In 1830, he joined a hunting and trapping party at Fort Smith, Arkansas that included George Nidever. Graham attended the Rendezvous at Pierre's Hole and took part in the battle of Pierre's Hole, in present day Idaho.
From there, Graham's path to California is unclear. He may have joined Joseph R. Walker's party,  or joined one of the groups led by Ewing Young. His son later claimed that Graham came by way of Oregon, while his daughter said he took a southern route through Chihuahua, Mexico.
In 1836, he led a group of American and European immigrants who supported Juan Bautista Alvarado and José Castro in a coup against Mexican Governor Nicolás Gutiérrez. Later, Alvarado turned against Graham and had him arrested, among a group of about 100 foreigners, in 1840. This action led to a diplomatic crisis, involving Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom, that became known as the "Graham Affair". With the help of a recent arrival in Monterey, Thomas J. Farnham, Graham and the others were released. Farnham later wrote a romanticized account of these events.
Santa Cruz region
Although not a Mexican citizen, Graham was able to purchase the Rancho Zayante land by proxy through his fellow frontiersman Joseph Majors, owner of the adjacent Rancho San Agustin. Other former mountain men and Graham associates were also at Zayante, including Job Francis Dye, who later dictated a memoir including some adventures he shared with Graham.
Early in 1846, a U.S. Army exploring mission led by John C. Fremont stopped at Graham's Zayante community. Mexican authorities feared that Fremont's hidden purpose was to stir up anti-government sentiments among the Americans there, and Fremont was soon forced to leave California for Oregon. He returned later in the year, after the Mexican-American War began, to recruit volunteers for the California Battalion. Graham himself, at age 46, did not volunteer.
In 1851, Graham purchased Rancho Punta del Año Nuevo, on the coast north of Santa Cruz. Part of Graham Hill Road, now a major route between Felton and Santa Cruz, was built by Graham to transport his timber to the coast for shipment.
Isaac Graham died in 1863, and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Nunis, Doyce Blackman. The Trials of Isaac Graham, Dawson's Book Shop, 1967. OCLC: 1016212.
- Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of the Pacific States of North America, Vol. XVI: California, Vol. IV: 1840-1845.; The History Company, San Francisco; 1886. (retrieved 4 Mar 2010).
- Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard
- Captain Isaac Graham.
- Santacruzmah.org: "Job F. Dye — Biography", Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 1, 1869.
- Evergreen Cemetery, Find-a-Grave
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