My direct ancestor and 2nd Great Grandfather, Garret Spruhan, was born in about 1825 in Kilkenny Ireland. (source reference for birth is the 1860 census) The name Spruhan is rare in the United States and in Ireland.
In 1850, at the age of 25, Garret left Ireland and immigrated to the United States on a “famine ship.” The name of the ship was the “Martha.” He embarked from Liverpool.
This brief history of famine ships (includes the ship the “Martha”) Information may be found at http://www.irishamericanjourney.com/2011/10/irishships-to-america.html
Here is a post about Garret Spruhan that I found on-line. This quote also is the only reference found for death date. Garret lived only to age 44.
“Garret Spruhan was a farmer in County Kilkenny. He arrived in New York like many from his country and eventually moved west with the railroads. He married Margaret Denny and had five children. The Spruhan family settled in Crawfordsville, Indiana.The children’s names were as follows: John Arthur, Katherine, William Henry, Eliza J., and Macie.
In 1862 Margaret Denny Spruhan died (She was my 2nd great grandmother). Garret Spruhan returned to farming in 1864 after purchasing land north of Crawfordsville. He also remarried in that year to Ann McKevitt Wood. The family farm prospered over the next four years, as evidenced from estate records. Tragedy hit the family in early 1869 when Garret died.
From the estate records, the Spruhan children were sent to live on farms in neighboring counties. Only Macie remained at the Spruhan farm with her stepmother.
Any questions or comments are welcomed.” Note: this means that my great grandfather Henry Spruhan was emancipated at the age of 12!
In 1852, at the age of 27, Garrett Spruhan married Margaret Denny. They were married on January 11, 1852 in Hamilton Co., Ohio by a Roman Catholic bishop.
In the 1860 census, Garret lives in Union, Montgomery, Indiana. The afore mentioned
quotation states that he settled in Crawfordsville, Indiana. (The Civil war would begin on April 12, 1861)
Garrett had a brother named John Henry. John immigrated to Nova Scotia Canada. He changed the spelling of his last name from Spruhan to Spruin. This is documented in a post found online. http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?Roanoke::in::36997.html
(There seems to be an incorrect piece of information in this post. Garret immigrated in
1850 and NOT 1839. Also, there may be a misspelling of Garret’s second wife’s name.)
Here is the post that I found on-line from family historian Lydia Spruhan:
Dear Spruhan Family querers:
My name is Lydia Mary Spruhan. I am the genealogist of the family. I can tell you alot about the Spruhans in Indiana. The family began in this country when Garret Spruhan came to America from Ireland in 1839, and married Margaret Denny, also from Ireland. The were married in the Roman Catholic Church, by the Bishop of Pennsylvania. Garret
became a naturalized citizen in 1940. I still have his original naturalization papers, as well as official “copies” issued by the Gov’t. He and his wife moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana and began a family, the oldest being John Arthur (NOT Alexander) Spruhan, who is my great-great-grandfather. I have many photos of him, as well as letters to my
grandfather from his daughter, my great-great. Eliza, whom you also mentioned, became the first female attorney in the State of Indiana, and carried the name Eliza Spruhan Painter. She ran a charity for Confederate Soldiers from the Civil War. But, I am jumping ahead of myself here. There were many children born to the Spruhans, some of whom died in infancy. They were all baptized at the Catholic church in Crawfordsville. I have the original church ledgers if you would like to see them. When Garret and Margaret were still fairly young, Margaret died. Garret married a woman named
Ann McKerritt, also from Ireland, as a second wife. After Garret died (I have never found out whether he died in the Civil War after conscription or of natural causes), the
children were sadly separated into different families in the community. I have the name of the family who raised Eliza and the younger children. I’ll have to look it up for you, it’s
German. John Arthur and Henry were already of sufficient age to be emancipated as adults. John Arthur married Joan America Bohannon, who is in herself quite a story. Their children are in my direct line, so I can share that history with you as well if you wish. Her family dates back to the pre-Revolutionary times, and my female ancestors and aunts have always been in the DAR due to the connection to John Bohannon who served in the Virginia militia during the Revolution. John Arthur was the railroad man for the stop in Crawfordsville for many years. His son, Fred Garret Spruhan went to Purdue and also became an Engineer. His son, John Galey Spruhan, is my grandfather, also a Purdue grad and engineer. John Halsey Spruhan was the only child of John
Galey Spruhan and my grandmother, Beatrice Halsey, who only recently died a few years ago at 93. After John Halsey Spruhan, of Salem, VA, comes Paul Wesley Spruhan, my
brother, and then his son, my five-year old nephre Bahe Spruhan. Paul lives in Arizona with his Navajo wife, Bidtah. Both of his children are also enrolled in the Navajo Nation
Back to the beginning:
The Spruhans come from County Carlow, and County Kilkenny, Ireland. Garret was from Kilkenny, and he has a brother who also emigrated around the same time to Nova
Scotia. the family there changed the spelling of their name so it would be pronounced correctly (Sproo-in), NOT Sproo-Han. They go by the spelling Spruin. John Henry Spruin is the brother who went to Canada. His son, John, is somewhat of a local Nova Scotia hero, as he was one of the “Halifax Nine”, who were first responding fireman at the Halifax explosion (when a munitions boat exploded in Halifax Harbor, killing all
nine, who were the only fireman who responded, given the seriousness of the explosion and the certainty of death. There are still Spruins in Canada whom I know of.
Back to Ireland:
The Spruhan Family are all buried back hundreds of years from Garret’s arrival in the US, at St. Columbkille’s Cemetery in Thomastown. There are barrows in the distance of the ancient Celtic kings who the area around the Nor River (Black River) in Kilkenny. There are Spruhans still there, in the area of Carlow bordering Thomastown, Kilkenny. They are headed by Thomas and Peggy Spruhan, and they have five sons, one of whom I talk to, Edmond, who lives in the Boston area. One of Edmond’s brothers, Michael I believe, lived and worked in Mexico City, and married a Mexican woman. They have a son named Emilio. So, as you can see with the Navajo & Mexican influences, our family is quite diverse.
Of course I have the documents and photos for all of this. There are a few other Spruhans in my home state of VA: Jack Spruhan, my great uncle (Fred Garret’s cousin), and his local hero father, Pinky (Guy) Spruhan RIP, who was the football coach at Roanoke College for many years.
What else are you wanting to know about? Henry Spruhan is your ancestor, I do have a family tree which comes down to the 1980s. there should be two siblings named Paul (not my brother Paul) and his sister Cinnamon Spruhan. they also had a younger brother who died as a child. Cinnamon should be in her 30s and Paul is a young free spirited 20 something. People often search for my brother, Paul, on Facebook, and are si surprized when they find Paul Spruhna from Henry’s line, as he seems to be into counter culture…like Punk Rock or skateboards or similar style.
As I said, you’ll have to ask my some more questions if I’m to help you find (or have myself alreay), the particular documents or information you require.
Interesting piece of sad Famine-era family history: there was a young woman named Bridget Spruhan who jumped to her death from a prison ship rather than be put into a life of servitude and slavery in Australia. For some reason the song “Fields of Athenry” makes me cry, most likely due to Bridget’s experience.
Lydia Mary Spruhan
Of Garret’s children, my direct ancestor is Henry Joseph Spruhan who married Caroline Baur. Henry was 12 at the time of his father’s death and was thus thrust into an early adulthood emancipation. (Henry Spruhan was my Great Grandfather)
My name is Linda Claire Hess Groshans
List of generations:
Garret Spruhan and Margaret Denny
Henry Joseph Spruhan and Caroline “Carrie” Baur
Henrietta Spruhan and George K. Hess, Sr.
Robert Lawrence Hess and Gretchen Lois Ream (my parents)
Comments from Ancestry.com
“Nor River: The Spruhan Family are all buried back hundreds of years from Garret’s arrival in the US, at St. Columbkille’s Cemetery in Thomastown. There are barrows in the distance of the ancient Celtic kings who the area around the Nor River (Black River) in Kilkenny.”