Tuesday, February 9, 2016

James Lorimer Graham, Jr.- obit in the New York Tribune by Bayard Taylor

From the New York Tribune, May 2, 1876; image is available online in the Historic American Newspapers at the Library of Congress-Chronicling America. Transcribed below, this unsigned obituary is by Bayard Taylor, as acknowledged in Taylor's letter of condolence to Graham's widow (quoted by Andrew M. Kavalecs in his essay on Graham as "Fosterer of American-German Literary Relations," published in Anglo-German and American Cross-Currents, volume 4).


The ocean cable informs us that Mr. James Lorimer Graham, jr., American Consul in Florence, died in that city on Sunday. Mr. Graham was the nephew of Messrs. James Lorimer Graham and John A. Graham of this city, and the brother of Mr. R. M. C. Graham, President of the Metropolitan Insurance Company. He was born in New-York in January 1835, but educated partly at Amiens, in France, where on account of his precocious literary skill he was selected to deliver a poetical address of welcome to Lamartine, when that statesman visited the school in 1848. Mr. Graham afterward lived for a time in Rio Janeiro; then, returning to New York, sailed again in the ill-fated steamer San Francisco, which foundered in a gale off Cape Hatteras. The hardship and exposure he underwent at the time left lasting physical disturbances. In 1856 he married Miss Josephine Garner, the sister of Commodore William T. Garner, and remained for several years in this city, where he soon became widely known through his taste for art and literature, his gentle and generous nature, and his brilliant conversational talent. As a member of the Century Club, the Geographical Society, and other kindred institutions, he acquired a large circle of cordial friends, especially among the artists and authors. The years 1862 and ’63 he spent in Europe, and then returned to New-York until the close of 1866. His collections of coins, autographs, drawings, and books were very interesting and valuable, and his house in East Seventeenth-st. became quite a treasury of rare articles. 
Some time after his return to Europe (we believe in 1869), Mr. Graham was appointed Consul-General of the United States for Italy, and took up his residence in Florence, then the capital. His spacious apartments in the Orsini Palace were always opened, with the most free and bountiful hospitality, to his countrymen, and very few who visited Florence escaped a welcome there. When the capital was transferred to Rome, Mr. Graham remained behind, preferring to accept the simple position of Consul rather than change his Italian home. Although his health has been gradually declining for the past two or three years, the end has come suddenly, and the news of it will be a mournful surprise to his many friends here. His nature was singularly sweet and loveable; he was unselfish almost to a fault; ardent in his attachments, placable, high-minded—in short, a man who was never so happy as in making others happy. No one who knew him can forget him.   --New York Tribune, May 2, 1876
Not all of the biographical facts in this obit are strictly accurate. James Lorimer Graham, Jr. and Josie A. Garner were married November 19, 1855 in New York City, according to The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record cited at Ancestry. I'm still working on the uncertain date of Graham's birth. The March 1866 gathering that Melville attended I thought must have take place at 21 Washington Square North, but Taylor locates Graham's house "in East Seventeenth-st." More work to do, clearly.

Later: Trow's via Fold3 backs up Bayard Taylor on the home address. Trow's New York City Directory "For the Year Ending May 1, 1866" gives the address for James Lorimer Graham, jr. as "3 E. 17th." Most likely the March 26, 1866 gathering happened here, at 3 East Seventeenth Street.

The 1860 United States Federal Census shows James L. Graham [Jr.] living in Newtown, Queens with his wife Josephine and four servants, all from Ireland. Graham's age: 25. Occupation: "Gentleman." His 1861 passport application corroborates the January 1835 date of birth that Bayard Taylor gives in the obituary notice transcribed above. Ink blot makes it hard to read the exact number: 21st? of January 1835.

Fold3: Military Records

About Graham's immediate family, Bayard Taylor has it right: James Lorimer Graham, Jr. is the nephew of James Lorimer Graham. JLG Jr.'s father is Nathan Burr Graham, as the 1869 United States Insurance Gazette nicely confirms.

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1 comment:

  1. So poor Josephine had only recently lost her husband when her brother, William Garner, was drowned in the Mohawk Disaster July 1876.