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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

William Graham


William Graham

(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)

Years in parentheses are years of service as a Director of The Bank of Delaware County and/or The Delaware County National Bank

William Graham (1817), son of Henry Hale and Abigail (Pennell) Graham, was born at Chester in 1767. He read law in the office of Edward Tilghman, and was admitted to the bar of Chester county November, 1788, and when the first court was held in the newly created county of Delaware, November 9, 1789, he was the fifth person that day to be admitted to the bar of Delaware county. In 1792, Graham was Chief Burgess of Chester, and when President Washington called fifteen thousand volunteers to the field to suppress the Whiskey Insurrection in western Pennsylvania, he was elected captain of a troop of horse, recruited from Chester and nearby townships.

When the troop was about to march from Chester, the ladies of Ridley township presented to it a white silk flag, trimmed with fringe of a like material. On the body of the flag was painted a figure of Washington in full regimentals, to whom an American eagle was descending bearing in its claws a sprig of laurel, while from its beak was a ribbon with the motto, "Liberty or Death." The allegorical picture was surrounded by flags, drums, cannon and other military emblems. This flag was carried in the great Whig procession in Chester, July 23, 1840, by the delegation from Springfield. It was then in the ownership of Dr. Joseph Wilson.

The hardships and exposure consequent on the march of six hundred miles to and from the insurrectionary section brought on an infection of the throat, which became permanent several years later, so that he was unable to speak above a whisper.

A man of short stature, he and several gentlemen went gunning on Chester Island, when Graham became separated from his companions and when darkness came he could not be found. The party returned to Chester and resumed the search at daylight the next morning. An unusual high tide flowed during the night and it was with difficulty that Graham could keep his head above the water. His voice was gone and afterward he was unable to address juries or to hold an oral argument in court. One of the acknowledged leaders of the bar, and reputed to be among the best read men in his profession in Eastern Pennsylvania, his practice was large and he was frequently retained as an advisory lawyer in legal actions pending before the courts in Philadelphia. He was appointed, in 1817, the solicitor of The Bank of Delaware County. He died in Chester, December 19, 1820. He was the wealthiest man in Chester of his day.

 

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2002 John A. Bullock III.

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