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.






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




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


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.







Johan Sprague born in Dorset, England in 1501 – my 13th great grandfather

When I received my DNA results from Ancestry.com, I was amazed to see a high percentage of my heritage was attributed to Great Britain.  If Ancestry has my DNA results right, Great Britain is the source of 53% of my heritage. As a little girl, I remember asking many times where my ancestors had come from, and the most common answer I received was, “Germany”.  Indeed, I do have many  German ancestors especially on my mother’s side of the family.  But, here, in this blog on Johan Sprague, I continue my unfolding documentation of my father’s ancestors and  I keep learning about my English/ Irish ancestry!

Johan Sprague was my 13th great grandfather.  Here is a view of how Johan connects to my father, Robert Lawrence Hess:

Johan Sprague (1501 – 1526)
13th great-grandfather
Enos Sprague (1525 – 1554)
son of Johan Sprague
Edward SPRAGUE (1576 – 1614)
son of Tristram SPRAGUE
Anthony William Sprague (1635 – 1719)
son of William Sprague Sr.
Jeremiah Sprague (1682 – 1759)
son of Anthony William Sprague
Knight Sprague (1711 – 1804)
son of Jeremiah Sprague
Anthony Sprague (1742 – 1831)
son of Knight Sprague
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.
Now, I am going to share a link from a writing project that was done on the genealogy of the Sprague’s.  I am so very grateful for this story, but, is it only historical fiction?  Is it just a tall tale? I have made my own conclusion, but I will let you make your own decision!
  1.  1.0 1.1 Family History – The First Three Generations of Sprague’s Family. Written by students of International Training and Education Center, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Ms. Kelly Norman, teacher. It is not clear whether this unsourced material is based on research of the actual lives of persons, or whether it is historical fiction intended to illustrate the religion, politics, and health issues of the eras in which they lived. http://rubikgroup.weebly.com/1/post/2013/10/family-history-the-first-three-generations-of-spragues-family.html. Accessed June 7, 2015.

” On a bitter cold day in 1501, Johan Sprague was born in Dorset, England in a Catholic family. From 1512 to 1516, he was studied in a church near his house, but deep down in his heart, he did not believe in Catholicism. By midsummer in 1516, he was married Marie – a pastor’s daughter in the church who taught him. Nine years later, in 1525, they was has a first son – named Enos Sprague. In 1527, they had twins girls, Ava and Mia, but Ava died when she was two years old because of influenza. Three years later, when Mia was five years old, many people in their village got and died of smallpox, and she also got it, she survived but sadly it made her blind. In 1534, Henry VIII dissolved England’s monasteries because Pope did not allow him to divorces his first wife. “After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign”[1]. Many evangelical churches springing up, Johan Sprague and his family left Catholicism and became Protestant, but not much people in the village knew about that. He really found his faith in Protestantism. Unfortunately, after Edward died, Mary I (also known as “Bloody Mary”) was crowned, people endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I, she was beheaded and burned many Protestants, nearly 300 Protestants were burned to death. Governments and Catholics had no evidence of Sprague family were Protestants, therefore they can safe. Unfortunately, in 1556, Sunday morning, Sprague family were be burned at their house, Johan, Marie, Mia and Enos’s children all dead, just Enos and his wife can alive, the neighbors around said it was just an accident, but someone believe that Catholics did.”

Sadly, if this story is true, Johan had a life cut short by heresy laws that disallowed Protestant beliefs. Henry the VIII had allowed Protestant beliefs in order that he may divorce his wife.   But, when Queen Mary I (or “Bloody Mary” ) came to power she had nearly 300 persons killed in her attempt to restore the Catholic Church and rid it of Protestants. If the story above is true, my 13th great grandfather, Johan and most of his family came to a horrible violent death.  However, Johann may have never had the twin girls referenced and he may have died at the age of 26 in 1526 rather that 1556 as this story sites.
Additional research
Note:  Even though Johan’s death date is first listed as 1526 in this research, it is also within the same research document listed as 1556.  Ugh…more confusion!
If his death date was really 1526, it makes the story of the twin girls and Johan’s death for heresy less likely! 
Watch for more blogs on the Sprague family coming soon!  I would be very grateful for any information you might wish to share on my family roots!

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



Robert de Montel Hess 1882-1907


When Robert De Montel Hess was born on April 8, 1882, in Benton Harbor, Berrien Co., Michigan, his father, Juan Hess, was 31 and his mother, Dorothy (Dora Bishop), was 25.

Robert de Montel and my grandfather, George Kellogg Hess, Sr. were brothers. They had two other siblings (also children of Juan and Dora) that had died as very young children.  According to Michigan death records these two Hess children died in 1880 of diphtheria.  They were Hattie (4 years old) and Perry Hess (2 years old).

Hattie and Perry Hess death records

I do not know why an obituary for Juan Hess written many years later on January 15, 1929, states that he only had 2 sons.  Perhaps, it was the “fashion” at the time not to mention children who died in their youth?

This is the 1929 obituary (below)  for Juan Hess (father of Robert de Montel Hess)

death of Juan Hess from Jan. 1929 obit

I chose to write this blog because I was intrigued that Robert de Montel may have been a namesake for my own father. There were 2 generations of the Hess family that had a child “George” and a child “Robert”.  My father was Robert Lawrence Hess and his brother was George K. Hess, Jr.  My father did not recall much about his Uncle Robert de Montel Hess, (the subject of this blog), because his uncle had been deceased for many years before my father was born in 1924. Even so, my father did believe that this was the relative that may have inspired the name “Robert.”  If this is true, it also makes me wonder why my father was called only by his middle name “Larry” (short for Lawrence) as a child.


Quick reference review of the names George and Robert:

Juan Hess and Dora Bishop’s children included  Robert de Montel Hess and George Kellogg Hess, Sr.

George Kellogg Hess , Sr. and his wife Henrietta Spruhan then had George Kellogg Hess, Jr. and Robert Lawrence Hess.


The deaths of Hattie and Perry had happened before my Grandfather’s birth in September of 1891.  But, sadly, my grandfather George Kellogg Hess, Sr. would know death of loved ones (other than these two older siblings) again soon being only 13 years old when his mother, Dora Bishop Hess, died and only 15 years old when his only remaining brother, Robert de Montel Hess, died.

Robert de Montel Hess, married Alice Susanne King on October 19, 1904, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. They had one child during their marriage. He died on January 18, 1907, in Berrien, Michigan, at the age of 24 from a liver abscess due to appendicitis.  He was buried in Berrien County, Michigan.  As stated, his death, was in part attributed to appendicitis.  This is interesting to me as my father had a burst appendix at the age of 5 years old and made a rather amazing recovery.

At the time Robert’s marriage to Alice he was 22 years old.  More surprising, is the fact that Alice was a mere 16 years old when they wed.  This would make Alice only 19 years old when she became a widow.  There seems to be a date conflict.  All census records indicate that Alice was born in 1888.  However, the News article pictured below, states that she was a graduate of Benton Harbor College in 1904-shocking considering that she was only 16???  Or…was someone trying to make Alice “older” than she really was??

So, Robert’s mother Dora died on October 15, 1904.  He married Alice 4 days after his mother’s death on October 19, 1904.

22 Oct. 1924 Robert Hess marries Alice King 20 years ago


The news photo below is from 8 May 1929 – It highlights events from”25 years ago” and tells how Mrs. Juan Hess and son Robert (a college senior) entertained the Juniors at the Hess farm.  Printed in 8 May 1929 in the News Palladium.  This party took place 6 months before the wedding of Robert and Alice and 6 months before Dora’s death.  08 May 1929. 25 years ago Mrs. Juan Hess and son Robert


The child born to the marriage of Robert de Montel Hess and Alice King Hess was Hattie Lenore Hess.  (Her first name being the same as Robert’s sister who had perished as a child).  She was born on 17 September 1905.

Robert de Montel did not live long enough to be part of the 1910 census.  Alice is in the 1910 census living with her parents in Michigan and her 4 year old daughter who is now going by her middle name  Hattie “Lenore” Hess.  In 1910, Alice states that she is a sales lady in a furniture store in Benton Harbor.  Then, also in 1910, Alice would go on to marry a man named Harlow A. Hansley and live in Los Angeles.  She died in 1957 in Los Angeles, CA. Her daughter Hattie Lenore Hess had been living with her mother and step-father in Los Angeles.

In the 1920 census, Alice and Harlow are still in Los Angeles with Alice’s daughter who is now 14 years old and using the name  “Lenora”.

Please write and let me know if you have any other information on Robert de Montel Hess or the Hess family!