The Graves Family:
Preservers of Ancient History
As mentioned in our first installment of The Magical History Tour, the Graves family – particularly Dexter and his son, Henry – was instrumental in protecting the few remaining An ancient, Magic-using race who settled on Earth billions of years ago, when it was known as Vaal'baraXahl'thari landmarks still in existence today. Their history is incomplete and scattered, and it’s unfortunate that their names are not more well-known today, considering the important role they played in protecting a small piece of our lost Magical history. So, what better tribute could we pay than to honor their legacy and attempt to assemble these snippets of their lives into a more complete history.
Born in 1789 to Charles Graves and Lucy Brown, Dexter Graves is most well-known for his efforts in leading thirteen families from Ohio to the land that would later be known as Chicago in 1831, becoming one of the first settlers of the area. Many articles simply state that he saw potential for wealth and a good life for his family in the untamed land. However, we have found evidence that, years before his journey to Chicago, he had spent much of his life seeking out Xahl’thari artifacts and landmarks, and his tireless search finally led him there.
Dexter’s son, Henry, was just ten years old when the Graves family embarked on that perilous journey, and from the few glimpses we witnessed through the Device used by the Vaal'bara Historical Society to witness events throughout timeTemploscope - campfires remaining lit despite heavy rain and snow, small patches of vegetation sprouting in otherwise barren soil – it would seem the only reason they and the other families survived was due to some Magical intervention on Dexter’s part. When the Graves and their fellow settlers finally arrived, they found a cluster of log cabins built on sandy, marshy ground lined up along the south branch of the Chicago River. It wasn’t the most hospitable land, but Dexter knew there was far more hiding beneath its soil than his human companions could even imagine…
Despite our wealth of historical resources, both online and in Vael’ehn’s library, we were unable to find much detail about Dexter’s early life, or that of his parents, and we’re unfortunately left to speculate on the ancestry and origins of the Graves family. Whether because of our limited connection to them, or perhaps due to interference in the timeways – implying they were not originally of this time – the Temploscope could only provide brief glimpses into his past. However, there is no doubt that Dexter Graves was of Xahl’thari origin, and appeared to be more adept at channeling his inherent Magical ties than many modern Xahl’thari descendants. Considering his manipulation of the natural world during their travels from Ohio to Chicago, it would seem he had an especially strong tie to Elemental Magic…
Dexter appears to have kept a relatively low profile during the remainder of his life, using Magic only sparingly to avoid suspicion from his fellow neighbors. Given the tight-knit nature of the early settlement, any deviation from the norm would have been noticed immediately, and the family alienated from the only community they knew in this strange new land. A tavern owner back in Ashtabula, Ohio, Dexter built the hamlet's first frame home and opened a hotel called the Mansion House on Lake Street near what would soon become Dearborn Street. He prospered, and seemed to live a good life with his wife and five children, but he continued his search for those few Xahl’thari remnants he knew lay somewhere in the area. Unfortunately, we’re still searching the Temploscope for more detail on the various locations and specific artifacts he may have found. However, it does appear that he chose the location of his hotel for its importance to Xahl’thari history, though we’re unable to confirm as of yet specifically what lay in this location.
Upon his death, and that of two of his daughters, in 1844, Dexter Graves left behind a comfortable financial legacy to his widow and daughter Louisa, to be overseen by his two sons Lorin and Henry, presumably to finance their continued search for Xahl’thari locations of importance. As with the rest of the Graves family, little could be found regarding the lives of Dexter’s children, apart from Henry Graves, of course.
Shortly after his father’s death, Henry built a small cottage for himself on 33rd Street near what is now known as Cottage Grove, named so by Henry himself. At the time, the land he settled on would have been little more than dunes on a beach, but with his Xahl’thari heritage, and likely a similar affinity for Elemental Magic, he was able to transform the land into something a bit more hospitable. Being particularly fond of nature and the elements, Henry loved the outdoors and had a soft spot for horses, so, using some of the wealth acquired through his father’s estate, he purchased over 400 acres of land to raise a line of thoroughbred race horses. He founded the Garden City Race Track around the same time, in 1854 and, as is everything surrounding the Graves family, there is surprisingly little information remaining regarding the race track’s history, operation, or dismantling.
Through his father’s legacy and his own hard work, Henry Graves became one of the richest men in Chicago. Because of this vast wealth, he was able to carry out his family’s mission of protecting the few Xahl’thari landmarks remaining in our modern age – at least, those he was able to find during his lifetime. Through the creation of various parks, cemeteries, and monuments dotting Chicago, he sought not only to protect these historic areas from tampering by humans, but to commemorate them with something beautiful and timeless. While we modern humans may not know of the secrets hiding beneath these sacred areas, we feel drawn to them nevertheless, seeking out that connection we still feel with whatever vestigial ties to Magic remain.
It is unfortunate that Henry Graves never had children, for we know in our heart they would have continued his mission and sought out more of our lost Xahl’thari history, but we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Graves family in protecting those few remnants of Xahl'thari origin. And, of course, I suppose we have to thank Varek’ehn as well, for without his actions - however nefarious they may have been - we would have never found the lost city of the Lumynar, or learned the true history of this family of historical preservationists. To be honest, the Society likely wouldn't exist at all. So, if you're reading this, Varek - which I'm sure you are - I suppose we owe you a thanks for your... contributions. However, do not take this sentiment as forgiveness or a condoning of your actions...