Graves family papers, 1818-1939 (bulk 1835-1910)

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Graves family.
Title: Graves family papers, 1818-1939 (bulk 1835-1910)
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 327
Extent: 1.5 linear feet (3 boxes), 1 oversized papers box and 1 oversized papers folder (OP), and 12 oversized bound volumes (OBV)
Abstract:Papers of the Graves family, residents of Covington, Georgia and early benefactors and attendees of Emory College including correspondence, financial and plantation records, photographs, and printed material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Graves family papers and Charles Iverson Graves papers,, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Gift, 1963 with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Graves family papers, Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Iverson Lea Graves (June 20, 1799-1864), a member of the first Board of Trustees and an early benefactor of Emory College, was the son of Solomon Graves (1766-1830) and Frances Lewis Graves of Caswell County, North Carolina, and Newton County, Georgia. Iverson Lea Graves's brothers and sisters were William Byrd (1791-1864), (Dr.) John L. (b. 1793), Frances Lewis (Mrs. William P. Graham, b.1797), Barzillia (1802-1866), Solomon (b.1803), and Sidney (1806-1833). In 1818, the elder Solomon Graves built "Mt. Pleasant," in Covington, Newton County, Georgia, which was to be the home of members of the Graves family for 140 years. Solomon Graves and his sons were also responsible for the construction of "Brick Store" (ca. 1820) in the Covington, Georgia, district. This was the site on which the first session of the Newton Superior Court was convened in 1822.

Iverson Lea Graves (1799-1864) had one child, Rebecca Frances (Fannie), by a first marriage to a Miss Williams, and four children by a second marriage (1834) to Sara Ward Dutton, who had come to teach in the Covington area. These children were Henry Lea (1842-1892), Iverson Dutton (1845-1906), and Cornelia Lansing (Cora; b. 1849); another son, Sidney, (b. 1847), died in childhood.

Henry attended the Academy in Newton County, the Bingham School at Oaks (Orange County), North Carolina (1859), and Emory College (1860). In 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army and served one year as a private in the 2nd Georgia Battalion stationed in Virginia. In 1862, he was commissioned as an officer in the Confederate Marine Corps and was stationed at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia, and Savannah, Georgia (1863-1864).

Henry Lea Graves returned to Mt. Pleasant in June 1865, where, due to the death of his father in 1864, he took on the responsibilities of running the plantation. Henry received his long delayed diploma from Emory College in 1867, and in 1869, he married Henrietta (Retta) Milligan of Augusta, Georgia, daughter of Joseph Milligan and niece of Augustus Baldwin Longstreet. They had five children, Iverson Lea (b. 1870), Elizabeth M. ("Lizzie;" b. 1872), Joseph M. (b. 1878), Henry Lewis (b. 1885), and Sarah Ward (b. 1889). In 1890-1891, he served as a member of the lower house of the Georgia General Assembly. He died in 1892 and was buried in Newton County.

Iverson Dutton Graves, Henry's brother, was educated at Mount. Pleasant Academy, Emory College, and the Georgia Military Institute. In 1864, he left school to take a commission in the Confederate Navy as a Master's Mate and was stationed in Savannah, Georgia. He returned to Mount Pleasant in April 1865. Dutton later moved to Terrell County to manage family property which his father, Iverson Lea Graves, had originally purchased from his brother, William Byrd Graves. It was Iverson Lea Graves who sold the right of way through that plantation to the Southwestern Railroad (later Central of Georgia) and the area and resulting town was called "Graves." Iverson Dutton Graves continued to live in the home he built in Terrell County until his death in 1906.

Sources for these notes have been: Richard B. Harwell's "Henry Lea Graves, Confederate Marine," ( Emory Alumnus, Dec. 1960) and A Confederate Marine, (Confederate Publishing Co., 1963); The Glory of Covington, (Cherokee, 1973) by William B. Williford; and History Of Terrell County, Georgia, (W.H. Wolfe Associates, 1980) by Ella C. Melton and Augusta G. Raines; and from supplemental information supplied by descendants of the Graves Family.

Scope and Content Note

The Graves family papers consist of correspondence and related papers, financial and plantation records, personal items, photographs, drawings and prints, and printed material. Although the papers (1818-1939) span over one hundred years, the bulk is within the period 1835-1910. Earliest among them is an account book dated 1818; the most recent items are family correspondence, dated 1939. While a strength of the collection is broad chronological coverage, a weakness lies in the lack of personal material which would complement the financial and plantation records of the same period.

Correspondence is arranged in chronological order with the exception of the typed carbon copies of the letters written by and to the Graves brothers, Iverson Dutton and Henry Lea, during the Civil War period. These letters, which describe daily military life and that of a Confederate Marine, have been kept together as a group. Originals of these letters may be found in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Earliest materials found here include a bond signed by the trustees of Emory College (1838), letters addressed to Iverson Lea Graves (1840), from Ignatius Alphonso Few and William A. Carr concerning a property dispute, and a power of attorney statement from Augustus Baldwin Longstreet to Joseph Milligan and John H. Mann (1852). Henry Lea Graves' 1859 correspondence with his family while he was away at Bingham School is quite descriptive of a nineteenth century boarding school education. Remaining family letters, many of which are to and from Retta (Mrs. Henry Lea Graves) and her father, Joseph Milligan, relay news of daily life. An especially interesting item is a form letter sent to Iverson Dutton Graves from a Columbus, Georgia, man (1867) offering to transport, for a fee, laborers from Scotland to replace lost slave labor. These immigrants and their families would each serve three years in America as farmhands, gardeners, or domestic servants, after which time they would have paid for their passage to America.

The greater portion of the financial and plantation records, 1818-1919, are found within eleven bound volumes. Four folders of material dated 1868-1919 (some of which were loose items removed from these bound volumes) consist of bills, receipts, unidentified contracts, and mortgages. Arranged chronologically by date of fist entry, these records document the family's life in Caswell County, North Carolina (1818-1820), and in Newton County, Georgia (1833-1919). Entries also list purchases made by the Georgia Conference Manual Labor School and Emory College. Names of persons important to the history of early Emory may be found throughout the 1833-1852 account and record books; listed here as well as in later record books are references (by name) to the slaves of Mt. Pleasant before, during, and after the Civil War. These volumes also contain some personal records created by family members. The merchant's account book (1852) and physician's account book (1854) were also used as scrapbooks. The "Home Book" (1864-1865; 1868-1870) and a journal (1870) are found in an account book and a separate personal journal entry can be found in the 1883-1887 account book. These entries list births, deaths, and the coming of the Union soldiers to Newton County. Other personal items generated by or belonging to the Graves family are two autograph albums, a scrapbook, a diary, a music book, a diploma, and a poem.

Earliest of the several graphic items found in these papers are the silhouette of William Byrd Graves (ca. 1840), son of the elder Solomon Graves and brother of Iverson Lea Graves. Two original drawings (ca. 1856), created by Dutton/Graves children reflect the nineteenth century art of drawing as taught in the "academy." Other items include engravings (ca.1850) of political figures and illustrations.

Photographs, ca. 1850-1925, are of Graves family members and friends, not all of whom are identified. The bulk of the photographs belonged to or are concerned with Henry Lewis Graves and are of his home and family at Mt. Pleasant, his friends and activities at Western High School, Virginia Military Institute, University of Virginia, and military aeronautics school. Some excellent photographs depicting students involved in leisure activities at these institutions may be found here.

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Container List

Correspondence and related papers
Box Folder Content
1 1 Bond - Trustees of Emory College to Charles H. Sanders, 1838
1 2 Power of Attorney - Augustus B. Longstreet to Joseph Milligan, 1852
1 3 Iverson Lea Graves correspondence, January-October,1840
1 4 Henry Lea Graves correspondence, 1859, 1861, n.d.
1 5 Henry Lea Graves, Iverson Dutton Graves, correspondence: War letters, 1861-1865 (carbon transcripts)
1 6 General family correspondence, 1867-1869, 1972-1874
1 7 General family correspondence, 1875-1876
1 8 General family correspondence, 1877-1892
1 9 General family correspondence, 1918-1920, 1939
1 10 General family correspondence, n.d.
1 11 General family correspondence, miscellaneous notes, invitations, etc.
Financial and plantation records
1 12 Financial and Plantation Records - Bills and receipts, 1851-1894 (not inclusive)
1 13 Financial and Plantation Records - Contracts, mortgages, 1873, 1880, 1881
1 14 Financial and Plantation Records - Miscellaneous, 1868, n.d.
1 15 Financial and Plantation Records - Miscellaneous notes, bills and receipts (from Plantation Record Book, 1916-1919
OBV1 [Merchant's] Account Book, 1818-1820; 1843, Milton, North Carolina (Caswell County)
OBV2 Account Book, 1833-1841; 1851 Newton County, Georgia; Oxford/Emory College
OBV3 Account Book, "Accounts with Charleston, Augusta, and New York Merchants," 1835 (includes sale of estate of Thomas Graves, 1847-1848; sale 1867)
OBV4 Account Book, 1835-1843 - Mt. Pleasant, Newton County
OBV5 Account Book, Oxford Store, 1842; Rome Store, 1844; Augusta Store, 1850, "Home Book," 1864-1865, 1868-1870; Journal 1870
OBV6 [Merchant's] Account Book/Scrapbook, 1852, Covington, Georgia
OBV7 [Physician's] Account Book/Scrapbook, 1854, Joseph Milligan
OBV8 Account Book, 1883-1887 (Henry Lea Graves) p.192-journal, 1887
OBV9 "Accounts with Tennants," 1889-1906; Plantation Accounts, 1894
OBV10 Plantation Records, 1916-1919
OBV11 "Farmer's account book and farm record," 1917-1918
OBV12 “Collection Docket,” 1909-1916
Personal items, 1831-1898, n.d.
2 1 Poem by G.W. Johnson, Bartow, Jefferson County, Georgia, n.d.
2 2 Autograph album, 1831-1832 (belonged to Mary Camfield, Augusta, Georgia) [bound volume]
2 3 Scrapbook, ca. 1862-1870 [bound volume]
2 4 "Gem" autograph album - Lizzie M. Graves, 1884-1886 [bound volume]
2 5 Diary - Iverson Dutton Graves, 1885-1889 [bound volume]
2 6 Music book - Mary Carter, n.d. [bound volume]
OP1 1 Diploma, Henry Lea Graves, 1867
Photographs, Drawings and Prints; and Printed Material
3 1 Photograph album compiled by Henry Lewis Graves, ca. 1900-1910
3 2 Silhouette of William Byrd Graves, ca.1840
3 3-4 Engravings (5): Herschal V. Johnson; Henry Dickson; Visit to the Armorer; Bingen-on-the-Rhine; First Pair of Boots, all ca. 1850
3 5 Drawing - "Fishing Scene" by Sarah E. Dutton, Rutland, March 15, 1856
OP1 2 Drawing - "Fountain of Elisha at Jericho" by Iverson DuttonGraves, at Miss C.M. Johnson's School, Mt. Pleasant Academy (ca. 1855)
3 6 Photographs, Graves family, ca. 1850-1920
3 7 Photographs, family friends, ca. 1880
3 8 Photographs, Mt. Pleasant, ca. 1930
3 9 Photographs, Graves family in Civil War era costume, ca. 1925
3 10 Photographs, Henry Lewis Graves, V.M.I., ca. 1906 (loose photographs from album)
3 11 Photographs, Henry Lewis Graves, ca. 1918
3 12-14 Photographs, Henry Lewis Graves, miscellaneous, ca. 1910-1930
3 15 Photographs, Cigarette Advertisements (2), ca. from "Gem" album
3 16 Printed Material - Clippings from Henry Lewis photo album, ca. 1900-1910
3 17 Printed Material - Henry Lewis Graves, 1907-1909, n.d., (V.M.I.)
3 18 Printed Material - Henry Lewis Graves, 1918, Squadron 8 Adjutants' school, Ohio State Univ.
3 19 Printed Material - Miscellaneous pamphlets, 1879, 1885, n.d.
OP2 - Decorative Art Work - Supplement to the February 1892 of The Art Interchange