Uptagrafft family have German ancestry, now reside in the county

Published 4:40 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

The Uptagrafft family members who have resided in Covington County are of German ancestry. The name has had several different spellings in the various records that are available. The ancestors who migrated to this country were from the Krefeld region of Germany. In 1650, the Op den Graeff family was residing in that area. Krefeld was founded in the 1100s and is chiefly noted for its manufacture of silk and silk mixed goods. In the latest century it has been an important manufacturing city in Prussia.

The first Op den Graeff family members arrived aboard the ship Concord, commanded by Captain Jeffries. The contingent from Krefeld sailed from Gravesend, England on July 24, 1683, and arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 6, 1683. It was a pleasant voyage, according to one Op den Graeff passenger, Herman.

In the company of Herman Op den Graeff were his mother, his sister Margarette, and his two brothers, Dirck and Abraham. The men were all linen weavers from Krefeld and were originally Mennonites. Their grandfather, Hermann De Graef, was “Bishop of the Mennonites.”

By 1689, the three brothers were all landowners in Germantown, Pa.

Several generations later, one named John Uptagrafft was born in Pennsylvania circa 1827. His was first married to Lydia who died soon after the birth of their first and only child, Washington Uptagrafft. John sent the infant to live with Lydia’s relatives.

Shortly before Washington’s birth in 1850, his parents had moved to Reading, Hillsdale County, Michigan. John continued to reside there for a number of years before moving to Spirit Lake, Iowa, circa 1865, along with a William Uptagrafft. He was married a second time, but the names of his wife and their several children are not known.

When he was only 15 years of age, Washington left home and joined the Union Army. He was serving aboard a ship that was taking aboard Confederate Prisons of War. He felt the men were being “mistreated beyond his idea of fairness to POWs,” so he deserted and went south to join the Confederate Army. He served until the end of the war and ended up along the Gulf Coast. He was known at the time as Dick Wise and worked in any available job that was honorable.

In later years, a granddaughter, Mrs. Lucy Ellis reported, “that Washington was adopted and reared as Dick Wise. He felt his adoptive parents were not good to him, so he ran away (from up north) to the South ending up in Alabama. He took back his original name, Washington Uptagrafft, when he got married to a young lady from South Alabama.”

During one of his odd jobs, that of evaporating sea water to obtain the salt in it, he met and became good friends with Josiah Hart of Mason. Josiah took Washington home for a visit, and there he met Josiah’s daughter, Sarah Hart. They were married circa 1870 and took up residence near the Hart family where their first son was born in 1872.

During the early 1880s, Washington moved his growing family from Minnesota to South Alabama and settled near Brooklyn in Conecuh County. He and Sarah reared the following children: Edwin Elwood, b. 1872, d. 1912, m. (1) Sarah Monk (1887-1966) (2) Maggie Shipp; Josiah John, b. 1874, d. 1951, m. 1903 Lucy Elizabeth Hassell; William Robert, b. 1880, d. 1961, m. Susan Crosby/Cosby; Miriam, twin, b. 1883, m. 1927 Lelia (Coker) Goodson; Mary Ella, twin, b. 1883, d. 1960, m. 1912 Samuel Lee Boyette; Elias Abner, b. 1886, d. 1961, m. Ola Gaskins; Albertus, b. 1887, d. 1944, m. Lula Dickins; Moses Haywood, b. 1888, d. 1932, m. 1928 Mary White; Washington Jr., b. 1890, d. 1962, m. Daisy Gasken; and Jackson “Jack,” b. 1892, d. 1956, m. 1924 Irah Beryl Myers.

Several of these children were married and reared their families in Andalusia and Covington County. One, Miriam Uptagrafft, served in the U.S. Army and later was engaged in farming. Miriam was married to Lelia (Coker) Goodson, daughter of Stephen and Emma (Smith) Coker. He and his wife lived their later years in the Heath community. They reared two children: Roy Coker, b. 1928. m. 1953 Lois Raley; and Myrtie Ruth, b. 1929, m. Stephen Edgar Williams Jr. (1932-1972).

Roy Coker Uptagrafft and his wife, Lois, had two children: Steven Roy, b. 1956, m. Amour Kendrix; and Lisa Ann, b. 1958, single. Roy served in the U.S. Army and later became a machinist. The family lived in Apopka, Fla., and Roy returned to the Antioch community in Covington County circa 2002. His sister, Myrtie Ruth, and her husband, Stephen Williams, lived in the Red Level community and reared the following three children: Patricia Ann, b. 1954, m. Johnny B. Pippin, son of Tom and Louise Pippin; Carol Sue, b. 1955, m. Samuel Mock, son of Grider and Claudia Mock; and Stephen Edgar III, b. 1960, single.

Miriam Uptagrafft’s twin sister, Mary Ella, was married to Samuel Lee Boyette, son of Jackson and Sarah (Foster) Boyette. Samuel was a farmer and resided with his family in the Brooklyn community. He and Mary Ella reared the following children: Mary Ella, b. 1913, m. Jack Leslie Lunsford; Elwood Jackson, b. 1915, m. Willie Ceal Thomasson; Miriam Beatrice, twin, b. 1919, m. James Albert Perrett; Marion Harvey, twin, b. 1919, m. Catherine Gibson; Bessie Lee, b. 1922, m. Clifton Eugene Williams; and Samuel Nelson, b. 1926, m. Vuadrie Heisler.

Mary Ella and Samuel Boyette’s grandchildren included the following: Mary Ella and her husband, Jack Lunsford, son of Charlie and Della (Ward) Lunsford, had two sons: Lloyd Alvin, b. 1936, single; and Jack Rupert, b. 1938, m. Patricia Gayle Ward. Elwood Jackson Uptagrafft and his wife, Willie Ceal (Thomasson), daughter of Blanco and Cordia Lavonia (Cassady) Thomasson, reared two sons: Larry Glenn, b. 1946, m. Linda Trotter; and Herschel Jerome, b. 1949, d. 1966, single.

Miriam Beatrice and her husband, James Albert Perrett, son of C.H. and Willie Annie (Lee) Perrett, reared two sons: James Lee, b. 1953, single; and Joseph Albert, b. 1955. Her twin, Marion H. Uptagrafft, and his wife, Catherine Gibson, daughter of Morton M. and Matilda (Blackmon) Gibson, reared three children: Harvey Lee, b. 1942, m. Gladys Susie Lewis; Catherine Elaine, b. 1944, m. William B. Hastings; Patricia Gail, b. 1957, m. Arthur Leon Frank. Bessie Lee and her husband, Clifton Williams, son of Elijah E. and Jessie Lee (Padgett) Williams, had one son, Clifton Eugene Jr., b. 1950, single. Samuel Nelson Uptagrafft and his wife, Vaudria Heisler, daughter of James Nathan and Annie Belle (Bass) Heisler, reared two children: James Edwin, b. 1950, m. Jennie Parker; and Linda Miriam, b. 1956, m. Thomas Lee McGraw.

Washington’s youngest son, Jackson “Jack” Uptagrafft, was married to Irah Beryl Myers, daughter of John Andrew and Emily Victoria (Wilkerson) Myers. Jack served in the U.S. Army during 1918 and 1919 in World War I. Afterwards, he became an office manager in Andalusia where he and Irah made their home. They reared two sons: Jackson Jr., b. 1925, m. (1) 1947 Vera Bowden (2) 1978 Estelle Gladys (Lumas) Stevens; and Frederick, b. 1926, m. 1947 Frances Tatum. At their deaths, Jack and Irah were buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Andalusia.

Jack and Irah’s grandchildren included the following: Jackson Jr. and Vera Uptagrafft had one son, Jackson III, b. 1953, m. 1978 Kathy Akin. Frederick and Frances Uptagrafft reared three children: Frederick Jr., b. 1950, m. Donna Carmack; Linda, b. 1953, m. 1973 Brent Thatcher; and Diane, b. 1963.

There is considerable Uptagrafft genealogy in the publication, History of the Op Den Draef/Updegraff Family, written by June (Shaull) Lutz and published in 1988. Appreciation is expressed to Myrtie Ruth (Uptagrafft) Williams for sharing her copy of the book.