Remembering a Founding Father


The Indiana Archives and Records Administration has put together a plan to commemorate the 43 men who gathered 200 years ago to vote for statehood and begin drafting the state’s first constitution.

That project will begin in Noblesville on Thursday and move to Carmel and Laconia on Friday before making its way to Bloomington on Saturday morning and the cemetery at Driftwood Christian Church near Vallonia later that day.

The ceremony is at 1:30 p.m. at church cemetery on State Road 135 south of Vallonia.

That cemetery is the final resting place of William Graham, who is one of the state’s so-called “Founding Fathers.” That’s the group who met June 10, 1816, at Corydon and made the decision to pursue statehood.

Graham and the other 42 men played a significant role in the formation of Indiana, state archivist Jim Corridan said.

“William Graham helped shape Indiana, as his contributions were significant to Indiana’s birth and development,” he said.

Corridan said the ceremony, open to the public, is expected to last about 45 minutes, and some official matters, including the Pledge of Allegiance and some type of flag ceremony, will be conducted.

He then will provide some history about Graham and his life before, during and after the push for statehood.

There will be additional discussion about the collective contribution of the 43 delegates to the formation of the state, Corridan said.

The Indiana Archives and Records Administration collects and maintains records of historical value from all branches of Indiana state and local government, and as such has always known who the founding fathers were.

But little research has ever been done on their lives and their contributions and accomplishments individually and as a group to the state until the past 2½ years, Corridan said.

There also will be a brief ceremony to place flowers on Graham’s grave, and the hope is some family members may still live in the area and step forward to participate in that ceremony, Corridan said.

Graham moved from Kentucky and settled on a farm next to the church in 1811, according to “Early History of Jackson County” compiled by H.W. Chadwick and published in 1928.

After serving on the Constitutional Convention in June 1816, Graham served in the legislature as a state representative from 1816 to 1821. He was speaker of the House in 1820-21 and a member of the state Senate from 1821 to 1833, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

A member of the Whig Party, Graham served one term as a U.S. Congressman from 1837 to 1839. He lost a bid for re-election in 1838 and returned to farming.

The congressional directory also lists Graham’s date of birth as March 16, 1782, and states he was born while at sea. He and his parents first settled at Harrodsburg in Mercer County, Kentucky.

Graham died Aug. 17, 1858, and was buried in the cemetery of Jackson County’s first church.

Graham’s family donated the original half-acre of land for the church, and he served as a trustee there, according to a historical marker erected by the church.

The remaining constitutional delegates buried in Indiana will be commemorated through June 29. On that day, Jonathan Jennings will be remembered at Charlestown Cemetery.

Gov. Mike Pence will speak at the event memorializing Jennings, who was the state’s first governor.

For a calendar of events, visit

The IARA events honoring the state’s founders are an officially endorsed bicentennial Legacy Project of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

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What: Ceremony to remember William Graham, one of the state’s 43 Founding Fathers

Where: Driftwood Christian Church Cemetery, 5564 S. State Road 135, Vallonia

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday



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