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George Adam and Mary (Gerwig) Graff and their children, taken May 27, 1924.

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The Graff family came from Germany. John Michael Graff came to the United States about 1845 and settled near Pittsburgh.

Updated: July 2005

John Michael Graff was born in 1820 in Germany. (1)
Michael married a woman named Margaret, who was born in 1822 in Germany. (2)
Children: (3)
Clara or Annie, born in 1845. Married Charles Knobloch. (4)
Margaret. Married a man named Ecke, probably Robert. (5)
George Adam, born Dec. 15, 1854.
John Michael, born about 1857.
Katherine, born about 1860.
Mary, born about 1862. Married George Dohla.
The Graffs may have immigrated about 1845. According to family tradition, Clara was born during the voyage across the sea. This appears to be borne out by the 1880 Census, which says she was born "on the ocean." However, the censuses for 1860, 1870 and 1900 say she was born in Germany.
Michael settled in McCandless Township, Allegheny County, Pa. Feb. 9, 1856, John Michael Graff of Allegheny County bought 60 acres in McCandless Township from the estate of John B. Questa of Cincinnati for $1,175 . Then on Feb. 11, Michael took out a mortgage from the Questa estate to cover the sale. He paid it off on May 18, 1857. (6)
The 1860 Census for that township lists the "Groff" family under the household of Gotlip Piper but indicates that Michael was a farmer and owned $1,500 worth of property while Piper owned none. In addition, the household included Dixon and John Bigly, who were listed as gardeners. It appears likely that both families lived on the farm and that the Graffs actually owned the land.
The family worshipped at Brandt Church, which was a Lutheran congregation, according to family tradition. The burials are listed at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Michael died in 1867. (7)
Following Michael’s death Margaret continued to live on the farm with the children, according to the 1870 Census. Adam was listed as the "farmer" while Margaret "keeps house." Also in the household was "Henry Noblock," his wife Clara and their daughter Anna and Christ. Crouse, a farm hand. In this census, the value of the farm is listed as $5,000. By the time of the 1880 Census, Margaret probably had moved in with another child because Adam is listed as living on the farm.
Margaret died in 1901. (8)
(1) Birth year comes from "Allegheny County, Pa., Cemetery Records," compiled by Sharon Kraynek, page 49, and 1860 Census of McCandless Township, Allegheny County, Pa. It is impossible at this point to determine where Michael was born. The 1850 Census says that Michael was born in "Germany"; the 1870 Census for the same township lists his wife’s place of birth as "Bavaria"; the 1880 Census for McCandless says gives two different indications for Michael’s birthplace. It says that Adam’s parents were born in someplace that starts with "Bi" – perhaps it is what the English-speaking census-taker heard when Adam said "Bayern," which is German for Bavaria. To confuse matters even more, the same page of the 1880 Census lists the birthplace of Clara’s parents as Hesse-Kassel. However, this can be explained since her husband and his parents were born there and the census-taker probably didn’t probe too deeply on that question. (2) "Allegheny County, Pa., Cemetery Records," page 49 and 1860 Census. (3) Children are listed in 1860 and 1870 censuses under McCandless Township, Allegheny County. The first names of some of the spouses were supplied by Ethel May Graff, Adam’s granddaughter, in 1991. An estate partition issued by the Allegheny Orphan’s Court on Aug. 2, 1933, lists a number of John Michael’s children and grandchildren. The living children were John Michael and Mary A. Dohla. Adam’s birth date comes from the Graff family Bible, as recorded by Justice of the Peace Fred St. John in 1948. (4) This child is listed as "Dorathia" in 1860, as Clara in 1870 and Annie in 1880. Ethel May Graff referred to her as Clara. An additional problem is that Clara’s husband is listed as Henry in 1860 and Charles in censuses for McCandless Township in 1880 and 1900 but appears to be the same man, born in 1837 in Hesse, Germany. (5) In 1860, Margaret is listed as being 9 years old. In 1870, she is listed as 13. However, Michael isn’t listed that year and he would have been 13, so there may be some confusion there. (6) Allegheny County Deed Book 122, page 226. Mortgate is in Mortgage Book 28, page 572. (7) Although "Allegheny County, Pa., Cemetery Records" says J. Michael Graff died in 1967, this was obviously a typographical error. Michael is not in the 1870 Census so the logical conclusion is that the "9" should be an "8." (8) "Allegheny County, Pa., Cemetery Records," page 49.


George Adam Graff was born Dec. 15, 1854 in Allegheny County, Pa., to John Michael Graff. (1)
Married Mary Ann Gerwig. (See below.)
Children: (2)
Emma Kathern, born July 9, 1876 and died in October 1879.
Sadie Margaret, born Nov. 15, 1880 and died in February 1881.
Albert Emil, born Oct. 13 1884.
Robert John, born Feb. 18 1886.
Austin Leran, born June 15, 1887.
Stella Melvina, born Nov. 1 1888. Married Harry Goehring.
Mary Louella, born March 23, 1890. Married Victor P. Nye.
Adam, as he was usually known, married Mary Ann Gerwig on May 27, 1874. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Winters at the home of Mary’s parents near Harmony, Pa. (3)
Mary was born July 22, 1853 to Jacob and Sarah (Erb) Gerwig in Beaver County, Pa. (4)
The Graffs lived on various farms in western Pennsylvania. For the first five years of their marriage, they lived on the Graff family farm in McCandless Township, Allegheny County. They then moved to Callery in Butler County, where they rented a farm. The Graffs then rented a farm in the Camp Run section of Franklin Township in Beaver County. Finally, they bought a farm in Franklin Township where Adam produced apples, peaches and milk. "George A. Graff of Butler County" purchased 112 acres in 1902 for $3,500. According to one account, the farm eventually covered 1,000 acres, which was later developed into the village of Hardyville. (5)
In 1917, a directory of Beaver County farmers says that G.A. Graff farmed 112 acres and his main crop was corn. He also sold milk. The family lived in Franklin Township in Ellwood City’s rural delivery area 2, off Highway 21. (6)
The Graffs often spoke German at home. Adam’s parents were born in Germany, as was Mary’s father.
The Graffs attended Lutheran churches in the Ellwood City area, according to Adam’s granddaughter, Ethel May Graff who wrote down some facts about her grandparents in 1991.
"When living at the Hardyville farm, Adam Graff and his family went to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where they are buried. They had church every two weeks. The same minister preached at St. Marks and Trinity Lutheran Church in Ellwood City. Trinity in Ellwood had church every Sunday. Grandpa Graff and one of the other members of St. Mark’s couldn’t agree on the interpretation of some passages of scripture [concerning creation], so the Graffs joined Trinity Lutheran. ... Grandpa Graff was active in the church. He [served as an elder and] went to church conferences with the minister.
"He was also quite musical. He never had lessons but in his younger days, he played the violin by ear. ... His sons were quite musical, too. They never had lessons but played by ear. Albert played the mandolin, Robert, the guitar and Austin, the violin. They played for all the square dances around the neighborhood."
"He also was a constable in Franklin Township for several years." One of his tasks was to stop people from fishing on Sundays, which was prohibited at the time.
Mary had a reputation for being a good cool. She set the table each Saturday night so she could have everything in order for a large Sunday dinner. She usually invited the families of her children or her pastor over for Sunday dinner.
Adam was a pleasant old man and enjoyed his grandchildren.
Mary died in September 1925 of breast cancer. (7) After her death, Adam moved in with his daughter, Mary Nye. Each day, his granddaughter Alma Nye read him the 91st Psalm, his favorite passage of Scripture.
Adam died Aug. 5, 1929. The Graffs are buried at the cemetery at the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Franklin Township, Beaver County. (8)
(1) Birth date comes from the Graff family Bible, as recorded by Justice of the Peace Fred St. John in 1948. Father’s name was supplied by Ethel May Graff, Adam’s granddaughter. Some information in this item comes from a letter from Ethel May Graff in 1991, newspaper clippings and interviews with Mary Bowers in 1989 and 1990 and Ethel May Graff and Alma White in 2004. (2) Names and dates come from the family Bible transcription. The Bible transcription originally said Emma Kathern died in 1879 but "76" was later written over that. If 1879 is the correction year, it opens the possibility that the child’s grave is in Allegheny County. The tombstone of a Sarah M. Graff, daughter of Geo. and Mary A. Graff is in "Allegheny County, Pa., Cemetery Records," compiled by Sharon Kraynek, page 49. This children died Oct. 7, 1879 at 3 years and 3 months of age. (3) Date comes "St. Peter’s Evangelical Protestant United Church in Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania," transcribed by Gertrude M. Ziegler, page 8. This record calls her "Anna Maria." Although the date listed is 1875, a newspaper clipping of a story about the Graffs’ 50th anniversary clearly has 1924 printed at the top in newspaper type. The family Bible referred to in Note 1 says the couple were married May 10, 1870, which is certainly incorrect. Other details about the wedding come from the golden anniversary story. (4) Date comes from the family Bible. Baptismal records in "St. Paul’s German Lutheran and Reformed Church, Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania," by Gertrude M. Ziegler, page 64, say that "Anna Maria" was born July 22, 1852. However, Mary’s tombstone says she was born in 1853. (5) Ethel May Graff provided the basic information for this paragraph. The 1880 Census finds the family in McCandless Township. The 1902 land purchase is in Beaver County Deed Book 180, page 220. The "one account" for the Hardyville information comes from undated clipping from the Ellwood City Ledger. (6) "1917 Beaver County Farm Directory," reprinted for the Tri-State Genealogical Society, page 51. (7) Obituary in undated and unidentified newspaper clipping. Year comes from tombstone. (8) Adam’s death is recorded in Beaver County Register’s Docket 17, page338. Adam’s will is in Beaver County Will Book 28, page 292.

Mary Ann Graff, wife of George Adam, daughter of Jacob Gerwig

George Adam Graff, 1924

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While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Romans 5:8