Robert Graham (1749-1811) is the Great, Great, Great Grandfather of Bonnie. 

There are family trees online that give conflicting information for Robert’s father, one saying the father is also named Robert (wife Catherine) and the other saying it is William (wife Jane).

Evidence seems to point to Robert as the father, with no further lineage information found.

Below are four biographies of Robert Graham, including a description of his home “Locust Hill”.

1. Graham of Wythe County.      2. Unknown Author.      3. David Graham’s History.       4. Locust Hill

The author of the following is unknown:


Robert Graham made the trip across the ocean with siblings (Samuel Graham, Ann Graham & Margaret Graham Johnston) and his wife Mary Craig, with his first son Samuel being born on shipboard. Robert and Mary had four sons: Samuel, James, John and Robert, and two daughters: Nancy Agnes and Margaret. Robert married his second wife Mary Cowan abt 1790 and had sons William, Thomas, Joseph, David, Calvin and Guise; and daughters Mary and Elizabeth.


Robert Graham, whose “mother Catherine Graham had left Scotland and emigrated to Northern Ireland when her father was beheaded at the time of Charles II of England. I think some of the Grahams had been expelled to Northern Ireland as some of their kin had been beheaded as well”. Robert and Mary make the move to Pennsylvania with his siblings and make another move to Macklenburg, NC and by 1784 were living in Wytheville (Montgomery) Virginia at their home place (Locust Hill) where they raised four sons and two daughters. Mary died when the daughters were very young.


From C.T. Barns (written August 4, 1998): “My ancestor Sir Walter Buchanon, born abt 1420, married Isobel Stewart, granddaughter of Robert II. Isobel’s grandmother was Margaret Graham and her line goes back to William de Graham (b abt 1090, Normandy, France). I have not been able to trace Robert back to these Grahams but feel sure they are his ancestors”.

From David Graham’s “History of the Graham Family”, written in 1899.


Note from Bob Updegrove:  The “History of the Graham Family” was written back in 1899 by David Graham as a fairly comprehensive genealogy of his family. It appears from this paper that the father of (Capt.) Robert Graham was the brother of David Graham’s great grandfather (John Graham, Sr). Unfortunately the paper does not provide the name of Robert Graham’s father and it does not provide the names of John Graham’s parents. Our records show the father of Robert also being named Robert Graham and the only name we have for his mother is Catherine. The “History of the Graham Family” has a lot of information about Graham ancestors in Scotland and their move to Virginia.


Robert Graham of Fort Chiswell (Wythe County, VA)


Robert, the other brother of David and James, Sr., who settled at Fort Chiswell, Wythe county, Virginia, married in Ireland (or Scotland) Mary Craige, who bore him four sons and two daughters. The names of the sons were: Samuel, John, Robert and James; the daughters names being Margaret, who married a McGavock, and Nancy, who married a Crocket. After the death of Robert Graham’s first wife, he married a Miss Cowan, by whom he had three sons, David, Joseph and Calvin. From these have descended a large and influential family, who live in Wythe, Tazewell and adjoining counties.


Robert Graham accumulated a large landed property, which to this day is mostly in the hands of his descendants. As a remarkable coincidence, it will be observed that the names of five of Robert Graham’s sons are the same as five of the sons of his brothers, David and James. In Robert’s family, we have Samuel, John, James, David and Joseph, while in James’ family there is John, who was killed by the Indians, Samuel, James and David; and David’s family, John and Joseph. These facts themselves, if other evidence was wanting, prove beyond a doubt that they were brothers.


Samuel M. Graham, of Graham, Virginia, a great grandson of Robert Graham, who settled at Fort Chiswell, Virginia, about 1774. He claims that his great grandfather and the writer’s grandfather, James, who settled at Lowell about 1771, were brothers.


As a mark of military tack of this family, James was made a Colonel and his son, William, a Major of Monroe county, and Samuel, a son of Robert, was a major in Tazewell county. And as to their mathematical proclivities, the Grahams had a strong inclination. We can trace seven surveyors and four or five very prominent ones of the before named family.

Locust Hill - The Graham Family Home

Written by Susan Thigpen in “The Mountain Laurel” (1991)


Have you ever wished for a home with a history, or a home two hundred years old? Have you ever thought of starting a small bed and breakfast, but thought wishing for it was only a dream? This story might just connect you with your dreams. This month we learned of such a home that is for sale in Wythe County, Virginia and is even an obtainable price ($89,500). Let us take you on a tour of Locust Hill.

Locust Hill now belongs to the Lancasters, who are having to relocate because of a job opportunity. They have had the house for six years and would like to see the house belong to someone who will appreciate and love it as much as they have. Although it has siding on it now, the original part of the house was built from logs and even interior walls are log beneath the boarding. There has been very few structural changes made to the house since it was built in 1782 and in the house's lifetime, it has only had eight owners.


The builder and first owner of Locust Hill was Robert Graham. He bought the land from Michael Doughterty in 1782. The original tract contained 93 acres and Graham paid 130 pounds for it. Robert Graham died in 1811, when the property passed into the hands of his heirs by his second wife. The third owner of Locust Hill was Robert's grandson, Robert G. Crockett. Robert G. Crockett was the son of Nancy Agnes Graham who married John Crockett II, of Crocketts Cove. The fourth owner was John G. Crockett, husband of Nancy Agnes Graham. The fifth owner was Thomas H. Simmerman; sixth - J. Elbert Simmerman; seventh - George B. Simmerman and the eighth (and present day) owners are Michael and Kendell Lancaster.


The original owner of the home was born in 1750 in County Down Ireland. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1770, later moving to Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. He was a Captain and Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and a Justice of the Peace in his own community. In 1785 he was the overseer of the building of a road from Reed Creek to Fort Chiswell known as "The Great Wagon Road." In 1788 he received a commission to evaluate property. He was also the first elder of the Anchor of Hope Church in Max Meadows.


Robert Graham had an "ordinary" license, but did not run his house as a tavern per se. Travelers who had need of housing for the night were welcomed though. On October 18, 1821, a neighbor, Henry Bird stated that both wagoners and horsemen stopped at Graham's house for entertainment and Graham was never known to be out of money. A Joseph Glasgow added on May 18, 1821 that Robert Graham made his money by farming, adding that he kept a distillery, wagoned to Richmond, and sold grain to travelers, all from the produce of his farm.


Robert Graham had a trade also. He was a gimlet maker. For those of you who do not know what a gimlet is (and I must admit I had to look it up before I did), the dictionary describes it as, "A small tool for boring holes, consisting of a shaft with a pointed screw at one end and a cross handle at the other." Gimlets were used to drill holes in wood to peg furniture and even beams of houses together. Perhaps he made the instruments that bored the holes that pegged together the very beams you can see in the attic.


Robert Graham has another claim to fame and that is through his children. He was the father of David Graham of nearby Grahams Forge, who became a pioneer in the iron industry in Southwest Virginia. David Graham built his first furnace at Cedar Run, his home place in Wythe County, and made the first stoves used in the county. One of Robert Graham's daughters, Margaret, married James McGavock of Fort Chiswell, another prominent person in Wythe County history.


Robert Graham died in 1811 without leaving a will, but there is an inventory of his property on microfilm at the Wythe County courthouse. According to it, he had 9 slaves, 46 head of cattle, 11 horses, 6 geese, 46 head of hogs, and 23 head of sheep. He had assorted belongings such as a still, 8 weeding hoes, 1 broad axe, 4 iron wedges, 4 plows, 1 wagon with 6 inch wheels and log chains, 9 pots, 2 ovens, 1 skillet and 1 kettle, 1 clock, 3 tables and 1 desk, 1 rifle gun, 13 chairs, 1 looking glass, 3 barrels and 3 bushels flax seed, wool, 2 small bottles and coffee mill, 30 earthen plates, 28 sheets, 35 yds. blankets, and 70 ga. whiskey. His books contained 5 Bibles, 7 sermon books, a 6 volume set of Guyes Paraphrase, Laws Thoughts, 1 dictionary and 1 grammar, and Pike's Arithmetic and others. The list above is only a partial list, the inventory takes pages. I have only listed some of the more interesting sounding ones.


Enough of the history, now for a tour of the house. The present property has 1.7 acres and two log outbuildings besides a barn with new attached workshop and a small detached garage. It is on a small hill beside Old State Highway 11, within minutes of an access to Interstate 81 and nearby Interstate 77. 






















There is an old brick walkway to the front door and slate walkways in back of the house have been made into a patio. There are concord grape vines on one of the old sheds and a garden space at the back of the property. Hedges line the walkway to the road and old lilacs and forsythias bloom in back of the house.

We will enter the house by the back door. You step into an enclosed back porch that is approximately 9x20 feet. It has lots of windows and would make a nice sunny place to grow plants and have a breakfast table. The steps to the basement go down from the back porch. The basement has a brick floor and a bricked up fireplace. It was the kitchen of the original house. Here you can see the rock foundation of the house. There is a workshop room here as well as the furnace. The house is heated by hot water over oil and has electric baseboard heat on the second floor. Kendell Lancaster found two treasures in the basement - a tiny delicate white china tea pot and cup which were probably once a part of a child's tea set.

Going back upstairs, we enter the back hallway. Through the back hallway you enter the living room. There is an old fashioned transom window over the door as you enter. All of the rooms in the house are spacious and have nine feet ceilings. The original five mantles are in the house and four of the five fireplaces are still open and could be used. There is oak flooring on the main floor. The second story has five inch pine board flooring. Passing out of the living room, we are in the front hall. The front door faces out onto a porch that is the length of the house. The glass in the windows of the living room have bubbles in them and waves that show their age. The interior walls are 18 inches thick.


If you are standing in the front hall, just as if you entered by the front door, the living room is on your left and the formal dining room is on your right. Directly in front of you is the staircase that leads to the second floor and to the third floor storage space. The third floor has never been finished, but has enough height to make another room. From this third floor access you can see the dovetail and pegged woodwork structure of the house and huge log beams. The banister of the stairway is said to match the style in the Graham's Forge mansion and are perhaps by the same craftsman. They are original also.


We turn to our right and enter the formal dining room. This room is wallpapered with only one layer of wallpaper which looks to be old, although nothing is known about it. Double french doors open from the dining room into the huge kitchen.


The kitchen is the only concession you notice to modern-day changes. It has a built-in oven and stove top as well as a dishwasher and disposal built in. The kitchen sink sits in a free-standing work island. There are built in window box shelves beside the mantle. There is a door from the kitchen to the back porch.


There is a large room behind the kitchen that would make a convenient extra bedroom, den or office. There is one bathroom downstairs off the back hall that has an old fashioned claw-foot tub. The house has two full baths, one on each floor.


Now we will go to the two bedrooms upstairs. The stairs and the upstairs foyer are carpeted. One of the bedrooms upstairs has a closet that was built in under the eaves and is a part of the original structure. There is a unique feature about the closet. It has a door inside of it, on the closet wall, that opens to a passage way to another part of the house. There is enough unused space above the kitchen and the back room of the house to finish into other rooms if you wanted to. The upstairs bedrooms also have fireplaces.


I am afraid it is time for us to go back out the front door and leave, but the Lancasters and I would like to thank Davie Davis, a Wythe County school teacher and historian for researching the history of the Robert Graham family for this article.


Robert Graham Tombstone