Last surviving widow of a War of 1812 veteran

Posted by | December 29, 2015

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.


8 Responses

  • Janet Smart says:

    Enjoyed the post. Very interesting. My gr gr gr grandpa was enlisted in the War of 1812. Just imagine all the changes she has seen in her lifetime.

  • […] living War of 1812 widow tells […]

  • Troy Graham says:

    Thanks so much,good reading. Isaac Newton Graham Rev. was my G-G-G-G Grandfather.

  • Pam Hamilton says:

    What a fascinating and inspiring person.

  • KD says:

    She born on my birthday

  • Evelyn Shrader Simerson says:

    Thanks so much for the post what a great story> a great lady and I do so love the mountains. Such beautiful creation God has made for us to enjoy. Love the mountains

  • Anita Riggleman says:

    Her son-in-law was actually named Martin Dow Calhoun not Down Calhoun. Lydia Ann Kimble was my great, great grandmother and Martin Dow Calhoun was my great grandfather. I love the mountains too.

  • Carol Ann Graham says:

    The Rev. Isaac Graham was my Great Great Great Grandfather. I am also kin to Mrs. Lydia Ann Kimble Graham from my Great Grandmother Amanda Kimble Graham of Deerfield, Virginia. I enjoyed this post very much. Thanks to all those that do such fine work to keep the memories of our loved ones alive.

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