Ernst Johan Graf (1839-1921)
Ernst Johann Graf was born February 4, 1839 in Bautzen, Saxony, Germany (East Germany near the Poland border). An 1860’s insurance record for Ernst shows him signing his name “Grafe,” the “e” must have been dropped after coming to America.
German employment records show that he was of short stature, round face, brown hair and brown eyes. He fulfilled his commitment to the military in 1859. He then worked as a farm hand in Dresden. From 1865-Jan. 1868 he worked on a ranch in Buchwalde. Employers consistently listed him as true, hardworking, and honest. His father died in January 1868 and Ernst went back to Kleinbautzen to run his father’s pub. In 1871, records show him working for Peter Petschke on a farm in Kleinbautzen. 1872-1875 he worked in Goda.
He married Anna L. Heinze around 1863. Anna was born January 9, 1844 in Germany. Ernst and Anna's first three children were born in Kleinbautzen, Saxony, Germany. Their children included: Anna Christiane, April 24, 1864; Maria Henrietta, Apr. 1867; and Ernest August, Mar. 21, 1875.
Ernst, along with his wife, Anna, and children emigrated from Bremen, Germany to the United States Sept. 6, 1882 and arrived at the port of New York Sept. 20, 1882. Listed on the passenger list of the ship Salier are Ernst Graf (age 44, male, farmer), Anna Graf (age 38, female, wife), Christian Graf (age 19, male, farmer), Mariette Graf (age 16, female), Ernst (age 6, male, child). The Graf family went to Giddings, Texas and settled in Warda, Fayette County, Texas.
The 1900 census of Fayette County, Texas show Ernst Johann living in Fayette County and was a farmer who owned a farm that was mortgaged. According to the census, he was the head of the household; was born Feb., 1839; was 61 years old; he could read and write but could not speak English. Other information in the census shows he was born in Germany and his parents were born in Germany.
Ernst and Anna were Lutheran. A reference is made about Ernst Graf in the book Holy Cross Lutheran Church- 1873-1973. The reference is on page 20.
In 1911, Ernst and Johanna moved from Warda to Vernon, joining his son Ernest in Wilbarger County, TX. George R. Nielsen in his book In Search of a Home lists the Grafs as moving to Vernon in the early 1900’s. This book also records Ernst on page 133 as being a Wend who migrated to Texas.
Ernst died March 29, 1921 in Vernon, Wilbarger County, Texas. Anna died May 17, 1911 in Vernon. Ernst and Anna are buried at Zion Lutheran Cemetery west of Lockett, Texas.
Sources: 1900 Fayette County census records,German employment record, German health insurance record,Germans to America Arriving at US Ports Volume 44 Aug 1882-Nov 1882 edited by Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filby 1995, George R. Nielsen book In Search of a Home, Holy Cross Lutheran Church-1873-1973, Kay Little, Mildred “Mickey” Graf, and Naturalization Record .
Written by Angie Collier March 2002 updated June 2002
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