Monday, July 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #23 John Philip Henn (1855-1930), He Came To Dinner

Climbing My Family Tree: Syracuse NY to Burnside NY (Google Maps)
Syracuse NY to Burnside NY (Google Maps)
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This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

After writing about my great grand parents Owen James (#21) and Myrtie Mabel (Wilcox) Henn (#22), I became curious about Philip Henn, who came to dinner in 1927 and didn’t leave until he died three years later -- as I wrote about in Myrtie’s story.

John Philip Henn (hereinafter “Philip”) was born in 1855 to John Henn’s sister, Serena May Henn. (John Henn was Owen James' father.)  In great-Aunt Lucille Henn Robson’s book, Members of the Flock,  Lucille, My grandfather and his brother Lowell discuss a family rumor that that Philip may have been born out of wedlock. No one knew for sure, as it was something that wasn’t talked about in Philip’s lifetime. They weren’t even sure who his mother was, but noted that Philip never spoke well of her. Considering he arrived as a teenager, that could be teenage angst that got stuck.

I cannot confirm or deny whether Philip was born out of wedlock, although the evidence tends toward saying he was. In the New York State Census of 1855, taken June 21, 1855, he is listed as John P. Dick, age 1/12 (1 month old) and the relationship to head of household was indicated as “child.” Serena Mary Henn married Jacob Dick in 1855 and this was the first census they appeared on as a married couple/family. Jacob Dick was five years younger than his wife, and both were born in Germany.

Climbing My Family Tree: Dick 1855 NY Census
Dick 1855 NY Census
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In 1860, Serena May and Jacob Dick are listed without children on the Federal Census. That doesn’t necessarily mean that baby died. It could confirm that the child was not Jacob’s. In the 1800’s, out of wedlock children were frequently raised by other relatives and he might be living with someone else. However, I haven’t been able to find much of the family on the 1860 Census; those I have found, don’t have him. But, in 1870, I found John Henn, age 15,  living with his 65 year old grandmother [both are mis-transcribed as  “AHeen”] at the Henn farm.

Climbing My Family Tree: 1870 Census: Phillipine & John Philip Henn
1870 Census: Phillipine & John Philip Henn
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My grandfather recalled, in the reminiscences recorded by great-aunt Lucille that John Philip Henn came from New York to Michigan to work with John Henn, his uncle, when John Philip was about 15. Since there would have been two John Henns, John Philip began going by Philip.

Philip arrived before John was married and initially helped him in his cooperage business, making and sending barrels to Syracuse, NY for the salt industry.  After John married Elizabeth O’Brian in 1873, Philip lived with John and Elizabeth. Until John bought him a farm (as he eventually for did all of his children) in approx. 1880.

Climbing My Family True: Burnside Twp Land Property Map (Lapeer Cty MI)
Burnside Twp Land Property Map (Lapeer Cty MI)
Owen James' land is between and below the N & the S in BURNSIDE
Philip Henn's land is kitty cornered to Owen James'  and just below and to the right
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Phil’s farm was ¾ of a mile east of Owen James’ farm on M-90 east of Burnside Michigan. Great uncle Lowell recalled: the first year they cleared ten acres and burned off the brush and planted wheat: forty bushels to the acre were harvested, and that was their first crop as farmers. Later, Elizabeth’s father, a carpenter, built a house for Phil in about 1885.

According to Aunt Lucille’s book, and the censuses, Philip never married. For many years he went with Ella McIntosh of Burnside, MI, who also never married. She visited him at Owen James and Myrtie’s house after he was bedfast.

After John’s children became adults and had families of their own, Owen James moved into the place of caring for Philip when he needed it, because Phil had “rheumatism” and “was bent” (likely Rheumatoid arthritis) per Great-Aunt Lucille. Philip used to go visit in his horse and buggy nearly every day. Lucille recalled that the kids looked forward to his visits, despite his cheek squeezes, because he gave them each a wintergreen candy, which he kept in his pocket.

He often visited at dinnertime and would stay for dinner. In the Spring of 1927, Phil got quite sick and didn’t get better. On June 30, 1927, Phil came to their home, and Myrtie put him in her and her husband’s bedroom to care for him until he got better. He didn’t leave the room, or the bed, for three years.  In 1930, he died in his sleep.

According to Great-Aunt Lucille, Philip had never been a practicing Catholic, but Owen James’ brothers and sisters’ insisted he be buried a Catholic. So they had the funeral in the West Burnside Church and buried him in St. Mary's Cemetery, Burnside. Great Aunt Lucille wrote in her book, Members of the Flock, “There were several prayer cards for him and after 2 or 3 months they began to run out, and I remember Dad’s  [Owen James’] sisters sot of insisted that Dad pay for a prayer card too. “What for?” Dad asked. “Why, to get him out of Purgatory, of course.” Dad, not being a Catholic, was sort of ‘ruffled in his feathers’ and he told them, “Well, if he can’t jump across, he can go to H__.”  The girls wouldn’t speak to him for quite awhile, but things got patched up later.”

Philip was survived by two half sisters, Mrs. Rose Johnson of Syracuse, New York, and Mrs. Emma Behr of Oneida, New York.

If anyone has more information about Philip Henn and would be willing to share it with me, please email me at the address on the "Contact Me" page or leave a comment here. I look forward to hearing from you!


Climbing My Family Tree: Philip Henn Gravestone (shared to Ancestry.com by Reckinger)
Philip Henn Gravestone
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NY Census 1855; Federal Census, 1870, 1900; Members of the Flock by Lucille Henn Robson

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I really want to find digitally archives for Michigan newspapers so I can find more detail for Phil's life.
I'd also like to find out who he lived with in his younger years--before he moved to (ran away to?) Michigan.
I'm pessimistic about it being possible, but I'd like to find out for certain who his father is.

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