Edwin Smith Graham, a pioneer and founder of Graham, the son of Gen. Robert and Roxana (Winchell) Graham, was born on February 15, 1831, in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his younger brother, Gustavus Adolphus, received their early schooling in Rockhaven and became involved with their father's cotton business and the development of the Glasco oilfield in Kentucky. Edwin married Addie Mary Kintner in 1865. They had five children.
After the Civil War the Graham brothers became affiliated with the Texas Emigration and Land Company of Louisville. During a prospecting trip to Texas they bought from the Peters colony 125,000 acres of land in Young County at seventeen cents an acre. They also purchased Capt. A. B. Gant's salt works on Salt Creek for $5,000 and invested another $2,000 in new equipment. In 1872 they established the town of Graham and set up the Graham Land Office. Subsequently they became active in the reorganization of Young County and the designation of the town named for them as its seat. Although the salt plant produced and bagged some 2,500 pounds of salt daily, the cost of exporting it proved more expensive than the product itself; after a few years the plant was closed, and the Graham brothers devoted their efforts to real estate and civic improvements.
Throughout the 1870s they divided their time between Texas and their families back north, but in 1879, with the town flourishing, they moved their wives and children to Graham permanently. Edwin and Addie lived there until 1891, then moved to Spokane, Washington, where Graham died on May 7, 1899. His body was brought back to Graham for burial. Addie moved back to Graham and became a leading civic booster and philanthropist. In 1921, with her son Malcolm, she set up the Graham Foundation as a continuing fund for the city's growth and improvement; before she died in 1930 she was responsible for the establishment of the Eden Home for the aged.