WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
JOHN HENRY SR. & BARBARA STAHELI GRAF HOME
Santa Clara, Utah
LOCATION1398 Vernons Street
Santa Clara, Utah
37° 7' 55.68" North Latitude, 113° 39' 4.38" West Longitude
37.1321° North Latitude, 113.6512° West Longitude
2,771 feet (844 meters) MSL
HISTORYThe history of this humble home began in the second half of the 19th Century in the mining town of Silver Reef. Its simple side-gabled, hall-and-parlor design would have lent itself to ease of construction, something probably desired in a booming mining town. Being two rooms wide and one room deep, the original home offered little more than basic shelter. The walls provided small protection from extremes, as they were without any kind of insulation. On the exterior, the board-and-batten siding, which covered the rear and sides of the house, was of vertical design. This was a much less costly construction than the horizontal clapboard design that is featured on the front.
By the 1880s, Silver Reef mines had played out and entire homes, lumber, and other construction materials were readly available on the site. John Henry Graf Sr. seized the moment and found a house for himself and his young wife, Barbara. His only real problem was transporting his purchase. The story told is that he took three sets of wagon wheels and axles, at least one team of horses, and most likely a great many of his friends with him to Silver Reef. They lined up the sets of wheels and placed large poles on them. They wrestled the house onto the poles and started down the canyon. The horses were hitched to the poles and the wheels were rotated as they moved along. As one set of wheels came out the back, it was quickly moved to the front, and so on. There is no detailed accounting of how long this took, but it probably furnished ample materials for many a conversation thereafter.
A small cellar with rock stairs had been dug in preparation of the home's placement, and a rough rock foundation was assembled. The house was placed on the foundation, a decorative front porch was added, and life began for Barbara and John Henry in their own home. But it wasn't an easy life. Barbara had to do her cooking and washing outside because there was no kitchen. This was managed through the use of a large wood stove that sat under a pear tree in the summer and nearer the house in the winter. A lean-to addition was added later that provided space for an interior kitchen. The home's two big rooms each had a fireplace for heat. One room served as the parlor while the other was the bedroom. A leather couch that pulled out into a bed served its dual purpose in the parlor, and a rudimentary carpet covered the floor. Woven from room-wide strips of cloth, the carpet was laid over scattered straw and tacked all around the edges of the room. In the bedroom, a trundle bed and fold-away cots provided the family with needed sleeping quarters.
John Henry Sr. & Barbara Staheli Graf
Vicki Frei Lasswell
BIOGRAPHYJohn Henry Sr. & Barbara Staheli Graf click here
WCHS-01705 Photo of John & Barbara Graf home in Santa Clara looking northeast
WCHS-01710 Photo of the fireplace in the John & Barbara Graf home