Friday, December 15, 2017

The Coan Family Album 2017

For Christmas this year I created a family album for my mother, who at 94, finds it difficult to see small photographs. This large format album will bring loved ones near to her at Christmas and all year long. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Water Conservation

Today, March 23, 2017, is World Water Day. Conservation runs deep in our family. My Great-grandmother, Settie Graf Locke, spoke to a Howard County, IN group about water conservation in 1948.  She would have been 80 then!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Locke Whiskey

Click here for the story on Locke Whiskey

I've often wondered about why one of the sons of Elias and Sarah Locke was named Antrim.  They called him Bud.  But Antrim is a county in Ireland.  Now, could it be that we are related to the Locke Whiskey family?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


This year we did an abbreviated version of our annual cousins reunion, FTGO (For Touby Girls Only), in honor of the original five Touby women.  It was a serendipitous landing on the calendar when most had a few free days.  Our pop-up event was staged in Lindenhurst at Jane's and we wandered across the border into Wisconsin, east to Illinois Beach State Park, and into Lake Forest.  But mostly we talked, laughed and gnoshed our way through four days.

Marcia, Charlotte, Caroline, Jane and Nancy
Kokomo wine!
Galette for dinner
Lake Forest Cemetery

Cougars loose in Milwaukee (Public Market in Third Ward)

Our chocolate boy at the Red Elephant chocolate shop

Lunch on the roof at Benelux

Charlotte and Marcia, the Coburn sisters

Frittes in a paper cone

Caroline and Nancy

Milwaukee Art Museum

Lake Michigan from Milwaukee Art Museum

Caroline, Marcia, Charlotte and Nancy

Exterior hall leading to galleries

Calatrava's breathtaking architecture

A gorgeous day on Lake Michigan

Then (about 1956)
And now

Illinois Beach State Park, Zion, IL

A visit from Ken and Lucky Dog
And a very special highlight of the week was a front row seat for "Kevin Le Deuce" male stripper!  Thanks Kevin, you left us begging for more!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Daniel Graff

Daniel Graff left Germany for America in 1840.  Crossing the Atlantic took 61 days, then 10 more days to reach New Orleans.  From there he traveled up the Mississippi to St. Louis.  According to family history, Daniel and his Uncle Heinrich came together on the voyage. Daniel settled in Greenville, Illinois.

CLICK HERE for the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties, Illinois in 1882
CLICK HERE for the Portrait and Biographical Records of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, 1892.

Daniel and Nancy (McAdams) Graff

 Daniel and Nancy (McAdams) Graff
Photos courtesy of Shawn Graff

1. Nikel Graf + Anna Christina Mullers
2. Johann Casper Graf + Anna Cecilia Colter
3. Johann Philip Graf + Maria Catharina Geffinger
4. Johann Casper Graf + Katharina Margaretha Philipp
5. Johann Peter Graf + Anna Marie Shey  (Johann Peter is brother to Valentine, of my family line)
6. Daniel Graff + Nancy McAdams

DANIEL GRAFF.  The subject of this sketch, a fine old German-American farmer located in Central Township, came to Bond County, Illinois in 1841 with no means, but now possesses one hundred and eight acres of fine land and is the only one of the original settlers left in Central Township.  A sketch of his life will prove interesting.

Daniel Graff was born in a province of Rhenish, Bavaria July 22, 1821, and is the son of Peter Graff, a native of the same place.  Grandfather Caspar Graff was also a Bavarian, where he followed an agricultural life and served under Napoleon in the Russian campaign.  His death occurred in Germany when he was about eighty-eight years of age.

The father of our subject also became a farmer, but with only moderate success.  He came to America in 1853, after which he made his home with our subject and died at the age of eighty-two years, a member of the Reformed Protestant Church.  The mother of our subject was Mary Shire, a native of the same province as her husband, and she became the mother of five children, namely: Michael, Daniel, Henry, Barbara and Peter.  Her life ended when she was only thirty-seven years old.  She had been a member of the Reformed Protestant Church and her remains now lie buried in Germany.  The father of our subject contracted a second marriage, when Catherine Colter became his wife, and two children were born of this marriage, Frederica and Fred.

Our subject was reared on the farm in Germany and attended excellent schools there until he was eighteen years of age.  He then started for America and after a tiresome voyage of sixty-one days on the Atlantic Ocean, and ten days more before he landed at New Orleans, he was ready for his last stage of the journey and came up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.  Leaving the city he went into St. Clair County, but returned to St. Louis, remaining until the spring of 1841, when he entered forty acres of his present farm from the Government, and very soon bought more land, it being all wild at that time.  The few log houses of the settlers were far apart, deer ran in droves across his farm, and wolves and turkeys were daily seen.  The first act of our subject was to erect a log cabin in the woods, and here he lived until 1849, when, having cleared up the most of his farm, he felt it to be a fit place to which to bring his bride.  However, June 3, 1846, he had enlisted in the Mexican War, where he served twelve months under Gen Scott.  He took part in the bombardment of Vera Cruz and the battle of Cerro Gordo, and was in many skirmishes.  After he came home he was married, September 25, 1849, to Miss Nancy McAdams, who was born December 5, 1831, in this township.  Twelve children have been born to our subject and his wife, seven of whom are now living, namely: Sylvanus C., Lois C. [Lewis], Clara, Mary, Henry, Don and Vansie.  Sylvanus C. married Lucy Durant and they live in this township; Lois C. [Lewis] married Clara Hockett and they live in Mills Township; Clara married A. T. Porter and they live in Vandalia, Ill.; Mary married Edward Briggs and they live in Montgomery County; Henry married Leulla [Luella] Bird and they live in Mills Township, this county.

Mr. Graff now owns one hundred and eighty acres of improved land, and he has cleared almost all of it himself and has carried on both grain and stock-raising on it.  His present comfortable residence was erected in 1869 where he and his family reside.  Our subject is a staunch supporter of the principles of Democracy.  His wife is a devout member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Mr. Graff has served his district as School Director acceptably for nine years and taken great interest in educational matters.  He has not only seen the growth of his own fortunes, but has viewed with satisfaction the march of improvement in the district and county.  Always ready for any move which seemed to promise well for his neighborhood, Mr. Graff has made a favorable impression on all with whom he comes in contact.
This portrait and biographical record, page 412 in the original account, was sent to me by Shawn Graff, the GGG Grandson to Peter, who is Daniel’s brother.  Bond County is the county referred to in the document.  Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, published in 1892.

Eleanora Yoos Graf, wife of Peter Graf

The grave of Peter Graf.  

Peter and his brother Valentine came together to America, arriving in New York from Havre on June 1, 1853.  Peter was 60 and Valentine was 53 at that time.  Peter is buried in St. Jacob, Illinois at the Keystone cemetery.  Daniel and Nancy Graff lived in Greenville, IL.  Their family graves are south of Greenville in the Campground Cemetery.  Valentine, Peter's brother, lived in Liberty Twp., Howard Co., IN.  He is buried in the Shrock Cemetery near Plevna, IN.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thank you, Mary Magdalena Graf-Rose!

I have invited several relatives to my dining room table these last few weeks.  Little by little they have been sharing their stories.  All have all long-since departed, but their stories are very much alive!  As I sort through generations, finding the trails and trials of their lives, I am so grateful for their fortitude and their foresight.  They went through so much... sometimes multiple deaths of spouses and children, and then dared to come to America, bringing many children on the nearly six-week voyage.  And being German, they kept remarkable records!  Today I am most grateful to Mary Magdalena Graf-Rose.  She is the one who obviously had family records and passed them on to her son Henry.  Allow me to digress a moment and trace my lineage back to 1655...

Generation 1
Nikel GRAV, born October 1655, married Anna Christina MULLERS.  They had 11 children.  One of those children was Johann Casper GRAV.  The spelling of the surname varies: Grav, Graf, Graff.

Generation 2
Johann Casper GRAV, born 1691, married Anna Cecilia COLTER.  They had 9 children.  Johann Philip is the ancestor of interest in this generation.

Generation 3
Johann Philip GRAF, born 10 February 1739, married Maria Katarina GEFFINGER.  They had 10 children.  Their son, Johann Casper, will carry our family line to the present.

Generation 4
Johann Casper GRAF, born 11 December 1763, married Katarina Margaretha "Gretchen" PHILIP.  They had 8 children.  Valentine and Mary Magdalena are the brother and sister of interest: Valentine, because he is my 3X Great-Grandfather, and Mary Magdalena, because she must have been the designated family historian.

Generation 5: the daring generation
Valentine GRAF, born 28 September 1799, married Barbara WAGNER.  They had 5 children.  Philip, my 2X Great-Grandfather, and his three brothers (sister Sette did not make the journey), all came to America.  Valentine and Barbara, both 53, wanted to save their sons from military inscription which, in Settie Graf's words, "took seven years of a young man's life."  They sent Henry and John to America to join relatives, sold their home in Roggenhausen, and crossed the Atlantic with their sons Valentine and Philip.  They sailed on the Barc Charles Hill and arrived in New York on 1 June 1853.  In three day's time just before their arrival, about 9,000 Germans had arrived in New York's harbor!  This is 1853... can you imagine?

Generation 6
Philip GRAF, born 07 July 1824, married Caroline SCHAAF.  Caroline had come to America as an eleven-year-old with her family in 1840.  Philip, who had farmed his parents' farm in Roggenhausen, took up farming in Howard County, Indiana.  The story is told that he had funded his younger brothers' emigration earlier to help them avoid the draft.  Caroline and Philip experienced untold grief as four of their children, all sons, died just after birth.  Their grave marker is found in the Greenlawn Cemetery, Greentown, Indiana.  Three daughters made up their family: Emma (b. 14 Nov 1862), Louisa (b. 19 Feb 1864), and Settie (b. 12 Mar 1868).  Philip and Caroline's daughters were born in the thick of our Civil War.  It is hard to fathom how these young German families must have felt.  They had left their country, fleeing the fears of harsh military conditions and economic depression, only to find the chaos of war in their new homeland.

Generation 7
Emma GRAF married Nicholas RICHER.  Louisa GRAF married Augustus FROELICH.  And Settie GRAF married George Luther LOCKE.  Sisters Emma and Louise are the ones who wrote the Graf Family booklet in 1921.  It is a much-quoted document among those who research the Graf family.  Settie wrote a beautiful family narrative in 1954 just one year before she passed away.  (These documents are all on this blog.  Search either 'Graf' or 'Settie.')

Generation 8
To Settie GRAF-LOCKE and George LOCKE were born three children: Ruth Geneva (who died in infancy), Philip Roscoe LOCKE (28 Dec 1892), and Elsie LOCKE (06 Aug 1894).

Generation 9
Elsie LOCKE married Emmett Peter TOUBY (b. 16 Aug 1888) and they settled on Emmett's father's farm in Howard County, Indiana.  They had five daughters: Louise, Dorothy, Frances, Virginia and Joan.  These are my mother (Virginia) and aunts to whom this blog is dedicated.  Their stories can be found on the blog's pages as well as in various posts.

Generation 10
Virginia TOUBY (b. 28 Aug 1923) married Arthur James COAN (b. 24 Feb 1920) just after my mother graduated from Ball State University and my father came home from the service in WWII.  They settled on the farm where Settie GRAF-LOCKE and George LOCKE had built their home and farmed 160 acres.  This is where I grew up.  My parents named it Liberty Grove Farm.  David, Jane, Nancy and Elizabeth COAN are the children of this generation.  All the children of the TOUBY sisters, Louise, Dorothy, Virginia and Joan comprise this 10th generation.

Generation 11
The grandchildren of the TOUBY sisters, Louise, Dorothy, Virginia and Joan comprise the 11th generation of the descendants of Nikel GRAV.  And their children make Generation 12. 

And now, to my reason for writing this post... In the 1921 Graf Family booklet, sisters Emma GRAF-RICHER and Louise GRAF-FROELICH mention their gratitude to Henry Rose of Amboy, Indiana, saying that the information regarding Generations 1-4 (now Generations 3-6 due to research that has gone two generations further back, from Johann Casper GRAF back to Nickel GRAV) was furnished by Henry.  Henry was the son of Mary Magdalena GRAF-ROSE.  I am so grateful to Mary Magdalena (see Generation 4 above) for having the foresight to save the family history and pass it on to her son.  Her Great-nieces, Emma and Lou, took the baton and wrote the Graf Family history.  I'm a great-niece of Emma and Lou.  I'll never know who might take things from here, but I hope someone will!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Call for Reform: Passenger Abuses

This account is from the New York Daily Times, June 9, 1853.  It was published just one week after the arrival of many Graf family members.

Inhumanity Afloat.

The records of the sea are fast becoming the most painful portions of our daily intelligence.  Hardships and cruelty seem to go hand in hand, and the Packet service constantly furnishes new causes of complaint.  The reports of our Courts teem with statements of wrongs inflicted upon seamen and passengers; the condition of too many of our emigrant packet-ships is repulsive in the extreme; the civility of captains, mates and agents is nothing to boast of; and the system of Emigrant transportation is altogether in need of a reform.  There are one or two facts which have lately had their development, that seem to place this question of Emigrant accommodations in a clear light.  We have received a communication from a reliable source, setting forth the discomfort and distress attending a steerage passage across the Atlantic, and calling attention to some of the glaring abuses to which the service is subject.  We give the material portions of the writer’s statement; the entire letter is too long for insertion:

“Although the passengers were not so completely under the control of the officers as the sailors, yet so far as their authority went, it was exercised to the fullest extent.  It is true, none of them ever lifted their hands to the passengers, but to this length did they go, and there stop.  Abuse and threatenings were dealt out plentifully.  The insolent and overbearing demeanor of the officers, and the total want of any regulation among the passengers, was the source of much annoyance and inconvenience to all on board.  Remonstrance or redress was out of the question.  A brutal answer or a blasphemous oath was the ready response.
“On board this ship were not less than 350 passengers.  The fire-place allotted for this number for cooking, was a place eight feet long by eighteen inches broad – a space not sufficient for half the number.  The consequence was a continual strife, from morning to night.  In all such affrays, the strongest came off conquerors.
“The contract ticket specified that we were to receive biscuit equal in quality to Navy biscuit.  If it is the same that we received, I pity the seamen who have constantly to live on it.  I am satisfied it was made of the coarsest flour that could be procured.  The tea was of the coarsest quality – in fact, such as would find no purchaser in London.  The sugar – it was impossible to say what it was extracted from; but it had a very loathsome taste, which affected anything it was put among.  The rice was musty [?].  The flour and oatmeal were the only tolerable articles supplied by the ship.  The ticket further stated that, in lieu of tea, coffee and cocoa, if preferred, could be had, yet not an ounce of either could be obtained.  Neither was salt furnished, although two ounces a week were to be allowed.

Our correspondent furnishes a number of facts of less importance than those above quoted, but equally indicative of the heartlessness of the practice in question.  The name of the particular vessel, although in our possession, is not essential to the point.  The practice of abusing emigrants is all but universal.  No one case is more unjustifiable than another, for all are in plain derogation of the most obvious rules of justice and propriety.  The flagrancy of open cruelty is the only event that is likely to attract the general attention of the community.

The fact seems to be that ship-captains and ship-owners are too generally regardless of the safety and comfort of their passengers.  In the first place, the ship is crowded to suffocation, in direct defiance of law; then, the Captain is too often a man accustomed to command, and intent only on obedience; next, the craft is rarely cleansed, and thus becomes a moving pest-house, unhealthy and disgraceful even when vacated, and disgusting when crowded with a human cargo.  These are classes of evils, to remedy which there has been much ineffective legislation.  The true method of improvement is the enforcement of the Passenger-laws, a strict surveillance of every Packet, as to cleanliness and seaworthiness; a general accountability of officers and agents, for any maltreatment of passengers and seamen.  That the evil should be allowed to pass without action, as well as remonstrance, is hardly to be expected in these days of Reform.  The attention of shipping-owners is especially due to the importance of the questions involved.  Another feature of this class of abuses is the incompetency of Captains.  The late case of the William and Mary* may stand as an instance of this.  The conduct of the master of that vessel, in not only abandoning his ship, at a time when subsequent experience proved that her salvation was by no means impossible, but also in neglecting the means of rescuing two hundred souls on board, has called out a rebuke from all quarters.  Instances of cruelty to seamen are very frequent.  A man’s life is counted of less value than a spar or a sail, and not a few lives are annually sacrificed in this way.  Let us have a reform in all these matters.  Ships are not inaccessible to laws made upon the land, because they are upon the sea; their officers should be made to understand that the voice of public opinion and the terrors of the law are both to be uplifted against them; for every unjustifiable act; and shipping merchants will do well to establish a vigilant watch over the conduct of their ships, and the capacity of their masters.  The Emigrant is but poorly treated, at best, his lot is a hard one, and needs to be alleviated as much as in us lies.

* The William and Mary sank in the Bahamas in May 1853. 

There is some very good information on the voyage across the Atlantic at this site:
Understanding Your Ancestors