William Graham, who is connected with the agricultural and stock-raising interests of northeastern Kansas and makes his home in Sabetha, was born in Tioga county, New York, in the town of Richford, April 14, 1834. His father, John S. Graham, was born in Ulster county, New York, May 27, 1794, and was a shoemaker and tanner by trade. The grandfather, Richard Graham, was also a native of the Empire state and devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Hannah Gee. She was born in New York and was a daughter of William Gee, whose birth occurred in that state and he was of Dutch lineage, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. John S. Graham died on the 29th of November, 1869, and his wife passed away on the 15th of October, 1840. They had three sons who were valiant soldiers of the Union during the civil war, and one laid down his life upon the altar of his country. He joined Company D, Eighth Kansas Infantry, became its captain, and was killed in the battle of Chickamauga. Another son, George Graham, was for many years a prominent factor in the political life of Kansas. In 1865 he was elected to the state legislature, where he served one year; in 1866 was elected state senator for Brown and Nemaha counties and in 1868 was elected state treasurer. He left the impress of his individuality upon the legislative movements of the commonwealth and was very earnest in his advocacy of all movements which he believed would prove a public benefit.
William Graham, of this review, spent his youth in Broome county, New York, pursuing his education in the district schools, which he attended through the winter seasons, working on the farm during the summer months until twenty-one years of age. In September, 1856, he came to Nemaha county, Kansas, in company with his brother, John L. Graham, and his brother-in-law, Edward Miller. This was five years before the admission of the state into the Union and the work of development was just beginning. Kansas was soon to become the disputed territory of the friends and opponents of slavery, being the center of much of the trouble which preceded the civil war. Its lands were in their primitive condition, awaiting the touch of the white man to transform them into rich and fertile fields.
Mr. Graham secured a claim of one hundred and sixty acres in Nemaha county and cultivated the tract until 1860, when he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting at St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was mustered in as a member of Company E, Thirteenth Missouri Infantry, under command of Colonel Peabody. The regiment was ordered to Lexington, Missouri, under Colonel Mulligan, and after nine days fight surrendered to General Price, but was paroled and afterward mustered out. Later Mr. Graham joined the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, under the command of Colonel C. R. Jennison, and spent the following winter in Missouri and at Fort Riley, Kansas. The regiment was ordered to New Mexico and started, but was ordered back and sent to Pittsburg Landing, arriving there two days after that great battle. The regiment was afterward ordered to Columbus, Kentucky, and later engaged in opening the Mobile & Ohio Railroad to Corinth, where he was stationed for nearly two years. His regiment was ordered to Colonel Phil Sheridan's brigade, and on the 1st of January, 1864, re-enlisted as a member of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, in which he served until. the close of the war, when he received an honorable discharge.
Upon his return home Mr. Graham engaged in farming and stock-raising, which business he followed with signal success for a number of years. He then sold his property and removed to Sabetha, Kansas, where he has since made his home. He was married, in 1870, to Miss Sarah L. Ralyea, formerly a resident of New York and a daughter of C. V. Ralyea. They now have one daughter, Jennie, who is a successful teacher, occupying the position of teacher in the Sabetha schools.
In his political views Mr. Graham is a stalwart Republican, unswerving in his support of the principles of the party. He keeps well informed on the issues of the day and does all in his power to insure the success of the political organization with which he is identified. In 1898 he was elected to the office of justice of the peace and the following year was appointed police judge of the city of Sabetha. He has proved a most capable and competent officer, discharging his duties without fear or favor, and thus winning the confidence of all law-abiding citizens. He and his family are members of the Congregational church of Sabetha, in which he has served as a deacon for the past twenty years. Socially he is connected with Sabetha. Post, No. 175, G. A. R., and for some time was the commander of the post. He enjoys the high regard of his old army comrades and all those with whom he has been associated in business and public life. His identification with Nemaha county covers almost the entire period of its development; he has witnessed its growth and improvement through many years and has aided in its progress, so that he may well be numbered among the pioneers who laid the foundation for the present prosperity of the community.