52 Ancestors – Week 2018-19
The oldest of my half-brothers (I now have four known half-brothers) asked if I might take a look at his maternal line (we share a common father). Of course I said, “Sure,” and started on my merry way researching. I began with his great-grandfather, Thomas Frederick Spry. I learned that Thomas didn’t live to 100, or even 99 as many records indicate. He lived to be 98, dying two days before his 99th birthday.
Research Family 2017 – Ancestor #14
List of Grandparents
- Grandmother: Viola Lorraine Spry
- 1st Great-grandfather: Thomas Frederick Spry
- 2nd Great-grandfather: Johny M Spry
Thomas Frederick Spry (1875-1974)
Thomas Frederick Spry was born in Michigan (probably Detroit) on 19 May 1875. He was the fifth of nine known children of Johny M. and Catharine Spry. Ulysses S Grant was president and shortly after Thomas’ birth President Grant announced he would not run for a third term.
Thomas’ siblings included:
|Alice Spry||Jan 1869|
|Benjamin F. Spry||Aug 1973|
|Robert J Spry||1876|
|Thomas Frederick Spry||19 May 1875|
|Harry (or Henry) Spry||Jan 1880|
The 1880 Census shows the entire family living at 538 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Mich. Johny, Catharine, and all seven children were living together. Today 538 Michigan Ave is a parking ramp.
By 1895, the 20-year-old Thomas worked as a press feeder and boarded at 134 Locust, the same place as his older brother Benjamin. He was listed as being a printer in the Detroit 1898 City Directory living at 81 Plum Street. If you were heading east on the Fisher Freeway and took the off-ramp to the John C. Lodge Freeway, 81 Plum Street is about where the split to go north or south on the John C. Lodge Freeway is today. (Across the Lodge freeway from the MGM Grand.).
Thomas had been an usher for his oldest sister, Alice’s wedding and the family ties seem to have been close. The 1900 Census finds Thomas, and his brother Benjamin, living with their sister Alice, her husband and her five kids at 1027 Hudson Ave. Today, most of this part of Hudson Ave is replaced by the E. Edsel Ford Freeway.
Thomas married Ottilie Saleske in 1901. Ottilie was also known as Tillie, Lillie, Tilly, and even Matilda in various records. Likewise, Ottilie’s surname is spelled Saleski and Salesky in different documents.
The Four Children of Thomas and Ottilie Spry
|Child Name||Birthdate||Date of Death|
|Ethel H Spry||03 Sep 1902||07 Apr 1985|
|Baby Boy Spry||26 May 1904||26 May 1904|
|Viola Lorraine Spry||06 Dec 1908||28 Jun 2002|
|Isabel Spry||07 Aug 1918||04 Dec 1992|
It isn’t clear exactly when, but by 1902, when their first daughter, Ethel, was born, the couple was living 30 miles away in Ypsilanti. Thomas was still working as a printer, an occupation he would have his entire adult life.
In 1904 tragedy struck. Ottilie had a baby boy on 26 May 1904; the child only lived 5 hours. It appears that shortly the baby’s death the family moved back to Detroit.
The 1910 Census finds Thomas and Otillie living at 671 Buchanan St. Thomas. With them are their two children Ethel and Viola. Also living with them is Otillie’s brother, Otto.
The 1916 Detroit City Directory indicates that Thomas had his print shop, Spry Printing Company located at 50 Woodward. Today, that location is known to have a marvelous statue known as “The Spirit of Detroit.” The statue was the largest bronze statue cast since the Renaissance when it was installed in 1958. I’ll never be able to see facsimiles of the statue on Detroit city vehicles and offices without thinking of Thomas Spry’s print shop. When Thomas registered for the World War I draft, he was 5’5-1/2” tall, medium build, blue eyes and he had light hair.
In 1920, Thomas was renting a home at 1417 25th, Detroit and he was working as a printer. Living with him was his wife and his three daughters, Ethel, Viola, and Isabel.
Before 1930, Thomas and family had moved again, this time to 5727 Missouri Ave, Detroit. The Missouri Street house was a two-story home with nearly 4,000 square feet of living space. Living with him are his wife and two of his daughters. Viola and Isabel. Viola had married three years before; I don’t know why Viola and Albert Dion were living apart. By 1938, Thomas had moved his printing shop to the 3rd floor of 216 Monroe. (Today this is a vacant lot at the corner of Monroe and Randolph Street—across from the Cadillac Center People Mover Station.)
Daughter Viola was joined by her husband and they had a daughter. In 1940, the three of them were living with Thomas and Ottilie in the house on Missouri Ave.
Thomas Frederick Spry died on 21 May 1974. He was survived by his wife and his three daughters. His burial location is unknown.
- 1880 Census, Family Search, 1880 – Johny M Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan – ED 295, Page 42. Year: 1880; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 613; Page: 45B; Enumeration District: 295.
- 1900 Census (FS), Family Search, 1900 – Thomas Salmoni – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M917-3KH : accessed 6 May 2018), Thomas Salmoni, Detroit city Ward 12, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 141, sheet 13A, family 294, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,752.
- 1910 Census, Other, Thomas Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan – ED 211, Sheet 9B. Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0211; FHL microfilm: 1374699
- 1920 Census (A), Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 12, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_811; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 363.
- 1930 Census (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1930 Census – Thomas Spry Head – Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, Precinct 16.
- 1940 Census, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry, Head. 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01856; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 84-527.
- City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1895, Page 1279 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
- City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1898, Page 1382 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
- City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1900, Page 1470 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
- City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1906, Page 1980 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
- City Directory (A), Com, Detroit, Michigan – 1916, Page 3671 – Spry. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
- Michigan Births, 1867-1902, Family Search, Ethel Spry – 3 Sep 1902. “Michigan Births, 1867-1902,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQFN-9XY : 10 March 2018), Thos. F. Spry in an entry for Ethel Spry, 03 Sep 1902; citing item 1 p 419 rn 1673, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,363,098.
- S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Spry (1874-1974). “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JYKD-8PF : 20 May 2014), Thomas Spry, May 1974; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
- S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Frederick Spry. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6XQ-X74 : 13 March 2018), Thomas Frederick Spry, 1917-1918; citing Detroit City, Michigan, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,675,372.
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