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GRAHL (GRÖHLER) Family History, Part I

October 2010
Grahl Surname

Generally speaking, the surname "Grahl" is said to be derived from the town of Graal in Mecklenburg, on the Baltic coast of northern Germany, which then lie along the northern German Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin's border with Prussia's West Pomerania. The area came under the rule of Prussia's King Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarch during the Danish and Austrian wars (1865-1866) and incorporated into the unified German Empire in 1871. Over two-thirds of all the Grahl families that immigrated to America departed from ports in Bremen and Hamburg, Germany. German immigration throughout the mid-1800's comprised at least a quarter of all immigrants to the United States. As Germany became industrialized, lopsidedness in urban development was unable to sustain the in-flow of rural labor so nearly 5 million Germans immigrated to America between 1820 and 1900.

That said, new information suggests that the Grahls may have shortened their surname from "Groeler" and originated in Schokken, Posen, Prussia (now known as Skoki, Wielkopolskie, Poland).

Following is a chronology of observed surname spellings:

  • Groeler (likely "Gröler" as transcribed in English index), Johann's baptism record, 1832, Schokken
  • Gröhler, Johann & Julianna's marriage record, Schokken, 1859
  • Grol, John & Julia, 1870 census
  • Grohs, John & Julia, 1880 census (presumed census taker error)
    • Grahl, Christian F., 1880 census
    • Grohal, Krist. & Rosa, 1880 census (from transcribed index)
  • Graehl, Gust & Agusta and John & Julie, 1900 census
    • Grahl, August & Johanna, 1900 census
    • Grahl, death record of Charles & Inez's infant, Floyd
    • Groehl, William & Otilla, 1900 census
  • Groel, Julia, 1910 census
    • Grahl, August & Johanna, 1910 census
    • Grahl, William & Tillie, 1910 census
  • Grahl, Henry & Martha, 1920 census and thereafter


1. Martin Groeler started a family with Anna Rosina Aschenbrenner/Aschbrenner in Schokken, Posen, Prussia (now Skoki, Wielkopolskie, Poland). They had as many as seven children:[Bap]

11. Johann Ludwig Groeler 18/19 Jan 1830[Bap] --  -- 
12. Johann Groeler/John Grahl2 9 Nov 1832[Bap] 7 Jul 1908 (75)
13. Anna Justina Groeler 1 Nov 1835[Bap] --  -- 
14. August Friedrich Groeler < 10 Feb 1839[Bap] --  -- 
15. Ernst Michael Groeler < 19 Sep 1841[Bap] --  -- 
16. August Samuel Groeler 13 Oct 1844[Bap] --  -- 
17. Wilhelmine Auguste Albertine Groeler 25 Dec 1847[Bap] --  -- 

Martin Groeler likely died prior to 1880 when wife Rosa was noted living with son John2 and his family in Ecorse Township, Wayne County, Michigan. Rosa was 72 years old at the time.[Cen 1880]

Anna Rosina (Aschenbrenner) Grahl died of pneumonia on December 4, 1891, in Ecorse.[Dth 1891] She was in her early 80s.

  • Bap: Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898, Schokken, Posen, Preu├čen, Germany
  • Cen 1880: 23 Jun 1880 Census, Ecorse, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Dth 1891: Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897, 4 Dec 1891, Ecorse, Wayne County, Michigan

Other Early GRAHL Families

John Grahl2 and three other Grahls are the first Grahls to appear in Wayne County, Michigan:

A. William H./"Krist." Grohol (1823-1824) --  -- 

X. Christian F. Grahl (1834-1835) --  -- 

Y. August Grahl (Sep 1847) --  -- 

John GRAHL2 (1832-1908)

12. John Grahl ("Johann Groeler")2 was born in Prussia and baptized as "Evangelisch" (Lutheran) on November 18, 1832, in Schokken, Posen, Prussia (now Skoki, Wielkopolskie, Poland). He married Julianna "Julia" Wolske on November 14, 1859, in Schokken, and started a family in Prussia. They migrated to America in 1865, as the American Civil War wound down to conclusion and Prussia and the German Confederation lie in political turmoil. They settled in Ecorse Township, Wayne County, Michigan, south of Detroit, and had as many as nine children, six of whom survived through at least 1900.

121. Gustave A. Grahl 14 Aug 1860 8 Jun 1942 (81)
122. William F(riedrick) Grahl 19 Mar 1864 23 Aug 1926 (62)
123. Charles Grahl 24 Jul 1867 (11) Feb 1909 (41)
(124.) (Edward Grahl) (1872) --  -- 
125. Hulda "Goldie" Albertina Grahl 3 Apr 1876 8 Feb 1948 (71)
126. Henry Amiel Grahl3 14 May 1878 6 Apr 1924 (45)

John's mother, Rosa, immigrated at some point and lived with the Grahl family in 1880. She was 72 years old at the time.[Cen 1880]

Obituary, July 10, 1908
"John Grahl, a long time resident on the Eureka road farm died Tuesday age 75. Leaves a wife and six children, August, Charles, William, Henry and Goldie and Mrs Henry R. Smith. The services were held yesterday and the remains interred at West Mound Cemetery."

John Grahl died on July 7, 1908, at the age of 75. He was buried on July 9 at either Oakwood Cemetery or West Mound Cemetery in Taylor Township, Wayne County, Michigan.

After John's death, Julia moved in with daughter Hulda on Eureka Road in Ecorse Township, where she was enumerated with them in the 1910 census.[Cen 1910]

Julianna "Julia" (Wolske) Grahl died on March 12, 1919, at the age of 81.

  • Cen 1870: 5 Jul 1870 Census, Ecorse, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1880: 23 Jun 1880 Census, Ecorse, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1900: 12 Jun 1900 Census, Ecorse Township, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1910: 6 May 1910 Census, Eureka Road, Ecorse, Wayne County, Michigan

Anna Justina (GROELER) LAVE (1835-1899)

13. Anna Justina Groeler was born on November 1, 1835, and baptized as "Evangelisch" (Lutheran) on November 8, in Schokken, Posen, Prussia (now Skoki, Wielkopolskie, Poland). She married Christian Lowe/Lave, a first cousin, on December 3, 1854, in Schokken. They had three children before leaving Prussia, by way of Bremen, Germany, aboard the Argonaut and arriving in New York on August 3, 1866.[Pass 1866] They settled in Ecorse Township, Wayne County, Michigan, by 1870, and had three more children:

131. Frederick Lave (1858-1859) Sep 1897 (39)
132. August Lave 13 Aug 1862 19 Oct 1945 (83)
133. William Lave (1866) --  -- 
134. Paulina "Lena" Lave Apr 1871 --  -- 
135. Emma Augusta Lave 13 Aug 1873 8 Nov 1963 (90)
136. Ida Lave 1877 --  -- 
Groeler Cousins
Christian's parents were Michael Lowe and Anna Christina Groeler, Justina's paternal aunt.

Anna Justina (Groeler) Lave died on November 25, 1899, in Wyandotte. She was 64 years old.

After Anna's death, Christian moved in with his daughter Lena Bonehill and her family at 177 Orange Street in Wyandotte.[Cen 1900]

Christian Lave died tragically on April 6, 1901, in Wyandotte. He was walking along the railroad tracks between Pine Street and Orange Street in an inebriated state with his buddies when he fell into a ditch and drowned. He was about 71 years old.

  • Pass 1866: 3 Aug 1866, New York Passenger Lists, Argonaut from Breman, Germany
  • Dth 1899: Wyandotte Death Index, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1900: 9 Jun 1900 Census, 177 Orange Street, Ecorse, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Dth 1901: Wyandotte Death Index, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan

(William/Krist.) GRAHL (~1824-)

A. William H. Grahl (or) "Krist." Grohal is variously recorded as the father of a family, noted with the spelling "Grohal" in the 1880 census of Taylor, Wayne County, Michigan. He was born about 1823 or 1824 in Prussia and may have been a relative of the Martin Grahl family. He was married to a "Rosa." A comparison of the 1880 census record and an obituary of likely son William H. Grahl reveals the following, unconfirmed family:

A1. William H. Grohal/Grahl 1850 1930 (80)
A2. Michael Grohal/Mitchell Grahl (1857-1858) --  -- 
A3. Augusta/Gusta Grohal (1862-1863) --  -- 
A4. Tena Grohal (1868-1869) --  -- 
A5. Marlah Grohal (1870-1871) --  -- 
Ax. Millie Grahl --  --  -- 

William H. Grahl

"...also one brother, Mitchell Grahl of Dollar Bay, Mich. and four sisters, Mrs. Augusta Thoms, Mrs. Fred Joseph and Mrs. Millie Kinzel of Detroit, and Mrs. Frank Schultz of Midland, Mich."

  • Cen 1880: 1 Jun 1880 Census, Taylor, Wayne County, Michigan

Christian F. GRAHL (~1835-)

X. Christian F. Grahl was born in Prussia about 1835. He immigrated to America, probably in the mid-1860s, and settled in Sumpter Township, Wayne County, Michigan. He married Helen Tanner from New York who appears to have died by 1880. They had at least four children:

X1. Florence Grahl (1866) --  -- 
X2. Fredrick W. Grahl (1867-1868) --  -- 
X3. Benjamin F(rank) Grahl (1869-1870) --  -- 
X4. Emma C. Grahl (1874-1875) --  -- 
X5. William Grahl (1875-1876) --  -- 
  • Cen 1880: 14 Jun 1880 Census, Sumpter, Wayne County, Michigan

August GRAHL (1847-)

Y. August Grahl was born in September 1847 in Germany. He married Johanna, migrated to America in 1881, and settled in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. They had one daughter:

Y1. Martha Grahl Mar 1891 --  -- 
  • Cen 1900: 6 Jun 1910 Census, 578 Dubois Street, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1910: 27 Apr 1910 Census, 578 Dubois Street, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan

William H. GRAHL (1850-1930)

A1. William H. Grahl, a likely younger brother or nephew of John Grahl's, was born in Germany in the early 1850s. His birth is various reported between 1850 and January 27, 1856.[Dth 1930] He immigrated in 1873.[Cen 1900,1910] Otilla "Tillie" Jesse immigrated in 1880[Pass 1880] and on August 31, 1880, William and Tillie followed wed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan. They had as many as ten children, nine of whom survived through 1910, and eight who survived through Tillie's and William's deaths in 1928 and 1930:

A1A. Emma Grahl Jun 1879 --  -- 
A1B. Magdalena Grahl (1884) --  -- 
A1C. Edward Grahl 22 Sep (1886) 4 Apr 1947 (60)
A1D. Edith Grahl (1890) --  -- 
A1E. Henry Grahl, Sr. 8 Jan 1891 1947 (56)
A1F. Minnie Grahl Nov 1892 (17 Oct 1925) (33)
A1G. Clara Grahl Jan 1895 --  -- 
A1H. Arthur Grahl 3 Apr 1897 1926 (29)
A1I. Oscar Ernest Grahl 5 Jul 1900 2 Nov 1967 (67)
Tillie's Immigration
Tillie arrived in New York on April 26, 1880, from Bremen, Germany. She arrived with "Aug." and Anna Jesse, presumably her parents.

The Grahls lived at 323 Elm Street in Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan through the 1900s and 1910s[Cen 1900,1910], and by 1920 moved two blocks east to 96 Oak Street.[Cen 1920]

William and Tillie's obituaries name eight children: sons Edward, Henry, and Oscar, daughters Mrs. Louis Brent, Mrs. William [Magdalena] Albright, Mrs. Harvey [Edith] Barrett, Mrs. William [Minnie?] Meyers, and Mrs. Alfred [Clara?] Schultz.

Otilla "Tillie" Grahl died on March 25, 1928, in Wyandotte, at the age of 70.[Dth 1928] She is buried at West Mound Cemetery in Taylor, Wayne County, Michigan.

After Tillie's death, William moved in with daughter Edith Barrett's family at 118 Emmons Boulevard in Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan.[Cen 1930]

William Grahl died on November 12, 1930, in Wyandotte. He is also buried at West Mound Cemetery.

Wyandotte Herald, November 21, 1930
"Old Resident Passes at 80"

"William H. Grahl, old and respected resident of Wyandotte, died at the Wyandotte General hospital on November 12, following an operation, at the ripe old age of 80 years.

"Deceased came here from Germany when he was 18 years old, when Wyandotte was practically a wilderness and has resided here ever since, living at the corner of Elm and Eleventh streets for 37 years, and then at 238 Oak street, up to two years ago, when his wife passed away, and he has since been living with his daughter, Mrs. Harvey Barrett at 603 Emmons boulevard. Mr. Grahl was an old rolling mill man. he had been a member of Trinity Lutheran church for 62 years."

"He is survived by three sons, Edward, Henry, and Oscar Grahl; five daughters, Mrs. William Albright, Mrs. Havey Barrett and Mrs. Willam Meyers of this city; Mrs. Louis Brendt of Grosse Point, and Mrs. Alfred Schultz of Detroit; twenty grandchildren and one-great grandchild; also one brother, Mitchell Grahl of Dollar Bay, Mich. and four sisters, Mrs. Augusta Thoms, Mrs. Fred Joseph and Mrs. Millie Kinzel of Detroit, and Mrs. Frank Schultz of Midland, Mich."

"The funeral took place from the home the daughter, Mrs. Albright, 3342 Van Alstyne boulevard at 1:30 and from Trinity Lutheran church at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon. Rev. C. J. Krahnke officiating. Interment was in West Mound cemetery."

  • Pass 1880: 26 Apr 1880, New York Passenger Lists, S.S. Ohio from Bremen, Germany
  • Cen 1900: 6 Jun 1900 Census, Elm (Street), Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1910: 22 Apr 1910 Census, 323 Elm Street, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1920: 7 Jan 1920 Census, 96 Oak Street, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Dth 1928: Wyandotte Death Index, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Cen 1930: 30 Apr 1930 Census, 118 Emmons Boulevard, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Dth 1930: Wyandotte Death Index, Wyandotte, Wayne County, Michigan