Monthly Archives: February 2016

Henrietta Spruhan Hess- my Grandmother

Henrietta Spruhan Hess seated in front of garden on the grass

My Grandmother, Henrietta Spruhan was born on January 31, 1894, in Illinois to Caroline “Carrie” Baur, age 30, and Henry Joseph Spruhan, age 36. Henrietta Spruhan married my Grandfather George Kellogg (W) Hess, Sr. on June 25, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois, when she was 27 years old.

At some point during her childhood, Henrietta and her family had moved to New Jersey. My records show that New Jersey was her residence when she was 16 years old.  She moved back to Chicago, Illinois at some point before age 26.  When she died in 1984 at the age of 90, she was residing in Florida.

Henrietta had 3 siblings.  Her sister Mary Edith perished in 1890 before Henrietta had been born.  This infant sister was only 1 year old at the time of her decease.  Henrietta had an older brother, Garrett Denny Spruhan who was born in 1891 and died at the young age of 27 years old in 1918.   He died from influenza  during the great influenza pandemic while stationed in Camp Taylor, KY. Garrett left behind a wife and infant daughter.  Henrietta’s other sibling was  6 years her junior, this sister was named  Josephine.  Josephine would live until the age of 76 she died in 1975.

Sadly, Henrietta contracted polio while in the 8th grade.  By 10th grade, she had abandoned her crutches, but was left battling some aftermaths of the disease throughout life.  She had told the story in this way, that she went with her family to a hospital to visit a sick person, and it was just shortly after that, when she was struck by polio.  In her mind, the connection was made.

She was extremely educated!  She graduated from the Chicago Musical College in 1914.  She was an accomplished pianist. Later in life when Henrietta moved to the Hess family farm in Michigan with her husband and sons, the first thing she requested was a baby grand piano.

They (Henrietta and George Hess, Sr.) moved to the farm in Michigan because two things happened. The first thing that happened was George Sr.’s father Jaun Hess died. The second thing was that my father was a sickly child. His appendix had burst and there was little hope for his life. In a letter that I have from Henrietta to my mother, Henrietta explains that the doctor’s thought the only hope for my father to survive was for him to live in the country.  He had to leave the city life in order to regain his health and save his young life.  This meant my Grandparents had to “sacrifice” their life style and George Sr.’s excellent engineering job. It was hard for Henrietta to make the transition between the society life with a very advanced education to the life on a farm in Michigan with no background in this type of lifestyle and no peer in Benton Harbor, MI that had her background or life style. The membership in a Baptist church was still not enough to answer some of her losses in this move. One of the first things that Henrietta insisted upon was having the farm made electric. The neighbors regarded this and many of their activities as “haughty”. … Think of it, the young society girl is now helping to run an active Michigan orchard. They wanted to be “modern” and discarded the horses in lieu of tractors (another sore spot with the farms near by.) In fact the local farmers were quite put out by the modern ways of their new neighbors. Migrant workers were called in to make the harvest every year and lived in shacks at the back of the farm. Henrietta somehow came to supervise the operation of the cider mill. My Uncle George Hess, Jr. was called to help with the farm. Because my father was “sickly” he was allowed to work in the kitchen with his mother and do light household chores.

Henrietta was known to be brilliant.  Very, very smart!  She was knowledgable in several languages.  She was devout in her Bible studies, but preferred to read the scriptures in their original Hebrew or Greek.  I believe she was also a student of latin!

At some point in her young adult life, she excelled as a typist and was hired to demonstrate the use of the dictaphone. It was always thought that her skill as a pianist had helped her with this occupation.   In the 1920 census (she was 26 years old at that time) she listed her occupation as “operator” for a “Dictaphone hardware company.” This was most likely her occupation when she was engaged to my Grandfather, George Kellogg Hess, Sr.

I remember that my Grandparents were ham radio operators.  Also, that they had a bomb shelter in their yard…(the types of things a child might remember about relatives that lived quite a distance away?)

Henrietta’s parents had a rich and successful history.  I will look forward in future posts to a discussion about their backgrounds.With Henrietta Hess by 1928 DodgeHenrietta Spruhan in coat with hat

Henrietta Spruhan Hess standing on porch hand on hip

Henrietta Spruhan July 6, 1894

Norbert Donald “Nick” Wiesner 1920-1999

Norbert “Nick” D. Wiesner was born on October 5, 1920, in Wisconsin to Emma Wilhelmine Caroline Borck, age 40, and Jacob Johann Wiesner, age 40.

“Nick” married Joyce Lucille Shaw on June 25, 1943, when he was 22 years old. His wife Joyce passed away on June 28, 1990, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at the age of 68. They had been married 47 years.

“Nick” and Joyce had 3 children.  Their oldest was their son, Eugene Norbert Wiesner. (see the 2nd photo below of Eugene Wiesner with his parents!)  Nick and Joyce also had 2 daughters, Emogene and Sandra Ann.

Joyce Shaw and Nick Wiesner.jpgJoyce, Norbert and Eugene WiesnerKara and Drew Wiesner with Joyce and Nick Wiesner 1975


 The article below is about the draft lottery and is from the 18 March 1942 in the Green Bay Gazette (page 42)

Green Bay Gazette 18 March 1942 page 12

WWII draft registration form Feb 16, 1942
digitally enhanced photo

Dora Bishop 1857 to 1904 (my Great Grandmother)


When Dorothy (Dora) Bishop was born on March 22, 1857, in Berrien, Michigan, her father, John Kellogg Bishop, was 29 and her mother, Sarah Romelia Knapp, was 25.  

Dora married Juan James Hess on October 29, 1874, in her hometown in a church wedding. She was 17 years old at the time of her  wedding.  Juan was 24 years old.  The young couple had grown up having lived near to each other for many years. Their residence after marriage  was R.D. 5, Benton Harbor, MI.  This was the site of what would become a  successful fruit farm that Dora and husband Juan maintained.  It was located four miles southwest of the city.  

 Juan had originally purchased a 1/4 ownership of this farm that had been his father’s. Later, Juan bought out his three brothers so that the entire 80 acre farm was his.  He cultivated the land into an orchard growing peaches, pears, apples and cherry trees.  It was a very successful venture.

It would come to pass that this farm would later become the home where my father, Robert Lawrence Hess, and my Uncle, George Kellogg Hess, Jr., would spend most of their childhoods!  Juan Hess was Robert and George’s grandfather.

Dora and Juan had four children in 16 years. Only two of the children lived to adulthood.  They were Robert De Montel Hess and my  Grandfather, George Kellogg Hess, Sr..  Dora and Juan had lost their two other children during the year of 1880. The children who perished early were Hattie Hess b. 1875  and Perry B. Hess b. 1878. 

Dora died after a brief illness on October 15, 1904, in Benton, Michigan, at the age of 47, and was buried in Berrien, Michigan. Her husband Juan remained a widower until his death at age 78. She had been married to Juan for nearly 30 years. My grandfather, George Kellogg Hess, Sr., was only 14 years old at the time of his mother’s death.

A history of Dora’s family…

Dora’s father had been born in Herderson, Jefferson Co., New York in 1827 and in addition to his “rustic” education, worked on a family farm. When he was 17 years old, he left  New York with his family and became one of the pioneers in Bainbridge, MI.  It was there, in Berrien, Michigan, that he was wed to Sarah Romelia Knapp on February 2, 1848.   Sarah had entered into marriage at the age of 16.  After her family moved from New York to Michigan, her father worked as a ship-carpenter near St. Joseph, Michigan.

Dora’s siblings were:

Rosaltha Bishop b. 1849 d. 13 Jan 1873 Bainbridge, Berrien, MI

James G. Bishop b. 1852

Perry S. Bishop b. 1854

Frank Bishop b. 1844 (married to Carrie Maud Ives)

Arthur Bishop b. 1856

Clinton Bishop b. 14 April 1861 d. 24 May 1920 (married Lucy Mae Smith)

Fred Bishop b. 10 Jan 1862 d. 14 January 1941 (married Mary Bell Bratton)

John Kellogg Bishop, Jr. b. about 1867

Berd D. Bishop b. 24 March 1869 d. 19 Feb. 1960

Louise Bishop b. 1871 d. 19 Feb. 1954

As an adult, Dora was quite the entertainer and had frequent elaborate parties in her lovely country home.  She often made the social pages of the local papers.