Scholefield Family Tree

Two years ago, to the day, I began this project. Where possible using online resources I have traced the family back and branched out to include siblings and the birth dates of their children. I am ready to call this one as done as I am going to get it at this point. Another project coming soon!

Compiled Report

This is a report of findings as I have entered them. Some bits from the blog may not have made it into this report and if you want to understand the steps taken to produce this work, the blog is invaluable.

The Scholefield Project

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Scholefield Family Tree

Now I am working to complete the information about Harmonus DeGraff and Susannah Thomas’s children. (I feel like I’m trying to collect the whole set here!) Based on what has been found before, three of their children made it to adulthood. Susan is the last sibling I need to check into. The most logical place to begin is with the censuses. I could locate all of them, but some censuses are more useful than others because of the information that was recorded.

According to the 1900 Census, Susie was born in Feb 1849.1 She was with her husband Fred C. Miller, born Aug 1849 in South Carolina, and her two children Susie M., born Nov 1879 in Michigan, and Fred DeG., born Jul 1888 in Michigan. In Susie’s obit,2 only one of her two children was mentioned as living, her daughter. If I had stopped with the obit, I’d have never known about Fred. This census also noted the number of children a woman had given birth to, and the number 2 in that column tells me that I can be reasonably certain that I have all the children’s names. (Of course, it could have been wrong.)

In 1880, Susan was in Jackson, Michigan, with her husband, daughter, and mother.3 This census confirms that the daughter was born in November. It also additional proof that the background research conducted into the Widow Susan Ghost story is correct. It confirms his finding that Widow Susan was in Michigan in 1880.4 Whenever possible it is a good thing to confirm data posted online. It ensures that the person wasn’t pulling your leg, and it can lead to new discoveries — or an old discovery made new because the pieces finally fit! In this case, it is the finding that the enumerator placed parentheses around Widow Susan’s age. Possibly he was unsure if it was exact? It makes this Susan DeGraff born 1821 even easier to reconcile with the Susan DeGraff born as calculated from her death record on 15 Sep 1819.5 Of course, both could still be a bit off!

Research Plan:

  1. Check FamilySearch record search for Michigan births. More specific dates for Susan and Fred might be found.
  2. Determine if this is a stopping point for the Scholefield Project.

1. 1900 U.S. census, San Diego County, California population schedule, San Diego, enumeration district (ED) 194, sheet 18A, p. 37 (handwritten), 171 (stamped), dwelling 408, family 454, Household of Fred C. Miller; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Jan 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 99.
2. See post dated 30 Dec 2009.
3. 1880 U.S. census, Jackson County, Michigan population schedule, Jackson, enumeration district (ED) 119, p. 318D (stamped), 12 (handwritten), dwelling 121, family 123, Household of Fred C. Miller; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Jan 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 585.
4. See post dated 5 Sep 2009.
5. See post dated 30 Oct 2009

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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 (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 30 Dec 2009), Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder 1915 Oct-1916 Feb Grayscale – 0215.pdf.

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Scholefield Family Tree

I have some cool stories now! And before I swallow all of the data hook, line, and sinker, I will verify what I can through a few resources.

If you have not recently visited the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot site, you should do so! They are adding more free information. Including a batch of vital records for Michigan. If Ferlazzo’s information is correct, Susan Thomas DeGraff’s death certificate will be available there. And it is!* (Click on the image to see the entire record.)

Susan DeGraff's Death Record

The Widow Susan did move to Michigan! The record verifies her name, place, and the date. We can calculate a date of birth based on her age. However, the record unfortunately doesn’t provide specific information about her parents and they are listed as ” —— Thomas & —— Thomas.”

*Michigan Secretary of State, death registers, Jackson County, 1892: p. 7, no. 137, Susan De Graff; digital image, “Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897,” FamilySearch Record Search (http://pilot.familysearch.org: 30 Oct 2009).

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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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One of the challenges a genealogist often faces is the evaluation of contradictory bits of evidence. Which fact do we add to the family tree?

The IGI at FamilySearch.org reports Helen Marr DeGraff’s parents as Harmonus Degraff and Susannah Thomas. 1 However, a biography about her son reports that she was born in Amsterdam, New York, and her father was the Holland native Emanuel De Graff.2

How do we determine which is more correct? We must evaluate the evidence. In genealogy, we need to know where the evidence came from. We consider the source. We want to consider such things as knowledge, purpose, and reliability.

The IGI is a modern source where people were able to submit family group sheets. Therefore, one assumes that the submitter of the information about Helen’s parents did some research or had some basis of fact for their assertion. However, that is not noted in the IGI. Likely the submitter never knew Helen and her parents so without the name of the source, it is quite hard to take the assertion as gospel truth.

The biography about George was written within Helen’s lifetime, but the publishers of the type of work the piece was carried in were not known for their accuracy. Their sole purpose was to sell books. They did not mind the occasional stretching of the truth or outright lie if it made a client feel more inclined to purchase. And if they made an error, they made no effort to correct it because that took time and money. Helen lived in New York; George lived in Arizona. George had been in Arizona for twenty years so it is possible that the information he provided to the person who appeared on his doorstep requesting information was less than accuate.

Now we add an additional bit of information. Helen’s obituary states that her brother was named Alonzo.3 Even obituaries have been known to be inaccurate, but since they were usually about people who were right there in the community, genealogists might consider them to have more exact information. Also, they could easily print a retraction or correction to set the record straight.

With only these three sources, a genealogist cannot make a determination about which is true. Instead, more research is needed. Therefore, we add in the following tidbits of information.

An online transcription of a book about the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys of New York contains information about three Emanuel DeGraffs associated with Amsterdam:

  1. Whose 2ggrandfather came from Holland. But he lived from 1751-1824; therefore, he was not alive to father Helen in 1842.
  2. Son of above, 1789-1844. His wife, Jane Teller, is listed at 1738-1840 aged 102, but why would he have married a woman so much older? And she was having children in 1810. Maybe her birth year is in error and she was actually born in the 1780s?
  3. Son of above, 1810-1865. He was of an age to be the father of Helen, but a list of his children does not include Helen or Alonzo.4

Another source reports that Jane Teller’s date of birth was 1788 instead of 1738.5 The later date seems much more accuate. However, she would likely not have been the mother of Helen at age 54. Since it seems we can rule out each of these Emanuels, we then check the second possible set of parents.

When looking for information about Harmonus and Susannah Thomas, my search lead me to a ghost hunting site. In the course of Ferlazzo’s investigation, he attempted to locate information about Susan and her husband Harmonus. Ferlazzo includes a list of their children and includes both a Helen M. (no dates or additonal information) and an Alonzo DeGraff.6

So, with this small amount of research. It seems that the Emanuels have been ruled out and that Harmonus and Susan(nah) are the couple I am after. However, again, there are no specific sources on the ghost hunting site, so I will need to verify information.

Research Plan:

  • Investigate information reported by NYPI.

1. See post dated 8 Dec 2008.
2. See post dated 13 Nov 2008.
3. See post dated 29 Jul 2009.
4. Cuyler Reynolds, ed., Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911) 3: 1275-1277; online transcription, Schenenctady Digital History Archive (http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/families/hmgfm/degraff-1.html : accessed 31 Aug 2009).
5. James B. Van Bokkelen, Van Bokkelen and Related Families (http://www.faracresfarm.com/jbvb/genealogy/html/vanbokk1.html : accessed 31 Aug 2009), entry for Jane Teller b. 1788.
6. 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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Scholefield Family Tree

I have done as much of the side work into George and Clara’s siblings as I can complete online — so now I need to move on to do the same with the next generation.

Pedigree Chart

This pedigree chart for Armour M. Scholefield enables us to see where work needs to be done regarding the ancestry of the lines in this project.
Ancestry of Armour M. Scholefield

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Another resource available on FamilySeach is the International Genealogical Index (IGI). This index contains indexes to microfilm which contain vital records and to patron submitted information. It is recommended that all information located on the IGI be verified. One reason is that vital records may contain more information than was extracted or may have been read incorrectly. Another is that patron submitted information may provide a source or other information.

I found a few leads, but they may not be verifiable with online records (since we won’t be spending money on these cold case files which we have adopted).

George Parsons Scholefield & Clara Ann Moore — A patron submission identifies their marriage date as 2 Jun 1882 in Silver Bell, Pinal, Arizona. The same record reports George’s death as the 30th instead of the 31st of Aug 1942.

Mary Virginia Scholefield — A confusing record for her marriage appears. It states Virginia Scholefield married Arthur C. McMillan on 21 Jun 1892 in Manhattan, New York. However, the source is impossible to truly determine. The batch is M006668, has no linked source information, except the notes that it was a film and that it was extracted for the locality listed. So — this seems to be a glorified family group sheet entry. I say that because I really have no way to tell where this record came from, and all I can use it for is a guide.

Mae Stuart Scholefield — Another record reports that Mae married Guy Joseph Edwords on 27 Dec 1898 in Manhattan, New York. This source comes back to batch file M005937 which again has no specific source information.

Archibald Robert Shaw — A record for batch C00118-8 for an unknown film records that he was born 16 Aug 1889 in Manhattan, New York. This record doesn’t even report that the records were location specific.

Carl Burnett Scholefield — A patron submission reports his marriage date as 11 Aug 1911. A second submission gives his place of birth as Globe, Gila, Arizona (one of the two possible places which are alternatly reported for his birth), and clarifies his death place as San Jose, Santa Clara, California.

Helen M. Scholefield — A patron reports her middle name was Mae (she may have been named after her aunt).

Charles M. Scholefield — A patron reported that his parents were Arnold Scholefield and Abegail Burnham, that he married Helen DeGraff on 24 Aug 1859 when he lived in Utica, Oneida, New York, and has a death date of Nov 1870 which conflicts with the date I have of 1869.

Helen Marr Degraff — A patron reported that she was of Amsterdam, Montgomery, New York, and that her parents were named Harmonus Degraff and Susannah Thomas.

James Armour Moore — An index record for The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record reports his baptism on 1 May 1825 at Christs Church, Rye, Westchester, New York, and his parents as Michael Moore and Susan. However, there is also a patron submitted record for a James Armour Moore who was born 19 Apr 1825 (I have 4 Apr) in New York who died in 1882. It is possible that there are two men who share the same name.

Matilda Jane Burnett Moore — A patron reports that she was born in Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina.

Blissie Helen Scholefield Lee — She apparently joined the LDS Church and therefore her record can be considered reliable. Her birth date matches the one I have, and her birthplace is specified as Oakland. She married a Harold Sniffen Lee on 28 Sep 1935 in Yuma County, Arizona, and died on 17 Sep 1995. A patron submission clarifies that she died in Globe, Gila, Arizona.

It is possible that since Blissie was LDS, she was the one who submitted some of the above information. However, since some data doesn’t match with what I have, other bits may also be incorrect.

Specific citations available upon request.

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