Son of Thos. Graham, Jr., and Jane Macbeth, of Co. Tyrone, Ireland. Wm. is said to have come to TN from Ireland in about 1806, after having served as a soldier in Emmet's Rebellion. On 25 Aug. 1806, he married Margaret (Peggy) Chamberlain in Grainger Co., TN. According to Goodspeed's History of Claiborne Co.: "The first merchant was William Graham, a native of Ireland, and a gentleman of high reputation, both as a business man and a citizen. He owned a large body of land below town, and about 1814 completed the fine stone residence now occupied by Mr. Fulkerson. After conducting his mercantile business for a few years he was joined by William Houston and Hugh Graham. This partnership, under the name of Hugh Graham & Co., lasted for several years, and after its dissolution Hugh Graham and William Houston conducted separate establishments." Also from Goodspeed's: "The first church building in the town was erected by William Graham, and stood a short distance below his residence. It is said to have been built about 1815, and was doubtless used by all sects, although Mr. Graham was a Presbyterian.”
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From Mary A. Hansard, "Old Time Tazewell"
From Mary A. Hansard, "Old Time Tazewell":
Mary A. Hansard, in her "Old Time Tazewell" (p. 3), calls him "a good old citizen, but [one who] was inclined to be surly and crabbed." She goes on to describe how the children of the town feared him because he was said to load his gun with beans to scare away the children who stole apples from his orchard. To those who asked his permission, he was very generous with the bounty of the orchard.
Hansard (p. 3) tells the story of how it is said that William Graham disciplined his favorite servant, Stephen. Loath to employ corporal punishment, he brought him into the parlor, seated him on the sofa, and waited on him all day. (This made Stephen extremely uncomfortable.)
She continues (p. 5-6):
"Mr. Graham was a useful citizen and much respected. He owned a large boundary of land in Claiborne County and had a great many shares in the bank and many servants; but he chose to liberate them from bondage and send them to a free state, which he did about the year 1830. He retained two men and a woman as waiters for himself and his wife until their death, and then made provision in his will for their freedom and left a legacy for their benefit. He did not send his servants away empty, but provided them with wagons and teams and money to defray their expenses. And according to my recollection he entered land in the State of Indiana for them."