The period of development in any section of the country is always attended by hardships which must be borne by men of sturdy spirit and determination, who overcome all obstacles with resolute purpose and industry. As civilization advances the difficulties of early times give way to the comforts and conveniences of the present, but the foundation of prosperity and progress is laid in the early days by the pioneer and to him the county owes a debt of gratitude. Among this number in Atchison county is John Graves, whose connection with northeastern Kansas covers a period of forty-five years. He was born in east Tennessee November 27, 1829, and is a son of Anthony Graves, who was also born in the same state. The grandfather, John Graves, was a native of North Carolina and was of German lineage; he was reared, however, in Tennessee, and on attaining his majority he married Sarah Sharp. Anthony Graves was twice married. He first married Julia Bloodsaw, who bore him four children, namely: Nancy and Elizabeth, who are living, and Hugh and Rebecca, who have passed away. The mother dying, the father afterward married Martha Lower, by whom he had eleven children, namely: John; Sarah; Mary, deceased; Rose; Jake; Henry, who died in Marysville, Missouri, in 1899; Martha; James; Catherine; William, deceased; and Lutitia. The father's death occurred in Missouri when he had attained the age of eighty-two years, and the mother passed away aged nearly eighty-three years. Both were members of the Baptist church and people of sterling worth.
In the state of his nativity John Graves spent the first eleven years of his life, and then accompanied his parents on their removal to Missouri. He was the eldest son at home and as the father was in limited circumstances he had to aid in the development of the farm, and therefore received very limited school privileges. He, however, early learned the lessons of thrift and industry that are so necessary to success in life, and became familiar with all the duties that fall to the lot of the agriculturist. He remained at home until the age of twenty-one, after which he was married, in Buchanan county, Missouri, February 10, 1850, to Miss Elizabeth Landrum, a daughter of Edward and Priscilla Landrum, both of whom died in Atchison county, Kansas, where they settled in 1855, in Benton township. Mrs. Graves has a brother, William, who is living in Benton township, Atchison county, and a sister, Mrs. T. F. Cook, of Effingham. The young couple began their domestic life upon a farm in Missouri, renting land, but five years later settled on his present farm, he building a log cabin with a "clap-board" roof, the only expense attached to the construction of the building being fifty cents which he paid for nails. In that primitive pioneer home they lived for five years, at the end of which time it was replaced by a more commodious and modern residence. In his business undertakings Mr. Graves prospered, and from time to time added to his property until the old homestead numbered about three hundred and thirty-seven acres of rich land. He is also the owner of eight hundred and forty acres in Pottawatomie county and one hundred and sixty acres in Jefferson county, making a total of one thousand, three hundred and thirty-seven acres. His home farm is a valuable one, well stocked with a high grade of cattle and horses and his extensive realty holdings bring to him a handsome income.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Graves were born three children: James Marion, now a prominent farmer in Benton township, married for his first wife Lou Mosier, and to them were born three children, namely: Mary, William and Edward. The mother of these children died in 1896, and in 1899 he married Callie Richmond. Henry Lower Graves, the second son, married Anna Carson, and is farming in Missouri. M. Anna is the wife of J. R. Stockwell, of Jefferson county, Kansas, and has four children: Roy, Ora, Ira and Una. January 26, 1900, Mrs. Graves was called away in death. She was a Christian and excellent woman.
Mr. Graves has now reached the Psalmist's span of three score years and ten, but largely possesses the figure of a man in his prime. He came to this country in early life, at which time he had not only no capital but had incurred an indebtedness of fifty dollars. Industry, economy and perseverance have been the salient features in his success and have made him one of the largest land owners of the county. In politics he is a Republican. For over fifty years he has been a member of the Christian church and for much of that time has served as elder. His life is upright and his career has ever been characterized by the strictest honesty and the most careful fidelity to duty.