Contra Costa County












AMOS M. GRAVES.  It is not a matter of wonder that Amos M. Graves has succeeded in his agricultural operations in Contra Costa county, for since his location here, in October, 1865, he has made a complete and thorough study of the conditions of climate and soil as adapted to certain crops.  For nearly forty years he has lived upon the property where he now makes his home, bringing the land from nature to the highly developed state which places his ranch in the front ranks of those that do credit to the energy and ability of the farmers of Contra Costa county.  Born in Rochester, Monroe county, N.Y., April 10, 1841, he is the son of Martin A. and Lusetta (Daily) Graves, both of whom spent their last days among the pleasant scenes of their son’s California home, the father dying at the age of sixty years, while the mother lived to be seventy-seven.


Reared and educated in his native state, Amos M. Graves there enlisted July 8, 1862, in Company G, One Hundred and Eighth New York Volunteer Infantry, serving three and a half years.  Although wounded in the leg, arm and hand at the Battle of Bristow Station, a sturdy constitution enabled him to recover quickly, and upon his discharge he came at once to California, having made up his mind to settle in this state.  After looking about for a desirable location, he finally bought a quarter-section of government land in Contra Costa county, upon which he has since made his home.  His first improvement on the place was a cabin 12x12 feet in dimensions, the lumber for which cost him $50 per thousand.  He quickly discovered that he had made a wise purchase in one way, at least, for that winter was one in which the violent rains did a great amount of damage to the lowlands, and his land lay higher and thus escaped.  The following season he put in the first crop of barley ever raised in that section.  Many of the farmers about advised him not to do so, saying that he could not raise anything there.  Always self-reliant and dependent upon his own judgment, Mr. Graves persisted in his efforts and matured a crop which won for him the admiration of those who witnessed his efforts.  He continued to depend upon himself, and in the face of every obstacle developed his property and won a position among the successful agriculturists of the community.  His ambition has been limitless, but his ability has kept pace with it and brought him splendid financial returns.  He set out the first almond trees of the valley, and to-day has twenty acres of orchard and twenty acres of vineyard, while he has bought ten acres adjoining his property, which he devotes to almonds.  The remainder of his ranch is given over to the cultivation of hay and grain.  In time he added to the value of his property by the erection of a fine house and barns.  Everything about the place bespeaks the thrift of the owner, while the quality of the products are an evidence of the study which he has put into the accomplishment of his plans.


In 1876 Mr. Graves married Elizabeth Comrie, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a woman of rare qualities of heart and mind.  Of this union one daughter, Elizabeth, was born.  In his fraternal relations Mr. Graves is a member and past grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a veteran of the order.  Both himself and wife are identified with the Rebekahs.





[Inserted by D. Toole]




According to Amos M. Graves’ Pension record at [attached], Amos M. Graves died December 20, 1906.  I find no obituary for him or his wife [Bessie] who died in 1914.


History of Contra Costa County, California, Including its Geography, Geology, Topography, Climatography and Description; Together with A Record of the Mexican Grants; The Bear Flag War; The Mount Diablo Coal Fields; The Early History and Settlement, Compiled From the Most Authentic Sources; The Names of Original Spanish and Mexican Pioneers; Full Legislative History of the County; Separate History of Each Township, Showing the Advance in Population and Agriculture; also, Incidents of Pioneer Life; and Biographical Sketches of Early and Prominent Settlers and Representative Men; and of its Towns, Villages, Churches, Secret Societies, Etc..  Illustrated.  San Francisco: W. A. Slocum & Co. Publishers. 1882;, P568

Amos M. Graves – The subject of this sketch is a native of Monroe county, New York, where he was born April 10, 1841.  July 8, 1862, at his country’s call, Mr. Graves enlisted in Company G, One Hundred and Eighth New York Volunteer Infantry, and served his full time of three years.  He now bears a memento of his service in the loss of one of his index fingers.  On his return home, he started with his mother via the Isthmus of Panama for the Pacific States, and arrived in San Francisco October 22, 1865.  His father having preceded him to California, the subject of our memoir first found employment on the river steamers as engineer, which he followed some five years, at the end of which time, he joined his mother, after the death of his father, on his ranch of one hundred and sixty acres, two miles east of Antioch, where he is now engaged in general farming, and respected by all who know him.  Mr. Graves was married in Martinez, October 23, 1876, to Miss Elizabeth Comrie, a native of Scotland.  By this union they have one daughter.


1887 Sep 17, San Francisco Bulletin, P5, San Francisco, California

Agricultural Notes


What Mission Grapes are Good For – Food for Making Eggs – Damage Done by the Late Rain – Drying Grapes


Amos Graves this week sent to the Board of Trade rooms a Zinfandel grape vine, which grew on his place one mile east of Antioch, without irrigation, and the first year’s growth of which was eaten down by rabbits.  The weight of the vine with the fruit remaining upon it was fifty-three pounds.  The grapes were in large compact clusters. – Antioch Ledger.






Transcribed by Donna Toole.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Page 996. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016  Donna Toole.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library