Silent Sentinel of Stone:  Old
Hill Cemetery
Sections A-B
Sections I-IV

The Graves Family

The Graves family has been prominent in the University's history. Five generations back from the three children buried in the cemetery were officers at the University. Their father and grandfather on both sides were professors. Their great-grandfather was a steward. And their great great-grandfather graduated from UNC in 1809. He later became president of the University and also one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Ralph Henry Graves and his siblings Louis and Mary did not follow in their family's footsteps of working at UNC, but they were all still successful. Ralph was born on April 1, 1851 in Hillsboro, NC. He was a student at the University and very active in his class. He was the Vice President of the Tennis Association and he played football his senior year. He was not just athletic though; he also was a member of the Drama, German, and Mandolin club, as well as the Phi, Historical, and Honor Societies and other organizations. He received his degree in 1897, and returned to UNC for his master's degree. After he graduated, he was a librarian at the University for two years.

He began his journalism career at the Tar Heel where he was a reporter and later editor-in-chief. When he turned 21, he moved to New York and started to work for The New York Times as the Sunday editor and assistant city editor. He later worked at the New York Evening Post so that he could work more normal hours. It was there that he became known among journalists for his reports on Insurance Investigation of 1904. In 1916, Ralph married Frances Morgan Griffith, from Charlotte. He died in Raleigh on July 10, 1889.

Ralph's brother Louis followed in his journalistic footsteps. He was born in the 1880s and grew up in Chapel Hill. He lived with his mother and sister on Hooper Lane while he was in school. Mary (1886 - 1950) was a famous portrait painter and sketcher in Chapel Hill. For college, Louis attended UNC and participated in tennis and football, like his brother. He was also involved in Phi Betta Kappa.

When Louis was 19 years old, he graduated and moved to New York to work with his brother at The New York Times. In 1921, Louis returned to North Carolina to teach journalism at the University for 3 years. He resigned because he built a print shop under Sutton's Drugstore on Franklin Street and founded The Chapel Hill Weekly. He also served as its editor. Louis Graves died on January 23, 1965. His wife, Mildred Moses opened a boarding house where the Carolina Inn is today for visiting alumni and families of students.

Edit by Robert Graves:
My name is Robert Graves and recently I came across a web site ( with an article ("Silent Sentinels of Stone, Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, The Graves Family") about some of my family who are buried in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. The article was particularly interesting to me because my son and I had just completed a road trip during his spring break from the University of Richmond on which we searched for old Graves family sites. We visited the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery specifically to see the graves of the persons mentioned in the web article. I couldn't help noticing several inaccuracies and would like to offer the following:

1. The journalist Ralph Henry Graves (brother to Louis and Mary, and my great-uncle) was born in 1878 and died in 1939 (clearly he could not have married in 1916 if he had died in 1889, as stated in the article). The 1851 birth and 1889 death dates indicated in the article apply to his father, also named Ralph Henry Graves, who is buried in the same plot as his son Ralph and daughter Mary. The fact that there are two "Ralph Henry Graves" headstones in the same plot may have been confusing. Louis Graves and his wife Mildred Moses are buried in a separate plot approximately twenty feet away.

2. The article closes with a reference to Mildred Moses opening a boarding house where the Carolina Inn is today. The implication is that she did this after Louis died in 1965, which was impossible because The Carolina Inn dates from much earlier. It is true that the Graves family once owned a house on the site of today's Carolina Inn, but this was in the late 19th century. The house belonged to the Ralph Henry Graves who died in 1889 and his wife Julia Hooper, who lived until 1944. She was a descendent of William Hooper, the signer of the Declaration of Independence mentioned in the article. I am unsure exactly when this house was sold by the Graves. It may have been right after Ralph Graves's death or somewhat later (at the time of the building of the Carolina Inn), but from the time Louis and Mildred were married, they lived in a different house, at the corner of Battle Lane and Hooper Lane. Both houses were often home to student boarders, a practice not uncommon in the eras before the provision of the extensive on-campus student housing we are used to today.