Scholefield Family Tree

I located one obit for Alonzo. There are likely more out there because this was one picked up by a nearby paper in a different county. The moral of this story is that you might find a news item about your family in an unexpected paper. Nearby papers would reprint news from the surrounding areas — especially if they wanted to cover a large area and thereby increase their subscriber base. Papers from a place where a person was a previous resident would carry an obit — like Susan Miller’s Amsterdam obit. And if it was sensational, sometimes the story would make national news. Really, this is not too different from nowadays! Of course, the more a story was reprinted, the more likely there is to be an error.

blockquoteAMSTERDAM, Sept 21.–[Special,]–
Captain Alonzo H, DeGraff, 48 years of age, died here to-day after a long illness of Bright’s disease. Captain DeGraff had been superintendent of the water works ever since its construction, about twelve years ago. He went to the front at the breaking out of the civil war as a drummer boy, being scarcely 14 years of age. He soon afterward shouldered the musket and carried it thro’out the struggle, winning honors several times. He bas been a prominent G. A. R. man. He was a staunch republican, but never took an active part in politics. A widow, three sons and two daughters survive.1

And just as fun to find are articles printed years after an event. Papers regularly published bits about what had been in the paper 25, 50, or even 100 years before. Many times, they would even pull information from the society pages, which are the best place to learn about the day to day goings on of those who were fashionable. Here are some excerpts from an article entitled “How Many Remember? Old Resident Inquires.”

blockquoteHow many Amsterdaminans can remember:

When 40 couples attended a ball given at Pythian Temple in honor of college boys who, having passed a pleasant Summer vacation at their homes, were about to return to their studies? . . .

When the Merchants and the Bankers played baseball for the benefit of the City Hospital on the Y. M. C. A. grounds in the West End? The Merchants won by a score of 14 to 12. . . .

When Miss Mary Jane Doak, daughter of Supervisor James Doak, was struck by lightning while attending to her household duties? She was confined to her bed for two days but recovered rapidly.

When Captain Alonzo H. DeGraff, superintendent of the city waterworks system and one of Amsterdam’s best known and most popular citizens, died at his home on West Spring Street? Captain DeGraff was born December 12, 1845, in the old DeGraff homestead, about a half mile east of the city boundary line, on the Cranesville road. The war of the Rebellion broke out while Alonzo waa attending school. In 1862, leaving the old Amsterdam Academy on East Main Street, he enlisted in the Twenty-Fifth Albany Regiment. After three months’ service as a private at Suffolk. Va., he re-enlisted at Utica in the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, with which he remailed until September, 1865. He was promoted in succession to sergeant, second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and then captain. He participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, North Ann River and Petersburg. On June 17, 1864, he was wounded in the right hip in a charge on the enemy’s works in front of Petersburg. Captain DeGraff was one of the leading spirits of post E. S. Young, G. A. R. A. H. DeGraff Camp, Sons of Veterans, was named after him. In 1875 Captain DeGraff married Miss Mary M. Smith of Fish House. A man of strict integrity, his death brought deep grief to a large circle of friends.2

The second type of article is harder to find than the first. Articles printed years after an event are best located through a service like the Fulton History site or where every word of every page has been digitized and made searchable. (Remember there are errors so something still may be “impossible” to locate, but at least you have a chance!)

To find the first type of article, look at areas surrounding the location of interest and at papers in towns that a person lived in during their life. In New York, you can consult the New York State Newspaper Project to find the names of papers held on microfilm in various repositories. If you can examine a sample of the paper, you will quickly notice if it contains a section for area news. Then check for the news for about a week after the event date — the further away from the event location, the further the date of publication of an article will be from the event date.

1. “Montgomery County: Amsterdam,” Utica Weekly Herald, 26 Sep 1893, p. 12, col. 4; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 31 Dec 2009), Utica NY Weekly Herald 1889 – 1892 – 1061.pdf.
2. Frank B. Engel, “How Many Remember? Old Resident Inquires,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 12 Apr 1945, p. 8, col. 4-5; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 31 Dec 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1945 Feb-Jun Grayscale – 0603.pdf.


Scholefield Family Tree

I seem to be stonewalled on exactly which Harmonus is the correct man. Therefore, I am going to take one step back. Instead of trying to step push to locate the next DeGraff generation, I will be stepping back and looking at the children again. It is possible that something about Harmonus’s kids will reveal another avenue of investigation.

What we know: Harmonus married Susannah Thomas.1 One of their children was Helen Marr DeGraff Scholefield. There were two others: Alonzo H. DeGraff and Susan DeGraff Miller.

As stated earlier, my goals for this project include locating the “vitals” for siblings of the direct ancestral lines of the Scholefields I chose randomly, but also the birth information for each of their children. To that end, I returned to the Fulton History site to search through more old newspapers. And I found an obit for Susan DeGraff Miller which will help me to fill in quite a bit about her!

blockquoteMrs. Susan DeGraff Miller.

As already stated in The Recorder, word has been received in this city of the death of Susan DeGraff Miller, at her home in San Diego, Cal., October 18. Mrs. Miller was born at the DeGraff homestead, east of this city, and was about 65 years old. She was a sister of the late Capt. Alonzo H. DeGraff, who was superintendant of the water department of the city of Amsterdam for a number of years. Her early live was passed on the farm east of the city, and she was one of the pupils at the Amsterdam academy. She had many friends among the older residents of this city. A number of years ago she was united in marriage to Fred C. Miller, of Jackson, Mich., who died last fall.

Mrs. Miller resided in San Diego for twenty years. Many years ago she was attached rheumatism and for the last 25 years of her life was unable to walk, moving about the house in a wheel chair. Since the first of July she has been confined to her bed and had suffered a great deal. Hers was a cheerful disposition and despite her affliction she had a kind word for all. She was an extensive reader. Amsterdam, and the friends of her girlhood days, occupied a place in her heart that distance could not erase and she kept fully informed of the happenings in and about Amsterdam and the doings of her old schoolmates. Her cheery ways endeared her to the residents of San Diego, the people of that city speaking of her as “The Sunny Face at the Window.” Her last visit to Amsterdam was made thirty years ago. Besides nephews and nieces in this city, she is survived by a sister, Mrs. H. M. Scholefield, of New York, and a daughter, Mrs. Ford Barnes, of San Diego. Mrs Barnes says: “Even in her suffering she was the same bright, patient mother we have always known, interested in all our joys and sorrows, and the affairs of the city, country and the world.”2

Research Plan:

  1. Check for an obituary for Alonzo DeGraff.
  2. Investigate the Miller family. What was Susan’s date of birth? What was her daughter’s first name?

1. See post dated 5 Sep 2009.
2. “Obituary: Mrs. Susan DeGraff Miller,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 30 Oct 1915, p. 3, col. 4; digital images, Fulton History ( : accessed 30 Dec 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1915 Oct-1916 Feb Grayscale – 0215.pdf.


Whittle Family Tree

As I try to wrap up the Whittles so I can move on to something else, I find myself left with a “pile” of information concerning the Whittles in Maryland. Sadly, I have no context for the material. We’ve all been in this position. “I know they’re related. I just don’t know how.” While I might be willing to take a couple of leaps of faith on my personal genealogy – I am unwilling to do so with another persons family. My best efforts have not allowed me to connect the dots from here, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t make those connections – it just means that I can’t.

When I was reviewing all the materials last week, I found a tree posted on Ancestry that listed the parents of Jeremiah Whittle (born c. 1775-1785) as Richard Whittle and Elizabeth Burling – it did not reveal any sources. There is a marriage record dated 7 Jan 1784, for Richard Whittell and Elizabeth Burling from the First German Reformed Church in Baltimore. I have requested the source information for tying Richard and Jeremiah together from the tree owner, but haven’t yet heard back. As with anything found on Ancestry it is wise to check all the information for yourself and in general I consider the family trees to be nothing more than leads in my research.

I went in search of more information concerning the potential relationship between Jeremiah and Richard, and in the results of my Google search (“richard whittle” baltimore genealogy) I found The Burling Books Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers (1600-2000) Volume 1 by Jane Thompson-Stahr1, which appears to be well sourced. Page 328 – 333 are about Elizabeth Burling and it does discusses Richard Whittell and Elizabeth Burlings marriage. Page 329 states that Richard is the son of Anna Maria Curzon and Thomas Whittel and that Richard and Elizabeth had one child, Anna Maria Whittell, born in 1784. A good portion of this research is based on the extant letters of Elizabeth Burling and her family.

Elizabeth moved to Mississippi, but Richard (according to Ms Thompson- Stahr’s research) does not appear to go with Elizabeth and no other Whittle children are mentioned. On pg 331 Ms Thompson-Stahr discusses what may have become of Richard, including the fact, “On 15 Dec 1794, an Elizabeth Baldwin married a Richard Whittle in the same church in Baltimore where Elizabeth Burling had been married to Richard Whittell in 1784.” The 1794 marriage is a little outside the range for Jeremiah, but as we all know, census records are not really all that reliable for age.

You have to love an author that follows through and provides the documentation of not only what is known, but what is clearly not known. Ms. Thompson-Stahr provides possibilities in an unbiased manner and also lets us know what she has checked so we are clear on how thorough the research was. She obviously gets the whole concept of the Genealogical Proof Standard and has tried to resolve the conflict of what becomes of Richard.

Unfortunately, I am no closer now to discovering the parentage of Jeremiah Whittle then I was a week ago. Unless there is some clear evidence from the tree owner which ties Jeremiah to Richard, I am considering this lead to be another dead end. I’m telling you – those Whittle men just want to remain anonymous!

Over the next several days I will post all the extraneous facts that I have acquired in a chronological manner. Perhaps someone else can use them, or as more things become available perhaps I will be able to make the connections.

Jane Thompson-Stahr, The Burling Books Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers 91600-2000) Volume 1 (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc., 2001), p. 328 – 333


Whittle Family Tree

Well – I’m so far behind it’s insane, but I need to wrap this up in some way. There are a lot of loose ends when it comes to the Whittle line. It seems that there are no smoking guns and some names in the line are just not meant to be known. So lets recap!

This project started in Oct 2008 and the focus was looking for information on the Samuel Whittle Family interred in Govanstown Presbyterian Cemetery in Baltimore. It began simply enough with trying to confirm who might be in the Whittle plot. Never say a project is “simple” – you doom it from the very beginning! While the basic information for who was in the plot was not that difficult to locate – there was nothing simple about the Whittle line. Never have so many MEN remained so elusive!

Samuel N. Whittle died 7 Oct 1892 in Allegheny City (Pittsburg) PA when he fell from a window. Using news articles and census records, I was able to establish that he was a married to Georgeanne Higle, (c. 1846 – c. 1875), who died of tuberculosis, and he had two daughters, Clara May (1866-1946) and Maggie S. (c.1869-1897). He was the son of an Unknown Whittle and Eliza [Unknown] Whittle (c.1815-1896). Samuel had an older brother Charles Nicholas Whittle (1838-1916) and both brothers had served in the Civil War. Charles went by his middle name of Nicholas, which has often left me wondering if his father might not have been a Charles also.

While I have had no success in providing the name of Samuel’s father, I was more successful with the sibling lines of the Unknown Whittle. There were at least five children born to Jeremiah Whittle and Nancy Best between 1805 and 1815, three males and two females, all of whom remain unknown by name. Samuel’s father was the youngest of that group, born c. 1915. After the death of Nancy Best, Jeremiah married Elizabeth Eyle and four more children Thomas (c.1826 – c. 1863), Susan A. (1822 – 1916), Jeremiah Amos (1824 – 1902), and John R. (c. 1829 – unk). These lines were a great deal of fun to explore and provided lots of juicy information.

Sadly, with the Whittle men there are always more questions than answers. With help from family member Ruth I was able to establish a few more facts and chase a few more leads. I actually had more fun following up on the information about Thomas Whittle – uncle to Samuel N. Whittle. It was a great exercise in “debunking” family lore and published accounts concerning his Civil War service. While we will probably never know what happened to Thomas – we know that he could not have died at Shiloh.

I have provided links below to the previous posts on the Whittle family if you need to refresh and then we’ll move on to all the loose material that I have located, but can’t attach.

The Great Obituary Hunt 1 Oct 2008
The Lowest Branch of the Family Tree 5 Oct 2008
Trying to Tree Climb 6 Oct 2008
A Footnote to History 8 Oct 2008
Dangling from a Tree Limb 9 Oct 2008
Odds and Ends 14 Oct 2008
GOOGLING for Dead People 15 Oct 2008
The Family Comes Through19 Oct 2008
Clara May Whittle 20 Oct 2008
Elizabeth (am I an Eyle or a Hall) Whittle 9 Nov 2008
Wrapping up the Whittle Plot 10 Nov 2008
Barking up the Wrong Family Tree 20 Nov 2008
Oh Susannah! 1 Dec 2008
I’m a Doubting Thomas – About Thomas (Part 1) 12 Dec 2008
Doubting Thomas – Part 2 13 Dec 2008
Doubting Thomas – Part 3 16 Dec 2008
Thomas Whittle’s Service Record 29 Dec 2008
Playing Catch Up 5 Jun 2009
The Last Two Brothers with Names 10 Jun 2009


Scholefield Family Tree

My last post was found by Peter Cross — a DeGraff researcher. He offered some information about an additional Harmanus DeGraff in the area. I emailed him and he provided the following:

His “Harman” was 31 at the time of the 1860 Census. His wife was Harriet Ann Wilde and his children were named Theresa, George, Carrie, John, and Hattie. The family lived in Amsterdam, Montgomery, NY. “Harmonies” died in 1922 and an obituary that Peter holds states that Mr. DeGraff was “born November 19, 1829, on the Widow Susan Road, just east of the present Amsterdam city line, Mr. DeGraff was a son of Nicholas and Catherine Travis DeGraff.” Mr. DeGraff’s youngest sister was named Harriet DeGraff Sparkbeck, and she died in 1906

The name Harmanus was apparently a popular name in the DeGraff family, and this Harman is not the one I am looking for — wrong birth year, but Peter did give me another name to use in searches!