Edward Higbee 1616-1699

I found a book on Ancestry.com with a chapter dedicated to the genealogy of Edward Higbee  (spelling variations of Higby/Higbee/Higbye are common)  “Edward Higby, Settler in New England,”   https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GEg5i0bxuScOCHnm_3wp6hnWn3TpNB9G/view?usp=sharing


As with several of my other blogs, I continue to ponder that a majority of my direct ancestors (and 53% of my DNA) are from Great Britain. Edward Higbee, the subject of this blog, is from my father’s side of the family. Until the recent past, I had not known much about the extended side of my father’s family or his connection to Great Britain heritage.  Instead, I had based my  beliefs about the nationality of my ancestors only on my mother’s side of the family. I had ALWAYS identified myself as being of German descent.  In my generation of baby boomers, it was common to be asked where your family immigrated from and I always gave the same answer, “Germany!”  I only mention this point, because it is quite a process to try to redefine thoughts of MYSELF! There have been many “eye-opening” experiences since I became fully immersed in genealogy research. I have started to “unpack” stories that are in a very real sense my own. The information for the story of my 8th great grandfather has been helped by the fact that his life has been carefully and diligently researched by many genealogists.

Edward Higbee, my 8th great grandfather, was from Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, England. He was born on 2 February 1616. (I think this is quite a nice birthday for an 8th Great Grandfather as it is also one of my favorite holidays- Ground Hog’s Day).

Edward’s father was John Higbed (note the variation of spelling) and his mother was Ursula Blacknell.

A quote ( FROM: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Higby-73)

“Edward Higby was born of yeoman stock, and probably grew to manhood in the parish of Ivinghoe. His father was altogether likely a tenant farmer, holding his land under the lord of the manor by copyhold. This method of holding land had become by this time similar to our estates in fee simple. The farmers of Ivinghoe sent their cattle and farm products to the London market. The beef cattle were driven to London the same as the farmers here drove their cattle to market one hundred years ago. Some of the Higbys dealt in cattle, and one was a butcher in London; and young men of this section went down to London for employment. The section in which the Higbys lived, about twenty miles wide, extended to within about fifteen miles of London; and now all this country up nearly as far as Ivinghoe, being in part hilly and wooded, is the playground of London.”

As an aside, many of our ancestors would have homes located close to London or in London.

Edward Higbee  “crossed the pond” and immigrated to America. He  settled in Pequot Harbor, Connecticut in approximately 1646.  He would have been a very young man of 29 years  at that time. In 1650, he moved and lived in Stratford, Connecticut,and was one of the early colonists who settled in that area. Life was often hard for these early colonists. Edward did not stay in Stratford long. He and his father-in-law had become active in trading and this occupation frequently took them to Long Island (at this time, Long Island was also a part of Connecticut.) Edward would become a resident of Long Island. I understand his trading among other things was in rum business. In 1659 Edward did not return from one of his trading expeditions. It was feared that he had been lost at sea.

There are some great stories about his final return from that trip after a lenghthy absence. Imagine my surprise to find out that Edward was actually arrested for running towards his wife and kissing her which was against the law to do on the Sabbath! He had to pay a fine for this action! But, he did live in Connecticut at a time when people in colonial New England were subject to laws limiting what they could do on Sunday. These laws were commonly known as the blue laws.

By 1664, Edward had purchased land in Middletown. The land purchase includes a deed from Scankeet (native American Indian). The deed is referenced in the book link that I provided at the beginning of this blog.

Edward married 2 times. He first married Jedidah Skidmore in Queens, New York, in 1648 when he was 32 years old. His wife Jedidah passed away on October 17, 1660, in Livingston, New York, at the age of 36. They had been married 12 years.

At the age of 46, Edward took his second wife Lydia Smith. Lydia was 19 years old when they were married. The age difference is startling to me in my present day culture! It was from this 2nd marriage that my family line continues with the birth of my 7th great grandfather, Samuel Higbee.

Lydia would only live to the age of 40. Edward died at the age of 83 years old.

Our Connections:

Edward Higbie (1616 – 1699)
8th great-grandfather
Samuel Higbie (1671 – 1752)
son of Edward Higbie
Samuel Higbee (1737 – 1756)
son of Samuel A. Higbee
James Higbee (1759 – 1853)
son of Samuel Higbee
James Higbee (1780 – 1844)
son of James Higbee
Mary Ann Higbee (1813 – 1874)
daughter of James Higbee
Juan James Hess (1850 – 1929)
son of Mary Ann Higbee
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of George Kellogg Hess Sr.






U.S.S. Oregon City – General Information handbook from my father who was an Ensign on board the U.S.S. Oregon City

My father served in the U.S.Navy as an ensign on board the U.S.S. Oregon City. This was a handbook he had saved…

001 USS Oregon City Eager Beaver's Handbook

002 Oregon City

003 Oregon City

004 Oregon City

005 Oregon City

006 Oregon City.jpg

007 Oregon City

008 Oregon City

009 Oregon City.jpg

010 Oregon City

011 Oregon City

012 Oregon City.jpg

013 Oregon City

014 Oregon City

015 Oregon City

016 Oregon City

017 Oregon City

018 Oregon City





Henry Joseph Spruhan 1857-1939. My great grandfather.

Henry Spruhan article 1

Henry Spruhan article 2

Henry Spruhan article 3


Henry Joseph Spruhan (1857 – 1939)
Henrietta Spruhan (1894 – 1984)
daughter of Henry Joseph Spruhan
 Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of Henrietta Spruhan
 Linda Claire Hess
You are the daughter of Robert Lawrence Hess


At 12 years old Henry Denny Spruhan (he would later change his middle name to Joseph) was an orphan. According to the notes of a Spruhan family genealogist, Lydia Spruhan, Henry was taken in by the VanCleave Family of Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana. Henry’s parents had both immigrated from Ireland and Mrs. VanCleave who took him in had also been born in Ireland, while her husband had been born in Indiana.

Henry was born 3 November 1857 in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  His mother was Margaret Denny from Kilkenny, Ireland. She died early. I am unable to trace her records. His father, Garret Spruhan, had been born ABT. 1825 also in Kilkenny.

After Henry’s father died, his father remarried, but had no children from his second marriage.

Both of Henry’s parents were Catholic and baptized their children in Crawfordsville at  the Catholic church there. Henry was one of 5 children born to Garret and Margaret.

Sadly, Henry and his siblings would go to separate homes after the death of their father. Only Macie, the youngest, would remain on the farm with her step-mother. Such a heart breaking experience for anyone, especially a boy of only 12. Apparently, Henry and an older brother each received an inheritance of real estate valued at $360.00. The exact details of this inheritance are still unknown and many have questioned how it came about. It is presumed that it was from his father and a step-mother, Ann McKerrit Spruhan. The farm, after all, had been successful and must have had the means to provide such an inheritance.


The Spruhan families had been in Ireland for many 100’s of years.  Burials of the Spruhan family had taken place in the area of the Ancient Celtic Kings, near the Black River in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Henry’s father, Garret Spruhan, had arrived in America in 1839, long before Henry was born. Before coming to America, Garret had been a farmer in Kilkenny, Ireland. Tax records for Indiana show that he operated a successful farm in the states.

Once Garret (Henry’s father)  arrived in America, the railroads, would later allow him to move west and settle in Indiana.

Garret married Henry’s mother in 1852. They were wed in Hamilton County in the state of Ohio. The marriage was presided by the Arch Bishop.

Marriage of Margaret Denny and Garret Spruhan


HENRY’S LIFE (this section of my blog is what I learned about Henry from my father Robert L. Hess)

Henry was my great grandfather –the father of my paternal grandmother Henrietta Spruhan Hess.

I have only minor memories of discussing Henry with my father. My father told that Henry had worked as a broker in the stock market. (Of course, the stock market would crash in 1929.) Recently, I felt curious about Henry, a Great Grandfather that I never heard much about. Now, I am older and have time to begin to trace his story. In the end, after many hours of research, I have more questions than answers.

My father once told me that my Grandmother, Henrietta Spruhan, contracted polio and blamed her parents for that. Her parents (Henry was her father) had been taken her to a hospital to visit a sick relative. It was soon after this visit that Henrietta contracted polio and she thought her parents should not have put her in this position. She would carry some of the hardship of this disease and some resentments through the rest of her life. (It is only recently that I have wondered how this story played out from the perspective of her father Henry. How had he suffered from guilt and pain while worrying about a daughter with a terrible disease?)

My father also told me that Henrietta had a privileged childhood. Her father, Henry Josesph Spruhan, had been successful in his career as stock broker. Henrietta, was a true socialite! This was both good and bad. Of course it was nice that she had a wonderful education and opportunities to learn and excel at playing the piano, etc. She was a college graduate. Census records even indicate that they had live-in help. On the other hand, my grandmother’s life would be VERY difficult when she had to transition from socialite to living on a farm – an apple orchard in Michigan later in her life. But, that is a different story.

HENRY’S LIFE continued…

Although Henry would begin life in Crawfordsville, Indiana, he would go on to live in New York and Chicago for much of his adult life.

I do not have any answers for that time between his being taken in by a local family, to the time of his rise professionally in the world of finance. He was successful in his own right, but he married into a very rich and educated family. Henry’s wife was Caroline “Carrie” Baur. Carrie was the daughter of John Jacob Baur who had run a large retail drug pharmacy. Carrie’s brother would work  in the family pharmacy and go on to be the perfecter of liquid carbon acid (carbonation). There are MANY historical accounts of the Baur family.

Henry’s wife Carrie was born in

One of the first records that I reviewed to gather information were the 1860 census. In this census, Henry is 2 years old. I am not sure why, but his name in this census is listed as “William Henry”.  His parents both list place of birth as Ireland. All of the children were born in Indiana.

1860 census

Here, in the photo of the 1870 census , you can see that Henry has been taken in by the VanCleave family. Henry is 12 years old.

1870 census of VanCleave family

In the 1880 census he is a boarder and keeps books in the R.R. office – Perry Township, City of Colfax, Indiana. He is 22 years old.

In an 1887 Terre Haute, Indiana Directory the listing states: Spruhan, Henry J clk (clerk?) McKeen and Co., res. 620 Deming

In an 1899 news article in the Chicago Tribune, it looks like Henry is part of a fancy reception. (Note: I often see his name in print as “H. J. Spruhan”, once I figured this out, it was easier to find matching articles!

H J Spruhan 14 February 1899 Chicago Tribune

The next information is from the 1900 census from Cook County Chicago. Henry is 42 years old. He says both his parents were born in Ireland. He is a broker. He lists his birthday as 1858. Henry’s wife Carrie says her father is from Switzerland and her mother from Germany. Carrie’s birth is October 1863. In addition to their children, Garret, Henrietta and Josephine, there is also living  an 18 year old female servant born in September of 1881.

Here is an article from 1902: Henry J. Spruhan from Chicago, IL 10 Jan 1902

Henry J. Spruhan from Chicago, IL 10 Jan 1902

In a New York city directory from 1903, the listing is as printed under Manhattan and Bronx Brokers, NY, NY Spruhan, Henry J. 60 Bway (Broadway?) In the 1906 New York city directory, the listing as just the same as 1903.

Henry and his family are listed in the New York 1905 census.

1910 census from Hoboken, NJ. He is now 51 years old. His wife Carrie is 44 years old. She states she has had 4 births and 3 now living. He now says name is Henry J. Spruhan and his father was born in Ireland and his mother in Scotland?  Occupation is broker. Carrie states her place of birth is Kentucky (not what I have in her records) and her father’s birth was in Switzerland and her mother from Germany. Garret D. is now 18 and living with them. He says his father’s birth was in Indiana and his mother’s birth was Kentucky. Looks like they lived at 606 River Street. Also listed are Henrietta, age 16 and Josephine, age 9.

In the 1920 census from Cook County, Chicago, IL.,  Henry and his family is on 5542 West Adams Street (rented) He is now 60 years old. His occupation is listed as a salesman for a Hardware company. Carrie is 47 years old. Henrietta (my grandmother) is 26 and living with them and has an occupation as operator of a Dictaphone at a hardware company.  Josephine their youngest daughter is 19 years old and a University student.

In a 1922 Oak Park Directory  Spruhan, Henry J (Carrie B) com trav. Residence at 107 S. Maple Ave.

In a 1923 Oak Park Directory  Spruhan, Henry J (Carrie B) salesman. Residence at 107 S. Maple Ave.

Here is a news ad from 1926: Spruhan 14 Nov. 1926 Chicago Tribune for sale

H J Spruhan 14 October 1928 Chicago Tribune for sale

In a 1930 Oak Park Directory Spruhan, Henry J (Carrie B) real estate, 108 S. Harlem, Residence at 107 S. Maple Ave.

Here are NEW items to add to this story…

13 Feb 1916 H J Spruhan


Below…from Kansas City Gazette in 26 January 1914

26 Jan 1914 Kansas City , Kansas Gazette Globe H.J. Spruhan

From 12 December 1909, The Washington Post…see below

12 Dec 1909 Washington Post H.J. Spruhan




Amelia Wisthoff Grayer 1861-1955. My Great Grandma Grayer.

A family story of my Great Grandmother – Amelia Wisthoff Grayer 1861 – 1955

There she was in 1871, a child of only 10 years old, and on her way to America. Amelia Wisthoff was leaving Prussia while her family was staying briefly behind. A wealthy family would take Amelia with them so she could serve as a play-mate companion to their daughter. From my understanding, this family was kind and generous to Amelia and allowed her to be tutored with their own daughter. I have been unable to locate any ship records with her name nor do I know the name of the family that provided her passage. I took a few hand written notes when I was young and talking with my mother about our family history. I was told that Amelia had come to America on a steam vessel. In fact, the only verification that I have for this whole story is from my mother’s recounting and the fact that Amelia’s arrival in America did occur before the rest of her family.

It was not until 1906, that America required daughters and wives to appeal for citizenship. They previously only carried the status of their father or husband. Of course, Amelia did arrive many years prior to 1906 making it more difficult to research her arrival. There is no packet of information about citizenship, because it was never required and would not have been possible for a woman to complete.

The only way to figure out or try to verify Amelia’s date of immigration is from the US census records. In census records of 1880 and 1900, Amelia lists her place of birth as Prussia.  By the time of the 1910 census she lists her place of birth as Germany rather than Prussia. This is easy to historically explain as the borders were changing often. My mother told me that she came from a place near Berlin.

Here is a map from Prussia in 1871: (source is lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical)

The subject of this story, Amelia Wisthoff Grayer, was my maternal great grandmother. I was one year old at the time of her death in 1955. I am fortunate to have photographs of her and my great grandfather, August Grayer.

August and Amelia Grayer portrait

I am also fortunate to have photographs of myself with my great grandmother.

Linda Claire in Grandma Grayer's lap

For the rest of this story, I will refer to Amelia as “Grandma Grayer” for that is what our family called this strong and lovely woman who lived a long full life. My mother would be close to her grandmother, would spend much of her childhood having her girlhood home opened to have her grandmother live in and even sharing a bedroom with Grandma Grayer.

Gretchen Ream Hess with her Grandmother Amelia Grayer

In her adult life, Grandma Grayer spent much of her time doing amazing crocheting and tatting.  My sister, Mary Ann, carries on the tradition of advanced crochet skills and has made heirloom blankets, snow flake art pieces, and lovely hats – all with a great sense of color and style. It is nice to know this tradition carries on in our family- a special type of legacy.

Grandma Grayer crocething

But, now, back to 1871. Grandma Grayer had started the voyage to the U.S.A. as a 10 year old. The destination would eventually lead her to Ann Arbor, MI. Ann Arbor had a large German settlement. It seems that about 75% of the Germans who came to Washtenaw County were from Württemberg. My mother had told me that she had come from a place near to Berlin. I do not have any documents that support her German city of origin.

Grandma Grayer’s parents would follow Amelia within a year, arriving stateside in 1872.  My family called her parents (my great great grandparents) “Grandfather Wisthoff” and “Little Grandma”. They were William Wisthoff and Ernestine (or Ernestina) Nevroth. We also have family photographs of these great great grandparents.

William and Ernestine Wisthoff

Grandmother Grayer was one of 4 girls and had 3 younger sisters.

The 2nd in the birth order of the girls and Grandma Grayer’s sister was Hulda Grayer. At the age of 19, Hulda married Adolph Kern in Washtenaw County. In the 1910 census, Hulda and Adolph live at 717 N. Main Street. Adolph worked in a flouring mill as a miller. Hulda stayed at home and worked as a seamstress. Huldah’s 1927 death certificate gives her address as 926 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor.

Hulda kern death certificate

The 3rd sister in the birth order was Emma Grayer who arrived in America at the age of 5.  Emma would marry Fred William Ehrenberg who was a blacksmith and owned his own shop. They lived at 170 Pontiac Road, Salem Township, MI. Emma died in 1936 when my mother was only 11 years old. I do have a copy of her death certificate that states she died from apoplexy with a contributing factor of high blood pressure.

Emma Ehrenberg death certificate

The youngest of the girls was A. Ernestina Grayer. She would marry William Carl Scherdt.  William was a woodworker who worked at Ann Arbor Machine Company. In a government form he completed he states that he is unable to serve in the service because he lost his right leg to his knee. He also states that they reside at 302 N. Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI.

William carl Scherdt draft registration

Now, let’s travel 5 years forward from Grandma Grayer’s arrival in the states. The next part of the story seems VERY strange from our 2018 perspective, but was more common in 1877.  You see, Grandma Grayer was only 15 years old on February 1st, 1877, when she married August Grayer who was 28 years old.


They had their first son Herman Grayer (my great uncle) on October 29, 1877. At the time of Herman’s birth, Grandma Grayer was only 16 years old!

Herman Grayer portrait

The wedding records for Grandma Grayer and August Grayer list his name as August Frederick Kreuger. My mother told me a story about the Kreuger/ Grayer name story, but I was very young and do not recall all of the details. I do remember that there was some sort of divide and conflict in the Kreuger family and some of the folks including my great grandfather changed their last name to Grayer. I am so lucky that I took notes of this discussion. It is funny for me to look at my hand-writing.  I recognize it as my junior high/high school penmanship.

Linda handwritten notes on Grayer name

I do not know if Grandma Grayer’s marriage was arranged. August was known to be a hard working farmer. He spent most of his time farming in Scio Township, MI but retired 8 years prior to his death and then lived at 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI. This is more exact information on his place of birth: Hammer-Sandkrug, Posen Province, Prussia. He arrived in America when he was approximately 15 years old.

In 1879, Grandma Grayer was 17 years old. She had a new sister born the same year that she gave birth to her second child, a girl. Grandma Grayer’s second child was Whilimina L. “Minnie” Grayer was born on 23 April 1879. This was our “Aunt Minnie.” She married Frederick Gross. He was a merchant and first operated a store at 115 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI and then at 309 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI.

Minnie Grayer Gross portrait.jpg

In the 1880 census, records indicate that Grandma Grayer and her husband August Grayer are living with their son Herman, and their daughter “Louise” (I believe that Louise is Great Aunt Minnie’s second name.)  August’s 23 year old brother Fred Grayer is also living with them at the time of the census.  (note: they also lived just 2 houses away from Grandma Grayer’s parents- The Wisthoff’s.) Some of Grandma Grayer’s sisters are younger than her own son Herman Grayer!

In 1880, there was a U.S. census taken. August is now 34 years old, and Grandma Grayer is 21 years old. August’s occupation was as a farmer and he states that his birth place and the birth place of his parents was Prussia. Grandma Grayer also lists her birth place and her parent’s birth place as Prussia. In this census year, Grandma Grayer’s father, William Wisthoff, was only 46. (Remember that Grandma Grayer was considerably younger than her husband which explains why William and August’s ages are so close together.)

Sometime after the census report was taken, Grandma Grayer had her 3rd child in 1880. This was her daughter Huldah Amelia Grayer born 26 November 1880 in Scio Township, Washtenaw County, MI. Huldah was obviously given her name as a namesake to Grandmother Grayer’s sister Huldah. This newest daughter of Grandma Grayer’s is our “Aunt Hud.”

4 Generations with Ernestine Nevroth Wisthoff

The fashion of re-naming seems to run strongly in our family.  Grandma Grayer herself was an Amelia (originally Emilie) and then named her daughter, my grandmother, Amelia (this was Grandma Pet.) I named my daughter Amy, a derivative of the name Amelia, and a name that is so beautiful to me and means, dearly loved, or beloved.

In 1882, Grandma Grayer was only 21 years old. She had her 4th child at this time, a son, Ernest August Grayer, born on 22 October 1882. Ernest would later move out of state to Washington. He married Tessie Viola Nienkirk. For some funny reason, I remember my mother saying these words as I scribbled them on a back of a photograph of him, “He left, and never came back.”

Herman and Ernest Grayer.jpg

On 14 September 1885, Grandma Grayer gave birth to my “Grandmother Pet” who was Amelia Grayer. This was a truly beloved Grandmother. When I became a grandmother myself in 2012, I asked to be also called “Grandma Pet” as a tribute to this woman who was for me a form of truest love. I will write a blog on my Grandmother soon. She married Grover Cleveland Ream, a carpenter, in Ann Arbor.

portrait of young Amelia Augusta Ream

In 1888, Grandma Grayer had a daughter Adelaide Amanda Grayer. She would marry Frederick Miller.

In 1897, Grandma Grayer’s father, William Wisthoff, died of consumption.

The youngest of Grandma Grayer’s children was “Aunt Babe.” This was Helen Mae Grayer born on May 20, 1890. She married Walter Mayer.

Helen Mae Grayer portrait young.jpg

In the census of 1900, we see that Grandma Grayer confirms her entry date from Prussia as 1871.  Her husband, August Grayer, who was by then a naturalized citizen, had immigrated in here in 1864.  Because he is a citizen she would automatically have had that status also.  August came from Hammer-Sandkrug, Posen Province, Prussia.

August Grayer certificate of citizenship

In 1908, there is a posting in the newspaper for the sale of August and Grandma Grayer’s 63 acre farm, 5 miles north of Ann Arbor.

for sale by August Grayer

By the census year 1910 under the name Wisthoff, we see that Grandma Grayer’s mother “Little Grandma” Ernestine Nevroth Wisthoff had stated that she immigrated in 1872 which is a year after Grandma Grayer arrived here in the states. This census also shows that Ernestine (Grandma Grayer’s mother) is living in Ann Arbor at 602 Goth Street (probably Gott Street that was misspelled).  “Little Grandma” is living there with Grandma Grayer’s sister, A. Ernestine Grayer Scherdt and her son-in-law, William Carl Scherdt. “Little Grandma” lists her occupation as nurse. Her son-in-law, William’s occupation is ladder maker.

I also remember that my Grandma Grayer was a nurse. I think at this time in history, it might have been a learned skill rather than something obtained by years of education. Her mother was a nurse, and she might well have studied under her mother.

Also in the 1910 census, the birth location for Grandma Grayer and August Grayer has changed from Prussia to Germany. Grandma Grayer is now 49 years old and August is 61 years old.

In May of 1912, the paper announces that August Grayer and Grandma Grayer’s new home is almost ready to be moved in to. This will be the house at 404 N. Ashley, Ann Arbor, MI.

home almost completed August Grayer.jpg

1917 must have been a very difficult year for Grandma Grayer. In July of that year, her mother (“Little Grandma”) passed away and then one month later in August, her husband August Grayer passed away too. By now Grandma Grayer is already 55 years of age.

August Grayer death notice

Grandma Grayer re-married in 1920 and the marriage was brief, lasting only a few years. I believe it ended in divorce. She married Edward Osiander. He was employed at the time as a foreman at the Hoover Ball Plant. He had a previous divorce from a wife also named Amelia. My mother said this marriage was not talked about much in her presence.

Amelia Grayer weds Osiander

In 1930, Grandma Grayer is living as the head of household at 404 N. Ashley and has 2 boarders. By this time, my mother, Gretchen Ream, who was a girl of 5 in 1930 was living at 520 N. Main Street, only a short walk to see her grandmother! My mother would lose her father in 1931. I do not know at what point Grandma Grayer came to live with Grandma Pet, my mother Gretchen Hess and my uncle Robert Ream on North Main Street, but my mother often recounted living with her Grandmother from childhood thru young adulthood. My guess is that she moved to North Main after Grover’s death, although it does look like she spent some time also at Uncle Herman’s house- just a block or so away.

The home on 520 N. Main was a house for lodgers. This was the livelihood of Grandma Pet (Amelia Grayer Ream.) The house was only a short walk to the downtown district and the University of Michigan.

Tourist rooms at 520 N. Main Street

Although Grandma Grayer lost part of her vision as she aged, I believe that at her time of death at age 93, she was living a full life. Photos of her at this age still show her with a crochet project in her hands.

Grandma Grayer's obit



Here are some of the addresses I have traced from Ann Arbor city directories for Grandma Grayer:

1910 Grayer, August (Amelia), lab, res. 400 Ashley N., Ann Arbor, MI – (So, just guessing that the lab means they are probably leasing this house. The home they were building at 404 N. Ashley, Ann Arbor, MI was not ready until 1912.)

1911 Grayer, August (Amelia), lab George Bischoff, res. 400 Ashley N., Ann Arbor, MI

1914 Grayer, August (Amelia), fireman George Bischoff, res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1916 Grayer, August F. (Amelia) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1918 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1920 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1923 Osiander, Edward (Amelia) h. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1927 Grayer, Amelia (wid. August) res. 404 N. Ashley Street, Ann Arbor, MI (Mom was only 2 years old. N. Ashley Street was an easy few blocks from where Mom lived on N. Main.)

1938 Grayer, Amelia L. res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI (so this means she is living in Uncle Herman’s home)

1939 Grayer, Amelia L. (wid. August) 520 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI MI (so this means she is living in Grandma Pet’s home)

1945 Grayer, Amelia L. (wid. August) 520 N. Main, Ann Arbor,



Children of Grandma Grayer residences:


1910 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell), steamfitter U of M, res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1911 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell), fireman U of M, res. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1916 Grayer, Herman W. (Dell) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – engineer

1927, Grayer, Herman W. (Luella D.) 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – power plant at U. of M.

1938 Grayer, Herman (Luella D.) 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – eng., U of M building and grounds dept.

1939 Grayer, Herman (Luella) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI

1945 Grayer, Herman (Luella) h. 502 N. Main, Ann Arbor, MI – eng. U of M



1904 Gross, Frederick W. (Minnie L.) clerk Jacob Lutz, Ren. 320 E. Madison

1937 Gross, Fred W. (Minnie L.) Fine tailoring, Woolens Direct from the looms, tested by the Better Business Bureau 401 First National Building, h 102 Crest, Ann Arbor, MI


1900 Grayer, Huldah, domestic 331 E. Liberty

1906 from a Detroit Directory– Grayer, Huldah, machine operator, rooms at 75 Church, Detroit, MI



1910 Grayer, Helen, seamstress for Mack & Co., bds. at 400 Ashley North, Ann Arbor. (So this is the same house # and street name as Grandma Grayer’s- see above)

1911 Grayer, Helen, seamstress for Mack & Co., bds. at 400 Ashley North, Ann Arbor.


Grandma Pet (Amelia):

1900 (from the census records) There is a notation that Ernest Grayer (age 18) and Amelia Grayer (Grandma Pet, age 14) are living with Foster and Martha Brown in Ann Arbor Township. Ernest is a farmhand and Amelia (Grandma Pet) is a domestic.

1904 Grayer, Amelia, domestic, 509 E. Jefferson, Ann Arbor, MI

1906 Grayer, Amelia, 212 12th Ann Arbor, MI

1910 Grayer, Amelia, domestic 314 Huron E., Ann Arbor, MI

1911 Grayer, Amelia, domestic 314 Huron E., Ann Arbor, MI

1923 Ream, Grover C. (Amelia A.) contractor, 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI h same

1924 Ream, Grover C. (Amelia) contractor carpenter, 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI

1930 Ream, Grover (Amelia A.) building contractor, 547 S. 4th Ave. h do


For more photos of the Grayer and Ream family…visit my Google photo album: https://goo.gl/photos/NzDjP4obCYqhURhS6

Grandma Grayer with 4 of her daughters










George “Eugene” Heald, 1844-1930. The 4th great grandfather of my grandson.

I have spent quite a bit of time trying to find ancestry documents on the 4th great grandfather of my grandson.  His name was George Eugene Heald, but he used his middle name “Eugene.”

Eugene was born on August 27, 1844, in Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York. His father, Nathan, was 29 and his mother, Adelia (Hoard) Heald, was 25 at the time of his birth.

Eugene was 21 years old when he married Agnes Hitt (the 4th great grandmother of my grandson). They had seven children together. It was their first born, Frances “Fannie” Adelia Heald, who would continue on my grandson’s direct ancestry.

The picture below is of Eugene’s 1st wife, Agnes Hitt Heald.

Agnes Hitt Heald portrait

Agnes Hitt Heald seated

Later, Eugene would marry again to Angeline “Angie” Berriault. There were no children as a result of the 2nd marriage.

In a 1928 news article, Eugene is an elderly man and reflects and describes himself, “I am a regular down east Yankee.” He was describing the place of his birth and his origins. This wonderful news article from 20 August 1928, Green Bay Press-Gazette, gave me much of my information about Eugene. Here we find out that his father was part of the gold rush to California in 1848.”  This made Eugene’s father absent for some time during Eugene’s early childhood. After his family moved to Missouri for a period of 4 years, they finally moved to Clay Banks, Wisconsin.

part 1 Eugene Heald reunion 20 August 1928 Green Bay Press

part 2 Eugene Heald reunion 20 August 1928 Green Bay Press

part 3 Eugene Heald reunion 20 August 1928 Green Bay Press


One way to piece together part of Eugene’s life is to study the U.S. Census records.  In 1870 (age 25), he is living with his wife Agnes in New York and is employed as a teamster. The only children listed on this census record are Fannie (my grandson’s 3rd great grandmother) and Hattie. Sadly, Hattie died young.  See news article:

Hattie Heald death

In the 1870 census, Eugene is living in Clay Banks, Door County, Wisconsin.  In the 1880 census, Eugene describes his occupation as  a farmer. By the time of the 1900 census, he is married to his 2nd wife, Angeline. His first wife Agnes had died the year earlier in 1899.

Eugene was a soldier in the Civil War, but I have not found military records at this point.

News clipping below is from 20 May 1926 – Green Bay Press Gazette.

20 May 1926 Eugene Heald from Green Bay Press Gazette

He died on August 10, 1930, in Algoma, Wisconsin, at the age of 85, and was buried in Door, Wisconsin.  The tombstone marker lists his name, his first wife Agnes, their young child Hattie who died when she was only 2 years old, and also listed is his second wife.

Heald family tombstone

Here is the order of descendency from Eugene to my son-in-law (the 3rd great grandson of Eugene Heald).

George “Eugene” HEALD (1844 – 1930)
3rd great-grandfather of son-in-law
Frances “Fannie” Adelia Heald (1867 – 1937)
daughter of George “Eugene” HEALD
Zebina Eugene Shaw (1888 – 1939)
son of Frances “Fannie” Adelia Heald
Joyce Lucille Shaw (1922 – 1990)
daughter of Zebina Eugene Shaw
Eugene Norbert Wiesner (1944 – 2012)
son of Joyce Lucille Shaw
Andrew Jacob Wiesner (1974 – )
son of Eugene Norbert Wiesner
G Eugene Heald Obit
G Eugene Heald Obit part 2
G Eugene Heald Obit part 3

Grandma’s memories (Gretchen Lois Ream Hess) 1925-2006

Gretchen’s Memories:

What are some things you’d like your grandchildren to know about you and your life?

One of the first things that I remember is being ill with diphtheria and watching for the doctor, who made a daily visit.  I was about four. I’d watch for him out the window.

We were staying in a rented house while my dad was building a new house for us. This was in Ann Arbor. I was scared about the doctor because he gave me big shots in the back.

I remember when we were in the tenant house, watching the fire engines go by and I would hide under the bed because the noise scared me. Red trucks, like today.

Before I recovered from diphtheria, I was playing bogeyman and had a dishtowel over my head. I was going to scare my Dad and Mother and I ran into a rather hot wood burning stove and burned my hand rather badly. That put an end to playing bogeyman.

I remember going to Bethlehem church for Sunday school, which was just 1/2 a block from my house. My brother would walk me to Sunday school. My brother would call me a “circus pony,” because my mother insisted that I wear a big hair bow. And he insisted I looked like a circus horse. He was eight years older than me.

He would tease me a lot. But if my mother went to punish me, and I made a wailing noise (fake crying), then he’d say “Please, don’t punish her, punish me!” He was confirmed at Bethlehem Church on the day of our father’s funeral. I was just five when my father died.

After my father passed away, we later stayed at my grandmother’s house. And I remember being afraid to be put to bed before the others, because the bedroom was on the 2nd floor and I was used to one on the main floor. But my brother had his own room, and I thought he was very brave to go to bed himself. I shared a room with my grandmother and my mother.

My grandmother was the mother of seven!/eight? children, Herman, Ernest, Minnie, Hulda, Adelaide, Amelia (my mother) and Helen and _____ ?


Dr. Hess asked me to find out from Mrs. Hess about her ancestor who was the first to come from Germany to the US. Was it Granmother Greyer (sp?), or her mother? The story that Dr. Hess has heard is that a man came over first, and then his wife or betrothed came over afterwards. This was was, as a child, the chosen companion of some member of a royal family, perhaps a duke. (The royal family chose a child to be a companion to their child. Not an adoption, bu the companion child received the same education, played with the royal child, etc. Hence, Dr. Hess notes, the ancestors who came

Mary Ann Higbee Hess, 1813-1874 – my 2nd great grandmother (A story of a Michigan pioneer woman and mother of 12!)

The Hess/Higbee genealogy is well documented.  You can read the book Hess-Higbee Genealogy compiled by W. Emerson Babcock here:


When Mary Ann Higbee (my 2nd great grandmother) was born in Crawford, Ohio on December 12, 1813, her father, James, was 33, and her mother, Mary Fenton Higbee, was 31.

Mary Ann married George Waltour Hess on April 21, 1836 in Anapolis, Ohio. They had 12 children in 20 years. She died on March 24, 1874, in Michigan at the age of 60, and was buried in Berrien, Michigan.

In W. Emerson Babcock’s genealogy compilation, it is recounted that this young married couple “pressed the frontier” and made their way to Berrien County, Michigan.  The book (see page 22) then continues to describe the obstacles on their pioneer journey including the need for them to abandon their wagon when they were mid-stream in the St. Joseph River.  They mounted themselves on the horses and continued on their way through the forest trails of the Native Americans until they find Mary Ann’ parents who had gone before them to establish a dwelling. Mary Ann and George’s westward journey had taken them through Chicago towards St. Joseph, MI. They were literally traveling through marsh lands.  See here the documentation in A twentieth century history of Berrien County, MI Chapter XXVI. HagarCountyhttps://www.ancestry.com/interactive/16860/dvm_LocHist004592-00674-1?pid=1084&backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2f%2fcgi-bin%2fsse.dll%3findiv%3d1%26db%3dGenealogy-glh19225593%26h%3d1084&treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true#?imageId=dvm_LocHist004592-00674-1

 From the history of Berrien County.JPG

Mary Ann’s husband George was by nature a carpenter and also being of German descent, was able to speak and interpret German.  He served as a justice of the peace in the area and was “an old school Democrat.”  In looking over the news paper clipping below, it is obvious that there was a wave of immigration directly from Germany to Berrien starting in 1840.

clipping from an article in News Palladium 30 Dec. 1939

In historical accounts it is mentioned that George was “neat in appearance” and was able to do logging without getting his clothing “dirty.” Wow- a super great life skill! All kidding aside, it does seem that he was considered a respectable and kind man and community leader. I never heard stories from my family about Mary Ann or George, so all of my knowledge has come from searching Ancestry and the web and of course the entire Hess-Higbee compilation by Babcock.

Find a Grave photo of Mary Ann’s tombstone is here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/95816610/mary-a-hess

Here is my connection to Mary Ann Higbee Hess

Mary Ann Higbee (1813 – 1874)
2nd great-grandmother
Juan James Hess (1850 – 1929)
son of Mary Ann Higbee
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr.
Linda Claire Hess
You are the daughter of Robert Lawrence Hess