Josiah Griswold Graves, M. D.

by B. B. Whittemore

The subject of this sketch, Josiah Griswold Graves, was born July 13, 1811, in Walpole, N. H., one of the loveliest villages in the valley of the Connecticut. His father was a well-to-do farmer, and his mother a woman of the olden time, who looked well to the ways of her household,—a woman of superior mind and excellent judgment.

Not having a fancy for farming—and thus acting contrary to the wishes of his father—he left home at the age of eighteen, with his mother's blessing and one dollar in money, determined upon securing an education and fitting himself for the medical profession. He defrayed the expenses of his education by his own individual efforts and native energy of will and industry, by teaching both day and evening, and was remarkably successful in his labors. Being a natural penman, he also gave instruction in the art of penmanship.

He commenced the study of his profession in 1829. He was a student in medicine in the office of Drs. Adams and Twitchell, of Keene, and subsequently attended medical lectures at Pittsfield, Mass., and graduated at Williamstown Medical College in 1834. Afterwards he spent six months in the office of Drs. Huntington and Graves in Lowell.

Dr. Graves commenced the practice of medicine in Nashua, N. H., September 15, 1834. At this time Nashua was a comparatively young town, the compact part of the present city having then had but ten years' growth. He went up the Merrimack river on the old steamboat then plying on the Merrimack, landing a little below what was then the Taylor's Falls bridge. His first patient was a pauper, who was badly injured accidentally. After adequate treatment the man was placed on his feet again, a well man. Such a patient was not very remunerative, and did not tend to fill an empty pocket. This was evidenced by the fact that a carpenter who was applied to for the purpose of procuring a wood-box declined the job and refused to trust the young doctor. Necessity being the mother of invention, the doctor was obliged to construct that useful article himself. It was but a brief period, however, before energy, determination, and superior medical and surgical skill carved out for him an extensive practice. For forty years he followed his profession in Nashua and the adjoining region with untiring assiduity, and with a success that has but few parallels. He loved his profession and gave to it his best powers. He was gifted in a remarkable degree with a keen insight into the nature of disease, and of course his success was in proportion to his fitness for his calling. He did not need to be told symptoms; he knew, by intuition where the break in the constitution was, and how to rebuild and give new life. He was made for his profession, and not his profession for him, which is too often the case.

After several years' practice, desirous of further improvement, he took a degree at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. At the time of the rebellion the governor and council of New Hampshire appointed him a member of the Medical Board of Examiners.

For the past few years Dr. Graves has been much interested in railroads, East and West; has been a director in the Nashua & Lowell Railroad and other roads, and is now president of the Texas Trunk Railroad. He is a director in the Faneuil Hall Insurance Company, and in the Metropolitan steamship line; and is also connected with many other financial interests of a comprehensive character.

A few years ago Dr. Graves made an extensive land purchase at Scituate, Mass., containing two hundred acres or more, which he calls his "Mound Farm." It lies on an elevation, bordering on the ocean, and is considered by those familiar with the "South Shore" as the most eligible location, and as commanding the finest prospect oceanwards, of any in that popular and beautiful summer resort. Here the doctor has erected a few dwelling-houses, and has sold lots to others who have erected summer residences. These houses are elegantly and conveniently constructed, and so located as to enable their owners to enjoy an unobstructed ocean view, as well as the ocean breezes. In one word, it is, in and of itself, a villa of extensive proportions, and is destined to become still more extensive in the future. The doctor has recently made large purchases of adjoining lands, and is already engaged in farming on a large scale, and introducing improved modes of cultivation. Here, with his family, he spends his summers, residing in Nashua or at the South during the winter.

At the age of seventy, Dr. Graves is still active and remarkably well preserved, and much more active than many younger men. He has a business office in Boston, and manages his large estate with as much foresight and sagacity as when in the prime of life and engaged in accumulating his fortune.

Dr. Graves was married to Mary W. Boardman, daughter of the late Col. William Boardman, of Nashua, in 1846.

As a man, Dr. Graves is distinguished for his firmness. His opinions he maintains with resoluteness until good reasons induce him to change them. He means yes when he says "yes," and no when he says "no." He is a man of a positive character. It is needless to say, that, while such a man always has enemies, (as what man of ability and energetic character has not?) he has firm and lasting friends,—friends from the fact that they always know where to find him. Among the many self-made men whom New Hampshire has produced, he takes rank among the first; and by his indomitable energy, industry, and enterprise has not only made his mark in the world, but has achieved a reputation in his profession and business on which himself and friends may reflect with just pride.