Among the Oregon pioneers of 1847 the name of Col. James B. Graves is worthy of prominent mention. His ability for public service was soon recognized, and his valuable assistance as a member of the territorial legislature gained him great prominence. He was born in Virginia in 1796, and came of English ancestry. The family was established in America by Thomas Graves, the father of James B., who came to the land of the oppressed in time to assist in making it the land of the free. He settled in Virginia, and in time owned large landed estates, his enlistment in the Revolutionary war covering many of the important battles of that memorable time. From Virginia he removed to Kentucky, and from there to Warren county, Mo.
Before the removal of the family to Missouri James B. Graves married Diana Newton, a native of Kentucky, and she became the mother of nine children. In Missouri Mr. Graves was a member of the state militia, for meritorious service in which he gained the rank of colonel. Discontent in the middle west led to plans for removal to the far northwest, and in 1846 the oldest son and daughter joined a train across the plains, with father, mother and five the children following the next year. After spending two months in the vicinity of what is now McMinnville, the father took up a donation claim, which has since been in the possession of the family, and which is located one mile west of Sheridan. As may be imagined, no country possessed fewer signs of civilization than did this very region around Sheridan, for in the territory was scarcely an aggregation of houses and worthy the name of town. Portland was in its infancy, and Oregon City owed its signs of life solely to the fact it was the principal distributing point for the arriving emigrants. On his square mile of beautiful and fertile land Colonel Graves built a log cabin which was the home of the family for several years, and here the first wife died in March, 1848. His second marriage also occurred here, and united him with Mrs. Catherine Bewley, who died in 1867.
In 1862 Mr. Graves purchased a home in Salem, but from 1867 until his death, in 1882, at the age of eighty-five, he lived with his children. He was a man whom all delighted to honor, and his sterling integrity and interesting personality pervaded whatever he started out to accomplish. At one time he took much interest in politics, and his services in the early territorial legislature were characterized by marked ability and disinterested devotion to the best welfare of his district.
"Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley", page 262