From "History of Family" by Mrs. Paul Friend, 1934.
William Graham was born in County Down, Ireland, May 1, 1756, and in 1760, when 2 years of age, was brought to America by his parents, William and Sarah Graham. The vessel in which they made the voyage was caught in a storm and encountered ill winds and the supply of drinking water was exhausted. The father upon landing drank so much water that he died the second day after landing.
The mother, whose maiden name was Sarah McLean, was born in Ireland Oct 31, 1721. She, with her infant son, first settled in Delaware, Pennsylvania, but in a short time they removed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where young William worked at the tailoring trade.
In 1776 at the age of 18 years, he was drafted into the Continental army to guard prisoners taken by Gen. Gates at Saratoga. He was again drafted to defend his country from the depredations of the frontier Indians, and was a member of the Kaskaskis expedition under Gen. Clark.
In 1787 he was married to Nancy Venard. Three children were the result of this union, of whom two died in infancy, and one son, Francis, lived to manhood.
In 1788 Mr. Graham and wife and widowed mother removed to Kentucky near Lexington. Here he continued to work at the tailoring trade and made an entire suit of buckskin for Daniel Boone, the famous Kentucky hunter.
In 1795 his wife died and in 1796, not liking the institution of slavery, he, with his mother and little son, Francis, removed to Deerfield, Warren Co., Ohio.
In 1799, Mr. Graham married for his second wife Phoebe Frazie, who was born Jan. 15, 1780. His wedding suit consisted of buckskin pants, to which the stockings were buckled at the knee, a scarlet vest and brown cloth coat cut Quaker style. This union was blessed with eight sons and four daughters.
Fifty years elapsed before the death angel visited this family. The twelve children were raised to man and womanhood and the bill for medical services in the family only amounted to $10.00. This is of course exclusive of professional services at childbirth, which in those days was usually rendered by a midwife, with very little compensation. He made a cradle out of the clapboards in which all the children were rocked, and which is still an heirloom in the family.
In 1800 he located in Clearcreek Township. near Utica. Here he began to open out a farm as there was not a stick amiss. He purchased the land of John Cleves Symmes and, owing to some irregularity in the survey of the grant from the government to Symmes, he was forced to pay for his land the second time.
Produce was very low in price. New Orleans was the nearest market and the only means of transportation was by raft down the rivers. He still worked at his trade, and, as he often expressed, cleared his farm with his needle.
Here his mother died Jan. 14, 1823, aged 101 years. A marble slab marks her last resting place in the Baptist graveyard at Ridgeville.
In early years Mr. Graham joined the Methodist church, but in his maturer years he renounced orthodoxy and espoused the more liberal and reasonable faith in the universal salvation of the whole human family.
In politics he was a Democrat, his first vote was for Washington and his last for Buchanan.
He was a man who paid particular attention to fruit-raising, which in those early days was free from pests or blight, and he planted the first orchard in Clearcreek township. As a consequence the family diet consisted largely of delicious fruits, together with temperate habits and fine physique may be attributed the remarkable health in his family.
He appreciated the benefits of educational advantages and generously donated the site on his farm where was built what was familiarly known as the Buttermilk schoolhouse, which was one of the first in the twnshp. Here his children received their primary education.
The double log cabin with puncheon floor afforded shelter for this large family until the year 1828, when a frame house was built, but which burned down while being finished. The following spring Mr. Graham burned the brick and built the substantial dwelling which still remains.
His wife, who shared the toils and pleasures with him for 56 yrs., died May 18, 1855, aged 75 years. He died Aug. 3, 1858, aged 100 years. They were buried in the Kirby graveyard.