52 Ancestors: #31 Mary Ann McGRAW abt. 1781-1840s

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #31 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #31 Mary Ann McGRAW abt. 1781-1840s

You’ve got to love an ancestor who leaves evidence of who her parents were! In 1800 my 4th great-grandfather William WOOD wanted to hitch up with Mary Ann McGRAW. But Mary Ann wasn’t old enough and had to have her parents’ permission to tie the knot.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage

                  June the 2
Sir, this coms to let you now that
I Marten and Marget Mcgraw
is willing that William Wood
should have our daughter Mary Ann
To John Hutchason (Clerk)
The above was sworn to by
John Wood one of the witnesses


And so it came to be that Martin and Margaret McGRAW, my 5th great-grandparents, gave permission for their daughter, my 4th great-grandmother, Mary Ann McGRAW to marry William WOOD, my 4th great-grandfather. This took place in the newly formed county of Monroe formerly part of Greenbrier County.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History. http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage

Know all men by these presents that we William Wood
and John Wood are held & firmly Bound unto
James Monroe Esq. governor or Chief Majestrate of the
Commonwealth of Virg. in the Sum of one hundred and
fifty Dollars, with Condition that there is no lawful cause
to obstruct a marriage intended to be Solemnized between
the above named William Wood & Mary Anne McGraw,
Both of this County of Monroe, then this obligation to
be Void, otherwise to be & remain in full force and
Virtue – Sealed with our Seals & dated this
third day of June one thousand Eight hundred.
       Attest.                                   William Wood
John Hutchison, Clk.                   John Wood

John WOOD, one of the witnesses present when permission was given by Martin and Margaret McGRAW, went bond with William WOOD of Monroe on William’s marriage to Mary Ann McGRAW of Monroe on Tuesday the 3rd of June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History. http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage

Two weeks later on Wednesday, the 18th day of June, Rev. John ALDERSON Jr. solomnized the marriage of William and Mary Ann.

The WOOD family and Rev. John ALDERSON Jr. knew each other well. Bailey WOOD, William’s father, had been one of the original 12 Baptists who organized the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church.

On the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church, Rev. Robert B. McDanel preached on Sunday morning, November 26, 1911, of the brave little band of twelve members with sturdy convictions whose “names are surely immortal.” He also shared the following about the membership:

In those early years the membership was scattered over a wide extent of territory. It is recorded in the minutes, July 26, 1788, that those who lived nigh were required to attend the services once a month. Those who lived within fifteen miles must come once a quarter, and those at further distance once a year.

As part of the second night of celebration of the 200th annual session of the Greenbrier Baptist Association held in Alderson, West Virginia in July 2000,  Rev. Jon Jennings portrayed Rev. John Alderson Jr. in a historical overview of the establishment of the Greenbrier Baptist Association and the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church. His monologue included the following:

So, for four years I continued this struggle as a traveling preacher, until November 24, 1781, we gathered together, 12 faithful Baptists and organized the Greenbrier Baptist Church. (Let me see if I can recall the names: Myself, and my wife, Mary, and Thomas Alderson; then John Kippers, John Shepherd, then there was John, Katherine, Joseph and Lucy Scaggs, and the Woods family: Bailey and Ann, and James Woods).

Siblings of Mary Ann McGRAW

To make the following list I studied the tax lists submitted by Julie McGrew-Ayres; the early marriages in the Greenbrier, Monroe, Kanawha, Nicholas, Fayette counties area; and the pre-1850 as well as later censuses – with all persons named.

  • Sib 1: Anthony (1775-1814) born abt. 1775 Pennsylvania
  • Sib 2: John (1776- ) born abt. 1776 Pennsylvania
  • Sib 4: Martin (1785-1858) born 1785 Pennsylvania
  • Sib 5: William (1788- ) born abt. 1788
  • Sib 6: Elender (1788-1845) born abt. 1788
  • Sib 7: Samuel (1792-1874) born abt. 1792 (West) Virginia
  • Sib 8: Henry (1797-1873) born abt. 1797 (West) Virginia
  • Sib 9: Thomas M. (1799-1855) born 9 Feb 1799 (West) Virginia

The marriage of William WOOD and Mary Ann McGRAW was the only one of the following which had a bond showing her parents to be Martin and Margaret McGRAW. Thomas McGRAW’s wife Catharine gave the names of his parents as Martin and Margaret McGRAW on his 1855 death record [line 68].

marriagesI believe that all of these McGRAWs were children of Martin and Margaret EXCEPT for William McGraw who married Elizabeth Gill. This William was a grandson through their son Anthony.

Parents of Mary Ann McGRAW

After studying the possible children of Martin and Margaret McGRAW I believe that the estimated years of birth seen for the couple on nearly all online gedcom files need to be revised.

Martin: He was most likely 21 or older when he married. Anthony, the oldest known child, was born abt. 1775. If he was the first child and born within a year of the marriage Martin and Margaret might have been married about 1774 or earlier. Martin would therefore have been born about 1753 or earlier. Martin was last seen on tax lists in 1805 and Margaret was first seen on them in 1810. Martin died after 1805 and before 1810.

Margaret: In 1820 and 1830 her son Henry McGRAW had an older woman living in his household. In 1820 Henry was not yet married and the woman age 45 or older must be his mother. I believe that the woman aged between 70 and 79 in 1830 is also his mother although it is possible that she could be his mother-in-law or any other older woman. But let’s assume she is Henry’s mother. This range in 1830 would put her birth at between 1751-1760. She would have been between 15-24 when her oldest child Anthony was born. Margaret would therefore have been born between 1751-1760. Margaret died most likely between 1830-1840.

Mary Ann McGRAW was born in Pennsylvania

Mary Ann McGRAW’s brother Martin McGRAW Jr. (1785-1858) married William WOOD’s sister Nancy WOOD by publication of banns on 3 May 1806 in Monroe County. The marriage was solemnized by Rev. John ALDERSON Jr. A marriage by license was more expensive than a marriage by publication of banns. This public notice of an intended marriage had to be published, verbally or by written notice, for three consecutive meetings at the churches of the bride and groom making the waiting time longer than with a license.

Was there a reason that the couple would marry “by banns” in 1806? Martin McGRAW Sr., as mentioned previously, was last seen on the Greenbrier tax lists in 1805 which may suggest that he was deceased when his son Martin Jr. married. Could he not afford a marriage license?

Martin Jr. lived long enough to be enumerated on the 1850 census. We rely on the census for valuable pieces of information concerning our ancestors however the information is only as reliable as the person who answered the enumerator’s questions. In the case of Martin Jr. no ages were listed for any of the persons in his household in 1850. However their places of birth were included; Martin Jr. was born in Pennsylvania. As Mary Ann was his older sister it is very likely that she was also born in Pennsylvania. Martin Jr.’s War of 1812 pension papers may have more information on his place of birth.

Children of Mary Ann McGRAW and William WOOD

In 1810 Mary Ann and her husband William WOOD were enumerated next door to her brother Martin McGRAW and her father-in-law Bailey WOOD. By 1810 Mary Ann had given birth to 5 children. Four would follow in the next 14 years.

1810 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Monroe [ancestry.com]
  • Ch 1: Enoch J. (1801-aft. 1870) born about 1801 in Monroe
  • Ch 2: Margaret “Peggy” (1801-1856) born about 1801 in Monroe
  • Ch 3: [–?–] (1804- ?) female born bet. 1804-1809 in Monroe
  • Ch 4: Elijah (1806-1885) born about 1806 in Monroe
  • Ch 5: Amos (1807-1845) born about 1807 in Monroe
  • Ch 6: Allen (1814-1862) born about 1814 in Monroe
  • Ch 7: Bailey (1816-?) born bet. 1816-1819 in Monroe or Nicholas
  • Ch 8: [–?–] (1816-?) female born bet. 1816-1819 in Monroe or Nicholas
  • Ch 9: Mary Ann “Polly” (1824-aft. 1900) born 5 Jun 1824 in Nicholas County

Following the birth of her last child Mary Ann’s children began to marry:

These six children gave Mary Ann and William WOOD 47 grandchildren and close to 200 great-grandchildren. I do not have all great-grandchildren as I have only recently begun research on Peggy and Thomas WITHROW.

Mary Ann’s husband William WOOD died in September 1835 in Fayette County. Her sons Elijah and Amos were the administrators of William’s estate. It’s possible that Mary Ann was in Amos’ household in 1840. He may have taken on the responsibility of caring for his widowed mother as he hadn’t been married as long as Elijah and didn’t have as many dependents.

1840 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Amos Wood
1 male 5 & under 10 yo (Felix)
1 male 20 & under 30 yo (Amos)
2 females under 5 yo (Virginia and Matilda)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Susan)
1 female 40 & under 50 yo (poss. Mary Ann Wood)

Following the 1840 census there were several deaths in the family. Amos WOOD died leaving a will dated 24 May 1845 which was presented in open court in June 1845. Although he provided for his 5 children he did not mention his wife Susan who must have predeceased him. Mary Ann’s son Bailey, who was last seen in the 1840 census, may also have died during this time period.

Mary Ann was not enumerated in the 1850 census and therefore may have died during the 1840 decade. Although many have her date and place of death as abt. 1845 in Nicholas County, I believe that she died in the 1840s in Fayette County, where she lived her married life.

On the anniversary of Mary Ann McGRAW and William WOOD’s 100th wedding anniversary only one of their children was still living. Mary Ann “Polly” WOOD and her husband Martin HESS, married 56 years, were living on the south side of Mountain Cove District in Fayette County. [line 50 and lines 51-52]

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

56 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #31 Mary Ann McGRAW abt. 1781-1840s”

  1. William, who married eliz Gil was my gg grandfather, great grandfather was named Samuel . Willam came to southern ohio with Presley gill,your work is much appreciated. mabel McGraw Vassar

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martin V. McGraw is my fourth great grandfather – direct lineage. Sure wish I could find out who his parents were! Great info 🙂 Greg McGraw


      1. Nice to meet you! I have a strong suspicion that the name was McGrew when this lineage came out of Ireland. One of Martin’s tax records in PA, (before he moved to VA), shows his name as McGrew. It is quite possible that he was a Quaker, as he had a fair amount of land and there were McGrew Quakers all over the place where he lived. Maybe they had a falling out or something and he switched it to McGraw. I’m hoping to get my DNA tests back in a few weeks and see what links I can find. Thanks for commenting!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting this information. My husband is decended through Martin’s son, Thomas. It appears many of Martin’s decendants changed their name from McGraw to McGrew sometime after the civil war. Thomas’ son Samuel (my husband’s great-great grandfather) was born a McGraw, married as a McGraw 1868, but he and his famly were McGrews in the 1870 census and on every document thereafter, including he and his wife’s death certificates. No idea why the names changed. At first I assumed spellng errors, etc., but I’ve read accounts that all but one of Martin’s son’s decendants changed their name, appearing as though it was purposeful, but no reason is known. I haven’t confirmed any of this—except for the change in Samuel McGraw/McGrew. If anyone has any information about this, I’d greatly appreciate it! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems possible that Martin, Sr. wasn’t liked – just a hunch, but I get a “black sheep” sort of feel about him – nothing to substantiate it. And the fact that his father remains a mysterious enigma, (despite all of the wrong parental attributions of Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth McClelland on ancestry.com), seems to point to some sort of rift. The hole in my Quaker theory is that they kept great ancestry records, and Martin V. isn’t on them that I have discovered. One day . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I stumbled on the Samuel McGrew–Elizbeth McClelland listings too—but I’ve never been comfortable with it. I’ve never found an actual document to substantiate it. I saw that you mentioned you were getting your DNA done. My husband is doing that as well. Have you heard of the McGrew DNA Project? Since you are decended from a different son of Martin than my husband, that could go a long way in clarifying if Martin McGraw is in fact, the brother of Thomas McGrew, as I’ve seen theorized. With the participants they now have, it seems the two are definitely closely related—as they have participants who are known decendents of Martin McGraw and Thomas McGrew–among several other lines.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am familiar with that project. I intend to submit my results to the McGrew DNA project, as well as the one for McGraw, McCrae and McGregor. There is a body of evidence that indicates many McGregors took the name McGrew when they fled to Ireland from Scotland. I’ll be curious to find out!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, Cathy, I’m probably wrong, as I think I am the only person who has Elizabeth Ware as Martin’s wife, (an emigrant from England). I think most have Margaret Shores. But, I found a Marriage bond between Samuel McGraw and Margaret Shores from about 1826 in Hampshire, VA, and that threw me. Pretty mixed up! It probably is Margaret Shores, but he did have a child named Elizabeth, but none named after a Margaret. That surprised me, too, as each parent had a child named after them. I may never know!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Heck, I don’t even know the rules! I just found that marriage document that showed Martin Magraw marrying Elizabeth Ware in PA in 1774, and that seemed to fit. I learn as I go 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t spent that much time looking into Martin McGraw in Pennsylvania. I did have a look at tax records available through ancestry.com and there seemed to be more than one man by that name at the time. I’ve been sticking with Margaret as it was Martin and Margaret who gave permission to my 4th great-grandmother Mary Ann McGraw to marry William Wood. Maybe we will find that Martin was first married to another woman before Margaret.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Greg. While I’m at it I think I’ll take a look at the tax lists and land warrants. Maybe I can figure out how many persons named Martin McGraw were in Pennsylvania before he went to (West) Virginia.


      2. Probably every other person 😉 I have tracked the geography of the land warrants and taxes of the man I believe is the right Martin McGraw, and the geography is consistent. One note I made is tat he was shown as holding 150 acres at the age of thirteen, (or possibly 16), which immediately led me to think that a sole surviving parent had passed that same year and it was an inheritance. Thus I used that year and location for death info for Samuel McGraw. Total speculation, bit it was worth a shot!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to do research in West Virginia. I’m not a novice genealogist but would help to do the research at the archives and courthouses. It would take a lot of planning to even get ready to research in the counties as I would want to do every one of my father’s lines!


  5. Hi Cathy,
    Another long link below. I don’t know exactly how to read this thing, but it appears to me to be a land grant of 300 acres in PA from Martin McGraa, Sr. to Marting McGraa, Jr., (which might be my Martin V. McGraw). And it matches the land and tax info that I have for Martin V. McGraw in the same place and time. If I am reading it right, could this be the elusive father we have as Samuel McGraw? Would love to hear your thoughts!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Did Martin V. McGraw leave a will or have you seen a probate file from when he died in 1858? I am trying to determine if it was his daughter Susannah who married Nathaniel Vaughn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, I haven’t looked into any kind of court records for Martin McGraw Jr. Have you tried searching the catalog at FamilySearch for Fayette County? They have a lot more court records etc. than the last time I checked. Good luck.


      1. Great research! Love the letter. Martin and Margaret are my 5th G Grand parents. I’m descended through Anthony and Elizabeth McGraw’s daughter Elizabeth. She married Benjamin Johnson in Fayette County in 1829. Anthony died in Norfolk Va in 1814 while serving with with the 4th regt Va Militia. Benjamin was 71 when he married 24 year old Elizabeth. He served three years in the 3rd Maryland during The Revolution.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hello Gunter, I only have William, George A., Andrew, and Mary as children of Anthony and Elizabeth. When was their daughter Elizabeth born? I have a George C. Johnson b. abt. married to Sarah Tincher. His parents were Benjamin Johnson and Elizabeth [–?–]. I don’t know who this Benjamin was. He is one of the “loose” Johnsons in my database. I descend from William Johnson and Amy Nelson so trying to keep everyone sorted. Thank you for reaching out.


  7. Sorry Cathy for such a long absence. George Colby Johnson (1830-1909) and Sarah Ann Tincher were my great great grandparents. My great grandfather, Horace Judson, married their daughter Tabitha Ann and was living with them on the 1880 Fayette census. In the 1880 census, “Ancestry” has George Johnson’s surname reversed. Benjamin Johnson married Elizabeth McGraw (1805-1880) in 1829 when he was 71 and she 24. He had three sons by his unknown first wife. After his death in 1834, she married James T. Price. Benjamin is my “patriot Ancestor” in the SAR. Benjamin first appeared on the Kanawha census in 1810. This should explain a lot. http://www.revwarapps.org/w27761.pdf – promise to pay closer attention – Gunter

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cathy,
    In addition, the info I have on Elizabeth is from a Skaggs second cousin. Also, George A. McGraw married Lucretia “Lucy” Skaggs in 1829. Their son Harvey McGraw is a witness that appears on Elizabeth’s widow’s pension statement of 1878. – Gunter

    Liked by 1 person

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