Prince Albert

Portrait of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, from about 1840.

The prominent Loudonville dry-goods merchant Louis G. Graff was a one-time close childhood friend of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.

Louis and Albert were both born in 1819 in Saxe-Coburg. Although Louis was not of noble birth, his uncle was the keeper of Ernest, Duke of Coburg's (and brother of King Leopold of Belgium) country estate. This allowed young Louis Graff to be a frequent playmate of Albert and his brother Ernest, and the three quickly became constant companions.

In 1834, Louis emigrated to the United States, and in 1836 Albert wed his cousin, Victoria. It is unknown if the two ever remained in contact after their parting. However, at the occasion of his 80th birthday, Louis recollected that "the sports of my younger days, were innocent outdoor pastimes, such as skating and coasting in the winter time and 10 pins and other mild forms of athletics.

The two sons of Duke Ernest were fine, wholesome-minded boys, tall and well proportioned physically, and free from any sense of superiority. They mingled with other boys who lived near the ducal residence ... " (unfortunately the rest of his recollection was lost).

Louis' connections with high society didn't end there -- a young clerk in his dry goods store, William Strong, eventually moved away and became Mayor of New York. Graff's son-in-law, William Diehl, became Mayor of Pittsburgh.

His son, Louis "Chappie" Graff, became a professional baseball player -- though more noteworthy for his attire than his athletic skills.

"He affected English airs, had a huge wardrobe and sported muttonchops," and upon arriving to play in Chicago he "dressed like a minstrel man ... a suit as loud as a brass band' and with 'a deep crimson face," leading to a second nickname -- "Lord Chumley."

Louis G. Graff served in the Civil War, and then left Loudonville for Philadelphia, where he became a prominent merchant and the foremost member of the Commercial Exchange. Louis passed away in 1901, succumbing to severe heat.

There are no known photographs of Louis.

More information on the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum can be found at this link.

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