Thursday, 26 May 2016

'The old account was settled long ago"

Frank M Graham (1859-1931)
'The old account was settled long ago' is a popular gospel hymn that was written by Rev Frank Monford Graham (1859-1931), a Wesleyan Methodist minister in the United States of America.  He was a Scotch-Irish American with family roots in Donegal and Londonderry.

It was recorded back in the late 1920s and in more recent times has been performed by many others including Johnny Cash, the Cathedrals, the Statler Brothers and the Booth Brothers.  Nearer home, here in Ulster, it has been recorded by Rev William McCrea and by Live Issue.
There was a time on earth, when in the book of Heav’n
An old account was standing for sins yet unforgiv’n;
My name was at the top, and many things below,
I went unto the Keeper, and settled long ago.
Long ago (down on my knees), long ago (I settled it all),
Yes, the old account was settled long ago (Hallelujah!);
And the record’s clear today, for He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago.
The old account was large, and growing every day,
For I was always sinning, and never tried to pay;
But when I looked ahead, and saw such pain and woe,
I said that I would settle, I settled long ago.
When in that happy home, my Saviour’s home above,
I’ll sing redemption’s story, and praise Him for His love;
I’ll not forget that book, with pages white as snow,
Because I came and settled, and settled long ago.
O sinner, trust the Lord, be cleansed of all your sin,
For thus He hath provided for you to enter in;
And then if you should live a hundred years below,
Up there you’ll not regret it, you settled long ago.
When He was on the cross at Calvary, Jesus said 'It is finished' (John 19:30).  The Greek word is telelestai and it has been found written on ancient receipts where it means 'paid in full'.  The debt of my sin was paid by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary and I can experience His redeeming love by grace through faith.  He call us to repent of our sin and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Frank M Graham was born on 1 March 1859 in Birmingham, Illinois, and was the son of David Graham and his wife Lucinda Miller.  He became an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, serving as District Superintendent in northern Georgia from around 1895 to about 1915.

In 1899 he held a revival at Mayo, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, where the Graham Chapel Wesleyan Church was later named in his honour.

He was also a song evangelist who helped to establish and expand the 'holiness movement' in the South and especially in South Carolina and Georgia and in 1906 he was one of the founders of the Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute (now Southern Wesleyan University) at Central, South Carolina.

Frank Graham wrote many hymns and hymn tunes and his hymnal Songs for Jesus went through at least six editions.  These books were particularly produced for gospel missions and gospel meetings, as can be seen in the subtitle 'The Book You Need For Revivals'.

Altogether Graham may have written as many as one hundred gospel songs and hymns but the best known, by far, is 'The old account'.  He believed that the songs he wrote were gifts from God and refused to copyright any of them so that everyone could freely use them.

He wrote 'The old account was settled' in 1902 at the Oliver Gospel Mission in Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina.  The mission had been opened in 1888 and still continues its work today.

Frank Graham died on 25 August 1931 at Greensboro in Georgia and was buried in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.  There his memorial stone describes him as 'THE HOLINESS SINGER AND PREACHER'.

The Graham family were Scotch-Irish and he had ancestral root in Ulster and beyond that in Scotland.  We know something of the family from a History of the Graham Family, which was written by David Graham and published by him in 1899.  He was a great-grandson of John Graham, the father of the Graham family in Virginia, and he wrote:
The Grahams, like many of the early settlers of the Valley of Virginia, were of Scotch-Irish descent and came from counties Donegal and Londonderry, in the northern part of Ireland.  The term Scotch-Irish does not necessarily mean a blending of blood between the Scotch and Irish nations but implies the Scotch who emigrated from Scotland and settled in Ireland.  during the years beginning shortly after the middle of the seventeenth century, there was a large emigration from Scotland to Ireland, having been brought about on account of religious persecutions the Scotch received at home.
It seems clear that the Graham family came from counties Donegal and Londonderry but the precise details of the early family history are somewhat unclear.and there are some differences between the version given by David Graham in 1899 in his history of the Graham family and the version given by James Miller in 1906 in his history of Summers County.  They are agreed that the Graham family came from north-west Ulster but on other matters to the early history there are some differences.

John Graham was the first of the line to settle in America.  According to The History of Summers County WV, written by James Miller in 1906:
John Graham, the senior, in this country, had a family of four sons and five daughters.  His oldest son's name was Lanty [Lancelot]; the other three sons were John James and Robert.  His will was probated in Augusta County, Virginia, on the 19th day of November, 1771.
However in his history of the Graham family, written in 1899, David Graham stated:
The tradition of the branch of the family to which Col. James Graham belonged is incomplete, but from all the facts gathered, James was born in Ireland in county Donegal. His father was a brother of John Graham, Sr., who settled on the Calf Pasture river. Whether or not the father of James Graham, Sr., ever moved to this country is not now known.
Colonel James Graham (1741-1813), was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on 3 January 1741 and he married his cousin, Florence Graham, in Monroe, West Virginia, on 17 February 1762.  According to James Miller:
James Graham, the son of said John Graham, moved to Greenbrier County, and settled in what is now this Summers County, just across the river opposite where the village of Lowell now stands on the Chesepeake & Ohio Railroad. ... James Graham was a prominent citizen in the affairs of this region; was created a colonel of militia under the laws then existing; assisted in the defence of Fort Donally when attacked by the Indians of Greenbrier County, and his name is largely connected with public affairs during his long life.
Colonel James Graham house
James Graham was the first settler at what became Lowell and this was the first settlement in what is now Summers County.  He arrived in 1770 and between 1770 and 1772 he built a three-storey log house, which served as a home for the family and also a fortress to protect the settlers from the danger of Indian attacks.  The house is currently owned by the Graham House Preservation Society, who operate it as a museum, and in 1976 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Nearby is the Old Graham Cemetery, where members of the family were buried.

In 1777 a party of Indians attacked the Graham home.  They killed John Graham, one of the sons, a neighbour called McDonald and a young boy as well as kidnapping Colonel Graham's daughter Elizabeth.  She was held by the Indians until 1785 when the family were finally able to ransom her.

James and Florence Graham were the parents of Lieutenant David Graham (1772-1818).  He was born in Monroe County, West Virginia on 24 March 1772 and was made a lieutenant of one of the companies of the 66th Virginia Regiment.  He served several terms in the legislature of Virginia and was also sheriff of his county.  Graham was a surveyor and surveyed some of the largest tracts of land in Kentucky and Virginia.  He married Mary 'Polly' Stodghill in Monroe County on 24 December 1807 and they had seven children of whom the fourth was David.

Major David Graham (1810-1879) received his early education in the common schools of Virginia and then at the age of twenty-three he moved to Rushville, Schuyler County, Illinois.  In the autumn of 1834 he moved on to the township of Birmingham, also in Schuyler County, and there he built a grist mill and a saw mill.  He did more than any other man to develop the township and accumulated a fortune but unfortunately he lost much of it.  He was married in January 1835 to his first wife and they had five children but she died on 14 November 1852.  That was the year in which he first church was erected in the township and it was built in the village by the Protestant Methodists.  David Graham married his second wife, Lucinda Miller (1827-1877), in Adams County, Illinois, on 4 April 1855 and they were the parents of Frank M Graham, who wrote 'The old account was settled'.

When David Graham (1821-1914) published his History of the Graham Family, he wrote in the preface: 'The writer being in his 79th year and one of the few living great-grandchildren of John Graham Sr. the founder of this branch of the Graham family in this country.'  He also identified the family as Scotch-Irish with family roots in Ulster.  Since this David Graham was a close relative of Frank M Graham it is clear that this was the common understanding of the family and it is almost certain that Frank would have known of his Ulster-Scots background.

Howard F Dyson (ed), Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County: 1908
David Graham, History of the Graham Family: 1899
James Miller, The History of Summers County WV: 1906
Biographies of Old Schuyler County Settlers: 1876

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