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Graves County History and Information
County History | Court Records | Vital Records | CENSUS Records | TAX Records | Military Records | Church & Cemetery |
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Click HERE to see D.O.T. County Map
Graves County, seventy-fifth in order of formation, is located in the center of the Jackson Purchase on the Tennessee state line and is the largest county in that region. It has an area of 557 square miles. Graves County was created in 1824 from part of Hickman County, with Mayfield as the county seat. The county was named in honor of Maj. Benjamin F. Graves, a Fayette County soldier killed at the Battle of River Raisin in the War of 1812. MAYFIELD is the county seat.

The County is bordered by McCracken County (north), Marshall County (northeast), Calloway County (southeast), Henry County, TN (southeast), Weakley County, TN (south), Hickman County (southwest), Carlisle County (northwest). Cities, Towns and Communities include Dukedom, Mayfield, Water Valley, Wingo, Fancy Farm, Farmington, Symsonia, Lowes, Kaler, West Viola

Mayfield Creek, for which the county seat was named, is a major waterway, as are Clark's River, Bayou de Chien, and Obion creeks. Prior to settlement, the region was a relatively treeless grassland known as the barrens; its level terrain is dotted with rolling hills and a few steep ridges. Fertile land costing one dollar per acre in 1825 attracted the first settlers, who came from Virginia, middle Tennessee, or south-central Kentucky. They brought skills needed to cultivate dark fire-cured tobacco, the cash crop upon which the county's economy was based. Although there was some agricultural diversification by 1860, when substantial amounts of corn, cotton, and rice were produced, tobacco remained the principal crop on virtually every Graves County farm in the nineteenth century. By the 1920s Mayfield's market was the leading exporter of dark fire-cured tobacco in the nation.

The pioneer years 1824 to 1834 saw a steady increase in population and the emergence of churches (Baptist, Methodist, Cumberland Presbyterian) and schools (Mayfield's first opened in 1825). The first courthouse, a log structure, was built in 1824. It was replaced by a brick building in 1834. During the county's first presidential balloting in 1824, most residents voted for Andrew Jackson. In 1830 the federal census reported a population of 2,504 whites and 279 slaves.

Besides Mayfield, other communities included Lynville, Farmington, Lowes, Wingo, Cuba, Pryorsburg, and Feliciana. Fancy Farm, a settlement of Catholics from central Kentucky, grew up around St. Jerome Church, built in 1836. Roads to the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers connected county tobacco farms with New Orleans markets. In 1856 the New Orleans & Ohio Railroad (now the Paducah & Louisville Railroad) connected Paducah with Mayfield and later with Fulton.

The Civil War abruptly ended Graves's progress as personal and property losses in this Confederate stronghold were staggering. When Union forces occupied the area in 1862, Confederates abandoned Camp Beauregard, near Feliciana, which was decimated by disease. Several skirmishes, but no significant battles, were fought in Graves County. In mid-1864 the harsh military rule of Union Gen. E.A. Paine caused much suffering among county residents. To their relief, Paine was removed from command before the war ended. The courthouse was destroyed in 1864 and replaced by a third building in 1866.

After the war an 1860 woolen mill in Mayfield was reorganized, and a second textile mill, Mayfield Pants Company, began operation in 1899. Later both were expanded and as the Curlee Clothing Company and the Merit Clothing Company, respectively, they helped make Mayfield a men's clothing manufacturing center. In 1891 discovery of ball clay used in porcelain, china, and tile generated an important extractive industry and profitable ceramic enterprises, the Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Company and the Old Hickory Clay Company.

As tobacco production rose, Mayfield warehouses did brisk business during the sales seasons. The third county courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1887, and the fourth courthouse, elaborately Victorian in design, was finished in 1888. In Mayfield, water pumping began in 1892 and electrical service in 1893. The county's first telephone system was installed in 1895. By 1900, Mayfield had become urbanized and other county communities such as Folsomdale, Sedalia, Water Valley, and Symsonia had grown into farm trade centers. Feliciana, a thriving trading center until bypassed by the railroad in 1858, was abandoned.

Paved roads and streets, new industries such as Pet Milk Company, and the construction of Hayfield's present post office attested to progress made by the 1920s. Today the two largest businesses are the General Tire Company, in operation since 1960 and owned by the German corporation Continental Tire, and Ingersoll-Rand's Centac Division, built in 1970 to produce air compressors. Two textile firms, the Dillon Manufacturing Company and Mary Nell Industries, manufacture apparel, and a food processing facility, Seaboard Farms of Kentucky, opened in 1990. Agriculture remains a vital economic resource, along with retail stores, banks, and professional and service activities.

Notable citizens of Graves County include former vice-president and senator Alben BARKLEY; Six U.S. Congressmen-Lucian Anderson, former Confederate Col. Edward Crossland, A.R. Boone, the brothers Voris and Noble Gregory, and Carroll Hubbard; Confederate Maj. H.S. HALE, who was Kentucky's state treasurer in the 1890s; distinguished artist Ellis Wilson; syndicated columnist and humorist of the 1930s George Bingham; and modern short story writer and novelist Bobbie Ann MASON.

The population of Graves County was 30,939 in 1970; 34,049 in 1980; and 33,550 in 1990. The Official County Website is located at http://www.mayfieldchamber.com/ . Fire destroyed courthouse records in 1864 and on 18 Dec 1887.

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Graves County Court Records
PLEASE READ!! Please call the clerk's department to confirm hours, mailing address, fees and other specifics before visiting or requesting information because of sometimes changing contact information. Fire destroyed courthouse records in 1864 and on 18 Dec 1887.

   Graves County Clerk has Marriage Records from 1852 and Land Records from 1887 and is located at 101 East South Street, Suite 2, Mayfield, KY 42066-2324; Phone: (270) 247-1676, FAX: (270) 247-1274, [EMAIL] .
   The duties of the county clerk are numerous and varied, falling into the general categories of clerical duties of the fiscal court, issuing and registering, recording and keeping records of various legal instruments, election duties, tax duties, transfers, and titling, and issuance of marriage licenses and much more. One of the most important responsibilities of the County Clerk's office is the recording of land records. The most common documents recorded are deeds, mortgages, and assignments and mortgage releases. The other is Marriage Liscenses

   Graves County Clerk of the Circuit Court has Probate Records from 1887 and Court Records from 1853 and is located at Courthouse, 100 East Broadway, Mayfield, KY 52066; Phone Numbers: 270-247-1733 or 270-247-7853 .
   The Circuit Clerk's office is responsible for maintaining the records of the circuit court. Divorces, civil litigation, criminal crimes, probate, wills , estates and various other functions.

There are a few online databases for Court, Land and Probate Records which include: Kentucky Marriages, 1802-1850; Kentucky Marriages, 1851-1900; Kentucky Marriage Index, 1973-1999; Kentucky Land Grants; Kentucky Will Index, vol. 1 & 2 and Kentucky Will Index, Vol. 2.


Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Court, Land, Wills & Financial Records! - Researchers often overlook the importance of court records, probate records, and land records as a source of family history information.

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Court Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Court Records by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Vital Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Birth, Marriage & Death Records! - Birth, marriage, and death records are connected with central life events. They are prime sources for genealogical information. Look also for baptism, christening, and burial records in this collection.

   Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics is located at State Dept of Human Resources, 275 E. Main St. 1EA, Frankfort, KY 40621; (502) 564-4212. They have the following records:

  • Birth & Death Certificates: The Vital Statistics Law of Kentucky, providing for and legalizing the registration of births and deaths, was enacted by the General Assembly of 1910 and became effective Jan. 1, 1911. The Office of Vital Statistics has no records of births and deaths occurring prior to the above date except delayed records of births for those born before 1911, which have been established by affidavits and documentary evidence.Fees are listed below. You can download an application online for Birth Certificates or Death Certificates.
  • Marriage & Divorce Certificates: Central registration of marriages and divorces began in Kentucky in June 1958.  The Office of Vital Statistics has no records of marriages and divorces prior to that date.  Copies of marriage certificates prior to June 1958 may be obtained from the county clerk in the county where the license was issued.  Records of divorce proceedings are available from the Graves County clerk of the circuit court that granted the decree.You can download an application online for Marriage Certificates or Divorce Certificates.
  • Order Online: You can also order Order Electronically and get the certificates within 2-5 days by ordering below
    Birth Certificates
    Death Certificates
    Marriage Certificates
    Divorce Records

Cost of certificates:  Birth: $10 per certificate; Death, Marriage and Divorce are $6 per certificate
In Person:  You can stop in the office at 275 E. Main St. in Frankfort and obtain a certified copy of a birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate by completing an application form between the hours of 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday.  There is approximately a one-hour wait to receive the certificate. Directions to Vital Statistics Office 
By Mail:  Mail a check or money order (no cash) payable to the "Kentucky State Treasurer" along with the necessary information to the following address:  Office of Vital Statistics, 275 E. Main St.  1E-A, Frankfort, KY 40621.  Please include return address on envelope and application form.
Processing Time:  Please allow up to approximately 30 working days for processing of all type of certificates when ordered through the mail. 
Birth Records:  Expect longer delays during peak request periods from May through September.  You should request certified copies of your birth certificate early enough to avoid delays if you are planning retirement, sporting events for the children, travel/passports, children entering school for the first time, etc.
Death Records:  There may be delays in issuing new certified death certificates if the original certificate is not promptly filed in Frankfort by the funeral homes.
Phone, Fax, On-Line, or Credit Card:  To obtain a certified copy of a vital record by phone, fax, on-line or purchase with a credit card, please link to VitalChek. There is an additional $10.50 fee for all credit card purchases.  Discover, Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted. If faster delivery is required, you may wish to have the certified copy sent by Federal Express.  Please state this when placing the order for the copy. There is an additional fee for this service. 

There are a few online marriage databases which include: Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999; Kentucky Marriages, 1802-1850; Kentucky Marriages, 1851-1900; Kentucky Marriage Index, 1973-1999; and Kentucky Death Index, 1911-2000

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Vital Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Vital Records by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Census Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Voter Lists & Census Records! - Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do government census records. Substitute records can be used when the official census is unavailable.

  Countywide Records: Federal Population Schedules that exist for Graves County, Kentucky are 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. Earlier U.S. censuses for Kentucky were destroyed, but published tax lists serve as a replacements for the lost 1790 and 1800 censuses. Other Federal Schedules to look at when researching your family tree in Graves County, Kentucky are Industry and Agriculture Schedules availible for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Slave Schedules exist for 1850 & 1860. The Mortality Schedules for the years 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Union Veterans Schedules were conducted in 1890 but only returns for sixty-five Kentucky counties remain of the 1890 Union veterans and widows schedule of the federal census of Kentucky.

  Statewide Records that exist for Kentucky are 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 (fragment, see below), 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. Earlier U.S. censuses for Kentucky were destroyed, but published tax lists serve as a replacements for the lost 1790 and 1800 censuses. Extracts and indexes for many of Kentucky's censuses have been compiled and published. Original or microfilm copies of the federal census returns are available at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Several Kentucky indexes to censuses predate those published by AISI.

  State School Census for Kentucky infrequently enumerated public school students beginning in 1888. Scattered records are at the office of the respective county Board of Health or Board of Education. Some are maintained by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and the Kentucky Historical Society.

See Also Statewide Records that exist for Kentucky

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Census Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Census Records by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Maps & Atlases

      Genealogy Atlas has images of old American atlases during the years 1795, 1814, 1822, 1823, 1836, 1838, 1845, 1856, 1866, 1879 and 1897 for Kentucky and other states.
   You can view rotating animated maps for Kentucky showing all the county boundaries for each census year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries. You can view a list of maps for other states at Census Maps
   You can view rotating animated maps for Kentucky showing all the county boundary changes for each year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries . You can view a list of maps for other states and State Department of Transportation Maps at County Maps. The Kentucky Department of Transportation has county maps the show the locations of churches, cemeteries, roads, ect...

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Maps. Email us with websites containing Graves County Maps by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Military Records
Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Military Records! - Military and civil service records provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served their country at home and abroad.

   The uses and value of military records in genealogical research for ancestors who were veterans are obvious, but military records can also be important to re-searchers whose direct ancestors were not soldiers in any war. The fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and other close relatives of an ancestor may have served in a war, and their service or pension records could contain information that will assist in further identifying the family of primary interest. Due to the amount of genealogical information contained in some military pension files, they should never be overlooked during the research process. Those records not containing specific genealogical information are of historic value and should be included in any overall research design. A list of Wars fought on American.

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Military Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Military Records by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Tax Records

   One of the most valuable sources for early Kentucky until 1892 is its tax records. Most counties have yearly tax records from the date of organization. Some early tax schedules list watercourse, value and acreage of real estate, men over twenty-one, young men between sixteen and twenty-one, slaves, and horses. Extant county tax schedules from the date of organization of the county through 1892 have been microfilmed for most counties and are available from the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and the FHL. Numerous original tax records from 1892 are available at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. The Kentucky Historical Society has tax records to 1875.
  Kentucky tax lists are arranged by county and date. Within the counties, residents within its districts are grouped together and names usually arranged under the beginning letter of the surname, although these are not in strict alphabetical order. Some early tax records have been published and are available in research libraries.

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Tax Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Tax Records by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Genealogical Addresses

   The Repositories in this section are Archives, Libraries, Museums, Genealogical and Historical Societies. Many County Historical and Genealogical Societies publish magazines and/or news letters on a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Contacting the local societies should not be over looked. State Archives and Societies are usually much larger and better organized with much larger archived materials than their smaller county cousins but they can be more generalized and over look the smaller details that local societies tend to have. Libraries can also be a good place to look for local information. Some libraries have a genealogy section and may have some resources that are not located at archives or societies. Also, take a special look at any museums in the area. They sometimes have photos and items from years gone by as well as information of a genealogical interest. All these places are vitally important to the family genealogist and must not be passed over.

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Genealogical Addresses. Email us with websites containing Graves County Genealogical Addresses by clicking the link below:

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Graves County Church & Cemeteries
Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Obituary Records! - This database is a compilation of obituaries published in U.S. newspapers, collected from various online sources. Obituaries can vary in the amount of information they contain, but many of them are genealogical goldmines, including information such as names, dates, places of birth and death, marriage information, and family relationships.

   There are many churches and cemeteries in Graves County. Some transcriptions are online. A great site is the Graves County Tombstone Transcription Project.

Church membership of early Kentuckians include Baptist, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic. Some church records were published, others were microfilmed, some are housed in church repositories, but many remain in the local church. Church records and histories may be found in periodicals pertaining to Kentucky. Repositories include the DAR Library, the FHL, Kentucky Historical Society, University of Kentucky Library, and Filson Club Library.

Many collections of cemetery records are available for Kentucky. In 1977 the Kentucky Historical Society began computerizing extant cemetery records for the state. Cemetery tombstone transcriptions are included in the Ardery collection. Kentucky regional libraries and some other large genealogical libraries outside the state have collections of Kentucky cemetery transcriptions. In addition, publications pertaining to Kentucky and Kentuckians frequently contain cemetery records for the state.

Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Cemetery & Church Records. Email us with websites containing Graves County Cemetery & Church Records by clicking the link below:

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Family Trees & Genealogy Tidbits

Search Online Click Here to Search Kentucky Family Tree Records! - The use of published genealogies, electronic files containing genealogical lineage, and other compiled sources can be of tremendous value to a researcher.

   When view family trees online or not, be sure to only take the info at face value and always follow up with your own sources or verify the ones they provide. Below is a list of online resources for Graves County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information . Email us with websites containing Graves County Family Trees, web forums and other family type information by clicking the link below:

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County History

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