Philip Kolegraff (1855-1915)

Philipp Kohlgraf was born on 11 Feb 1855 in Sinsteden to Hubert and Anna Maria Kohlgraf. His birth record states that his father Hubert was a Kramer,  a shopkeeper, age 40. The family lived in Sinsteden. Witnesses for the civil birth registration were Heinrich Becker, a farm worker from Allrath, and Philipp Coenen, a farmer from Sinsteden.

Philipp was just under 3 years of age when his family came to the USA in 1857. Philipp is included in the 1860 Federal Census of Monroe County, Wisconsin. So far, no other records have been found for Philipp in Wisconsin. He must have attended church at St. Mary’s Ridge with his family, and he went to the school established in the community. No record of Philipp has been found in the 1870 Federal Census.

Philipp Kohlgraf married Mary Deming in Wabasha, Minnesota on 13 Feb 1878. They were granted a marriage license from the District Court in Wabasha on that day, and were married by F. J. Collier, Justice of the Peace. Witnesses were Joseph Gross, Philip’s brother-in-law, and W. J. Arnold. At some point Philipp had changed the spelling of his name to “Philip Kolegraff.” This spelling appears on their marriage certificate.

Mary (Maria) Deming was born 25 July 1856 in Salina, New York. She was one of seven children born to George and Mary Magdelene (Muelbauer) Deming. George Deming was born in Bavaria around 1815; Mary Magdalena Muehlbauer (sometimes written as “Bauer”) was born around 1823. George and Mary Magdalene Deming were married and came to the United States from Germany between 1847 and 1849. The record is not clear as to whether they were married before or after they arrived in the United States. They settled at Salina, Onondaga County, New York.The Deming family moved from New York to Ozaukee County in Wisconsin, and around 1857 they relocated to Wabasha County in Minnesota. They established a farm near Plainview, Minnesota. George Deming died on 24 Aug 1894; his wife had passed away the previous year, 08 Dec 1893. They are buried in St. Felix Catholic Church Cemetery in Wabasha, Minnesota.

After their marriage, Philip and Mary settled in Theilman, Minnesota. Philip’s sister, Christina, and her family also lived in Theilman; Joseph Gross worked on the railroad in that area. In the fall of 1878, Philip established a saloon in this newly platted town along the railroad. 

 The 1880 Census indicates that Philip was a saloon keeper. His wife, Mary, was "keeping house" and they had a young son, Francis, who was born 25 Dec 1878. The next people listed on the census form are “boarders,” so perhaps Philip and Mary operated a hotel or boarding house in addition to the saloon. Two more sons were born while Philip and Mary lived in Minnesota. George was born 4 Oct 1881 and Edward was born 6 Mar 1883.

          In the spring of 1884, Philip and Mary Deming Kolegraff moved to Zell, Dakota Territory, where his parents were living. On May 9 1885, Philip and Mary purchased land in the northwest corner of Section 1 of Plato Township, Hand County. They built a hotel and saloon with a dance hall attached. They also built a livery barn.

          The 1885 Census of Dakota Territory includes Philip, Mary, and their three sons.

          On 4 Dec 1885, their son William was born. He was baptized on 6 Dec 1885 by Father Bunning. Gul Banworth was his godfather and Anna M. Kolegraff was his godmother. Philip and Mary’s daughter, Mae, was born 2 Mar 1887, and Lucy was born 19 Jan 1889. Later in 1889, Dakota Territory became the state of South Dakota.

          In 1892, as the town of Zell continued to grow, Philip purchased four lots in Zell and moved the hotel and dance hall to a location on the Main Street of Zell.  The building was moved on rollers, pulled by horses. The south wing of the hotel was torn down around 1922. The hotel building still stands on Main Street in Zell, and is known as "Jim's Liquor.


         On 20 Oct 1892, Philip and Mary's oldest son, Frank, died at the age of 13 years. The cause of Frank’s death is unknown. It is possible that he succumbed to diphtheria, influenza, or measles, diseases that had a high mortality rate at that time. He was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, beside his grandmother, Anna Maria.

          The 1900 Federal Census includes the family in Faulk County, Zell Township, Village of Zell:

Kolegraph,   Philip  Age 45         Liquor Dealer

                    Mary     Age 43        

                    GeorgeAge 19        Farm Laborer

                    EdwardAge 18        Farm Laborer

                     Willie   Age 14         At School

                     Mary     Age 13         At School

                     Lucy      Age 11




          An early Faulk County history, written around the year 1910 includes the following information about Philip Kolegraff: “He was known to have one of the fastest driving teams in the area. He had 1200 acres of rich prairie land and two sets of good farm buildings, 35 head of horses and a good supply of stock with a full supply of farm machinery. Philip experienced all the ups and downs of pioneer life. No man could tell him of the failure of crops, drought or hail, or the privations and hardships experienced by the average Faulk County farmer. Yet he remained and reaped his reward. The tax collector always found him ready to meet his share of the public expenditures.”

Around the year 1909, Philip and Mary sold the hotel and saloon. They purchased a steam tractor and had it shipped to the area of Lethbridge, Alberta, where they relocated and began farming. Others from the Zell area had settled in this area, including their daughter, Lucy Kolegraff Gruenwald and her family. Philip encountered dry years, sold his land there, and came back to South Dakota around 1913.

After that, Philip and Mary moved to Onamia, Minnesota. Mary’s sister and her family lived in Onamia. Philip apparently had an alcohol addiction, and the family oral history says that he went to Onamia to “take the cure.” While they were in Onamia, Philip’s health declined. Alice Kolegraff (wife of Philip’s son George) wrote a letter dated 11 July 1961, in which she described the circumstances of Philip’s death in January, 1915. Alice recalled that they’d received a letter from Mary Deming Kolegraff. The doctor last saw Philip on December 30; Mary probably wrote and mailed the letter that same day.

Mary wrote that the doctor said Philip “might live a month or more, or even go any time.” George and Alice traveled to Onamia on 7 Jan 1915, arriving around 5 PM. Alice’s letter continues, Philip “died at 10 P.M. He had been dressed and visited with us.” Just as George and Alice were preparing for bed, Mary “came in and said he was gone.”

Philip’s death certificate indicates the cause of death was “Mitral Regurgitation,” (leaking from insufficient valve closure, caused by diseases that weaken or damage the valve or its supporting structures. Inadequate closure of the mitral valve causes blood to flow back to the left atrium. The blood flow to the rest of the body is decreased as a result and the heart may pump harder to try to compensate.) In a severe case, this would result in progressive heart enlargement, and ultimately, heart failure. The Secondary cause was “atheroma,” (thickening of artery walls from plaque deposits) with a duration of 10 years.

Mary, George, Alice, and Edward (son of Philip) accompanied Philip’s body on the train to Redfield; William and Emma Kolegraff met them there Philip’s body was brought to Zell by springboard wagon. His funeral was held at St. Mary’s Church in Zell on 10 Jan 1915. He was buried near his son, Frank, and his mother Anna Maria.

After Philip’s death, Mary remained in Onamia, Minnesota for another year or so. Later, she moved back to Zell, where her sons, built a house for her in Zell.  Mary remained in Zell for the rest of her life. She died on 22 Apr 1926. The cause of death, according to her death certificate, was a diabetic coma. She was 69 years old. Her funeral was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Zell, and she was buried beside her husband in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

          Philip and Mary’s children include:

1.     Francis (Frank), b. 25 Dec 1878, d. 20 Oct 1892

2.     George Edward, b. 04 Oct1881, d. 26 Apr 1940, m. Alice Burleigh

3.     Edward J., b. 06 Mar 1883, d. 25 Apr 1953, m. Anna Haider

4.     William, b. 04 Dec 1888, d. 23 Apr 1958, m. Emma Henderson

5.     Mary Anna (Mae), b. 02 Mar 1887, d. 30 Mar 1974

6.     Lucy, b. 19 Jan 1889, d. 01 May 1960, m. George Gruenwald




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