Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Graves County, Kentucky

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all


Please add profiles for those who were born, lived or died in Graves County, Kentucky.


Graves County was named for Capt. Benjamin Franklin Graves, who was one of numerous Kentucky officers killed after being taken as a prisoner in the disastrous 1813 Battle of Raisin River in Michigan Territory during the War of 1812. He disappeared while being forced by the Potawatomi, allies of the British, to walk to the British Fort Malden in Amherstburg, Ontario. The Indians killed prisoners who could not keep up. Nearly 400 Kentuckians died in the January 22 battle, the highest fatality of any single battle during the war.

The fertile land attracted early settlers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, who brought with them education, culture, and a fierce determination to succeed. They put down roots and created a unique political, economic, and social environment. Tobacco was important. Graves County developed the dark-fired and dark-air-cured leaf tobacco used in smokeless tobacco farming. In the early 20th of the counties involved in the Black Patch Tobacco Wars, as white farmers organized into the area to suppress violence, after tobacco warehouses and other properties, including tons of tobacco, were being destroyed.

A woolen mill began operating before the Civil War and continued to expand with the men's clothing market. Several clothing manufacturing companies were added in the area. The county seat's minor league baseball team was named the Mayfield Clothiers for this historical connection.

During the post-Reconstruction period, racial violence by whites against blacks continued in Graves County; they exercised terrorism to re-establish and maintain white supremacy. Whites lynched 6 blacks here after 1877; most were killed around the turn of the 20th century. Four were killed during one week in 1896 in Mayfield, the county seat. Three were killed on December 23 in the so-called Mayfield Race War. Whites had heard rumors that blacks were arming elsewhere in the county in retaliation for the lynching of Jim Stone earlier that week. The whites recruited reinforcements from Fulton County and, overly tense, killed Will Suett, a young black man, as he was getting off a train to visit his family for the holidays. Two other black men were fatally shot soon after. Acknowledging that Suett's death was unprovoked, white residents took up a collection for his widowed mother.

Graves County made national news in September 2011 for jailing several Amish men who refused to use orange safety triangles on their buggies for religious reasons. The Old Order Swartzentruber Amish used reflective tape instead. They said it was against their religion to use "loud colors" (as they characterized the orange triangles). They did not succeed in their appeal of their 2008 convictions. Menno Zook, Danny Byler, Mose Yoder, Levi Hostetler, David Zook, and Eli Zook refused to pay the small fines imposed with their convictions. All served sentences ranging from three to 10 days. Jail officials accommodated them by not forcing them to wear the typical orange county jail uniforms; they allowed the Amish to wear dark gray uniforms.

Adjacent Counties


  • Mayfield (County Seat)
  • Water Valley
  • Wingo

Other Communities: Bell City, Boaz, Clear Springs, Cuba, Dogwood, Dublin, Dukedom (part), Fairbanks, Fancy Farm, Farmington, Feliciana, Folsomdale, Golo, Hickory, Kaler, Kansas, Lowes, Lynnville, Melber (part), Natchez Trace, Pilot Oak, Pottsville, Podunk, Pryorsville, Sedalia, South Highland, Stubblefield, Symsonia, Tri City, Viola, West Viola, Westplains and Wheel



Clarks River Nat'l Wildlife Refuge (part)

Camp Beauregard Memorial

Conf. Mem. Gates in Mayfield

Conf. Mem. in Mayfield

The Pete Lyles House

The Woolridge Monuments

Genealogy Trails