A Chip Off the Old Block

My Grandfather, John Conrad Graf

Some of my Graf relatives just had a family reunion in Minnesota.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend but my cousins have been great about keeping me in the loop about the family doings and sending me photos of the gatherings.  One of my cousins commented to me in an email that he had been surprised to discover, when looking at old family photos on my Flickr “Graf” page, that there were Graf ancestors who had been thin and not so, shall we say, “robust” as the ones he has always known.  That got me to thinking about family resemblances and physiology.  I’ve always been fascinated by the different ways we inherit our physical characteristics from our lineage.  Take my mom’s paternal line, the Grafs, for instance.

My great-grandpa, Emil Graf

My grandfather was a short, thin fellow of Swiss heritage with very high cheekbones, a straight nose, and deep-set eyes.  His father, Emil, had those same characteristics.  But what about Emil’s father?

Great-Great Grandpa John Jacob Graf

Emil’s father had the hooded eyes, high cheekbones, thin lips and now something new….lighter hair and it was wavy.  Go figure!  I got the thin lips but not the waves. Boy, would I have loved to have wavy hair.

Grown Children of Emil Graf

This picture isn’t the best but it shows all of the surviving children of Emil Graf when they were adults.  If you look closely, you can see that they all got the straight, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, and deep-set eyes.  The men were all about the same height (around 5 ft. 7 or 8 inches) and fairly slender.  The women were starting to bulk up but that was pretty common back then.

Adolph Graf and wife, Emma

Here’s a picture of my Uncle Adolph, brother to John Conrad.  You can really see the family nose and high cheekbones in this picture.

Adolph, Emil, and J. Conrad Graf

This is a picture of the three Graf boys in their later years.  They are the sons of Emil Graf.  All of them were fairly slender, although it is hard to see in the farm overalls, and all were still sporting the square jaws, straight noses, and high cheekbones.  Each were getting bald with typical male-pattern baldness except for Adolph, who seemed to be hanging in there pretty well.

L-R, Minnie (Wynia)VanRossum, John Conrad Graf, John VanRossum, Maxine Skow, C. Mae (VanRossum) Graf

When you add the maternal side of things to the mix, you get the VanRossums.  My mother’s mom brought those Dutch hips and round face to our family.  Her father brought the height and small head that my brother, John enjoys.  (Sorry, John….I couldn’t resist.  I STILL say you got the better part of the bargain.  After all, I got the hips.)

William Loose

Then you add my dad’s side of the family to the mix and you get the high forehead, prominent jaw, and height again.  Oh, yeah….and big ears.  I mean, you could spend a lifetime tracing down the traits in your family tree and many amateur genealogists do just that.  It is a fascinating hobby.

So pull out those old family pictures and take a closer look.  You might be surprised who you can blame claim for your physical traits.

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