One of my father’s first cousins was Martha Ellen Spruhan. On my Family Tree on Ancestry.com, I have done extensive research on the short life of Garrett Denny Spruhan, who was Martha’s father. He died at the age of 28. He had married Marion Parks at the age of 25 and they had their only child, a daughter, Martha Ellen Spruhan (the subject of this blog.)
Martha Ellen was not yet a year old at the time of her father’s decease.
Martha Ellen was born on March 3, 1918 in Terre Haute, Indiana. She died in 1991 at the age of 73 in Rockford, Illinois. During much of her life she resided in Chicago, Illinois.
The 1940 census shows that Martha who was still single at age 22, lived with her widowed mother at the home of her maternal grandparents, the Parks of Chicago at 7523 Seeley Avenue. This same census indicates that she was employed as a corespondent for a mail order.
At age 23 Martha was married Earl B. Terrill, Jr. They had 2 sons. Martha’s husband seems to have applied and received several patents.
This is the death notice for Martha Ellen’s husband:
Henry Joseph Spruhan (1857 – 1939)great-grandfather
Henrietta Spruhan (1894 – 1984) grandmother
daughter of Henry Joseph Spruhan
Robert Lawrence Hess (1924 – 2017)father
son of Henrietta Spruhan
Linda Claire Hess (1954-)
I am the daughter of Robert Lawrence Hess
HIS FATHER DIED
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.
HENRY’S FATHER- GARRET SPRUHAN
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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 the1906 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
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…
Below…from Kansas City Gazette in 26 January 1914
From 12 December 1909, The Washington Post…see below
Here are some handwritten notes from my father Robert Lawrence Hess about his grandfather: