Oliver D. Graves,
Fifth Mayor of Vineland
Oliver D. Graves was born in Hebron, Conn., August, 1, 1817. He attended the schools of his native town, and in addition had the advantages of a private school at Lebanon for two years.
He learned the trade of cabinet maker and settled in Norwich. He married Elizabeth H. Fuller of Lebanon, June 19, 1843. After her death he married for his second wife Caroline T. Burchard, May 3, 1854. He secured an appointment as Mail Agent between Norwich and Worcester, Mass., January 20, 1854, a position he held for about seven and a half years. On losing his position through the change of administration, he thought seriously of going to California, but before deciding visited newly advertised settlement of Vineland, arriving here on the 17th of April 1862.
The town plot was then a wilderness with but one or two buildings. After looking over the place he went to Hammonton, but was not so well pleased with the prospect. From there he went to Carthage, New York, where his wife was visiting her mother. She returned with him to Vineland, May 3rd. For lack of accommodations they were obliged to go to Millville.
On the 5th of May Mr. Graves selacted two and a half acres, on what Mr. Landis told him was the western boundary of the town plot, for which he paid one half down $37.50. On being surveyed the next day the land was found to be located on the southwest corner of Landis Avenue and Third Street, (which was within the town plot.) Mr. Landis having made the mistake kept his agreement with Mr. Graves who profited thereby. He soon had a cellar dug and a house built, the third on the town plot. This was sold to Mrs. George Pearson. In 1864 he built on the southwest corner of Landis Avenue and Second Street, this house he soon sold and in 1865 built the house which became his permanent home on Landis Avenue. The following years he built two other houses.
Mr. Graves took an active part in nearly every movement for the improvement of Vineland, In politics, he was a Democrat and held the offices of Councilman, Justice of the Peace and in 1885 was elected Mayor of Vineland. He was connected with the Episcopal Church from the organization, the first Sunday School being held at his house.
Mr. Graves was by nature of a genial, cheerful disposition, always ready to do a good turn. He had a good memory and was well posted concerning events in the history of Vineland, having seen the place grow from a wilderness to a prosperous and rapidly advancing town.