Rev. Alfred C. Graves, D. D., pastor of the First Baptist church of Lebanon, Kentucky, is a native of Bullitsville, Boone county, this state, and belongs to a family whose identity with this country dates back to early days in the "Old Dominion."
Captain Thomas Graves, the original progenitor of the Graves family in America, came over from England in the ship "Mary and Margaret" in 1607. and settled on the James river, Virginia, from whence his descendants scattered. He had a large plantation on the Eastern shore, and was a Representative in the Virginia Assembly. One branch of the family came from Culpeper county, that state, to Kentucky, in 1797, and pioneered on territory out of which Boone county was subsequently formed, bordering on the Ohio river. Absalom Graves, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was the first clerk of Boone county, and he also served as clerk of the quarter-sessions court. In middle age he became a Baptist minister, and from that time until the close of his life he figured prominently as the leading Baptist divine in his section of the country, wielding an influence for good that was far reaching. "Graves' Hymns," of which he was the author, was used for years in many a Baptist church. He died in 1826.
Captain John W. Graves, father of Dr. Alfred C. Graves, was a native of Boone county and spent his entire life there on a farm. For a number of years, however, up to the time of his death, he was engaged in flour-milling business in Cincinnati. His wife, Louisa (Cave) Graves, was a daughter of Jeremiah Cave, of Woodford county, Kentucky. She died in 1858. His mother was a sister of the famous Craigs of Virginia and later of Kentucky. Of the four sons and two daughters born to Captain John W. Graves and wife only two, the subject of this sketch and his sister, Mrs. W. C. Gaines, of Slater, Missouri, survive.
Alfred Chambers Graves was educated at the Georgetown, (Kentucky) College, and the Western Baptist Theological Institute [Covington, KY]. He was ordained in September, 1860, at Bullitsburg church in Boone county, during the sitting of the North Bend Association. Among the prominent ministers in the council were Dr. James A. Kirtly, William M. Pratt, D. D. Asa Drury, Andrew Broadus and Thomas J. Stevenson.
The first pastorate filled by Dr. Graves was at Harrodsburg. Afterward he was at Louisville and Stamping Ground, and in 1871 he was called to the First Baptist church of Manchester, New Hampshire, where he remained five years, during which time he built a new church, doubled the membership and more than doubled the Sunday-school attendance. The handsome church he built there, including the ground and the organ, cost over seventy-five thousand dollars, and the dedicatory sermon was preached by his life-long friend, Dr. George C. Lorimer, of Boston, famous throughout both America and England, and the father of George H. Lorimer, editor of the "Saturday Evening Post."
Leaving Manchester in March, 1877, Dr. Graves came to Lebanon, having accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist church, a position he has since filled with the exception of two years. One secret of his long pastorate as has been said of him, lies in doing the very best work of which he is capable every week,
and not attempting to straighten out all of the kinks in this world in a day. Here also he has doubled the church membership and has a flourishing Sunday-school. During his pastorate the church property has been greatly improved, a large parsonage adjoining has been acquired, and general harmony and prosperity reign.
During his long service as pastor Dr. Graves has always given more or less time to literary work. He is the author of some pamphlets, "La Rue's Ministry of Faith," which have been published in book form, and numerous addresses, lectures and essays. For a time he was editor of the "Western Recorder," and for several years has been reporting to that publication the Southern Baptist Convention and General Association of Kentucky Baptists. At various times he has had calls to larger churches in larger cities, and with large salaries for inducement to change, but he has declined them all, preferring to remain in Lebanon, where he is devoted to his people and his people to him.
On July 21, 1868, Dr. Graves married, at Stamping Ground. Scott county, Kentucky, Miss Annie Du Vall Smith, a niece of the late Judge Alvin Du Vall, at one time chief justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. It was often noted that in her mental and moral gifts she resembled the Judge, of whom she was very fond. She died July 19, 1903. Active and useful in all departments of church work, and especially gifted in dealing with children, she was highly appreciated and greatly loved by the parishioners, and has been sadly missed. To them were given two sons: George Lorimer, now with the Burly Tobacco Society, at Lexington, Kentucky, and Alfred Du Vall, a teacher in Doyle College, Doyle, Tennessee.
[E. Polk Johnson, A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, 1912, p. 1095-6. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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