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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES MADISON GRAVES has made his way to the front among the energetic farmers of Seneca County, and therefore enjoys the reputation not only of being a progressive and substantial agriculturist, but an intelligent man, who keeps himself thoroughly posted on public affairs. His estate is located in the town of Junius, and everything about it indicates to the beholder that it is owned by an experienced and competent farmer.

Our subject is a native of this state, and was born in Cortland County, April 15, 1823, to John and Laura (Southwell) Graves. The father, whose birth occurred in the state of Vermont, came to this portion of New York when a boy, and was engaged in chopping wood in the town of Tyre. There he lived for many years, and there he met and married Miss Southwell, who was a native of that town. After their marriage the young couple returned to Cortland County, but after a few years came back to Seneca County, bringing with them our subject, who was then a small boy. Their possessions in this town at first included but fifteen acres, but after disposing of this tract a few years later, they purchased a tract of eighty acres, located in the town of Junius.

The parental family included six children, all of whom lived to mature years, and five are living at the present time. As a boy James M. had to work very hard during the summer season, but in the winter was given the privilege of attending the district school. He lived at home for two years after reaching his majority, when he was married, May 18, 1847, to Miss Elizabeth A. Goodwin, of the town of Tyre. She was the daughter of Charles and Martha (Anderson) Goodwin, born April 20, 1823, and was the youngest member of a family of ten children, three of whom still survive. The entire household was inclined to be very studious, and the children took advantage of every opportunity given them for attending school and carrying on their studies.

At the time of his marriage our subject purchased a tract of fifty acres from his father, but, being in limited circumstances, was enabled to pay for only a part of it. The place was entirely unimproved, so that he was obliged to expend much time and labor on the land before it was productive. He erected thereon the necessary buildings and with his family resided there for some time. Receiving a good offer for his place, he accepted it, and with the means thus obtained invested in fifty-six acres, which he also cleared and placed under cultivation, making this place his home until about 1875. In that year he sold the tract and became the owner of his present estate, which comprises seventy-six acres of splendid farming land.

To Mr. and Mrs. Graves there were born three children. Adda C. is at home. Jennie L. completed her education in the schools of Waterloo, and when only fourteen years of age passed a rigid examination and was awarded a teacher’s certificate. Her parents prevented her from obtaining a school, however, as they considered her too young to shoulder this responsibility. When in her nineteenth year she was married to John F. Long, and became the mother of one child, Bessie, who was born November 15, 1887. They live in the town of Junius. Julia, our subject’s youngest daughter, was a bright little girl, and died when nine years of age.

The father of our subject was in early life a Whig in politics, but later joined the ranks of the Republican party. James Madison cast his first Presidential vote for Henry Clay, in 1844, and, like his honored father, became a Republican on the formation of the party. Although at various times solicited to hold office, he has always firmly refused to do so, as his ambition does not lie in that direction. He is a member of the Baptist Church, and is a Deacon in his congregation.

The mother of Mrs. Graves was a great Bible student and read the Good Book through fourteen times. Mrs. Graves herself is thoroughly posted in the Scriptures and has read from Genesis to Revelations seven times.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Seneca County, New York family biographies here: Seneca County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Seneca County, New York here: Seneca County, New York Map

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