Tuesday, October 20, 2015

F. M. Graham, songwriter

Frank Monford Graham was born March 1, 1859 in Birmingham, Schuyler County, Illinois, son of David Graham and Lucinda Miller. He is found in Illinois in the 1880 census and Georgia in 1910. Graham was in or around Spartanburg County, South Carolina by 1899. He held a revival at Mayo that year, where Graham Chapel Wesleyan Church was later named for him. His future wife was living and teaching in Spartanburg County in 1900, according to the Federal Census. Graham was living in Pelzer, a town in Anderson County, South Carolina, in 1902 when he published Songs for Jesus. He was still in South Carolina 1903 to 1905, when his children were born there. He was apparently in Greene County, Georgia by 1906 (when Songs for Jesus, No 1 and No 2 Combined was published) and by 1910 he and his family are listed in the census. That year he was at Caldwell, which is also listed as his residence in 1920. In 1930 his residence is listed as Militia District 141, Greene County, Georgia.

Graham married Mary Ella Roof of South Carolina probably around 1902. Their son Herbert Roof Graham was born in 1903 and daughter Edith M. Graham in 1905. Frank Monford Graham died August 25, 1931 in Greensboro, Georgia and is buried at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Greensboro, Greene County, Georgia. His tombstone is inscribed “The Holiness Singer and Preacher.” His wife Ella and son Herbert are also buried there. What happened to Edith is presently unknown.

Frank M. Graham was a Wesleyan Methodist pastor, as well as a singer, songwriter and evangelist. says that he served as District Superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in northern Georgia from around 1895 to about 1915, and that in 1906 he was one of the founders of the Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute (now Southern Wesleyan University) at Central, Pickens County, South Carolina. In 1907 he served as president the North Georgia Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and served the Wesley Chapel Circuit -- Wesley Chapel, Rebecca and Winder churches (Proceedings of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection, November, 1907 pp. 2-4, 10).

Graham was a prolific composer, writing possibly as many as 100 songs. His most popular by far is “The Old Account (was settled long ago)”. He wrote two stanzas for the song “Better Farther On” -- which song continues in use in various -- including being recorded by the Carter Family. “Don't Grieve Your Mother” was published in the J. L. White editions of The Sacred Harp (1909-1911) and is still sung today. Many will recognize the words of his prohibition tune “Jim and Me”.

The pail that holds the milk today, he used to fill with beer

But he's not spent a cent for drink in now almost a year;
Just look into the cupboard, sir, there's sugar, flour and tea,
That's what our God has done for us -- has done for Jim and me.

Graham published at least eight editions of Songs for Jesus, the first being a hymn book without music. These books were particularly conceived for revivals and gospel meetings, as seen in his subtitle “The Book You Need for Revivals.” His tunes appear in many other song books as well. One commenter stated that Graham believed his songs were gifts from God, and therefore did not copyright any of his work so others could use them.

Books compiled by Frank Monford Graham

  • Songs for Jesus (words only) Before 1902
  • Songs for Jesus: the Book You Need for Revivals, Pelzer, SC: Frank M. Graham, Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong & Fillmore, 1902
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 2, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong Printing Company, circa 1905
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 1 and No. 2 combined, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham; Cincinnati, OH: Armstrong Printing Company, 1906
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 3, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1910
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 4, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1911
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 5 Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, 1914
  • Songs for Jesus, No. 6, Greensboro, GA: Frank M. Graham, after 1914

A picture of the Graham family can be found HERE

* Graham does not take credit for these words in Songs for Jesus. Some sources credit them to Merritt A. Stipp. 
** It is my (unproven) assumption that Graham traveled south to help reestablish the Wesleyan Church there.

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