Norman C. RAFF

(Canton, 1857-Orlando, 1925)

raff norman portrait

Jean-Claude SEGUIN


George Wertz Raff (Canton, 1825-14/04/1888) épouse (Stark, 17/12/1855) Belinda J. Schneider (Pennsylvanie, 1828-Canton, 07/08/1915). Descendance:

  • Norman Charles Raff (Canton, 01/1857-Orlando, 08/02/1925) épouse (Orange, 21/11/1888) Virginia " Jennie" D. Duncan   (Canton, 11/1856-[Canton], 04/04/1909). Descendance :
    • Samuel Raff (New Mexico, [1881]-) épouse (New York, 27/04/1905) Mary Abell (Buffalo, [1884]-).
  • Edward S. Raff (Canton, 17/11/1859-Tucson, 01/02/1901).


Les origines (1857-1893)

Fils du juge et banquier George W. Raff, Norman C. Raff réside avec sa famille à Canton (recensement 1860 et recensement 1870) où il poursuit sa scolarité avant de rentrer à l'université de Wooster :

Wooster O., June 20, 1879.
Year by year the Commencements at Wooster University increase in interest. Annually many visitors flock to the city of Wooster to attend the closing exercises of the University. This year a large number of persons were present from different parts of the country, and Commencement was more than ordinarily interesting.
Tuesday evening is memorable as being the evening of the Junior Oratorical contest. The contest was held in Quiby Opera House, which structure was filled to overflowing. Twelve young men of the Junior class contested for prizes. The orations were well written and also well delivered. The judges were Hon. John Oberly, Rev. Dr. Brown and Rev. Dr. Edgar. The first prize was awarded to Edward S. Kibler of Newark, 0.; the second to Norman C. Raff of Canton, O.

The Stark County Democrat, Canton, jeudi 3 juillet 1879, p. 5.

Il y obtient son diplôme avec les honneurs :

Mr. Norman C. Raff, of Canton, (nephew of Mrs Charles Cranz, and Mr. L. B. Schneider, of Akron) has just been awarded first honor of the graduating class of Wooster University.T

he Summit County Beacon, Akron, mercredi 16 juin 1880, p. 4.

Alors recensé à Canton en 1880, il s'installe à Albuquerque où il ouvre une agence de la Diebold Safe and Lock Co. (Central Bank), vers octobre 1882, puis, il occupe, en 1883, la place d'assistant caissier de la Central Bank.

raff norman 1882 albuquerque annonce Albuquerque Journal Fri Oct 6 1882 raff norman 1883 albuquerque Albuquerque Journal Thu Mar 22 1883
Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, vendredi 6 octobre 1882, p. 4. Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, jeudi 22 mars 1883, p. 3.

C'est à cette époque qu'il fait la rencontre de Jennie Duncan, sa future épouse, alors mariée à Lewis Kingman comme ce dernier l'explique :

She lived in Albuquerque from Feb. 1, 1882, until July 20, 1884. I went to Mexico, April 1,1883, came back July 1, 1884. I had taken my wife and the two boys to the city of Mexico in May, 1884; this was my last attempt to please her. During the two years in Albuquerque she took up with Norman C. Raff, the cashier of the First National bank of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They kept up their liking for each other. She went to Chicago in July, 1884, with the evident intention of getting a divorce. I sent her money every month until I got notice of the proceedings, then I thought Raff might pay the bills, and I let him do so. It is with much genuine pleasure and gratitude that I now thank her for liberating me from the servitude and bondage that I labored under for so many years.

Lewis Kingman, Kingman Family History, Mexico DF, Imprenta de Hull, 1907, p. 40.

Ce mariage va créer un lien familial avec Frank R. Gammon, lui même époux de d'Elizabeth " Libbie" Duncan. Un journal local dresse de Norman un portrait flatteur, en janvier 1885 :

THE DEMOCRAT is glad to say that Norman C. Raff, cashier of the First National bank, who has been ill for several days past, is much better to-dau, and is on the road to rapid recovery. Mr. Raff has achieved such an enviable position in banking circles that most people who do not know him personnaly, imagine that he is a middle aged man, but as a matter of fact, he is a young man about twenty-six years old. His talents as a banker, are of a very high order, and these combined with his character and integrity, make him a man that we could ill afford to spare.

Albuquerque Evening Democrat, Albuquerque, jeudi 8 janvier 1885, p. 4.

Il occupe ses responsabilités jusqu'en avril 1886, date à partir de laquelle il quitte Albuquerque pour s'installer à Kingston. Dans cette nouvelle ville, il ouvre une nouvelle banque "The Percha Bank" dont il est le caissier.

raff norman 1886 kingston Sierra County Advocate Sat Aug 14 1886 kingston 1888 percha bank
Sierra County Advocate, Kingston, samedi 14 août 1886, p. 2. Kingston, Percha Bank, 4 juillet 1888. [D.R.]

Outre ses activités bancaires, Norman C. Raff s'intéresse aux affaires minières qu'il cherche à développer. En novembre 1888, il épouse Jennie Duncan qui a divorcé de son premier époux :

Canton Repository: W. B. Gamble, C. S. Hart, E. F. Donahue and L. S. Pardee, of Akron, are registered at the Hurford... Mr. Norman C. Raff, of this city, [nephew of L. B. Schneider formerly of Akron,] was married yesterday noon at Orange, Va., to Jennie Dunkin [sic] Kingman. The cards announcing this say that Mr. and Mrs. Raff will be at home after January 10, at 222 North Market street, Canton, They are on a trip east now, will be in Canton on they way to New Mexico in a few weeks and then return to make Canton their home.

The Summit County Beacon, Akron, mercredi 28 novembre 1888, p. 8.

Norman C. Raff, qui réside, alors, à Guthrie, est devenu président de la Bank of the Indian territory :

The Bank of the Indian territory, Norman C. Raff, president, and Vincent Wallace cashier, is a new bank just starting, capital $50,000. It will rapidly march to the front.

The Kansas City Times, Kansas City, samedi 22 juin 1889, p. 5.

Au nombre des entreprises, The Texas Phonograph Company of Cullison occupe une place à part. Il s'agit de l'une des toutes premières - sinon la première - collaboration avec Frank R. Gammon : 

TOPEKA, Kas., Aug. 20.-The following charters were to-day with the secretary of state :
The Texas Phonograrph company with headquarters at Cullison, Kansas. Capital stock, $500,00; officers: Norman C. Raff, president, C. A. Philbrick, vice-president, Virginia D. Raff, secretary and treasurer, Frank R. Gammon, Manager.

The Wichita Star, Whichita, mercredi 21 août 1889, p. 1.

En 1891, le couple réside toujours à Guthrie et Norman C. Raff consacre une longue entrevue au journal local, Oklahoma State Capital (samedi 18 juillet 1891, p. 2) où il donne son avis sur la population de l'Oklahoma. En 1892, il se retrouve avec Frank R. Gammon à la tête de la Bank of India Territory.

raff norman 1892 bank india Oklahoma State Capital Sat Apr 2 1892
Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, samedi 2 avril 1892, p. 8.

Ses affaires le conduisent à participer comme secrétaire de la ligne "Denver & El Paso short line" (avril 1892). Dès le mois de juin, il renonce à sa présidence de la Bank of Indian Territory :

Personal Card.
To Our Friends:
We desire in this public way to express our sense of obligation to those citizens of Guthrie and surrounding country who have favored us with their patronage and confidence Ever since we organized the Bank of Indian Territory and not only during the time when the business was controlled by Mr Gammon but also during the period since then when Mr Raff has controlled the bank we have both experienced, at all times, a high degree of gratification at the confidence and trust imposed in us by our customers In return for this confidence we can only express our appreciation and assure our friends that their confidence has not been misplaced When the Bank of Indian Territory was established, we promised to furnish a safe depository for those who would entrust us with their funds. We have kept our promise. We have pursued a policy which insured absolute safety to our depositors and everything inconsistent with this policy has been sacrificed.
We have witnessed the failure or closing out of the business of four out of six of the banks which have been established in Guthrie since the opening of Oklahoma, and through all the changes and vicissitudes among Guthrie banks, we may be pardoned for stating the fact that there has never been a time in the history of the Bank of Indian Territory, when it could not pay off its deposits in full within twenty-four hours.
When the bank was turned over to the new firm on Saturday, May 28th, last, our books showed $64,000 deposits and nearly 75 per cent of them in cash.
These statements may be deemed superfluously by some, but as we were not in the habit of publishing statements we now make mention of certain facts, in order that our friends may judge for themselves whether or no our claims of conservatism and safety have been well founded.
We will say no more except that we are confident the Bank of Indian Territory has been placed by us in worthy hands.

Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, samedi 11 juin 1892, p. 8.

Le couple dispose alors d'un logement à Canton (annuaire 1893 et annuaire 1894).

Les images animées (1893-1899)


L'année 1894 marque une nouvelle étape dans la carrière de Norman C. Raff qui va s'associer à Frank R. Gammon, afin d'assurer la diffusion, aux États-Unis et au Canada, des kinetoscopes de Thomas A. Edison au terme d'un contrat signé le 18 août 1894.



Ils vont à leur tour travailler avec les frères Holland. Un courrier ultérieur vient clarifier des questions de concurrence avec les Latham qui diffusent également le kinetoscope.

edison thomas 1894 09 11 raff
Edison, My Dear Raff, 11 septembre 1894.

Au nom de la Kinetoscope Company, les deux associés vont également répondre favorablement à la demande d'Albert Bial, responsable du music hall Koster & Bial, d'installer un appareil de projection - le vitascope - dans leur théâtre.

Exposition To Open Sept. 18-Closes Dec, 31, 1895.
Kinetoscopes-Norman C. Raff & Company.
Phonographs-Norman C. Raff & Company.The Daily Item, jeudi 12 septembre 1895, p. 7.


A Coney Island Show That Will Have to Suspend Pending an Investigation.
Justice Osborne, in supreme court, special term, this morning, granted a temporary injunction stopping the exhibition of living pictures thrown upon screens at Coney Island by a curious invention. The exhibitions are given in a building on Sheridan's walk. When the performance is about to begin a harrangue to the public is uttered at the entrance, something like this:
"Walk right in, ladies and gentlemen, and see the wonderful vidiscope. The genuine and only vidiscope is the renowned and successful invention that has captured New York city and attracts more attention than the gold and silver question in politics."
The injunction was obtained by Lawyer J. H. Warner, counsel for the Vitascope company, which has given exhibitions with the so-called vitascope in Brooklyn, New York city and other places. Norman J. Norman, Seymour Hess and all other persons interested with them are enjoined from giving exhibitions with the vidiscope and from advertising it to the public, so as to make people believe that it is an exhibition with the vitascope.
On April 23, 1896, the plaintiffs purchased from Norman C. Raff and Frank R. Gammon their rights in the vitascope, which is the invention of Thomas Armot [sic] and Thomas A. Edison. The vitascope projects upon a screen or canvas figures apparently in motion and is an Improvement upon the kinetoscope of Edison in projecting the figures of that novel machine after the manner of a magic lantern. The plaintiffs have paid out, they say, $50,000 for advertising and have made large profits.
Since June 30 the defendants have given entertainments at Coney Island similar to the plaintiffs', but the figures that are thrown upon the screen are not distinct and are not, it is alleged, life size. Figures of horses, when thrown upon the screen, appear much smaller than in life, and are in neutral tint. The plaintiffs allege that the vidoscope exhibition is not genuine and that great damage will come to them if the show goes on.The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York (Brooklyn), mardi 14 juillet 1896, p. 14.


1896 03 24 koster bials
"The letter from Albert Bial, manager of Koster & Bial's Music Hall, is the motion picture's first booking commitment and first screen exhibition document."Motion Picture Herald, 20 avril 1946, p. 26.

The following new corporations have filed papers at Portland, Me: Consolidated Lead & Zinc company; capital $1,000,000; president, Augustus B. Wilgus Jr of Joplin, Mo; treasurer, Norman C. Raff of New York city; directors, the above and George F. Kissam of New York city, Frank R. Gammon and Samuel L. Powers of Newton, Mass, and Matt. B. Jones of Newton Center, Mass.The Boston Globe, Boston, mardi 1er août 1899, p. 3.

Et après... (1900-1925)

Une fois terminée ses activités de diffusion des appareils, Norman C. Raff retourne à la banque d'abord à New York (recensement 1900),

La vie de la famille Raff est bouleversée par la mort d'Edward S. Raff qui laisse une fortune à sa mère, évoluée à $50,000.

Il continue diriger ou à intervenir dans des sociétés: Rio Colorado Irrigation Company (1902), The Canton & Youngstown Railway (1907)...

recensement 1905 (New York)

puis à Canton (Ohio) (recensement 1910 et recensement 1920. L'une de ses dernières apparitions publiques a lieu à l'occasion de l'"Edison Lunch" de 1924 où il partage la table d'autres pionniers :

By Danny
For a long time to come the Edison lunch-as it will be called-will be remembered bey those who attended.
A Round Table
The pioneers-as they were called-had a table all to themselves. Percy Waters was there, J. J. Kennedy, H. M. Marvin, who brought his son along; Herman Casler, Tom Armat and Charles Urban, while at other tables were Ned Porter, Norman Raff and Richard Hollaman of the old Eden Musee.
And they swapped stories and had a great time.

The Film Daily, vol. XXVII, nº 40, lundi 18 février 1924, p. 1.

Il décède en Floride en 1925 :

Word was received in the city Tuesday of the death of Norman C Raff recently in Orlando, Fla., where he had spent the winter months.
Mr. Raff will be remembered by the old-timers of Albuquerque, as he was the cashier of the First National bank when Jefferson and Joshua Raynolds first became connected with it. This was in 1884, and Mr. Raff filled the position for several years.
On leaving the bank Mr. Raff went to New York city and engaged in the banking business for a time. Later he joined his father and brother at Canton, Ohio, and dealt in bonds and investments of various kinds, soon becoming one of the most substantial citizens of Canton, and the owner of extensive real estate holdings in that city and vicinity. He spent his winters in Florida. No information as to the cause of death was received. His wife died a number of years ago. The body of Mr. Raff was taken to Canton for interment.Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, mercredi 11 mars 1925, p. 10.

CANTON-Norman C. Raff, 50, for many years prominent in real estate business here, died in Orlando, Fla., according to word received at his home here.Springfield News-Sun, Springfield, mardi 10 février 1925, p. 4.