Harry N. Graves, lawyer, public servant, politician, and judge, was born at La Vernia, Texas, on April 4, 1877, the son of H. N. and Susan Graves. In 1884 the family moved to Georgetown, where he worked for the Georgetown Democrat for two years and then entered Southwestern University. Needing additional financial assistance, he went to work for the Williamson County Sun as assistant editor. He read law at night and served as a law-office stenographer. Graves was admitted to the bar in 1896, when he was nineteen years old. He practiced for a short time in Sherman, then returned to Georgetown, where he was elected city attorney in 1898. For the next thirty-five years he was associated in law practice with his brother-in-law, D. W. Wilcox. He served three terms as city attorney in Georgetown and three terms as county attorney of Williamson County. In the latter office he assisted district attorney Daniel J. Moody, Jr., in the nationally famous prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan in Williamson County.
Graves served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1929 to 1937. While in the House, he wrote the bill that established the Texas Highway Patrol in 1930 (see TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY). He also served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and, as chairman of the Graves Committee, he sponsored the Griffenhagen Survey, an extensive study of state administrative practices that advocated various reforms in the Griffenhagen Report. The Graves Committee embodied the findings of the survey in the Administrative Code and Higher Education Reorganization bills, which he sponsored in the House, but both bills died in the Senate. He was also a leading prohibitionist. He resigned from the legislature in October 1937 to accept appointment to the Court of Criminal Appeals. He served on the court until his retirement on January 1, 1955. He was elected presiding judge of the court for the last four years of his service on the bench.
In 1908 Graves married Dorthula Wilcox of Georgetown. He was a Methodist and served on the executive council of Southwestern University for many years. He died on December 3, 1957, and was buried in the State Cemetery in Austin.
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Austin American-Statesman, October 30, 1937, December 4, 1957. Texas Bar Journal, February 22, 1958. Texas Parade, July 1936. Texas Legislature, House Journal, 55th Session. Texas State Legislature, Senate Journal, 55th Session.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Criminal Law and District Attorneys
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Forrest E. Ward,
“Graves, Harry N.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 1, 1995