son of Abraham & Elizabeth (Rothrock) Graffius
Born October 15, 1785
Died February 14, 1844
Died December 16, 1830
Jacob Grafius Journal 1838-1841
H. Joseph Grafius January 14, 2008
(I believe this is a preface to the journal that the Lycoming County Genealogy Society has, but was unable to locate when I was in this week.)
Jacob Grafius was bom on October 15, 1785 in York, PA and moved to
Wlliamsport with his parents Abraham and Elizabeth (Rothrock) Graffius in 1810.
Abraham started a tin ware business on Market Square. Abraham and Elizabeth
had eight children: Daniel, George, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Catherine, Juliana,
and Jacob (the author of the journal). Joseph was my direct line in the family.
Jacob Gratius married Catherine Schmall (Small) in York on May 10,
1810. Catherine passed away on December 16, 1830. They had nine children:
John S. Gratius, married to Sarah Pollock, the niece of Governor James Pollock;
Vlhlliam S., married to Lydia W.; Abraham S., married to Mary Ann; Catherine P.,
married to J. Warren Heylman; Anna Mary, married to Samuel Torbert; Enos S.,
never married; Louisa, married to Dr. Benjamin Detwiler; Elizabeth, died at age
seven; Emeline, married to John Craig; and another Elizabeth, status unknown.
After the death of his wife, Jacob then married the widow Mary Green in
November of 1831. She had four children from her previous marriage to Elijah
Green: Anthony, John B., Catherine A., and Emeline, all born in Trenton, New
Jacob took part in his father’s tin ware store and, in the late 1830’s, took
over the business. Jacob was also very active within the religious community,
being a member of the German Lutheran and Reformed Church, and held
several local offices in the borough of Williamsport.
Jacob’s store and home, along with his brother Joseph’s home, burnt
down in the great tire of April 1841. A large portion of downtown Williamsport was
destroyed when a tire started in the livery stable of the hotel next door to Jacob.
There was little time for the occupants to save their personal belongings. Jacob
later rebuilt a brick structure and continued his business until his death on
February 14, 1844. He is buried in his father’s plot in the Williamsport Cemetery
on Washington Boulevard.
During Jacob’s lifetime, he, as well as his brothers, were land speculators
and entrepreneurs purchasing properties and buying in to other businesses.
They had holdings in Bradford County, Clinton County, Washington Township,
and Lewis Township, as well as the borough of Williamsport. One piece of
property he mentioned in his joumal was the island located approximately one
quarter mile east of the Market Street bridge (situated near Sylvan Dell Road)
where he would cut firewood and the children would go to gather whortleberries
(more commonly known as blueberries).
Much of the information of the family’s day-to-day life in Williamsport and
the information regarding births, deaths, and marriages came from Jacob’s
joumal and the family Bible that survived the fire of 1841. lf this wasn’t a stroke of
luck, add to that the various floods that devastated Williamsport and the number
of people that handled these items over the past 150 years. lt’s a miracle l ever
While doing research in 1995 for Lycoming County’s Bicentennial, l
stumbled across these items in the basement of the Lycoming County Historical
Museum. I Ieamed these books were donated in 1978 by my mothers neighbor
who was a private duty nurse for Catherine C. Reardon. After Catherine's death in July, most of her household belongings were thrown away. These books were saved.