John Henderson Graff

b. 15 March 1880, d. 11 August 1902
  • John Henderson Graff was born on 15 March 1880 in Alabama.
  • George C. Graff and Mary Lillian Thrasher appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1880 in Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama, and George's brother Charles H. Graff, and four servants.. Other members of the household included John Henderson Graff.
  • John Henderson Graff appeared in the US federal census of 1 June 1900 in Calamba, Philippines, serving as a private in Company A, 39th US Infantry Regiment.
  • The following appeared on 9 August 1902 in The Montgomery Advertiser: As a result of a personal encounter at 3:15 o'clock this morning in a house kept by Emma Thompson on Union Street, Dr. Daniel F. Robinson, a well known young dentist of Montgomery, is dead and Henderson Graff, an equally well known young man, is dangerously wounded.
         Dr. Robinson was shot twice in the stomach by young Graff and died later while lying on the floor of Fowler's drug store on Dexter Avenue where he had been hastily carried in a street hack.
         Graff received a pistol wound in the stomach just above and to the right of the navel. His wound may prove fatal.
         It was about 3:30 o'clock when Dr. Robinson was brought to Fowler's drug store in a hack driven by William Iverson, a negro. The wounded man was accompanied by Alma Benson, who resides at the corner of Dexter Avenue and Lawrence Street. The woman was greatly excited and was calling wildly for a physician. She was carried to police headquarters and detained as a witness.
         Dr. Robinson was removed from the carriage and carried into the drug store. From the nature of his wound it was easily eiscernible that his condition was desperate. Hasty attempts were made to secure a surgeon, but before one arrived the wounded man had expired.
         The wound that produced death was in the stomach, and the powder-burned clothing showed that the weapon had been held close to the body when discharged. No blood exuded, and it is supposed that the wound bled internally. Death came at 3:55 o'clock.
         Coroner Tice was notified of the affair, and upon his order the body was removed to an undertaking establishment. The Coroner said it was probably that the inquest would be held this morning.
         Before Dr. Robinson died Police Captain Taylor had reached the drug store. The Benson woman was closely questioned but she was hysterical and could not give a coherent account of the shooting. The negro hack driver said Dr. Robinson was shot in a house on Union Street and that a second man had been shot in the house.
         After sending the Benson woman to police headquarters in charge of a patrolman Police Captain Taylor, with several police officers, hurried to the Union Street house.
         Alma Benson said she went to the house of Emma Thompson with Dr. Robinson in a hack. Dr. Robinson, she said, went into the house and she remained on the sidewalk or in the hack. When Dr. Robinson entered the house she said the shooting began and Dr. Robinson staggered out and upon the sidewalk calling to her that he was shot. With the assistance of the negro hackman she said she got the wounded man into the hack and instructed the negro to drive as fast as he could to Fowler's drug store.
         The Benson woman wildly protesting that she did not have anything to do with the shooting, was locked in a cell.
         Meanwhile Police Captain Taylor and his men had reached the house on Union Street. There they found Henderson Graff, a young man who is a clerk for C. Y. Gogeckt on Commerce Street. Graff had a pistol would in his stomach and was suffering intense pain. He said he was in a room of the house when Dr. Robinson came there. Graff said Dr. Robinson violently entered the room and a fight ensued. He declared that Dr. Robinson shot him in the stomach. Then, he said he wrenched the pistol from the hands of Dr. Robinson and twice.
         The men were close together when the pistol was fired, and the clothing about the ounds of each of them was burned and powder stained.
         Graff was able to walk to a buggy and rode to police headquarters with Captain Taylor.
         As soon as he reached police headquarters he requested that his family at 940 Adams Street be notified of his predicament. He walked up the stairway leading to the office of the desk sergeant but declared he would certainly die.
         Dr. T. Chilton Thorington, City Physician, was called and examined the wound of Graff, but gave no opinion of its extent.
         Emma Thompson and other women at the Union Street house were held by Police Captain Taylor for examination.
         Dr. Robinson was well known in Montgomery and stood high in his profession. His office was at 21 1/2 Dexter Avenue and he resided at 627 South Lawrence Street.
  • The following appeared on 10 August 1902 in The Montgomery Advertiser: Henderson Graff, the young man who was seriously wounded in the shooting affray on Union Street early yesterday morning, lies at the point of death at the Montgomery Infirmary. The body of Dr. D. F. Robinson, the young dentist, who was killed, will be buried this afternoon at 4 o'clock from his late residence.
         The condition of Graff is extremely critical, there being only a slim chance of his recovery. His death is expected at any moment.
         Graff was removed to the Infirmary soon after the shooting and an operation was performed. It was found that his intestines were pierced in six places by the bullet, and several arteries were lacerated, causing a heavy flow of blood. This has a tendency to weaken the patient and acts against his recovery. He is still conscious. The attending physicians say that the splendid physique of the young man is the one hope of his living more than a brief period.
         The difficulty between Graff and Dr. Robinson a young dentist occurred at a house on Union Street about 3:30 o'clock yesterday morning. Dr. Robinson received two pistol wounds from which he died thirty minutes later and Graff, who was shot in the stomach by Dr. Robinson is probably fatally wounded.
         Graff was in the house when Dr. Robinson accompanied by a woman, Alma Benson, sought admittance about 3 o'clock. Witnesses said that as soon as admittance was gained, Dr. Robinson dashed into a room, which Graff was occupying and fired two shots at Graff, who had arisen. Graff grappled with the young dentist, and westing [sic] his weapon from him fired two shots, one taking effect in the abdomen, the other in the elbow of his assailant.
         Dr. Robinson was taken to Fowler's drug store in a night hack, where he died before a physician could be reached.
         Graff was taken to police headquarters, bleeding profusely, but perfectly calm. He made a statement as to the shooting and asked that his family be summoned as he believed he was going to die.
         When later taken to the Infirmary Graff collapsed from loss of blood.
         The Benson woman was detained at police headquarters until she was examined by Coroner Tice. She was released yesterday.
         An investigation into the shooting was made yesterday morning by Coroner Tice. He examined three women, who testified as to the visit of Dr. Robinson and the Benson woman to the Union Street house. The Coroner ordered that the women be released from custody.
         Henderson Graff is a popular young business man. He served two enlistments in the volunteer army, one with the Alabama volunteers in the Spanish American war and the other in the Philippine Islands.
  • John Henderson Graff died on 11 August 1902 at age 22 in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Montgomery Infirmary.
  • He was interred at Robinson Springs Cemetery, Elmore County, Alabama.
  • The following appeared on 12 August 1902 in The Montgomery Advertiser: Henderson Graff is dead and this is to chronicle the last chapter in the terrible tragedy which occurred about 3 o'clock Saturday morning in a house on Union street.
         The tragedy resulted in the loss of two lives by the same pistol. Dr. D. F. Robinson shot Graff who took the pistol from him and killed the young dentist.
         Young Graff passed away at the Montgomery Infirmary Sunday afternoon about 5 o'clock.
         The body of Graff was taken to the undertaking establishment of W. H. Tice and was there prepared for burial. The funeral took place yesterday morning at 9 o'clock from his former residence, 940 Adams Street, a large number of friends attending. The body was taken overland to Robinson Springs, where young Graff was buried in the family cemetery.
         All day Sunday Graff grew weaker and weaker. The doctors gave up all hope of his recovery and he passed away quietly.
         At the undertaking establishment numbers of former friends took a last look at the body, among them being several comrades of Graff in the Philippine service.
         Graff was about 20 years of age at the time of his death and had spent most of his life in Montgomery and the surrounding country. He was in the volunteer service in the United States army twice, having enlisted in an Alabama regiment during the Spanish war and having served for seventeen months with the 29th Volunteer Infantry in the Philippines.
         The funeral of Dr. Robinson took place Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock. The body was interred at Oakwood Cemetery.
  • The following appeared on 17 August 1902 in The Montgomery Advertiser: Alma Benson, a white woman, was arrested last night charged with the murder of Henderson Graff. She is lodged in the County jail.
         This is the woman, who accompanied Dr. D. F. Robinson to the house of Emma Thompson on South Union Street, in the early morning of August 9, when a shooting affray occurred and Graff and Dr. Robinson received woulds from which both died.
         The Benson woman was arrested about 11:40 o'clock last night at her house on the corner of Dexter Avenue and Lawrence Street by Deputy Sheriffs P. H. McLemore and Nat Waller. The warrant was sworn out by Charles J. Graff, a brother of Henderson Graff, before W. S. Stokes, a Justice of the Peace.
          The warrant alleges that Alma Benson feloniously and with malice aforethought shot and killed Henderson Graff. The warrant was sworn out shortly before the arrest of the woman.
         The swearing out of the warrant and the arrest of Alma Benson was the result of quiet investigation. Acting Solicitor Terry Richardson, assisted by the police authorities and others having been working on the case for several days.
         It is said the prosecution will undertake to prove that when young Graff fired the pistol at Dr. Robinson Alma Benson wrested the weapon from his hand and shot him in the stomach.
         The preliminary hearing of the Benson woman will probably take place Monday in the court of Justice Stokes. Meanwhile she will remain in jail.
  • The following appeared on 20 August 1902 in The Montgomery Advertiser: The preliminary hearing of Alma Benson, a white woman, charged with the murder of Henderson Graff, resulted in the woman being held for examination by the grand jury. Her bond was fixed at $1,000 and she spent last night in the County jail.
         The case was tried in the City Court room on account of the quarters of Justice Stokes, before whom the warrant was sworn out, being inadequate to accommodate the crowd of witnesses and spectators that was present.
         The trial began at noon yesterday and continued until 8:20 o'clock in the evening when Justice Stokes bound the woman over to the grand jury.
         Evidence was introduced by the State to show that the Benson woman was an accessory to the murder of Graff. It was brought out that Alma Benson and Dr. D. F. Robinson, who was killed in the shooting affray in which Graff also lost his life, had spoken of Graff in Leiter's bar in Boguehomme, and Dr. Robinson had said he would make Graff jump out of the window of the Union Street house or there would be trouble. A witness also swore that Alma Benson, replying to Dr. Robinson, said she was game to go with him.
         Witness reviewed the shooting in the Union Street house and it was shown that when a scuffle ensued between Graff and Dr. Robinson three shots were fired. The women fled and no one knew who fired the shots. Both men fell. Robinson was taken to Fowler's drug store, where he died. No evidence was introduced to show what was done with Graff.
         The defendant undertook to prove by several witnesses that Alma Benson was too drunk to make a plan to kill Graff.
         The evidence was all in at 6 o'clock and the four lawyers spoke something over two hours.
         Justice Stokes, at the concludsion of the argument, said there was probable cause for belief that the Benson woman was guilty of murder and would hold her to await the action of the grand jury.
         The woman was somewhat disturbed when the decision was announced but manifested great relief when Justice Stokes said a $1,000 bond would be required of her.
         She was taken to the County jail, where she anxiously awaited the return of her attorneys with the approved bond. She was disappointed. The attorneys did not secure the bond last night. They said it would be made this morning.
  • Last Edited: 28 Jun 2014