Tag Archives: Hess Family history

Wilhelmina “Minnie” Ponto 1827-1898

Minnie Ponto was my 2nd great grandmother.

Here is how she relates to my family:

Minnie was born on 9 January 1827 in the Posen Province, of Prussia. At the time of her birth, her father, Martin Ponto, was 34, and her mother, Rosalia Schäffler, was also 34.

Minnie married Johann Christoph Krüger. He later changed his name to John Grayer. Minnie’s husband, John Grayer, was my 2nd great grandfather. I know about the name change from Krüger to Grayer. My mother told me that there had been some type of family division and some of the Krüger family members adopted a new name of Grayer.

Minnie was not the 1st wife of John Grayer. He had been married originally to Johanne Friedrike Berndt. John and this first wife Johanne had 6 children together. 4 of those children died as infants/toddlers. Sadly, Johanne would die on 28 March 1845 right after the birth of her son Gottlieb.

John Grayer did not waste time finding Minnie as his second wife. His first wife died in March of 1845, and he married Minnie on 12 May 1845. When Minnie married John she was a mere 18 years old. He was 38 years old.

Minnie and John had 9 children. 8 of those children were born in Prussia and the 9th child was born in the United States.

When Minnie and John left to emigrate to America they brought the 8 children who had been born in Prussia and they also brought along John’s son, Gottlieb, from his previous marriage.

They sailed to American on a masted ship called the Reinhard. They were in 2nd class. This was still above the class called steerage. My cousin, Linda S., wrote a great history of our family and speaks to the fact that in 2nd class they may have had beds/bunks whereas the families in steerage where in abysmal conditions.

The trip to America took 7 weeks. They arrived in NYC on 29 November 1864. This was horrific timing. America was in the Civil War and just a few days before their arrival there had been a Southern plot to burn down buildings and hotels in NYC.

After arriving in America, they made their way to Illinois. Later, the family moved to Washtenaw County in Michigan.

Minnie’s husband, John Grayer, died at the age of 69 in 1875. Because of the age difference between them, this would have made Minnie 48 years old at the time of his death. In the same year that John passed away, Minnie remarried. Her second husband was Christian Schmidt. She did not have children with this second husband. This second husband only lived 4 days after the death of Minnie in 1898. They had been living at 703 N. 5th Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.

Ann Arbor Democrat, Fri. April 29, 1898 Ann Arbor, Page 5

death certificate for Wilhelmina “Minnie” Ponto.

Minnie’s family ID # on Family Search is KCC5-DPY

Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom – a direct ancestor from the Netherlands.

Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom was my 8th great grandfather. Here is how we relate:

When Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom was born in 1630 in Netherlands, his father, Jan, was 25 and his mother, Claudina Relyea, was 24. He married Tryntje Lubbertse VanBlarcom and they had five children together. He then married Geesje Jacobs on May 23, 1666. He died in 1670 in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the age of 40.

Here is a photo of records regarding his 2nd marriage:

His name later became Hendrick Jansen Ostrom. A comment made on Family Search.org reads: “The Dutch of New Amsterdam did not use surnames until 1664 when British took control & renamed New York. The surname “Oosteroom” as entered here has seven alternate spellings as seen on records of time frame – whoever could write spelled & wrote what was heard, not what was meant to be heard”

He was also called Hendrick Van Schalwyk which used the place of his birth as his name.

In 1654, there are records of him receiving a land grant for 25 mogens of land in Kill van Kull, the site of what would later be, Bergen New Jersey. Because of problems the settlers were having there with the Native Americans, it seems that Hendrick later took a lease for unsettled land in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY. which was a part of British Colonial America. From familysearch.org “He was apparently living in New Jersey when the Indians forced all white persons living west of the Hudson to retreat to New Amsterdam, where his second child was born in 1657.”

Garret Spruhan 1825-1869 – My 2nd great grandfather and an immigrant to America from Ireland having arrived here on a Famine Ship.

My direct ancestor and 2nd Great Grandfather, Garret Spruhan, was born in about 1825 in Kilkenny Ireland. (source reference for birth is the 1860 census) The name Spruhan is rare in the United States and in Ireland.

In 1850, at the age of 25, Garret left Ireland and immigrated to the United States on a “famine ship.” The name of the ship was the “Martha.” He embarked from Liverpool.
This brief history of famine ships (includes the ship the “Martha”) Information may be found at http://www.irishamericanjourney.com/2011/10/irishships-to-america.html

Here is a post about Garret Spruhan that I found on-line. This quote also is the only reference found for death date. Garret lived only to age 44.
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/soc.genealogy.surnames/33aNmWAGM5Y/JoNI6PBZP40J:

“Garret Spruhan was a farmer in County Kilkenny. He arrived in New York like many from his country and eventually moved west with the railroads. He married Margaret Denny and had five children. The Spruhan family settled in Crawfordsville, Indiana.The children’s names were as follows: John Arthur, Katherine, William Henry, Eliza J., and Macie.

In 1862 Margaret Denny Spruhan died (She was my 2nd great grandmother). Garret Spruhan returned to farming in 1864 after purchasing land north of Crawfordsville. He also remarried in that year to Ann McKevitt Wood. The family farm prospered over the next four years, as evidenced from estate records. Tragedy hit the family in early 1869 when Garret died.

From the estate records, the Spruhan children were sent to live on farms in neighboring counties. Only Macie remained at the Spruhan farm with her stepmother.
Any questions or comments are welcomed.”  Note: this means that my great grandfather Henry Spruhan was emancipated at the age of 12!

____________________________
In 1852, at the age of 27, Garrett Spruhan married Margaret Denny. They were married on January 11, 1852 in Hamilton Co., Ohio by a Roman Catholic bishop.
In the 1860 census, Garret lives in Union, Montgomery, Indiana. The afore mentioned
quotation states that he settled in Crawfordsville, Indiana. (The Civil war would begin on April 12, 1861)
__________________________
Garrett had a brother named John Henry. John immigrated to Nova Scotia Canada. He changed the spelling of his last name from Spruhan to Spruin. This is documented in a post found online. http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?Roanoke::in::36997.html
(There seems to be an incorrect piece of information in this post. Garret immigrated in
1850 and NOT 1839. Also, there may be a misspelling of Garret’s second wife’s name.)

Here is the post that I found on-line from family historian Lydia Spruhan:
Dear Spruhan Family querers:
My name is Lydia Mary Spruhan. I am the genealogist of the family. I can tell you alot about the Spruhans in Indiana. The family began in this country when Garret Spruhan came to America from Ireland in 1839, and married Margaret Denny, also from Ireland. The were married in the Roman Catholic Church, by the Bishop of Pennsylvania. Garret
became a naturalized citizen in 1940. I still have his original naturalization papers, as well as official “copies” issued by the Gov’t. He and his wife moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana and began a family, the oldest being John Arthur (NOT Alexander) Spruhan, who is my great-great-grandfather. I have many photos of him, as well as letters to my
grandfather from his daughter, my great-great. Eliza, whom you also mentioned, became the first female attorney in the State of Indiana, and carried the name Eliza Spruhan Painter. She ran a charity for Confederate Soldiers from the Civil War. But, I am jumping ahead of myself here. There were many children born to the Spruhans, some of whom died in infancy. They were all baptized at the Catholic church in Crawfordsville. I have the original church ledgers if you would like to see them. When Garret and Margaret were still fairly young, Margaret died. Garret married a woman named
Ann McKerritt, also from Ireland, as a second wife. After Garret died (I have never found out whether he died in the Civil War after conscription or of natural causes), the
children were sadly separated into different families in the community. I have the name of the family who raised Eliza and the younger children. I’ll have to look it up for you, it’s
German. John Arthur and Henry were already of sufficient age to be emancipated as adults. John Arthur married Joan America Bohannon, who is in herself quite a story. Their children are in my direct line, so I can share that history with you as well if you wish. Her family dates back to the pre-Revolutionary times, and my female ancestors and aunts have always been in the DAR due to the connection to John Bohannon who served in the Virginia militia during the Revolution. John Arthur was the railroad man for the stop in Crawfordsville for many years. His son, Fred Garret Spruhan went to Purdue and also became an Engineer. His son, John Galey Spruhan, is my grandfather, also a Purdue grad and engineer. John Halsey Spruhan was the only child of John
Galey Spruhan and my grandmother, Beatrice Halsey, who only recently died a few years ago at 93. After John Halsey Spruhan, of Salem, VA, comes Paul Wesley Spruhan, my
brother, and then his son, my five-year old nephre Bahe Spruhan. Paul lives in Arizona with his Navajo wife, Bidtah. Both of his children are also enrolled in the Navajo Nation
(tribe).

Back to the beginning:
The Spruhans come from County Carlow, and County Kilkenny, Ireland. Garret was from Kilkenny, and he has a brother who also emigrated around the same time to Nova
Scotia. the family there changed the spelling of their name so it would be pronounced correctly (Sproo-in), NOT Sproo-Han. They go by the spelling Spruin. John Henry Spruin is the brother who went to Canada. His son, John, is somewhat of a local Nova Scotia hero, as he was one of the “Halifax Nine”, who were first responding fireman at the Halifax explosion (when a munitions boat exploded in Halifax Harbor, killing all
nine, who were the only fireman who responded, given the seriousness of the explosion and the certainty of death. There are still Spruins in Canada whom I know of.

Back to Ireland:
The Spruhan Family are all buried back hundreds of years from Garret’s arrival in the US, at St. Columbkille’s Cemetery in Thomastown. There are barrows in the distance of the ancient Celtic kings who the area around the Nor River (Black River) in Kilkenny. There are Spruhans still there, in the area of Carlow bordering Thomastown, Kilkenny. They are headed by Thomas and Peggy Spruhan, and they have five sons, one of whom I talk to, Edmond, who lives in the Boston area. One of Edmond’s brothers, Michael I believe, lived and worked in Mexico City, and married a Mexican woman. They have a son named Emilio. So, as you can see with the Navajo & Mexican influences, our family is quite diverse.

Of course I have the documents and photos for all of this. There are a few other Spruhans in my home state of VA: Jack Spruhan, my great uncle (Fred Garret’s cousin), and his local hero father, Pinky (Guy) Spruhan RIP, who was the football coach at Roanoke College for many years.

What else are you wanting to know about? Henry Spruhan is your ancestor, I do have a family tree which comes down to the 1980s. there should be two siblings named Paul (not my brother Paul) and his sister Cinnamon Spruhan. they also had a younger brother who died as a child. Cinnamon should be in her 30s and Paul is a young free spirited 20 something. People often search for my brother, Paul, on Facebook, and are si surprized when they find Paul Spruhna from Henry’s line, as he seems to be into counter culture…like Punk Rock or skateboards or similar style.

As I said, you’ll have to ask my some more questions if I’m to help you find (or have myself alreay), the particular documents or information you require.

Interesting piece of sad Famine-era family history: there was a young woman named Bridget Spruhan who jumped to her death from a prison ship rather than be put into a life of servitude and slavery in Australia. For some reason the song “Fields of Athenry” makes me cry, most likely due to Bridget’s experience.
Many regards,
Lydia Mary Spruhan
Salem, VA
_______________________
Of Garret’s children, my direct ancestor is Henry Joseph Spruhan who married Caroline Baur. Henry was 12 at the time of his father’s death and was thus thrust into an early adulthood emancipation. (Henry Spruhan was my Great Grandfather)

My name is Linda Claire Hess Groshans

List of generations:
Garret Spruhan and Margaret Denny
Henry Joseph Spruhan and Caroline “Carrie” Baur
Henrietta Spruhan and George K. Hess, Sr.
Robert Lawrence Hess and Gretchen Lois Ream (my parents)

Comments from Ancestry.com

“Nor River: The Spruhan Family are all buried back hundreds of years from Garret’s arrival in the US, at St. Columbkille’s Cemetery in Thomastown. There are barrows in the distance of the ancient Celtic kings who the area around the Nor River (Black River) in Kilkenny.”

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 Spruhan is shown living with the Vancleave family when he was 12 years old.

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
1870 census…see printed version below. This shows that Henry is living with the Vancleave family by age 12.
1870 census- Henry has been taken in by the 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: