Biography of Abraham Graham
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Abraham Graham. The quiet life and substantial accomplishments of the farmer have been the lot of Abraham Graham, who is now living in the town of Penfield, retired from the strenuous labors which marked his early youth. Mr. Graham has been identified with Champaign County almost half a century, and his life record is one that will be read with pleasure by his many friends and acquaintances as well as by his family. He long ago accumulated sufficient to protect him against the days that are to come, and the respect in which he is held is no less than his material accomplishment.
Mr. Graham is a native of the Emerald Isle, born in County Monaghan, December 27, 1838, a son of Hugh and Sarah (McMahon) Graham. He was the third of nine children, six sons and three daughters. He acquired an education in his native country and at the age of nineteen determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities of America. Accompanied by a cousin, Miss Rosa Martin, he sailed on the ship Aurora and five weeks and three days later arrived at Castle Garden, New York. From there he went to Providence, Rhode Island, and for nine months during the panic of 1857 worked in lumber yards. He then became a farmer at Glencove in Queen’s County on Long Island, but three years later came west to Illinois, stopping first at Buffalo. Later he joined a cousin at Illiopolis and worked on a farm there for several years.
On February 26, 1867, Mr. Graham married Miss Anna E. Welsh. She was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Adam and Mary (Craten) Welsh. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Graham began life near Illiopolis, and two years later, in 1869, came to Champaign County and located in that part of the original Kerr Township that is now Compromise Township. Here with the characteristics of industry and perseverance which he inherited from his Irish forefathers, Mr. Graham’ began work and energetically developed a permanent home. His first purchase was eighty acres of raw prairie land costing $10 an acre. At that time the entire township had only one schoolhouse. With the passing of years there came many notable improvements, including commodious buildings. Mr. Graham set out 107 apple trees and numerous native forest trees. The latter are now lofty trees and stand as a monument to his long and prosperous life in this section.
Eight children were born to their marriage: Sarah A., Mary E., Ella, Catherine, Francis, Celia, Gertrude and Nora E. The daughter Gertrude died at the age of twenty-two. Sarah A. married Thomas Buck, a farmer of Compromise Township, and their nine children, seven sons and two daughters, are named Francis, Joseph, Arthur, Edward, Harold, Mary, James, Charles and Helen. Mary E. Graham became the wife of James McKeon, and they live near Rantoul. Their children are Ellen, Anna, Marie, James, Loretta and Gertrude. Ella “Graham is the wife of James Kelley, and is the mother of Michael, now a United States soldier, William, Anna, Cletus, John, James, Paul and Joseph. Catherine Graham married John Harney, and their children are Thomas, Wilfred, Margaret, Edward, Emmett. Francis Graham married Emma Buck, and their children are Agnes, Gertrude, Maude, Francis, Thomas, Raymond and Gilbert. Nora E. Graham is the wife of Bannis Mahew. Her children are Floyd, Idell, Ruth, Russell, Arthur and Charles. Celia Graham has never married and since her mother’s death in 1884 has remained at home and is now her father’s capable executive in the management of the home. Mr. Graham is the patriarchal head of a large household, including forty grandchildren. During all these years since his wife’s death Mr. Graham has lived among his children and friends and has so lived as to make his influence a factor in the community without which things would not have been as they are today. Having reared a family of capable children and seeing his grand-children growing up true types of American boys and girls, he can properly feel that his life has been a success. In politics he renders support to the Democratic party and it is his belief, shared in by so many other thousands of Americans, that President Wilson is the man for the position and will safely bring the ship of state through troubled waters. Mr. Graham has always been a Catholic and is a liberal supporter of the church at Penfield. Having come to Champaign County a young man with little capital and having made a success here, he is attached to the county by the strongest ties of loyalty and affection.