Eastman's Newsletter and Helen

Scholefield Family Tree

Occasionally, I find something new. (Yeah, it can be a rare occurrence that I don’t know about something.) This time I found it by scanning Dick Eastman’s newsletter. One of his posts was about the Fulton History website which features millions of scanned pages of old New York newspapers.

The OCR software they used had quite a hard time reading the name Scholefield on some scans, but the “fuzzy” search capability means that I don’t have to try misspellings — it will try them for me. A higher number on the fuzzy search will return the weirdest combinations, but I found that a number around 2 was sufficient when searching for exact names (just the surname will return too many hits). Therefore, all I have to try are different combinations of first names and initials. Still, there were some events (obituaries) that didn’t pop up so the site also features a browse capability where you can hunt and find a paper with the correct date to read for yourself (really only usable if you have an exact date for something or if you are just generally interested in reading the news). Be aware that the pages can take quite a while to load!

Anyway — onto the findings for George’s mother Helen Marr DeGraff Scholefield…

Most interesting to genealogists is the obituary. An obituary in a person’s hometown newspaper is a possibility one should not forget. In Helen’s case, a simple death announcement ran in New York City where she died, but an obituary with family and biographical data ran both in Utica, New York, a place where she had been a longtime resident, and was republished in Amsterdam, New York, where she was born and had lived with her parents.

blockquoteMrs. Helen M. Scholefield.

The Utica Press says: There are very many people still residing in this city and our ancient suburb who remember Major Charles M. Scholefield and wife who lived many years ago at Yorkville. They were very prominent and popular people in their time and had a very large circle of friends and acquaintances.

Major Scholefield was a more than ordinarily acceptable public speaker and was much in demand as a temperance lecturer. Mrs. Scholefield will be remembered as a charming and attractive woman who did much to make the home a social center and who was held in high esteem by all who knew her. Major Scholefield died many years ago.

Mrs. Helen M. Scholefield, his widow, died in New York city Saturday in her 79th year. She was born in Amsterdam, being descended from the earliest Dutch settlers of the Mohawk valley. In 1859, she married Mr. Scholefield. During the Civil war, she lived in Washington, her husband and brother being officers in the army, and each day ministered to the sick and wounded in the hospital at a time when there were no trained nurses and very little knowledge of anesthetics. At the close of the war, they returned to Yorkville, but spent much time in Albany, as Major Scholefield was a member of the legislature and a preminent lawyer, editor and public speaker.

Upon the death of her husband, the family moved to Utica and Mrs. Scholefield opened a kindergarten, being a pioneer in that form of education, now a part of the public school system. She was a member of Westminster church and active in its work as well as the literary and social life of Utica.

In recent years she had made her home with her daughters, Mrs. Mae Edwards, of Nutley, N. J., until her death three years ago; with Mrs. Florence DeGraff in New York, where she died, and with Mrs. Virginia S. McMillan, during the summers at her country home, Spencertown. Besides her daughters, she leaves a son, George P. Scholefield, of Vail, Arizona.

The interment was made at Spencertown, Monday.1

From this obituary, we can calculate an exact death date of 18 Dec 1920. The married name of Helen’s daughter Florence is missing: Shaw. This could be because the name was not reported correctly, or it could have gone missing in the resetting of the article in the second newspaper. Also, Mae’s name should be Edwords, but no one seems to get that one right.

In addition to the obituary, the same paper also ran a funeral notice (so don’t forget to check for both possibilities).

blockquoteThe funeral of Mrs. Helen M. Scholefield, formerly of this city, who died at her home 326 W. 90th street, New York, was held Sunday and was attended by Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. DeGraff of Amsterdam. Mr. Degraff being a nephew of Mrs. Scholefield.

Mrs. Scholefield, whose maiden name was Miss Helen M. DeGraff was a sister of the late Capt. Alonzo H. DeGraff of Amsterdam. Her girlhood days were passed in this city but for many years she has been a resident of New York. She married the late Major Charles Scholefield. The burial was at Chatham, N. Y., today.2

Between these two articles, several questions are answered and some hints which should be further researched. The funeral notice did give a slightly different place of burial, but Chatham and Spencertown are no more than 5 miles apart. I know now where Helen was born, I have specific death information, I have additional confirmation that Helen married Charles, and I can fill in biographical details about how she filled her time. I now have the name of a brother to research and a nephew to check into as he could be the son of a second brother.

Additional findings in the newspapers reveal that Helen did open a Kindergarten, and even ran ads when it was opening in 1875.3 A full article about her qualifications and the fact that the school was based on the German educational program ran the same year.

Most interesting is an article which included a portion of a letter she wrote to her brother in 1886.


Geo. W. P. Scholefield Driven by the Indians From His Ranch in Arizona.

Recently George W. P. Scholefield, who will be remembered as a former student at the Amsterdam Acadamy, his wife and children, and his mother, Mrs. Helen M. Scholefield, Sister of Capt. A. H. DeGraff, who went out to visit him a few months ago, were driven from his ranch in Arizona Territory by an uprising of the Apache Indians. Capt. DeGraff has just received a letter from Mrs. Scholefield giving full particulars, from which the following is taken:

George went with some friends into Tucson to locate some property. As that time everything was safe. He went on Monday, and left me with his partner, G. Denmon, in charge of the ranch. On Tuesday morning at day break a Mexican came riding up to the door, and said: “The Apaches are in the mountains, and I was sent here to tell you to run.” We tried to hire him to stay and help us, but he said no, he must warn others futher off. There we were, up in the mountains with one man that knew nothing of the Indians. He was a good shot, however, and would stand by us. Our first implse was to run, but as we had but one little mule in the corral, an all the other horses were out somewhere in the mountains, and as we did not know which way to turn, we changed out minds and began to prepare to fight. The house is wood, and in no spot bullet-proof. The Indians never take any risks. If you see them and are prepared, you usually have the best of it. But to see them here is difficult, as mountain peaks rise one above the other as far as the eye can reach, not only the Santa Ritas, but a dozen different ranches. We had plenty of guns of different kinds, and could fire over forty shots without reloading. Clara (her son’s wife) and I took charge of watching the front of the house, and Mr. Denmon the back. We put the guns all in order, learned how to load and fire, took up some boards in the kitchen flor and put in blankets for baby and Armour, took mattresses and trunks and fixed things as well we could. At nine o’clock Mr. Richardson sent a man. He had ridden twenty miles. Mr. Richardson wrote to George to tell him that they had been attacked the night before, but with several Mexicans and by the protection of their adobe house they had driven the Indians off. He said that there were three bands, that of Geronimo and two other bands of Crook’s, old scots that Miles had discharged. (You know General Crook employed ninety Apache scouts who really belonged to Geronimo’s band.) He told George to get in some small canyon and in the night get to the Empire. We knew if the Indians made a strike for the Whitestone mountains, they must pass through this, the St. Helena canyon, or one other. We also know that if Mr. Vail, of the Empire, was at home he would send us help to get to his ranch, but he was in California and his superintendent, Phil. Moore, was with George. We wrote to Mr. Richardson our condition and asked him to send help as soon as he could, but were were not sure the man would go back. Well, I cannot tell you what an anxious time we had. The dogs helped us keep guard. Sometimes a thousand head of cattle come to the troughs to drink, but during that day and the next not one appeared, only now and then a used up horse of the Indians. Just at break of day George appeared with Phil. Moore and a team from the Empire, and another friend on horseback. I know that George would get news in Tucson, and come as soon as he could. He told us to take ten minutes to put on string shoes, tie something over our heads, and take just a change for the children. He put some blankets in the backboard, and then let out everything, the chickens and ducks, and little calves of the milch cows, and the pet birds. The Indians had cut the water pipes in the mountains the day before. He said we might get to the Empire, and we might have to hide somewhere, so we put in some provisions. Clara and I were put in the bottom of the wagon. Phil Moore driving, George and Mr. Denmon going ahead to break ambushes, and Ned Vail behind. The Empire ranch was seventeen miles off, and we had to cross three ranges of mountains I never shall forget that ride. It was first a rush and then hide, until they rode ahead and came back for us. I can assure you I was glad to drove within the high adobe walls of the Empire ranch. It was many hours after that before I could ask George about his journey. He told me he appealed to General Miles to get an order for an extra train, and when they got to Pontons, where they had left their horses, they could find but three. Then they had an awful time to get through. They were obliged to try several different ways and to go to the Empire for fresh horses and the team for us. They had been thirty-two hours in the saddle. This is the largest ranch in the territory, and has 40,000 head of cattle, and 5,000 head of horses. The St. Helena belonged to the proprietor until George and Mr. Denmon bought it. General Miles is sending troops into the country now very fast. We do not think the Indians have burned our house, as the flames would show their position. We are only eighteen miles from Mexico, and they dart back and forth. It is dark and we are allowed no lights. The men are on guard day and night. We have every care. The Mexican starts at daybreak for the mail. We hope to get back to the ranch very soon.

Mrs. Scholefield’s address is Greaterville, Pima county, Arizona, St. Helena ranch. It is to be hoped that she and her son’s family may meet with no further anxieties and dangers, and that when they return to the ranch they may find it unharmed.4

Here is confirmation of the fact that George was involved in some way with Geronimo, but I am still skeptical of the story that George had served on the posse which arrested Geronimo.5

Research Plan:

  • Research Helen’s siblings to determine her correct parentage.

1. “Obituary — Mrs. Helen M. Scholefield,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 21 Dec 1920, p. 11, col. 4-5; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html : accessed 29 Jul 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1920 Oct-1921 Feb Grayscale – 0601.pdf.
2. “Obituary — Mrs. Helen M. Scholefield,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 20 Dec 1920, p. 8, col. 2; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html : accessed 29 Jul 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1920 Oct-1921 Feb Grayscale – 0589.pdf.
3. “New Advertisements — Kindergarten School in Utica,” Utica Daily Observer, 17 Apr 1875, p. 5, col. 4; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html : accessed 29 Jul 2009).
4. “Fleeing from the Apaches,” Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat, 15 May 1886, p. 4, col. 5; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html : accessed 29 Jul 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1885 Dec-1886 Sep Grayscale – 0545.pdf.
5. See posts dated 23 Aug 2008 and 12 Sep 2008.

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