My husband's great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Graham, was the son of Henderson and Esther A. (Jernigan) Graham of Johnston County, North Carolina. It took many, many years to unearthen that information. Henderson Graham is such a unique name that I thought it would be easy to connect him to his family, but so far that has not happened. I've learned a bit about Henderson Graham, but not enough to connect him to his family.
In my search, I have tracked Henderson Graham's children, hoping that one of them would reveal some useful information about him. Among Thomas Jefferson Graham's brothers was a Rev. Edward Bright Graham who lived in Tennessee, had three wives, and preached in the M.E. South Church. Now that newspaper databases are becoming more available, I have found out quite a bit about him. Finally, today I located information about his parents and boyhood from his own pen. This new information may finally help lead to more breakthroughs.
In 1909, Rev. E.B. Graham answered a request for information about pastors who had left the state of North Carolina. His response appeared in the North Carolina Christian Advocate on July 15, 1909:
SOME TIME SINCE, THROUGH the columns of the Nashville Christian Advocate, you requested the address of all the preachers who had gone out from North Carolina. Later your personal letter was received asking for an article in regard to my birth-place, removal from the State and work. I was born on a farm some five miles from Smithfield, Johnston County, N.C. My parents were Charles H. and Esther A. Graham. Mother died in 1861; father in 1864. Father was a Southern soldier, and died in a camp near Morganton, N.C. Time has wrought many changes. We children are now widely separated. A half brother lives at Whiteville, Tenn.; an own brother lives in the Panhandle of Texas; four sisters and one brother live in the home-land the dear Old North State. I left my native state, Dec. 18, 1871, for West Tennessee, and located near Whiteville, Tenn., where I spent three years on a farm. The next two years I clerked in a drug-store at the town of Whiteville. A portion of the next year was spent in school at Whiteville, but owing to ill-health, I had to quit the school-room, and that fall I went to Texas, where I spent about thirteen months. Returning to Tennessee, I accepted a position as clerk in a dry-goods and grocery store in Fayette Corner, Tennessee, where I staid nine months, giving up this position to enter Vanderbilt University, where I remained two years, graduating from the Theological Department. I was born of God and joined the M.E. Church, South in 1872, under the pastorate of the late and lamented Rev. Warner Moore, Ph. D., D.D. I was granted license to preach in the fall of 1877, and admitted on trial to the Memphis Conference in the fall of 1881; which Conference convened at Bolivar, Tenn., and presided over by Bishop Robert Paine. I was also ordained a deacon at the Conference. At the Conference of 1883, which convened at Union City, Tenn., presided over by Bishop H. N. McTyiere, I was received into full connection. Two years later I was ordained an elder by Bishop R.K. Hargrove, at Paducah, Ken. My ministerial life as a traveling preacher has been spent in the Memphis Conference, filling a number of stations and circuits. I have never been off the effective list, never missed attending but one Annual Conference, and prevented then by the death of my family. I have always tried to be faithful and punctual. In all my ministerial life I have never been late to appointment but once, and then only three minutes. There have been times when I could not go, but if I could and were going I went on time. I have witnessed many conversions and feel I have been an instrument in God's hands in leading numbers of sinners to Christ. Though left fatherless and motherless in my early life, my pathway for some years was rather sad and a hard one, yet the good Lord has always been good to me and many blessings have been bestowed upon me. Yes, He has blessed me far beyond my expectation and merit. "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Although I wandered Westward from my dear old home State, my love for her has never been transferred to any other State, and when I hear her name called I like to hear if spoken softly and kindly. I also love my adopted state Tennessee. At present I am serving Moscow charge, in Southwest Kentucky. I like Kentucky also. In many respects it is a great State. While our Conference embraces Southwest Kentucky, the most of my ministerial labors has been in Tennessee.
REV. E.B. Graham, Moscow, Kentucky
The new information from this piece is encouraging. First, he names his father as Charles H. Graham rather than just Henderson Graham. That coincides with the 1911 death certificate of his sister Mary "Mollie" (Graham) Mozingo, which names her father as Charles H. Graham. This is an important breakthrough because the information on Mollie Mozingo's death certificate, regarding her father's indentity, is a secondary source. It has been a question mark in my mind for some time since no period sources ever include Charles with his name. Now, however, I have a primary source - Rev. E. B. Graham's own autobiography - to document Charles Henderson Graham's name. It seems likely that more records for Charles Graham will surface, and possibly link him to his family.
Additionally, this piece provides death dates for Esther Ann (Jernigan) Whitley Graham, 1861, and Charles Henderson Graham, 1864. Even more surprising is the news that Charles H. Graham died while in the service of the CSA at Morganton, NC. I have not been able to turn up his enlistment and service records, but I have only just scratched the surface on this.
Of the siblings named in this piece, Rufus Whitley is probably the half brother in Whiteville while Thomas Jefferson Graham is the "own brother" in the Panhandle of Texas. I need to identifiy which brother was still living in North Carolina, and which of the sisters were still living.
My regret is that Rev. E. B. Graham reveals next to nothing about his wives and children. Still, this is a major find.
Keywords: T.J. Graham, Esther Ann Jernigan, Esther Ann Graham, Rev. Edward B. Graham, Jarnigan