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
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.