Old Dominion

    
 
VIRGINIA
Christopher VI de Graffenried, Anton Tscharner, and Selected Descendants
Among numerous titles of the Swiss nobleman Christoph V von Graffenried [1661–1743], hereditary Lord of Worb (near Bern, Switzerland), was "Landgrave of Carolina," an appellation bestowed upon him as a colonial American landowner by Queen Anne of England. Christoph had also received the New World title "Baron of Bernburg," and with it was granted what is said to be the only American coat of arms.* Baron Christopher, as he was known in America, founded New Bern, North Carolina, in 1710. Christoph V was accompanied to the New Worldby his 18-year-old son, Christopher [some maintain they traveled separately, others not; e.g. Wolf Maync (1979; 1981, Bernische Wohn- schloesser – Ihre Besitzergeschichte: Bern, VDB Verlag, p. 145) says: "Zog am 13.5.1709 mit seinem Vater nach Amerika, wurde Stammvater des amerikanischen Zweiges der Familie"]. In any event, young Christopher [1691–1742] remained in America when his father, the disenchanted Landgrave – among other travails, he had been captured by Indians and barely escaped with this life – returned to Switzerland.

On 22 February 1714, in Charleston, South Carolina, Christopher VI de Graffenried married the 26-year-old widow Barbara (Needham) Tempest [1688–1744], said to be the daughter of Sir Arthur Needham of Wymondsley, Hertfordshire, England. Her mother was said to be a Wingate. There has been some discussion about these assertions (made in Thomas P. de Graffenried's 1925 'History...'), suggesting that they are not supported by subsequent research. Irene Bush Spence (ca. 1968, see pp. 19–22) was unable to verify the connection and says "Cousin Thomas searched...the lines and found an Arthur of Wymondley with a dau. Barbara, named for one or all of the several Barbaras in the family" (p. 22).
Irene continues, "In his 'Americans of Gentle Birth,' Vol. I, Pittman declares that Christopher de Graffenried mar. Lady Barbara, dau. of Sir Thomas Needham of Stropshire, England." Mrs. Spence then casts doubt on this connection, "Barbara...either took a few years off her age or was a posthumous child if dau. of above Thomas" (if true, Barbara would have been a niece of Lady Alice Needham who married William Bryan and emigrated to America).

The subject had been addressed earlier in an Aug. 15, 1950, letter to Thomas P. de Graffenried from Arthur Pierce Middleton, Director of Research for Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia (reproduced in 'The de Graffenried Family Scrap Book,' 1958, p. 263–4). Mr. Middleton states: "You may be interested in the following footnote concerning Barbara de Graffenried in 'The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover, 1739–1741' (Dietz Press, Richmond, 1942), page 86. On October 17, 1740 William Byrd noted 'Mrs. de Graffenried dined with us and on the 18th she went across the river about 12.' The editor, Dr. Maude Woodfin, added the following information:

'This was probably Barbara Tempest (née Needham), daughter of Sir Arthur Needham of Wymondsley, Hertfordshire, England, who married in Charleston, S.C. in 1714, Christopher de Graffenried, son of Christopher de Graffenried who founded New Bern, N.C.' [Written in 1942, this could well have derived from Thomas P.'s 1925 "History...," but not all of the following. MsDeG] 'She had lived in Philadelphia and Maryland and then had moved to Virginia.' [A remark to this effect appears in Christopher's Bible; but additional remarks are "new" information. MsDeG] 'In 1721 Mrs. de Graffenried taught dancing in homes of certain Virginia planters, including Col. Nathaniel Harrison and Francis Hardyman' ('Diary,' Jan. 4, 6, Mar. 5, 6, 1721). At one time she and her husband seem to have conducted an inn in Williamsburg, though they seem also to have lived in Prince George County and he acquired land in Brunswick County. Byrd referred to her in a letter to Sir John Randolph, Jan. 21, 1735. 'Upon the news of Mr. Stag's death, Madame La Baronne de Graffenried is in hopes to succeed to part of his business in town and were it not for making my good lady jealous (which I would not do for the world) – I would recommend her to your favour. She really takes abundance of pains and teaches well and were you to attaque [sic] her virtue in the furious month of May when the sap rises in women they say as well as in vegetables you would find her as chast [sic] as Lucretia.' (Virginia Magazine, IX, 239–41)."

The title "Baron" and, thus, "Baroness," were often applied to this couple – Christopher VI and Barbara de Graffenried – as well as to the father, Baron Christopher, the Landgrave.†

Christopher and Barbara's son and only heir, Anton Tscharner, grandson of the Landgrave, was born in 1722. Tscharner is the first American-born Graffenried, common ancestor of most Graffenrieds in the USA. Research to date has identified 16 children (2 died in infancy) of Tscharner by his four wives of record: (1) Mary Baker [1723–1760], daughter of Col. Henry Baker of Chowan, North Carolina, m. 1742; (2) Mrs. Sarah (Rust) Lowry, m. 1758; (3) Mrs. Elizabeth (Allen) Embry, m. 1763; (4) Mrs. Lucretia (Townes) Robertson, m. 1783.

The definitive work on American Graffenrieds, 'History of the de Graffenried Family from 1191 A.D. to 1925,' was published almost 80 years ago by New York lawyer Thomas P. de Graffenried, Jr. At that time, Thomas, known affectionately as "Onkel Tom," spoke ruefully of the numerous descendants in the United States that remained to be identified. In 2003 the long-awaited work of Betty Thomas, intended to update Thomas de Graffenried's effort, appeared: 'Baron Christopher de Graffenried V His Ancestors and His Descendants 1191 to 2001' (Willo Publ. Co., Gulfport, Mississippi, 719 p.), but unfortunately the volume is plagued by errors and inadequate references.
__________
*Thomas P. de Graffenried's 1958 volume 'The de Graffenried Family Scrap Book – 1191–1956 Seven Hundred and Sixty-Five Years' (The University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, VA, 271 p.) is a treasure. In addition to numerous reproductions of paintings (including the portrait erroneously identified as "The Landgrave") and photographs, it contains facsimiles of the 1660 Certificate of Registration of the Coat-of-Arms of the de Graffenried family at the Royal Chancellery of Saxony, Dresden (one of Anton's brothers was a chamberlain and captain in the bodyguard of the Elector of Saxony); the Landgrave's English Patent of Nobility; the Proclamation of the Carolina Herald describing Christoph v. Graffenried's New World Coat-of-Arms; the 1865 Patent of Nobility granted by Emperor Napoleon III to Denis Frédéric de Graffenried-Villars, and many other goodies, "too numerous to mention"!

†In 'Virginia Colonial Abstracts' by Beverley Fleet, 'The Original 34 Volumes Reprinted in 3," Vol. II (Gen. Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1988), p. 176: Records of Essex Co. Va. No. 14. p. 142. Lease and Release. 8th and 9th June 1713. Larkin Chew of Essex Co. sells Gawin Corbin...3/16 of 4020 acres...other purchasers of parts of this tract were: "the Right honourable George Earle of Orkney", "the hon'ble Alexander Spotswood Esq'r", "Christopher de Graffenried Esq'r otherwise called Christopher Baron de Graffenried of the Province of North Carolina", William Robertson, Gent., of James City County....Signed Larkin Chew....Rec. 13 August 1713. The following might also be of interests to researchers: – "Alexander Spotswood of Virginia. 20 February 1713/1714. Thomas Parker of St. Martin's in the Fields, Middlesex, gent., deposes that George, Earl of Orkney, named the Hon. Alexander Spotswood, Lt. Governor of Virginia, his attorney" [Coldham, Peter Wilson (Compiler), 1980, Lord Mayor's Court of London Depositions Relating to Americans, 1641 – 1736: National Genealogical Society, Washington, D.C., (119 p.), p. 66.]

Thomas P. de Graffenried (1925, p. 150) describes the confusion of historians and genealogists caused by colonial references to Barbara (Needham) de Graffenried as "La Baronne" and Todd (1920) had discussed it at some length in his chapter XVI, "Proof that Graffenried [Baron Christopher] Never Came Back to America."
Christopher VI de Graffenried made the following entry in his family Bible: "We [Christopher and Barbara Tempest née Needham] were married in Charleston, South Carolina, in America, February 22, 1714. God bless us and our issue. We moved first to Philadelphia, to Maryland, and lastly to Virginia." [The 1925 'History of the de Graffenried Family' gives Prince Edward Co., Va., as the location of Christopher's plantation on the St. James River, however Irene Bush Spence (1968, p. 20) points out that Prince Edward Co. was not formed until 1753–1754, from Amelia Co., and is considerably south of the St. James River; thus Prince George Co., Va., is the more likey location (and Barbara's will says she is "of Prince George Co."). Christopher and Barbara also had a town house in Williamsburg and, in fact, Christopher owned several properties in Williamsburg, as well as land in Brunswick Co., Va.]
The Pitt-Dixon House (reconstruction), Williamsburg, Virginia, ca. 171719. Christopher VI de Graffenried and wife, Barbara, were early owners.
Christopher's town home, referred to as the "Pitt-Dixon House," is described in the Colonial Williamsburg Guidebook (1960, p. 29) as the most common colonial house form in Williamsburg, built about 1717-19, and refers to Christsopher's father in glowing terms: "...the original house had as an early owner Christopher de Graffenried, son of the celebrated Swiss baron who deserted the courts of Charles II and Louis XIV to found New Bern, North Carolina."
*ADDITIONAL ENTRIES IN CHRISTOPHER'S BIBLE*

The birth of Christopher's son and only child is recorded in the family Bible as follows: "In Williamsburg, Virginia, 48 minutes past six o'clock at night on ye 28th November, 1722, my wife was brought happily to bed of a son, God bless him. He was baptized by Commissary Blair, ye 12th December following on ye first Faire ever held in ye aforesaid city. His godfathers were ye Hon. Nathaniel Harrison, Hon. Cole Diggs, Hon. Philip Ludwell and Lady Harrison. His name Tscharner."

Tscharner's first marriage is also recorded in Christopher's Bible: "Tscharner deGraffenried and Mary Baker his wife were married by the Rev. Henry Selbeck on ye 5th day of July Anno Domino 1742."
 

Virginia Novelist Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945)
Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow was born 22 April 1874 at Richmond, Virginia, the 8th of 10 children of Anne Jane Gholson and Francis Thomas Glasgow. She was privately educated and [as Thomas P. de Graffenried notes (1925, p. 202)], "...achieved great distinction as a novelist." The woman known simply as "Ellen Glasgow" has been described* in modern times both as a "frail, hospitable woman" and a "Calvinist-businessman."

Ellen Glasgow is mentioned at some length in the works of Thomas P. de Graffenried, as well she might be. Everyone is proud to have a Pulitzer Prize winner among their kin! The de Graffenried History was published in 1925, the same year that the first of Ellen's finest novels, 'Barren Ground,' appeared, but she had already achieved acclaim. She had written her first novel at age 17 – it was rejected but she persevered. Rewritten and retitled 'The Descendant,' it was published under a pseudonym in 1897. 'Phases of an Inferior Planet' followed in 1898 and thereafter books appeared at almost regular intervals every other year. Thomas P. de Graffenried lists 16 novels published between 1897 and 1925.

Another of Thomas P. de Graffenried's volumes, 'The de Graffenried Name in Literature,' which appeared 5 years after Ellen's death in 1945 at age 72, made no mention of her 1942 Pulitzer award. He modestly declared that it would be presumptuous to add anything about such a distinguished American novelist. Other books by Ellen Glasgow include 'The Sheltered Life' (1932) and 'Vein of Iron' (1935). 'The Woman Within' was published posthumously in 1954.

Thomas P. de Graffenried's 'Scrap Book' (1958) reproduces an encomium to Ms. Glasgow by Van Wyck Brooks presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Literature on May 17th, 1949 – "When Ellen Glasgow died in November, 1945, she had fully carried out a plan that she formed as a girl. This was to write in prose fiction a social history of her native state from the decade before the Confederacy through her own lifetime.... [S]he had an inherited knowledge of the countless phases of Virginian life that appeared in the complex panorama of her twenty novels, while her work possessed a continuity and a consistency of attitude that one scarcely found elsewhere in the American fiction of her time.... It has often been said that with Ellen Glasgow a whole new literature began in the South, where a mournful nostalgia had governed the minds of writers. To defend the lost, as she said in a preface, had become the sole purpose and obligation of the Southern novelist since the Civil War, while the living tradition of the South had lapsed into sentimentality and a sort of evasive idealism that challenged her mind. As a young girl she had said to herself, 'Life is not like this....'"
Ellen Glasgow [18741945]
Ellen was a descendant of Mary Baker de Graffenried [1753 – d. aft. 1823], eldest daughter of Baron Christopher's grandson, Tscharner, and her husband, Miller Woodson [1745–1823]. Ellen Glasgow never married. Her mother died in 1893 and Ellen, 20 years old, transferred her affection to her older sister, Cary McCormack, a widow. Ms. Glasgow's memoirs refer to "Gerald B—", a married man who, like Mrs. McCormack, died before Ellen's removal to New York.

During her New York period Ellen traveled abroad and met fellow writers such as Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, and others. Upon her return to Virginia at her father's death in Richmond in 1916, her name was often linked with a prominent lawyer/politician.

Ellen Glasgow was afflicted with deafness. She felt isolated and lonely, according to modern researchers, and claimed to be closer to her Sealyham terriers than any human beings. Her novels are described as exploring and recording the vagaries of Southern society (the tale included in the Norton Anthology, "Jordan's End," is dark and Poe-esque).
__________
*The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, 1985. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar: New York, W.W. Norton & Co., pp. 1242-3.

†From the portrait by Raymond Neilson painted for the Virginia Historical Society and reproduced in 'The de Graffenried Family Scrap Book' (Thomas P. de Graffenried, 1958).

Another chance to visit "Old Dominion." Or select another state.