Monday, April 23, 2012

Ippie Purvis Graham (1889-1962)

From the 1949 South Carolina Manual of the legislature.

   Following on the heels of the April 18th article on Fleetus Lee Gobble, today's write up highlights the life and accomplishments of another North Carolina State Representative........Ippie Purvis Graham!!! This interestingly named man served alongside Fleetus Gobble in the North Carolina legislature for a number of years, and one can wonder if these two funny named politicians ever went palling around the state capitol together! I can almost imagine someone falling over with laughter when they were introduced to representatives "Ippie" and "Fleetus"!
   All humor aside, Ippie P. Graham's interesting name obviously didn't keep him from pursuing a lengthy career in public service. His story begins on February 3, 1889, when he was born in Proctorville, North Carolina, a son of Charles William and Mary Jane Hedgpeth Graham. Graham received the unusual first name "Ippie" in honor of his uncle, a North Carolina Baptist minister named Ippie Purvis Hedgpeth, and the only available biographical source on Graham is a brief write up in the North Carolina Manual published during his service in the legislature. His birth year is variously given as either 1889 or 1890, although a good majority of the sources mentioning him give 1889 as the correct year.
  Graham received his education at the Stinson Institute and later studied at the King's Business College from 1911-1912. The majority of Graham's life was centered around farming pursuits in his native town, and he is listed by the North Carolina Manual as being the proprietor of a cotton gin. In addition to his being a farmer, the Manual mentions Graham as being a cashier at the Bank of Proctorville and also as a Sunday school superintendent for the Proctorville Baptist Church. Graham later married Ms. Athesia Powell (1895-1974), with whom he had two sons (Hal and Paul) and a daughter, Stennett Graham McLeod.

                                          Ippie P. Graham, from the May 31, 1942 edition of the Robesonian.

   Ippie Graham's first candidacy for public office came during the First World War when he was elected as Mayor of Proctorville, serving from 1917-1919. Graham's obituary in the 1962 Robesonian newspaper also gives note that he later served as a judge for the Fairmont Recorder Court for six years, 1933-1939. In Graham's last year of service on that court, the citizens of Robeson County elected him to the first of many terms in the North Carolina State House of Representatives, and he officially took his seat in January of 1939. His service in the legislature lasted nearly a decade (with the exception of the 1941-43 session) and during his tenure held a seat on the Committees of Salaries and Fees, Institutions for the Deaf, and the Committee on Penal Institutions.

Ippie Graham receiving the Adrian B. McRae Award for Robeson County Man of the Year, 1961.

   At the conclusion of his legislative service in 1949, Graham returned to his home in Proctorville and later held a seat on the Proctorville Board of Education from 1949 until his retirement from public life in 1961. He served as the chairman of this board from 1950 until the fall of 1960. The Robesonian also notes that Graham was honored by his fellow citizens as Robeson County Man of the Year for 1961. In addition to this accolade, Graham was also a member of the local Masonic lodge of Proctorville for a number of years.
  Ippie Purvis Graham died at a hospital in Lumberton, North Carolina on February 10, 1962, at age 73 and was later interred at the Proctorville Cemetery in Fairmont, North Carolina. The obituary below for Graham marks the second picture that I've located of the man, and I'm extremely happy to have located it (via the wonderful website!)

Graham's obituary as it appeared in the Robesonian on January 12, 1962.


  1. My mother, Stennett Graham McLeod, enjoyed having this article read to her. It is ironic that she has the most unique name of the three children and that her birthname is listed as unknown. She does indicate that her father was born in 1889. He was named for an uncle and Baptist pastor, Ippie Purvis Hedgpeth. Thank you for continuing the memory of my grandfather or whose name I share. Sincerely, John Ippie McLeod

    1. John,

      Much obliged for the kind words and I am honored and grateful that both you and your mother found the article on her father (Ippie Purvis Graham) on my site. Truly amazing how history (and the internet) can connect people!

      I first discovered Ippie Graham via the North Carolina Manual mentioned above, and unfortunately your mother's name wasn't listed in his biography. A few other genealogical websites made note of his two sons, but failed to mention your mother. Since finding your comment here I've made sure to include your mother's name in the above article, as well as how he received his unusual name. Your grandfather was a truly interesting man to read and write about, and I'm sure that during his near decade of service in the South Carolina legislature he left a lasting legacy of public service in the Proctorville/Robeson County area.

      Once again, wonderful to hear from you and see your comment here on Mr. Graham's page. If you have anymore information on your grandfather that you'd like to see included (or would like to contribute), please don't hesitate to leave another message here, or on this site's Facebook page (which you can reach via the link towards the top right side of the site.)

      Thank you once again for your kind words and I hope to speak to you further!

      Andy Osterdahl

    2. Andy,
      I am trying to reach John Ippie McLeod and his mother, Stennett Graham McLeod. A group of descendants of George and Sarah Graham via their sons Calvin Graham and George Hawley/Hall Graham are meeting THIS SUNDAY, 19 April 2015, at 3 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Proctorville Baptist Church to form a non-profit organization for the short-term restoration and long-term upkeep of the George Graham Plantation Cemetery outside Laurinburg. If any member of your family is interested in participating in the meeting and/or being kept in the information loop, please contact me at or 919-481-3500. Thank you!

  2. To John Ippie Graham McLeod and Andy Osterdahl: Yes Andy, it is amazing how history (and the internet) can connect people! And isn't it a small world! I was just trying to find out information on my grandfather, Mack Pittman, and my sister suggested looking up Ippie Graham as he was a prominent person in our community. Ippie Graham lived two houses from us in Proctorville (small world). My sister remembered a few things about him and remembered he had a daughter named Stennett! My brother remembered that our mom, Pinnie, worked for Ippie's son, Paul, for awhile. I was wondering if the Graham family remembered anything about my granddad, Mack Pittman. If so, I would love to know about it. e-mail me at And Andy I enjoyed reading your article.