PETER GRAFF 3d, of Worthington, Armstrong Co., Pa., proprietor of the Peter Graff Milling Company, is one of the younger members of a family whose activities in business and social circles have made the name one of the most prominent in this section.
The Graff family is of German origin. In the sixteenth century the Graff family had become resident at Grafenauer, near Mannheim. John Graff, the founder of this branch of the family in America, was born April 15, 1763, in Neuwied, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in the year 1783. For a time he lived in Lancaster county, Pa., and then moved to Westmoreland county, where the remainder of his life was passed. He died Dec. 31, 1818. He owned a farm and also a distillery and became a man of some consequence in his community. He married Barbara Baum, who was born in Path Valley, Huntingdon county in 1775, and died in 1841. When eight years old she was captured by Indians, but she was soon restored to her people through the friendliness of an old Indian who had been kindly treated by her family when threatened with starvation. Eight sons and four daughters were born to John and Barbara (Baum) Graff, namely: Henry; Mary, wife of Jacob Lose; Sarah, who married Daniel Barnes; Margaret, who married John Colleasure; William; John; Joseph; Elizabeth, who married John Armstrong; Peter; Jacob; Matthew, and Paul.
Peter Graff, one of the leading citizens of Armstrong county in his day, was born May 27, 1808, near Pleasant Unity, Westmoreland Co., Pa., son of John and Barbara (Baum) Graff. His earliest recollections were of soldiers marching home from the War of 1812 and of their tales of prowess. He had but limited educational advantages. One of his teachers was the father of Governor Geary of Pennsylvania. He began work as a clerk in the store of his brother Henry, at Pleasant Unity, when but sixteen years of age, and he was afterward similarly employed at Derry, Pa. In 1830 he removed to Blairsville, Indiana Co., Pa., he and his brother Henry forming a partnership in the general mercantile business under the firm name of H. & P. Graff, establishing a large and profitable trade. Later they formed a connection with the firm of E.G. Dutilh & Co., commission merchants of Philadelphia, for the purpose of transporting merchandise from that city west, via the Pennsylvania canal and State railroad, over what was called the Union Transportation Line. Moving to Pittsburgh in 1836, Mr. Graff took charge of the work of receiving and forwarding the merchandise and several years later became a parner in the firm of painter & Co., wholesale grocers of Pittsburgh, being associated with Jacob Painter and Reuben Bughman. This firm did not confine its operations to the grocery trade, however, and became extensively interested in the manufacture of iron in Armstrong, Venango and Clarion counties, incidentally obtaining control of the Buffalo furnace, near Worthington. Thus it came about that in 1844 Mr. Graff became a resident of Buffalo Mills, Armstrong county, to assume the management of the extensive iron interests and although he continued to be a member of the firm mentioned until 1864 he had in the meantime become sole owner of the Buffalo furnace, which he operated until 1865. In addition to its operations in the counties mentioned the firm carried on the manufacture of axes in Pittsburgh.
In 1865 Mr. Graff, forming a partnership with Isaac Firth; erected the Buffalo Woolen Mills for the manufacture of woolen fabrics, and this association lasted for twenty years, until Mr. Firth's retirement in 1885. Then the firm of Peter Graff & Co. was organized, the business being afterward carried on under that name; after Mr. Graff's death his sons E.D. Graff and J. Frank Graff, together with James E. Claypoole, continued it until June 3, 1912, when death removed E.D. Graff and J. Frank Graff and James E. Claypoole took over his interest, and now compose the firm. Peter Graff was active in business life at the age of eighty as many men twenty-five years younger. In fact, he enjoyed robust health until within a short time before his death which occurred April 9, 1890. A man recognized as one of the most prominent in the Allegheny valley, his funeral was one of the largest ever seen up to that time in the community. He was so thoroughly identified with the business development and general history of the region that his loss was not confined to one circle, but felt by all classes and by the many with whom his numerous interests brought him into contact. In politics he was a Democrat. He joined the Lutheran church in 1840 and was one of its influential members in this section, being actively engaged in Christian work as such for over fifty years. He served as elder of his church and for fifty years as superintendent of the Sunday school. To the church building erected in Worthington shortly before his death he was a liberal giver of his time and thought as well as his means. He was buried in the Lutheran cemetery.
On Jan. 25, 1830, Mr. Graff married Susan Lobingier, daughter of Christopher Lobingier, of near Mount Pleasant, Pa., and a member of a family which had had a long and honorable record in western Pennsylvania, particularly in its connection with the legal profession. Christopher Lobingier, Mrs. Graff's great-grandfather came from Wittenbert, Germany, prior to 1735, and his son, Hon. Christopher Lobingier, was Mrs. Graff's grandfather. Eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, were born to Peter and Susan (Lobingier) Graff, one son and two daughters dying in early childhood, Elizabeth on March 24, 1842. Joseph lives at Manorville, Armstrong Co., Pa. Anna married W. H. Kirkpatrick, of Allegheny City. Dr. Charles H. died in September 1887, in the prime of life. Sarah Jane married C.B. Linton, of Clifton Springs, N.Y. Edmund D. and J. Frank are mentioned elsewhere in this work. Philip M. is at Duluth, Minn, Peter is at Worthington, Pennsylvania.
J. Frank Graff, son of Peter was born Aug. 12, 1857. He received a thorough education, and upon entering business life became manager of the company store connected with the Buffalo Woolen Mills, near Worthington. After ten years service as superintendent he became a partner in the concern He has numberous interest, in this locality and elsewhere, being a stockholder in the Scott-Graff Lumber Company of Duluth, Minn., a director of the Merchant's National Bank of Kittanning, this county, president of the Althom Sand Company and director of the P. McGraw Wool Company, both of Pittsburgh, a stockholder in the Safe Deposit Trust Company of Pittsburgh, a stockholder in the First National Bank of Parker, Pa., a stockholder in the Kittanning Telephone Company, and a stockholder in the First National Bank of Duluth, Minn. he is a well-known member of the Republican party, and has held local and State offices, having been school director at Worthington, justice of the peace, and member of the General Assembly, to whose lower house he was elected in 1900, continuing to serve until 1904, and in 1912 he was elected as a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, for four years. He was an elector when Roosevelt was chosen president.
In 1881, Mr. Graff married Carrie Louise Brown, daughter of Rev. J.A. Brown, D.D., LL.D. she died in 1902. they had a family of six children: James B., Peter, J.Frank, Jr., Mary H., Edmund D. and Richard M. Mr. Graff's second marriage in 1904, was to Martha Stewart, by whom he had two sons, Grier S. and Smith S. He and his family are members of the Lutheran Church, in which he has been a prominent worker, serving twenty-one years as elder and for the same length of time as superintendent of the sunday school, succeeding his father in the latter incumbency. He is treasurer of the Armstrong County Sunday School Association. Mr. Graff is a high Mason, a Knight Templar and a Shriner, and is also a member of the Elks, Odd Fellows and Royal Arcanum.
Peter Graff 3d, son of J. Frank Graff, was born Sept. 15, 1886 in Worthington, where he was reared to manhood. He received his early education at public school there, later attended Mercersburg Academy, from which he was graduated in 1905, and took his college course at Princeton, being graduated from that university in June 1909. In September 1910, he became sole owner of the gristmill at Worthington, one of the oldest milling properties in Armstrong county, and he has since successfully operated it under the name of the Peter Graff Milling Company. In 1911 he made extensive improvements in the establishment, building an extension 28 by 50 feet in dimensions for warehouse and office purposes. He has already shown himself to be a progressive and enterprising business man, and promises to make the most of the mill and his opportunities. In 1913 he was elected a member of the town council of Worthington.
On June 7, 1911 Mr. Graff married Georgia Isabel Brown, daughter of George and Isabel (Patterson) Brown, of Kittanning, Pa. They have one son John Francis Graff 3d, born Dec. 26, 1912. Mr. Graff is a member of the Masonic fraternity and Royal Arcanum, and in political sentiment he is a Republican.
Source: Page(s) 328-330 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed May 1998 by Sue Brosnahan for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)
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