Lizzie Neuhütl was born September 6, 1891 in Manhattan, New York to George E. Neuhütl and Mary Zierle.
My great-grandmother was a beautiful woman with a strength that I am grateful I inherited. She grew up in Manhattan and married Henry William Graff on February 20, 1911 in Manhattan City Hall.
By 1920, she was living in Canterbury, Windham County, Connecticut where she resided until her death in June of 1966.
She gave Henry William five children: George A. (1912-1976), Henry Adolph (1914-1970), my grandfather, Edward Dewey (1916-1994), Eleanor (1921-2009) and Elizabeth “Ditta” (1925-2012).
I have heard several stories about “my German grandma” from my mom and my uncles. She would keep Christmas in the German fashion – the tree was decorated Christmas Eve while the children were hiding in the pantry and when the curtain was pulled back, the tree was decorated and lit and presents were underneath it. They could open presents at midnight. Mom says the house always smelled of fresh-cut hemlock, wood smoke and cigar smoke at Christmas. “She was a big woman and when she and Grandpa danced, it was like she wouldn’t even touch the floor. She danced so beautifully.” “Nanny smelled so good – she always smelled of baby powder.” Aunt Ditta told me once of the apple strudel Nana made and how it took her so many tries to get it right. She said “I threw out so many that didn’t come out right until I finally got it the way she made it!” Her life was difficult, her marriage not an easy one – but Lizzie had strength, faith and perseverance and she taught her children and grandchildren a love and appreciation for their family and culture that carries down to her great-great-grandchildren. When she died, Lizzie had fourteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.