put a roof on the house of John's son, John Jr.. The house was located about one half mile north of the stockade but the men were not particularly worried that morning. Although King Philip's War was still in progress (hence the stockade), the men believed things were relatively calm at the time. Probably they had their rifles with them, but the weapons may have been on the ground while the men were on the roof. Regardless, a group of Indians attacked and killed them both, along with two other men who were working with them, John Atchinson and John Cooper. Eight other persons were also killed, and seventeen of them were made prisoners. It was a horrible day in the history of the colony, and in the history of our family.
John's widow, Mary, married Lieutenant William Allis on June 25, 1678 and Samuel Gaylord on March 16, 1681. She must have been a good woman, to attract so many men. It would be interesting to know how many step children she helped raise!
If you want to know more about the Graves family, they actually have a wonderful website at gravesfa.org/gen168. You can trace the family down through many generations, and you'll notice that we actually have several lines to this man.
Here's one of them:
John Graves-Mary Smith
Sarah Graves-Edward Stebbins
Sarah Stebbins-John Roote
Sarah Root-Thomas Noble
Stephen Noble-Ruth Church
Ruth Noble-Martin Root Jr.
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have many names to delete from the tree and a few to add. So long to Deacon George and hello, John and Thomas!