Tag Archives: Grover Cleveland Ream

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.

Grover Cleveland Ream- my Grandfather

When Grover Cleveland Ream was born on September 16, 1885, in Miami County, Indiana, his father, Benjamin Ream, was 31 and his mother, Harriet Fike, was 21.

Grover  went by the name “Clevie” which was an abbreviation of his middle name.  He was one of 9 children.  In the 1900 census,  his father Benjamin is listed as head of household and states that his occupation is a carpenter.  This would also become Grover’s occupation.  His mother, Harriet, listed her occupation as “laundry business.” In the 1900 census, Grover was 14 years old and was in school.  By that time, the family lived in Ann Arbor, MI. on Wells Street.

The link  below takes you to a catalogue of Ann Arbor High School for the academic year of 1900-1901 and shows that Grover attended classes there.

https://books.google.com/books?id=jwDiAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=grover+ream+ann+arbor&source=bl&ots=s4rEoEBiuT&sig=lJp0NDgVXjnGAC3x7FUEqIJja1A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3Me_UsrPKO66yAH0_4D4Cw#v=onepage&q=grover%20ream%20ann%20arbor&f=false

Grover’s siblings were Winfield Emery Ream (1883-1940), Lucy Katherine Ream (1887-1976), John B. Ream (1891-1967), Harriet Isobel Ream (1894-1969), William B. Ream (1897-1982), Josephine Marie Ream (1901-1957), and baby Ream (1903-1903).

Grover married Amelia Grayer on September 26, 1912, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He died on March 26, 1931, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the age of 45, and was buried there.  Sadly, my mother was only 5 years old at the time her father Grover died and my Uncle Bob was only 13 years old.  My mother had very few memories of her father but continued to express her love for him during her entire life.  My grandmother, Amelia, would remain a widow for the next 34 years until her death in 1965.  In the context of history, Grover’s death had happened during the time of the Great Depression.  My grandmother’s income would be made by running a boarding house on North Main Street.  My Uncle Bob, was a young teen when his father died, and he assumed an adult role, of helping to care for his mother, his grandmother who lived with them, and his younger sister (my mother.)

Both Grover and Amelia were 27 at the time they were married.  Amelia’s family home had been on North Ashley Street, in Ann Arbor, MI.  In the records of their marriage, Grover lists his employment as a carpenter.  The best man was John Ream and the maid of honor was Julia Reichenecker ( a life-long friend of my grandmother).

Grover and Amelia were 32 years old when they had my Uncle, Robert Emerson Ream.  They were 40 years old, when they had my mother, Gretchen Lois Ream.  I was also told that they had twin boys who both perished as infants.  I believe the twins may have been born and buried in California and would have been the oldest children.  I believe that the twins were named Richard and Robert.  There was another son, named Richard Philip who was born on January 18, 1918 and died two days later on January 20, 1918.

In Grover’s WWI draft registration, he states that he is tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Grover was in the Carpenter’s Union #512 and served as their treasurer and seems to have been greatly involved with the social life of his union friends.  I have included a link to an interesting article about Carpenters during this time of history in Ann Arbor.

ttps://books.google.com/books?id=fxo2AQAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PA26&lpg=RA2-PA26&dq=carpenters+union+512+of+ann+arbor,+mi&source=bl&ots=LTUsQheyDM&sig=Ha9RxOkg2jVOSnmOnG86tmOGsac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij84nlvevLAhUHmoMKHSlGC2sQ6AEINDAG#v=onepage&q=carpenters%20union%20512%20of%20ann%20arbor%2C%20mi&f=false

It was only recently, that I began to understand that my Grandfather may have know that he had a serious health issue.  He had made such an effort to make a smaller home at 520 N. Main Street into a large house with 3 stories that served my Grandmother well as a source of income while she used it for a boarding house with “rooms for rent.”  This all happened fairly close to the time of his decease.  My mother was proud of the work her father had done as a carpenter and would often point out buildings on the U of M campus in Ann Arbor that her father had helped to complete.  It appears that Grover died of cancer.  At the time of his death, this diagnosis was not generally discussed and so I do not have full details.  My grandmother, Amelia, became very unstable for a period of time shortly after his death.  It was ALWAYS my understanding that the whole family continued to miss his presence for all of their lives.

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