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.






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

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


I guess we were Puritans! My 10th great grandparents were Richard Warren (sailed on the 1620 Mayflower voyage) and Elizabeth Walker (sailed on the 1623 Anne voyage)

Many historical and genealogical writings offer information on Richard Warren and Elizabeth Walker (my 10th great grandparents).  Richard sailed on the Mayflower in 1620.  He came to the new world alone making sure that things would be satisfactory for the rest of his family. So, YES, my 10th great grandfather was on the original journey of the Mayflower.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Warren “At the time of the Mayflower’s voyage in 1620, Richard and his wife had five daughters: Mary (my 9th grandmother), Ann, Sarah, Elizabeth and Abigail. But Richard came on the Mayflower alone, deciding to wait until conditions in the New World were satisfactory before bringing over his family.” 

Elizabeth, (my 10th great grandmother) then arrived in the new world in 1623 and is described here: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/mn/m2332x2333.htm

“Elizabeth Walker followed husband Richard to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the Anne in 1623, accompanied by their daughters: Mary, Elizabeth, Ann, Sarah, and Abigail. Early Plymouth records suggest that Elizabeth was a woman of force and social position in the community. She was rated in the Plymouth tax list of 1632-3, and was one of the first purchasers of Dartmouth. She is usually spoken of as Mistress Elizabeth Warren, a designation by no means common, and she is one of the rare instances in that early colony of continued widowhood.

“Mistris Elizabeth Warren an aged widdow aged above 90 yeares Deceased on the [twenty-] second of October 1673 whoe haveing lived a Godly life Cam to her Grave as a shoke of Corn fully ripe shee was honoralby buried on the 24th of October aforsaid.” “Plymouth Colony vital records,”

Richard only lived until the age of 49 and died in 1628. The quote http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/mn/m2332x2333.htm here is from Nathaniel Morton’s 1669 book New England’s Memorial:  “This year [1628] died Mr. Richard Warren, who was an useful instrument and during his life bare a deep share in the difficulties and troubles of the first settlement of the Plantation of New Plymouth.”


Here is HOW we connect to Richard Warren (1579 – 1628)
10th great-grandfather
Mary Warren (1610 – 1683)
daughter of Richard Warren
Elizabeth Bartlett (1636 – 1713)
daughter of Mary Warren
Jeremiah Sprague (1682 – 1759)
son of Elizabeth Bartlett
Anthony SPRAGUE (1742 – 1831)
son of Knight SPRAGUE Sr ** (Rev War) Sr
Anthony Sprague Jr (1766 – 1850)
son of Anthony SPRAGUE
Mary “Polly” Sprague (1792 – 1852)
daughter of Anthony Sprague Jr
John Kellogg Bishop (1827 – 1906)
son of Mary “Polly” Sprague
Dorothy (Dora) Bishop (1857 – 1904)
daughter of John Kellogg Bishop
George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr. (1891 – 1969)
son of Dorothy (Dora) Bishop
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)
son of George Kellogg (W) Hess Sr.







Luigi “Louis” Bravin and Thecla Melosso

Luigi “Louis” Bravin was born in 1884 in Italy. He was a brother of Anibale Bravin ( the great grandfather of my children.)

Louis married Thecla (or Tekla or Cecelia; Meloso or Melloso) on November 15, 1909. They had five children in 12 years.

He died in 1936 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, at the age of 52, and was buried there.

Luigi Louis Bravin



portrait of Luigi Louis Bravin.jpg

Louis immigrated to the U.S.A. from Udine, Italy when he was 22 or 23 in approx. 1906/07. When he was 25 years old (November 15, 1909) he married Tecla.

By occupation he was a stone mason.


Tecla Melosso wife of Louis Bravin

1936 death certificte of Louis Bravin

Together, Louis and Tecla had these children: John Edward 1910-2003/ Mary “Sister M. Yolanda” 1912-1996/ Rose E. 1915-2006/ Yolanda Madeline 1918-2011/ Evelyn Louis 1923-2014. (These children were the Bravin great, great Uncles and Aunts to my children.)  

Bravin siblings

My family and the Salem Witch Trials: Wildes and Bishop family


My 8th great grandfather was John Wildes, Sr. who was born in Lanchashire, England in approx. 1620.  His 1st wife and my 8th great grandmother was Priscilla Gould.  She also had been born in England in approx. 1628.  They emigrated and settled in Massachusetts.

My 8th great grandfather, John Wildes, Sr. was married 3 times.  His first wife and my direct ancestor was Priscilla who died in 1663 at the age of 34.  In the year of Priscilla’s death, John married a second wife Sarah Averill.  This second wife would be wrongly accused of witchcraft and was hanged in 1692 along with other Salem citizens: Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth How, and Susannah North. (In the book The Salem Witch Trials: A day by day Chronicle of a Community Under Seige- page 186, this quote is made about John’s 2nd wife Sarah Averill: “…most evidence came from the family of her husband’s first wife, Priscilla Gould.  For their sister was not even seven months dead when John Wildes married Sarah, who, they knew, had once been whipped for fornication and yet had the brass to flaunt finery above her station…”

John’s 3rd wife was Mary Jacobs ( a widow) and he had no children with his 3rd wife.

John Bishop, Sr. would have to suffer terribly during the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials. Not only had his second wife been accused of witchcraft and hung, but also his daughter (also a Sarah) and his son-in-law (Edward Bishop) were accused and imprisoned for witchcraft.

Sarah and Edward Bishop (my 7th great grandparents) were able to escape jail after 37 weeks! Once they escaped, they went to Rehoboth where Edward became an inn keeper. Later, they would be exonerated.  Why had Sarah Wilde and Edward Bishop, wife and husband, been accused?  Well, Sarah and Edward  ran an unlicensed tavern in their home.  In addition to serving drink, they also allowed the patrons to play games that included gambling at shovel board.  (See the book The Salem Witch Trials: A day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege- April 1692, page 95)  Townsfolk were indignant and sought to have them called out as witches before their “loose ways” affected others.

Here is a photo of me (Linda Claire Hess) in the play the Crucible. Funny that at the time that I played the lead, I did not even know about my family connection to the story!

Linda Claire Hess with Jim Greiner in the Crucible




George Kellogg Hess, Sr. 1891-1969

George Kellogg Hess, Sr. was my paternal grandfather.  I only met him a few times. I was 15 years old when he died.  Perhaps, not “knowing” my own grandfather has piqued my curiosity and given  me ample reason to delve into the history of this direct ancestor. Although I spent little time with this Grandparent, I was frequently told of his intelligence and some of his accomplishments especially those to modernize the Hess family orchard/farm. In other words, while there was some type of “distance” between my nuclear family and my grandparents, there was also an acknowledgement by my father of his parent’s better attributes. I heard they were brilliant, avid readers, liked ham radio, they were ahead of their times in farming technology, and were staunch Baptists. I have a few presents that were sent to me by my grandfather that included an elf doll and a book on animal footprints.   My grandfather has long since passed away from this life and I am trying to understand some of what made up his life story and in some sense “meet him.”

When George Kellogg (W) Hess was born on September 6, 1891, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, his father, Juan, was 41 and his mother, Dorothy, was 34.  If you read my blog about Robert de Montel Hess (George’s brother), http://wp.me/p7gsef-kJ you can get information about George’s siblings and better understand some of the losses my grandfather had as a boy and youth.

This is a link to a book about Juan Hess (George’s father)


Here is a link to a blog I created on Juan Hess (George’s father)


George’s parents seemed to have had a successful life.  I understand that they were farmers, but had a city and country home. Dora, George’s mother, was accomplished in social graces and many news articles of that era spoke of her love for the arts, music, sleigh rides, buffets and social gatherings. (The articles below are only samples of many articles that appeared in the news)  The orchard successfully sold and supplied Chicago markets and other large city markets with their very fine fruits.

sSleigh RideArt League

George was a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.  Both of his sons, George Kellogg Hess, Jr. and Robert Lawrence Hess would also graduate from the U.of M.  Henrietta had attended and graduated from the Chicago School of Music.

graduationSigma Xi Quarterly from Dec 1, 1921

George married Jane Ellen Agens on April 21, 1917, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.   My father had not been told that his father had been previously married. But, my father had told me that his father had been in love with a young woman who became ill and was moved to a sanitarium with terminal tuberculosis. According to these legends, my Grandfather would sit on a bench outside of her window and read to her. He was not allowed to be with her for fear of infection.   It was only because of  the internet that I found proof that a marriage had in fact occurred.  Jane Ellen Agens died in March of 1919.  Following her death, George moved to Cook Co., Chicago, IL.

Mrs. Agens Hess dies from News Palladium 7 March 1919 part 1Mrs. Agens Hess dies from News Palladium 7 March 1919 part 2funeral of Jane Agens Hess from 10 March 1919 News Palladium

jane agens and george kellogg hess, sr..png

Note that George registered between 1917 and 1918 for the WWI draft and stated that he should be exempt because his wife was an invalid.

George Kellogg Hess, Sr. 1917 1918 WWI draft registration

It was in Chicago, that George married Henrietta Spruhan (my grandmother) on June 29, 1921. At the time of the marriage he was 29 years old and Henrietta was 27.  They would go on to have two children together.  Their sons were George Kellogg Hess, Jr., my Uncle and Robert Lawrence Hess, my father.  This is a link to my blog on Henrietta Spruhan Hess  http://wp.me/p7gsef-2P

In 1930 the the George Hess Sr. family was living in a rented apartment in Chicago on N. Neva Ave.  The census states that they owned a radio!  George’s occupation is listed as Electrical Engineer. I don’t know how to figure this into my information, but in the same year 1930, there was also a published city directory that lists George and Henrietta living at a conflicting address of 832 S. Maple Ave. At this time, George was 7 years old and my father was 5 years old.  The 1930 census must have been taken just prior to my father’s health crisis and burst appendix.  The doctor’s cautioned George and Henrietta that my father’s only hope for recovery was to move from the city to the country.  Although this advice seems quite odd from modern day perspective, it was the advice given and my father did survive!  Therefore, it was also in 1930 that the George Hess, Sr. family returned to the farm of Juan Hess recently deceased.

As a farmer, George was also quite active in political affairs pertaining to grower’s rights, taxes, labor camps, and pipelines.  (See a few examples- there are so MANY news articles on George K. Hess, Sr. that I have not begun to gather all of them!) N

George Hess, Sr. from 30 Dec. 1939 News Palladium Benton HarborNews Palladium Benton Harbor 31 Oct. 193925 March 1949 opposes pipeline

George and Henrietta lived on the Hess Farm pictured here: (note: my father told me many times how his father had sold the horses in order to use tractors on the farm- not generally a practice in this area at this time)


George and Henrietta moved to St. Cloud, Florida as their retirement residence in approx. 1958.  I visited there once.  The home was modest but set on land that had whispering pines and the lake.  One of the curious things that I noted there was a full fledged underground bomb shelter!

George Kellogg Hess, Sr. died on January 10, 1969, in St Cloud, Florida, at the age of 77, and was buried in Kissimmee, Florida.  His wife Henrietta did not die until 1984 and was never remarried.

George Hess Sr. on window sillGeoge Hess Sr. with arms crossed

There are only a handful of photos with me and my grandfather pictured together.  This photo was taken at my home in Ann Arbor, MI.  I remember that he had visited us there prior to getting his cataract surgery at the U of M Hospital which is located in Ann Arbor.

Mary Ann and Linda Claire Hess with their grandfather George Kellogg Hess, Sr.

Death Notice:

George K. Hess death notice



More articles:

26 July 1939 – A Mad Apple Grower

26 July 1939 A Mad Apple Grower

From 3 March 1949

Big Little Inch by George Hess, Sr.

25 March 1949 News Palladium (Benton Harbor)

25 March 1949 opposes pipeline