Scholefield Family Tree

Ye gads! This is either cool or just plain spooky. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I got sidetracked. (It happens to the best of us.)

As I was looking for Alonzo’s children, I ran across a very short 1912 marriage announcement that named one of his daughters “Mrs. Helen DeGraff Morehouse.” Morehouse? I thought to myself. I found her under the name Ukers — and that is who she is marrying. Morehouse wasn’t mentioned in her obit which clearly gives her middle name as Scholefield (she was apparently named after her father’s sister’s husband). And that contradicted the list of Alonzo’s children from the history. It had named her as Helen M. (for Morehouse?) Being curious, I figured that it wouldn’t take too long to determine what was going on.

I started with a Google search for Helen DeGraff Ukers. I found out more about the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. I found out that Helen was William Ukers’s secretary. And futhermore a New York Times article revealed he had a first wife and a daughter along with a child support dispute. In an interesting twist, there are two Helens. Helen DeGraff Ukers and Helen Ukers the daughter who was the point of contention between William and his first wife. While I was at the NYT site, I ran a search for Helen Ukers to see if anything interesting came up.

What I found was an article announcing the daughter Helen Ukers’s marriage. Not impressive by itself, it is what follows that shocked me!

Ukers and Wilhelm
I know you don’t share my shock yet. Let me explain…

I had no reason to scroll through the whole list of announcements, but I did look just below the Ukers announcement because a name caught my eye. “Wilhelm.” I recognized the surname as it was my grandmother’s maiden name. I kept reading. Hum, Henry Theodore Wilhelm…I sat up a bit straighter. Phillips Carlin! OMG, I KNOW THIS FAMILY! Henry was my 2nd great-granduncle! He was part owner of several china shops in New York City, one called Wilhelm & Graef on Broadway. Phillips Carlin married my distant cousin and was a radio announcer and television executive! He was the radio announcer for several World Series games, the host of several radio shows, and the President of NBC.

What are the chances that while investigating a family totally unrelated to mine — which began with a couple in Arizona — would lead to the discovery that relatives of this random family and my own were in a New York City newspaper article one above the other!

Once I calmed down, I knew I still had more to answer about Helen DeGraff Ukers. But that was exciting! Back to where I was going in the first place.

I located Helen on the 1910 census living in New York City as Helen Morehouse — a widow (darn, no easy answer to who her husband was). However, I figured that a death of a young husband would be in the papers back home, so back to Fulton History I went. I tried several searches and couldn’t find an article on Helen’s first marriage or the death of her husband. Now it was getting personal because it shouldn’t have been this hard.

The search that finally worked was one for Helen DeGraff. It turned up an article about Helen DeGraff McMillan’s service as a flower girl. At this point, I was willing to try anything — even names of distant members of the family, and up turns an article about Helen Scholefield DeGraff’s marriage to Charles Emmon Morehouse of Connecticut! (Sometimes it it handy when families name their children after other family members!)

Okay! I now know that Helen began life as Helen Scholefield DeGraff and married a man named Morehouse followed by a man named Ukers. Still wanting to finish my sidetrip, I searched for his name — only to find out that he apparently didn’t die! He was getting married to another woman four years after Helen reported that she was a widow!

What I learned from this:

  1. Don’t get sidetracked. It could take you a while to get back on track.
  2. If you do get sidetracked, be prepared for anything!
  3. And remember that widows are sometimes not widows — but divorcees who were living in a time in which that status carried a stigma. Therefore, they commonly reported that their living ex-husbands were dead. And their mothers only requested small notes about their subsequent marriages in the newspaper.


Scholefield Family Tree

While I was searching for information about Alonzo, I was also able to locate information about his wife and children. As part of this study, I want to locate each of the children’s birth dates and places. When working with the newspaper, sometimes the best way to do that is to find an obit — even though I don’t need the date of death. (And I enjoy reading about these people — it makes them come alive! I’ve abstracted the data I need below, but feel free to click the obit links to read the full articles.)

In this case, most of the children named their father in their obits so I was able to locate them with searches for “Alonzo DeGraff.” I used Fulton History’s “fuzzy” setting so it caught things like “Alonso,” and I searched both with and without his middle initial. Since their father was named in their obits, the girls were even easy to find after their marriages.

I have the children’s names from the badly mangled OCR’d copy of Alonzo’s Biography1: Harry W., Helen M., Carlton R., Mary, and Alonzo H. Jr.

The basics from Harry’s Obit:2
Harry Westbrook DeGraff a native and lifelong resident of Amsterdam, died 28 Sep 1983. He was a State Engineer. Born 2 Oct 1876 to Captain Alonzo H. DeGraff and Mary McLean Smith. He married Edith L. Voorhees in 1910 who survives together with a daughter, Mrs. Frederick V. Hansen of New York City. Also surviving: one brother, C. Robb DeGraff, Amsterdam; two nephews, John D. Phillips, Pearl River, NY, and Robb M. DeGraff, Wilmington, Del., and a niece, Margaret A. DeGraff. Funeral from the home at 15 Grant Ave and interment in Fair View Cemetery.

Helen’s Obit:3
Mrs. Helen Scholefield DeGraff Ukers, wife of William H. Ukers, died at her home in New York City. She was treasurer of the Tea & Coffe Trade Journal of which her husband is editor and publisher. Mrs. Ukers, who was 72, joined the Journal in 1909 and married Mr. Ukers three years later. A daughter of the late Captain and Mrs. Alonzo H. DeGraff, Amsterdam, she is survived by two brothers, Harry W. and C. Robb DeGraff, both of this city, in addition to her husband. Funeral services will be held at the Morehead funeral home in New York.

C. Robb’s Obit:4
C. Robb DeGraff, former commisioner of public works in Amsterdam and one-time division engineer for New York State, died 1 Apr 1958. He was born in Utica on 13 Apr 1882 to Captain Alonzo H. and Mary M. DeGraff. In 1916 he married Miss Eloise Milmine of Amsterdam who survives with a son, Robb M., Wilmington, Del., and a daughter, Margaret A. DeGraff of Amsterdam. Other survivors are two grandsons, Robb M. Jr. and Donald B. DeGraff, Wilmington, Del., a niece and one nephew.

Mary’s Obit:5
Mrs. Mary DeGraff Phillips, aged 39 years, died 14 Jun 1928. She was born in Amsterdam 1 Oct 1888, a daughter of the late Captain Alonzo H. DeGraff and Mary McLean Smith DeGraff. She was a teacher in the first grade of the Arnold avenue school. She is survived by a son, John Dean Phillips, a daughter, Barbara DeGraff Phillips, three brothers, Harry W. DeGraff and C. Robb DeGraff of Amsterdam and Alonzo H. DeGraff of London, Eng., and a sister Mrs. William H. Ukers of New York. The funeral will be held at Harry W. DeGraff’s home 15 Grant Ave.

Alonzo Jr’s Obit:6
Alonzo H. DeGraff, 49, died 16 May 1940 in New York City. He was born in this city 12 Apr 1891, a son of Captain Alonzo H. DeGraff and Mary Smith. He was secretary to State Engineer Frank Williams at Albany, thereafter moving to England as a foreign representative of an importing and exporting firm, and for three years following was located in Syndey, Australia. He returned to this country about five years ago and has been business manager of the “Tea and Coffee Trade Journal” in New York City. The survivors are a sister, Mrs. William K. Ukers, New York City; two brothers, Harry W. DeGraff and C. Robb DeGraff, Amsterdam; and several nieces and nephews. He will be buried in Amsterdam’s Green Hill Cemetery.

These obits fill in specific dates for all but one of the children. And prompted an interesting side trip that will be the subject of my next post.

1. See post dated 31 Oct 2009.
2. “Death Claims Harry W. DeGraff, Long Active as State Engineer,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 29 Sep 1953, p. 2, col. 1-3; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 1 Jan 2010).
3. “Obituary: Mrs. William Ukers,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 30 Sep 1951, p. 3, col. 6-7; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 1 Jan 2010).
4. “C. Robb DeGraff, Retired State Engineer, Former Commisioner Of Public Works, Expires at 75,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 2 Apr 1958, p. 18, col. 1-2; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 1 Jan 2010).
5. “Obituary: Mrs. Mary DeGraff Phillips,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 15 Jun 1928, p. 3, col. 2; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 1 Jan 2010).
6. “Obituary: Alonzo H. DeGraff,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 16 May 1940, p. 3, col. 2; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 1 Jan 2010).