Reverend Barzillai Graves was born 12 December 1759 in Caswell County, and died 14 July 1827 in Caswell County. On April 10, 1783, he married Ursula Wright, daughter of William Wright and granddaughter of John Wright. Ursula Wright was born 28 (or 26) April 1755 and died 27 November 1843. Barzillai lived and died in Caswell County, North Carolina, about three miles from Yanceyville. He was the most distinguished Baptist clergyman of his time in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. He served in the North Carolina Senate in 1814 and 1815 and in the North Carolina House of Commons from 1818 to 1822. He was a taxpayer in Gloucester District of Caswell County, North Carolina in 1790.
Reverend Barzillai Graves and Ursula Wright had the following children:
- Solomon Graves, born 14 February 1784, married Mary Cleveland Franklin, 10 April 1817, died 28 April 1861
- Jeremiah Graves, born 4 Jan. 1786, married Delilah S. Lea, 14 March 1816, died 23 September 1868
- Isabella Graves, born 18 March 1788, married Hosea McNeill, 18 March 1807, died. 26 December 1861
- Barzillai Graves, Jr., born 17 October 1790, never married, died 6 December 1828
- Elizabeth ("Betsey") Graves, born 2 March 1793, married James Lea, died 1854.
- Margarette (or Margaret) Graves, born 3 July 1795, married (1) William Lipscomb, married (2) J. V. Cross, died 1853
- Mary Graves, born 15 September 1798, married General Thomas Williams Graves, 17 July 1828, died 24 August 1875
Reverend Barzillai Graves is a direct descendant of the famous Captain Thomas Graves, who was one of the charter members and original shareholders of the Virginia Company of London that in 1607 established Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Captain Thomas Graves arrived in Jamestown in October 1608, having sailed on the ship Mary and Margaret with Captain Newport's second supply mission. Captain Thomas Graves was a member of the first legislative assembly in America, the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was the first person with the surname Graves to arrive in what became the United States and is the progenitor of all the Graves families in Caswell County. Part of the Graves family moved to Caswell County around 1750 (John Graves, Sr., father of Reverend Barzillai Graves).
One sister of Reverend Barzillai Graves, Ann Graves, married Bartlett Yancey, Sr., and one of their children was Bartlett Yancey, Jr., for whom many believe the town of Yanceyville was named. Another sister, Mary Graves, married John Kerr, head of the distinguished Kerr family in Yanceyville. A brother of Reverend Barzillai Graves, John Herndon Graves, was a Captain in the Revolutionary War and was wounded at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Another brother, Solomon Graves, served in the North Carolina House of Commons for many years. And, another brother, Azariah Graves, was in 1810 commissioned Brigadier General of the North Carolina Militia. A son of Reverend Barzillai Graves, Jeremiah Graves, built the Dongola mansion in Yanceyville, now operated by Carolina Pinnacle Studios.