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The Family of J. R. Graves
Researched by R. L. Vaughn, 2021

James Robinson Graves (1820-1893) – preacher, author, publisher, debater – was probably one of the best-known Baptist preachers in the United States in the 19th century. He remains well known today in certain circles, and, of course, by religious historians and Baptist history buffs.

As an avid genealogist as well as a Baptist history buff, I noticed something that is a frequent problem among historians of the religious (or even the popular) – a tendency to ignore the families of the people they study. Even Graves’s son-in-law, Orren Luico Hailey in J. R. Graves: Life, Times and Teachings, spends precious little time writing about the family of Graves. Further, genealogists at seem not to have connected that he had a family by his first marriage. I have spent a fair amount of time and effort in censuses, periodicals (both religious & secular), and other records trying to “reconstruct” the family of J. R. Graves so that we might know a little more about them. This includes (1) creating a “James Robinson Graves Family Tree” at, (2) trying to add and link up the family members on Find-A-Grave, and (3) adding a section on the family of J. R. Graves at Wikipedia. (Note: the Ancestry family tree is set as public, so if you have an account, you should be able to see it.)

The number of children of J. R. Graves should be substantially correct. The 1900 census cites Georgianna Graves as the mother of three children, and all three were living. Concerning the death of Louisa Jane Graves, a report in The Baptist mentions five children, all of whom are known. The deaths of the children of Lua Spencer Graves are reported in The Baptist. It hardly seems there could have been more than these four children in their brief marriage of about 5-1/2 years.


Zuinglius Calvin Graves (13 October 1790-4 April 1820) (son of Luther and Phebe Graves of Leominster, Massachusetts; also spelled Greaves)

Lois M. Snell Graves (ca. 1791-1867)

1st wife

Lucinda Ellen “Lua” Spencer Graves (1826-1851) married 1845 in Ashtabula County, Ohio

      Zuinglius Graves (1846–1846)
      Lua Ellen Graves (1847-1847)
      James Rollin Graves (1849-1849)
      Luella Kells Graves (1850-1860)

2nd wife

Louisa Jane Snider Graves (1838-1867) married in 1856 in Madison County, Tennessee, at Jackson
      Nora Snider Graves Hailey (1857–1933)
      James Robinson Graves (1860–1929)
      George S. Graves (1862–1886)
      Lois M. Graves Crutcher (1865–1897)
      Lou Ellen Turley Graves Wood (1867-1948)

3rd wife
     Georgianna Snider Graves (1843-1932) married in 1869, probably at Memphis

      William Caruthers Graves (1870–1960)
      Lillian M. Graves (ca. 1876–1899)
      Infant Graves (1879–1879)
      Zuinglius Calvin Graves (1881–1926)

I close with this story about the mother of J. R. Graves, related in The Baptist. [Lois M. Graves] had been reared under Congregational influences, but that when contemplating a profession of religion she demanded baptism on a profession of her faith, at the hands of Dr. Burnap, then pastor of the Congregational Church at Chester [Vermont], but subsequently of Lowell, Mass. Her views in regard to this ordinance were derived entirely from the reading of the Bible. She had never been thrown among Baptists, nor had read their works; and the reasonings by which the Congregational minister sought to removed her scruples as to the practice of his own communion, only confirmed her judgement in the correctness of her interpretation of the sacred oracles on this subject. Upon the avowal of her determination to abide by her conviction of the divine teaching, the Doctor, though with evident reluctance, acceded to her demand to be buried with Christ in baptism, and himself administered the rite. Mrs. Graves was then about 34 years of age. Subsequently she came to entertain doubts as to the validity of the baptism thus administered, about 12 years ago was re-baptized by the Rev. Dr. J. M. Pendleton, at the First Baptist Church, Nashville.

From The Baptist (Memphis, Tennessee, Saturday November 2, 1867, page 4)


[Note: The first wife of J. R. Graves was a sister of the wife of his brother, Zuinglius Calvin Graves, Jr. (1816-1901).]

[From R. L. Vaughn, "Ministry and Music - Seeking the Old Paths", - Bro. Vaughn has collected a court document about the will of Graves's brother-in-law, Warren P. Marks. Marks had written a will and gave it to Graves for safe-keeping. When he left Nashville (February 1862), he went to Panola County, Mississippi, and then went to Memphis in 1866. This is sometimes overlooked. For example, the Tennessee Online Encyclopedia says that J. R. Graves fled Nashville and went directly to Memphis.

This document is used with permission. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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