52 Ancestors #2: Henry Graff (1863-1941)


Henry Graff – 1885
“Wedding portrait”

Henry Graff was born May 1, 1863 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the second child – and second son – born to George Gerhard & Catherine Graff. George had emigrated from Baden, Germany in 1848 and married Catherine in the United States.  He and his brother Conrad, set up a carriage making business.

Henry and his brothers George and William worked in their family business. Each son learned a particular trade – painting, harness-making, blacksmithing, woodworking, etc.

According to the 1880 Baltimore census, Henry was an apprentice blacksmith.

Snip of 1880 Baltimore Census

Snip of 1880 Baltimore Census

We know from family stories that Henry was a bit of a black sheep – but it wasn’t until two months ago, in November 2012, that we realized just how MUCH of a black sheep he was.  We didn’t know about his first marriage…

PA Allegheny, 1875-1885 Minister Marriage Returns Anna A. Lee 16, married Henry Graf 23, on 31 JUL 1884 in Pittsburgh PA. Henry was a blacksmith. He was born in Baltimore MD resided at Station Street 19th Ward. Annie was born in Pittsburg and resided at Station Street 19th Ward. The They were married by J.S. Wright in a Baptist church. The minister resided in the 20th Ward. 

Nine days after the wedding, Henry abandoned Anna – and their daughter.  Lillian Ann Graf was born March 2, 1884.

Lillian Ann Graff as a young woman

Lillian Ann Graff as a young woman

PA Allegheny, Divorce Records
Annie A. Graf: I am in 21 year. Live at 6025 Station Street E. End. Have lived in the East End Pittsburgh most all my life was married to Henry Graf the respondent 31 JUL 1884 at the residence of Rev. R——-, Pittsburg. Mr. and Mrs. Lusk were present at my marriage-they are my aunt and uncle. I have one child-Lillie A. Graf. She is three years old. Mr. Graf deserted me on the 10 AUG 1884. He has not contributed one cent to the support of either myself or child since that time. I have heard that he is at present in New York. I have not seen or heard from him since 9 AUG 1884. He did not say a word to me before he left. I do not know why he left-I gave him no cause for deserting me.

We also know that Henry went to Ohio – and met Ellanora Boelling. They were married there on January 11, 1885 in Hamilton County and shortly after moved to Manhattan, New York.

Ellanora Boelling Graff 1885 "Wedding Portrait"

Ellanora Boelling Graff
1885 “Wedding Portrait

On September 20, 1885, twins Goldie & Hanna were born to Ella and Henry. They only lived five years – it is said they had enlarged heads and were developmentally disabled.

His divorce from Anna Lee Graf was not official until 1888…

Ellen Nora “Annie”  was born September 21, 1887,  Henry William on May 23, 1890, Lillian Catherine on October 11, 1892 (yes, he named another daughter Lillian!)  – Twin sons Charles & Frank on April 15, 1895 – but Frank only lived two days.  Arthur Henry was born on January 7, 1897 followed by Edward Dewey on October 15, 1899,  Ella Mary on January 29, 1902 and Amanda Elizabeth on September 9, 1904.
Henry, Annie, Arthur & Lillian cir 1897

Henry, Annie, Arthur & Lillian cir 1897

In 1910, Ellanora was pregnant with their twelfth child. There was a family fight at the house and one of the sons – it is thought it was Henry William – hit Ellanora. She went into labor early and lost the child – and then died herself.  After that, it was left to Annie to tend to the younger children and Henry buried his wife and yet another child – making this the fourth child he would put in the ground.  In 1915, his son Arthur was killed at age 18 in a truck accident.
Henry was a photographer. That was his passion in life – beyond his passion for Ellanora.  We are lucky to have several photos of his children and himself from early years onwards. His son Henry William was a machinist – but was the subject of many of his photos. Including this one – where Henry William is the subject and Henry created the process to take all angles of the subject.
Henry William Graff - subject / Henry Graff photographer. NY

Henry William Graff – subject / Henry Graff photographer. NY

It seems that after Arthur died, Henry went from place to place, living as a lodger and taking photographs.  We find him in the 1920 census in Boston as a lodger and photographer.
Boston 1920 census snip

Boston 1920 census snip

Henry died April 28, 1941 in New York – the death being written in his daughter Ellanora Mary’s bible.  Before he died, he got to see most of his children married and many of his grandchildren.

Henry Graff cir. 1930

Henry Graff cir. 1930

Henry Graff with his grandchildren cir. 1925 on his son Henry's farm in Canterbury, Connecticut.

Henry Graff with his grandchildren cir. 1925 on his son Henry’s farm in Canterbury, Connecticut.

In this picture – the boy sitting on the ground in front is my grandfather, Edward Dewey Graff – son of Henry William Graff and grandson of Henry Graff. 


About T.K. Eldridge

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2 Responses to 52 Ancestors #2: Henry Graff (1863-1941)

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 2 Recap | No Story Too Small

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors 2015: #36 Occupations | Of Loons and Lady Slippers

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