The following discussion is from an article in the Graves Family Newsletter, 1984, pp. 36-42. It was written by Mrs. Margaret Swanson Goodrum after thorough research by her and her sister, Mrs. Marion Wattenbarger.

I am a descendant of MARY GRAVES SWANSON and ANN GRAVES SWANSON, daughters of the WILLIAM GRAVES who came to Pittsylvania Co., VA in 1773 and lived successively in Henry and Franklin Cos., VA, as they were created, until 1809. There has been some confusion in genealogical articles about this WILLIAM GRAVES and the WILLIAM GRAVES who lived only in Henry Co., VA, 1780-1791. In order to distinguish between these men in this article, I will refer to my ancestor who lived in all three counties as WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River. I will refer to the WILLIAM GRAVES of Henry Co. as WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River. These are the rivers on which these men owned land and had their homes.

The first WILLIAM GRAVES to appear in the tri-county area of Pittsylvania, Henry, & Franklin Cos., VA. Was "WILLIAM GRAVES of Caroline Co., VA." On 4 Jan. 1773 he leased 500 acres on the Pigg River from William Stegall in Pittsylvania Co. (Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 3, p. 247). In 1773 the entire area later covered by 3 counties was wholly known as Pittsylvania Co., Va. This WILLIAM GRAVES is the WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River, and since he was referred to as "of Caroline Co.", he was new to the area. His 500 acres was on the south side of the Pigg River adjacent to William Hains, Abner Cockram, Lewis Jenkins, and John Law Sr. WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River was to pay 118 pounds to lease this land for 10 years, to be paid in 1783. The witnesses were Peyton Smith, Susannah Daniel, and Thomas Potter. On 9 Feb. 1773, William and Betsy Stegall sold to WILLIAM GRAVES 100 acres in Pittsylvania Co., Va. (Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 3, p. 247).

Beginning at Abner Cockerhams line at 2 gums and a white oak, and running with Cockerhams line to 2 chestnut oaks. Running up the order line to John Law's line and up Laws line to the Bache dividing line and cornering there. Running a S.E. course to the old station. The witnesses were; William Daniel Jr., William Graves, James Daniel.

These 2 pieces of property must have been adjacent to one another, as Abner Cockram and John Law had common bounds with both. In 1776 these 2 pieces of property purchased in Pittsylvania Co., Va. on the Pigg River became a part of the newly formed Henry Co., Va. Thus WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River became a resident of Henry Co., Va. in 1776.

The next mention of WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River was 22 Nov. 1777. This was the deed (Henry Co. Deed Book 1, p. 140) whereby he bought the 500 acres on the Pigg River which he had been leasing. When he paid for the land, another deed was written and recorded; and this time, since he was a resident of Henry Co., Va., it was in the Henry Co. deed book. On 18 April 1778 WILLIAM GRAVES Sr. sold to WILLIAM GRAVES Jr., both of Henry Co., Va., the 100 acres in Henry Co. (Henry Co. Deed Book 1, p. 124) that began at Cockerham's corner and which was described in the Pittsylvania Co. deed of 9 Feb. 1773. I find no other deeds in Henry Co., Va. for WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River or for his son WILLIAM GRAVES Jr.

They are, however, named in the Henry Co. Tax Lists. At a meeting for the Commissioners for appointing assessors for the County of Henry on 25 April 1778, it was ordered that the different companies under the Captains of the Militia of the county be the districts for the Assessors. Frederick Reeves and WILLIAM GRAVES Sr. were appointed to assess the people's property in the district of the Company of Militia under the command of Reeves and return an account according to law. There were 18 other assessing districts. The people were to be taxed on all property and/or on their poll if they were 21 or over and not in military service. It should also be noted that every person who had not taken the "Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance" to the state of Va. must take it by May 1 next or shall pay double the tax rate. It is clear from this that any person living in Henry Co., Va. in 1778 would have appeared on the Tax List as a poll and/or a property owner. (Lela Adams, "1778-1780 Tax Lists of Henry Co., Va.," pp. 1-8.)

On the 14th of July 1778 the following persons had been placed on the Tax List of Henry Co., Va. by the Assessors:



These WILLIAM GRAVES on the 1778 Tax List of Henry Co., Va. can only be WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River and his son. The second WILLIAM GRAVES had not arrived. Likewise in 1779 Tax List of Henry Co., Va. the only GRAVES listinq was:




There was no other GRAVES and we know from later material that David was a son of WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River who died in Franklin Co., Va. in 1809. I have emphasized these 2 tax lists of Henry Co., Va. because in 1780 another WILLIAM GRAVES was listed. Since WILLIAM GRAVES Sr. of Pigg River and his sons were the only family of GRAVES living in Henry Co., Va. in 1778 & 1779, then they had to be the GRAVES on the Henry Co., Va. "Oath of Allegiance" list in 1777.

On 13 Sept. 1777 a list of persons renouncing allegiance to Great Britain and swearing allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia was recorded in the clerk's office of Henry Co., Va. There were other lists of the same meaning before and after that, but this list showed a number after the name of the man at the time of his oath. On this list were:


David GRAVES 20

William GRAVES 22

Nathan SWANSON 29

William SWANSON Sr. 57

The WILLIAM GRAVES Senr. named in this "Oath of Allegiance" of Henry Co., Va. 1777 was WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River, deceased 1809, Franklin Co. Hence he was born in 1724, not 1730 as has been previously stated by genealogists. In the Graves Family Newsletter, Nov. 1980, p. 132, Sue Davis lists WILLIAM GRAVES, son of Thomas GRAVES (1691-1768) as having been born in 1724. I know that the proof which I have just given shows that WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River and formerly of Caroline Co., Va. was born in 1724. Do we have proof for the birthdate of WILLIAM GRAVES, son of Thomas GRAVES?

WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River, who finally appeared on the Henry Co., Va. Tax List of 1780, was listed by Mrs. P. W. Hiden (Tyler's Ouarterly, vol. 19, no. 3, Jan. 1938) in her article "The Graves Family of Spotsylvania Co." as the son of Thomas GRAVES and Ann. Mrs. Hiden names his wife as Mary from a 1760 deed, Orange Co., Va. (Deed Bk. 12, p. 110), in which Thomas and Ann GRAVES of Spotsylvania Co. and William and Mary GRAVES of Hanover Co. sell 400 acres. This WILLIAM GRAVES first appeared in the deeds of Henry Co., Va. 27 Jan. 1780 (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 2, pp. 26, 27). In this deed WILLIAM GRAVES buys from Dillion Blevins, Patent to Charles Harris, 116 acres on the south side of the Smith River. It was adjacent to other lands he bought from Blevins. After extensive searching of Pittsylvania and Henry Co. records, I found no other deed or court record showing any other lands purchased by WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River from Dillion Blevins or any other Blevins. Dillion Blevins purchased this 116 acres from John Pace 22 April 1779 (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 1, pp. 213, 214).

Martin Key had Power of Attorney to sell to WILLIAM GRAVES of Henry Co., Va. 150 acres on the south side of the Smith River from Walter King of Great Britain. The date on the Power of Attorney was 1770 when the King decided to sell all of his lands in Virginia (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 2, pp. 24, 25). This final deed of sale to WILLIAM GRAVES reads that he must have already paid 70 pounds on the 150 acres because in this deed he paid the final 75 pounds (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 2, pp. 24, 25). There is no record in Henry or Pittsylvania Cos. of the first payment. Perhaps it is in the county where he formerly lived. The last deed naming WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River was 20 April 1790 (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 4, pp. 90, 91). WILLIAM and Mary GRAVES sold to Thomas GRAVES all of Henry Co., Va., for consideration received, a tract of land on the south side of Smith River with the old order line of WILLIAM GRAVES, containing 100 acres more or less, and said land now in the possession of Col. George Hairston. The witnesses were: Polly GRAVES Jr., William Martin, Daniel Hammock.

WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River died before the Feb. Court 1791 in Henry Co., Va. (Henry Co. Order Bk. 5, p. 164). He had written his will 24 May 1790, naming his wife, Mary, and leaving her his land where she lived until her death. He named his children and left them the following:

THOMAS to receive 1 negro when he is of age or has married, and the land where "I" live when his mother dies

POLLY 3 negroes (she is unmarried)

SALLY 3 negroes (she is unmarried)

BETSY 3 negroes (she is unmarried)

NANCY Parberry 2 negroes

SUSANNAH Martin 2 negroes

JOHN 1 negro at mother's decease

WILLIAM 1 negro at mother's decease


WILLIAM GRAVES further states in his will that at the decease of his wife, the part lent to her not already bequeathed was to be equally divided among surviving children. Exec: son THOMAS and Joseph Anthony (Henry Co., Va. Will Bk. 1, p. 203).

The division of the estate (Henry Co. Will Bk. 2, p. 36) of WILLIAM GRAVES of Smith River was 27 April 1801.

Joseph MARTIN 56, 11, 5-1/2

William GRAVES same

Thomas GRAVES "

Thomas EAST "






Son William GRAVES sold his part of his father's estate to his brother-in-law Joseph Martin, 28 Jan. 1792 (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 4, pp. 352, 353). Thomas GRAVES sold to Joseph Martin 296 acres on 20 Nov. 1796 (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 5, p. 291), south side of Smith River; he also sold on 1 Sept. 1796 to George Hairston 50 acres (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 5, pp. 278, 279), part of a tract purchased from Dillion Blevins. Son John GRAVES of Fayette Co., Ky., 27 June 1799, appointed James Parberry of Franklin Co., Va. his attorney to recover 40 pounds from the estate of his deceased father, WILLIAM GRAVES; wit. Thomas GRAVES and James Stevens (Henry Co. Deed Bk. 6, pp. 189, 190). There is no other mention of John or William in the tri-county area. Daughter Susannah GRAVES married Joseph Martin 24 Feb. 1784 as his second wife (Va. Mag., vol. 21, p. 279). Daughter Ann married James Parberry 10 May 1784 (Dodd, "Henry Co. Marriages, 1778-1849," p. 39); and Elizabeth married Robert Anderson, she "being the daughter of Mary GRAVES", 4 Sept. 1794 (Dodd, "Henry Co. Marriage Bonds, 1778-1849", p. 2). It is not known which of daughters Sallie or Polly Jr. married Green Bouldin and Thomas East.

WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River became a resident of Franklin Co., Va. in 1785 when that county was formed from the northern half of Henry Co., part of Bedford and part of Patrick Counties. He was still living on his 500 acres on the Pigg River. The 6th of Dec. 1786, WILLIAM GRAVES and Lewis Jenkins sold 200 acres, Island Cr., to Thomas Thownshund of Pittsylvania Co. (Franklin Co. Deed Bk. 1, pp. 231, 232). I have found no deed record of the purchase of this land. It could be a part of the 500 acres on the Pigg River because on 10 Aug. 1799, WILLIAM GRAVES of Franklin Co. sold to David GRAVES of same, 100 acres on south side of Pigg River (Franklin Co. Deed Bk. 4, p. 208), and on the same date WILLIAM GRAVES of Franklin Co., Va. sold to John GRAVES of same, 200 acres south side of Pigg River (Franklin Co. Deed Bk. 4, p. 209). These three deeds are the only ones for WILLIAM GRAVES of Franklin Co., Va., and they total 500 acres. WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River died intestate 1809 in Franklin Co., Va. At the 4th of Dec. court 1809 John GRAVES and Peyton GRAVES gave bond for the Letters of Administration of the personal estate of WILLIAM GRAVES deceased. John Brown, David Law, George Crump and John Lacy were to appraise the value of the Slaves and Personal Estate (Order Bk. 5, Franklin Co., Va., pp. 24, 25).

The known children of WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River were:

William GRAVES Jr. b. 1755 (Oath of Allegiance, Henry Co., Va.), m. 1782, Sally Smith (Bedford Co. D.B. 7, p. 342)

David GRAVES b. 1757 (Oath of Allegiance, Henry Co., Va.), m(l) 27 Jan. 1793, Nancy, daughter of Charles Pinkard (Tyler's Quarterly, vol. 22, p. 106), m(2) Frances, dau. of William Ryan (Franklin Co. W.B. 1, p. 186), d. testate 1833 (Franklin Co. W.B. 3, p. 527)

John GRAVES 1763, m. 13 Dec. 1790, Ann. dau. of William Ryan (Franklin Co. W.B. 1, p. 186), d. testate 1829 (Franklin Co. W.B. 3, p. 240)

Peyton GRAVES 1767 (Tyler's Quarterly, vol. 22, p. 106), m. 11 Nov. 1788, Charlotte Pinkard, dau. of John and Jane Pinkard (Henry Co. W.B. 1, p. 52), d. before 16 March 1846 Court, Pittsylvania Co., Va. (Pittsy. Co. Court Records. Bk. 39. n. 32)

Mary GRAVES SWANSON m. Nathan Swanson before 1776, a son was born before that date (Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 13, p. 115), also (Green Co., Ga. Deed Bk. 4, p. 113), d. probably by 1820, in Ga.

Ann GRAVES SWANSON m. William Swanson Jr. before 1777, son William Graves Swanson born 11 May 1777 (Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 13, p. 115) also (Will of William Swanson proved 10 July 1827, Pittsylvania Co.)

Francis GRAVES probably a son, but not proved yet

Edmund, Reuben, Peter -- suggested sons


I believe that the facts which I have put forth in this article will end the confusion about the lives of the two WILLIAM GRAVES of Henry, Pittsylvania, and Franklin Cos., Va. WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River was the WILLIAM listed as 53 in the Henry Co., Va. Oath of Allegiance of 1777. WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River was the WILLIAM who arrived from Caroline Co., Va. into Pittsylvania Co., Va. in 1773, and lived until his death, in Franklin Co. 1809, on the Pigg River. That home was not near the lands on the Smith River belonging to William and Mary GRAVES. WILLIAM GRAVES of Pigg River and his sons were the only GRAVES listed in 1778 & 1779 Tax Lists of Henry Co., Va. It was not until 1780 that the second William GRAVES with his wife Mary came to Henry Co.

Much work must still be done on the background of these men, but I know that this is a good beginning.