My Scottish Ancestors

Samuel H. Sloan
2420 Atherton Street, Suite 6
Berkeley, California 94704

FAX: (415) 929-7500

December 25, 1994

Dear Relatives:

Pursuant to court order of Judge Michael Gamble sitting in Lynchburg, Virginia, all of the personal property of my mother, Dr. Helen Marjorie Jacobson Sloan, as well as my own personal property, was to be placed "in a suitable waste disposal site." In order to prevent that from happening, I filed for bankruptcy on September 8, 1994, as a result of which I was able to recover all of our property just within the past few days.

In going through my mother's belongings, I came upon an old box of family history documents and photographs dating back to 1866 and even earlier. These materials appear to have been collected primarily by Henrietta Jacobson, my mother's aunt.
Elizabeth Grace Thomson

From this, I have been able to reconstruct most of my mother's family history, dating back to our ancestor's immigration from Sweden and Scotland. Here is what I found:

My mother's maternal grandfather was Samuel Allison Graham, who was born in Biggsville, Illinois on March 18, 1848. I do not know the dates of his birth or death or the names of his parents, except that I believe that his father or grandfather was William Graham (1799-1881). His wife was Elizabeth Grace Thomson, who was born in Stranraer, Scotland on May 25, 1851. I have found a love letter which she wrote to Samuel A. Graham a year before they were married. It states:

"My Dear Friend

"As I cannot obtain an opportunity to talk to you as I would like I thought I would write to you and beseech you that as you value the salvation of your immortal soul you will not allow this communion season to pass and find you still out of the church. It is both your duty and your privilege to connect with the church of God. You know Jesus Christ says that he that confesseth me before men him I will also confess before my Father which is in heaven. But he that denieth me before men him I will deny before my Father which is in heaven."

"Dearest Samuel is it because you think you are not worthy that you do not connect with the church's. If so do not allow this to keep you back any longer for none of us are worthy of such great privileges as the church affords. It is only through all the sufficiency of Christ that any of us can come. Cast all of your sins near him for he is both able and willing to save you. Go to him in prayer and he will hear and answer you. He says "enter thy closet and when thou hast shut the door pray to thy Father in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret the same shall reward of you openly. "

"Do not think that I do not love you, for I love you most tenderly. You are my first and only love and my earnest and constant prayer to my heavenly Father is that we may be spared to be united and live useful lives preparing for that home in heaven which Christ has prepared for those who love him.

"Your Sincere Friend,

"Lizza T."

At the time she wrote this letter, Elizabeth Grace Thomson was very young, not more than 15 or 16 years old. I base this conclusion upon another letter from her mother to her dated July 12, 1868. This letter appears to have been written after Elizabeth Grace Thomson was already married to Samuel Graham, had had a child with him and was living away from her parents. It says:

"July 12, 1868

"My Dear Daughter,

"I received your long lastered for and welcome letter the 20 inst. and I am truly sorry that Mary is so weakly. I would like to know more about her. Is her appetite good is she able to be up a part of the day can she walk any out doors is she much sick at the stomach does she suffer much pain do tell me all about her. I am so anxious I hope you have the baby weaned I need not tell you to be kind to your poor sister for I know you will. I hope you will not cause her a anxious thought is she as cheerful as she won't to be I hope that her afflictions will be sanctified to her and to us all what I would give to save her but it is the will of providence that we should be apart now but I have that we shall all meet in that better world we have parting will be unoning and I there will be no sin there nor suffering o how sweet that event that remains for the prepale of God after a life of sin and suffering. I was glad to think that Mary was able to go to church. I think it would be good for her to be out in the hugy at a time you can take her a short ride. I know that you have kept busy but as thy day is so shall thy strength be if you ask it I want you to write to me as soon as you can for I cannot rest. I am sorry that James has not made up his mind yet we wanter your Father to rent him a place and he would come here he has got a place for him and he has been looking for a letter from James for a long time but poor boy I know that he is kept busy but I hope that he will write and let your father know if he is going to take the place or not it is a new land and a good house on it and a good peace of it broken ready for a wheat crop and I think that he could make a better living than where he is I think if Mary is able to be brought out that would be for her good as well as his. I am stronger than I was last summer and has infaged better health since I can hear I hope that of a wes will be directed for the best the wheat here is good where the grasshoppers did not have it. Hugh was harvesting where they said it would be 30 bushels to the acre your father thinks that his may be near 10 or 12 bushels but the grasshoppers hurt it but they are all gone now the fattes are bust stalking Annie is home now and we are all well with love to Mary and James and John and David. Give the baby a kiss for me be sure to come and bring them all with you we'll do all we can for their comfort of a no more but I remain your loving mother Elizabeth Thomson

"be sure and write

"We had a newspaper from Glasgow with the death of your Uncle James in it"

The above letter was difficult to read and contains many spelling mistakes and indecipherable words. I have done my best to transcribe it.

Elizabeth Grace Thomson had an older sister named Annie and a younger sister named Jane. Jane became Jane Thomson McCorkle (1858-1946).

Samuel A. Graham and Elizabeth Grace Thomson had eight children. These were Thomas Edward Graham (born Winterset, Iowa, died Long Beach, California, February 9, 1943), William A. Graham of Spokane, Washington, Robert C. Graham of Macksburg, Iowa, Roscoe S. Graham of Des Moines, Iowa, Walter N. Graham of Oil City, Louisiana, Lillie Graham Wimmer, Mary Graham Jacobson and Jennie Graham Bishop.

Elizabeth Mary Graham Jacobson was born on June 13, 1879 and died on September 23, 1956, at 77, a very early age compared to her other family members. All but two of her older brothers survived her. She was my mother's mother.

When Thomas Edward Graham died in 1943, he left a widow, Charlotte M. Johnson Graham, and three children, Philip E. Graham of Long Beach, California, Gordon A. Graham of Alameda, California and Robert J. Graham of the University of California at Berkeley.

I have a lot of very old photographs of members of the Graham and Thomson families, but no explanation of how these persons are related to each other. A photograph of Samuel Thomson says "Came from Scotland, 1856". I suspect that he was the father of Elizabeth Grace Thomson, but this is only a guess. Other photographs are of William Graham (1799 - 1881) and of his wife Jane Popham Graham (1810-1893). Are these possibly my mother's great great grandparents?

The photo album of Samuel A. Graham contains 46 photographs, all apparently dated around 1866 or earlier. Unfortunately, only a few of them have writing on the back to state of whom they are. One says: "Great Aunt Mary Ann Thomson". This would presumably be the sister of Elizabeth Thomson, the mother of Elizabeth Grace Thomson. This could be the "Mary" mentioned several times in the above quoted letter dated July 12, 1868, in which case it appears that Mary survived her afflictions.

It seems strange that a mother and daughter would both have the same name of Elizabeth Thomson, but this appears to have been the case. In fact, the granddaughter was also named Elizabeth, as her full name was Elizabeth Mary Graham.

There is also a photograph of "Uncle Orr". I have heard that name before but do not remember who he was. He may have been a brother of Samuel Graham.

One reason I am sending this letter is that I hope that somebody out there old enough to remember will correct any mistakes I have made and fill in as many missing gaps as possible. Almost everything in this letter is new to me, but I suspect that other family members are quite familiar with all of this. The box I found contained at least 200 or 300 very old photographs, plus dozens of letters and published articles, many of which are in the Swedish language, which I cannot read.

Please bear in mind that the only reason I have these documents now is that I found them in a box which was headed for the trash dump pursuant to a court order obtained by my brother, Creighton W. Sloan.

If I can obtain more complete information, I am considering copying all of this material into a booklet and circulating it, provided that I have the money to do this and there is sufficient interest.

I look forward to receiving any response to this.


Samuel H. Sloan

For a photo of Elizabeth Grace Thomson, see: My great grandmother, Elizabeth Grace Thomson, in 1867 and My great grandmother, Elizabeth Grace Thomson, in 1864

For a photo of William Graham, see: William Graham (1799-1881)

For a photo of Samuel Thomson, see: Samuel Thomson

For a photo of my mother, see: Dr. Marjorie Jacobson .

See also: Biography of Helen Marjorie Sloan as published in "Who's Who of American Women".

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