Tag Archives: Henrietta Spruhan Hess

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.

Henry Joseph Spruhan 1857-1939. My great grandfather.

Henry Spruhan article 1
Henry Spruhan article 2
Henry Spruhan article 3

HERE IS HOW I AM RELATED

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.

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

Here are some handwritten notes from my father Robert Lawrence Hess about his grandfather: