Title: Pastor, college president, writer, inventor
Birthdate: November 17, 1817
Death Date: December 21, 1888
Plot Location: Section 126, Lot 129

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Someone whose working life was a mix of several different occupations is often a person who  lived in several different places. Daniel’s journey was like that; his career path was not a straight line..

He started life on his family’s farm in north central Ohio. The tiny hamlet of Milan is best known as the place where Thomas Edison was born, 30 years after Daniel’s birth. Young Daniel wasn’t sure of his future but knew it wasn’t in farming. By the time he was 20, Oberlin Collegiate Institute had just started classes, and it was only 25 miles east of Milan. Known today as the liberal and secular Oberlin College, it was founded as a conservative Christian training school with a Department of Theology. That’s where Daniel wanted to be.

He graduated from the school in 1843, making two crucial choices in the months that followed. The banner year of 1844 saw him marrying Ursula Rachel Parker in LaGrange, Indiana. That was quickly followed by an invitation from Michigan Central College to be its first president.

While that sounds impressive, there were only five students that first year, meeting in a two-room deserted store in Spring Arbor, Michigan. But Daniel worked to see that number increase before he felt led in 1848 to pastor a Baptist church in Saco, Maine. Rachel had a son before they left and another son just after their move, but he died after three months. Daniel served in Maine for only 18 months before moving to New York City. 

He was the pastor there when the First Free Will Baptist Church was chartered in 1850. While there, four more children were born. The Grahams moved back to Maine in 1861 to serve a church in Portland for six years. During this period, Daniel was a founding trustee of Bates College, which was affiliated with the Free Will Baptists.

The family began a series of moves when Daniel went west to pastor a church in Chicago for two years, then east to a church in Massachusetts for two years. In 1871, he came back to his first employer. Michigan Central College had changed its name to Hillsdale College in 1855 when it moved about 20 miles south to the town of Hillsdale. 

Daniel’s term there was again for only four years, but in 1874 a fire ravaged the campus and he led the rebuilding effort. In a radical career twist, he left for Chicago in 1875 to work in the real estate business. He returned to pastoral work at a church in Massachusetts from 1879-1882. 

His last move was to Philadelphia, where he again was a real estate agent. Here, as in Chicago, it was merely a job while he engaged in other pursuits. He studied chemistry and was awarded 11 patents for inventions related to generating steam and vaporizing petroleum. For 14  years he was editor of the Baptist Quarterly Review.

Years earlier he had also written for the Morning Star, a Free Will Baptist publication advocating abolition of slavery. In 1863 he was awarded an honorary degree from Bowdoin College in Maine, probably because he spoke at a commencement program.

Daniel died from diabetes and was buried here on Christmas Eve, 1888 without an obituary notice. He was survived by his wife, a son, and his two youngest daughters. He was buried here because it was the last place he lived and none of his former residences could be really be called “home,” where he put down roots.

His son had remained in Chicago and was living in Kansas City when Daniel died. Rachel and her two married daughters were living in London in 1899 when she died, and she was buried there.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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