Inspirational Message

Inspirational Message

Monday, November 5, 2012

Motivation Monday - Persis Who??

Until recently, I had never heard of the name Persis.  Now that I have her in my line of direct descent, I need to figure out who she is.

It began with an email from my cousin who wished to join the Daughters of 1812.  She asked if we had any ancestors who fought in the War of 1812.  I went online and searched the United Daughters of 1812 database and found Ira Graves, her 3rd and my 4th great grandfather.  I decided to search the DAR database for the Graves surname as well.  I found Simon Graves, father of Ira.  His wife was listed in the database as Persis Unknown.

Now the journey is under way to find who Persis is and to find a marriage record for Simon and Persis.  They lived in Massachusetts at the time of the American Revolution.  Simon is documented in the "1673 1899 History of Sunderland, Massachusetts" book that I downloaded from some time ago.  Persis is listed without a surname.

I checked's Massachusetts, Births and Christenings 1639-1915 index and found a birth record for a Perses Graves, daughter of Daniell Graves and his wife Joanna on 22 Aug 1754 in Brimfield, Hampden, Massachusetts.  Simon was born in 1752, so this could be his Persis.  Too bad the images are not available online for this index.

I decided to search on for a book pertaining to this particular area of Massachusetts.  There wasn't a book on Brimfield nor Hampden.  There were many books on Massachusetts Town Records.  I finally found "History of Palmer, Massachusetts, Early known as the Elbow Tract." I had seen that Palmer was in Hampden county so I decided to look into this book.

On page 124 begins the list of Early Settlers, Inhabitants and Landowners, 1716 - 1745.  And on page 129 it states, "Graves, Daniel from Springfield, located early on Brimfield Addition."

On page 281 it states that he obtained a license to open a public house before 1760. " It stood opposite the Washington Elm."   The Washington Elm is clarified on page 466 as the spot where Gen Washington addressed the people in 1784.

Back on page 163 it states, "Graves Tavern. January 16, 1761, a petition was presented to the General Court by Capt. Aaron Graves of Palmer, setting forth that his father, Daniel Graves, of said town, deceased,  at the court of General Sessions of Peace, holden at Springfield the last Tuesday of April last, obtained a License from the Justices of Sd Court, to keep a tavern in his then dwelling-house; that he has since deceased, leaving a suitable stock for such a house of entertainment-Praying that the Court of Sessions may be empowered to grant the petitioner a License to keep a Tavern in said house."  The petition was granted.
Looking further in the book is the section of Early Palmer Families.

Page 391 lists Daniel Graves as owning lot 91. On page 403 it reads, "No. 91 Graves, Daniel with the family of the same name came from Springfield, and he located on this addition on or near the Country road.  His son, Maj. Aaron Graves was keeping hotel, 1780.  There has been several proprietors since that time. Mr. M. W. French is the present owner. The descendants of Mr. Graves (many of them) obtained farms in this addition."

Page 466 is where it gets really interesting!!!  "Ebenezar, Jun. and Daniel Graves of Springfield, were some of the first settlers of Brimfield. The Graves family of Palmer settled in that part of Brimfield that is now in the limits of this town.  The family has a tradition that shows some semblance of fact.  A boy was kidnapped in France about 1720, and brought to Boston,  and the party sold his time from eighteen to twenty-one  for passage money and expense  to a man by the name of Graves that was then living in Springfield.  At the expiration of the time Mr Graves gave him an outfit of two suits of clothes, and two axes, and extended his benevolence even further in giving him his own name (Graves).  He with others of his family, entered land in Brimfield, when the tide of emigration was then moving from Springfield to the new settled District.  Daniel with the other single men were not allowed the full compliment of acres  with the proprietors in general, but he became in possession of a large tract of land so that his sons remained with him on this Brimfield Addition. He had three sons, Aaron, Simeon and Daniel; and some of the descendants still remain in town.  Gideon, son of Daniel Jun., entered the Continental Army at the age of eighteen and served six years and seven months, he was orderly sergeant of a company of artillery and was wounded twice; once with a British cutlass on the wrist and also a wound from a ball in the hip, he was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.  Aaron Graves served in the army and received the rank of major.  He kept the hotel on the country road south of Checopee River; the lot is now owned by M. W. French.  It was at this place that Gen. Washington and Lafayette stopped, dined and addressed the people under the big elm in 1784.  Peace had now been declared between the Colonies and the mother country, and L_____ was received with a triumph of joy on his tour through the country.  They presented the major with a cane that is now in the family of George W. of Illinois.  He has it in his possession with the understanding  that it will be handed down to the next oldest descendant by the family name of Graves."

The genealogy of the Graves family continues on this page, I am including only Daniel Jr here.
"4. Graves, Daniel Jr m Joanna ____
9, ch 1, Persis b. Aug 22, 1756
10, ch 2 Gideon b. Aug 25, 1758
11, ch 3 m. Maria Rodgers Oct 3, 1786
12, ch 4 Sibel b Aug 10, 1761 m. Cosmo Gordon Apr 1800
13, ch 5 Thankful m Mr. Parsons."

The question that remains, is Ebenezar Jun the Real Graves and Daniel the one who was kidnapped from France or the other way around, hence the Junior?  I still need to find a marriage record for Persis and Simon Graves.

I went to and selected Massachusetts.  I then selected Hampden county.  Hampden County was formed in 1812 from Hampshire County so the marriage record should be in Hampshire County.    Hampshire County was formed in 1662 so we are good here.  They have posted links to the US GenWeb Archives for marriage records to 1840 but the links are broken. :-(  So I went back to and clicked 'Project Archives' to look for Hampshire County Marriages to 1840. I found those links and they worked fine, but no luck finding Persis Graves nor Simon Graves.

It looks like the hunt will be on for more information on this elusive ancestor.  As always, love the hunt!


  1. The free databases available through the New England Historic Genealogical Society include the Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 volumes ( Brimfield is one of the towns included in this series, and you can see images of the published pages, though not the original documents. Also, have you checked Google Books for works that discuss the history of Brimfield or other surrounding towns?

    1. Thank you, Kaila. I have looked at American Ancestors website. I will do some more searching on Brimfield on Google.