John GRAVES (c1715-1792), Caswell Co., NC

In my previous post I mentioned John Graves, a mill owner, and one of the earliest settlers of Caswell Co., NC. John Graves was born about 1715, and died 18 Jan. 1792 in Caswell Co., N.C. John Graves married Isabell Lea, the daughter of a big landowner, James Lea. I am descended from this John Graves and Isabell Lea through the following:

1. John Graves, b. abt 1715, d. 18 Jan 1792, md. Isabell Lea
—–Mary Graves, b. 26 Jan. 1754, d. 22 Feb. 1831, md. John Kerr, b. 29 Jan. 1753, d. 22 Feb. 1816
———Isabella Kerr, b. 12 June 1790, d. 1851, md. Christopher Williams Brooks, b. 1781, d. 1840
————-Iverson Lea or Lee Brooks, b. Feb 1829, d. 1876, Monticello, Drew Co., AR

From the research I’ve done in the past couple of weeks, it looks like I’m descended from at least 3 families who were some of the first settlers to Caswell Co., NC — WILLIAMS, LEA, & GRAVES; My BROOKS line has been more elusive, however.

Source: The Graves Family Association website, The Descendants of Captain Thomas Graves by Ken Graves,


GRAVES family of Caswell County, NC

Last week I subscribed to the North Carolina Caswell County Historical Association yahoo group hoping to learn more about the History of Caswell Co., NC. An email came through the group about the History of Graves Mill. This caught my attention as I recently started investigating (again) the history of Mary Graves’ (married John Kerr) family.

I printed off the article which was entitled “A Brief History of Graves Mill: An Archaelogical site on Country Line Creek, Caswell Co., NC” which was written by Jerry L. Cross, February 24, 1982. It described the history of the Graves Mill which was originally built by my ancestor, John Graves who came to NC about 1755 and who was married to Isabella Lea, the daughter of James Lea. The mill survived several generations of Graves families and many of John’s descendants were outlined in this article. I copied a lot of this information into my family tree file to be used as a reference. The author referenced William S. Powell’s “A History of Caswell County” which I had borrowed from the library but did not get to finish reading because it was requested by another reader. (I have since purchased my own personal copy of this title).

I got stumped on the children of John Graves because I could not locate a will for him. I did have an inventory report abstracted by Katherine Kerr Kendall from Caswell Co., NC will book B, p. 459, (see below), but I cannot find a copy of his original will. There is a will filed in Granville Co., NC by John W. Graves, 1789 listed in Mitchell’s Will Index – This is for John Williams Graves, son of Henry White Graves of Granville Co., NC.

Today I posted messages regarding the will of John Graves of Caswell County. I also browsed several rootsweb files to see if anyone had a copy of the transcribed will; but did not find any.

Caswell County, NC Will Book B, p. 459, March court 1792, Inventory of the estate of John Graves Sen. taken at his dwelling house 20 Mar 1792. A riding chair and horse were given to the widow by consent of all legatees; also one smiths anville and bellows given Bazilla Graves by consent of legatees. Legatees: Isbell Graves, Azariah Graves, Thomas Graves, Bazilla Graves, John Kerr, Ann Yancey, John Graves, Thomas Slade, Solomon Graves. Inventory of that part of estate left to widow and of part not yet divided. By Azariah, Solomon, John and Thomas Graves. (Source: Caswell County, NC Will Books 1777-1814 (Abstracts) by Katherine Kerr Kendall, p. 39)

It cannot be determined for certain, if these “legatees” are children or grandchildren. In the mill article, Cross wrote that John Graves had 8 children, 5 sons and 3 daughters, however, 9 legatees were mentioned in the will book inventory entry. The first legatee mentioned, Isbell Graves, could be either a daughter or his wife; I need his will to know for sure.

In summary, I spent most of my free time this weekend (when I wasn’t doing home improvement) reading and investigating the family of John Graves, a gristmill owner in Caswell Co., NC. I also looked through the Graves Family Association website ( to see who were the ancestors of this John Graves. I hope to be able to get back to working on my Brooks and Williams lines soon.