Category Archives: Hess Family

Joseph Francis Fenton (or Finton) 1761-1851. My 4th great grandfather.

Joseph Francis Fenton was my 4th great grandfather.

Here is how I relate:

I wanted to write about this ancestor partly because he has been so carefully researched by many other folk on Ancestry and they have shared valuable photos and other documents about Joseph. I wanted to pool all of these resources into one spot in order to share them easily with my family.

Joseph’s surname was Finton and this is how his first grave marker was inscribed, but later, when a new plaque was made the surname was changed to Fenton.

When Joseph Francis Finton was born on February 28, 1761, in Dutchess, New York, his father, William, was 29 and his mother, Mary George Fenton, was 29. He married Margaret Swegals in 1781 in New York. They had 11 children in 24 years. Joseph’s wife Margaret Swegals (my 4th great grandmother) died of measles on 30 March 1822.

Later, in 1825, he married Thankful Gillett and he had no children with this second wife.

He died on October 23, 1851, in Barrington, New York, at the impressive age of 90, and was buried in Penn Yan, New York.

He had a military background:

Source is DAR Lineage Book NSDAR Volume 166:1921


This is what is inscribed on a tablet:
Dedication of Joseph F. Finton Tablet in Penn Yan Cemetery, Nov. 27, 1934

Enlisted June 1778 for 3 years, under Capt. Craig, went recruiting for 3 months. Joined 3rd Pa. Regt. in the fall under Col. Craig (brother of Capt. Craig) Lt. Col. Wiliams & Major Biles.

He was in the assault and taking of Stoney Point in 1779, and in an engagement at Bargains Point, at the time of Arnold’s defection, soldier went to West Point and remained there some time. He was also in New Jersey a long time.

This photo of his tombstone also shows military associations:

Lived from 1761 to 1851


The burying ground of the Finton family was located on the family farm until most of the burials were removed to Lakeview Cemetery in Penn Yan, where they are today.

JOSEPH COMES TO BARRINGTON

The source (Page 145-148-The Fintons and Crosbys) gives us the following information about the farm.

“Joseph Finton was a revolutionary soldier, and came with his family into Barrington, (then Wayne) from New Jersey in the Spring of 1806, and settled on land in the northwest part of the town, which, for some unexplained reason, was not run into lots and numbered wih the original survey. There was enough of this land for about five lots, and it was marked on an early map as “very poor.” Mr. Finton chose this location rather than land more heavily timbered in Milo, because in the open, less wooded land, there seemed a prospect of sooner getting food for stock, which was an object of great importance to pioneer settler. The Bath road at that time was a crooked way through the woods, and Mr. Joseph S. Finton, who lives now on the spot where his after settled, thinks it was not opened as a highway till after the lake road. Their first school for that neighborhood, was in a log house, north of the Barrington line, near the present residence of Job. L. Babcock, on land long owned by Jonathan Bailey. The house was warmed by a hugh old fashioned fireplace, capable of holding almost a cord of wood. School was principally attended to in the winter; and Mr. Finton says that on all the pleasant days they had to stay at home and break flax. Cotton was not king then, and flax wrought by home industry, was the most important element for clothing the family.”

The photo below of the Fenton farm was as pictured after the 1851 death of Joseph.

Finton Farm 1876


The next photograph was not taken until 1925 (Joseph had died in 1851)

1926 photo of the Finton Farm

Robert L. Hess’s History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan

For INTRA-UNIVERSITY CORRESPONDENCE!

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

November 20, 1984

MEMORANDUM TO:

FROM: Prof. Walter Debler

SUBJECT: Robert L. Hess’s History of Research, Service and Teaching Contributions to the University of Michigan.

Professor Hess received his B.S.E. in Engineering Mathematics and B.S.E. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Michigan, after which he served as an Engineering Officer in the U.S. Navy.

Upon release from active world war II service he returned to Ann Arbor, the home of his wife, Gretchen R. (Ream) Hess and on a visit to the Engineering Mechanics office was hired as a full-time instructor and was asked to undertake a research project by Prof. J. Ormondroyd. The project became the basis of his Doctorial Thesis, “The Dynamics of Ship’s Structures, including Shear Deformations”.

This work was directed by Professor· Ormondroyd and became one of the first major engineering works to be programmed for the ENIAC (that being done by the David Taylor Model Basin, Dept. of the Navy).

During the three years of full time teaching, (Dr.) Hess served in the U.S. Naval Ready Reserve and spent his training periods at the Model Basin. He was honored by being requested to provide, along with his brother, 40 hours of lectures on mathematics and advanced dynamics for the scientific staff of the Navy at the Model Basin.

Professor Hess was recruited by the Bell Telephone Laboratories and joined BTL as a Member of the Technical Staff in the fall of 1949, being assigned to a ‘heavy-tube’ Development Group. The many research projects he participated in included the assignment to undertake the development of a pilot line for the production of both the material for and the devices known as ‘point-contact’, type A transistors. (This was before the courts orderd BTL to place the technology on the market and was thus a unique endeavor for Dr. Hess.) It was typical of him to have the breadth of both interest and scientific knowledge that brought him such a coveted assignment and also success in it. He developed new techniques of crystal growing and zone-purifying as well as a novel method of doping the contact area to created photo-sensitive transistors.

In his third year at BTL Dean G.G. Brown called him with an unsolicited offer to return to the U. of M. as an Assistant Prof. of Chemical and Metallurgical Eng. and Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics and to also take on a Phoenix Project dealing with the atomic structure of glass. Dean Brown gave Prof. Hess the challenge of creating a new course in structure of glass and ceramics. At the end of his third year Hess was promoted to Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics and left the Chem. Met. Dept. He undertook the reactivation of the Dept.’s Photo-Elasticity Lab. and generated a course for it as well as teaching. in the areas of elasticity and dynamics.

In about 1957, Vice President and Dean of Faculties, Prof. M. Niehus asked Prof. Hess to join an elete committee of engineers and scientists to oversee the work of the Willow Run Laboratories which at that time was experiencing troubled relationships with the Department of the Army, its prime source of support. In Jan. 1958 Dean Niehuss requested that Hess take leave of his teaching and consulting practice and join a new management team, headed by Prof. J.A. Boyd {now Chairman of Harris Corp.) to salvage and redirect the Willow Run Laboratories. Hess was given the specific assignment of Technical Director of Project Michigan as well as an Assistant Directorship of WRL. In addition Hess became the Head of the Applied Research Group of the Labs. In March of 1958 Dean Attwood informed Hess of the approval of his promotion to full Professorship. (A promotion which was said to make Hess the youngest full professor in the College’s history.)

Prof. Hess soon developed a keen ability to manage multiple teams of researchers on topics varying from information processing, semiconductor development, infrared scanning and synthetic antenna radar. He was able to apply his knowledge of basic physics and mathematics to the tasks as a member of the teams involved and to also represent them to the top military officers and, upon the creation of a Department of Defense to the scientific part of that community. In his unique fashion and with unusual modesty his term of management, which after three years included the project directorship as well as it technical direction, Hess always put his staff in the foreground and sacrificed personal fame in the process. Never-the-less upon his decision to return to teaching, the Department of the Army awarded Prof. Hess with THE OUTSTANDING CIVILIAN SERVICE MEDAL the inscription of which read in part ‘Hess succeeded in establishing and maintaining the University of Michigan as the leading free world authority in surveillance technology’.

His own proven scientific talent and professional imagination contributed additionally to the accomplishments of a broad team of scientists and technicians. The rare combination of skill, foresight and devotion to country…’. During the years of 1964 and 1965·, Hess served as the personal representative of the U.S. Army’s Assist Chief of Staff for Intelligence and led teams of scientists through a comprehensive field review of the Army’s Combat Surveillance capabilities in Europe and in Korea. As a token of the regard that the Army had for Hess’s abilities, over 70% of his recommendations from the Korean area were implemented. In 1965 Professor Hess visited with President H. Hatcher with the view of leaving the Project Michigan assignment and returning to full-time teaching. By that time, the I.S.T. had been created and W.R.L. was part of it and Hess was one of its directors. President Hatcher, through Prof. Norman, Vice President for Research offered Hess the challenge of using the $10 million original gift from the automobile industry to create the Highway Safety Research Institute. A counter offer on Hess’ part allowed him to hire a top level ‘internal administrator’ for H.S.R.I. and thus to be able to devote his attention to building the staff and its research programs and to also return to teaching, which was his first love. With a regentially appointed Executive Committee and with the cooperation of dozens of the University’s faculty Hess was able in a few years to build a building, hire internationally known figures and to build a program of research spanning fields from Law to Medicine and from Engineering to Psychology. His untiring drive established the Institute as the world’s premiere institution of its kind and brought not only many millions of research dollars to our campus for the support of researchers, faculty and graduate students but also continued to enhance the reputation of the University of Michigan.

During a long period of the H.S.R.I. years, Hess also served the University as a Consultant to the Army’ Science Board where he both chaired and participated in the study of many of the nation’s outstanding technical problems and challanges.

During the last five years Professor Hess undertook two major research studies while teaching a nearly full load and directing the H.S.R.I. These were first the review of the complete research findings in the scientific, engineering and medical communities of the experimentation protocols and the knowledge in the area of blunt trauma to the human head and second, the same for the area of blunt trauma to the thorax. In each case an annotated history of the development of the government’s use of the knowledge in its regulation was developed and recommendations were put forward for the future of research in the field. The second of these studies was selected for publication in the S.A.E.’s transactions. Hess served the University by membership on President Nixon’s Highway Safety Advisory Committee and also undertook service as a Consultant to the World Health Organization.

Prof Hess resigned his position as Director of U.M.T.R.I. (the succesor to H.S.R.I.) and returned to a full time faculty teaching role in January of 1984. In keeping with his reputation, he has undertaken the teaching of the Control Systems course, ME461, a new course for him, with vigor and has provided new leadership in its laboratory and course work with several software packages he has written to enhance the depth and breath of the educational experience of the students He also accepted an assignment as the Mechanical Engineering Program Adviser and has written software packages now in use by that office to materially enhance the efficiency of the process and to allow the Adviser to take a proactive rather than a reactive role in counseling. He is also supervising the trial use of a professional in this office.

All in all, Professor Hess’ academic and service accomplishments are outstanding and the respect that he has rightfully gained from his peers is only reflective of the credit he has always given to them over 32 years of devoted service to the University. In the classroom, the laboratory and the office he has represented the best the University of Michigan could offer its students and country.

What kind of work did our grandparents do?

My nephew, Kevin, inspired me by a question that he asked some time ago. That question has very much been in the back of my mind for some time now. The question was, “what kind of work (occupations) did our ancestors have?” So, today, I thought I would start to document some of the occupations that make up my story of ancestry and the also the ancestry story of those that I love. I will simply write a paragraph or so about several of those ancestors and hope that you will enjoy sharing your insight into this topic as well.

GROVER CLEVELAND REAM – CARPENTER – MY MATERNAL GRANDFATHER

I will start with my maternal grandfather. His name was Grover Cleveland Ream. He was born on 16 Sept. 1885 in Denver, Miami County, Indiana. In the US census from 1900, Grover was living in Ann Arbor, MI and was a mere 14 years old. The 1900 census shows that his father Benjamin Ream (my great grandfather) was a carpenter. Grover, like his father, would also become a carpenter. It was always my understanding that he was exceptional at his trade. I found a copy of his death certificate that shows the last date that he was engaged in his occupation was February of 1931. He died the next month on 26 Mar 1931. He was young, only 45 years old at his death. My mother was a mere 5 years old at the time her father died. In my ancestry notes, I have copies of news articles showing his association with the Carpenter’s Union 512 of Ann Arbor where he served as an officer. In addition to many of the important buildings he constructed, there was also the home he built for his family at 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI that would become not only a residence, but a guest home.

EMILIE “AMELIA” ANGELINA GRAYER REAM – GUEST HOUSE HOST – MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER

My maternal grandmother was Emilie “Amelia” Angelina Grayer Ream. She was born on 14 Sept. 1885 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan. Actually, as I write this blog, I notice for the first time that my grandparents birthdays were a mere 2 days apart. My grandmother would affectionally be called “Grandma Pet. ” I loved her beyond measure. She died 1 day after my 11th birthday party on 13 Feb 1965. I have many treasured memories of her humor, sweetness, and joy for life. My grandmother’s occupation was to run the guest home in her residence on Main Street in Ann Arbor. I was under the impression that the guests who stayed at the home were primarily business or sales men who were often associated the University of Michigan. In the basement of the home was a large ironing mangle (it impressed me greatly) that was used to iron the sheets of the house guests.

GEORGE KELLOGG HESS, SR. – ELECTRICAL ENGINEER, ORCHARD FARMER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST – MY PATERNAL GRANDFATHER

My paternal grandfather was George Kellogg Hess, Sr. He was born 6 Sept. 1891 in Benton Harbor, Berrien County, Michigan. He was born on a successful fruit farm whose harvests supplied the Chicago market and other large cities. He wanted to leave the farm! My father told me that George did NOT want to be a farmer. In the WWI draft application he completed on 5 June 1917, he states that he is employed by Western Electric Company, Hawthorne Station, Chicago. He went on to graduate from the University of Michigan in 1921 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I have been told that he was a genius. He worked in Chicago for the electrical company until 1930. Perhaps you will recall the story my father told us so often. My father became direly ill in 1930 (he was 5 years old) and the doctors in Chicago said the only hope for my father’s survival was to move the family to the countryside and out of the large city. What? I know…huh? Anyway, this put George back at the orchard farm in Benton Harbor, MI. This was the same place he had so wanted to leave as a young man. My father’s story is even more amazing because at exactly the same time as my father became ill, George’s father Juan Hess died leaving the farm to George. George must have not liked going back to the farm enough that when his obituary was written it states that he “was a retired electrical engineer” without mention of his successful management of the farm. I have collected numerous newspaper articles that show that George was an activist, even to the point of traveling to Washington to lobby for certain changes that primarily related to pipelines, farm taxes and migrant workers.

HENRIETTA SPRUHAN – PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER- MUSICIAN AND DICTAPHONE OPERATOR

Henrietta was born on 31 Jan 1894 in Illinois. In 1914 she graduated from the Chicago Musical College. She was a very accomplished pianist. (As a note, in 1930 when the family was forced to move to Benton Harbor, MI and back to the farm, she would not agree to go unless she had her grand piano too.) In the 1920 census, Henrietta was 26 years old and single. She is living with her parents. In the census records, she lists her occupation as Dictaphone Operator. I recall that my father told me this was an honorable position that she was able to claim because her pianist’s hands moved so quickly on the keys of the dictaphone.

EUGENE LUDLOW BARNES “E.L.” – PATERNAL GRANDFATHER OF MY SISTER’S HUSBAND- SCHOOL TEACHER, COACH, SHEET METAL WORKER AT A SHIP YARD, A CHEIF DEPUTY SHERIFF AND UNION OFFICIAL.

E.L. was born on 5 August 1906 in Bond, Stone, Mississippi. His home in the 1930 census (when he was 23 years old) was in Columbia, Marion, Mississippi. He listed his occupation as school teacher. In the 1940 census, he still is a teacher and states that he has had 3 years of college education. (This question was particular to the 1940 census, so I don’t know when he actually attended college.) It is known that he was a graduate of Mississippi College. In 1940 he was living in Hattiesburg, Forrest, Mississippi.

ALICE “CHRISTINE” THOMPSON- PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER OF MY SISTER’S HUSBAND- STUDENT, HOMEMAKER

Christine was born on 10 June 1905 in Grange, Lawrence County, Mississippi. In the 1930 census she is 24 years old and states that she is a student. This must have been college, but I do not have educational records for her. In the 1940 census she lists her education level as having completed 1 year of college.

FRANCESCO “FRANK” BIVONA- MATERNAL GRANDFATHER OF MY SISTER’S HUSBAND- CLERK IN SILK FACTORY, CONTRACTOR, INSURANCE AGENT

Frank was born on the 30 November 1904 in Mendoza, Argentina. He arrived in New York in 1916. In the 1920 census, Frank states that he is a clerk in a silk factory. In his 1928 petition for citizenship, he lists his occupation as contractor. In the 1940 census, he lists his occupation as an Insurance Agent. In the 1940 census, folks were asked to record their level of education. Frank states that he had completed school through 6th grade.

ANGELINA “ANGIE” CIRABISI – MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER OF MY SISTER’S HUSBAND – CLOTHING INDUSTRY

Angie was born on 6 September 1909 in New York City, New York. In the 1940 census she lists her occupation as worker in the clothing industry.

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

HERE ARE MY REFLECTIONS AND FINDINGS ON EDWARD HIGBEE – 8TH GREAT GRANDFATHER

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.