Vol. 14, No. 4, April 29, 2012


A Free, Occasional, Online Summary of Items of Interest to Descendants of all Families of Graves, Greaves, Grieves, Grave, and other spelling variations Worldwide




Copyright © 2012 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.


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Click on these links to visit the GFA web site and our Facebook page.






** General Comments

** Changes to the GFA Website and this Bulletin

** GFA Facebook Page

** Your Help is Needed to Solve Genealogical Puzzles

** An Example of Creating a Lot of Family From Very Little

** How to Learn About All Ancestral Lines With Autosomal DNA Testing

** Finding Specific Tribal Ancestry for African Americans

** Be Careful When Doing Genealogy Research

** Surname Changes: When, Why and How Do They Happen?

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






This issue of the Bulletin is the first sent using a new mailing service.  Let me know if you encounter any problems.


There is also discussion of the changes being made to the GFA website.  And, finally, a couple of articles discuss some of the research on Graves/Greaves families, and why your help is essential to the success of what we want to accomplish.







The website is undergoing some changes. Please let us know if you find any problems, if you especially like some of the new features as they appear, or if you have ideas for improvements. Some of the changes already made are that the menu bar at the top of every page now displays the page options as you move your mouse cursor over the tabs, and the website search box has been moved to the left top of every page to try to make it more obvious. Coming soon will be a new capability to search all the genealogies more easily and completely. To allow for some of the new capabilities, all website pages had to have their html extensions replaced by php extensions. This caused any bookmarks that anyone had for any page other than the main page to no longer work. Bookmarks for the genealogies will still work, but you will need to re-bookmark any other pages. Also, if you signed up for Change Detection notification (on the main page, and on the news and charts pages), you will have to sign up again.



As a result of changes that have already been made to the website and others that are planned, several changes have had to be made to this Bulletin.

·     Rather than send it by direct email as has been done for many years, we are now using a mailing service.

·     We have also stopped putting website addresses (URLs) for websites in the bulletin, since those are recognized by some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as indicating spam, and are replacing those with links for you to click on.






Our Facebook page continues to increase in membership.  We are now up to 339 members.  It is a good way to contact other Graves, Greaves, Grieves, etc., family members, to ask questions, and to share information.  Even if you have never used Facebook or other online social media sites before, click here to go to the page and ask to join.  You can always quit if you don’t find it helpful.






I have recently been spending much time adding a few new genealogies and updating some older genealogies on the GFA website.  Among the older genealogies that have been updated are genealogy 94 (William Graves and Sarah Fisher of Culpeper Co., VA, and KY) and genealogy 49 (Ira Graves and Sallie ------ of VA).


Both of these are part of much larger genealogies.  We know many of the pieces, but we don’t presently know (or, at least, can’t prove) exactly how the pieces connect.  As a result of DNA testing, we have been able to prove that genealogies descend from a common Graves or Greaves ancestor.  I have put charts on the Charts page of the website to show how I think the various genealogies in each related group may connect with each other.  The family of Ira Graves (genealogy 49) is part of the larger family of Caroline Co., and Halifax Co., VA, and the chart for them can be accessed from the Charts page of here.  The family of William Graves of VA & KY (genealogy 94) is part of a much larger family, the Greaves family of Beeley, Derbyshire, England (genealogy 228).  Genealogy 94 is one of the genealogies on the right side (colored yellow) of the summary chart, and I believe it is probably descended from genealogy 220 (Francis Graves of VA).


What is now very much needed is for you and others to take some part of this and do the necessary research to prove the connections.  I am just one person and there is no way that I am ever going to be able to do more than a fraction of the needed investigation.


Now that we have DNA testing, that is a tool that will eventually be able to confirm much of what we find through traditional research.  We started with Y-DNA testing, added mtDNA testing, and now have autosomal testing (Family Finder and Relative Finder).  Soon we will have whole genome testing with SNPs that are specific to individual ancestral lines.  But we will still need traditional research and all of us working together to solve the many puzzles that remain.






Recently Wendy Wilcox posted a message on our Facebook page asking for help in finding more of her Graves ancestry.  She said that her grandmother was Florence Lillian Millen, nee Graves, that she arrived in Canada before 1913, and that she was from Woodgreen, London, England.  She also said that Florence was born about 1886, married Arthur Millen, born about 1878, and he was in the Boer War.  That might have been enough to locate Florence in Canada and in England, but it wasn’t that easy.  There were multiple people named Florence in England, but none seemed to fit, and she couldn’t be found in Canadian census records at all.


I then went to the Family Search website and found birth records for 2 of the children of Arthur and Florence, which listed Arthur’s name as Arthur Percival Millen.  Arthur Gordon Millen was born 14 Jan. 1910 and died 20 Aug. 1910, both in Toronto, and Henry Edward Roy Millen was born 29 Dec. 2010 in Toronto.  I then found the marriage record of Arthur and Florence in St. Michael’s Church, Wood Green, Middlesex, England, on 16 April 1906, which gave the name of his father as Edward Millen, pianoforte maker, and her father as Harry Graves, foreman, porter G.E.R.  With that information, I was able to positively identify the family in the censuses for London and Middlesex, England, and then back to Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.  With the help of submitted information, most of which I was able to verify, we now have Wendy’s Graves ancestry traced back to James Graves (born about 1755) and Ann Ellis in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.


Because of where this family lived, it seems very possible that they are related to the Hertfordshire family of Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT (genealogy 168) and Deacon George Graves of Hartford, CT (genealogy 65).  Now all we have to do is find at least one living male descendant with the Graves surname to take a Y-DNA test to confirm that relationship.






In general, the only way to do this is to test the DNA that is inherited from all ancestral lines.  This DNA is called autosomal DNA.  The test from Family Tree DNA is called Family Finder, and the test from 23andMe is called Relative Finder.  The larger the database for comparison and the more of the DNA that is tested, the better will be the results.  Ideally, if we could afford it, the entire genome would be tested.  The day seems to be rapidly approaching when whole genome testing will be inexpensive enough that many people will have it done.  At that time, I expect that we will be able to reliably trace our ancestors back much farther than the present limit of 5 or 6 generations.


To sign up for the autosomal DNA test (Family Finder) or any of the other DNA tests from Family Tree DNA, go to the GFA website, click on the link in “Order DNA tests from FTDNA” in the sidebar on the right side of the page, and follow the instructions.







I have been asked about finding the specific ancestral tribe of origin of African American Graves family members.  Y-DNA tests and mitochondrial DNA tests can, of course, be used to find the ancestry of the direct all-male or all-female lines.  The results of those tests can then be matched with those in Africa of known tribal origin.


However, these all-male and all-female lines are only 2 of the many ancestral lines we all have.  To trace all our various ancestral lines, autosomal DNA testing is needed, and that is not yet at the point where it can be used to identify tribal origin (or other ethnic origin) of anyone.  There is a possibility that as we progress to testing of the entire genome, markers may be found that will connect us with our ancient origins through many of our ancestral lines.


One company, African Ancestry, founded by Dr. Rick Kittles and Ms. Gina Paige in 2003, claims to be able to pinpoint African tribal origin.  However, they are able to do this only for the direct male and female lines, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph.


A very interesting and scholarly discussion of this subject was posted Oct. 1, 2011, on The Root blog.






We all probably know that we should be very careful about believing everything we find in submitted genealogies on or elsewhere.  However, in our own research I just came across a situation where I was misled at first.


I was trying to add information to the genealogy of Orrin Noble Graves and Honor Hard of VT and NY (genealogy 124).  They had a son named Henry Graves, born 24 Aug. 1830 in NY or VT, who married Emeline (or Emaline) Marsh.  Some of his siblings stayed in St. Lawrence Co., NY, but others went to Wisconsin and Iowa, and one brother was in Kendall Co., IL.  I found what seemed to be Henry and Emeline in the 1870 census for Lee Co., IL, and the 1880 and 1900 censuses for DeKalb Co., IL.  However, when I saw that the Henry Graves born in NY had parents who were also born in NY, I suspected something was wrong, since I knew that the Henry Graves I was looking for had both parents born in VT.  I then found a Henry Graves, also married to an Emeline, who was living in St. Lawrence Co., NY, whose parents were both born in VT.  (Of course, sometimes the information in census records is not correct, and is not consistent from census to census.  For instance, the correct Henry Graves was listed in the 1900 census as born in NY, whereas all other censuses had him born in VT.)  This turned out to be a fairly simple search, but it is an example of how easy it is to make an error if we jump to a conclusion too quickly.






Although this article is about name changes of immigrants to America, it probably applies to most other countries also.


The Weekly Genealogist (TWG), the online newsletter of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), was discussed in the last issue of this bulletin.  Two recent issues of TWG contain interesting articles about surname changes and how they occur.  These articles were in the issues for March 14 and March 21.  Since the addresses to go to them directly are only valid for 30 days, to view the articles you will have to go to the American Ancestors website  and click on the March 2012 Archives link.


The experiences of people mentioned in the articles are that it was generally the people themselves or their associates who changed the spelling or form of their name, and not some official at Ellis Island or other port of entry in America who made the change.  For those of you who find this and other articles in TWG interesting, note that further discussion is available on the NEHGS Facebook page and the NEHGS Discussion Boards.  The March 21 article also cites recent postings on this subject on two genealogy blogs.


You can find much more discussion on name changes by searching for “immigrant name changes.”  Good articles are at and RootsWeb, and one of several articles that states that name changes are less common today than in earlier times is at Legal Language Services.





This bulletin is written and edited by Kenneth V. Graves,



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