Scholefield Family Tree

Remember to keep reading articles which are returned when you search. You might find a gem like this one:

blockquoteColumnist Has Personal Interest
In Amsterdam Widow Susan Road

A bit of Amsterdam area history was included in yesterday’s issue of the Yonkers Herald Statesman where the column, “First Person Singular,” attracts attention with the headline: “There’s a Widow Susan Road Upstate Named for My Mother’s Grandmother.”

Identifying himself with the DeGraff family, Columnist George S. McMillan, begins the reflections with “My mother’s mother was a DeGraff.”

“The family originally came from Holland. Cornelius DeGraff was burgomaster of Amsterdam in 1656. His son, Claas, came to America about 1679 and settled near what is now Amsterdam, N.Y. When I was a boy, there was a station on the New York Central there named DeGraff.

“In any event, my mother, as a little girl, used to spend many of her summers with her beloved grandmother, Susan DeGraff, on her farm on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

“As she told it to me, her grandmother was a pretty wonderful person. Her husband died a fairly young man, and she ran the farm as women did in those days before luncheon bridges and cocktail parties. She was known far and wide in that section of the country as ‘the Widow Susan.’

“Years later, after my brother, my sister and I came along, our family would periodically visit Amsterdam to call on our cousins and second cousins named DeGraff.

“Sometimes we would drive up a country road east of the city, and Mother would point out to us the Widow Susan’s farm, which had long since passed out of the family’s hands.

“But today, if you will drive slowly and watch closely as you approach Amsterdam from the east on Route 5, you will see a road, now paved with many, many houses replacing the open fields of long ago. And, if you look sharply, you will see a street
marker at the intersection which reads, ‘Widow Susan Rd.’

“I don’t suppose any traveler passing it—or, indeed, many of those who live on it—know who the Widow Susan was, but I do, and I’m glad her memory is marked, at least to that extent,” Columnist McMillan concludes.1

We have encountered this Columnist before! He is the nephew of the George Scholefield who was the beginning point of our search.2

Additionally, this story gives weight to the fact that we are on the right track in investigating Harmonus DeGraff and Susan Thomas as the parents of Helen Marr Degraff — even though Helen’s son George’s biography said that her father’s name was Emanuel DeGraff.

1. “Columnist Has Personal Interest In Amsterdam Widow Susan Road,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 26 Apr 1963, p. 12, col. 4-5; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html : accessed 19 Sep 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1963 Mar-Apr Grayscale – 0807.pdf.
2. See post dated 24 Oct 2008.

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Scholefield Family Tree

As as aside, these are the ghost stories associated with Widow Susan:

blockquoteAmsterdam – Widow Susan Road – Figure of a woman wearing a white nightgown seen walking in the cemetery late at night crying. Looking for her husband’s grave.1

blockquoteAmsterdam – Widow Susan Cemetery – To start off, the story goes that at the top of the hill before the cemetery you are supposed to turn off your car head lights and as your coasting down the hill, you chant Widow Susan three times then turn on your lights and turn into the cemetery. Reports of cars not starting, something trying to open car doors from the outside. Words being written cars have also been reported.2

A report of her ghost has even been featured in the book by Renee Mallet: Ghosts of NY’s Capital District.

Facts regarding Widow Susan as researched by and presented on Ferlazzo’s site:3

  • Widow Susan Road was named after Susan DeGraff
  • She was born Susan Thomas about 1821 in Scotland
  • She married Harmanus (or Armanus) DeGraff in Mar 1838
  • Harmanus was born about 1800 and died around 1848, leaving Susan the farm and three or four children
  • Their children: Helen M.; Alonzo H. (b. abt 1846 and married Mary M. Smith in 1875); Susan/Susanna D. (married Fred Miller on 24 Mar 1875)
  • Widow Susan moved to Michigan with her daughter where they were enumerated in 1880
  • She died 23 May 1892 in Michigan
  • She is buried in Greenhill Cemetery in Amsterdam with her daughter Susanna


Ferlazzo’s report on his investigation into the ghost revealed that it is unlikely Susan haunts the cemeteries she is reportedly seen at because she was buried in Greenhill. Unless her spirit wanders along the road which carries her name. He questions this though because the reportedly haunted location is not near her home. He does then posit that since it is not known where her husband is buried or if he was possibly moved into a cemetery along the road (which did not exist when he died) she in fact could be haunting the location.

1. “Ghosts of Fury,” “I Love NY!!! …….ITS VERY HAUNTED……..,” Unsolved Mysteries, 22 Sep 2002 (http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm298357.html : accessed 5 Sep 2009).
2. Central New York Paranormal Investigators Group (http://www.cnypig.com/statewide.htm : accessed 5 Sep 2009).
3. Vincent M. Ferlazzo, “Widow Susan Research,” NYPI [New York Paranormal Investigators] Blog, 14 Oct 2008 (http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=421615023&blogID=440855312 : accessed 31 Aug 2009).

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