by Jeff Blakley
While reading an article in Tequesta by Jeanne Bellamy, I ran across the name A.C. Graw, which was familiar to me from viewing a photograph of what is thought to be his yacht, moored in the Florida City canal near what is now the intersection of Krome Avenue and East Palm Drive.
Bellamy had written that “The Homestead Enterprise was founded in 1912 by J.A. Kahl, a Methodist minister, who sold his interest in 1915 to A.C. Graw, former Philadelphia publisher.” She went on to write that Graw and his family were on their way to California aboard their yacht when their trip was aborted by the outbreak of WWI. According to Bellamy, Graw and his yacht entered the Florida City canal on February 16, 1915. Bellamy’s account of how Graw came to the Homestead area is incorrect but to tell the full story is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that Graw likely came here because of his friendships with men involved in the temperance movement, most notably, Joseph A. Kahl, the owner and publisher of the South Florida Banner.
So who was A.C. Graw? His full name was Alexander Catell Graw and he was born on November 14, 1860 in Haddonfield, Camden, New Jersey. His father, the Rev. Jacob Bentley Graw, born on October 24, 1832 to George and Louisa Graw, was a Methodist minister who was a prominent member of the temperance movement. In 1901, Alexander Graw wrote a biography of his father, Forty-Six Years in the Methodist Ministry: Life of J.B. Graw, D.D. 1832-1901. If you are interested in reading portions of the book, you can download it from this website by clicking on the Researchers tab in the menu.
As early as 1880, Alexander’s occupation was as a “printer.” A fierce opponent of alcohol, like his father, he published a prohibition newspaper in Camden, NJ for nearly 20 years. Alexander owned the printing firm Graw, Garrigues & Graw in Camden, New Jersey. In 1900, at the age of 40, he married his wife, Jennie, who bore him two children: George Lamonte (16 February 1901 – 26 July 1980) and Elizabeth I., born about 1904. Graw named his son after George M. La Monte, who ran for governor of New Jersey in 1889 on the Prohibition ticket. George L. Graw was very active in agricultural circles in Homestead.
At the time of the 1910 census, Alexander was a magazine publisher who lived in Haddonfield, Camden, New Jersey. According to the demographics that I looked at, Haddonfield is a very upscale community with a median household income in 2010 of $112,105. Median means half-way, so half of Haddonfield residents had a household income of more than $112,105 and half less. Haddonfield is located about 10 miles east of Philadelphia, on the other side of the Delaware River. No doubt, Alexander Graw commuted to his job in Philadelphia. Perhaps he kept his yacht moored in the Delaware River.
In the 1920 census, he appears in precinct 24 in Florida City. He apparently didn’t stay that long in Florida City, though. Jeanne Bellamy wrote that Graw “started the first newspaper in Hialeah at the instance of its developers, James H. Bright and Glenn Curtiss.” On June 14, 1923, The Homestead Enterprise reported that Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Graw, of Hialeah, had received visitors from Florida City. He still had local connections, though, because in that same issue there was an advertisement on page 10 naming him as one of the directors of the Citizens Bank of Homestead. By 1930, Graw and his wife were living in Dania, in Broward County. He was still a newspaper publisher, at least according to the census.
In the April 27, 1918 issue of the Miami Herald, it was reported that A.C. Graw was the editor of the Homestead Enterprise. That continued through at least October 20, 1920 but ended before 1923, when he handed off the responsibilities of the position to his son, George. In addition to what the censuses show, Alexander undertook any job that needed to be printed. He apparently purchased and installed printing equipment for newspapers, book publishers or any other business that required his services.
During the boom years in Homestead, a new newspaper, owned by Ben Archer, the Homestead Leader, started publication in the late summer of 1923. As the Great Depression deepened in the late 1920s and advertising revenue fell, Ben Archer purchased the Homestead Enterprise in late 1931 and the first issue of the Homestead Leader-Enterprise was published on November 6, 1931.
Alexander Graw died at the home of his daughter, Isabel E. Ford, in Jackson, Mississippi on January 19, 1931 and is buried in the family burial ground in Beverly, NJ.