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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  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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MELVIN L. GRAVES, senior member of the firm of M. L. & M. W. Graves, dealers in grain, flour, feed, etc., in Northampton, was born in South Leverett, Mass., September 17, 1847. He is of English extraction, being a lineal descendant of Admiral Thomas Graves, whocame from England some time during the 1630’s, and settled on the peninsula of Mishawum, now called Charlestown, in Massachusetts. It is probable that this emigrant ancestor is the Thomas Graves recently alluded to by B. F. DeCosta, in the New England Magazine, in stating that the Sprague brothers, going from Salem to Mishawum in 1629, were accompanied by an engineer, one Thomas Graves, who proceeded to there lay out a town.

After a few generations the descendants of the said Thomas Graves began to settle in other sections of Massachusetts. Daniel Graves, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, removed to Franklin County with his wife, a native of Dublin, N. H., whose maiden name was Phoebe Mason. He settled in the town of Leverett, buying a farm on which he worked during seed-time and harvest. He also manufactured agricultural implements when there was water enough in the stream to run his factory. When he died is not recorded. His wife, who bore him three children, one son and two daughters, died in 1865, aged sixty-five years.

Cyrus M. Graves, the father of Melvin L. Graves, was born in Leverett. He had a natural aptitude for the trade of a mechanic, and worked for several years in his father’s shop. When nineteen years old he embarked in the manufacture of hoes, rakes, etc., building up a large business in the town of North Leverett. He was skilled in all branches of his business, and a very ingenious workman. He was the first man to fasten the nib on a scythe snath with a screw. In 1854, in the month of October, he moved to Northampton to take charge of the factory of the Bay State Manufacturing Company, and remained in that position until the firm failed. In 1857 he went to Columbus, Ohio, where he had charge of the shops at the State Penitentiary for four years. Returning then with his family to his home and property in this city, he became an employee of the gun and cutlery works here until within two years of the time of his death, which occurred at his home on Washington Avenue, January 12, 1886.

The maiden name of his wife was Jane Gunn, a native of Montague, being the daughter of Samuel Gunn. She and her daughter, Lucy J., still occupy the old home. She has reared five children, as follows: Myron W., who is in business with the subject; Melvin L.; C. M., a railway freight clerk in Northampton; Lucy J., a teacher; and Herbert R., book-keeper for the firm of M. L. & M. W. Graves, and a dealer in bicycles.

Melvin L. Graves attended the high school in Columbus, Ohio, and after returning to Northampton studied at the high school here for a while. At the age of sixteen years he entered the gun works as an inspector of bayonets, remaining there three years. He left then to continue his studies in the Springfield Business College, later taking a post-graduate course there. He subsequently became book-keeper for Thayer & Sergeant, dealers in grain, flour, etc., including broom corn, continuing with them until the dissolution of the firm. Then, in October, 1875, forming a partnership with his brother Myron, he continued the business, renting the property for the first five years, and then purchasing the entire plant, including store and mill. The firm in this way established conducted an extensive and profitable business until March 27, 1894, when the entire plant was destroyed by a disastrous conflagration, involving a loss of thirty-five thousand dollars, partially covered by an insurance of thirty thousand dollars. Since that time the firm has carried on business in temporary quarters, pending the decision of the grade crossing question.

Mr. Graves was united in marriage October 18, 1870, with Miss Annie L. Leonard, of this city, the youngest child of the late Archellas and Emeline (Alvord) Leonard, the latter of whom is still living. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard were the parents of five children, as follows: Henry, a volunteer in the late Civil War, who died at the age of twenty years; Sarah, who died soon after the death of her brother; Chester, an employee of the government, residing in Hartford; Mary, married to Stephen D. Sprague, of this city; and Annie L., Mrs. Graves. Mr. and Mrs. Graves are the parents of three children, as follows: Leonard M., a shoe dealer in Greenfield, carrying on an extensive business; Mabel G., who was graduated from the high school in 1894, living at home; and Myron H., a clever youth of fifteen years. Mr. Graves is very active and influential in political, social, and educational circles. He belongs to the Legion of Honor, of which he has been Treasurer since its organization, in 1880. He has also been a member of the Board of Education since the incorporation of the city, being the oldest member in point of service. He has been an elector and Auditor of the Smith Charities for several years. He has likewise been Treasurer of the Northampton Co-operative Bank since its establishment. Mr. and Mrs. Graves have a delightful home at 40 Washington Avenue, where they take genuine pleasure in welcoming their many friends, entertaining them with true New England hospitality.

Myron W. Graves was born in North Leverett, Mass., August 27, 1845, and has been in business with his brother Melvin since 1875. On December 6, 1871, he married Melvina E. Jepson, formerly of Ashfield, and one of three children born to the late George R. Jepson and his wife, whose maiden name was Mary Leach. The other children were: Lyman A. Jepson, and Lewis E., deceased. Five children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Myron Graves, one of whom died in infancy. The others are: Lewis E., a carpenter of this place; Cyrus M., a plumber of Northampton; Edith M., an accomplished young lady; and Anna Marion, seven years old. In politics Mr. Graves, like his brother, is a stanch Republican, and has been a Councilman two years. Religiously, he is a valued and conscientious member of the Baptist church. He and his family occupy a pleasant residence at 101 West Street, he having purchased the house before his marriage. They are much esteemed by their neighbors.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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