Andrew Carroll Graves was the youngest of ten children born to Lewis Graves Jr. and Rebecca Starnes and was the seventh great-grandson of Captain Thomas Graves of Jamestown, VA. He was born January 10, 1831 in Wilson Co. TN. His mother and father, both natives of Laurens County, SC, had moved to Wilson County about 1818, following the footsteps of John and Moses Starnes, brothers of Rebecca.
He married Evelyn Bennett November 23, 1852 in Wilson Co. TN. She was born the daughter of John and Nancy Bennett, also of Wilson County, on Jan 5, 1835. Shortly after their marriage they moved to southern Illinois (some sources say Franklin County) to be with Andrew's parents and certain siblings who had moved earlier.
They were devout practitioners of the Baptist faith and their probable opposition to slavery accounted for their move to Illinois. Andrew's mother, Rebecca Starnes Graves, was a grand-niece of Rev. Shubael Starnes III, who along with his borhter-in-law Daniel Marshall, formed what has become the Southern Baptist Church. They had been caught up in the evangelical zeal the "New Lights" (as the converted Congregational communities that originated from the ministry of George Whitefield were called) and felt compelled to spread the gospel.
Shubael Starnes III is claimed by all Baptist historians to have led the Separate New Light movement to the southern colonies. He belonged to that group of Separates which had come to the Baptist meaning Baptism, i.e. by immersion. They claimed to believe in the New Testament and they zealously carried out in their religious exercises such practice as laying on of hands, baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper, love feasts, washing of feet, anointing the sick, right hand of fellowship, kiss of charity, and devoting children. The religious ardor of the Starnes' family would play a strong role in Andrew's later years.
While in Illinois the oldest child, Christopher Lafayette, was born. Soon after the birth, early in 1855, Andrew, Evelyn and Christopher loaded their belongings into a covered wagon and headed to Texas. Who their companions might have been, if any, has been lost to history. [Note: Andrew's sister Minerva and husband C.B.Edwards also moved to Coryell County.] One source states that "when the slavery issue was hot, they (C.B. and Minerva Edwards) moved to Illinois where their children were born." The same source states they returned to Tennessee and later moved to Coryell County in 1869. Some of C.B.Edwards' family also moved, as did a sister of Evelyn Bennett Graves, Miriam Bennett, who married Eaton Edwards. Andrew's older brother Lewis Sidney also moved to Coryell Co., but this was after 1870. Why Andrew moved is unknown but most probably was to meet up with his brother Arabion who had moved from Tennessee to Texas with a brief stop in Arkansas. This meeting would not take place until late in 1856.
They settled in a one-room log cabin with no shutter or window in Cave Creek, TX, an early community about ten miles north of present day Gatesville. Their only possessions were brought from Illinois. Andrew quickly became a deep-rooted member of the early community. He almost certainly had a milk cow, a pig or two, a few beef cattle and grew corn and other foodstuffs. The nearby creek provided water for drinking, cooking, bathing and other uses. He undoubtedly hunted game. Evelyn made candles, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables and together they met the needs of their growing family.
In the fall of 1856, hearing that Arabion was in Hill County, Andrew gathered his crops, then loaded his family and belongings and moved to a location near Mt. Calm to be nearer his brother. He became Hill County's first surveyor, a position he held until his enlistment in the Civil War.
He enlisted as a private in Captain Wright's Company 1 of Burford's Regiment, 19th Texas Cavalry on May 12, 1862 in Dresden, TX. He was immediately assigned to Camp Stonewall Jackson, Dallas Co. TX. The Regiment was ordered to Little Rock, AR on August 5, 1862, but he was discharged by the surgeon for unknown reasons, August 13, 1862. [He may have contracted malaria as did several members of his unit.] He apparently never saw combat. According to his military records he was over six feet tall with black hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion.
After his short tenure he returned to Hill County where he was ordained to the Southern Baptist ministry in 1866, following the footsteps of his famous uncle, Shubal Starns III. He immediately became pastor of the Mt. Antioch Baptist church in Mt. Calm, TX. This church is still in use today.
He began his ministry in quarter-time churches. [He pastored churches which met one Sunday a month, requiring him to preach at four separate churches each month. Both the minister and congregation attended different churches each Sunday.] He rode his horse or two wheeled cart to church which was not without danger since Comanche Indians were very prevalent in Central Texas at that time.
The family moved back to Coryell County in 1869, settling near Osage. He immediately identified himself with the Leon River Baptist Association and pastored churches in Bethel, Coryell City, Beulah, Rainey Creek, Sardis, Walnut Grove, Bluff Creek, White Mound, and Cave Creek. Many of these churches were quarter-time churches. He moderated the annual meeting of the Leon River Baptist Association from 1872 until 1893. He organized the church at Bluff Creek in 1877, now called Osage Baptist Church, it held it's centennial celebration in 1977.
He moved to Gatesville in 1886 where he remained until the end of his life. During his last few years he retired from preaching and attended the First Baptist Church in Gatesville simply as a member.
He served in the 1875 Texas State Constitutional Convention which wrote the present Texas Constitution. Andrew was elected to a two year term as a state representative for Coryell and Hamilton County for 1887-1889 by a majority of 176 votes.
He spent most of his life in agricultural pursuits and was farming 1188 acres in 1890. He was a Mason and a member of the Farmer's Alliance, His exact level of education is unknown, but he was mentioned at least once as an attorney. More than half his children received a college eduation. One became a physician and another rose to the rank of Major General in the U.S.Army.
He died of "paralysis" (probably the modern day stroke) in Gatesille, TX on September 6, 1904. He was attended by his son, Dr. Edwin Graves. He is buried beside his wife in the Ciry Cemetery in Gatesville. Evelyn died of "uterine carcinoma" October 28, 1905 in Gatesville.
"Reverend Graves was what the general public termed a country preacher by choice. He know his bible well and preached it's doctrines with great clarity. He was positive in his position on all issues, but was fair in all relationships with men. He taught and preached a full respect for all proper authority beginning at his own fireside. He was a persistent soul-winner, calm and reasonable in his approach." (The Centennial Story of the First Baptist Church of Gatesville, TX)
Children of Andrew Carroll and Evelyn Bennett Graves:
1. Christopher Lafayette Graves 1854-1895.
2. Cicero Houston Graves 1856-1925.
3. John Bennett Graves 1858-1934.
4. Lewis A. Graves 1860-before 1870.
5. Sterling Price Graves 1862-1945.
6. William Sidney Graves 1865-1940.
7. Thomas Bethel Graves 1867-1869.
8. Edwin Graves 1869-1952.
9. Daniel Elbert Graves 1872-1959.
10 Josephine Pearl "Josie" Graves 1874-1959.
11. Andrew Perry Graves 1876-1943.