George Graham.Nemaha county has produced a number of eminent men who have gained a state-wide prominence and among the number none is more deserving of a place in this history than George Graham, who, after a long and useful career, passed away at his home in Seneca, Feb. 21, 1880. He was a native of Ulster county, New York, born in 1819 to John and Hannah (Gee) Graham, both of whom were descended from stanch Revolutionary ancestors. When George was a boy he accompanied his parents to Tompkins county, New York, where his father followed his trade of shoemaker and where early in life George secured an education sufficient to enable him to teach school. He thus earned the money to give him his first start in life and invested it in standing pine timber in Steuben county, New York. By leasing a sawmill and cutting the timber into lumber his venture proved successful and he continued until he had purchased and cut about all the available pine in Steuben county. He cleared quite a nice sum of money and with this capital purchased a mercantile business in Addison, N. Y., and was there prospering, when a disastrous fire wiped out his entire stock. Although he carried insurance on his stock the company refused to pay the loss, claiming that the goods were mostly ruined by water. However, Mr. Graham had left a little capital and excellent credit, so that he was enabled to purchase another stock of goods and open another store. Owing to his trouble with the insurance company he resolved to carry his own insurance on his new stock, but within two months after opening his new store it caught fire and burned to the ground, a total loss. This last disaster befell Mr. Graham in the spring of 1857 and left him almost penniless. On looking about for an opening he decided to visit Kansas on a prospecting tour. Therefore, in July, 1857, he paid his first visit to Nemaha county and was so well pleased that he filed a claim on a quarter section of wild land in the eastern part of the county; and on a forty-acre tract of his quarter which he had decided to set apart as one of the four forty-acre lots constituting the original town-site of Albany, he built the first house in that pioneer town. His quarter section lay along Pony creek and was on the trail followed by the late United States Senator James Lane and his men when on their march against the pro-slavery element. John L. Graham, a brother of George, had located in that vicinity and in 1856 had filed on a claim on which he had erected a two-room cabin. After filing his claim George Graham returned to New York for his wife, who prior to her marriage was Miss Mary J. Robison of Dryden, N. Y., and in the spring of 1858, with his wife and the family of his brother, John L., he set out for their far western home. On their arrival there both families moved into John L.'s log cabin and lived together until Mr. Graham had built a house on the forty-acre tract before mentioned. The other pioneers who united with him, by each setting off forty acres of his quarter section for the original town-site of Albany, were the Rev. Dr. Cordley of Lawrence, Kan.; the Rev. R. D. Parker of Leavenworth, Kan.; and Elihu Whittenhall of Steuben county, New York. These men, with Mr. Graham, became the founders of the pioneer village of Albany, which grew and prospered until a railroad was built through the county a few miles south, when Sabetha was founded and Albany, in a few years, passed out of existence. However, Mr. Graham continued to reside there until the great Civil war broke out. In August, 1861, he showed his loyal devotion to the Union cause by enlisting in Company A, Seventh Kansas cavalry, for three years. He was a valiant participant in the fortunes of that command until the expiration of his term of enlistment, when he received his honorable discharge in August, 1864, at St. Louis, Mo. He returned to his home in Albany and, in the spring of 1865, opened a mercantile business in Seneca in a two-story stone building which he had erected on the present site of the Adams Automobile Company's garage. He was meeting with merited success in his business when in 1868 he was nominated and elected to the office of state treasurer on the Republican ticket. He then removed to Topeka and was a resident of the capital city until the expiration of his term of office, when he returned to Seneca and engaged in agriculture, which he thereafter followed during the greater part of his active career. While he was not a seeker for political honors he was of such a genial turn and of such strict integrity that his party friends were insistent that he should represent them in some official capacity. Prior to his election to the state treasurer's office he had served in both the upper and lower branches of the state legislature, and was also a member of the territorial legislature that met at Lecompton in January, 1859. Even before his removal from New York he had become a recognized Whig leader, being a member of the New York state convention that nominated Washington Hunt for governor. In that convention he met Horace Greeley, Brooks, Granger, and many other noted party leaders of that day. In 1845 he was elected superintendent of schools of Steuben county, New York, on the Whig ticket, and served in that capacity until 1852. In 1871 Governor Harvey appointed him state railroad commissioner of Kansas and in 1867-8 he was one of the directors of the Kansas Northern Railroad Company. During his residence in Seneca he filled many local offices of honor and trust. He was a lifelong member and one of the founders of the Congregational church in Seneca and was ably assisted in his church work by Mrs. Graham, who is also a lifelong member of the church, both being active workers in the church organization from the very first. Prior to his death Mr. Graham was an active member of the Kansas State Historical Society and was serving as one of its directors when he died. On Aug. 19, 1848, occurred the marriage of Mr. Graham to Miss Mary J. Robison of Dryden, N. Y., born July 6, 1828. She is the daughter of Abram and Emma (Stewart) Robison, the former a native of Orange county, New York, and the latter of Cayuga county, that state. Mrs. Graham received a good education in her early life, and at the time of her marriage was a successful teacher in the public schools of the Empire State. Her grandfather, Henry Stewart, served in the navy during the Revolutionary war as an American patriot. After a long and successful career George Graham passed away Feb. 21, 1880, at his home in Seneca and is survived by Mrs. Graham, who resides in her recently constructed cottage on the west half of the old family lot. On June 8, 1884, Mrs. Graham was married to George Hay of Savannah, Ill., where he was engaged in the banking business. They resided in Savannah until 1894, when they removed to California and resided there until the death of Mr. Hay in 1898. Then Mrs. Graham-Hay returned to Seneca to make it her future home and to spend her declining years amid the scenes endeared to her through the many happy years spent there with Mr. Graham, whose noble character has left its impress upon the community he loved and to which he had devoted the best part of his life in upbuilding. As he had been commissioned captain prior to his honorable discharge from the Civil war, he was always known among his legion of friends and acquaintances as Captain Graham, and after his death George Graham Post, No. 96, Grand Army of the Republic, at Seneca, was named in his honor. In this sketch we have briefly noted the career of one of Nemaha county's honored pioneers in order that future generations may know the sort of men who blazed the way for their posterity.Pages 1168-1171 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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