I’m still working on the planning for this blog. In the meanwhile, here’s a Facebook Note I wrote up from March 8, 2009:
WILLIAM H. DeGRAAF, A BICYCLE TRIP AROUND THE WORLD, and MURDER
Yesterday I began searching for more information on my 2nd Great-Grandfather, William H. DeGraaf (1851-1893) . I had a couple of key questions I wanted to find answers for. First, what exactly was his middle-name? Was it his father’s first-name, Henry? Was it his son Leland’s middle-name and 3 generations there after including my middle-name, Hugh? The second primary question was; what was the cause of his death at the age of 41 in 1893 ? The information I had to work with was his name including middle initial, census records indicating residence in New York City, birth and death dates.
My budget and geographical distance from New York City led me to Google.com and NYTimes.com for their free online resources. The New York Times offers an archive of their newspapers dating back to 1851. The newspaper articles, including obituaries, published between the years 1851-1922 are considered in the Public Domain and can be accessed for free. These articles are offered as scanned photographs that are downloaded to the viewer’s computer in .PDF format.
I didn’t have much luck with searching for “William H. DeGraaf” . I knew he had gone by the name “W. H. DeGraaf” because of an old store receipt from “DeGraaf and Taylor Furniture” dated 1874 of which I own. My first relevant NYTimes.com search-hit led me to a very short but interesting article:
BICYCLE RIDER LENZ AT ALBANY.
Albany, June 6.–Frank G. Lenz, who left New-York City Saturday for a trip around the world on a bicycle, rode into Albany shortly before 10 o’clock to-night. With him was a single companion of the many who left New-York. He is W. H. Degraaf. The last to drop out was Fred Simpson, at Castleton, nine miles south of here.
1. “BICYCLE RIDER LENZ AT ALBANY.,” The New York Times, June 7, 1892 p. 3 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980CEEDC1538E233A25754C0A9609C94639ED7CF links to PDF file download: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=980CEEDC1538E233A25754C0A9609C94639ED7CF
Cool, my Great-Great-Grandfather DeGraaf was quite the athlete. But this find detoured me from my original goals of finding a middle-name and cause of death for William. I was, for a moment, more interested in the question; did this Frank Lenz complete his journey of bicycling around the world? The first hit on NYTimes.com for the term “Frank Lenz” lead me to the article:
“KURD MURDERERS ESCAPE.;”
to be continued…