Ira J. Graham, one of the younger farmers of the county, owns and occupies a portion of the parental homestead in Isabel Township. He was born there on August 24, 1850, reared amid the suroundings of farm life and attended school in the log schoolhouse of that period. The temple of learning was furnished with seats made of slabs, with wooden pins for legs, and the other primitive conveniences which our forefathers so well knew. The advantages for acquiring an education were very poor and our subject learned much more at home than at school. As might be expected, he began assisting in farm work as soon as he was large enough and became proficient in its various departments at an early age.
At the age of twenty-two years our subject began working for himself, laboring by the month for several years. After the death of his father in the summer of 1873, he and his brother, Jesse P., bought the homestead of three hundred and twenty acres. They farmed it together for thirteen years, sold off fifty-six acres and then divided the remainder, our subject taking possession of the south half of the property. It is supplied with comfortable quarters for man and beast and shelter for the crops produced by the industrious efforts of the owner. Mr. Graham possesses considerable mechanical genius and is able to supply himself with conveniences that he might otherwise be denied.
Although his school advantages were not equal to those enjoyed by the youth of this day, Mr.Graham has improved the opportunities afforded him to acquire information on various topics, and is classed among the intelligent, as well as the honest, hard-working citizens. He has held some of the minor offices in the township and casts his vote with the Democrats. His congenial home-life is secured through the companionship of an estimable lady who became his wife December 24, 1886. She was born in this county, near Smithfield, is a daughter of Gedion and Matilda Graham, and bears the given name of Rachel M. She is a cousin of her husband, therefore of equally good blood, and was reared to the habits of usefulness, developing her excellent traits of character. John and William Graham, father and grandfather of our subject, were born in Maryland, whither the preceding generation had come from Ireland. William Graham served in the War of 1812 under Gen. Harrison. When about in middle life he crossed the mountains with a team and wagon and settled in Piqua County, Ohio. Six years later he removed to Ross County, in which he spent the remnant of his days, dying at the age of sixty-seven years, and being interred in the cemetery at Brown's Chapel. His occupation was that of a farmer and his character a reputable one. John Graham was born October 1, 1804, and was the eldest of six children, the others bearing the names of George W., Jefferson, William, Elizabeth (Mrs. DeVair), and Ira J. He was about four years old when his parents removed to Ohio, where he was reared on the farm and attended the pioneer schools in Piqua and Ross Counties. He was married in Fayette County and settled on a rented farm, occupying it until 1842, when he removed to this state and county. He made the journey with team and wagon, and upon his arrival here had but fifty cents in money. Finding a neighbor who seemed to be in poorer circumstances than himself, he loaned his small amount of cash to that gentleman. The first settlement made by Mr. Graham was in the Spoon River Bottom, but a year later he purchased three hundred and twenty acres on section 21, Isabel Township. Deer and wolves were numerous in this vicinityat that time and he did considerable hunting. His land was covered with a heavy growth of timber, which he cut down, gradually bringing the acreage under thorough cultivation.
His first dwelling thereon was a log house which was occupied eighteen years, after which a fine, commodious frame residence became the family home. Excellent improvements of various kindswere made, and Mr. Graham reaped the results of his efforts in abundant crops; his death occurred July 31, 1873.
The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Malinda Thomas, and was born in Fayette County, Ohio, March 23, 1818. She is still living on the homestead. Her father, John Thomas, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and her mother, Elizabeth (Emberline) Thomas, was the daughter of a lady and gentleman, who had emigrated from Germany to this country. The record of the children of John and Malinda (Thomas) Graham is as follows: Mahala, born February 6, 1837; William A., January 22, 1839; Elizabeth J., November 3, 1840; Thomas J., October 26, 1842; Mary E., February 18, 1845; Francis M., June 22, 1848; Ira J., August 24, 1850; George W., December 30, 1852; Jesse P.*, March 13, 1855; Jasper R., September 23, 1857; James O., August 18, 1860.
From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County