A house with a history


Pictured above is the family of Newton and Mary Graham at their house for their 40th anniversary celebration on Oct. 20, 1927. They are, left to right, first row, Edwin Graham, Richmond Graham, Dean Graham, Rollo Graham and Virgil Graham; second row, Margaret Main, Nina Graham Bennett Leona Graham Crabbe, Marie Chandler, Eunice Main, Lillian Graham, Etta Bella, Gladys Graham and Silas Bell;  and third row, Clara Graham, Allen Main, Estella (Tellie) Main, Audrey Graham, Grandpa Newton Graham, Grandma Mary Graham, Wendell Main and Lawrence Graham.

(Photo submitted)

Pictured above is the Newton Graham farm and house with draft horses in the snow.

(Photo submitted)

It’s a beautiful old home located out on E. Fifth St. just beyond the new Armory. It’s in the new, built-up part of town. In fact, Arby’s is now in what must have been an extended side yard or field. But when the Graham family lived there from 1909 to 1932, the world was very different.

 Newton and Mary Graham lived in this beautiful brick home, which was located at the time one mile east of Marysville on the Watkins Road. The name of the road was changed to Fifth Street after the Rt. 33 bypass was built. It’s hard to believe that in 1909 it was one mile from Marysville.

 Newton was born in Dover Township on what is now Hinton Mill Road between Myers Road and Larcomb on March 18, 1859. He was the son of George and Nancy Graham. His wife Mary Taylor Graham was born July 26, 1867, on the farm across the road near Mill Creek. Both their families were actually pioneers of the county.

Mary and Newton attended a one-room schoolhouse nearby. They were eight years apart, so she may not even have known him in those early years as children.

 Mary lived at home with her father and twin brother Dolph and her younger brother, Fleetwood Taylor. Since her invalid mother had died, Mary had been taking care of the family, as women did in those days. When she married Newton in 1887, he moved in there, too. In fact, their first child, a daughter Estella, was born there. It would be later known in the area as the Fleet Taylor farm.

 The young couple moved to their own home on 80 acres nearby in the spring of 1890 in an area called the Shields farm, also near Mill Creek Bridge. Their next daughter, Anna, was born in a temporary home on the property while they were building the house.

 In 1909, the Grahams bought a 100-acre farm with the beautiful home we are writing about here, just east of Marysville, where they spent the remainder of their lives. They purchased it from John Opphile for $13,500. Think how much money that was 110 years ago! Mr. Opphile, whose father came from Germany, died the next year in 1910.

 Newton was not only a farmer, but also a horse dealer. He was considered an excellent judge of draft horses and could predict what the mature animal would by looking at it when a yearling colt. His favorite was Belgian horses. There were several horses on his property in 1914 when the tragedy occurred.

It happened at midnight. The farm outbuildings were engulfed in flames. The family lost nearly everything except the brick home. The loss included a large barn, several sheds and 19 horses, most worth about $300 each. Also lost were 35 tons of hay, 600 bushels of corn and practically all of the farm machinery.

 Only one small spotted horse, which had been turned out to pasture, escaped the flames. What a sad thing for the family and the whole area. The total property loss was about $8,000 with only $1,000 insurance coverage, but in 1914 that was still quite a bit. At the time, it was one of the largest fire losses in the area. It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to contain a fire in those days, especially when the property was a mile or so from town.

 Newton considered the loss of the horses one of the great tragedies of his life. He was described as a tall, strong-built man with a mustache and had a hearty laugh. Shortly after the fire, at age 55, he was already planning how to rebuild his farm. He would live another 18 years.

 In contrast, Mary was a quiet woman, and a neat homemaker who was proud of her family and home. She died in 1931. They had eight children and many of their descendants still live in the county.

 Interestingly, Newton Graham’s will was listed in the newspaper. It was 1932, so things were different. He left all his tools to one son and two cars to a daughter. He also left $2,000 to each of his eight children. These were the depression years, so that was a lot of money. Also, all children were warned not to contest the will or they would forfeit their right to their shares.

 Later, the house was owned by Dr. Fred Jones, a local dentist, and is now owned by local attorneys. In more recent years a back porch was added and the front porch removed.

 So as you pass by the home, you now know much of its history, which includes the family who lived there and enjoyed the farm for many years.

 Thank you to Marie Bouic who shared some of this information from their family history. Her husband, Walter, is the great-grandson of the Grahams.

(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)

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