Lindsey Graham Family History
Lindsey Olin Graham was born on July 9th, 1955 to Florence (FJ) and Millie Graham at Central in Pickens county, South Carolina. His parents ran a combination restaurant-bar-liquor store-pool hall in this small town. At the age of twelve Lindsey was working at the downstairs pool hall, racking tables to help with their financial struggles. The family later moved from the cramped room behind their business into a trailer.
In 1976 his mother died from Hodgkin’s disease, soon to be followed by his father’s fatal heart attack. At that time he was a senior at the University of South Carolina (he would become the first member of his family to graduate from college). His parents gone, he saw that his younger sister Darline was taken in by a childless uncle and aunt in nearby Seneca.
After obtaining his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1981, Lindsey joined the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General staff, spending four years as a prosecutor and defense attorney in Europe. He recalled his Air Force tour as terrific fun for a young bachelor swinging his way through Paris and Rome. He returned home to a more sedate life of a small-town trial lawyer in Seneca amid the cotton mills of western South Carolina.
A Republican, he was elected to the US Congress in 1994 and became the US Senator for South Carolina in 2003. He was a friend and advisor to Donald Trump after he won the 2016 Presidential election. However, when Trump lost in 2020, he did not line up with the Trump supporters to overturn the election results.
Grahams in Georgia and South Carolina
While Lindsey may extol the virtues of his native South Carolina where he grew up, his family roots are across the state line in Georgia.
His ancestor William Graham – sometimes spelt Grayham by local clerks – came with his brother Joseph to Madison county, Georgia from Virginia in the early 1800’s. William’s descendants settled in Elbert county, another rural county of NE Georgia.
The Grahams must have been close to the Vaughns (also originally from Virginia) as there were marriages between the two families a generation apart – William Graham to Elizabeth Vaughn in 1841 and James Graham to Mary Vaughn in 1880. Curiously, Elizabeth who died in 1904 outlived Mary by four years. Otherwise the Grahams have left little record in Elbert county.
Florence James Graham (better known as FJ) was born in Elbert county in 1908. His mother died when he was seven. His father Lindsey then remarried and later crossed the state line into Anderson county, South Carolina, starting up a cafe in Seneca. He died in 1950, five years before the birth of his grandson Lindsey.
FJ became the proprietor of the oddly named Sanitary Cafe, a combination restaurant-bar-liquor store-pool hall in Central, Pickens county (population of 2,000). His wife Millie cooked hamburgers and served Cokes behind the counter while FJ generally presided over things. A barrel-chested man with a crew cut and a dry wit, he was known around town as “the Dude.”
Reader Feedback: Is Senator Lindsey Graham related to the 18th century Lieutenant Governor John Graham of Georgia? I’m researching American Revolutionary War for a musical that I’m composing. John Watts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lindsey Graham’s Family Tree
- William Graham (1785-1838) from Virginia
- – William P. Graham (1817-1884)
- William P. (Billy) Graham from Georgia m. Elizabeth Vaughn (1818-1904) in 1841
- – James P. Graham (b. 1849)
- James P. Graham from Georgia m. Mary Vaughn (1852-1900) in 1880
- – John Bunyan Graham (1883-1960) m. Martha Flemming
- – Lindsey Vaughn Graham (1888-1950)
- – Beulah Graham (b. 1890) m. Elisha Van Guest
- – Addie Graham (1893-1963) m. James Drake
- Lindsey Vaughn Graham from Georgia m. Estee Maddox (1885-1915); rem. Etta Moore
- – Cleo Graham (1906-1965) m. Macie Price
- – Florence (FJ) Graham (1908-1977)
- – JP Graham (1914-1979) m. Inez Dickert
- – Mildred Graham (b. 1926) m. Broadus Walters
- Florence James (FJ) Graham from Georgia m. Millie Walters (1925-1976)
- – Lindsey Graham (b. 1955), unmarried
- – Darline Graham (b. 1963) m. Larry Nordone
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