Last surviving widow of a War of 1812 veteran

Posted by | November 1, 2012

Lydia Ann Kimble married Isaac Graham, who’d served as a drummer boy in the War of 1812, in 1869, when he was an elderly man and she was a woman of 32. Her husband by a previous marriage reared 11 children, while Lydia and Isaac went on to have three daughters of their own. The Grahams lived in Brushy Run, near Franklin, WV.

“My husband was born on May 12, 1793. This was during Washington’s administration, you know, and the year that the cornerstone was laid for the National Capitol. I remember my husband used to smile, when asked his age, and say that he was as old as the National Capitol. He had a vivid memory, and enjoyed talking about the war, the gold rush, pioneer days, and so forth, right up till the time of his death, which occurred on November 10, 1881.”

Lydia Kimble GrahamMrs. Graham shared her reminiscences with a reporter for the West Virginia Review in 1934, when she was 96 and the sole remaining widow of a War of 1812 veteran. She was born during Van Buren’s administration, near the place where she spent her last years.

At the time of the interview she lived alone in her mountain cottage, raising chickens and cultivating her garden, living comfortably on the $50 check she received each month from the veterans’ administration.

She had no modern conveniences – running water, lights, or gas – but still used kerosene lamps and carried in her own fuel.

“Though I have always lived in Pendleton County,” she said, “nevertheless, I have been a resident of two states. I lived in Virginia until I was twenty-five,” she explained, “at which time this part of the state separated from the Mother State and became West Virginia.

“I never had a desire to live elsewhere. I love my hills and my mountain home. Though I have lived to see this country pass through four victorious wars, and was united in marriage to a dear old soldier who had served his country faithfully in another, I have no desire to talk about wars. I have seen and heard too much about them, I suppose.

“I trust we never have another war. I would much rather think about the beauties of nature.” Her eyes brightened as she glanced through the open door at the distant hills. “And here, stranger, nature is at its best. The beautiful sunsets, the towering mountains, the cooling springs, the green pastures, the crystal rivers, the shady forests, all help to make this one of the most charming places that can be imagined.

Franklin WV in 1913Lydia Kimble Graham lived in Brushy Run, near Franklin, WV, shown here in 1913.

“When I was young I dearly loved to climb those rugged mountains to their summits. The view from those advantageous points never fail to awe, silence, and inspire me. I am no longer able to go up there, but, like the Hebrew poet of old, thank God, I can still ‘lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence my strength cometh.’ I have dwelt among these hills all my life, love them dearly, and desire that others may see and love them and benefit from them as I have. To me they are always a source of inspiration.”

Her son-in-law, Down Calhoun, said Mrs. Graham retained striking cheerfulness throughout her advanced years, always welcomed callers and never grew impatient except when efforts were made to “hurry” her in her work. Then she showed, he said, sharpness suggestive of a much younger person.

Lydia Kimble Graham of Pendleton County, WV, the last surviving widow of a War of 1812 veteran, died on April 1, 1936.


Lydia+Kimble+Graham War+of+1812 Pendleton+County+WV appalachia appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

5 Responses

Leave a Reply

7 − 5 =

↑ Back to top

This collection is copyright ©2006-2015 by Dave Tabler. All visuals are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17—United States Code—Section 107) and remain the property of copyright owners. Site Design by Amaru Interactive